A good book is like a good curveball. It's all about the grip and the delivery.
However, Cannon Beach second-homeowner and author Dan Fost has found, there's no substitute for perfect timing, not matter what it is you're pitching.
The San Francisco-based journalist is celebrating the release (and rerelease) of his first book, "Giants Past & Present," which pays tribute to Major League Baseball team (and his home team) the San Francisco Giants. He's also celebrating their 2010 World Series pennant win. All in all, it's been a good year.
Fost has written for a variety of national publications, but this is his first foray into the book publishing industry. In the most important ways, though, he's been readying himself for the task for decades.
Fost began rooting for the Giants when he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989.
"I found the Giants much more likable than the A's -- from manager Roger Craig and his cheer of Humm Baby,' to stars like Will Clark and Matt Williams," Fost said. "Plus it does not hurt that the Giants wear orange and black, just like the alma mater of my in-laws Louis and Katie Barker, the Oregon State Beavers."
Back in 1989, his newly adopted team was prepping to take on the Oakland A's in the World Series when the Loma Prieta earthquake stopped them short. And, try as they might, a World Series title contined to elude them as the years passed.
The streak of bad luck inspired Fost to write a story chronicling the Giant's curse.
Soon after, publisher MVP Books contacted Fost and asked him to create a book about the Giants as part of a series of books on sports teams. Fost was tasked with writing up 40 chapters on all things Giants, from salaries to nicknames to beloved basemen to team uniforms, as well as covering the team's history from its founding in New York in 1883 to present day.
Fost did some of the writing right here in Cannon Beach, where he, his wife, Betty Barker, and their son Harry spend a month each summer.
On rainy days, he plugged away at the book, enlisting Harry's proofreading services and drawing inspiration from his peaceful surroundings.
"Cannon Beach gave me a place to focus on the project without so many other distractions," he said.
What is it about this little town by the sea that so appeals to writers and other artistic types? It's a place to decompress, to eschew schedules and to move slowly, Fost says: "Writers like to have a place that's calm and peaceful where they can reflect and ruminate on their subject. There's nothing like a walk on the beach to inspire a fresh idea!"
Fost relied on the discipline he'd culled during his years as a journalist - and the extensive research he'd done for his previous story - as he chipped away at the project.
"I approached each chapter as an individual assignment, which prevented me from getting bogged down in the enormity of the task," he said.
Writing a book also offered him the opportunity to delve deeply into a single topic - a refreshing proposition after decades of quick turnaround assignments for newspapers and magazines.
"A book is another beast entirely," Fost said. "This project allowed me to really immerse myself in the subject."
The first edition of "Giants Past & Present" came out in March 2010, and Fost was thrilled.
"I cannot describe how excited I was to get my first copy of the book," he said. "It was better than I had even imagined. I really give a lot of credit to my publisher for making the book so beautiful, from the cover to all the great photos that are packed inside."
And how's this for timing? Shortly after the book's publication, the baseball gods threw the Giants, and Fost, a long-sought bone: the team went up against the Texas Rangers in the 2010 World Series, and they emerged victorious, defeating their rivals four-to-one.
Now, Fost isn't saying that his book, or his longstanding loyalty, for that matter, were solely responsible, but it sure does make for an interesting confluence of events. That, and steady sales: the book's first edition sold out soon after the World Series win, and Fost was commissioned to do an update.
He was more than ready.
"In a way, I'd been prepping for years as a Giants fan," Fost said. "The Giants really don't give me enough credit for them winning the World Series!"
"Giants Past & Present" is available at the Cannon Beach Book Co., at 130 N. Hemlock St.