Saturday, June 28, 2008

Quotes for the Week

"With all the guns in this county, couldn't we kill a muskrat?"
--AP, Burrowing muskrat causes levee to fail in Missouri.

“The rubbish fairy is dead.”
--NY Times, Take Out the Trash Precisely, Now. It’s the Law.
Seems that people in Britain are getting fined if their garbage bin lids are open just 3 inches. This is only possible in a country that doesn't have raccoons. (Or street people, who constantly rummage through the dumpsters in my neighborhood and leave the lids open.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bella v Laptop

<-- What I looked like (or felt like, anyway) after wrestling with my computer most of today.

For a while I considered sticking with Eudora, rather than manually re-entering each address book listing into Outlook. But when I downloaded Eudora 8.0, I found that it didn't recognize the address book from version 7.1. And that version doesn't cut it for me anymore, especially when it comes to composing and sending my newsletters.

So I'm going to spend the next few weeks engaged in the mind-numbingly tedious task of transferring every single !@#$! address listing from Eudora to Outlook. After which I'll look like this -->

Images from Stoned Agin! by R. Crumb.

P.S. July 1:
See the happy, non-mind-numbing conclusion in The Light of Dawn!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Pain!

Medieval thumbscrew.

I'm not referring to my recent surgery, from which I'm recovering nicely. Now that all the hardware has been removed from my right arm, I can do some things (walk with the arm hanging down, fold sheets, pull keys from my jeans pocket) painlessly for the first time in two years.

No, my agony is coming from a Perfect Storm of cyber woes:
  1. My 3rd PDA in as many years died just before my surgery.
  2. After 4 years, my laptop is getting so slow that the only solution is to wipe it clean and reinstall EVERYTHING. Which will happen later today under the supervision of the Boy Wonder, who was the IT guy for Obama's San Antonio and Philly offices during the primary campaign. (BW: "All those years alone in my room paid off!" Me: "Grrr...")
  3. After 12 years of using Eudora for email, I'm switching to Outlook. Its "import" feature falsely claims that it will transfer the Eudora address book, which means I have to manually copy each of the hundreds of entries--the reason why I didn't switch 4 years and many entries ago. (I know what I'll be doing during the rest of my R&R!) And backing up Outlook data files, I discovered last night, is another royal pain.
Condolences and advice gratefully accepted.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jane (that's "Miss Austen" to you) Still My '08 Pick

Laurie Viera Rigler has just released the last in her trilogy of "campaign" videos celebrating the paperback release of CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT. See Laurie's blog post about her Austen Dream Team.

Monday, June 23, 2008

From Book Reviewer to Author Photographer

For years I've seen (and occasionally chatted with) Miriam Berkley at the annual National Book Critics Circle members meeting, luncheon and book awards ceremony in New York. Now, thanks to a lengthy interview in Eric Forbes's Book Addict's Guide (condensed in the July issue of Quill), I've learned that there's a lot going on behind "The Eyes of Miriam Berkley."

They Let Me Out Again!

Away from Bear Creek in Lair O' the Bear Park

With Darling Husband at the wheel and Jenny in the back seat, late this morning we set off for one of our favorite jaunts: west to Morrison, then up scenic, twisty Route 74 for a walk in Lair O' the Bear Park (love that tacky name!), then lunch at Bear Creek Restaurant in Kittredge, idyllically located on a bend in--you guessed it!--Bear Creek.

But first the painful part: gassing up the Toyota Highlander. When we bought it four years ago, it cost about $25 to fill up. Today it cost $64.75. I haven't driven in almost two weeks, but you can bet that when I do so again (probably tomorrow), I'll be consolidating all my errands into one run.

Back to the fun part...

A female hummingbird dipped into some nectar while I dipped into a margarita at Bear Creek Restaurant.

Jenny made like a cow and nibbled grass after DH and I had our lunch.

I could have spent the rest of the afternoon sitting by the creek near the restaurant (below), but alas, we had to return home.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sour Cream: A Political Harbinger?

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping at one of my favorite local food stores: European Mart. In Denver at least, "European" is code for "Russian." There's also the St. Petersburg European Deli, among other Russki markets in the area.

What did I espy in the dairy cooler but a plastic container emblazoned СМЕТАНА on the (red) logo of a black-and-white, flower-garlanded cow's head with a flower in her mouth, marked RUSSIAN STYLE SOUR CREAM and proclaiming ЗТО ВКУСНО!

Ooh! I had to buy it. When I got home, I found out that it was as good as it looked, and tasted just like the sour cream of my (not that long ago) childhood. I was hooked.

Today was my first real outing by car since my surgery on the 13th (not counting the trip to the surgeon for rebandaging last Monday). Darling Husband drove and we took Jenny for a walk along (and in) Cherry Creek, then stopped off at European Mart for supplies.

I headed to the dairy case for more of that fantastic sour cream. On a shelf were the same clear plastic containers filled with thick white stuff, with the same cow logo and Cyrillic type.

Only this time the label was marked CANADIAN STYLE SOUR CREAM. I think it's an omen.

P.S. Thanks to Wiktionary, I've learned that СМЕТАНА is a Russian (not Canadian) feminine noun, pronounced "smetána," meaning "sour cream." And according to Google, ЗТО ВКУСНО is Russian (not Canadian) for "extremely tasty."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The View from Here

The scene in bed this afternoon, with my three faithful companions: Jenny, Max and a book-- HOLLY WOULD DREAM for now, but BookExpo added many volumes to my To Be Read pile. (The cane by Jenny's head is a holdover from previous surgeries that has yet to make its way back to the basement.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

How'm I Doin'?

With that big chunk of metal out of my arm, I feel better now. In fact, I feel better than James Brown...

R&R with Max

Since I came home from the hospital last Saturday, Max has spent most of each day sleeping on my bed--whether I'm there or not. After lunch I found him luxuriating (above). When I settled in with the laptop, he woke up long enough to give himself a few dabs (below), then moved to his favorite cyber spot (bottom).

This morning, a neighbor who's a massage therapist told me that scientific studies have shown that a purring cat helps bones regenerate. In which case those 11 holes in my humerus should fill in pronto. (Note the vastly reduced bandaging, again due to bathroom triage. The tape on my right hand really is "suntan" color--my suntan, anyway.)

Now I'm going back to HOLLY WOULD DREAM by Book Promotion 101 workshop alum Karen Quinn, just visible at upper left.

BEA: SoCal Rado Producers

Now that I can type freely with both hands again, here comes more coverage of BookExpo.

On Thursday, May 29, the second of three "Media Matters" panels moderated by publicist extraordinaire Kim Dower (aka Kim-from-LA), was "Southern California Top Radio Producers." Panelists were:
As a rule of thumb, you don't want to have more than four people on a panel, as it gets too unwieldy. But Kim did a great job of keeping the discussion on track and giving everyone a chance to speak. She started by asking the panelists to describe their shows and the types of books they feature.

McNally: I believe we [as a nation] can do better, and I want to find out how. That's the focus of my show. Almost always have nonfiction authors.

Conrad: "Day to Day" is news-driven. Listen to the show and get to know the voices of the hosts. [Pitch authors/stories for specific hosts.] We have fiction and nonfiction authors who have stories of their own [and are not just hawking their books].

Steinman: Nonfiction authors, a very few fiction with local interest. "Airtalk" is a two-hour daily news show. The last half-hour is the cultural segment. We get hundreds and hundreds of books a week; our eight producers get hundreds of emails a day. KNOW THE SHOW. No how-to, plastic surgery, celebrity bios. It's off-putting to be pitched what we don't cover.

Thorn: My show is younger-person oriented. I do all in-depth interviews: a lot of funny people, a nonfiction author on something unusual, musicians. No books with numbers in the title, or about John Adams. If Ted Turner wants to talk bison, I'm there.

Stone: We're a weekly show covering the art and craft of writing. All phone interviews. We do literary fiction, noir; no prescriptive nonfiction, how-to or romance. We get hundreds of books a week.

Kube: Bill Handel is a lawyer, he's crazy and has A.D.D. His attention span isn't long. An interview is no more than 15 minutes. KNOW THE SHOW. We're news-oriented, have 12 topics each morning. Our mission is to EDUCATE, INFORM & ENTERTAIN. Fiction must have a news hook. Bill hates how-to, dislikes self-help. We get hundreds of emails a day. Nothing makes me more crazy than getting the wrong pitch. LOOK AT THE WEBSITE.

Gregory: We are producers and hosts. Show is 2 hours a day. I went back on air [after being off for quite a while]. We're having fun with this, the third act of our baby boomer careers. Sometimes we do a thing every 15 minutes, sometimes we do it the whole hour. Thank you all for being here!

Kim: Know the show! Educate, inform and entertain is what it's all about. For broadcast, it's more important to have a great guest than a great book. You must be engaging and a good talker. The producer must know if the guest has a speech impediment. TV is about looks, radio is about voice.

Kube: I do a pre-interview, set up guests for Bill. Sometimes they fall apart. Bill hates it when an author says, "As I said in the book..." or "You have to read the book." [I hate that too! An author who was a college professor pulled that on me. I killed the piece and repurposed another interview I'd done for PW.]

Gregory: If you're plugging your book [on the show], you sound like a used-car salesman. Don't plug your book; Michael will plug it for you.

Kim: On live radio, you have to be a self-contained unit.

McNally: It's about the radio show, not selling the book. If people like the radio show, they'll buy the book.

Kube: We featured HOW TO DUCK A SUCKAH with a former pimp [Big Boom] as a relationship expert.

Kim: You have to talk to the author first [before you pitch him/her to media]. I knew to pitch Big Boom to Bill Handel.

Gregory: Sometimes we need that extra push.

Thorn: A lot of shows look for people who are really exciting. We don't necessarily do that. Scott Simon says, "If you're on tape, you can always wait till they answer some more." [You can't do that live, though. Dead air is...death.] Amy Sedaris is so good, she could come in and talk for an hour about ducks. I would marry her if I could. [You read it here first, folks!] For the interview, get the author to a radio station with an ISDN line. Pitch authors who are experts on topics, not just because they have a book out.

Kim: How do you want to be pitched?

Steinman: When you're pitching, send a copy of the book. Be sure to include author contact information.

McNally: Pitch by email; address on personal website. Send the book. Answer the question: How can we make society better? We can pre-record for Tuesday show.

Conrad: Email with engaging pitch with contact info. Rarely do phone interviews; must be on ISDN line.

Steinman: A one-page email and send the book. Don't call unless you're following up, nor when show is on the air, nor just off the air. Include TITLE, AUTHOR, PUBLISHER, PUB DATE and 2-3 sentences about the book. [Books don't necessarily have to be current.] When Gerald Ford died during Christmas week years ago, we searched Amazon to find an author of a book about him.

Thorn: Galleys are great. Pitch me by email: jesse (at) I hate the phone. Feel free to send books, they're like the fruitcakes Pee Wee Herman got on "Pee Wee's Playhouse."

Stone: ARCs are best. We're already booked through August. The earlier you pitch, the better. Follow up with email.

Kube: Pitch by email. I don't check voice mail every day. Pub date is important. If offering times, use Pacific Time. The top or bottom of the hour is no good.

Steinman: Always include the author's tour schedule.

Gregory: Pitch by email. Don't send galleys. We can do cell phone interviews. We book guests anywhere from a minute to a month in advance. The book is a business card.

Kube: The big misconception [among publicists] is "I have to book TV first." It's not always true that the TV audience is bigger than radio.

McNally: TV is background. In the car, radio is foreground.

Question from audience: Will you take pitches from authors?

McNally: An email's an email.

Thorn: It's extremely rare for a publicist to pitch something appropriate for the show. DO NOT SEND ME A BOOK WITH A PINK COVER.

All: Use appropriate language on air! [They don't want the FCC coming down on them for profanity/obscenity.]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

BookExpo Overview Like No Other

Ya gotta read Paul Constant's Text Message from Los Angeles in The Stranger, "Seattle's Only Newspaper":
On the demented, celebrity-crazed, surrender-happy, endlessly-on-the-verge-of-being-wiped-off-the-planet publishing industry. (Note to panicked book lovers: Everything is going to be okay.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

When Worlds Collide, or "Globalization Rules!"

Long-time readers of this blog may remember my 2005 post, When Worlds Collide, about the Polish-Mexican Bistro in London's Shepherd Market.

After that I thought I'd seen everything. And then I read an article by Michael Kimmelman in yesterday's NY Times, For Blacks in France, Obama’s Rise Is Reason to Rejoice, and to Hope. I thought my head would explode from cognitive dissonance when I came to this:
[Youssoupha, a Congolese rapper] was nursing a Coke recently at Top Kafé, a Lubavitch Tex-Mex restaurant in Créteil, just outside Paris, where he lives. Nearby, two waiters in yarmulkes sat watching Rafael Nadal play tennis on television beneath dusty framed pictures of Las Vegas and Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. A clutch of Arab teenagers smoked outside.
I read the passage to the Boy Wonder. After bursting out laughing, he proclaimed, "Globalization rules!"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's Hard Out There for a Book Publicist

This just in from an inhouse publicist, "Jane," who's promoting a nonfiction book by "Sally," a nonfiction author who's going to be reading at a premier Denver bookstore. Sally was recently interviewed about her book on NPR and had an opinion piece on its subject published in a major metro daily. I had suggested that Jane pitch a local network affiliate that often has authors on its mid-day show.
I'm crossing my fingers that there will be a good turnout at Sally's bookstore event. Tour media has taken shape nicely in her other cities, but I have had SO much trouble with Denver media.

Despite (or perhaps because of? I guess a publicist never knows...) repeated and persistent follow-up, nothing has come through. The TV show was initially interested, but ultimately said they were "understaffed" on the days Sally would be in town. The other TV and radio shows I repeatedly reached out to either ignored me or said the book wasn't newsy enough, even though I pointed out all the Colorado-specific news hooks.

And the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News have been utterly and mysteriously silent for the month-and-a-half I've been pitching them on this book. Sigh.

I'm bummed, because I wanted to get Sally topline media coverage in every city she visited, but at least I know I did my darnedest (even if it didn't pay off). I feel like maybe the run-up to the convention in August has the major Denver news outlets focusing strongly on the presidential campaign, at the expense of other stories that might fill their political/cultural coverage slots? Sigh, again.
So remember, authors:
Just because your publicist didn't get you any media coverage doesn't mean she didn't work her buns off for you.

"Be prepared. And don't be frivolous."

During the tribute to Tim Russert on Sunday's "Meet the Press," that's what James Carville said he told politicos who were going to be on the show. But his advice applies to anyone (authors included) who's going to be interviewed, whether it's on TV, radio, in print or in public.

If the interview is worth your time, it's worth taking seriously. Know the show/publication/venue and be familiar with the interviewer. Know what you want--and DON'T WANT--to say.

Be a pro: be prepared, not frivolous.


I woke up at 4:30 this morning (the longest I'd slept in nearly a week) with the inside of my upper right arm itching furiously beneath the layers of fuzzy wadding and knit wrapping.

I scratched and scratched--carefully, as I didn't want to hit the incision--but there was no relief. So I toddled off in search of gauze pads, etc., then ensconced myself in the bathroom to perform triage.

Xray of my right humerus with plate & screws last year (above) and today (right).

After unwrapping miles of knit cotton and masses of batting, and removing the fiberglas(?) splint, I patted the itchy area with gauze squares soaked in witch hazel. When it was dry, I taped large gauze pads over the incisions on my upper arm and hand. Then I lined the splint with more gauze pads, cradled my arm into it and rewrapped the miles of knit cotton from armpit to knuckles. All using my non-dominant left hand. Then I went back to bed and slept for nearly four itch-free hours.

When I got up, I made an appointment to have the arm rebandaged this afternoon--a week earlier than I was supposed to have seen the surgeon again. Hooray! He ditched the splint, as well as the miles of wrapping, so now I am just bandaged from armpit to elbow and wrist to knuckles.

Per the Xray above right, the humerus is perforated with at least one hole for each of the 11 screws pictured here. Which means that until the holes fill in, the bone could easily rebreak--necessitating another steel plate. Ugh.

At the end of our visit, the surgeon ordered, "No lifting. And don't fall down." Not me! I'm not even picking up a full cup of coffee. And I'm watching every step.

But at least now I can bend and straighten my right arm. And best of all, I can easily type with two hands again.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Cat Stays in the Picture

As you can see, Max lost no time in reclaiming his favorite spots as soon as I returned home. He couldn't care less that my right arm looks like a prop from "The Mummy." Neither does my dog Jenny, who quickly realized that all petting and ear-scratching were only going to come from my left side. (She runs away at the first click or flash, which is why there are so many more photos of Max.)

I am SOOO glad it's warm out, as the only garments that fit over all the wadding are tank tops, my silk kimono and Darling Husband's Hawaiian shirts. I wore one with 1940s pin-up girls on it to and from the hospital--which of course coordinated with my cotton-knit skirt and black slides. (I'm always ready for the Fashion Police.) However, the white compression stockings I was commanded to wear after surgery mucked up the ensemble.

P.S. Thanks for all the kind wishes! They greatly lift my spirits.

I've Lost That Magnetic Feeling

Steel plate (5-1/2 x 1/2 x 1/8") & 11 screws removed from my arm on Friday the 13th. One of the screws was outside the plate, holding together a split in the bone.

The surgery to remove the plate (above) from my right arm and release the carpal tunnel went very well, I was told as soon as I regained consciousness late Friday morning.

I'm heavily bandaged from armpit to knuckles, with a plastic brace from just below the shoulder to 4" above the wrist, keeping my arm at a 120° angle. I'd thought the carpal tunnel surgery would be at the wrist, but when I peeked inside the bandage on my hand, I saw a red gash across my palm. No wonder it hurts when I stretch my hand! (Which I'm doing as little as possible.)

The reason for doing the carpal tunnel surgery was because my middle finger was almost all numb, the index and ring fingers partly so. Therefore I was alarmed, to put it mildly, to have ZERO feeling in my middle and ring fingers (they might as well have been made of wood), increased numbness in the index finger and a partially numb pinkie.

I was repeatedly assured that the numbness was due to a powerful local anesthetic that had been injected in my hand, which would take 5 to 6 hours to wear off. I wasn't feeling so hopeful at 7pm--11 hours after surgery--when my fingers were as numb as ever. But by yesterday morning they were as before the operation.

Nerve tissue repairs at the rate of 1mm per day, so I have a long wait till the feeling in my fingers comes back; possibly longer till the pain in my upper arm subsides.

But at least I have that damn hardware out of my arm (though I'm grateful that it pulled the humerus back together). And though I can't bend or straighten my right arm much, I can--big bonus!--type with that hand, as long as the arm is propped on a pillow (i.e., in bed, not at my desk).

The other good news is that I'm not in much pain. After long and earnest discussions with medical personnel over which oral pain meds I can tolerate (hardly any, though I'm OK with IV morphine & love how Fentanyl* makes me feel absolutely nothing), I was sent home with a scrip for Demerol. The stuff is supposed to make one drowsy, but after taking two 50mg caps, I woke up every two hours last night. So the Demerol is going into the unused medicine drawer. If my arm starts hurting again, I'll just have a margarita.

*I just read on Wikipedia that Fentanyl is available as a transdermal patch. Why the @#$%! didn't any of my doctors prescribe it to me two years ago, when I was in agony for months and unable to tolerate any other pain meds? AAAARGH!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Down for the Count

I'm off to have my 7th--and I hope last--surgery since being tossed by Gomez the thoroughbred two years ago. I'm praying that the 3rd time is the charm for my arm. This time the surgeon is removing the 6" steel plate that was installed in August '06 and doing carpal tunnel release on my wrist. Objective: Less pain in arm, more feeling in fingers.

Instead of finishing my coverage of BEA and writing a newsletter, I spent yesterday in the garden, weeding, planting and transplanting like a fiend. Now the yard looks great (mostly; there are still plenty of weeds) and I am aching in every single joint.

Off to get sliced, diced and sedated--fortunately not in that order. Can't wait for that morphine drip! (Actually, I can.)

Au reservoir!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quote for the Ages

Over the past three days, I did three 90-minute phone-in publicity seminars for Authors Guild members. There were 34 participants last night, one of whom emailed me with this astute observation:
We have to put aside our masks of humility and get out there and promote what we believe in: our books.

--Nancy Bo Flood, author of THE NAVAJO YEAR, WALK THROUGH MANY SEASONS, a Children's Choice award book

Sunday, June 08, 2008 Times in Nevada (Quote of the Week)

Speaking of sex (per previous post), this week's Advertising Age has two priceless stories. First there's Bordellos on Billboards: Bleak Economy Impels Brothels to Exercise Recent Right to Market.
George Flint, director of the Nevada Brothel Owners' Association [wow, there's an association for everything!], said revenue at the 25 legal bordellos for which he lobbies is down 25% to 45%, depending on the location.
Mr. Flint blames much of the downturn on the high price of diesel fuel, which led to this quote for the ages:
"An awful lot of our customers are truckers," he said. "It's the disposable income factor: Money for new wristwatches and gettin' laid just isn't there."
In the print edition, on the jump opposite the brothel article was the headline for a piece by Bob Garfield:
Ads for Lube Manage to Arouse Interest and Satisfy TV Bosses.

I thought the double entendre was unintentional, but no, the piece is about the new TV campaign for K-Y jelly. I read it aloud to Darling Husband and the Boy Wonder, stopping frequently for guffaws. By the time I got to the end my face hurt.
Nobody wants a bore-gasm, so the scientists at the K-Y company have used their microscopes, beakers and what-have-you to make the climax or peak of sexual pleasure, which occurs during sexual activity and which in males may include ejaculation and in females vaginal contractions, less ho-hum. One tube for him, one tube for her, and together ... the ultimate bonding experience!

Exactly like epoxy, only without the annoying wait.

Let's Make Guacamole, Liebchen!

Germany Abuzz at Racy Novel of Sex and Hygiene, announced the New York Times yesterday.

WETLANDS, by 30-year-old "television personality" Charlotte Roche (surprise! she's pretty and thin), has:
sold more than 680,000 copies, becoming the only German book to top’s global best-seller list.

The book, which will be published next year in the United States, is a headlong dash through every crevice and byproduct, physical and psychological, of its narrator’s body and mind. It is difficult to overstate the raunchiness of the novel...

[WETLANDS] opens in a hospital room after an intimate shaving accident...

Ewww!!! Must. Erase. Mental. Picture.
...eventually reaching avocado pits as objects of female sexual satisfaction...
Whoa. Avocado pits? Who knew? To think I threw two on the compost pile just this afternoon.

Hipster organic marital-aid tip:
Cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs (In the Realm of the Senses) and yams (performance artist Karen Finley) are so last-century.

Friday, June 06, 2008

BEA: SoCal TV Producers

I've finally recovered enough from BookExpo last weekend to write about it. So here goes...

On Thursday, May 29, publicist extraordinaire Kim Dower, aka Kim-from-LA, moderated three back-to-back "Media Matters" panels. The first was "Southern California Top TV Producers." Panelists were:
As usual, my scribbled notes are impressionistic; make of them what you will.

Kibrick: Some of the brand-name fiction writers really stink. I've read manuscripts by my friends and thought, 'If my authors only wrote as well...'

Kim: There's a big difference between a great guest and a great book.

Mantell: Sometimes actors are terrible guests [because they're used to saying other people's words].

Kim: Sometimes actors need media training because they don't know how to talk about their books.

Chouinard: Most of the interviews on my show are 12 minutes. WIZARD OF THE CROW had a quiet author [Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong'o] with an amazing story. The publicist sent me the hardcover and all these articles about the depth of the author's experience. When the paperback came out, I went to the executive producer and Travis and said, "We have to do this author!" Travis said, "We'll make it work." It was a combination of a good publicist, me deciding to take it on and all hell breaking loose in Kenya. [The show aired in Dec 2007.]

Kim: Caring about something and pushing for it might work.

Brown: Publicists, when you want to pitch a book, don't read a script about the book and leave it on my voice mail. My favorite guests give personal anecdotes. Nonfiction writers tend to speak in generalities [which isn't good]. Persistence without harassing me pays off. I love my authors most of the time.

Kim: You have to know that the author you're pitching is worthy to go on camera.

Mantell: I sent an author home who called me in a panic from the green room, saying "I can't talk about my book." I knew it was going to be a train wreck. [Ya think?! WTF was up with that author?]

Kim: Don't ever deceive.

Kibrick: Be persistent till we say no. Once we say no, give up. Be creative. I did a segment with the guy who designed the California quarter, Garrett Burke [Quarterama]. Garrett approached me, he's a fan of the show and wanted to give me a quarter. I invited him on the show.

Kim: What about self-published authors?

Kibrick: No self-published. [The other panelists nodded in agreement.] There must be someone behind the book with deep pockets. I had Jack Klugman on for TONY AND ME [about him and Tony Randall on "The Odd Couple"] and only after the show did I find out that Jack self-published.

Kim: We have to be honest about the author and product, and what we're pitching. Know your material before you go on.

Rothman: Even a huge name can be so reticent on camera. Thirty minutes is like 3 hours. I prepare for my interview as if for a final exam. I had John Dean on and they sent questions in case I hadn't read the book--which of course I had.

Brown: I don't read press materials. [Sounds of breaking hearts throughout the room.] A lot of the time I scare interviewees because I know something about them they weren't expecting to hear. I spend the first 10 minutes breaking down their media training. [Sound of Kim's heart hitting floor.] I do my own research. I pissed off John Stossel [woohoo!!!]. The first thing I asked him made him angry for 30 minutes. I was intimidated about interviewing the late David Halberstam, but he was one of the sweetest, kindest, most gentle people I ever met.

Chouinard: I don't use the questions in the press materials. [More hearts plummeting.] I look for nuggets for Travis to mine. I usually pre-interview the author. Reviews are very helpful. I give Travis bullet points on a briefing card.

Kim: The idea of an interview is to be spontaneous, but it takes a lot of preparation to be spontaneous. [I quote Dolly Parton in my workshops: "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap!"]

Kibrick: I go deep, but I don't want to surprise the author.

Mantell: I look at a press kit for about 10 seconds, then if it interests me I look further. [More shattered hearts around the room.]

Kibrick: Author questions in a press kit are good for national a.m. TV shows.

Kim: Oftentimes that's all they'll look at.

Mantell: Send an up-to-date visual. One author sent us her photo and it turned out to be from 30 years ago.

Kim: B-roll footage is always helpful.

All: Some look at DVD of author's past appearances.

Kibrick: Let me see the book. I'm going to make the author come alive.

Kim: What advice do you have, and how should people pitch you?

Mantell: Know the show. Pitch by email: greg(at)

Chouinard: Know your show. Tavis is African-American. We don't do "typical" Af-Am material; most people pitch too narrow. We are politics, news, current events. Pitch by email: cchouinard(at)

Brown: Send me the book, even if you pitch by email or phone. If I don't get back to you, try again. Email: mhall-brown(at)

Kibrick: Email is best: barrykibrick(at) No is no. I get hundreds of books a month. I donate every one I don't use. Books are gleaned through by my staff.

Rothman: Pitch by email: hjrothman(at) The New Yorker likes to call in the early morning; they can't subtract 3.

Kibrick: You REALLY need to know the show.

Kim: To pitch the wrong guest to the wrong show is a waste of time.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Sound of Waves

Before throwing ourselves into the BookExpo hurly burly, last Wednesday afternoon Darling Husband and I had an enchanting two hours at El Matador State Beach (above), north of Malibu.


Pelicans from the cliff top.

Ocean-made art.

Looking down.

Looking up.

From the beach.

Below: Yours truly, snoozing. Ahh, bliss!