My book came out last Thursday on the full moon in Taurus, an auspicious day. Taurean energy is both creative and possessive and my book, two and a half years in the writing, is all about me. A memoir is not history. I didn’t pretend to set out facts. I wrote as I remembered but my memory is colored by my personality, my vulnerabilities, such self-image as I try to prop up, and by perspective that came after the events related in the book. The frame of memory tilts this way and that, it’s constantly in motion, and it cuts through the layers of life.
The book design was a Taurean business as well. Vladimer Verano at Third Place Press designed a splendid book and we had a jolly collaboration around the images on the front cover. The zucchini was his idea. You’ll have to read the book to find out what it’s doing there. On the back cover is an image by my compatriot in watercolor, Madelaine Ramey, who signs her cartoons Hilaire Squelette.
I did not wait for this book publication with grace or patience. My Gemini energy raced around inside of me, demanding to know what was taking so long, culminating last week in my yelling at the sopranos in The OK Chorale. Exactly a week after that regrettable incident, Vlad told me the paperwork was waiting to be signed and the books were ready to go on sale. The earliest he could see me was 11:00 the next day. It was a date.
I woke up at 3:00 that morning remembering that I had a chiropractic appointment at 10:30. I lay there and fussed for three hours. By 8:00, I had gotten the chiropractic appointment changed to 9:30 so I was reasonably certain I could make it out to Third Place Press without having an accident. Even so, I took surface streets to get there. Nobody needed me driving on the freeway in my state of mind.
I chose to self-publish after a year of cruising the current publishing scene. Several editors and agents on both coasts saw my manuscript and said lovely things about it but stopped short of committing to anything. I started hearing things like: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 26 times, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind 38 times. Some of my informants put a one in front of those numbers. Have you any idea how much I did not want to get 138 rejections? It’s not in my nature to sit around waiting for the phone to ring. It’s that Gemini thing again. So I looked for alternatives.
Three years ago I thought of self-publishing as not quite legitimate. But I could see with my own eyes that books published in the traditional way were not necessarily well-written. I learned that writers are expected to bring an audience with them which is rather a neat trick for a new author. The Internet has thrown both the publishing business and bookselling into confusion.
Third Place Books has been a Seattle area institution for as long as I can remember. The main store is in Lake Forest Park, a community north of Seattle which fronts Lake Washington and backs the woods. It bustles with the large bookstore, a commons with a food court, the wonderful Honey Bear Bakery, and a stage on which The OK Chorale has performed several times. The calendar is scheduled three months out for readings and musical performances. In one corner of the commons is Third Place Press, run pretty much single-handedly by Vlad and featuring Ginger, the Espresso book machine.
99 Girdles on the Wall is on the shelves at Third Place Books and they will ship anywhere in the world. It’s also available at The Secret Garden Book Shop in my Seattle neighborhood of Ballard. It’s not currently available through Amazon and this was the trade-off for collaborating with Vlad and getting to be involved in the process from start to finish at a small independent book store and publishing house — except I wasn’t there when the books were actually printed. That’s probably a good thing, my energy has been known to short circuit small appliances.
Occupy the publishing and bookselling business. Buy from a small independent bookseller. Buy my book! http://www.thirdplacebooks.com/99-girdles-wall-memoir-elena-louise-richmond