Friday, October 9, 2020

The Absolutely Amazing Adventures of Ava Appelsawse


Way back in 2011 I wrote a post here entitled WHY I WRITE WHAT I WRITE. In that post I mentioned that "When I'm done editing my second novel I plan to move on to a series of kid books".  

Time flies at an incredibly rapid rate, unlike the pace in which I write and edit. So even though my debut children's book was already in mind nine years ago, there was much work to be done before I could get to it that eventually ended up as the publication of Matters of Convenience. While my second novel was prominent on the front burner, Ava Appelsawse sat patiently on the back one. By 2017 I was able to move it up to primary area of focus and get the writing done. I alerted the world via this blog post that the first book in the series was written, I had gotten started on the second, and my wife had embarked on creating illustrations for Ava Appelsawse #1. 

This is not the first collaborative artistic endeavor between Erin and I (she had created book covers for me in the past, and we even recorded a reading for an audio version of one of my short stories when we were dating), but it was definitely the most time and labor intensive project for her. We decided from the start that not only would Ava Appelsawse feature her illustration work, but we wanted to present it in full color because COLOR is what she does best.

And so here we now are in 2020, a year for the record books that has been tumultuous and challenging to say the least. The Coronavirus pandemic has significantly altered our lifestyles and forced us to discover new ways of being productive in our pursuits of success and happiness. Since writing is pandemic-proof, I have gotten started on my third novel. I also decided to take a shot at being a booktuber. On a sort of regular basis you can find reviews of books I have read at Roy's Book Reviews. And in addition to those videos, you'll also find ones where I read aloud children's books from my daughter's library while thumbing through the pages for your viewing pleasure.

As for Erin, she was able to make time in her busy schedule as an illustrator/fine artist/art teacher/mother to illustrate our very first children's book publication from front cover to back and the pages in between. The moment is now soon approaching for the debut of The Absolutely Amazing Adventures of Ava Appelsawse. Our scheduled publication date (exclusively at Amazon, at least for starters) is November, 15 2020. I can't wait for people to finally read it and share what they thought. I hope that grown folk like it, but this story is meant for young readers and those being read to by parents and other caregivers.

For a sneak peek at Ava Appelsawse, I encourage you to follow her Instagram page. Below is a sampling of what you will find there.  As always - Happy Reading!

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Here is @avaappelsawse in front of her charming home on 123 Oak Tree Lane. It took me a while to create her house. I knew I wanted it to be Victorian, and as hubby author @roylpickering_author describes "slightly crooked" and of course needed the tomato plants! I found inspiration in a nearby town as I drove up a side street and found a wonderful, gorgeous mansard Victorian and I knew I found my model!!! I made some changes, most especially the color, the fence, and moved the front door. The Appelsawse family then had their home! #customhouseportrait #childrensbookillustrator #childrensbook #AvaAppelsawse #houseportrait #mansard #victorianhouses #homeportrait #victorian #watercolorhouseportrait #freelanceillustrator

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Sunday, September 6, 2020

IN THE NEWS: Stories Serious And Not So Much

Football season is almost upon us!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020


You've seen the phrase, you know what it means. Every week someone previously beloved is  declared to be no longer worthy of our affection. Or every other day on rare slow weeks when Trump has not said/done anything especially idiotic to occupy our outrage (or defense mechanisms for anyone reading this who happens to be Team MAGA, but chances are that I've sufficiently alienated Trump fans with previous posts). On Twitter I typically need to scroll through a score of uninformative tweets until finally finding one that reveals what it is that a celebrity is being cancelled for. Not that these cancellations are unanimous of course. Sprinkled in with the condemnations are usually statements in defense of the famous person who has been put on cyber trial for some crime du jour. Depending on the seriousness of the matter at hand, being cancelled by the citizens of social media can have major real life repercussions. Jobs and/or endorsements are lost. Celebrities are demoted from B list to D list. Highly anticipated movie or album releases end up as flops. All because someone who was given the wonderful opportunity to say nothing at all on a subject and remain revered, instead chose to open their mouths and insert feet.

I've written here in the past about some noteworthy cancellations back when they didn't come at quite so fast and furious a pace. There was the time John Mayer said something real dumb, for example. Since then I've decided that Mayer is a genuine talent whose music I enjoy. Since I'm usually able to separate art from artist, I didn't proceed to remove John from my Spotify list of music listened to when I'm in the mood for something mellow. Another example is when Don Imus (who I wasn't a fan of and didn't grow to become one) insulted members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team. His career never recovered. Since then he has passed away. I won't dance on the man's grave. I think John Mayer was basically trying to be too clever for his own good and probably has some redeeming qualities to go along with his arrogance, but Imus isn't someone whose particular brand of hate I will miss.

If I tried to write a blog post about every one who did something to earn cancellation in 2020 I would have little time left over for anything else. There is a whole new category of celebrity now courtesy of YouTube and TikTok channels that have earned certain individuals millions of followers...and dollars. That means a whole bunch of new people who can do something on any given day to move from the internet's Nice List to the Naughty List. Many of these people I've never even heard of until the day they do something to get themselves cancelled. So rather than writing at length about each instance, I observe the blur of fumbling humanity and do my best to keep up...or to ignore. Depends on my mood. Once upon a time I proclaimed that the bar to be considered a celebrity had been lowered too much. Since then the bar has been discarded altogether and I no longer bother to complain about it.

As I see it there are two categories of behavior that get celebrities cancelled, and they are not on equal footing. The first category is saying something that fails the political correctness test, expression of opinion that insults or expresses intolerance towards a particular group of people. The second category is reprehensible action. Apologies may be expressed in both cases (some done so insincerely that a person earns an extra cancellation for their apology over what warranted the first one) but I'm far less likely to forgive somebody for doing something terrible than for saying something that ruffles my feathers. Words and Deeds do not each carry quite the same amount of weight on my scale. Mayer and Imus are examples of the first cancel category. In recent days J.K. Rowling has entered it. I have no idea what effect this will have on her book sales. But since she has already sold enough copies to become a billionaire, if she fails to sell any more Harry Potter tales her tax bracket is probably set in stone at this point. 

Examples of people who ALLEGEDLY fall into the second category include Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson, Woody Allen, Chris Brown, and R. Kelly. For them, my rule about separating the art from the artist still applies. I cannot claim to have done a 100% boycott of any of these men regardless of the degree to which I believe they are guilty as hell. Does that mean I haven't actually cancelled them along with the rest of the internet? Does lack of true cancellation imply endorsement? Is endorsement enabling? I don't believe so, though I suppose it is a slippery slope. To cancel or not to cancel, that is the question. Does the answer even matter for those who somehow are cancel-proof? I'm certainly not the only one who still listens to music by R. Kelly or Chris Brown or Michael Jackson or a ton of other artists who ALLEGEDLY failed at some point to be upstanding citizens. I'm pretty sure people are still watching Woody Allen movies. Syndicated episodes of The Cosby Show were taken off the airwaves for a while (which punished a bunch of other actors from the show who did nothing wrong) but I believe it has since returned. Trump isn't the only one who improbably manages to weather every self conjured storm. Hell, O.J. Simpson joined Twitter well after being condemned by society and last time I checked (which was right before typing this sentence) he had over 942,000 followers on Twitter. Can someone with such an "achievement" legitimately be described as cancelled? Effective cancellation of superior athletes has been especially difficult for us to manage. Is this because we have such strong admiration for those with abilities that make them seem closer in nature to Superman than to the mundanity and erasability of Clark Kent? We may appreciate dispensing justice with juried verdicts of incarceration, but so too do we love a good rehabilitation and redemption story. DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK. Perhaps it's not just those we deeply love who can't be cancelled, but also those we really hate. Maybe the line between these two emotions is even thinner than we thought. 

True stars remain celestial well after their shine has largely diminished. But that doesn't mean our cancel privileges are entirely powerless. I'm confident that we can permanently get some of these big shot YouTubers up out of here when they mess up, because (please read the conclusion of this post to the beat of a Janet Jackson song) We Are A Part Of The Cancel Nation.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Wide Spreading Ripples

These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you! - Donald Trump

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