The Essential Guide Tour Pitchapalooza Phoenix #15: Irving Berlin, Women Who Run With Wolves and a Random Act of Kindness

Do yourself a favor and go to the Arizona Biltmore. Our now ecstatically beloved travel agent slotted us there for our Phoenix/Tempe stop, and it was SPEC-TACULAR! A protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright designed this spectacle. Adobe, tile and fountains set like Emerald City jewels into the 24 karat ring of monumental mountains and delirious desert. It’s been a playground for the rich and famous since the 1920s, and if you listen carefully you can hear the ghost of Irving Berlin singing White Christmas, which he famously composed there. Plus, there are not one but TWO golf courses. Sleep deprived as he was, David practically skipped like a schoolgirl to a Justin Bieber concert out to the links and with some high-end Ping rentals birdied three of the 12 holes he played. While David got his golf on, Arielle luxuriated in a tub with designer bath products that smelled like the Garden of Eden.

Arielle had flown the night before from Seattle to Newark, then the next morning, dropped the ridiculously exhausted three-year-old Olive off with her beloved babysitter, turned around and did Newark to Phoenix, having a severe case of simultaneous déjà vu and road burn.

David stayed in Seattle and hit up two great bookstores, Elliott Bay and Queen Anne. Even having been away from her for a mere matter of hours, David and Arielle missed Olive like a couple of stone cold junkies used to mainlining China White. Lucky for us, we got put in the Ocatilla executive suite wing where they do everything for you accept put on a private floor show while you poop. (Something, by the way, that Olive absolutely insists upon). They have an executive lounge where a continuous supply of high-end goodies are whisked out from behind closed doors, as if the caterer were Willy Wonka. We do believe in a classless society, where all are treated equally, and everyone gives according to ability and gets according to need. But there’s no way to deny that you just feel happy and pampered when you breathe in that rarified air.

Then we were whisked away to Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, where we were greeted and fêted like royalty. It’s a grand bookstore that makes you overjoyed to be in the ridiculous book business. Due to confusion beyond our control, the bookstore had not been alerted to the fact that we were doing a Patchapalooza, but there were still 30 able-minded writers waiting for us. When we asked them if they would like to pitch their books, giddy ecstasy swept through the room. Sure enough we heard a dozen most excellent pitches. Historical fiction, a suicide novel, a Crash-like Vietnam-based story, a warm and honest memoir/how-to from an ADD sufferer, and a money management tome. The winner gave a great pitch for her book about ordinary women telling extraordinary stories. Sort of The Artists Way meets Women Who Run with Wolves.

We sold books to almost everyone there, and Arielle was in rare form, cracking wise about the difficulty of communication when married to a clueless doofus.

We also had the great pleasure of having our friend Terry Whalin show up. Terry is the author of over 60 books (that’s not a typo, we meant 60)! He also has been an editor, publisher and agent, so knows every side of the publishing biz. We had just finished interviewing Terry over email the week before (check back soon for the post of this interview). So it was particularly nice to see him in person. Check out Terry’s website for lots of amazing tips on how to be a working and published writer.

After the PItchaplooza was over, the lovely folks at Changing Hands offered us each a free T-shirt. David, appropriately, chose one that said, “Fictional Character” on its chest. Then Shelly Segal, an employee at Changing Hands who also pitched a very cool kids book, gave us a ride back to Shangri-La even though she lived around the corner from the bookstore. Yet another random act of kindness from a stranger who became a friend! We dined late and high on the hog then collapsed back in the silky luxury of our beautiful cocoon.

As we left the next morning, our only regret was that we couldn’t move into the Arizona Biltmore and hold an event every night at Changing Hands.