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Thoughts about micropress publication & Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum.
A few updates:
My collection of short stories, Assemblage, came out last week – you can click here to buy it on Amazon – I’d describe it as: dark, feminist, and leaning toward the speculative.
Sage Cigarettes Magazine published a review of Assemblage, if you’re curious to know more: click here to read.
Whew! Releasing a book is no easy feat. I am beyond happy that Assemblage is out in the world. We are even celebrating it with a little in-person reading and music showcase this coming weekend that I am very much looking forward to. I feel incredibly thankful for my writing community, both online and off!
I do want to take a moment to be transparent about the ups and downs of putting out a book with a micropress. My first book, The Drowned Woman, came out on an established indie press with access to Ingram distribution and industry connections (my third book, in 2023, will also be coming out with this press). And I thought it would be interesting to publish my collection in between these other two novels with someone else, just to have a different experience.
That said, the micropress journey is not for the faint of heart! The one-person publishing team I worked with was incredibly responsive and very quick to discuss things with me, they were always kind and clearly cared about my work, but I did have to work on some of the formatting and design elements myself since there just wasn’t anyone else to do it. This press also primarily focuses on chapbooks, so my book was quite a bit longer than their normal fare, which came with its own challenges. They did edit for me, but I also have the benefit of a live-in partner, with a degree in creative writing, who doesn’t mind editing my work, and many of the stories in Assemblage were already published in literary magazines, so they had the benefit of another editor’s touch. And, obviously, I am also doing the bulk of promotion on my own, which is pretty typical.
So, it was definitely the different experience I was looking for, and I am glad I did it — but if you do decide to go with a micropress, be prepared to do at least some of the legwork yourself. If you’re organized and can dedicate the time, it can be really rewarding.
This month, I am also participating in NaNoWriMo, but I lightened my personal word count goal to writing ‘at least 1000 words a day.’ I think I like participating in NaNo because it feels like we are all writing together in a workshop, or a class. There’s this community momentum to the whole thing. It’s why I like taking yoga classes — I don’t necessarily want to speak to anyone, I just want to feel the vibe of us all doing this hard thing together. Anyway, I have added 15k words to my initial draft and a new novel draft is underway.
Although NaNoWriMo and the book release have taken up most of my time, I did recently read, and enjoy, Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum, a novel that feels incredibly modern considering it was written in the 1920's (it’s also the basis for a movie of the same name, though I have not seen it).
“The experiences people have in a large hotel do not constitute entire human destinies, full and completed. They are fragments merely, scraps, pieces.”
Set in Berlin, before the economic collapse, the hotel is buzzing with visitors and her patrons are cosmopolitan ones. The plot centers on a variety of characters, thrown together quite by accident, fighting against the inherent cruelties of life. There is an aging prima ballerina whose career is in its twilight, a charming aristocratic thief who spends all his money on pleasure, a bookkeeper and businessman, both from outside the city, but searching for different things entirely, and a doctor whose face was disfigured in Flanders. Their fates are interwoven throughout the book and money, business ventures, and sensual pleasures, even love, change the course of their lives by the time they walk out of the hotel once more.
I love a good hotel setting — Pink Hotel by Liska Jacobs was another one I read over the summer that scratched this particular itch — and this book explores the Berlin hotel quite thoroughly, much to my delight.
In life, there is beauty and tragedy and the ever-revolving doors of the hotel.