Tour des Livres de Oregon, et al

I’m leaving on Sunday, on the train. I am not a fan of flying, though I’ll do it. But, given the choice, I like the train better. I like being able to walk around, see where we are, eat dinner from china plates and watch the landscape roll by. My great aunt Doris traveled by train. So I’m taking the train on my book tour. It starts Sunday, and we (and by we, I mean Doris-who-lives-in-my-head and me, just us two. Just me, actually.) — we get on the train in Oakland at 9pm and arrive in Portland at 4pm, -ish. Then I have to skeedaddle to my hotel because I’m onstage at 7 p.m. In costume. Speaking intelligently. Ha.

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 home — another 18 hour ride in the train, overnight again, and a weekend of laundry, and then a couple ‘nother weeks on a train starting in Los Angeles, then to Albuquerque, and then to Flagstaff/Prescott, and then back to Oakland. On the train I will give at least one reading, too. How cool is that?

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.

Book-crazy. No, I mean it.

Well, here we are. The book is out. This is a picture of the cover (squee!). I’m excited, exhausted, elated, freaked out, nervous, very happy, terrified, anxious, pleased as punch, sick to my stomach… well, you get the idea. The weight of the pressure of success is enormous — which makes it like riding a big wave off Hawaii. Which I have never done, because I fear sharks and drowning, and also a long flight to Hawaii over miles of open water. But I digress.

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

I have ordered promotional postcards. I have bookmarks in the design phase. I have recipe cards for the Doris cocktail, aka The Rebel Girl, ready to print — but we need to make them one more time to make sure the recipe is good and not just the strange result of too much mixology and tasting our own wares. I may want to re-photograph it, too. Otherwise, ready to hit “send” and get those printed up. My dining room-office has piles of newspapers and magazines to whom I plan to send PR. There’s also a large box with Doris coffee mugs and diaries. I need to buy some fountain pens. These are raffle prizes. I am excited to see those come out at upcoming events.

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?  🙂

Woman of Mystery

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

beyond the house

Doris, age 16, in 1926, with her Aunt Mae, left.

Hey, loyal followers — just wanted to post a link to my current project. Since my Great Aunt Doris passed away in March 2011, I inherited her journals, and have since been transcribing and compiling them for posterity. Fabulous funny stuff from a rebellious teenager in the Roaring 20s, spirited entries from a stubborn college girl in the Great Depression, and delicious posts from an independent young woman arriving in San Francisco on the eve of World War II.

Love, laughter, cocktails and lovers — it’s all there.

I may not be posting at the Muse for a while as the Doris Diaries gets on its feet as a project, so do check in at the following sites:

The Doris Diaries: Complete diary entries with photos and history

Daily tweets in Doris’s own words on Twitter

Funny Facebook posts on her own fan page

Want to chat? Drop me a line at my own email address (posted in my profile at right).
Thanks for the love and I’ll be back here in a little while — with more house photos and green stuff.

Doris in her 80s with me and my daughters, Occidental, CA.