Coronavirus pandemic upends book-publishing experience – San Bernardino Sun

Coronavirus pandemic upends book-publishing experience – San Bernardino Sun

[ad_1]

Over the last several years, I’ve had a number of stories published in literary journals. I hadn’t intended to write around a central theme, but came to realize that many focused on the vagaries surrounding female lives. They seemed to belong together in a collection, organized in a chronology of protagonists, as the characters ranged in age from the very young to the very old. Taking seven of my previously published stories and adding seven new ones, I decided to seek publication.

Victoria Waddle, managing editor of the Inlandia Institute’s online journal, has a new collection of short fiction titled “Acts of Contrition.” (Courtesy of Carol Erickson)

As a rule, agents don’t sign debut fiction writers unless they have a novel to sell. Authors with short story collections seek out small presses, which thrive on discovering new talent. As Frank Kearns, publisher at Los Nietos Press, said: “I am constantly amazed by the stories that people have to tell … There is so much power in [them]; each helps us understand ourselves and the place we live in. I love the magic that happens each and every time a book is born, and these stories get to be shared in such a tangible way.”

In March 2020 – the same week the state of California ordered a pandemic lockdown — I queried Los Nietos. According to Kearns, “Our press is particularly interested in the people and the place that fans out east and south from Los Angeles, away from the glitz and glamour of the coast, into the vibrant working communities from East L.A. to Long Beach, and over to the historic cities of the Inland Empire.” As the stories in my collection are all centered in Southern California, I felt it was a good fit.

Soon, we began the process of putting the book together. We had difficulty deciding on a title, eventually choosing “Acts of Contrition,” a nod to thematic connections between the stories. The book cover, too, metamorphosed. Starting as a nine-of-swords tarot card wrapped by a snake, it ended as an image of the Sacred Heart by Claremont artist Aleta Jacobson. Three wonderful authors — Susan Straight, Cati Porter and John Brantingham — wrote back cover blurbs while edits were completed. Things were coming together quickly. The collection could have been ready for the 2020 Christmas gift-giving season. And yet, we thought we might wait out the pandemic.

March 15, 2021, seemed like a good publication goal. As the date approached, it became clear that the state was not yet ready for large gatherings. Most people still didn’t have access to vaccines. We would launch without a celebration. There was a bit of sadness in this for me, the lack of a cake with an iced image of the book cover at its center.

Though expectations altered during the pandemic, the availability of the now ubiquitous Zoom brought us together. In June, hosted by the Inlandia Institute and the Riverside Public Library, author Marg Charlier and I discussed our books, both of which center on rebellious women. For this Inlandia at Home gathering, I read from the story “The Bitten Woman” and answered questions from the online attendees. This felt very much like the launch I’d hoped for.

Victoria Waddle has written a collection of short fiction called “Acts of Contrition.” (Courtesy of Aleta Jacobson)

Finally, on June 26, I and other authors of 2020 releases were given the gift of an in-person gathering, a multiple-author book launch at the California Imagism Gallery in Ontario, hosted by owners John and Ann Brantingham. I was worried about going, though COVID-19 was not my issue. Instead I felt the old self-doubt: would anyone come to hear me read, to have their previously purchased book signed? Should I bring any books to sell, risking humiliation if no one purchased one?

Happily, I gathered the courage to attend, bringing along some dishes for the authors’ potluck. Once I arrived, I felt at home. I met many members of the local writing community. And, yes, friends showed up to hear me read. People brought their books for signatures; others purchased books as we chatted. The pandemic period has been difficult for me. While no close friend or relative was taken by COVID, four close family members died of other causes, including both of my parents.

Now, for the first time in well over a year, I found myself in a large group of people with similar goals, a thing that pulled me out of my heartache and into my aspirations.

As I sat at my table with copies of my books, a man approached me with his hand extended. He looked familiar, but I had never met him. “I’m Frank Kearns,” he said and then introduced his wife, Carol. How strange. In this crazy time I hadn’t met the people who worked to help me bring my stories to their audience. How glorious that I was now able to do so.

Victoria Waddle’s collection of short fiction, “Acts of Contrition” is available online at Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and from the publisher, Los Nietos Press. She is the managing editor of Inlandia’s online literary journal.

[ad_2]

Source link

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This