Friday, September 30, 2005

Still Waiting on Savoy...

Boy, getting paid for a magazine gig can be amazingly slow. Savoy STILL owes me for an article I did in June. It's really getting pathetic and I really feel bad for the writers they've stiffed who really depend on their freelance check to survive.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

re: Television Saga...

Went to Fry's with my "no negative info" check with no problem. And got a better deal. So take that Best Buy!

Remembering Names...

I am horrible with names. I do my DAMNEDEST to remember the names of people, and I'm just terrible. But I think I've come up with a solution. I'm going to try to learn five names of my fellow film students each week, and then learn another five the next, until I can remember them all.

On the lit front, I have to finish my non-fiction book project proposal asap. I want to get my feet wet with film school, but that project needs to be shopped. I know where my bread is buttered. Karen at Kensington has my latest fiction manuscript, so a decision on that will come within October.

I'm going to lecture only a little bit this year. But I still have some to add to the schedule.

MK and I are going to start working on the doc, and he is helping me out by designing my website. Five years with books, adn never a website. That's terrible marketing from a cat who prides himself on marketing his books.

BTW, Friends With Benefits is doing nicely in the Amazon rankings. It is consistently staying under 50,000, and that's without a single interview having been done. I have a slew of interviews set up in the next month, so I hope to get it under 10,000 on a regular basis. If I can do that, then I think I will have created the momentum I need to get some good sales this year. Kensington sent me about 3000 FWB postcards, and I'll distribute them with the galleys.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


We're still unboxing stuff and I found a box full of uncorrected galley proofs of The Ways of Black Folks and Friends With Benefits. Instead of just keeping them in the box, I think I'm going to put a note in each copy and then leave them in a public place. I'd like to track where the books go and who is reading them.


All right. I am officially excited about film school. I just completed Day One of our orientation, and it just felt good to be around folks who write, and think about writing. I have this feeling that I'm really going to grow in this program.

Met four black folks who are in the acting part of the MFA program. Virginia Union, Spelman, and two Howard grads. HBCUs are representing! I think I'll organize a nice little bbq for the black mfa folks. Just so we don't feel isolated.

But even though the numbers of black folks are sparse, I must say that the folks are diverse occupationally and experience wise. So I look forward to listening to new stories outside of my community.

Ticked Off...

Has anyone else had this experience? For the past month, I've been contemplating a big ass plasma screen television. I want it Magic Johnson theatre big. I deserve it. The wife thinks I deserve it. And so I've been looking at televisions, comparing pixels, and HDTV versus EDTV, etc. So finally, I'm ready to buy. I go down to the local best buy, stare at two different televisions, and finally make my decision. I want that one.

Cool, the saleman says. We get to the register, and I write a check for about four large. I just sold my house in a boom market. I can splurge a bit. But as the cashier puts in the check, she goes to the phone. I'm like, what the dealio? She talks to someone and then comes to me and says my check is declined, but for NO NEGATIVE REASONS. I'm like, well we haven't bounced a check since I was copping Blondies pizza slices at Berkeley in the 80s, so I know there's negative reasons. But if there's no negative reasons, why can't I write the check. She slides me a number to a company called Cetergy. I talk to this cat who tells me that Cetergy has "200 factors" they take in before authorizing purchase. I'm tripping. So some random computer is telling me how much of my hard earned money I can spend???? I go off. I ask for the criteria. He tells me that check sequence is one factor. I'm using check 102 and the last check used was 109. I tell him that my wife uses some checks and I the other. Then he said the length a bank account has been open. My account has been open for ten years straight. So the reporter in me started asking questions. I wanted to know whether or not "zip code" which is a way to racial profile folks, is being used. There's a silence on the other end. He tells me that he doesn't know all of the criteria. This may be a good story to pursue. I can understand if you write bad checks and then get put on a list. But when you get put on a list for NOTHING, then I have a problem.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Back at Home!

Got in and hugged the wife and kid. Picked up the motorcycle from the shop. Too tired to ride it. Had to go to a UCLA film school party. Nice to meet everyone in my class. Twenty five people in my class, only two black folks, me and a cat from NYC. But a WIDE variety of occupations and experiences, so this will be nice and interesting. I've got two days of orientation beginning tomorrow and then...I help my mother move to Dallas. Twenty hours on the road.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I'm officially done with this tour. Got up this morning at 3am in NYC and drove over five hours to DC. Hotel didn't have a room, so I couldn't change for the CBC. Oh well. Can't sweat what you can't change. Did a signing at the AKA event, and that went very well. One woman bought seven books (Divine Nine and Friends With Benefits combo) as gifts. But enough about books. I went to Georgia Browns and got some fried chicken and now it's about waking up and getting on a plane for home. I'm going to sleep for a few hours and then roll for the airport.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Pleasant Surprise...

Did my last NYC booksigning at the Green Acres Mall and had a great time. Got a nice surprise when my AE chapter frat brother Eric Stephens and his beautiful fiancee Isis, came through to visit. Nothin' like selling books with friends. This signing was at a Waldens and it was fun to simply sign and talk to folks. A LOT of sisters came through and where intrigued by the Friends With Benefits concept, and the research I'd done before writing the book. Each one brought their own experience to the convo. The book has tapped into something, and this signing was very encouraging. Now I have to get a tiny bit of rest and then drive five hours to Washington DC. I'm going to be absolutely knocked out after signing at the CBC, Howard, and then at the AKA stepshow. I'm going to only stay about an hour at the AKA show and then get to the hotel and sleep. I leave EARLY for LA on Sunday.

Pleasant Surprise...

Did my last NYC booksigning at the Green Acres Mall and had a great time. Got a nice surprise when my AE chapter frat brother Eric Stephens and his beautiful fiancee Isis, came through to visit. Nothin' like selling books with friends. This signing was at a Waldens and it was fun to simply sign and talk to folks. A LOT of sisters came through and where intrigued by the Friends With Benefits concept, and the research I'd done before writing the book. Each one brought their own experience to the convo. The book has tapped into something, and this signing was very encouraging. Now I have to get a tiny bit of rest and then drive five hours to Washington DC. I'm going to be absolutely knocked out after signing at the CBC, Howard, and then at the AKA stepshow. I'm going to only stay about an hour at the AKA show and then get to the hotel and sleep. I leave EARLY for LA on Sunday.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Winding Down...

The tour is winding down and despite the usual issues with bookstores, I'm close to calling it a success. Books are being moved and I'm starting to get media requests, which I will tackle when I get home. This tour, again, was about momentum. I reintroduced myself to booksellers, and that's important because I was basically rolling colleges and university bookstores for the past three years. I needed to get back in there.

My Amazon rating has been moving too. It's starting to stay under 50,000, which means that there's a bit of consistency in the purchases. It could be one or two per day, but that's enough to get the attention of prospective readers.

Now I'm going to target book clubs, groups and conventions. I HATE multiple author shows, mainly because it's a contest to gain the attention of readers, rather than having conversations with them and then letting the reader make a decision. But I'll do a few of those too.

This weekend should be pretty cool. I have the Congressional Black Caucus and then the AKA Stepshow. Both should be very good for my books.

Next stop, grad school party on the 25th

Spoke too soon...

Note: Kensington told me I should sign at this bookstore...

Left Long Island at 4:30pm.
Knew I would catch mad traffic getting to Newark and did. But didn't think it would take two and a half hours. Holland Tunnel is a bitch.
Get to Penn Station in Newark.
Get to bookstore.
Clerk stares at me when I tell her I'm there for booksigning.
Looks at calendar. The date is circled with my phone number.
They don't have a single copy of my book in the store.
I turn around and go back to Long Island.
Total time traversing the LIE and Manhattan bridge, four boroughs, and two states: four and a half hours.
Total books signed: 0

Life on the road...Ya gotta love it.
Tomorrow will be better though. I KNOW this bookstore.

Things are looking UP!

Had a really nice booksigning at the Hue-Man bookstore in Harlem (one of the nicest looking black bookstores I've seen) last night. Got a bunch of students from Columbia and Hofstra at the signing, along with regular readers. As it went, I ended up talking about all three of my books, and we got into a nice discussion about the African diaspora.

As I was driving to Harlem, it dawned on me that this was the first time I'd signing at a NYC bookstore. I've signed at a ton of NYC colleges all through the boroughs, but I'd never taken the time to sign at an actual bookstore. Unless I've forgotten, and that's a possibility. Anyway, I was treated nicely and Melony the owner is from LA (Fairfax High, FAX CITY!), so she was coolio.

I have a Newark signing tonight, and then another NY signing on Friday, before I head out to DC for a full day of signings. After that, I'm adios for LA and my own bed!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Black Kids in the UK...

The Daily Telegraph
Black pupils 'victims of racism by teachers'
By Liz Lightfoot, Education Correspondent

Black pupils are no longer judged to be the most advanced when they
start school and unconscious racism by teachers could be to blame,
according to a professor of education.

Prof David Gillborn, of the London Institute of Education, said the
performance of young black children has apparently declined since 2002
when a new method of assessing four- and five-year-olds was introduced.

Before 2002 teachers were told to administer baseline tests in their
pupils' first few weeks at school but now they tick a series of boxes
based on observations of the children.

Prof Gillborn told a conference of the British Educational Research
Association at Glamorgan University yesterday that data showed black
children were no longer doing so well and that the trend may have
emerged because of the new emphasis on teacher assessment.

There was evidence that many teachers tended to have lower expectations
of black children and graded them accordingly, he said.

Well-meaning, white professionals who simply did "not see equality as a
major concern" were guilty of institutional racism, he said.

A previous study by Prof Gillborn and Prof Heidi Safia Mirza published
in 2000 challenged the preconception that black children entered school
poorly prepared when it found they were the highest achieving of all
groups at the start of their school careers.

Since teacher observation replaced the tests white children have
attained higher marks than all other ethnic groups, Prof Gillborn said.

He added: "Here's one area that black kids were doing well and it has
disappeared, almost overnight. There is no evidence of conscious intent.
There does not need to be."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Penn Article

Author tells life of black bachelor

[Chris Poliquin/The Daily Pennsylvanian]
Author Lawrence Ross discusses his new novel about black male relationships in the Penn Bookstore.
Lawrence Ross' new novel goes into detail about the lives of 'friends with benefits'
By jessica fisher
September 20, 2005

In the midst of a tour that has included more than 500 speeches, Lawrence Ross spoke yesterday about bachelor life in graphic detail at the Penn Bookstore.
"Only money and power gets women, my brother. ... Everything else is just a distraction," Ross said, reading an excerpt from his latest novel, Friends with Benefits.

The book chronicles what Ross has found to be a current trend in dating among African-Americans. Ross based his fictional work on interviews with several single black Americans.

"What I found was that for what seems to be the first time, women are really in control [of the relationships]," Ross said. "But is the 'friends with benefits' trend in the African-American community going to eventually create long-term relationships?"

In fact, Ross said that none of the relationships he studied lasted more than six months.

Friends With Benefits is Ross' first fictional novel.

Ross went on to read a few excerpts from the novel, including some dialogue between the characters.

"Look at Jay-Z and Beyonce. ... Is she even going to look at Jay-Z twice if he's not a rapper and a multi-millionaire? The brother's talented, but he ain't the most handsome man in the pack."

His nonfiction works include The Ways of Black Folks: A Year in the Life of a People and the Los Angeles Times bestseller The Divine Nine: The History of African-American Fraternities and Sororities in America.

A brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., since his initiation at the University of California at Berkeley in 1985, Ross spoke passionately about black fraternity life.

Ross said that he did not include the issue of pledging and hazing in The Divine Nine because it was the first widely circulated book about black fraternities, and he wanted to give readers a positive view of the organizations. However, he did condemn hazing during a question-and-answer session with the audience.

"I don't have a problem with pledging, but the problem is that there's no program I've seen to date that doesn't include ego or danger," Ross said.

Throughout his speech, Ross reiterated that membership in black fraternities and sororities is perpetuated well after college graduation, as many members stay involved after they get their degrees.

In Long Island and ready to go...

I had a talk with my editor today and feel a lot better. Karen is great, both as an editor and a friend. Frankly, I don't know how she's not burned herself out over these years. So I'm ready to go. I start with Hofstra tomorrow morning and end with Hue-Man in the evening. If I can have a small group at Hue-Man, I'll be cool. I rarely venture into NY for booksignings unless they are connected with a college, so this is going to be different. But what the hell. Only about four days until freedom. Four days before I ride my motorcycle down Crenshaw saying "What? What?" I can't wait.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Bad Day Yesterday...Great Day Today...

I'm in the City of Brotherly Love and things turned up decidedly from yesterday. I had a VERY enjoyable booksigning at the University of Penn and got to see a bunch of folks I know. This is how a booksigning is supposed to go. A lesson I shall learn. Work with college bookstores.

Second. My son got a 100% on his spelling test, plus the bonus words. I am more hyped about that than anything. To date, he's not missed a single word since school has started. And since he's the biggest negotiator on earth, he has leveraged his scholastic achievement into a trip to Shakeys (his favorite) for pizza.

Third, I bought a Genos and Pats Philly cheesesteak and ate them both. I'm still trying to figure out which one I liked better. I think I liked the bread from Pats, but the onions and beef from Genos. Each could have used some black pepper on the beef. I think I declare it a tie.

Next stop: Hofstra.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I Couldn't Make This Up...

I remember when I was about fourteen, and I became addicted to old Monty Python skits. There was one skit that used to have me on the floor giggling. It was a skit where a man woke up and everything he did was a disaster. Finally, at the end of the day, he walks away from his house and the house explodes, ending the day. His day was my day today. For all you authors who are jonesing to be published and then have a "spectacular" book tour, remember my day.

9:30am: I'm checking out from my beautiful Atlanta Holiday Inn when the brother behind the counter decides that he wants to charge me a dollar for local calls. Now, I didn't make that many, just to the bookstore, but they add up. So I tell him that I'm a priority club member and he stares blankly. Finally, a manager decides that Holiday Inn will survive without ten dollars worth of calls. Good, it looks like I can make my 11:25am flight to Tampa. That booksigning begins at 4pm, plenty of time for me to land at 1pm and relax for two hours or so. May even get to check out the NFL before the signing. Frustration level: 2 out of 10 with one being relaxed and ten being ready to explode.

10am: Atlanta Hartsfield airport. I have reservations for my tickets, but haven't purchased them. I'm in line, but the line is really long and not moving. I estimate that I'll still be able to get my ticket by the 10:30am cut off. The iPod is on eleven and I'm chilling. Frustration level: 1

10:20am. I'm still ten people from getting to a ticket agent, one of which is having a long conversation with a customer about where she got her shoes. The agent is now taking off her shoes and showing them to the customer. Frustration level: 3

10:32am: I get to the ticket counter and the ticket agent interested in getting new shoes informs me that my flight is now full and I missed the hour cut off time. I tell her politely that if she'd not had a ten minute conversation about shoes, I would have made my flight. She's not amused. The next flight to Tampa leaves Atlanta at 3:30pm. Not a good thing when I'm supposed to be signing at 4pm. I ask her about the closest airport to Tampa. She then has a twenty minute conversation with another collegue about whether the miles they were looking at were actual miles or flight miles. I get booked on a flight to Orlando, about 80 miles from Tampa. Cool. I leave at 11:25am and land at 1pm, get in the hooptie, drive for about an hour and a half, and get into the hotel a little after 2:30pm. Cost of the ticket: $300 Frustration level: 5

11am: My boarding pass has the infamous SSSS, so I'm lucky enough to get picked for "special" security screening. After the security guard feels me up, I'm good to go. Frustration level: 3

11:30am: I'm on the plane, and it is full. The woman sitting in the middle seat suddenly decides that she just had to talk to me now. About anything that came into her head. Flying. Sitting. Drinking water. Eating peanuts. People. Luggage. Landing. Anything. Me? I like to put the iPod on eleven and zone out. Thanks, lady. Frustration level: 4

1pm: Okay, we land. I rush through the Orlando airport and damn, another airport shuttle. I don't know what it is about airports in the South, but they are addicted to shuttles. They get on my damn nerve. I'd rather stroll through the airport and get to the rental car agency asap without the middle man shuttle. Anyway, I get on and off the shuttle and walk five hundred miles to the rental car agency area. Except there's one problem. Hertz is no where to be found. I ask, and the kind woman from Alamo tells me Hertz doesn't have a station in the airport. They are off the airport. I have to take another god dang shuttle. A shuttle that as I turn to look, is just pulling away from the curb. I run like an OJ Simpson girlfriend out of the airport but miss the shuttle. Another will be around, the kind Hertz lady says. In ten minutes. Frustration level: 6

1:30pm: I'm on the Hertz shuttle bus, and wondering how long it will take to get to the Hertz club gold station. The bus driver holds a conversation with her Hertz friend (the one that told me another bus will be around) for ten minutes or so. I start thinking about how long it takes to drive eighty miles. I figure an hour or hour and a half with traffic. That puts me into Tampa around 3pm. Cutting it close, but I'll still have time to shower and get to the store on time. Frustration level: 5

1:48pm. I'm panicking like George Bush at a Nation of Islam convention. I'd originally reserved a Hertz car at Tampa, but unfortunately, I'm not IN Tampa. I'm in Orlando and I didn't have time to call Hertz to let them know of the change. Uh oh. Now the beautiful lady behind counter says that they may not have cars. Huh? She goes through her roster and finds a car. I pull out a credit card, hoping to be on my way. Uh oh number two. Card declined. What? I guess I forgot to monitor the balance on that card. I pull out another card. Whew, that one works. Camry in L29. Sign my contract and run to the car. 95 degrees outside, but I'm on my way. Rental car cost: $89. Frustration level: 7/2 It was a 7 at the beginning and 2 at the end.

2:20pm. The ride from Orlando to Tampa is a straight shot on I-4. Nothing strange about the route, which is great. Because I don't get Florida. I've traveled to forty five states over and over, but I never can get a handle on Florida. The one thing you'll notice when you drive in Florida is that there are no motorcycle helmet laws in Florida. Look, even Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson wore helmets, so to watch folks ride without helmets at 90mph is like a freak of nature. Anyway, I digress. It's 98 outside, but it's cool in my car. The Avis rental I had in Atlanta was a Chevy POS (but only cost me $1.98 because I received a $50 coupon when I told the guy in DC that my car needed a jump) but the Camry rides like a Deuce and a Quarter. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on and even though I hate Jon Gruden with a purple passion (die hard Raider fan), it's good to listen to the NFL if I can't watch it. I'm feeling good. Frustration level: 1

2:55pm: Entering Tampa city limits. I'm mentally singing Blur right now. But where's the airport. Oh, just ahead. My Holiday Inn is supposed to next to the airport. But the signs keep point toward the airport, but it doesn't seem to be getting closer. Doesn't matter. I've got to run into it soon. Frustation level: 2

3:05pm: I'm on a frontage road right next to the airport, and unlike 99% of the airports in the world, there are no signs pointing to the hotels. None. Also, Florida has decided to put as many confusing signs at this airport junction as possible. I do what I know to do when I'm lost. I flag down a cabbie. The first cabbie rolls down his window as though I asked him to turn his head and cough. "Where's the airport Holiday Inn?" I ask innocently. "There's no Holiday Inn," he sneers. He drives away. Doubt creeps into my head. No Holiday Inn? My Powerbook says different. Cabbie #2 suggests that I get on 275 south and I'll run into some hotels. Great. I'm on my way! Frustration level: 5

3:14pm: Okay, there's 275 South toward St. Petersberg. I CAN see hotels across the way, so if I get on 275, I can get off closer to the hotels. I'm on 275 South. Hey, where's the exit? Where's the fucking exit? You know how Tampa is sometimes called Tampa Bay? Well, that's because there's a Bay between the cities of Tampa and St. Pete. I'm now on a bridge heading toward St. Pete and there's no turn around. You just have to drive fourteen miles to St. Pete and then turn around. Frustration level: 10

3:23pm: I've turned around and now I'm heading back to Tampa. The first hotel I see is a Clarion Hotel. Initially, I think about going there to see if they know where the Holiday Inn is, but now I don't have time. "Do you have any rooms?" I ask. The Clarion hotel employee answers me in German. She training. On me. Who needs to get to book signing at 4pm. She doesn't care. She taps out my room info using some sort of German Morse code. Finally, I get my key. Cost: 109.00 Frustration level: 7

3:40pm: I throw cash at her like I'm George Bush meeting a Louisiana Congressman, and soon I'm in my hotel room, stripping, ironing, and showering all at the same time. Dressed, I call the bookstore to tell them that I'm going to be a bit late, but don't worry, I'll be there. A kind sounding college student answers the phone but seems remarkably uninformed. No time for that. I gotta get on the road. Frustration level: 6

3:55pm. The road out of the hotel leads to the 275. I expect there to be a "275 South to the left, 275 North, keep straight" sign on the ramp. I get on the ramp. I get a sinking feeling. This muthafucka gets me BACK on that damn bridge of no turnaround to St. Pete, and now I have ANOTHER fourteen mile trip to St. Pete to look forward to. Fuck. Double fuck. Frustration level: 11

4:10pm: I'm back pointed the right way and heading toward Tampa and the bookstore. The one thing I do love is Florida traffic. Everyone thinks they are Mark Martin, so the traffic flows quickly. I'm zooming at an 80mph clip. Gotta love that. What's that up ahead? Remember I told you that I was listening to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game a while back? Well, it's let out and 500,000 cars have now gotten on the highway. I'm in a parking lot. Frustration level: 14

4:25pm: I'm off the highway and only theoretically four miles to my destination. I think of things I'm going to say to make sure folks are not angry about waiting. All the while, I'm looking for something that will dry the sweat on my forehead. I'm FLYING down the street, looking for 56th street. I'm at 17th. Frustration level: 8

4:35pm: I make the turn onto 56th Street and squint trying to find the street numbers and my bookstore. Finally, I find it. There are cars out front so I'm happy. I jump out of my car and run to the door, and still try to keep my composure. I open the darkened doors and...there's no one there. No one except for a kind little college student who is reading her text book. "Hi, I'm Lawrence Ross and I'm supposed to have a booksigning today." She looks at me like the Clarion hotel trainee. She picks up the phone and calls the owner, who I thought would be at the store to greet me. She hands me the phone. "Hi Lawrence!" she says cheerfully. "I thought we were on for OCTOBER 19th, not today." I stand stunned. I hand the phone to the kind college student and sit down. She gets back on the phone and says that the owner would love for me to sign stock. I mindlessly signed ten books and walk out into the 99 degree/99 humidity heat. Frustration level: Off the charts.

I fumble for my keys and make my way back to my hotel, being careful not to make that St. Pete bridge trip again. So after around $500 spent, a day of aggrevation and frustration, I sit in a Clarion hotel with a slow internet connection. Welcome to the glamour life of an author. I need a drink.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


I'm burnt y'all and I think I'm going to cut back some of my NYC signings. Kensington has not done a good job with my publicity and unless they have a better plan when I hit the NYC, I don't see a reason to do these signings. The Atlanta signing went okay, but then we went to a book club conference and I sold a bunch of books.

But beyond all of that, I've been on the road for about five years straight and this tour is letting me know that I abhor traveling. Not dislike, but abhor. I have been in almost 500 Holiday Inns over these five years and if I see another one, I'll puke. There has GOT to be a better way to promote ones book than being on the road. The sense of isolation, the monotony, and the neverending boredom is all encompassing. Each city melds into another and even if you're not well traveled, things really begin to look the same.

And you're constantly tired. I fly to Tampa tomorrow and I have to get up at 5am for a 7:55am flight. It's nearly 1am right now and I feel like an insominiac. Honestly, I don't know how rock stars do it. What I DO understand is how they take drugs to numb themselves. It's that bad.

Here's what I'm dreaming about right now:

1. Hugging my wife
2. Wrestling with my son.
3. Sleeping in my own bed for about twelve hours.
4. Getting on my new motorcycle and riding for no reason to nowhere.
5. Not writing a damn thing for a week at least.

What am I listening to in order to get myself straight: Prefab Sprout: Bonny. Why that? It's the music I have in my head for a script I'm writing. I can't get away from it.

Life on the Road...

I'm sitting here in the lounge of the Atlanta Holiday Inn. It's 6:55am, which means my body thinks it's 3:55am PST. This is the part of an author's tour they don't tell you about. I flew out of LA at 9pm and I've been on a plane ever since. I arrived into Atlanta, and of course there are no rooms ready because the hotel is sold out, and no one has awaken to leave yet. They're all warm and snuggly in their beds, the bastards. But even if they'd left, I still wouldn't have a room because the cleaning staff doesn't arrive until 8am. So I wait. In the meantime, I have to get some sort of rest because I have a signing at 3pm regardless.

This tour has been particularly taxing for me and I'm not sure why. Over the years, you get used to having nice sized crowds at one signing and then one person who randomly walked in to your signing at the other. You treat those two imposters just the same. But I think the travel is starting to wear on me. Too many cities and too much time in airports combine to make you weary to the bone. The one saving grace is that I still LOVE talking to people, so the signings themselves are fun. But everything else can go to hell. For example...

Two days ago, I signed at Howard University. Lovely, lovely people. For some reason, I'd gotten a hotel room in College Park, Md rather than in DC because the Roberts hearing had pretty much locked down the hotel rooms and rental cars (until I got an Avis hookup from the in hotel Avis office, which is BRILLIANT by the way). No biggee. But that did make it a bit further to Dulles airport (45 minutes away without traffic) and I had an early morning flight. So, after I speak at Howard, I get up at 4am, shower, and then roll out of my Holiday Inn room around 5pm, which theoretically should be plenty of time to get to Dulles at 6am for my 7:05am flight. But when I get to my car, insert the key into the ignition, there's nothing. Not a peep. Apparently, the lights have been on all night. Uh oh. So I run back to the hotel lobby, call AAA (thank God for that) and then wait for the jump. And wait. And wait. Finally, the guy from AAA comes around 6am, and I'm off to Dulles. I miss my flight, so instead of getting in at 9:30am, I get in at 12:30pm. That wouldn't be a biggie, but I speak at Cal State Dominguez Hills at 7pm the same day.

My eyes are bloodshot, and I'm tired as hell, but the Dominguez lectures turns out really well. A day later, I'm chilling in Atlanta at the beginning of the end of my Friends With Benefits tour. At 4:00am PST. I'm tired.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Back On The Road...

I'm back on the road after having to cancel three booksignings this past week. We had a bit of a scare with my wife, but things look fine now. Her family has a history of heart disease, so we are VERY vigilant about her health. But things look fine now. But those are the things that you go through. This is the first time in five years that I've EVER cancelled a book signing gig, and I've done nearly three hundred of them. But family over business.

Right now, I'm scheduled to sign at Howard University. My travel agent thought I was signing at the University of Maryland, so I'm actually in College Park, Maryland rather than DC, but then again, with the Roberts hearing, DC hotel rooms are a premium. For the first time ever, I couldn't find a single rental car anywhere. So I'm going to need someone to pick me up from the hotel.

But for now, I'm about to take a nap.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Just a Bad Week in General...

My wife got sick so I had to cancel three of my signings this week as I rushed back to LA. I'm rescheduling them and getting back on the road for the Howard signing on the 14th. The only thing good out of this week is that I was able to get my Ducati, which almost didn't happen. Other than that, I've got a huge headache, and I'm feeling a bit tired and weary. I need a pick me up and a bit of a vacation from writing and things dealing with writing.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bad Racial Week For Me...

I'm in Seattle and about to go Oakland for the third day of my tour. The crowds have been small, but that's not surprising. This sixteen day tour is about building momentum for the book. Word of mouth begins when folks you don't know talk about you and your book and then become your saleperson for the book. And that's what I'm banking on.

But this has been a bad racial week for me. Look, I'm not a racial paranoid at all. I basically believe that most folks are cool people who want to love their family, have friends, and carve out a little space in the world for themselves. On a one on one basis, most folks I've met can share a joke, a laugh, a smile, or a warm moment, no matter what their background, prejudices, or ignorances. But then there are circumstances where that's not true. This week, my son began school at a nearly all white school in Westwood and the chill was evident from the moment we walked on campus. More later because I have to catch a flight.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My Government Did Not Care About Me...

The comedian Chris Rock puts it best when he talks about African America's relationship with America. "America is like the uncle that put you through college but molested you as a kid." With every incident that occurs affecting my community, my relatives, my neighborhood, I try to not come to the conclusion that America doesn't care for me. When my grandfather told me that after serving in World War II in the Japanese Theatre, he came home and had to ride on a segregated train to his home in Waco, Texas while German POWs were granted first class citizenship as whites, he still told me to believe in America. When my mother told me about traveling from Texas to California as a child and hoping that she didn't have to worry about mistaken going into the white bathroom (as she was wont to do), she told me to believe in America. When I was in the sixth grade and transferred schools, my new white teacher automatically put me in the remedial reading group despite the fact that I read three grades above grade level, my mother again told me to believe in America. But as I watch African Americans, MY PEOPLE, MY RELATIVES, MY FRIENDS, who I ate po boys with, played golf with, laughed with, all in the humidity of New Orleans, being treated worse than DOGS, then it makes it hard to believe that my government cares about me. Because in reality, it doesn't. Kanye West was absolutely right. George Bush doesn't care about black people. Condoleeza Rice, compromised by ambition and power, doesn't care about black people. And everyone else in this administration is as callous as it could be when it comes to my black life, my wife's black life, my son's black life, and my African American community's life. In less than three weeks, I start UCLA film school. This hurricane has changed everything in terms of what I'm going to write and how I'm going to write it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

You Couldn't Make This Up...

Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans

By E&P Staff

Published: September 05, 2005 7:25 PM ET updated 8:00 PM
NEW YORK Accompanying her husband, former President George
H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in
Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the
poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated,
"This is working very well for them."

The former First Lady's remarks were aired this
evening on National Public Radio's "Marketplace"

She was part of a group in Houston today at the
Astrodome that included her husband and former
President Bill Clinton, who were chosen by her son,
the current president, to head fundraising efforts for
the recovery. Sen. Hilary Clinton and Sen. Barack
Obama were also present.

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of
evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost
everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to

Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of
scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is
so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you
know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she
chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

Gearing Up For the Tour...

It's Monday, and I woke up this morning with a thundering headache. But things had to be done. Groceries had to be bought, last papers for the house had to be signed, and boxes unloaded. And last but not least, I have a sixteen day tour to get ready for.

Kensington says that they are sending me 3000 Friends With Benefits postcards for publicity. That's cool, but it would have been nice to get them a bit earlier. However, I'm going to send them out to all of the bookstores prior to my signing. Right now, things seem pretty good, but I am a little worried about my Seattle signing. Not about whether anyone will show, but about the venue. The owner emailed me on Saturday, wondering if she needed to order my books. I speak in less than a week and she's just now asking. Yes, she needs to order. I never bring books, but I just may bring the copies my publisher sent me just in case.

For me, booksignings aren't glamorous, nor are they particularly exciting. In fact, they tend to be very lonely. My typical day is: airplane flight (most likely Southwest), to Hertz Club Gold to Holiday Inn. I do the gig, find a Chili's or Outback Steakhouse for dinner, and then back to the hotel room. You would think that you'd have plenty of time to write with that empty space and time, but not so for me. I pretty much stay bored.

I'm a people person, so I do like meeting readers and people in general, but I've never looked at booksignings as being an added benefit of being an author. And they are hit and miss. You can have a booksigning that is overflowing with people, and then the next day, have three people show up. You can't get too up or down with either.

So what am I going to do this week? One, I'm going to start talking to the reporters that want to do interviews. Kensington is working on getting me more interviews in the cities I visit. Remember, the goal of this tour is to create momentum for the book. That means being interviewed, dropping in on bookstores and signing stock, and taking as many pictures as possible. Hopefully the end result will be Friends With Benefits on multiple bestsellers lists and a new fiction readership loyal to my work. See you on the road!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

What George Says...

An Open Letter to the President from the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Sunday, September 04, 2005

OUR OPINIONS: An open letter to the President
Dear Mr. President:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we’re going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It’s accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city’s multiple points of entry, our nation’s bureaucrats spent days after last week’s hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city’s stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don’t know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city’s death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren’t they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn’t suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn’t have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You’re doing a heck of a job."

That’s unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We’re no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn’t be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Moved...but in escrow hell...

I hate incompetence. The buyer of my house has an agent that seems to not think that closing dates are really relevant. A 35 day escrow has now stretched into another week. I'm so angry I can even express it. Anyway, we've moved next to UCLA and that went smoothly. My son Langston is happy with his room and we're about half unpacked. More later.