The Essential Guide Tour Pitchapalooza #14, Seattle: Mexican Prisons, Sea-Salted Pate & Losing Your Innocence to Jimmy Carter

A cruel wind blew up our metaphoric skirts and chilled our gizzards with a damp shivery wetness as we stepped into Seattle. “Dad, it’s too cold!” Olive declared. We bundled and trundled into a taxi and cranked up the heat in our hotel, just off the blustery bay from Pike’s Place Market, where fish go to be turned into flying dead acrobats by monger/jugglers.

We decided to have a late lunch/early dinner, and wandered the market looking for something hot and excellent to eat. “Dad, it smells funny!” Olive declared. After a 10 minute walk that took about six weeks, with our extremities numbing and our bellies rumbling, we settled into a bistro called Pichet.

We struck pay dirt. Exquisite french fries. Creamy sea-salted pate. And the piece de resistance: French onion soup that was so transcendent when you close your eyes you could actually hear Edith Piaf singing like a little sparrow with a quivering voice and a broken heart. Sated, we went back to our room, tried to answer the 47,841 e-mails in our inboxes, while telling, re-telling, and re-re-telling Olive’s favorite new story: The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Then it was off to Third Place Books. We were a little leery because it was deep in the depths of the burbs. But we had a spectacular panel that had tweeted and Facebooked about the event, so a few dozen writers showed up armed and fully-loaded with their pitches. On of these panelists was Kurtis Lowe, the head honcho at Traveler’s Group West, a leading book repping firm. He is Workman’s West Coast rep as well as a writer’s best friend. Not only is he wildly knowledgeable and articulate, he just loves books and authors. He bought us tea, he promoted our book, he even found this a boo-yeah babysitter for Olive. He also brought in the other panelist Johnny Evison, author of All About Lulu and the forthcoming West of Here. Johnny is that rare bird: a great artist who’s also an extraordinary businessman. He understands the complexity of promoting, spinning, and the marketplace, and knows how to succinctly articulate complex ideas. Plus he’s funny as hell.

As usual we heard some first-rate pitches. A woman who was imprisoned in Mexico in the 70s and helped change prisoner exchange laws. A writer who told her heart-touching story of an American who relocates to Frankfurt after World War II for love. A memoir pitch about a woman who goes to Washington DC as a teenage intern in the late 70s, and loses her innocence to the Carter administration. A marathon coach who’s lived through shocking tragedy and now transforms women’s lives. But the winner, Courtney Happ, gave an airtight tour-de-force pitch for her multiple point of view YA novel about navigating love and hormones, called Spinning Voices. It was really a great night, and Third Place was first rate. We left the burbs of Seattle invigorated, refreshed, with hope for the future of books.