Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Meet Audrey from MATTERS OF CONVENIENCE - an excerpt







Audrey headed down West Broadway towards her favorite shoe store.  Words of praise showered upon her at that afternoon’s meeting were echoing in her head.  The last author she had signed, a self-help guru who provided spiritual enlightenment to the masses in a non-intimidating page count, marketed in-house as philosophy for dummies, was the current darling of non-fiction Best Seller lists.  Audrey was the golden child of the moment at her publishing house.
Wonderful as the meeting had gone, afterwards went even better.  That’s when she was all but assured that upon the pending retirement of Brandon Murray, who had hired her and served admirably as mentor, the open position of publisher and vice president would go to her.  She had two main competitors.  The first was Sinclair Hopkins, a windbag who dyed his hair a ridiculous tar black shade and was one of the last remaining practitioners in their industry of the three martini lunch.  The second was Patricia McIntrye, Pat to those who knew her reasonably well.  Like Sinclair she was white, but that was the first and last of their similarities.  He was short, stout, often under the influence, and known to make inappropriate comments to and about female coworkers when alcohol rather than discretion got the best of his tongue.  Pat was tall and lean, a teetotaler with a penchant for signing authors with a feminist bent.  She had recently become pregnant, taking everybody at work by surprise because she was a lesbian who had surpassed her fortieth birthday by four years.  Her thirty year old lover Adrian was unable to carry a pregnancy to term, so Pat was artificially inseminated to bring about the family they desired. 
In selecting a successor to Brandon Murray, math declared that Audrey should be the winner.  The money her authors earned surpassed Pat’s and Sinclair’s by a healthy margin.  However the world was not propelled by mathematics or fairness.  She did not want to believe that race would work to her disadvantage but acknowledged the likelihood that it would play a hindering role.  Sinclair had the most seniority and was a white heterosexual male in a power structure that could still be described as an old boy’s network.  Even though his drinking and sexism had become offensive in an increasingly politically correct climate, plus the fact that he was on an extended losing streak at discovering successful authors, Audrey still figured the contest was his to lose.  So she was surprised and delighted to learn that he along with Pat was choking on her dust.
The purchase of a new pair of boots would elevate her spirits even higher.  She was meeting with friends later that night at the opening a posh new restaurant, providing an excellent venue to show off her latest pair of designer footwear.  This was working out to be a great day.
She strode through the doorway of Otto Tootsi Plohound and took a moment to scan the various sizes, shapes, materials, and colors posed prettily about.  Midway through the process she spied a familiar face.
  “Nadia.”
“Audrey. My God, it’s been ages.”
“Yes it has.  How are things with you?”
“Absolutely wonderful.”  Before Nadia reached the seventh syllable of her reply she had pulled out a series of photographs from her purse.  They featured her pride and joy.
“He’s adorable,” Audrey stated automatically before even taking a good look at the top picture.  “He’s gotten so big since I saw him last,” she said as she flipped through the stack, aware that her comments were a carbon copy of every conversation she’d ever had with the mother of a toddler.
“Thanks.  Clay somehow manages to grow more precious every day.  I hear things are really looking up for you at Piermont.”
Audrey was not surprised to learn that Nadia continued to monitor events at work more than a year after her departure.  She had been a workaholic up until her final day, resulting in her being one of the most respected executives in the company.  What continued to astound Audrey was the fact that Nadia left to begin with.  She had brought about much positive change during her career while managing to avoid bruising too many egos.  It had seemed there was no limit to her prospects.
Yet she walked away from it.  Nadia abandoned the income, the respect, the power and influence she wielded.  She left all of these things behind her for the trials, tribulations and triumphs of motherhood.  The paychecks could be forfeited thanks to substantial income earned by her husband Carlos.  As for other benefits, apparently they did not matter much when compared to the look of unconditional love found in her son’s eyes.  Nadia insisted that her first and probably only child not be raised by nannies.  She chose to follow the same “if you want it done right, do it yourself” philosophy in her personal life that had been advantageous to her career.
“Keep your fingers crossed for me,” Audrey said.
“You know I will.  There is no one more deserving of that position than you.”  She was looking in the purse being rummaged through rather than at Audrey as she spoke.  After pulling out a compact, lipstick, crumbled tissues and a tampon, she found the cell phone she was looking for.  “Oh, look at the time.  I always lose track of it in here.  I have to run.  Let’s do a better job of keeping in touch.”
“Yes, definitely.”
A kiss on the cheek later, Nadia was off and running.  Audrey took a moment to compare the version that she recalled from their time working together to the current somewhat harried, but still flawlessly put together incarnation.  Was Nadia happier now?  Probably.  Hopefully.  Done reflecting on the state of affairs of Nadia Schwartz-Fernandez, she turned her attention back to the array of podiatric accoutrements.  She knew that deciding on a purchase for tonight would be a torturous ordeal, and she was looking forward to every second of it.
“A lovely day for shoe shopping, is it not?”
Audrey turned towards the man who approached her.  He was expensively dressed in a sharp as a blade Armani suit, clearly not an employee of the store, but someone who intended to spend plenty of money in it.
“Every day is a lovely one for shoe shopping.”
The man smiled, bringing about deeply etched dimples.  He was handsome in a maintained sort of way.  He had a Bill Dee Williams circa “Lady Sings the Blues” vibe going for him, complete with requisite well-groomed mustache.  She got the feeling that nobody was more aware of his good looks than him, and also suspected that his confidence would be matched by persistence. 
“I’m Mitchell.”
“I’m sure you are.”
“I was standing over there and couldn’t help noticing you.  I said to myself ‘Mitchell, you absolutely must go over and introduce yourself to that splendid looking creature’.  I guess you could say I was helplessly drawn to your radiance.  I’m sure this sort of thing happens to you all the time but I’m pretty new at being in the presence of a goddess, so you’ll have to forgive me for being a bit tongue tied.”
“To the contrary.  You’re quite the smooth talker.”  Audrey wished she could grab a shovel to dig herself out from the mound of drivel Mitchell had dumped on her.  She had heard plenty of scripted dialogue before from guys who lacked spur of the moment eloquence, but nothing quite as self-indulgent as his little seduction speech.
“Only when properly inspired.  Now are you going to be kind enough to grace me with your name?  Or better yet, with that plus your company.  There’s a quaint little café around the corner from here.  Perhaps you’d care to join me for cappuccino and biscotti so we can get to know one another better.”
She took hold of his manicured hands, bringing about another of his dimpled smiles, this one even more lascivious than its predecessor. 
“I think I already know you well enough.  But I’ll make you a deal.  I’ll tell you my name if you tell me the name of your wife.”  She pointed out the ring finger tan line he sported, wedding band no doubt stuffed into his pocket a minute earlier.
“Okay,” he said.  “I’m not perfect.  But I have been told that I’m pretty damn close.  And I’d be happy to keep a woman as fine as yourself stocked in as many pairs of these shoes as your heart desires.  I’d love to tend to every single one of your desires, if you know what I mean.”
Audrey let go of his hands as if realizing he was contaminated by something deadly contagious.  “I can buy my own shoes, thank you.  And if I wanted to run around with another woman’s husband, I’d pick any woman other than your wife.”
“Suit yourself,” he said, licking his lips to unintentionally provide another turn-off.  “You don’t know what you’re missing out on.  I think we’d be incredible together.” 
When her icy glare did not melt by so much as one cube he got the hint, straightened his Nicole Miller tie for effect, and exited the store with his shopping bag.  It likely contained either a purchase for his unfortunate wife, for some woman on the side who had fallen for his sorry rap, or perhaps one for each of them.
     He was gone from her mind before he even reached the door.  Wall to wall shoes made forgetting about fools and their lame come-ons pretty easy to do.



Monday, August 19, 2019

Jay Z and NFL join forces





It has been announced that Jay-Z is going to become one of the owners of a NFL team and lip service will be paid to social injustice at some point by the forming of an "entertainment and social justice partnership". As you well know, Colin Kaepernick played a major role in dragging the NFL into matters of social consciousness, particularly overly/needlessly aggressive policing by officers that often end up with an unarmed black person being killed by a cop. Now it's not as if a fair amount of attention wasn't already being paid to the situation prior to Kaepernick taking a knee for the cause. Every other week it seems a video of racial bias goes viral. Word on the "street" has it that Russia is playing a big part in making sure such videos are seen by the maximum amount of people to keep friction between whites and people of color in America at peak. Whether that's true or not, what's indisputable is that too many of the racial tension incidents where at least one of the participants was a police officer ended up in someone being shot. More often than not it proved fatal. More often than not the victim of melanin had not committed a crime and was not armed, yet still managed to be on the receiving end of a cop's bullet. It's no wonder that Colin Kaepernick was disturbed by what seemed on the verge of becoming an epidemic. All decent people were, and many black people grew frightened and/or furious. Something clearly needed to be done and once Hillary Clinton "lost" to Donald Trump it was clear that aid wouldn't be coming from the federal government any time soon.

But was the NFL the best place to take a stand and make a plea? One could reasonably argue that this situation has nothing to do with professional football (none of the prominent victims has been a NFL player), so taking a knee while the National Anthem was played before football games was perhaps misdirected effort. During televised games is certainly a high profile, much viewed opportunity to draw attention to an issue. But it's not as if the NFL was the entity that needed to do anything about horrible, homicidal police officers with bigoted mindsets who are not worthy of the uniforms they wear. In fact, the only meaningful action taken by the NFL was collusion by team owners to keep Colin Kaepernick from returning to the league. He had become a PR nightmare for a league that wanted focus to be on its entertainment value. The NFL already had plenty of unavoidable thorns in its side. How best to discipline star players for various infractions, particularly those that do not lead to criminal convictions but seem in need of moral condemnation. The long term effects of concussions. Refs screwing up calls in prime time games, leading to constant tweaks of what is/isn/t a catch, what is/isn't reviewable by instant/slow mo replay. The last thing the NFL needed was to be dragged into politics, into the debate over what constitutes patriotism, into matters that were supposed to be in the domain of #BLM (Black Live Matter), not #NFL (National Football League).

Just as the dust FINALLY appeared to be settled (Colin Kaepernick sued for collusion and won an undisclosed amount of money. He still wants to play in the NFL and still hasn't been called for a try-out, but when you sue someone it's not surprising that they choose not to contact you for a job interview) Jay-Z of all people stirred things up again. We knew the topic was of interest to him because he had previously shown solidarity with Kaepernick, wearing his old jersey and referencing him when stating his reasons for not participating in the Super Bowl halftime show. Therefore it came as a surprise to many that Jay-Z isn't making headlines by coming out with a pro Kaepernick - anti NFL rap song, but rather, by entering the ranks of NFL team owners. Who the team will be remains a mystery for the time being. 

Jay-Z is famously a billionaire. If you're a billionaire who enjoys sports and/or realizes pro team ownership is a sound financial investment, you have the option of buying into a team. So if Jay-Z does have any more new music left in him, perhaps he will tell us why he decided to buy into the NFL with a remake of Bobby Brown's MY PREROGATIVE. If you see Jay-Z as being a sell-out because he seemed to switch sides from the oppressed to the oppressor, I can understand that interpretation. If you see him as as being a much needed brown face in the sea of white pro team ownership, I can understand that too. If you believe Jay-Z wants not only to make a sound financial investment and gain entry into the ultra exclusive club of professional sports team owners, but also to use this position to make change for the better in the NFL where it comes to taking action on behalf of social injustices, I can see how you would reach such a conclusion. Doesn't mean you're right, but we'll find out soon enough I suppose. For all we know Jay-Z may plan to finally give Colin Kaepernick the opportunity to try out for a NFL team once he's officially a shot caller for one of them, whichever one it may be. I can't imagine this to be his primary motivation by a long shot, but perhaps it's an item on the agenda of Beyonce's hubby. Based on past history Colin Kaepernick has shown himself to be a flawed quarterback who nonetheless is better than a fair number of back-ups currently in the league and is perhaps better than a few starters. This is assuming that he 
hasn't become quite rusty since his last time under center, which is certainly a possibility.

If Jay-Z was a hero to you because of his status as hip hop legend, you may feel betrayed. Or else feel the need to defend him against accusations by those who believe he has gone Benedict Arnold. As for me, I am neither enraged nor especially encouraged by Jay-Z's latest venture. I didn't see him as saving or destroying the world with Tidal (which I mostly ignored) and same deal with his foray into the NFL. If the team he ends up involved with happens to be my beloved New York Jets I suppose that will make me care a little bit more, but not substantially. Jay-Z told us a while back that he has 99 problems. Seeming to turn his back on the plight of Colin Kaepernick, patron saint of lost causes whom I sincerely respect but idolize no more than I idolize Jay-Z, adds a 100th problem. But I suspect it will blow over soon enough. Colin Kaepernick may or may not get a shot to return to the league. Jay-Z will remain wealthy, and I think he realizes that he won't be adding to his riches courtesy of many more hit songs in the future (he's rather long in the tooth by rap star standards), so instead he'll get his current money to make future money for him. Such is the way of capitalism and successful capitalists. He may lose some fans over this at least temporarily, but as with DOLLAR$ he has plenty of them to spare. As for the rest of us, we'll continue to enjoy Jay-Z songs and NFL games. No amount of kneeling for the National Anthem or saluting the flag or arguing over it threatens to impact that by a substantive amount. Ultimately we are here to be entertained.




























COMPLETELY UNRELATED BUT HERE YOU GO ANYWAY

Friday, August 16, 2019

Indie August






So here we are already past the mid-point of the month and I've only just now learned of the existence of a thing called #IndieAugust. Apparently at least some book bloggers are extra willing to shine a spotlight and do some reviews of books by indie authors this month. Better late than never to that party! If you are still on the look out for indie authored novels to read/review this month (or any other month of the year for that matter), look no further. To ease the burden on your pocket books for those of who you loudly or quietly proclaim I #amreadingindie I have made the Kindle editions of both Patches of Grey and Matters of Convenience available to Prime members FREE from August 21st to August 25th of 2019. As always, happy reading! And since I'm doubling down on giveaways this month, let me repeat, happy reading!

Speaking of book reviews, see below for my thoughts on video for Stephen King's 11/22/63. He is in much less need of publicity than I am, but I'm all for shouting out great writers/writing whether everybody knows the author's name or nobody has ever heard of them...yet.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

TONI MORRISON









REST IN POWER















Tuesday, July 30, 2019

ROY'S BOOK REVIEWS - My new YouTube channel



Yes, it's true. I have decided to join the ranks of BookTubers who post videos sharing thoughts about various bookish matters on YouTube. Videos will be released to my channel ROY'S BOOK REVIEWS on a weekly basis. Please tune in each Tuesday (or whenever you can get around to them) to hear my thoughts on novels I have read over the years. Fingers crossed that I'll manage to hold your attention. My videos are all in the 10-minute range, give or take a couple minutes. Thoughts and opinions are 100% completely my own. None of these books were sent to me free of charge in exchange for a glowing report. If I loved a book, I let you know. If I hated it, I respectfully let you know. If I'm on the fence, I straddle and give you as much spoiler free details as I can to help you make up your mind about whether you care to check the book out. If you agree with what I've said, please let me know. If you disagree, please let me know. If you've been convinced to pick up a book based on my endorsement of it at ROY'S BOOK REVIEWS, that's fantastic. As a writer myself, I know that word of mouth is invaluable to both authors and readers in constant search of their next great read. So I'm thrilled to be spreading the news via YouTube videos that I have read plenty of great books, with countless others sitting on my TBR pile waiting for me to get around to them, and I encourage you to take a chance on as many as you can. First one up is my review of Philip Roth's novel THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA.







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