Hello, my pretties! I'm back in Dallas and still recovering from my week of debauchery, aka the Snark-LA-TEX book tour with Nicole Peeler. Before I get to the details, a quick snapshot in stat form:
No. of book stores visited: 5
No. of miles driven: 1,285
No. of tattoos parlors visited: 1
No. of pounds gained: 3
Also, if you'd like an alternate perspective on the trip, check out Nicole Peeler's blog. She'll have more pics than I posted here. Go check her out, y'all. But be sure to come back because there's dirt down below.
Nicole and Mary Lois arrived that afternoon and our first stop was, naturally, food. I introduced the ladies to Fuzzy's Tacos, which is a delicious street taco restaurant with lots of thinly veiled innuendos serving as decor. Duly fortified, we headed to Borders in Allen, TX. First, let me say, this store is awesome. It's a two-story beauty of a store and the staff couldn't have been more solicitous or fun. The crowd was enthusiastic and filled with lots of local friends and fans, which was a fantastic way to kick off the tour. After the event, we all headed to another Mexican joint for the strongest margaritas on earth (they refuse to serve anyone more than two). They're like the most delicious Slurpees you'll ever consume.
The girls and I got up bright and early and headed to Cafe Brazil for chorizo empanadas before hitting the road for Austin. It's a modest 3-hour drive and we had fun comparing iTunes playlists, which were scarily similar. We arrived in Austin just in tme for a quick shower and some make-uping before we met our friends David and Marlena at Bess Bistro for dinner. This restaurant is famously owned by one Sandra Bullock. I'm sad to report that Sandy did not make an appearance, but the food, wine and conversation were awesome. From there, it was a short drive to Book People for our signing.
I'd never been to Book People, but it's somewhat of an institution and I was excited to sign there. The space itself is inviting and spanned a couple of stories. I shocked to see so many people come out for a Monday night event and we had a great time talking about the books. Afterwards, we bought a metric ton of fake mustaches (more on this later). I also tried on the creepiest mask I've ever seen. Only later did Nicole and I realized we missed an amazing photo op by not both wearing chicken heads and staging a cock fight. You may rest assured this will be remedied next time we hit up Book People.
After the signing, we hit Austin's infamous 6th St. for some celebratory cocktails at The Library. Even though it was a Monday night the street was pretty busy since most of the students of UT were out celebrating the end of finals. But, being the mature authors we are, we headed back to the hotel at a respectable hour. On our way back to the hotel we saw a pregnant hooker. Good times.
We woke up excited to head to Houston and our favorite book store, Murder by the Book. We grabbed some migas at Austin Java and then hit the road. Our event wasn't until 6:30, so our first stop in Houston was the Galleria mall. This is where Nicole and Mary Lois introduced me to a lingerie store called Intimacy. A couple of hours later and way too much money poorer, we quit the Galleria and went to meet John at the book store. John and his partner Matt were gracious enough to let us bunk with them for the night. They have the cutest cats, including one that looked just like Giguhl except with black fur.
As for the signing, we decided to mix things up a bit. Remember those fake mustaches we bought in Austin? We insisted that all the audience members don mustaches before we'd speak. Not to be outdone, Nicole and i each wore these ridiculous handle bar mustaches during the entire event, although mine became a sort of Abe Lincoln-esque goatee by the end of the night. It's very difficult to do a reading and answer serious questions posed by women who look a little too good in thick mustaches. Regardless, fun was had by all and the audience were all very good sports for putting up with our autocratic demands. Another twist at this signing was that Nicole and I read from each other's books. I read a salacious scene involving a Barghest and a sexy oven range and Nicole read a scandalous scene from Green-Eyed Demon about a midget orgy. Fun times!
After the signing, John and Matt took Nicole, Mary Lois, Elle Stone (a YA author) and I to this great little bistro. Despite the elegant surroundings, the conversation devolved into discussions about poonstaches and anal bleaching. I'm sure our neighbors were delighted.
When Nicole and I put together the schedule for the tour, we were sure to work in an extra day for a little detour to New Orleans. So, after a six-hour drive, we arrived at our Bourbon Street hotel for some shenanigans. Let me just say beer never tastes as good as when you're drinking it from a plastic cup in the French Quarter. The night looked like it was going to be a debauch-fest until we decided to duck into a swank bistro called Muriel's off Jackson Square. We thought we'd indulge in a little dinner and then hit the bars. What happened instead was a shameful gluttonous consumption of deliciousness that resulted in much groaning and rubbing of the bellies. We decided to call it a night and return the next day to make up for our lameness.
Thursday morning dawned with purpose. We had the whole day ahead of us and the French Quarter laid out before us like a fecund buffet of delights. We also had a list of places we had to visit before we left for our Baton Rouge signing. We hit two voodoo shops and one general occult store in our search for chicken feet. The highlight of that quest was having a middle-aged white voodoo priest ask us if we like to see his snakes. We escaped for some retail therapy at Trashy Diva. It's actually three stores in one--shoes, lingerie and vintage-inspired dresses. We had a great time trying on girlie, frilly things, and, then, clutching our purchases like trophies, we headed back to hotel.
We thought we were fine. Baton Rouge is only--as the crow flies--maybe an hour-and-a-half from New Orleans. Unfortunately, crows don't have to deal with traffic. Which is why when we hit stand-still traffic in Baton Rouge, we started to get nervous. Adding to this stress was the fact that one of us had a bladder which had swollen to painful proportions. After half an hour in the parking lot called I-10, we finally escaped the highway and found a gas station. This was when Mary Lois saved our asses. See, the traffic had delayed us--a lot. We had about half an hour before the signing started and had, neither of us, a lick of makeup on and were still in our street clothes from NOLA. Mary Lois drove us to the Books-A-Million while nicole and i scrambled to make ourselves presentable. We finally reached BAM with time to spare. We were contemplating running in to change in their restrooms when the fateful words, "Wait, is this the right BAM?" were spoken. TERROR!
Luckily, Mary Lois proved herself to be the best navigator since Magellan and got us to the correct store. We were only 1 minute late and rushed in to find several good humored fans waiting. Especially meaningful was the fact that two of them had driven 2.5 hours from Mississippi to come see us. How cool is that? It totally made all the stress of getting there worth it.
Randolph and "Pepper" at BAM were awesome! They suggested we try a local pizza joint called the Red Zeppelin for dinner. While we gorged on pizza and wine on the restaurant's patio, one of us noticed that a tattoo parlor was right across the street. Nicole's eyes lit up. Ever since our signing in Allen she'd been talking about wanting to get a mustache tattoo on her finger. And now it seemed the gods were sending us a sign. This is how, on a random Thursday night in Baton Rouge, three young travelers walked into Atomic Tattoo.
I'll admit I was hesitant. The mother in me was terrified the place would be dirty and a one-way trip to Hepatitis town for Dr. P. But my worries were unfounded because the place was clean, bright an filled with helpful and friendly tattoo artists who worked Nicole in very quickly. In no time at all she was the proud owner of her very own mustache tattoo. Which she proceeded to flash at us every thirty second for the next twenty-four hours. Seriously, though, it's pretty cute and very Nicole.
Last day of the tour! Nicole used to live in Shreveport and Mary Lois still does. I'd been to the city a couple of times before to do signings with Nicole, so in a way it was kind of like returning home for me, too. Mary Lois's husband took pity on our distended bellies and made our first home-cooked meal of the week. After that, we headed to B&N for the signing. The audience was filled with lots of local friends of both Nicole and ML, and I'd met several of them at earlier signings. That meant the discussion was fun and casual, which was just what we needed. Afterwards, we headed to the Noble Savage, which is kind of an institution in Shreveport. There we had celebratory drinks and ate delicious meat pies and crazy good nachos (can you sense a food theme for this tour?). Then we returned to Mary Lois's house to sleep like the dead.
On Sunday, I said goodbye to my tour-mates and did the lonesome three-hour drive of shame back to Texas. As I drove, I had time to reflect on the experiences of the past week. I figured out a few things:
1. Be sure your driver's license has not expired before you embark on a 1200 mile road trip. Not saying whose was expired. Just sayin' it's a good idea.
2. While we were pretty good about working out in hotel gyms on the road, no exercise routine can withstand the power of beignets and beer and fast food ice cream.
3. Despite my promises to myself, I only managed to write a total of 1400 words on the road. Pitiful. Perhaps next time instead of heading out to bars after signings I should hit the hotel for some word work. Oh, who am I kidding?
4. All writing and no play make Jaye a dull writer. It's good for writers to get out and experience things. This may sound simple but in six days I saw amazing things and had fascinating conversations that will no doubt end up in future books.
Wheh! Sorry for the long post but I was afraid if I didn't get it all down now, I'd forget stuff. A lot of people have asked when Nicole and I are bringing our tours to their areas. First, let me say, um, not for a while. As fun as this trip was, I am wiped out and seriously in need of some down time. Also, my first job is to write books. So I'll be focusing on that for a while. That's not to say we don't do other tours. Just not in the near future.
All that said, I'm off to finish off Blue-Blooded Vamp. It's due at the end of July, so I'm entering monastic mode for the next couple of months. But I'll always have memories of Snark-LA-TEX to keep me amused while I'm stuck in my little garret pounding out word sauce.