Monday, May 23, 2016
AIR TIME and TWO fabulous giveaways!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: It's "What We're Writing" week--as you could see from Susan's wonderful post about Paris yesterday. And we'll be talking about, well, what we're writing, and what we're thinking, and what's happening in writing world. First, four things.
One: Hurray! WHAT YOU SEE is nominated for the Anthony for Best Novel! I am so thrilled!
Two: Tell us--if you're writing--what YOU're writing! Published, not published, we'd love to hear.
Three: at the bottom of this post is a wonderful giveaway from my dear and talented pal Andrew Gross. This is--amazing. Readers, you MUST enter--all you have to do is click.
And four--my dear AIR TIME is coming out on June 14. The level with which I love AIR TIME beyond description Here's the beginning of the book. (Is this completely fiction? What do you think?)
Do you have to read the TIME books in order? Nope. As Sue Grafton says: "Sassy, fast-paced and appealing! This is first-class entertainment!}
(And make sure you scroll down to the big giveaway!)
And--have you had any travel trouble recently? Are you traveling this summer? A copy of AIR TIME to one lucky commenter!
It’s never a good thing when the flight attendant is crying. Franklin, strapped into the seat beside me, his seat back and tray table in the full upright position, headphones on and deep into Columbia Journalism Review, doesn’t notice her tears. But I do.
She’s wearing a nametag that says Tracy, a navy blue pencil skirt, a bow-tied striped scarf, flat-heeled pumps and dripping mascara. We’re sitting on the Baltimore airport tarmac, still attached to the jetway, a full fifteen minutes past our scheduled takeoff for Boston and home. And Tracy’s crying.
I nudge Franklin with my elbow and tilt my head toward her. “Franko, check it out.”
Only Franklin’s eyes move as, with a sigh, he glances up from under his new wire-rimmed glasses. Then, without a word, he slowly closes his CJR and finally looks at me. I can see he’s as unnerved as I am. His eyes question, and I have the only answer a television reporter can give.
“Get your cell,” I whisper. “Turn it on.”
“But, Charlotte—” he begins.
He’s undoubtedly going to tell me some Federal Aviation Administration rule about not using cell phones in flight. Like any successful television producer, Franklin always knows all the rules. Like any successful television reporter, I’m more often about breaking them. If it could mean a good story.
“We’re not in flight,” I whisper. “We haven’t budged on this runway. But one of us—you—is going to get video of what ever it is that’s going on here. The other—me—is going to call the assignment desk back at Channel 3 and see if they know what the heck is happening at this airport.”
I look out my window. Nothing. I look back up at Tracy, who’s now huddling with her colleagues in the galley a few rows in front of us. Their coiffed heads are bent close together and one has a comforting arm around another’s shoulders. The faces I can see look concerned. One looks up and catches me staring. She swipes a tapestry curtain across the aisle, blocking my view.
Part of me is, absurdly, relieved that our takeoff is delayed. I hate takeoffs. I hate landings. I hate flying. And if something terrible has happened, all I can say is, I’m not surprised.
But I have to find out if there’s a story here. Maybe Tracy just has some sort of a personal problem and I’m making breaking news out of a broken heart. I yank my bag from under the seat in front of me and slide out my own cell phone. Bending double so my phone is buried in my lap, I pretend to sneeze to cover the tim-tee-tum sound of it powering up, then sneeze again to make it more convincing. As I’m contemplating sneeze three, I hear my call to the assignment desk connect.
“It’s me. Charlie,” I whisper. I pause, closing my eyes in annoyance at the response. “Charlie McNally. The reporter? Is this an intern?” I pause again, picturing a newbie twenty-something in over her head. Me, twenty-two years ago. Twenty-three, maybe. I start again, calm. Taking the snark out of my voice. “It’s Charlotte McNally, the investigative reporter? Give me Roger, please.” I glance at the curtain to the galley. Still closed. “Right now.”
Franklin’s up and in the aisle, holding his cell phone as if it’s off as he pretends to take a casual stroll toward the galley curtains. I know he’s got video rolling. I know his phone has a ten-minute photo capacity, and he’s done this so many times he can click it off and on without looking. Talk about a hidden camera. Our fellow passengers will only see an attractive thirty-something black guy in a preppy pink oxford shirt checking out the flight attendants. I see Franklin Brooks Parrish, my faithful producer, getting the shots we need. Whatever is happening—all caught on camera. Exclusive.
“Roger Zelinsky.” The night assignment editor’s Boston accent makes it Rah- jah. “What’s up, C?”
“We’re in Baltimore, on the way home from the National Journalism Convention,” I say, still doubled over into my lap and whispering. Luckily Franklin and I had an empty seat between us. A hidden camera is one thing— a hidden forbidden conversation on a cell phone is another. “We’re at the airport. In a plane. On the tarmac.”
“So?” Roger replies.
“Exactly,” I say. “That’s what I’m trying to fi nd out.” I give him the short-version scoop on the tears, the delay, the closed curtain.
Franklin’s now made it to the galley, his phone camera nonchalantly pointed at the spot where the curtain would open. But it hasn’t opened. Maybe Tracy broke up with the pilot. Maybe they don’t have enough packages of peanuts. Maybe someone decided to smoke in the bathroom.
Then, even through the fuzzy phone connection, I hear all hell break loose at Channel 3. Strapped in and surrounded by passengers and pillows and carry-on bags, on Flight 632 there’s only the muted sounds of passengers muttering, speculating. But about five hundred miles away, in a Boston television newsroom, bells are ringing and alarms are going off . I know it’s the breaking news signal. The Associated Press is banging out a hot story. I bet it’s centered right here. And any second, I’m gonna know the scoop in Baltimore.
“Runway collision. Two planes. A 737 and some commuter jet. Cessna. I’m reading from the wires, hang on.” Roger’s voice is now urgent.
I can picture him, eyes narrowed, racing through the information coming through on his computer. Bulletins appear one or two sentences at a time and with every new addition more alert bells ping. “No casualty count yet. One plane taxiing toward takeoff, one on the ground.”
“The little plane,” I begin. “How many— was it— which—”
“Don’t know,” Roger replies. Terse. The bell pings again and our connection breaks up a bit. “Fire engines,” he says.
I’ve got to get off this plane. I’ve got to get into the terminal. This story is big, it’s breaking, and I’m ready to handle it.
“Call you asap,” I whisper, interrupting. “I’m getting out of here.”
HANK: So--tell us what you're writing. Tell us about your travel troubles--and I'll pick a winner.
And don't forget--here's Andrew Gross's giveaway! (Click on Andrew's name) Can you believe how great it is?