Anna M. Taylor

Anna M. Taylor


Author of the Series: HAUNTED HARLEM

Author Bio:

Anna M. Taylor is the women's fiction and gothic romance penname of Anna Taylor Sweringen, a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. A native New Yorker, she now enjoys the heat of the Southwest. She has been writing seriously since joining Romance Writers of America in 2003 and also writes inspirational romance as Anna Taylor and erotic romance as Michal Scott.

Connect with her: 


Ten years ago no one -- not even the man who said he loved her -- believed Sankofa Lawford's story of being attacked by a ghost. Ten years later a new ghostly assault brings her back home to a mother going mad, a brother dangling at his wits’ end, and a former love wanting a second chance. She’s at a loss what to do because the pain created by memories of her own attack proves stronger than her desire to heal her family and find love again.

Mitchell Emerson believes science and reason can account for the ghostly happenings at Umoja House. He’s seeking a rational explanation that will prove him right while regaining Sankofa’s trust and love. What he learns leaves him shattered.

Now reluctant allies, Mitchell and Sankofa uncover years of lies that threaten to pull them apart until help comes from an unexpected ally: the ghost itself.


Hello Anna! Welcome to Jeny's TattleTales!

Okay lovely lady: today we're doing a character interview with Winston Emerson and later we will record an author interview with you. Let's start the interview with Winston.

How would people physically describe you?

Lanky but nicely built. I get a lot of compliments from the ladies on my biceps.

What’s your backstory? Where did you come from?

I was raised by my father after the death of my mother in childbirth. The loss of her and my infant sister is what led me to turn my back on God and religion. I’m a native New Yorker, born and bred in Harlem.

What do you think of Anna Taylor? Did he/she portray you accurately?

Anna M. Taylor is quite a skilled writer. I appreciate how she respectfully depicted my skepticism about supernatural occurrences. She was also evenhanded by not making me look like a fool when I learned I was wrong or arrogant when I learned I was right.

What is the most inspirational thing you’ve ever done in your life?

In my work as a lay pastor, I’m proudest of helping to create what’s called a Blue Christmas service. This is a worship service that acknowledges how you don’t have to pretend to be happy when the season is a difficult one for you.

If you could map out the next five years of your life, what would that look like?

Not only the next five but the rest of my life will be spent with Sankofa Lawford, the love of my life. Together we’ll use our love to be our best selves with one another and others. We’ll also be dedicating ourselves to the care of her mother Wanda, who has always been a second mother to me.

Life advise for the masses?

It’s an old cliché but for me a true one: “Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today.” Look at all the years I could have spent with Sankofa if I hadn’t waited.

Everyone is made up of both good and bad elements. What are your best qualities and what are your worst qualities? I genuinely care for and about people. I encourage young people to live up to their potential and not let people discourage them. I must admit my worst quality is a stubbornness that would put a mule to shame. However, a good quality that counters it is once I’m convinced I’m wrong, I admit it right away.



Release Date: October 31, 2020

Publisher: Anna M. Taylor

Cover Artist: Dawn Dominique

Genre/Sub-Genre: Romance /  Contemporary Gothic

Excerpt 1:

For the last hour, Sankofa Lawford blinked through a haze of tears at her mother’s stricken face. She held the glassy-eyed woman’s hand and tried repeatedly to get her attention. No gesture stilled the older woman’s incessant rocking. No words penetrated her intonation of the same awful phrase.

“Them that tell don’t know and them that know don’t tell.

“Them that tell don’t know and them that know don’t tell.”

Wanda Lawford suddenly stopped rocking and stared in Sankofa’s direction. A bright glint of glee shone in her gaze.”

“Hope struggled for a foothold in Sankofa’s heart then slipped as a death head’s grin contorted her mother’s once beautiful features.


Sankofa forced the lump of sorrow down her throat. “Yes, Mama?”

With a grip made strong from madness, Wanda pulled her daughter’s hand to her chest and leaned in so her lips pressed against Sankofa’s ears.

“A word to the wise is sufficient. Have you been wise?”

Her hissed warning parodied whispered confidences mother and daughter had shared in the past. Sankofa kissed away a tear from her mother’s cheek.

“Yes, Mama.” She swallowed the lie with a smile. “I’ve been wise.”

Wanda Lawford cupped her daughter’s face and smiled, too.

“Good. I’m so sorry, so sorry. It shouldn’t have happened to you. It should never have happened to you”

Sankofa took a deep breath and controlled her sadness despite the wobble of her lips.

“Rest now, Mama. Rest. Okay?”

Wanda released Sankofa’s hand only to grip her own, rocking again, repeating again.

“Them that tell don’t know and them that know don’t tell.

Them that tell don’t know and them that know don’t tell.”

For a few moments, she regarded him with a look his mother would have called insightful. The corners of her eyes narrowed, she dipped her chin a hair, and she pulled her mouth into another appealing pout he was tempted to kiss. 

“I bet,” she said after a long, drawn-out sigh, “you were the kind of kid who took apart clocks and fans and vacuum cleaners to see how they worked.” 

“It was more washing machines and lawn mowers and anything with a motor, but yeah. I was.” 

She shook her head, her own lips forming a lopsided grin. “Your poor mother.” 


“Oh Sankofa, thank God Langston reached you.”

She and Langston turned as one. From down the hall their cousin, Harlan Montgomery Jr. glided toward them in a manner closer to a roll than a stride. He waved and spoke again, but Sankofa didn’t hear a word. Beside him strode Mitchell Emerson, the man she’d loved then lost ten years ago.

Her stomach seized now as it had then. Only this time not with regret that punched her gut when they said goodbye, but with an emotion to which she thought herself immune.


Mitchell swallowed hard. Ten years hadn’t lessened the effect of Sankofa’s beauty on him. Photos in various alumni newsletters showed the gray in hair that had once been charcoal, the roundness in a face that had once been slender, the tiredness in a gaze that had once been energetic. He’d expected his ex-lover’s effect on him to be just as diminished.

His shoulders suddenly drooped, weighed down with the loss of what might have been.

Where can we purchase, A Little In Love With Death

Time for some of Jeny's TattleTales!

Watch the Video


Listen on the Podcast


Interview Transcript



Jeny Heckman, Anna M Taylor

Jeny Heckman  0:00

Well, if you're ready, we'll get started.

Anna M Taylor 0:03


Jeny Heckman 0:04

I'm gonna do a little spiel here. All right, okay. Hello, everyone. It's Jenny's tattletales. And I am Jenny Hackman, I am the award-winning paranormal romance, author of the heaven and earth series. And this is my video blog slash Podcast, where we talk about all things writing. We talk about authors, new and old, and we talk about their work as well as lifestyle. So I wanted to welcome you here today. And thank you so much for joining me. We're so excited to have you hear this now. Is this your first podcast?

Anna M Taylor 0:40


Jeny Heckman 0:41

Ah, well, we're I promise we won't be too scary. We're just gonna ask a couple questions and just get to know you.

Jeny Heckman 0:52

So, today, we're spotlighting her book entitled, A Little in Love with Death. So welcome, Anna. And I'm so glad that you're here. And we're gonna ask a few questions of you and get to know you a little bit more as a person and an author.

Anna M Taylor 1:40


Jeny Heckman 1:41

and about your book. So here's, here's one that is going to require a little bit of thinking,

Anna M Taylor 1:47


Jeny Heckman 1:48

What is the most inspirational thing you've ever done in your life?

Anna M Taylor 1:54

Um, well, I, I'm a retired minister. Wow. And so my job was helping develop pastoral care things. And I think the most inspiring thing I ever did was help my church develop what's called a blue Christmas service.

Jeny Heckman 2:14


Anna M Taylor 2:15

And what it is, what most people don't know is that the Advent Christmas season is like, like a time when there's like high suicide, and people are very depressed. And because everybody else is celebrating, they feel even more isolated. So what a lot of churches have started doing is on the longest night of the year, December 21. Right, the solstice. Yeah, they hold what is called Blue Christmas services, which allow people to honor that this is a hard time of the year for them. And so all the songs are about, about comfort about being there. For people, the scriptures are about support. And then what we did was we had candles, blue candles. And so if someone had lost a job or lost a loved one, or something was broken, they could light as many candles as they needed to acknowledge those losses. And I tell right now thinking about it, because, yeah, of all the things I've ever done. I think that was the most inspirational and the most helpful for people. And I missed that

Jeny Heckman 3:36

Yeah, and right now, too. I mean, boy, this last past Christmas, you know, with everything that's gone on that's so, and suicides and depression are so up right now. Wow, that that is probably one of my favorite things I've heard. That's amazing. That's really, really cool. Good for you. It really honestly, that's really cool. Um, okay, so who do you love the most? Or let's see, what do you love the most that people other people don't like and wouldn't understand that you do? Does that make sense?

Anna M Taylor 4:12

Yeah, that's a good question. Um, because there really isn't much that I don't like that people don't like. Yeah.

Anna M Taylor 4:24

So good question.

Anna M Taylor 4:28

Actually, again, going back to my ministry work. Most people don't like confronting people or having to have hard conversations. And that's my forte. At the church where I worked, the saying was if you need a no go get a ribbon, Anna. So yeah, I mean something about you know, the need to have hard conversations is really about helping people own a truth that they have been, have been avoiding. And it's like, having those hard conversations frees people up from carrying that weight and that burden. So, you know, I, I used to go I used to be sent to the most conflicted churches. Because I was not afraid of conflict, I was not afraid of having those hard conversations. And at the same time, I learned how to be loving in those conversations. Ah, not not the heart. Yeah, no, I'm gonna beat you down with the truth kind of thing. But no learn how to share truth in love. So yeah, that's,

Jeny Heckman 5:50

Wow, that's really you are very inspiring. I am already just ... this is really, really touching me. It's really cool. And it is true because people do they do struggle, they tend to try to shy away from conferences, or a lot of people do they try to shy away from confrontation and things. And so to be to have that knack, that's a gift really. Yeah. Okay, so what was the hardest, most unusual, or interesting part of the story that you wrote, to research for a little in love with death,

Anna M Taylor 6:26

The hardest part was deciding the format of the story. Because I had originally written it as kind of like a short story. And I was thinking I wanted to include it now into this content Harlem series. So I came up with doing it as a dual-time story. So I don't know if you've ever heard of that. But you know how part of the story takes place in the past and part in the present. And that where the past and present come together is how the mystery is solved.

Jeny Heckman 7:01

Love it.

Anna M Taylor 7:02

So I latched on to that. And that helped me to really grow this story. But then, by the time it was for me to put it up, I didn't. In the past part of the story, we had taken over the story. The hardest thing for me to do was to separate them again into separate stories. Oh, and then go back and see how a little in love his death what strengthen it needed because now it didn't have the past part to kind of make the reader anticipate what they were going to learn in the future. Yes.

Jeny Heckman 7:43

So you did wind up doing this dual idea or you text out the past one and you did a whole modern-day story? Or did you do the dual thing,

Anna M Taylor 7:54

I did the dual thing, okay. But then what I had to do was because like I said, the last part of the story took over, I had to pull all that out. So that's gonna be another story in the series.

Jeny Heckman 8:09

You got to hold this, you got to hold the book out of it, then that's,

Anna M Taylor 8:11

I have its title already. It's called Always the Dead Between. So so so that was the hardest thing, like, you know, cuz like you have these two versions, right? And it's like, which is the one which is the one. And so finally, what I picked, just do the straight story, and let the other one be its own story. So that was the hardest thing.

Jeny Heckman 8:35

It does take courage, though, doesn't it? Because I mean, when you have it set in your mind about what you want to write, and then you're like, Okay, this is what I'm going to do. And you don't really want to sway from it. That's pretty brave to say, Okay, you know what I'm going to, I'm going to take this and I'm going to take it out, I'm going to get rid of my, my idea or my you know, your, or your plotter or pantser.

Anna M Taylor 8:58


Jeny Heckman 8:59

So you have you're organized. I know this is I do that too. You're organized and you have a plan and you don't want to deviate. And now you've made this choice to do that. That's great. That's cool.

Anna M Taylor 9:10

And everybody was liking the dual-time version. Yeah. So I was like, Oh my god, I'm swimming against the tide with this decision. What am I gonna do? And it's like, the deadline is coming. You have it on pre-order. You gotta meet that deadline. Yeah, I just bit the bullet and did it.

Jeny Heckman 9:27

WOW, and then now it's just it's probably so much better. And you've got another story from it. So that's really cool.

Jeny Heckman 9:34


Jeny Heckman 9:35

And what are two or more of your all-time favorite books in any genre?

Anna M Taylor 9:43

Oh, all-time favorite. Well,

Anna M Taylor 9:47


Jeny Heckman 9:49

So many, right?  

Anna M Taylor 9:50

Yeah, I know. But you know, it's like okay, so one of the ones that always goes okay, so the very first in-depth book That JD Robb wrote I think was Naked in Death. Yeah, so that was a good one. Oh, I mean, that, that that and, and another one in that series Conspiracy in Death. I think I like Conspiracy in Death even more than Naked in Death because that's where I really saw how JD Robb used the strength of Yves Dallas, his strength to become a weakness. And it was like, Oh my god, here it is, you know because you always hear that, you know, you want the character, you want to, you know, but character growth, you know, how do you make the strength a weakness? And like, how do you do that? And then I read that and it was like, so Conspiracy in Death. Definitely. And then, um, John Galsworthy's, the Forsyth Saga. That book, I read that book, maybe when I was in high school, really, I read the first because he had a trilogy. But the first, I saw the first two books of that trilogy, has stayed with me all these years. Because, again, the bad guy in the first book, Sommes becomes the good guy in the second set. So you know, it seems that books that deal with character growth,

Jeny Heckman 11:21

yeah, my heart. Like somebody that kind of redeemed themselves, right? You want you kind of root for that bad guy that turned into a good guy and realize that he's got issues or problems and he wants to fix them. You know, that's always the Great, that's always a great story. And Nora, it really is... She's totally, you know, props to her. Because my gosh, she's made that series, The In Depth Series. I mean, how many books Has she written about that? It's

Anna M Taylor 11:49

up to 52

Jeny Heckman 11:51

Crazy, it's crazy. I mean, Yves Dallas should be walking around with a cane by now. And

Jeny Heckman 12:04

I love it. I love her. And she's also very, the other thing I like about that series is that things that she wrote way back when with that very first book, you know, they're kind of coming true things like, you know, telling your lights to go at 50%. And you know, all those things. It's, it's incredible. She's, she's, that's why she's the queen, right?

Anna M Taylor 12:24

I got one more favorite by Beverly Jenkins.

Jeny Heckman 12:29

Oh, I love her.

Anna M Taylor 12:30

The very first Beverly Jenkins I ever read was called Topaz. And I mean, I just love how she brings history, you know, into her story. So it's like, she has this term called edutainment. And it's like, yes, Belle, educate me and entertain me. I love it. So that Topaz? Oh my gosh.

Jeny Heckman 12:55

Did you ever go to one of her classes at one of the conferences?

Anna M Taylor 13:00

No, you know, cuz See, I would only go every five years when it was in New York.

Jeny Heckman13:06


Anna M Taylor 13:09

And then there was my first non-New York conference.

Jeny Heckman 13:12


Anna M Taylor 13:13

So no, I, but I am I got I am. I am registered for a conference that she's the keynote for I actually get to see her live in zoom.

Jeny Heckman 13:27

She's very, she's very dynamic. And she's just she's again, she's kind of like you, she's very inspiring. And I loved her class. She really, and she kind of just I don't think she's a plotter, if I remember, right, she's a total pantser. And she doesn't understand, you know, the whole writing Bibles and all the plots, and she just comes up with those things. And I have no idea. That's just those people are just amazing to me, but she's very dynamic. You're gonna really like her.

Anna M Taylor 13:55

You know, I think I did see her in a panel discussion in Denver. It was her, Alyssa Cole, and another woman who does like revolutionary history. Okay, I think I did get a chance to experience and the last time I was in New York, I got my picture taken with her. So I was like I'm a fan girl, get in the picture with me, so I can't find it because we moved in.

Jeny Heckman 14:32

That's the other thing about her. She was very sweet. She doesn't you know, she's so big. And to me, she's, she's just like Nora and she's just she's so big. And she just is so humble and gracious and lovely. I just I really got a lot out of her class. Okay, do you have a favorite quote? Something that you either live by or just something that that inspires you?

Anna M Taylor 14:56

Yeah. Well actually, there's two because I'm impatient and get angry when things are bad and and it just seems like evil is winning. So, Martin Luther King Jr. Has this quote that says the moral arc of justice is long. But no, the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. Ooh, oh, and so it's like, you know, why is like, evil seems to triumph today. But the moral arc of the universe or universe is long and it means towards justice. Oh, I mean, when I when I hear the news, or you know, last four years, I went to that quote a lot.

Jeny Heckman 15:49

That's cool. I love I mean, he's very motivational man anyway, but that's a great one.I haven't heard that one.

Anna M Taylor 15:56

Yeah, yeah. And then the other one comes from the Bible. About how do you live your life and it's Micah 6:8, and basically says, God has shown you what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God?

Jeny Heckman 16:15


Anna M Taylor 16:16

So like, you know, when I get a big head when I pull down a lot my conflict work with the churches.

Jeny Heckman 16:28

You do?

Anna M Taylor 16:29

Yeah. love mercy. Have a like, merciful.

Jeny Heckman 16:36

Alright, here's the difference. Here's another one that's a little bit different.

Anna M Taylor 16:40


Jeny Heckman 16:41

Who is your biggest cheerleader on earth or angel in heaven?

Anna M Taylor 16:46

Oh, wow. Wow, it's funny, because I made a vision board for 2021. And I have a whole corner that has my angels, all my angels. Oh, you know, post it up. Well, I have to say my biggest cheerleader is my husband here on Earth.

Jeny Heckman 17:06

I love it.

Anna M Taylor 17:09

You know, like, you know, what do you need? What can I do? And then he kids me like, cuz, you know,  you're on a retirement income. Gonna get that movie deal from that book. So let's go. Exactly.

Jeny Heckman 17:26

Is he retired as well? Yep.

Anna M Taylor 17:28

He's retired.

Jeny Heckman 17:31

What did he do for a living?

Anna M Taylor 17:32

He was a high school teacher.

Jeny Heckman 17:36

Oh, lovely.

Anna M Taylor 17:37

But he specialized in training young people how to almost co-counsel their peers.

Jeny Heckman 17:47

Oh, like natural helpers.

Anna M Taylor 17:49

I guess I don't know what it's called. I mean, like his background, he was hired as a biochemistry teacher. Right? Yeah. But then he had, he was so good at enabling students who failed multiple times. Because he taught them how to take the test. He taught them how to back then they transitioned him to working with these harder cohort students who could never get through and each he was just phenomenal and helping them to, like, realize their potential. And, you know, like, the hardcore gangbangers wanting to be in his class.

Jeny Heckman 18:27

Oh, boy, that's the that's a call. That's such a compliment. Wow, that must have been hard for him to retire from because it had been really rewarding.

Anna M Taylor 18:36

Well, no, because he loved it. But then he, he became like, I hate to use the word obsessed. But that's the only word like with climate change. And so his science background took him into that. And he started doing presentations on climate change. And, and then he started training the kids on how to do those. So he was ready to retire. And now he's like doing those kinds of presentations out there. When we retired.

Jeny Heckman 19:07

He's able to just kind of really focus on something that he really feels passionate about. And that's cool. That's cool. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Anna M Taylor 19:19

Yeah, my, the trope that I work with, with all my work, whether you know, whatever my pen name is second chances, though. So, in this particular story. The hero and the heroine have been separated for 10 years and separated also by philosophy. You know, she, she believes in supernatural, he's like, no, there's a scientific answer for everything. And, but the message that I hope people take away is that what enabled them to come together is to begin to really listen to the other person and.... Yeah, you know, compromise that way is not a dirty word. You know, there's mutual respect, we can still disagree, but we can come together and I think.

Jeny Heckman 20:56

Okay, I think that's gonna wrap it up for Jenny's tattletales today, I hope you have an absolutely splendid day. And I want to really thank you for joining me and I hope to hear from you and see you next time.

"I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy creating them. A very wise woman said to me that everyone was a writer, some just don’t know their own story. I hope you find yours and write it down."

Jeny Heckman

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