As the in-house publicity rep, I have had the opportunity to publicize many books— from sports books, and cookbooks to books about cemeteries. I have amassed a large quantity of anecdotes, memories, autographed books, and friends through the years and here is a top-ten list of my most memorable moments.
10) Voices in My Head: The Gary Burbank Story by Greg Hoard
This is the biography of Gary Burbank, who was the resident radio comedian on 700 WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio, for around twenty years. Working with Gary was like working with your favorite uncle. He was kind, funny, sincere, and treated everyone as his best friend. If I needed a ride to the hospital or to the mall or just around the block, I could call Gary. And so could you.
9) Joe: Rounding Third and Heading for Homeby Greg Hoard
Joe Nuxhall was the youngest player ever to pitch in the major leagues at the age of fifteen. Joe went on to become Cincinnati’s most beloved Reds broadcaster and in 2004, we published his biography. Oftentimes, while promoting a book, you get to meet the family members of the book's subject. And we got to meet Joe’s family, most enjoyably his son Phil, who not only published a custom book with us (going into its second printing) but who has appeared in our promotional video. He loves us so much he practically sweats hearts when he visits. And so do we.
8) Mary Jo’s Cuisine: A Cookbookby Mary Jo McMillin
Mary Jo McMillin had a restaurant in Oxford, Ohio, for almost twenty years. When she closed it, people were still craving her food so she decided to write a cookbook. You have not eaten until you’ve eaten food made by Mary Jo. She used only ingredients that were in season so the food was fresh and bursting with flavor. Mary Jo was so popular in Oxford that over 300 people showed up to her book signings—more than once. I called her the Chad Johnson OchoCinco of Oxford, Ohio.
7) Out of Step by Jane Murray Heimlich
Poor little rich girl + family drama + absentee dad – love + dancing + a twin sister who steals your first boyfriend + growing up with famous Hollywoodians – love + Joan Crawford + a wooden hanger + the guy who invented the Heimlich maneuver – love + a housekeeper who makes up for all of the love you never received from your parents + a passion for writing + it is never too late to find your true calling = one heck of a story.
6) Catch Every Ball: How to Handle Life’s Pitches by Johnny Bench and Paul Daugherty
Johnny Bench has huge hands. He is also wise. Catch Every Ball is full of Johnny’s wisdom, which he wants to share with you, lucky reader. And for us, the pleasure of meeting a Hall of Fame catcher trumped nitpicky arguments over manuscript corrections. And Johnny was a lot of fun to have a drink with.
5) Wild Times, Tales from Suburban Safaris by Tim Harrison
Tim Harrison is an EMT, firefighter, and police officer from the mean streets of Oakwood, Ohio. For whatever reason, this suburb of Dayton is a hotbed for people who own exotic animals. So when the tigers aren’t cute cubs anymore, and they reach maturity and wander about Poplar Place, who you gonna call? Tim Harrison. Wild Times is a book about his encounters with exotic animals in the suburbs. And Tim hasn’t quit rescuing them in thirty years. He just created a documentary, “The Elephant in the Living Room,” a heartbreaking movie about the perils of owning exotic animals. Tim’s message in his books, DVDs and films is, ‘If you love wild animals, leave them where they are, in the wild.’ Who needs a mature lion in the kitchen anyway?
4)Busted, the Rise and Fall of Art Schlichter by Jeff Snook
Art Schlichter was a rising football phenom in the early eighties until his gambling addiction crash landed him into prison for ten years. He told his story to Jeff Snook a few years after he was released from the pokey and it is captivating. Little did we know that while we were promoting this book with him, he was juicing a widow out of her fortune. Art is now back in jail awaiting his fate. We won't be visiting or writing a sequel.
3) Chad: I Can’t be Stoppedby Paul Daugherty
Reading this book helped me understand the man behind the zany antics on and off the football field. Chad Johnson OchoCinco is a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. He sucks his thumb. He is a marketing genius. He gave me candy. Because of him, I am one degree of separation from half of Hollywood. The book signings we did with him in 2006 were packed with people, a sight to behold, a complete blast, and definitely not for those who dehydrated easily.
2) The Legends: The Cincinnati Bengals, the Men, the Deeds, the Consequencesby Chick Ludwig
This book has it all, well, at least for Cincinnati Bengals football fans. Fifty-four essays about fifty-four of the most legendary Cinncinnati Bengals players and coaches and it does not disappoint. If there were such a board game as Trivial Pursuit Cincinnati Bengals Edition, read this book and you would win. (Or at least come in second.) Who wrestled a bear? Jim LeClair. Who went to the pro bowl eleven times? Anthony Munoz. Who was the very first Bengal? John Stofa. I’m already winning…
1) 1968: The Year that Saved Ohio State Football by David Hyde
Woody Hayes hit some of his players, then took showers with them to patch things up. Grossed out? Intrigued? Need brain bleach? More often than not, legends are woven from the fabric of crazy, and Woody holds true to this theory. Jack Tatum could hit hard, but Woody could hit harder, his blows damaging at an emotional level. There is a lot more to this story than just abuse; parts of it are incredibly heartwarming. And Woody to me is a bit like the Buckeye mascot, Brutus—a strangely loveable nut.