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.