Catching up here at blog-central with some announcements and news and previews and hints at future nonsense...
I've Got Some Lovin' to Do did very well. Not quite the winner, but close. Which is better than the proverbial poke in the eye, no? The San Francisco Book Festival gave IGSLTD an honorable mention in Biography! And I also received this email: "Your book has been named a Finalist in the Memoir category of the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards."
2. So far so good! I also had a fantabulous review of IGSLTD posted yesterday by a San Francisco writer on the Broadway Books web site: BWW Reviews: "Party Lines and Party Dresses: A Look at New Work from Julia Park Tracey."
3. But that wasn't enough. My article in Alameda Magazine also just hit the stands, a feature on the Altarena Playhouse, which is just celebrating 75 years of theatrical hooha.
4. What next? IDK... How about the (re)release of Tongues of Angels in a matter of days? Like, Friday? How about that? You'll see that there's a giveaway on GoodReads right now through end of the month, and if you click on the link, you can enter for a free copy of TOA. You can order this through your local book store or you can click online and buy it there. Whatever works best for you. The ebook will not be up for another six weeks (it takes longer to format than print, if you can believe that one). I'll announce that when it's ready.
There will be an online party, what we call a virtual release party, on Facebook, and I'm also planning a brick-and-mortar, 3D, HD, real-time, face-time party. Otherwise known as a party. The theme? Tarts & Vicars, of course. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, you are welcome to attend. Photos will be posted.
That's what's new. Exciting times, my friends. Glad to be here.
And btw, Becca’s book, Junction, Utah, is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Not preachy at all, it gives an insider’s view of man vs nature, aka oil vs eco, in the pristine river valleys of Utah. Becca is a longtime river guide and a geologist as well; her science and eco background give the book urgency and authenticity. But the story – wow. An Iraq veteran with PTSD, a soft-spoken river guide, the true love of horses and the hay farmers of the valley, the smell of the river and the sound of the wind – these all come to life in Junction, Utah. Truly a beautiful story, with a message that is powerfully contemporary. I read this on my Kindle, and may have to buy a paperback to get her to sign it when the print version comes out. How does one get a Kindle signed, anyway?
JPT: Your writing stems so much from deep, personal experiences you’ve had. Junction, Utah, in specific, draws on your years as one of the first female river guides, but also politics that are dear to you. Have you entertained the notion of writing about something you’ve not experienced, and why or why not?
BL: Great question. There’s really a lot in Junction that I’ve not experienced, although I’m intimate with the setting and some of the characters. For example, the town of Junction is a sweet, slow-paced farming community, which isn’t anything I’ve viewed from the inside but had to research deeply. Also, explosives are key to the climax of the story, and I’ve only learned about their use in geologic exploration through friends in the business. I also have never had a family member go missing or experience the sorts of traumatic events Luke does, so those aspects, too, came from interviews and journal research.
Additionally, I’m working now on a collection of short stories about water and our relationship to it in a changing world. Many of the perspectives are new to me and have only come to my attention through travel. I’ve had to invent characters, dialogue, situations, and motives out of my observations--sort of bringing them to life but not actually living them. I’ve always had to go deep into my imagination to get a story out of the factual.
JPT: Your characterization of a recent war veteran with PTSD was deeply felt and not a little sad and disturbing. I appreciated how the recent war vet, the missing Vietnam war veteran, and the cafe owner (Fred of Fred’s Cafe) each portray different ways a soldier could come home -- broken, dead, or able to become whole again. Do you have a veteran in your life who showed you those facets?
BL: I have a lot of veterans in my life, and they were especially with me daily when I worked as a river guide in Grand Canyon. Many Vietnam vets found a temporary (sometimes decades-long) home in the Canyon. I’d known young men who’d been drafted and not come home, but I’d never worked shoulder to shoulder with men who’d been subjected to such horrors and had to learn to deal with it. They responded in every possible way you can imagine. And they more than anyone were the models for my veterans in Junction.
JPT: The river is a character itself in your novel. The natural world, the man-made “nature” of farming, and the man-made destruction through mining -- it seems that not all three can coexist. Was Junction, Utah, a manifesto of sorts for you?
BL: I suppose so. I didn’t want to preach, but I did want to create awareness about the fragility of our wild world. One thing I’ve learned through years of working as a scientist studying how natural systems respond to change is that they are much more vulnerable than I thought possible. A single road in a wilderness area causes a stream to start incising, or deeply eroding, its bed. I thought the planet was only responding recently to an overwhelmed carrying capacity. But really, we’ve been changing the world for a long time. We’re only now understanding how deep the response is in nature. The changes that come to community, too, are just as intriguing to me, and important. I wanted to write about both.
JPT: If you could pick the perfect setting in which to write, anywhere in the world, with any conditions, sounds, ambiance, time-frame, what would this look like?
BL: Overlooking water. The view from my hosts’ home in Sitka, Alaska, when I served a residency for The Island Institute was simply ideal. Outside, birds and whales were moving through their migrations. I didn’t even have to stand up to view ducks I’d never seen before, or whales rising, or winds whipping the clouds into fabulous storms. There was inspiration right out the window, and the quiet that came from being in retreat.
I do best, too, when I can join my family for dinner after a day of writing. I like to be alone when I’m working, and have space to think, but I also crave the balance of being with those I love.
JPT: How spiritual is your experience in nature? Do you count yourself more as a scientist in awe of Nature, or a pagan worshiping nature, or are you a follower of institutionalized religion in awe of Creation?
BL: I love nature, but I don't know if I worship it. I grew up with it, so maybe it's more like a friend to me.
I became a scientist because I wanted to learn how to describe what I was seeing in the world. I wanted to acquire a language for it. Writers who understood how the world works impressed me. Ed Abbey had been in the military, and he could really write about guns. Wallace Stegner knew engineering principles, and he could explain and use as metaphor concepts like the Doppler Effect. Mary Austin knew the native people in the Inyo Valley, and she wove their stories into her narratives naturally and believably. When I fell in love with rivers, I wanted to speak for them with an authentic voice. So I poured all my studying into developing it.
I once had a doctor who told me I did things the hard way, and now I see that diving into earth sciences when you want to be a writer might fall into the category of doing things the hard way. But that was my journey. And I did end up getting a new doctor.
JPT: How does your admiration and respect for the planet carry over into daily life for you? Are you an avid recycler, creative reuser, composter, etc?
BL: I do all those things, and I have since I was a teenager. Right now I don't own a car, and every time I come close to purchasing one, I find at the core of my reluctance to own one my desire to change our incredible thirst for oil.
JPT: How politically active are you about caring for the rivers of America? Do you sign petitions, go door to door, work for political committees, or write editorials?
BL: I don't go to door to door, but I have gathered signatures on petitions. I have written and still write editorials and essays, and I work for an environmental nonprofit organization that does watershed research and restoration. I also serve on the Board of Directors for Friends of the River, which advocates for wild rivers in California. However I believe that the act of writing stories holds more potential to persuade people to care about rivers than just about any other thing I can do. Words that have impacted and educated me the most have almost always been in novels or plays: To Kill a Mockingbird, Ruined, Desert Solitaire, The Bean Trees, Romeo and Juliet, Equivocation, and The River Why are just a few. In writing Junction, Utah, I wanted to join the ranks of those who used art to change the world. No small task!
Read Rebecca Lawton’s Junction, Utah, available at Amazon, Smashwords, or through your fave indie bookstore. Comments or Qs? Leave ‘em below.
I had a very successful adventure in Portland, OR, the last week of March. I went with the sort of nebulous idea of "research," thinking I'd spend a lot of time in the Multnomah County Library, and I did, and I learned a lot of great information. But that's not all. Here are some of the exciting things that took place last week:
1. I went to Reed College, which is Doris's alma mater, and gave a lengthy and detailed presentation to the Foster-Scholtz Club (an alumni group) about Doris's four years there. It was a terrific group of people who were so interested that honestly, you could have heard a pin drop. So engaged and fascinated -- a very different audience than the high school students to whom I have been presenting lately. I also donated the first set of diaries to the Reed College library, and saw the archives where they will be kept: humidity-free, acid-free, fire-safe. So much better than my desk drawer... We toured the campus and spoke to the registrar about possibly getting Doris's school records sometime in the future. A beautiful campus, indeed. Especially with spring blossoms and tulips everywhere.
2. I connected with the kind people at the Oregon Historical Society, and they welcomed me in. I took along some old photo albums and shared those; I left one behind to be fully scanned and added to the library there (I will retrieve it in September when I return).
3. I spent time with the Architectural Heritage Center in Portland. Val Ballestrom opened the center's files on L.R. Bailey (Doris's father, the architect), and gave me copies of all they had. Unfortunately, this wasn't much -- but I had some good finds and shared those. The secondary project of creating a book dedicated to the legacy of Doris's father, Luther R. Bailey, is off to a good start.
4. I visited with Doug Whyte at the restored Hollywood Theater on Sandy Boulevard -- the one which opened in 1926 and Doris passed by, admiring the lights and the throngs of people.
I will be launching volume two, Reaching for the Moon: More Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen, in September at the Hollywood, with a special 1920s movie night. Were thinking Champagne and Hollywood glam costumes from the 1920s. If you're in Portland or environs, put September 25 on your calendar now.
5. Daughter Mia, who was my personal assistant and photographer, and I went to tea at the Heathman Hotel and wandered around Broadway and other downtown areas, snapping photos of places Doris mentioned in her diaries. We also rented a car one day and drove up to see the house on Culpepper Terrace, the house on The Alameda, and the house on NE 23rd Avenue, where Doris lived in all her years in Portland. We took a road trip to Salem to meet with Facebook friend Heather Ryan, who is a member of the Oregon Writers' Collective, and stopped in Oak Grove to see the house where Doris's best friend Marjie Dana lived. The Dana house in Oak Grove is on the National Historic Registry now, as Marjie's father, Marshall Dana, was the editor of the Oregonian newspaper for many years and very well known in Portland and local area.
6. I was interviewed by news radio KXL by Lacey Evans, a charming woman who had read the diaries and enjoyed them in I've Got Some Lovin' to Do. The short interview (just a few minutes long) ran twice, and I will attach the mp3 if I can make the technology behave. (fingers crossed)
7. I had a meetup with a handful of Doris fans at the Laughing Planet Cafe in NW Portland, and that was a nice chance to relax and chat with people who are new to Doris and her adventures as well as people who have been following her for a while now. Thanks for coming out, friends!
It's hard to believe I have been curating these diaries for less than two years, but it's true. In fact, it's not until September that I really hit the anniversary marker. March is a good but sad month, because it's Doris's birthday (March 11) but also the month in which she died (March 21), and because it's also Women's History Month, I feel like that's a great way to remember Doris and honor her legacy. I hope, yes, I fervently hope that she knows this and is glad.
In April: The new Doris Diaries web site will come online (a few months behind, oops!), and I am relaunching Tongues of Angels, the novel first published 10 years ago. Lots more blogging to come -- and I will be interviewing two of my sister authors later this month about their new works. Come back and say hi, will ya?
See you in the cloud.
I did post a lot of snippets to Facebook, but those are int he moment. So here are some of the greatest hits of my book tour.
1) Meeting Facebook and Twitter and Compact and other email friends in real time -- seeing their faces, getting to hug them and share a coffee or wine or beer or tasty snack with them. Finally, faces to the "voices" or words that I so often see. I loved that.
2) Doris on the road: People who had never heard of Doris have fallen in love. The highest percentage of any audience who had heard of Doris was about half. That means the other half walked away knowing about Doris. And sometimes no one knew who Doris was, and walked away loving her. Win-win!
3) Getting to track Doris in Portland. I saw the street she lived on, saw houses her father built, saw vistas she had seen. Of course there is plenty I did not see, but I found evidence of her in the library and at her former school, and that felt very validating. Also, digging into a trove of letters and photos in Albuquerque, as my Aunt Barbara (Doris's niece) lent me more family documents and albums to look through. I have lots of work to do -- and can't wait.
4. Costumes! I wore several different costumes in my travels -- flapper wear, day dresses, jewelry and head-wear. Sometimes others dresses up with me, and sometimes I was shockingly alone in my venture (such as the betting parlor I walked into, dressed as a flapper (not on Halloween), and was mistaken for a different kind of lady altogether). Exciting times, my friends.
5) Train travel. This is how Doris traveled back in her day -- in the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s. I felt a kinship when traveling through places Doris mentions in her diaries, and I felt connected with passengers who asked where I was headed, and then seemed delighted to hear of Doris. I sold books on the train, in both directions. Train travel is cool. No doubt.
6) Incidental tourism. I got to see lots of Portland, the whole length of Oregon, California and much of the Arizona and New Mexico high desert. I enjoyed a short visit to the Huntington Gardens in Los Angeles, saw petroglyphs in Albuquerque, Lynx Lake and the Dells in Arizona, and more thrift stores throughout the Northwest and Southwest than I should admit to. All good. All bonus. Loved it.
7) I'm a better speaker now than I was before I started. I like talking about Doris. I am enjoying the journey, literally and metaphorically. And Doris has been with me, somehow, along the way.
8) The tour was not without its bumps. A couple of places that were going to offer The Rebel Girl were unable to source the ingredients (I thought them easy to get, but I was wrong). One event was marred by rudeness and obstruction, but I smiled past it and didn't let it ruin the night. Pouring rain did not deter history buffs in Portland, however. And being told I was not Stephen King did not bother me. I'm not Danielle Steele, either. In fact, I'm not even Doris Bailey. Just me. Happy to be so.
9) Real hang-out time with some good friends: Katy, Lisa, Jeff, Angela, Max, Kelly, Heather, Debra, Aunt Barbara -- quick meals, late night heart-to-heart or car-time catch-up. All good.
10) The kindness of strangers: feeling welcome wherever I went (except that one place I won't mention again), including train porters, hotel bell-persons, conductors, waiter-staff, concierges, drivers, friends' family members forced to put up with me as a house guest, salon employees, train passengers and taxi drivers. Nice people out there -- of all kinds. I like that a lot.
Good times. More to come -- after I get home.
But anyhoo, that's what's up. I have two readings on the first two nights, and I have a meetup with Doris fans if there are any in Portland. I also am going to hang out with a couple of Portland history nerds who have promised to talk about PDX history til we puke. Or some such.
I have a plan to rent a car and drive myself around to see various and sundry places. Doris's former houses in Portland. Her schools. Where best friend Marjie lived in Oak Grove, and Doris lived when she was away from her family (1928-29 school year). I want to spin around Reed College and see what I can see. What Doris might have seen. Looking forward to some one-on-one time with Doris-in-my-head.
Then we talk about local readings again -- Petaluma and San Francisco and Redding. Very exciting, all of it.
I will be posting to Facebook and probably to my blog, and here's hoping I don't have any more adventures of "Julie Parker, Woman of Mystery," but you never know. So far -- so good.
Check out the Doris Diaries web site if you want details about where I'm reading -- everything is posted on the Book Tour page, up-to-date. As soon as I get info, I update this. Trust me.
Otherwise, I'll be tweeting and sniping from Facebook. Same as it ever was.
Also, in case you thought I wasn't being green anymore, I am. I bought a carbon credit to offset my train trips and use exclusively recycled paper products in everything I produce or sen d out. I also chose print on demand (POD) for the very purpose of working green. Hope that gives you some shiny green comfort. (hearts)
Peace be to you and yours.
Anyhoo, the book is out, and if you like Doris and her diaries, hie thee to a bookstore and beg them to carry it. Especially Books, Inc. and Copperfield's, and Powell's (Portland), as well as Barnes and Noble (They have some kind of sweetheart deal with iUniverse.). They are all the likeliest candidates on the block. But if you have a local bookstore that carries it, will you let me know? Because I want to say very nice things to that bookstore.
So what's on my agenda? How am I dealing with it all? What the heck am I doing? Oh, gosh. How to begin? I spent yesterday writing follow-up emails to people who had expressed interest in Portland and the Bay Area about book events. Each letter had to be hand-crafted and tailored to that event or person so this was starting afresh for each. I think I sent out about eight of these -- following up, as I say, on events in Portland -- there are two drinkie-evenings with storytelling, two day-long educational opportunities (one college, one private school), three independent bookstore/chains, and a women's club in LA. I have more outreach to LA, and soon as I get that settled, I get on to Albuquerque and those events, and then I can get busy with Arizona. And then I can buy my train tickets. And then I can pack and go.
But first: I have to get my danged costumes ready. I have one kind of ready. I have accessories for another one ready. I have materials and patterns for 3 dresses. Nothing more done there. But I need costumes by September, as I am going to several vintage clothing events and antiques events where I can promote the book. Also going to the Gatsby Summer Afternoon picnic, hosted by the Art Deco Society of California, which should be yummy fun. I have to, HAVE TO get myself dressed for that before Sept. 9.
|The Rebel Girl|
What else? I have finished my freelance work for the fall. I would ordinarily be drumming up work for December-March right now (long deadlines in the magazine world), but am taking a hiatus from that work. I can't commit to doing local interviews, etc, for publications while I'm on the road talking about Doris. So here's hoping for success, and that I don't regret having turned down steady work (look ------> leap of faith.....)
Um. Also. A virtual book tour in November. Contacting sister and fellow bloggers to connect and appear in their blogs without leaving my chair in November. Planning a speakeasy event in Petaluma. Planning a speakeasy event in Alameda. Planning a speakeasy event in San Francisco. Fashion and music. Hairdos and beverages. And continuing to transcribe Doris's next diaries so that the next volume marches onward.
That's what I'm doing. It's all good. It's a lot of fun. It's exciting. It's scary. See first paragraph for cocktail shaker of emotions. Agitate. Pour over ice. Add paper umbrella with a cherry and orange slice impaled on it. Sip.
If you have purchased your book, no matter where you got it, go to Amazon and write a review for me? It moves the book up the charts if people review it. It bumps it up on Google as well as online retailers. Thank you. Here's a quick link to that site (hold your smart phone up to the QR code). Or, just click here.
And...if you see the book in a bookstore, will you snap a photo and send it to me? I would be so thrilled to see it there. I would get in my car and drive there and stand by the display and weep openly. That would be awesome. Thank you.
I'll be blogging here more often as this project progresses. My Green House is chillin' and getting ready for winter, and we haven't worked on it, so no "green" posts for the meanwhile. No more chickens, no more laundry line. Just me and a book, heading for the open road. What's not to like? :)
Modern Muse Feb 20 04
Woman of Mystery
By Julia Park
I waited till I got out the door, across the parking lot and into my car before screaming. I had just left the book-signing from hell, held, appropriately, on Friday the 13th. I was supposed to participate in a “romance tableau” in honor of Valentine’s Day and was looking forward to reading a short, evocative excerpt from my contemporary novel at the event. Alas, it was not to be.
Despite the foul weather and appalling traffic, I arrived on time at the bookstore, where the manager said they were expecting a big crowd. The other reader was a romance novelist who has written about 24 books in less than 10 years. The writer asked if this was my first book, and when I said yes, she gave me a lecture about how I should always bring freebies to give away to the audience and my publisher should provide those. Then she looked at my photo on the back of the book and said, “That’s not very good.” She flipped through the pages and criticized my writing. She was also not thrilled to have to share the spotlight with the likes of me. By this time I felt we were on the road to a solid friendship and I took my seat.
Fabulous Romance Writer apparently has a big fan base, as the entire audience came out to see her, not me. No one knew who I was or why I was there except the owner, and she was late. When the owner arrived, she introduced us to the audience, first, Fabulous, who the owner said would tell about the joys of being published by a major house, and then she pointed at me and said -- and I quote, “This is Julie Parker and she wrote a mystery and published it herself. Now they’re going to tell about their very different experiences...”
I was, um, speechless, to say the least. Which to correct first? My name? The fact that I don’t even read mysteries, much less write them? That the book is at least under the auspices of a small publisher? That I came prepared to read my novel, not compare my miserable existence to that of the Fabulous One? But there was no time for that; it was time to hear what Fabulous had to say.
She talked for a good half hour about herself and her books and herself and her editor and publisher and herself and herself, mildly interesting to me though clearly exciting to all her fans. Since I was sitting with her in front, I smiled and nodded and looked interested the whole time while feeling like the fifth wheel. I wondered, if I had written a mystery, what it would be about. I toyed with the notion of legally changing my name to Julie Parker, in hopes of hearing it pronounced, “Julia Park.” And I thought about my novel -- which takes on some contemporary issues in the Catholic Church: the nun who wants to be ordained, the priests with celibacy issues, the power struggles, the politics -- and thought, "I’m at the wrong reading. I’m at the wrong bookstore. These people don’t want to hear what I have to say. They are lighting pitchforks and sharpening torches as we speak."
When I got to speak, I skirted the story itself and instead gave a little background, then just talked about writing and the difficulty I had with finding an agent with the controversial subject matter. A woman from the audience offered a comment. “I read your book,” she said. “And you’re right. The Catholic Church does hate you.” She said she thought the book was “interesting.” We all know what that means.
Then a minister at the back of the room said he thought I was brave and he admired my courage. Later on, he bought my book, asked me to sign it, slipped me his card and asked me to call him. For a date. “Send me an e-mail and we’ll talk,” he said with a smile. I am going to have some new business cards made up that say, “Julie Parker, Woman of Mystery,” just for these occasions.
But wait – there’s more. Turns out there was an editor for a romance magazine in attendance. I offered my book to the editor and asked if she might like to review it. She looked at me and said, “Oh. Well. I don’t think so. No.”
After I left the bookstore, I reflected back on a past book-signing event, where I had sat for two hours and received more compliments on my shoes than sales of my book. I was wearing those same lucky shoes for Friday the 13th. When I got to the restaurant where I was meeting a friend for dinner, the hostess stopped me to gush over my shoes.
Per the advice of Fabulous, I am planning to give a pair of free shoes with the purchase of one of my books.
Julie Parker, Woman of Mystery, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.