Big plans, big big plans

Busy days. (Note to self: why is “busy” spelled this way but sounds like “bizzy”?) I know, I’m addicted to busy, but life is full and there’s always a lot to do. Indulge me, will you?

April and May were full of Tongues of Angels adventures, because Indie-Visible released the novel as a 10-year anniversary edition, and I was all over the place online, in several blog-carnations. It was good. It was busy, but it was good. That firmly under way, I turned to finishing off the second of the volumes of collected diaries, and all the proofing, indexing and final approvals needed.

All to good ends, friends, because the second installment of the Doris Diaries is here: Reaching for the Moon. Yes. It is finished, and ready for your approval and delight (click that little link and it will take you to Amazon, or print the page and take it to your indie bookstore and ask for them to order it special via Ingram.) And if you read it and like it, why PLEASE do go to that Amazon page, or Goodreads, and post a review? Because it is fresh and new, there are zero reviews yet.

And lord knows, I love a review.

I’m in the midst of planning what’s next, that is — book tour! I have a handful of dates in the Bay Area this fall, and a week in Portland set for September. Southern California and Arizona visits are also in the works. Very exciting events coming this way:

  • Sept. 3-9, a giveaway on GoodReads (5 copies of Reaching for the Moon)
  • Sept. 7: Neptune Beach Festival, Alameda — I’m reading (in costume) 1-1:30 onstage, between bands!
  • Sept. 8: Art Deco Society’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon (costumes required! hosting a table, signing books)
  • Sept. 21: Sonoma County Book Fest (at Santa Rosa Jr. College), all day; Indie-Visible book table (signing books)
  • Sept. 22-28: Portland via Coast Starlight train
    • Sept. 24: Architectural Heritage Center: speaking on “The Works of Luther R. Bailey,” Doris’s father (my great-grandfather) – 7 pm
    • Sept. 25: Hollywood Theatre, Sandy Boulevard. “Wings” silent movie featuring the accompaniment of the Columbia River Theatre Organ Society. Complimentary Champagne and book launch, brief reading before film. Book signing, 6:30. Film at 7. $10/general; $8 seniors/students, $7 members of the Hollywood Theatre.
    • Sept. 26 (tentative): Cocktail reception at Heathman Hotel, featuring no-host bar, costumed reading.
    • Sept. 27: Eugene, OR: Tsunami bookstore reading, with other women writers. 7 p.m. Book signing after.
  • Oct. 6: Sonoma County book launch, Occidental Center for the Arts, 4 p.m. Slide show, author interview and Q&A. 
  • Oct. 25: Doris in San Francisco; The Rabbit Hole, 7 p.m. Featuring costumed bartenders, reading, music of the Jazz Age.
  • TBA: Books Inc. Alameda reading.
So there you have it. A busy schedule, with travel, meeting far-flung friends and more. Watch for updates….those TBAs and Tentatives will turn to solid gold soon.

Blogging beautifully…virtual tour underway

Seriously? You could have one of these.

Busy week, my friends! This week I’m on a virtual book tour for Tongues of Angels: A Novel, and the week started out with a bang on Sunday night. Mr. Husband and I went on the radio to talk about the Catholic Church, baseball and what makes a good marriage (they’re asking us!??) The radio station was FCC Free Radio, “Radio for the People, by the People!” It was an entertaining conversation with host Ralph “Zig” Tyko.

Monday was double duty. I visited two blogs at once (you can do that when it’s virtual. In real life, not so much). Writer Tomi L. Wiley invited me to her blog to chat over the origins of Tongues of Angels. (Read about that right here.) The Twitterverse liked it so well that the interview was picked up on Inktuition. So that was cool.

The same day I shared that charming story about my book-signing event back in 2004 when I was universally hated. At that event. Not the whole world. [koff] I hope. This story appeared on Christina Mercer’s blog and was met (this time) with resounding praise and fanfare in social media. What a lovely thing it is not to be hated!

Tuesday was a hit with Lady Amber, famous for reviewing indie books of all stripes, who allowed me gracious use of her page. She is hosting a giveaway *as we speak* for a signed copy of Tongues of Angels. All you have to do is go to the site and click a few buttons. Promise, it won’t hurt a bit. That giveaway ends Friday, so don’t miss it!

Today (Wednesday) was my day to visit Rachel Thompson’s blog, but she liked my post so well that she held it for #MondayBlogs, when it is sure to pick up more readers. That’s cool, and gave me an extra day to enjoy yesterday’s successes. (Check back here to see it when it’s up.)

I have dates to visit with Jordan Rosenfeld tomorrow and Rebecca Lawton on Friday. Sunday is the kicker to this week of whack — an online party where you simply show up at 6 pm Pacific Time (that is, be on Facebook at that time), and play along with some of the party games we’ll be having. Trivia, picture-finds, and more, resulting in red rosaries for everyone, and prizes including paperback and ebook versions of Tongues of Angels, Starbucks cards, cards and more. That’s right. PRIZES. Free stuff. Who doesn’t like that?

So stick around. You might be a winner….

Ciao, bellas!

Authors’ Blog Hop is on its way!

Hey! Wanna get to know some new authors? I am part of an independent authors’ blog hop in the next week, where dozens of authors will be sharing their stories, books, and knowledge. The Blog Hop links them all, so if you go to one, you can enter a drawing to win that author’s book, or to another and win other prizes. And guess what? I’m offering prizes right here!!!

Yes. I am.

<< Tongues of Angels: A Novel and a shiny red rosary, for your own prayer use, home decor or art project (these haven’t been blessed, so no one is desecrating religious objects, in case you were concerned). I like to have one in my car hanging from the rear view mirror. Whenever I get into rough traffic, I grab it and say a few Hail Marys. (That’s how I roll. Literally.)

So who’s running this blog hop, anyway? Lady Amber Reviews, a sassy little minx who loves to read and talk about books. You like the romance? She’s got romance. You like the paranormal? She’s got the paranormal. You like the erotic? She’s got the erotic. And then she’s got this weird one called Tongues of Angels that no one knows that to do with. Yeah. That’s me. Anyway. Onward.

Want to know more about the Blog Hop? Visit the event page on Facebook or on GoodReads and check it out!

And there are more virtual events this month surrounding Tongues of Angels. I will post more about them soon. More chances to win, more articles to read, and more reviews, too.

The Blog Hop runs today (July 3) through July 11, and there will be a giveaway on the last day. I will post the details on how to enter and win tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are the writers who are participating, in one teeny link. Check them out — truly, these are all passionate authors who are giving their souls on a platter… Blog Hop Author Roll.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Independence Day, too!

Oodles of goodness

Catching up here at blog-central with some announcements and news and previews and hints at future nonsense…

1) The Doris Diaries is doing beautifully. So beautifully that we won two awards in the past week. In the past day, actually. Yesterday, Monday, May 6, I got news from two separate book contests that 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.



Earth Day authordom: Becca Lawton and the rivers of Utah

Longtime Modern Muse readers know I’m kind of a green freak (kind of? Well, I pretty much bleed green. Creepy!). I have been working with a number of stellar authors lately in a women’s publishing consortium called Indie-Visible, and one of the authors is even greener than I am. Which is pretty hard to believe. Anyhoo, I interviewed her to learn more about her book and her passion for rivers, and am posting the results of that conversation here, for your reading pleasure.

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?

Here’s Becca:

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.

Follow Becca on GoodReads (hey, you can follow me there, too!).