On the Road: How 10 of My Readings Went Wrong

Looks like the Titanic? In the lobby at the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco.
Looks like the Titanic? In the lobby at the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco.

Ever feel like a schmuck? I have the cure. In no particular order, here are some exciting or dreary adventures that happened to me whilst on the road or giving local readings. Feel better about yourself immediately upon reading!

  1. The bookstore owner giving the reading got my name wrong, my genre wrong, and said the novel (Tongues of Angels) was self-published when it small-press-pubbed. I may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Read more about this memorable event here.)
  2. The Portland bar that was supposed to premiere the Rebel Girl cocktail for the Doris Diaries debut forgot and did not buy any of the ingredients. Disappointing, after much ado, publicity, hoopla and advertising. Luckily, they had other alcohol. Lots of it.
  3. A second bar later on the same tour also did not buy the ingredients for the drink, and the owner was sick, leaving his right-hand man, a waiter, in charge. The right-hand man was annoyed at having a reader in the restaurant and only grudgingly set up the mic. He then stood in front of me, blocking me from the audience, as I was reading, and later, yelled at me in French from the back of the room. Yes, I was heckled in French in a Mexican restaurant in Arizona.
  4. A city library had zero attendees for my reading. I had bought advertising in the town ahead of time, sent flyers around, PRed like crazy, and so did the library. Two librarians came and listened to my presentation. We all felt like schmucks.
  5. I basically had to change my entire poetry reading at the podium because someone had brought impressionable children, just old enough to ask questions. The selection I had prepared was a romantic/sexy set of poems, and – I just couldn’t do sexy talk in front of the kids. Awkward? Yes.
  6. I pride myself on my vintage costumes when reading from The Doris Diaries. At a local reading for the first volume, I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do, I wore a lovely green ensemble, authentic from underpinnings outward. When I took my seat, I heard seams tear, I felt elastic give, and suddenly I was a sausage bursting its casing. With 50 people watching. #Sexy? You betcha.
  7. At another reading soon after, I wore a different vintage dress, less sausagy, but with some beautiful ribbon scrolls all around the skirt. As I waited for the reading to begin, I sat at a table and signed books. When I rose to go to the platform and read, the ribbonwork caught on the arm of the captain’s chair and tore out the back of the dress. I kept my front to the audience and kept smiling, despite the draft.
  8. I prepared a standard bio for the bookstore host to read in introducing me, but he scrapped that and instead, rewrote it in rhyme form (not his strong suit). I have blanked out most of the words, but what still haunts me is that final jarring line: “She’s always racy – Julia Park Tracey.” #fml
  9. I gave a poetry reading and had brought along my book, Amaryllis, for sale. As I grabbed one of them to sign, the book flipped open and I realized that the innards of the book were wrong. The inside sections were put together incorrectly, and the poems and acknowledgements were mixed up. Obviously a mistake at the printer – five years ago. I wonder in horror how many of those have been sold. #thingsthatkeepmeupatnight
    I travelled almost 4,000 miles by train in Fall 2012 to talk about Doris in Oregon, California, Arizona and New Mexico.
    I traveled almost 4,000 miles by train in Fall 2012 to talk about Doris in Oregon, California, Arizona and New Mexico.
  10. The time I was on tour, taking Amtrack from city to city, and the crew got my suitcase off the train but not my books. That’s right. Book store, no books. Ring this up: No sale.

I’m not done writing books or giving readings, so I expect I’ll have more adventures to add to this list in the next few months. (I’m in the throes of promoting Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop as we speak.)

In the meantime, be glad you’re not me.

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.

Doris and the Doctor

There’s a lot going on with the doctor in the Doris Diaries. If you’ve been following along in 1929 while Doris is still in high school, but is already 19 (she missed a lot of school because of her illnesses), she has an ongoing flirtation with the intern who she met when she was in the hospital. She goes to visit him in his office, and they flirt some more. It’s ongoing, and harmless. Or is it? (Remember, this is a true story, from Doris’s perspective. No way to prove or disprove what happened here. It’s what the diary says.) Please post to Facebook or Twitter what you think so far.

Saturday, April 20
Dr. Pochert, circa 1929
Oh! My gosh! Another red letter day in my life. And I love him. I know I do. I took an exam this morning, then to a show with Ruth, and then – to see my darling, oh so darling Dr. Pochert. I went in and he smiled and took my hands and looked down at me and said, “How’s my little girl?” And then we sat down and he looks so damned sweet and glad to see me. And I told him I’d been good since I’d been there. And he said he was glad. He said he’d worried because I hadn’t come. Afraid that I didn’t like him because of the lecture he gave me last time. He also said that he received a call late one night and chased all over in the country in the rain, frantic, afraid that I was in trouble. I told him about Dr. Khiel, too, and he got mad and his eyes snapped and he said for me not to go and see him anymore, that some doctors were that way but that it was awful.
And I said, “You wouldn’t act like that, would you?” And he blushed and looked embarrassed and looked into my eyes and said, “You wouldn’t like it, would you?” And I wanted to scream, “Yes, yes, yes, I’d love it.” But instead I said no, I wouldn’t come anymore. Damn fool me. And he said, “That settles it. I won’t.”          
Doris Bailey, circa 1929
Then we talked about various things and before I realized it, it was 10 minutes of six. And he said he’d drive me home, clear home. And I said no, he couldn’t do that. And he said, “Why not?” I allowed I allowed these other doctors privileges. I could give him this little one. And what could I say. So we went down stairs and he had the prettiest new blue Essex and was so boyishly proud of it. Bless his heart.
And he saying what a privilege it was for me to let him drive me home. We were talking about my coming over so seldom and I said, “You know you wouldn’t like it if I came every week. Be truthful.” And he looked at me and said, “Yes, I would like it.” And I said, “But you’d be bored, and it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” And he said, “Oh, so that’s why you come – for a variety. I’m a break in the monotony.” And I said, “No, I come because I like you.” And then we were talking about my never having flirted with him, or tried to “get him” and I said, “I wonder what would happen if I did.” And he said, “You’d better not try. There is no telling where it would and.” And then he said, “Why haven’t you ever tried? Is it because you don’t want to break up a happy home, or don’t I thrill you like another boy would? Is it just that I seem like 
an old man to you?” (Now why should he say that if he didn’t want me to encourage him. He did, I know now. But at the time I didn’t. If I had only said, you are married and so I couldn’t let myself take that attitude and then he would have said “pretend I’m not married.”) 
But I was a fool. And merely said, “No, it’s just that you haven’t had the chance to be thrilling.” And he said, “You’d better not give it to me, you might discover that I’m dynamite under control.” And again if I had only said, “All right I don’t believe it, and I’ll give you a chance.” Then he would have kissed me. I could kick myself, to let a chance like that slip by. Oh! I’m a fool.  

“You might discover that I’m dynamite under control”
Then I asked him what he really thought of me and he said, “I think you’re a good sport and I think if I had met you before I was married and we had gone out together, we would’ve had a good time, and it would have been an out and out love affair.” 
We kept it up, that kind of banter all the way home. The first time we’ve ever talked that way. And I might have had my heart’s desire – his arms and his kiss – if I hadn’t been so damned slow-witted and dumn. I’ll never have the same opportunity again. Never! And I love him. Gee whiz, how I love him. I paced the floor when I got back. I couldn’t hold myself in. I still want to scream and shriek. I want him. Oh God. How I want him, and I might have had him. Except for my dumbness. Oh damn, damn, damn. He thinks now that I think he’s just a man and that I’m not interested and etc. and I love him – oh my gosh how I love him.”
* * *
Schoolgirl crush? Inappropriate flirting between a schoolgirl and a married man? Inappropriate relationship between a doctor and patient? Or D, all of the above? 

Portland pioneer

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.