Saturday, November 19, 2005

An Evening with the (Crazy) Authors

We've written about the bootleg limo ride and even my unfortunate allergic reaction (thank you, Carmen, for taking such good care of me and Nina for not mentioning the size of my lips--can you say 'Hitch'). Now let's get into the reason we were in Los Angeles. This is going to be straight no chaser. Just the facts. We'll follow up with the "real deal" stories later.

The lovely sorors of Delta Sigma Theta's Pomona Valley Chapter booked us as literary entertainment for a fundraising dinner to benefit their scholarship programs. The Femmes, believing strongly in the concept of doing well by doing good, happily agreed to participate. And entertainment is surely what they got.

The event was well attended, over 250 strong. They even had to open an overflow room. Each of the four Femmes (Jacquie and Victoria were unable to join us) was seated in different areas of the room. It was a great set up because we were able to mingle among the guests instead of being stuck all night at a head table. With all those Delta's decked out in their crimson and cream, it was the red sea up in the Jazz Cafe! And all evening the atmosphere was warm and festive and definitely upbeat.

Maleta Wilson, a member of Delta Sigma Theta and owner of Heritage Bookstore and More really worked hard with the rest of her committee to pull this event off. It was a smashing success and we appreciated the love and support that was displayed.

Stay tuned for more on Miss Margaret's fainting spell, an autograph for Mr. Chocolate Thunder Down Under, the lady in the OFR who was appalled to learn that alcohol had touched the Femme Fantastik Author's lips, and how unbeknownst to any of us, with no planning or foresight, the entire evening took on a very sexual theme. It was a night to remember.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Real Deal

Sigh. Leave it to the guest bloggers to tell a skewed story. You knew I would tell you the real deal about the Femme Fantastik in LA. First of all, I am most certainly not going to rehash the limosine story. All I have to say about that is that they should have known things would be a little "special" if they traveled with me. Hell, I was one the one who floated down the road in Houston and ate dinner while a woman shook her parts over me in Atlanta. Obviously they didn't read my blog.
Anyway, for those of you who asked, yes, I did wear Coach shoes, clogs actually. They were VINTAGE (fashion code for about two years old). They are my comfy travel shoes and quite good looking. I am an equal opportunity shoeshionista.
The real fun began after the no-neck-turning limo man left us at our hotel.
Of course we were hungry. No one really gets food on airplanes anymore and I refuse to eat another SouthWest peanut, so we headed to one of our hotel's restaurants. The plan was we were going to eat, catch up and have a little Femme Meeting about what we planned to do next year. The girls made fun of me and my luggage and shoes, of course, and that kind of sidetracked us a bit, but if your friends don't make fun of your impeccable taste and obvious style, then who will? (Can anyone say "Don't hate"!) You know they ran right out to the luggage outlet and tried to be just as stylish. Here's a note, ladies, either you have it, or you don't. Nothing but love, nothing but love. ;-)
Okay, the meeting was going just fine until Lori ran into a small problem. We got to the part about how much things would cost and Lori started scratching like a crack addict. UGLY! Her eyes got puffy and her lips swelled up like the puffer fish driver instructor on Sponge Bob. At first I thought she was uncomfortable talking about the cash, but then she spoke up.
"I think I am having an allergic reaction to something."
(No? Really?) "You aren't going to cardiac arrest or anything are you?" I asked.
She assured me she wasn't, so Carmen and I then laughed appropriately.
Meeting adjourned. We spirited Miss Thing to the room. All the way there she was walking and trying to rub her thighs together so they could scratch each other with minimal effort. Clothes flew all aover the room as she stripped naked. I was blind for two days.
Nurse Carmen took over then. If I am going to be sick, I want to be sick around her. She is the most nurturing person I know that I am not related too. That woman is a walking over-the-counter medicine cabinet. She dug in her magic bag (not designer, but perfectly useful) and came up with the appropriate remedies for what ailed Lori. She even put old compresses on her legs and arms to help quell the itching. I would have never thought of that, opting instead to tell her to rub, instead of scratch.
Lori laid up on the bed and soaked up the attention. I was itching too and my eyes were red, but I didn't feel the need to be the center of attention. I wanted Lori to enjoy the limelight while she could. Besides, I didn't want to alarm her. I wasn't swelling, and hoped I wasn't going to. She was one strange site. All I could think of was that we were going to have to go up on stage the next night and speak in front of 200+ peoeple. I hoped for Lori's sake that Carmen really could cure her problem. She was starting to not look like herself.
Well, sure enough, the danger passed and we could all breathe easy. But then we found we had another problem.
Our room was haunted by a jackhammer from building past.
No, seriously.
There was some loud noise that sounded like a jackhammer that went on all through the night. And the longest train whistle in history.
About three AM I screamed out, "Does no one else hear that?"
Of course Lori didn't. She was drugged up.
Carmen on the other hand is somewhat akin to the Princess (you know, the one of Princess and the Pea fame) as am I, so we had late night/early morning discussions about the benefits of Pilates.
The racket never did subside, so in the morning, we ran screaming from our rooms and demanded a quieter spot to lay our heads. I almost lost it when the man at the desk laughed when I tried to tell him the benefits of beauty sleep before a speaking engagement. He obviously didn't undertsand the perils. I know I look like Oprah without her makeup if I don't get my quality sleep.
Okay, that is it. Mine is true, just ignore the other two. Oh, and of course, pics are on the Femme Blog and my website,

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bootleg Limousine Ride

The thing about being a Femme Fantastik Author is that anything goes. You can't do something and get away with it when you have the wittiest women in the world together. We are going to notice and we are going to talk about you. Let me describe to you our bootleg (to the fifth power) ride from the airport.

I arrived in LA and went in search of Nina in baggage claim. Why did I find her sitting down and not with the promised limo driver? I was so excited, I hugged her and then asked, where was the driver.

She replied, "Right there, don't look."

Come on now. Don't tell me not to look at something. I'm peeping everything. I'm a black suburban woman who doesn't get to see much in Duluth, Ga, so I looked, and didn't see a thing.
I was like, ok then. I told her I was going to get my luggage and to wait for me.

I walked through the doors and waited at the wrong carousal for my bags. Just as I began to lament America West, a man came up to me and said "Ms. Foxx sent me in here to help you."

I looked at him and thought this is a scam. He's gone steal my bags and then I'm gone be funky and in my stretchy, fat traveling pants for the signing. Damn. No way was he a limo driver. He had on baggy jeans, Timberland boots and a long shirt. Did I mention he couldn't turn his neck to the left? Whatever, I don't care. He didn't look like a limo driver. Plus, he had a four year old next to him. He was about to rob me with a luggage cart and a kid. Damn.

Then I noticed that he had a sign with him. Why was it handwritten? Why was Nina's name scratched out? Why was there a jagged scratch through the beginning of my name and apparently the pen ran out, so little stabs through the last part? Why was Lori's last name spelled wrong and because it was long, printed down the side of the cardboard?
Where the hell was Nina? And why the hell wasn't she with him? Oh, right, he was bootleg and so she sent him to help me. I made a promise to kick Nina's tail later.

Okay, so we get my luggage and I immediately put my sneakers on. If I have to run after you because you really are a thief, I was going to do it in my Nike’s so I could use my traveling shoes to throw at the back of your head. Whatever, I’m from Buffalo. Nobody said we fight fair.

So after we get our bags loaded on the cart, we exit the terminal and stop. Call me a diva, but I was kind of expecting the car to be like, right there. The driver, kid and our bags keep walking toward the parking garage. Nina, in her Coach shoes, and I are standing at the curb, looking stupefied. Even the cop looked at us funny. I stupidly ask him, “Where’s the limo?”

He looks at me next to the Grand Dame of the airport, Nina, and said, “Ion know.” Translation, “I don’t know and what the hell you asking me for? You need to be following that man with your bags, fake a-- diva.”

No lookin’ left driver yells over his shoulder, “I’m in here”—meaning the parking garage. We scamper across the road feeling just a little dumb. At the end of a long row, we see the limo, parked in between civilian cars. Can we all say bootleg together?

Nina and I stand there, our diva status obliterated by car exhaust fumes, and I get ready to throw my bags in the trunk. At this point, if he told me I’d have to ride a bike to the hotel, I’d have believed him. Driver looks at me unloading the cart and says, “I got this.”
I think hell naw. I’m watching my bags go in. No offense, but inside I have two Alfani shirts I got on sale at Macy’s and well, I want them. He raises the trunk, and can I just ask for the chorus to say bootleg together right now?

This trunk is so full of tires, I don’t know how he closed it in the first place. Now, as you’ve learned from previous blogs, I’m a regular ole’ girl from the hood. My suitcases came as a set of four for $89.99 with a box of 48 freezy pops and a $5 calling card. Nina’s bags cost more than the entire limo. She wasn't hav'n it. Quite frankly, I thought she was going to levitate.

I’m thinking that ain’t gone work. Needless to say my busted up stuff went into the trunk. I don’t care. That’s why you buy cheap bags.

Nina and I climb in the back seat—with her suitcases and laugh our butts off. We’re both thinking the blog is going to be off the chain.

We pull out and then our driver taps a truck. I just shake my head. Damn, now I’m a witness. Lucky for him, there was no damage, but I do have to direct him out. What the hell, I thought. If I didn’t, we’d never get Lori and never get to the signing the next day. We’d be there until my next birthday shouting, “Pull up. Cut the wheel! Turn, up again, cut! Damn, you tapped him again. Pull up.”

We drive over to Continental and he gets out with the kid to go get Lori and realizes he got a ticket. I suppose the limo couldn’t fake as an ordinary sedan. For the longest time, he stood there and I begin to feel sorry for him. Nina does not.

The whole time she’s laughing, typing on her crackberry, (her blackberry), eyeing the parking lot because we know Lori and her smart mouth is going to have something to say.

Lori gets in the car and we start up again. Well, after he shoved her luggage inside, we die laughing. Definitely bootleg. There’s more luggage than people. Our knees are up to our throats and we’re laughing like crazy. I was just glad nobody had gas.

We get on the road and we put the privacy window up, but we didn’t know it was broke and wouldn’t ever come down again. At this point, it’s so funny, we have to talk about it. There’s no way we can make it the whole ride and not. Lori was in rare form. She was just glad none of the white passengers on her flight saw her and the infamous note card bearing her name.

The ride was uneventful, except for the part when No lookin’ left didn’t see traffic merging on the left and slammed on the brakes so hard, Lori slid the length of the limo on the seat. Now that was funny and way beyond bootleg.

Luckily for us, we made it to the hotel in one piece and when I got back to Atlanta and my son brought my bags inside, he only asked me once why there was permanent tire tread marks on my bag.

Carmen Green
I tell stories for a living.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

True Celebrity is Just A Limo Ride Away

"We're sending a car." Sweet words to every mid-list author's ears.

Before the story begins, let's be clear about why ground transportation is such a desirable perk. For A-List authors, your E. Lynns, Terrys, Erics, Grishams, Pattersons, Tans, a sleek, shiny, limo waiting to pick them up at the airport and whisk them off to their scheduled events is a given. Doesn't matter if they are on official book tour or doing some other event in between releases. A car and driver is part of the package (you know, the requisite big All-5 package--five figure honorarium, five star hotel, etc).

On the other hand... for fabulous, up-and-coming authors (like the Femmes), after the official, publisher sponsored, book tour is over, we're pretty much on our own when it comes to most promotional appearances. So when some event planner tells you they're sending a car to meet you at the airport, it's all good. Like 'abracadabra', those four little words have the magic ability to transform you from a worn out soccer mom, whose refrigerator is empty and laundry room is overflowing (am I ruining the glamorous image you have of us authors?), into the diva, celebrity author you become once you strip off the sweats and sneakers, pull on your pencil skirt and power shoes (usually stilettos), pack up your bookmarks and strut down the jetway on your way to Audienceville.

And can I tell you, hopping on that airplane knowing that a limo is waiting for you on the other side, changes a sistah. Quick! Somebody hand me some very dark and oversized sunglasses. And while you're at it, toss me a bottle of Evian and some M & M's. Green only please.

But there are levels of celebrity to be sure. And you know just how big you are (or not) by the little things...the fine details that tell you just where your name falls (or not) on the "list."

The organizers of the final Femme event for 2005, the wonderful ladies of Delta Sigma Theta, thoughtfully sent a stretch limo to pick Nina, Carmen, and me from the airport. (Note: to their credit, this was the first time they'd used this company and were more upset over the service than we were.) We all arranged to arrive at LAX within an hour of each other. Nina and Carmen were the first to be picked up and then they proceeded on to Terminal 6 to get me.

Everything had gone like clockwork on my flight so within 20 minutes of landing I had my luggage and was waiting outside where all of the other limos were parked. Okay, I'll be honest, I was kind of hoping that the white folks I'd spent the last five hours talking to would see my celebrity behind climb into my stretch and zip off to my next fabulous event, but there was no snappily dressed chauffeur with my name neatly printed on a sign there to greet me. So after five minutes or so, I called Carmen to find out if they'd been delayed.

"Where are you guys?"

"In the garage, " Carmen answered. "The driver is coming in to meet you."

I didn't get a chance to inquire as to why they weren't outside the terminal where all the other limo drivers were waiting for their celebrities because she had more info to impart.

"He's got a sign with your name on it. And there's a little girl with a black sweatsuit on with him," Carmen volunteered very matter-of-factly.

Okay, the sign I understood, but little girl?

"And uh, Lori, he can only move his neck one way."

I let that one breeze by.

"I think I see him," I told her. And yes, there stood a tall brotha wearing baggy jeans hanging down his backside, the legs pooling around the tops of his bright, white sneakers, holding what appeared to be the Soul Train Scrabble Board. Through the jumble of letters I could make out enough letters in my name, but even if I was unsure, the cute, little girl in the black sweatsuit was a dead giveaway. They were like the urban version of Mr. Rourke and Tattoo, the greeting committee on Fantasy Island.

He stiffly craned his neck around to the right as he mumbled my name. Quick somebody get me my sunglasses! The bling from his 56 carat 'diamond' stud is blinding me. As he grabbed my luggage, I did a quick look around. Whew. Thank God, the white folks were no where to be found! I didn't need an audience watching as I dropped down a couple of notches on the celebrity scale.

We walked to what seemed like the next state (hello, somehow I don't think Angelina Jolie has to put on hiking boots and break a sweat to find her car. And if by some chance she did, I doubt she'd have to see her driver's underwear the entire trip) and finally stopped in front of a sleek, shiny black stretch limo. I waited for him to put my luggage into the trunk but instead, Brothaman opened the door and threw my suitcase on to the pile of Nina and Carmen's that filled up the available floor space. Just happy to see my girls after such a long time, I climbed in and sat on the long seat and we greeted each other like long lost sisters.

"Nina the rest of your shoes must be taking up all the trunk space," I teased as we drove through the garage, one leg resting on top of her shoe bag the other stuffed between Carmen's large and extra large, black bags. Damn ladies, we're only in town for two days!

"No girl, there were too many tires in the trunk to fit any luggage." We all cracked up.

"Why are you all sitting in the garage? And why did I have to hike fifteen miles to get to my LIMO?" I asked with with mock indignation.

"Well, I don't think he has a permit to work the airport," Carmen offered. "He got a ticket while he was waiting for us." Again, we erupted in gales of laughter. "I think this is a bootleg limo service."

Yah think?

"Nina, turn on the radio so he can't hear us." I suggested. I figured we should at least be respectful as we talked about the guy.

"Can't. It doesn't work."

"Well then, turn on the TV."

"Can't. It doesn't work either. Just static," she said as she found the button to raise the divider. After a few hopeful grinding noises it went up, separating us from folks in the front seat.

"I bet the sh*t in Terry's limo would work," Carmen added.

"Yeah, but more importantly, I bet her limo driver would be able to see what's coming in both directions!"

"And wouldn't need a six-year old to help him navigate. I think we're lost," Carmen said looking out the window.

"I'm thirsty." I said eyeing the highball glasses and champagne flutes nesting across the opposite side of the car.

"Well unless you're up for drinking napkins or have your own water bottle you're out of luck."

"That's the difference between A list and the C list," I sighed. "But at least they sent a car. And even a jacked up limo with a trunk full of tires is better than taking one of those shuttle buses that stops at every hotel between here and east where you goin."

I can't tell you their response because just as the words left my parched mouth I, along with my handbag, sweater and the luggage, went flying across the seat like a shot of bourbon across the bar. Carmen quickly grabbed my ankles to keep me from banging my head on the front wall.

"Guess something must have come at him from the left side," Nina suggested with her usual deadpan delivery. The three of us just busted out in continuous waves of giggles.

A few miles later after another abrupt stop, which once again jolted me across the car and caused the contents of my purse to spill all over the floor, Carmen decided to trade places so I could put on the seat belt and stay put for the rest of the ride.

Taking it all in stride, we continued laughing off and on until we pulled into the hotel. We scurried to pick up the belongings that had scattered across the car during the hurly burly ride and get ourselves together for our grand arrival.

When Brotherman opened the door, we were all back in D.I.V.A. (Determined, Intelligent, Vibrant, Author) mode. Three fabulous women stepped from the car, hair coiffed, makeup flawless, sunglasses in place. We had our celebrity images to think of. Who knew if the paparazzi had been alerted!

Forget the ghetto fabulous driver, the for-show-only bar setup, the busted radio and television, we had arrived in style. And as we sashayed across the empty drive way and into an empty lobby, there wasn't a soul who could tell us that we weren't on the A list. And for the time it took us to check in and get to our room (where we realized that we were right next to the very noisy ice maker and the phone on the desk didn't work) we believed it ourselves.

Friday, November 11, 2005

More Pix

Pat, Lori and Nina at the After Party

Pictures From LA Sign & Dine sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta and Heritage Bookstore in Ontario, CA

Nina & Carmen & Lori Nina with Mizz Margaret. There's a story here.