Julia Park Tracey

Written by Catharine Bramkamp

Julia Park TraceyJulia Park Tracey is a busy author, active member of WNBA-SF Chapter, and was just honored as Poet Laureate for the town of Alameda. 

She is glad to part of a well-respected organization populated by strong, professional women. “I appreciate the women in this group for their mentoring, friendship and collective wisdom. WNBA is well known and commands respect. That always feels good when I talk about it.”

A question that we all may well ask is exactly how does one become a poet laureate? The poet, Mary Rudge, who served as Alameda’s Poet Laureate for ten years, passed away this year. Julia was simply encouraged to apply. “I was surprised to be selected. I am known for many other things besides poetry, but poetry is my first literary love. So I’m pretty chuffed about the title.”Amaryllis

Besides poetry, Julia is the editor for her aunt’s diaries. “The Doris Diaries is a women’s history project to publish the diaries of my late Aunt Doris, who was a flapper in the 1920s, a Bohemian and a student in the 1930s, and eventually a social worker in the 1940s. Her diaries are rich with Portland and San Francisco history. The two volumes I produced myself drew thousands of followers and readers, and garnered several awards. I published them to showcase the eloquent writing of this articulate young woman on the cusp of historic turning points. She never published them, so I’m fulfilling her legacy.The profits from the diaries go to a scholarship fund at her alma mater, Reed College.

I've got some loving to doThe Doris Diaries are loads of fun, because the more things change, the more they don’t: Doris’s trouble with men, with finding an affordable studio in San Francisco, with hating her boss, with partying all night, with crashing the car and having to explain to her parents—this is all stuff we can appreciate. But lard it with contemporary slang and news items, and you find yourself laughing all the harder. Or weeping for her. The project does, however, feel more scholarly, when looking up corroborating news items or locating where a certain house or restaurant might have been. Footnotes! Appendices! Indexing!

My own fiction is like letting the ponies run free—write a story from thin air and be the god of the characters’ lives. It’s positively Zeusian. It’s freeing, but then again, I have to do all the work, not merely clean up and straighten the chairs after the party (to mix metaphors a bit.) All the fun, all the responsibility.” 

BookTrope is re-publishing both the Doris volumes, plus Julia’s first novel, as well as a chick-lit series she is writing now. “BookTrope is very smart with its marketing. Their authors work with a team of editors, proofreaders, designers and marketers to give each book its best chance. And they have a massive database of blogs, web sites, and social media where readers look for books. Those readers are targeted, and BookTrope manages to put books—thousands of them, hundreds of thousands of them—into readers’ hands. That feels like they’re doing something right. 

I am delighted to say the switch was their idea. I was recommended by a sister author to BookTrope. They are only taking writers by personal recommendation these days (they were inundated with unsolicited subs and had to close the doors). I have a novel and two biographies that I indie-published, and in my few years of marketing, traveling, speaking and writing about these topics, I met enough other writers who saw my work and my efforts, and appreciated it enough to recommend me.”

Like many of us, Julia is not an overnight success. “What’s interesting is how success comes so slowly. You have to work for years to really get good at craft. I worked in the crucible of a newspaper, where there is no second draft, no second chance. And I started there before computers, so we literally had one shot, no corrections, and had to literally cut and paste before deadline. You learn to write cleanly, to get the material you need, because you can’t go back and check the website or get another interview.

There have been times when I burned with jealousy over other people’s successes (You got a book deal? Just like that? You write crap! What about meeee?). And it seemed that years went by and I did ‘nothing’ with my writing. But all of that living counts as apprenticeship, you know. It’s all material. Use it. Just keep writing. Keep submitting. And savor the journey.”

Visit Julia’s blog: http://www.juliaparktracey.com/

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