by Victoria Zackheim
I’m searching for glasses that are perched on my head. I’m putting the carton of milk in the cupboard and the box of cereal in the refrigerator. I’m looking outside and see my car, covered in bird droppings, no longer the sparkling silver it once was. It looks abandoned. There are days when I feel the same. (As I type this, a little voice says, “Oh, please! Stop with the self-pity!”)
My book was launched on Tuesday. Launched. But doesn’t that suggest a grand motion, like a ship slipping down the rails into the ocean? A bottle of champagne shattered in celebration? While I admit to expecting no such hoopla, I was looking forward to something, if only a little splash.
So many books are being published in these uncertain times, and the challenge is to introduce them to readers. Word of my anthology, Private Investigations: Mystery Writers on the Secrets, Riddles, and Wonders in Their Lives, was gaining momentum. (Of course I’ve given you the title! In these times, I’d tattoo it on my forehead, if I thought that would help!) The publisher loves it, the reviews have been excellent, so I have every reason to be hopeful.
Hope? I’m trying, truly I am.
However, as they say in infomercials, there’s more. More than sadness and frustration, anger and depression. We’re now in one of those necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention situations.
If Plan A goes awry, then we create Plan B.
The annoying, demanding, invading, and yet all-too-necessary Internet. Couple it with a committed, gifted, make-it-all-work team at Seal Press/Hachette, and all is not lost.
And still there is more ! There are so many people—authors, book lovers, movers and shakers—who have put together online talks, Zoom conferences, gatherings, readings. Everything designed so that our new books see light. Mystery writer Clea Simon created a blog to highlight new books, and included mine: https://www.cleasimon.com. Lori Sokol, Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of www.womensenews.org has initiated a book-of-the-week program, and I’m thrilled to have my book as the first choice. And if you’re wondering if there are still readers out there: three weeks ago, Book Passage, every booklover’s dream store, introduced its online Conversation with Authors. To date, it has more than 13,000 subscribers worldwide.
And I must give a call-out to three authors whose work appear in the anthology. Caroline Leavitt started A Mighty Blaze (co-founded with Jenna Blum), a kind of virtual book tour designed to promote new books that might otherwise fall into a dark hole. (www.amightyblaze.com). Hallie Ephron invited me to a day of blogging on Jungle Red Writers, a truly delightful website headed by seven top-notch mystery writers: http://www.jungleredwriters.com/2020/04/real-mystery-stories-from.html?showComment=1587571931819#c3443878262465503499.
And Sulari Gentill, an Australian mystery writer, did a charming video of herself, reading an excerpt from her piece. (She did this in her spare time, while she rebuilds her life after the catastrophic fires.) https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=sulari%20gentill&epa=SEARCH_BOX
There’s no denying that we’re all beset with worry and confusion, bombarded daily with promises, lies, cures that kill. But we have books. And kind, caring people who are reaching out to make this moment—however long it continues—not only manageable, but memorable.
Mask and gloves, everyone. Stay safe, stay healthy. Stay in touch.
Victoria Zackheim is the author of the novel, The Bone Weaver, and editor of seven anthologies, including Private Investigations: Mystery Writers on the Secrets, Riddles, and Wonders in Their Lives (April 2020), and the highly acclaimed The Other Woman, that she adapted for theater. She wrote the documentary Where Birds Never Sang: The Story of Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camps, which aired nationwide on PBS. Zackheim teaches creative nonfiction in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and is a frequent conference speaker and writing instructor. She lives in Northern California.