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7:10am – Olive wakes up.
7:11am – David & Arielle wake-up.
7:12am – 7:33am – Olive watches Clifford the Big Red Dog. David and Arielle sleep.
7:34am – 7:52am – David & Arielle frantically cram clothes, computer cords and Dora the Explorer coloring books into bags. Olive dresses, dances, sings and asks David & Arielle to read her Dora the Explorer.
7:53am – 7:58am – D, A & O shlep WAY TOO MUCH stuff: suitcases, backpacks, satchels and tote bags, into elevator. O pushes elevator buttons with tremendous glee.
7:59am – 8:08am – A checks out, D negotiates with ridiculously understaffed and thoroughly confused parking attendants until they retrieve the hybrid rental car. O dances, sings, and asks to play tag.
8:09am – 8:12am – A & D cram WAY TOO MUCH stuff into hybrid rental.
8:13am – 8:28am – D drives, A navigates, then fills hybrid tank with gas so they won’t be charged $14 a gallon by Hertz
8:29am – 8:34am – D & A unload WAY TOO MUCH stuff out of hybrid rental onto sidewalk while O dances, sings, and asks to color in her Dora the Explorer coloring book.
8:35am – 8:39am – Good-hearted salt-of-the-Earth Midwestern Hertz employee takes pity on D, A & O and drives them and their WAY TOO MUCH stuff right to Continental check-in.
8:40am – 8:47 – Continental charges us $50 to check a bag and a box of books while O & D play tag.
8:48am – 8:59am – A & D shove WTM stuff through x-ray scanner while O sings American Pie.
9:00am – 9:26am – D, A & O eat truly gruesome breakfast at Carl & Erma’s restaurant inside the Dayton International Airport. Carl & Erma should be ashamed.
9:27am – 10:21am – A tries to get that taste of Carl & Erma out of her mouth while D repeatedly belches fire burps and plays hide and seek, tag and does 50m sprints with O.
10:22am – Continental announces 10:48 flight delayed due to unspecified mechanical issues.
10:23am – D sighs with irritated resignation. A begins to worry. O asks to color in her Dora the Explorer coloring book.
10:24am – 10:48am – A & O color in Dora the Explorer coloring book. D writes blog.
10:49am – Continental announces 10:48am flight delayed indefinitely due to further unspecified mechanical issues. Mechanics have been summoned, but have not yet arrived.
10:50am – D grunts with exasperated frustration. A worries with deeper intensity. O requests juice box.
10:51am – 11:22 – D teaches O to run backwards. Just in case, A makes sure they are booked on next flight out, but there is no next flight out until 8pm. So she books them on flight to Cleveland where they will have to pick up a second plane to get to Newark.
11:23am – Continental announces 10:48am flight delayed even more indefinitely. Mechanics nowhere to be found.
11:24am – D groans with dyspeptic agitation. A worries that D will have nervous breakdown. O announces need to go pee-pee.
11:25am – 11:31am – D takes O into foul hell-smelling men’s bathroom, wondering if the women’s bathroom could possibly be this nastily funkified. O pee-pees. A edits D’s blog.
11:32am – 11:38am – O & D play hide’n’seek, tag, and do 50m sprints. D helps O develop running-backwards skills. O. while running backwards, slams her head HARD, with a sickening SMACK, on the sharp edge of the ledge behind which the Continental employees stand.
11:39am – 11:48am – O howls, yowls, screams, shrieks and cries hysterically. A comforts while D apologies to O. A runs to get “boo-boo ice” while D continues to apologize and comforts O.
11:49am – 11:56am – “Boo-boo ice” relieves pain for O while A gives kisses hugs, and D apologizes some more.
11:57am – 12:09pm – O announces she’s all better and wants to run races. D & O run 50m sprints. A worries.
12:10pm – Continental announces 10:48am flight canceled.
12:11pm – D screams “OH MY GOD!” way too loud! A worries that D may have an aneurism.
12:12pm – O tells D in a sweet voice: “Daddy, don’t freak out.”
12:13pm – D & A crack up. O asks to hold hands & dance.
12:14pm – 12:19 D demands to know what Continental is going to do to compensate him for his suffering. Continental tells him he can have a shitty free lunch. Proving once again: There is no such thing as a free lunch.
12:26-1:40 A reads New Yorker while D & O do some sprints, and run backwards very carefully.
1:41-1:49: D, A & O hump WAY TOO MUCH stuff into tiny, scary, twin propeller airplane.
1:50-1:56: O freaks out when propellers start. A & O happen to be sitting in row right with propellers, which like they’re going to propel right into the plane. O cries. A comforts.
1:57 O calms as the propellers disappear in their speed. A calms. D laments.
1:58-2:30 O, A, & D fly from Dayton to Cleveland.
2:31-2:41 Plane to Newark is in whole other terminal. O, A & D have to schlep WTM stuff for what feels like miles. O decides she no longer wants to carry her suitcase.
2:42-3:31 O & D play tag, sing, dance, pee-pee in foul Cleveland Men’s room, and run 50m dashes. A buys remarkably decent salad, which they all consume.
3:32-3:33 Continental announces that plane is delayed to Newark
3:34-5:15 D makes crazy sounds, A freaks out, O is starting to show signs that a breakdown is impending.
5:16-7:01 O, A & D fly from Cleveland to Newark, happy to be finally really on their way home.
6:50-7:09 O, A & D de-plane, fetch and lug WAY TOO MUCH STUFF to curb side of Newark International Airport. O & D run 50m sprints, dance and play tag.
7:10-7:59 Granville, husband of O’s babysitter, picks up O, A & D and their WTM stuff into Lincoln town car. Granville drives to Montclair while D&A stare like road-burned zombies and O falls into a coma-like sleep.
8:00-8:03: D carries O sleeping into their house and gently places her in her bed. O never stirs. A trundles WTM stuff out of large dark car into home where Joann, A’s mom has a home made dinner waiting to be eaten.
8:04 A & D collapse. Never have been happier to be home…
Thanks to Savannah Ashour for being an awesome editor, writing a beautiful post about our event at B & N upper east side, and being a swell human.
The Essential Guide Tour Pitchapalooza #9: An NPR Homey, Finding Happiness @ Books & Co & the Dayton Airport Blues
Exhaustion sat on us like a sumo wrestler as we slouched into Dayton and collapsed in the No Name Hotel. It was one o’clock, and we had a two o’clock interview. There was no one to look after Olive, so we decided that David would do the interview. They wanted us to go to the studio, and we were grumbling about why we couldn’t do it over the phone. But fate had other things in store for us. David power-napped for 27 minutes, rolled out of bed looking like death warmed over–thankfully it was radio. We thought it was just some rinky-dink interview. Turns out it was actually the local NPR affiliate.
When David showed up no one was there. Only tumbleweeds and the ghosts of arts programs passed. But eventually someone showed up. They had no idea who David was or what he was doing there. They looked at him suspiciously. Frankly, he looked quite suspicious. David finally dug out the name of the contact person from his Droid: Shaun Yu. Shaun plopped David in front of the microphone, hit a couple buttons, and away they went. It was a fantastic discussion, about books, publishing, social media, e-books, American culture, and the obsession with being heard in a society where most everyone feels ignored.
Sometimes you meet people in life who speak the same language as you, as if you’d been having a conversation for years, and were picking it up right in the middle, even though you’ve never talked to the person in your whole life. That’s how it was for David and Shaun. Afterwards they discovered that they were Portland homies. David graduated from Reed College, and Shaun from the rival across the river, Lewis and Clark. It was such a pleasure to connect with someone who is so simpatico. We can’t wait to listen to the finished version of the interview.
Then it was on to Books and Co, where we were greeted by one of our ATF (All-Time Favorites) in the book business, Sharon Kelly Roth. This was our third event at Books and Co, and we’ve always been treated like royalty there. Which is surprisingly rare in the book business. Surprising because a relatively large number of bookstores treat writers with disrespect and disdain. Like they don’t understand that they wouldn’t be in business without people who write books (look closely to see us with Newt Gingrich). But Sharon welcomed us with open arms, as she has always done, and even supplied a babysitter—her daughter-in-law, Deborah–for Olive.
We’ve had a great spate of luck with our panelists on this tour. And the run continued in Dayton. We welcomed back a panelist from a previous trip here, Sharon Short. Besides being the writer of many books, including, Death by Deep Dish Pie, she is also the director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop. Our other panelist was Martha Moody, author of Something Mine. Both ladies were extremely sharp, while still being kind and gentle. They had spot-on advice for writers about everything from plot and character, to comp titles these authors-to-be needed to know about, to building suspense and telling a story.
Yet again, we heard some amazing pitches. And it was difficult to make a decision about who was the winner. On our list of favorites was a married couple who met each other while looking after their dying spouses. Both had been previously married for over 25 years. They married in hospice where their grief support group was held. They were pitching a book about how to turn grief and gratitude. They had an evangelical feel to them (not in the religious sense!), and they seemed truly committed to helping other people who suffered as they did. But the winner gave a truly stunning pitch for his young adult novel, spinning words mile-a-minute with dizzying alacrity. If his book is anything like his pitch, he has a bestseller on his hands.
Afterwards, Olive insisted on having her own Pitchapalooza, and told us all about the book she’s writing, which is about her best friend Carla. She was unanimously declared the winner.
Right now we are stuck in the Dayton Airport with the Ohio blues again, waiting for “technical difficulties” to be fixed. And they have absolutely no idea when they’re going to get us out. Or in fact, if they will ever get us out. Olive is watching Clifford the Big Red Dog. We are suffering a severe case of road burn, that most modern of afflictions, characterized by extreme ennui, exhaustion and torpor. The current level of threat has been assessed as Orange. Whatever that means. The students are rioting in Britain. A guy in a wheelchair averted an armed robbery yesterday. George Bush is a best-selling author. If that’s not a sign of the apocalypse, I don’t know what is. We are really looking forward to sleeping in our own bed tonight.
When you’re on tour, you hope, dream and pray that you will get the attention of the media. But, as they say, be careful what you wish for. Because the media may want you to be bright, chipper and cheery in the wee hours of the morning. After doing an event at night, when our adrenaline glands have been pumping overtime for many hours, it’s virtually impossible to go right to sleep. On top of that, we are people who require not 7 or 9 hours of sleep, but more like 9 or 10. So on Tuesday morning, when the alarm rang, in what seemed like the middle of the night, we had to shake the cobwebs out of our heads and wash the marbles out of our mouths. Luckily, our interviewer, Cat Michaels of WBAZ-FM on Long Island was a true professional. Turns out it we were on adult contemporary radio. We’re still not sure exactly what that means, though we are both adults and try our best to be contemporary. She gave us a great plug for our upcoming Pitchapalooza in NYC on Thursday night. All in all, we gave a thoroughly reasonable account of ourselves, although at one point, David’s tongue did become tied in about 14 knots. In the end, as we hung up the phone, and stared at each other with bags under our eyes and serious cases of bedhead, we were very thankful that this was radio.
Occasionally, the universe hands you a lollipop for your hard work after you’ve been eating meal after meal of humble pie. On Monday night, when we walked into Loganberry books in the Shaker Heights neighborhood of Cleveland, we got our lollipop. One of the great pleasures of going on tour is discovering new bookstores. And the second you walk into Loganberry, you realize you’ve stepped into a literary oasis.
We imagined Loganberry to be a tiny bookstore because every time we called prior to our arrival, Harriet Logan, the owner of the store, always answered the phone herself. But we walked into a mecca of books, with room after room of rare first editions, startling book oddities, and even a real vintage rack of Golden Books. And then there was Otis the cat. It was like we died and woke up in book heaven.
Harriet could not have been more warm and gracious. She took us to a room in the back that was set up living room style with purple chairs and cozy couches. Olive was whisked off by our old friend Margaret and Andrew to have Apple Pie with “whup” cream. Margaret was our intern one summer while she was a student at Reed College. Now she is a professor at Oberlin! Clearly, we taught her everything she ever needed to know!!!
To our surprise and delight, a very charming and ruggedly handsome fellow showed up with a giant state-of-the-art camera bearing the logo of ABC. Turns out he was there to film our Pitchapalooza for the eleven o’clock news.
Our guest panelist for the night was, Anne Trubek, a professor at Oberlin and author of A Skeptic’s Guide To Writer’s Houses, was wise and witty. Our pitchees formed a semicircle with Otis-the-cat taking up the right end. As the lights went up and the camera started rolling, you could feel the tension and excitement mounting in the room. And, as always, we heard some top notch pitches. In fact, we choose two winners. Erick Trickey gave a truly stunning pitch about a much misunderstood American Legend. You’ll have to wait for the book to be published to find out who it is! And Katheryn Norris captured us with her tale of what happens when American teenage excess meets India. Afterwards, we roamed the shelves finding ourselves each a gem to come home with. We could’ve stayed there for days. In the end, we think Olive did best of all, not only did she befriend Otis-the-cat, but she came home with a vintage edition of Alice in Wonderland!
One last thought, Loganberry is the opposite of retail chains taking over America. Its individual flare was noticeable from all the way down the block. We’ve never seen a bookstore like it before and we’re sure we won’t find another. This is what’s so exciting about the independent bookselling community. It represents, in many ways, what’s best about our country. Have a dream, build it, and let them come.
Tour City is a strange, simultaneously liberating and alienating place, full of smiling chamber maids who don’t speak English, concierges who are walking wikipedias (or know absolutely nothing), and bell hops who make Olive’s day.
We always assume we’re going to get so much done when we’re going to go on tour because, let’s face it, you don’t have to do dishes, or laundry, or pay bills, or or or. In theory, you’re only working a couple hours a day. Each time, we go on tour, we vow to work out every day, finish writing our novel, and catch up on all of our emails. But the reality is, the days go by lickety split, and everything is slightly exhausting, and you don’t get enough sleep even if you get enough sleep, and instead of working out rigorously, you always, inevitably, end up eating the molten chocolate cake with raspberry coulis and a scoop of ice cream instead. Plus, there’s the relentless pressure of having to not only put on a great show, but make sure there’s an audience that shows up. Occasionally we fantasize about what it must be like to be Sue Grafton, Neil Gaiman or Margaret Atwood. Where all you have to do is show up and the general public flocks. The frustrating part for us is that we just know there are tens of thousands of writers who desperately need our help wherever we go. From goth teenagers to octogenarian grandmas, soccer moms to newly minted college grads, CEOs to cab drivers, we just know that every city is full of Citizen Authors with dreams of writing successful books. But even in this day of Twitter and Facebook, it’s just hard to connect with and let writers know what we’re up to and how we can help them. And so far this tour has felt a little bit like the classic movie, Spinal Tap. Remember when the band shows up at record stores where the only person in attendance is the incredibly apologetic record company rep? But we keep reminding each other to embrace the joy and feel the love. And in this respect, it’s been an absolute boon to have Olive with us. She doesn’t care whether anyone shows up, she’s just excited about going to a strange new place called Cleveland.
Today, Arielle took Olive down for breakfast and we met Darryl the Bellman. He took us up to one of the three largest ballrooms in the world. Then took us to the special piano room which housed two grand pianos. He sat down and played Scott Joplin rags while Olive danced. As we walked out, an old lady in a classic hotel uniform watched us. Turns out it was Miss Ida who has been working at the hotel since 1951. As we left the hotel today, Darryl handed Olive a yogurt and a spoon that was a gift from Miss Ida. This was all just a reminder of what is truly important in life, to see 50-year-old Darryl and 3-year-old Olive, these two kindred spirits, make such a joyful connection. Despite the difficulties and the challenges, we also keep reminding each other that you never know how and when the tipping point will be reached–when that big piece or some world famous blogger will mention your book in just the right context to send it shooting through the roof.
And then there’s Dayton…Books and Company has been a stalwart for us. We’ve been twice before and both times our events were packed. This is a store that knows how to put on an event, knows how to draw a crowd. Good to know you can always depend on Dayton.
We’re bringing PITCHAPALOOZA to the Los Angeles area, two seperate events in two great bookstores:
November 13th 2 to 4PM at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, CA
November 15th 7 to 9 at Vroman’s 695 East Colorado Boulevard Pasadena, CA
The Essential Guide Rocks America Tour Pitchapalooza #5: Death @ the Bookstore – The Murder of Joseph-Beth in Pitsburgh
It’s hard to tell sometimes whether the universe has it in for you, or life is a series of random events. At our first event at Borders outside Washington DC, the manager of the store didn’t know there was an event there that night, and had only 3 copies of our books on hand. Then, two days before leaving for Pittsburgh, we found out that we’d be the last event at the Joseph-Beth bookstore there, as they were closing their doors later in the week.
When we walked into Joseph-Beth, it looked like the fall of Saigon, people grabbing gigantically discounted books hand over fist. The book distributor who supplies the books for the store had moved in palettes of boxes, just waiting to ship out inventory. So we did our event in front of the gallows, with the hangmen waiting to slip the noose around the neck of yet another bookstore . It certainly seemed like a sign from above. Or maybe from below. With all the rumors going around that the book business is going down the toilet, it seemed cruel and ironic that we were dropped down right in the middle of a bookstore execution.
That being said, a bunch of brave writers showed up with dreams in their hearts and stardust in their eyes, ready to jumpstart their publishing career, and have their dreams of becoming successfully published writers come true. And we had two fantastic panelists, Vince Rause, a client of Arielle’s who has written, among other things, the New York Times bestseller, Miracle in the Andes, a truly inspirational book about the rugby team that crashed in the Andes. Our other panelist was the mystery writer, Nancy Martin, who revealed that she has written over 50 books. Suddenly we felt so insigrnificant.
As always, we heard some great pitches. The winner, Candace Bangs, gave an airtight pitch for her YA novel full of tragedy, drama, and paranormal activity. It’s funny how once the event starts, the focus becomes so intense that everything else is blocked out. So while we were listening to and deconstructing all the pitches, the madness raging all around us faded into the background.
Yes, the book business may be going through troubled times, but it seems like human beings will always tell and listen to stories.
Plus we got a great tour afterwards from Vince amd had some crazy good tacos. Pittsburgh rocks hard.