Is This a Joke? By Pamela V. Cain

When the call came from a publisher, I thought it was a practical joke, someone pulling my leg on my birthday. The message slip said to call Chronicle Books in San Francisco. I dutifully called the 415-area code and was connected to an editor.

“I was wondering if you would like to write a book for us, “said the woman from one of the top publishing houses in the West. “What?,” I stammered.

“I read something you wrote.and was wondering if you’d be interested in writing a coffee table book for us,” she pressed on, oblivious to my pounding heart. It finally dawned on me, perhaps this was legitimate. It was time to transition from perplexed to pitch woman.

One week later, after I had sent in some writing samples and a detailed pitch letter, I had a contract in my hands. Three months later, I delivered six chapters for the coffee table book. In May 1997, Big Sur to Big Basin was published.

The thrill of seeing a beautiful, four-color book with my name on it was enhanced by receiving a check for $5,000 and close to 20 books. I also negotiated for another 20 books for a non-profit organization that then sold them for a fundraiser.

The timing was perfect as I had just left my full-time job as a broadcast news producer at a local NBC affiliate and was starting my practice as a financial advisor. I had begun writing for a local weekly newspaper several times a month.

Although I don’t pursue freelance writing full-time, I have landed several writing jobs by using my journalistic background, my contacts in the community and my natural curiosity.

That book that I believed started as a practical joke will be re-released in 2005. I guess the joke really was on me.

Pamela V. Cain has a degree in Telecommunications & Film and worked for 15 years in television news as a reporter, producer and manager. She has also written for Monterey Peninsula newspapers, hospital publications, and multiple businesses as well as produced and wrote documentaries shown on TV stations all over the West since leaving television full-time. Her book, Big Sur to Big Basin: California’s Dramatic Central Coast can be found on Pam can be reached at journalistmom (at)