We all have them, both personal and as a society.
The biggest, of course, is the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. I won’t go into it here, but do want acknowledge the impact of that event ten years ago on the entire world.
For me, this past week had several. A couple were personal, one affected a small segment of society, and one had ramifications for a larger segment, and in fact, affects society as a whole.
Milestone #1 ~ I’ll start with the smallest one, the one that is mine.
I uploaded my very first book to CreateSpace – and they accepted all of the formatting!
Now those of you who have yet to attempt self-publishing may not realize how hard this is.
Uploading is the easy part. Just fill in a few fields in the online form, click a few times, and voila! Your book is uploaded and in the queue to be vetted for formatting errors.
The hard part?
Holy crap. I’m not going into details (I’ll save that for another post), but trust me when I say there is more that goes into putting together a professional-looking book than you’d ever realize.
Then there’s the cover.
Now, I’m no artist, not by a longshot. I do have someone working on the cover (I should say ‘covers – because this book is the first in a trilogy). But the artwork isn’t done yet, and I need to get review copies out.
So this is the cover I’ve come up with (for now) for my Advanced Reading Copy (or ARC):
It’s not great, but I felt it was better than a plain white one.
So yeah, in a few days, I’ll be cradling my first book in print and probably crying when I think of the journey that brought me this far.
Milestone #2 – Two year anniversary of the final Nine Inch Nails show (which I was lucky enough to attend)
Although this is a very personal one for me, it’s also a milestone for NIN fans. Rather, it’s the anniversary of a milestone.
NIN and Trent’s music played an important role in my writing of Watcher. His quieter, introspective stuff really helped set the mood for many of the scenes in the book. And so this anniversary, so close to the release of Watcher, is one I needed to acknowledge.
Here’s one of my favorite songs that form part of the backdrop for Watcher:
I feel fortunate that I was able to be part of NIN’s final farewell.
Milestone #3 – Another final farewell…to Borders
Yep. Our local Borders shut its doors this past Monday. Finis. Done.
Borders was more than a bookstore in this community. It was a gathering spot, a bit of literary culture in an area that distinctly lacks much culture of any kind. People would hang out and read, or visit, or share info in the Seattle’s Best cafe at the back of the store.
Our writer’s group, the Fresno Sci-fi & Fantasy Writers, held monthly Open Mic nights there. Other events surrounding book releases drew fans of all types, from Potterheads to Twilight Moms.
It was a happening place, and on our rare nights out, my reading friends and I would eat dinner and go hang out at Borders. Not a bar, but Borders. Because, after all, it was our love of stories that drew us together in the first place.
Now how cool of a bookstore is that?
Over the past month or so, I’ve been stopping in there weekly and buying books at ever-decreasing discounted prices. It’s been a bit of a trip down memory lane, as my close circle of reading friends have moved away one-by-one, and the last time we were all together was over a year-and-a-half ago.
So my weekly visits have been with great sadness as I mourn the loss of those evenings spent sharing excitement over the latest books, as well as the loss of the gathering spot that allowed us to do so.
I’ve felt like a bit of a vulture picking at a carcass that wasn’t quite dead, and it got worse with each visit.
My last trip there was the day before they closed their doors permanently. Books were discounted down to 90% of their marked price, and then they announced all books were 10 for $9.99.
A buck apiece.
The feeding frenzy increased, and by the time I left with my armful of books, the bones were almost picked clean.
I felt ill.
Not only was it the closing of a community icon and gathering point, it was also representative of the changing industry and the lightspeed transition to e-books.
As much as I as an author will be benefitting from these changes, I still mourn the loss of the bookstores. I know that our Borders is only one of the thousands of bookstores that have closed up shop over the last few years as they crumpled beneath the heavy tread of Amazon. The e-book revolution is only hastening their demise.
I made one last visit to say goodbye to an old friend. I don’t know why I was drawn to the body, its paper flesh stripped from the bones of its shelving beneath its concrete skin.
But I had to see it. I had to see that it was dead, once and for all.
I have my memories, and several shelves full of books I may never get around to reading. And morbidly, I also have a few bones, and will always think of Borders whenever I look at the two used bookcases in the spare bedroom that still have Borders tags on them.
Goodbye, Borders. I’ll miss you.