Merry, merry month of May

I spent April in a frenzy of family activities, spring break, out-of-town visitors, and then playing catch-up, but when May 1 rolled around, it was nose-to-grindstone time. I am working a 31-day fast-draft challenge to finish my WIP, a genre chick-lit novel that is sexy romantic suspense. It will be released under the Scarlet Letter Press indie imprint in early summer under my pen name of Jae Bailey. More deets to follow. But trust me. It will be fun.

News on Reaching for the Moon:More Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1927-1929) — the second Doris Diaries volume received an honordoris_cover2able mention at the San Francisco Book Festival.

One of my short stories, from my unpublished collection, Wedlock: A Fictional Memoir, won honorable mention, that is, fourth place nationally in the Women’s National Book Association short fiction contest in late April.

I taught three rounds of kids’ journalism classes in Alameda over the school year, and, in fact, just finished the final class today. Three sessions of four weeks each gave the kids exposure to news-writing, what makes a story, parts of the newspaper, and the difference between hearsay and fact-based news.  With students from fourth through seventh grades, the classes were rambunctious, enthusiastic and ultimately dynamic learning environments, as we talked over animal rights, the Olympics, climate change and racism, depending on the prevailing winds. Good times for all, and a real newspaper of their own making in their hands at the end of each 4-week session.

I’m freelancing on some magazine work just now, and will have some stories up in the next few months. I have deadlines next week, and have been interviewing and gathering info along the way. My favorite kinds of assignments are literary, food and beverage, and arts, and that’s just what’s on the agenda for me. I’ll post links when the stories go up.

The other news is that I set aside Volume 3 of The Doris Diaries for now, which I had planned for fall release, and am focusing on Doris in San Francisco. The year is 1938, and I am working hard to get a manuscript together for a July 1 deadline — for a historical book award. The prize is publication, so I am writing hard and fast to make it happen. If that falls through, I will still shop the volume to regional publishers, and I have high expectations of success with Doris’s vivid writing and historical cachet. Go, Doris! I can’t wait for her fame flag to fly.

Happy May, and may all be well with you.


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.

Big Plans. Little Brain.

Sitting here in the lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn, Flagstaff, Arizona, with a couple of hours to kill before my train leaves, and finally I have the bandwidth to sit and blog a bit. I had grander aspirations of blogging my way through the book tour, but who did I think I was — Doris? I’m no diarist.
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.