My publisher submitted my book, I’m Still Standing, From Captured U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen, My Journey Home, to the NAACP Image Awards. Shoshana Johnson and I were nominated in the literary category for best Bio/autobiography.
This is one of those Hollywood, red carpet — get the best damn dress you can afford — kind of things and it took WEEKS, I mean WEEKS of worry and preparation and frankly, lots of money, to participate in the awards events.
Our publisher, bless them, didn’t contribute a penny to the trip and it was an expensive endeavor. There wasn’t just an awards show to consider. There was a preshow Gala reception that required cocktail attire, plus the awards show complete with a red carpet gauntlet, not to mention airfare, hotel and rental car. All coming out of the void that was my pocketbook. Now, I truly understand why people complain about publishers not participating in the marketing efforts of their authors! If they wouldn’t help us promote the book at this event, just what the heck WOULD they be willing to throw down for? It was even worse to find out that Simon & Schuster was a sponsor of the event! I have to wonder how many thousands went into the glitz and glamour of the awards presentations, but didn’t help out the starving writer that was me.
But this was a once in a lifetime event that couldn’t be missed, so throwing all common sense to the wind and drawing on the resources of my brother for large parts of the expenses — who not only had the means to afford the trip, but looks damn good in a suit – off we went.
I am so very glad we did.
Sure, when it came time for my category, the THIRD one announced in the show, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that I wouldn’t be going home with the prize. Just before they made the announcement and ripped open the envelope, my brother turned to me and said, “If you win, what the hell are you going to say?!”
The truth was I had practiced. In the shower, as I lay in bed at night, out loud in front of a mirror, over and over again. I knew exactly what I would say if they announced my name as the winner, but I hadn’t needed the preparation after all. For five minutes, the feeling of disappointment lurked in my belly. It really kind of sucked.
But after that, I shook off the disappointment and the party was on! The show was great, we had fantastic seats, the food and drinks at both the gala the night before and the after party were unbelievably good and best of all, FREE!
The after party, held at the SLS Hotel, featured food I had never imagined could be done on such a scale! Foie gras done in the form of cotton candy (sounds very strange, but was fantastic), American caviar served in tiny waffle cones, almond bites that literally exploded like a party in your mouth, black ink paella, filet mignon and a tremendous assortment of amuse bouche loaded with blasts of flavor. The variety and supply seemed never ending.
My brother and I met so many people, from stars to talent agents, to film directors to awestruck nominees just like me. Everyone was gracious, friendly and perfectly willing to pose with us for pictures. I met stars from some of my all time favorite TV shows and they seemed as genuinely happy to meet me as I was to meet them.
Simply put, even though I was a loser with a capital “L”, my brother and I left the events exhausted, happy and filled with memories that will linger, long after that trophy would be collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. I may be a loser, but for a few nights, it didn’t matter one bit.