The Sly Fox Returns

A top secret mission

Sees

The Sly Fox Return

to

Kez’s Bookshelf

 

 G’day Everyone,
Welcome to Kez’s Bookshelf.
Today we are undercover for a top secret mission. We are joined by a small security team covertly located in a cosy little conference room within the Louvre museum, Paris. Anxiously, we await the arrival of a very important dignitary, a mysterious individual whose identity must be kept anonymous.
Mounted on the surrounding walls are security surveillance monitors that cover the entire museum. Through speakers mounted from the ceiling Nina Simone’s Sinnerman begins to play…
 
Speaking into his headpiece, the head of security suddenly springs to life. He turns to face me and speaks the eagerly awaited code words… “The eagle has landed!!” This is our signal that our VIP is now in the building.
We have been instructed to intently watch the surveillance monitors and be on the lookout for a tall individual dressed in a black suit and not to be mistaken for the well dressed individual with the bowler hat from The Thomas Crown affair.
After several minutes and no sign of our mysterious guest, I turn to address the head of security. Suddenly, upon the monitors appear not one, not two, but many tall individuals all impeccably dressed in the same black suit and wearing shiny black oxford lace up shoes. Each striding quickly and with purpose in many different directions, the question is, which one is our mystery guest?
As Nina Simone’s Sinnerman comes to an end, there is a systematic wrap on the conference room door – tap, tap, tap…pause…tap, tap,…pause…tap, tap, tap!!
With his ear to the door, the head of security whispers “Who goes there?”
A smooth timbered voice responds softly from the other side“The Sly Fox has returned!”…..
As the door opened to reveal our mystery guest, the lights of the conference room dimmed to protect our VIP’s identity. But as he took his seat at the head of the table, a hint of his argyle socks peeped from under his trouser leg and I knew we had our man!!
With a very proud smile I extend my hand to greet our mysterious guest…
“Hello Sylvain Reynard. Thank you so much for returning to Kez’s bookshelf, it is such an honour to have you with us today”
Thank you Kez. It’s a pleasure to be with you. (shakes hands)
 
A round of espresso is served while I take the very large plate of assorted doughnuts from the middle of the table and pass the plate in the direction of our guest…
“Doughnut Sir?”….
Yes, please.  (takes a doughnut)
Satisfied our special guest is comfortable and feeling at home, I sit back and begin today’s interview:-
 
Congratulations SR on the recent release of your new suspense/romance novel The Man in the Black Suit. The response from readers shows that this stand alone story has been very well received with many five star reviews. What inspired you to tell the story that is Nicholas Cassirer’s and Acacia Santos’?
There’s a connection between Nicholas and Gabriel Emerson. I don’t want to spoil the story, but that connection was something I wanted to explore. I also wanted to tell a story against the backdrop of Paris, which is an incredible city.
It is very easy for your readers to quickly bond with the hero and heroine of The Man in the Black Suit. How do you determine what characteristics each main character will posses? 
Some of this is immediate and some of this takes time. But as I get to know a character, his or her personality and characteristics emerge.
What I especially liked about the new read SR, is that Acacia sees past Nicholas’ imperfections and falls in love with the man he is. In my view, this makes for a wonderful romance tale. Why do you write your main characters with their own unique flaws, whether it be physical, emotional or both?
I want to emphasize human imperfection while celebrating love and redemption. Also, I try to focus on the character qualities of the subjects and not solely on their physical appearance.
Acacia Santos migrated to France to excel her career as a concierge. Like many immigrants to a foreign country she experiences personal challenges. What was your reasoning for including these challenges and other political issues in your storyline?
Part of this was inspired by conversations with Brazilian readers who no longer live in Brazil and what their experience was like. Part of this was inspired by current events and how immigrants are viewed in France and western Europe, etc.
Set in Paris The Man in the Black Suit features a visit to the Louvre. What is your favourite piece of artwork housed at this magnificent museum?
The Louvre is incredible and has a massive collection. The Mona Lisa is a favourite, as well as Antonio Canova’s sculpture of Cupid and Psyche.
The recently released The Man in the Black Suit made its way to readers hot little hands on December 19th, 2017. Being so close to Christmas, I like to think of it as your little gift to readers. With the holiday seasons now over and the New Year upon us, what are you thankful for from 2017 and what great things will you be striving for in 2018? 
I’m grateful for my readers. Because of their support, I can continue to write. And I’m so grateful that readers enjoyed “The Man in the Black Suit.” As you know, I took a lot of risks with this novel and so I’ve been blessed that the book continues to be well-received.
Staying on the theme of the festive season, do you have any yearly traditions you’d like to share with readers?
Christmas involves putting up a tree and spending time with friends and family. Mulled wine. Culinary delights. Cookies made from my grandmothers’ recipes. Even though they’ve been gone a very long time, their love lives on in the traditions and recipes.
Since the release of the New York Times Bestseller Gabriel’s Inferno series support for your stories have grown. This has led to a very active group of readers who enthusiastically support you and your stories on social media and beyond. Readers often comment how your stories changed their lives, what invaluable lessons or insight have you gained from your readers?  
I was chatting with a reader the other day who was telling me that she was going through a very difficult time. And in the midst of it she was re-reading The Gabriel Series. It comforted her, she said. I think the idea of taking comfort in beloved characters is an important insight. There’s a reason we re-read certain stories and view certain characters as old friends. If my writing can offer comfort and friendship in a difficult time, I’m truly honoured. That’s what the books are for.
Do you have a particular routine to your writing, a certain time of the day that your muses speak to you? Or do they speak to you at anytime? Have your characters ever appeared in your dreams? 
I write every day and tend to do best in the morning. But yes, I’ve had middle of the night Muse visitations and written in the wee hours.  I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed of my characters, at least, not yet.
There is a buzz in the twitterverse and beyond that a certain beloved Dante specialist and his wonderful family shall be coming back to readers with a fourth instalment of the Gabriel’s Inferno series in the form of a novella. This is wonderful news indeed. Please let the professor know we miss him and we’re very excited for his return. What if anything, can you tell us about this new chapter for the Emerson’s?
I’m writing the fourth volume in the Gabriel Series. At the moment, it’s a novella and I hope it will be released in 2018. It picks up where “Gabriel’s Redemption” left off, so I’ve been encouraging readers to read (or re-read) that book in preparation …
One of my favourite scenes in Gabriel’s Redemption is with Julia and Richard on the back porch and Julia asking Richard to stay at the house in Selinsgrove. Richard always gives kind, caring and wise advice on that back porch and we look forward to reading more papa Richard advise in the new novella. If we were to sit down with papa Richard today what advice would he give us about love and life? 
Richard understands that life is short and that our family and friends are very important. So we should say what we need to say, let those we love know that we love, and be sure to spend quality time with them. He’d probably suggest we watch less television and spend less time on our electronic devices …
Like all good things, they must come to an end…
Unfortunately our time together has drawn to a close today but I’d like to sincerely thank you SR for your precious time today. It is always a pleasure to sit down with such a kind, considerate and intellectual individual who is passionate about doing good, not only in your own neighbourhood but throughout the world. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do. May 2018 bring you much success and happiness.
Thank you so much Kez for inviting me to be with you and your readers. I really appriecate it.
Please Sir, before you leave take another doughnut or two for the road…
Yes, please. (places them in a handkerchief, and discreetly slips them in a pocket)
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If you haven’t yet read The Man in the Black Suit you can purchase your copy here:-
The Man in the Black Suit – Paperback
The Man in the Black Suit – Kindle
 
For those of you who are yet to experience Sylvain Reynard’s impeccable writing you can explore all his creations from his own Amazon page or even Goodreads:-
Sylvain Reynard Amazon
Want to join Sylvain Reynard and his readers for all sorts of shenanigans? You can find fun and tomfoolery here:-
 
Sylvain Reynard Twitter
Sylvain Reynard Facebook
The Fox’s Den
Thank you all for joining me today I hope you enjoyed this surprised visit from the wonderful Sylvain Reynard.
Until next time
Pax Vobiscum
Kez

A Tribute to Prague and The Roman by Sylvain Reynard

Reflecting on what brings you happiness

is important
As 2018
begins
I’m taking the time for gratitude

 

G’day everyone,

Welcome to Kez’s bookshelf for the first time in 2018.

The start of each New Year brings the time for reflection, self evaluation, resetting of goals and priorities for many people.  I recently sat down with my daughter and embarked on such a conversation, the result was enlightening. Over breakfast one morning, we discussed what’s important to each of us not only for 2018 but also for the years to come. This conversation also saw us reflecting on previous years of our lives. While my compassionate and intelligent daughter acknowledged the happy times and the struggles (some years more difficult than others) she also indentified what’s most important. Her words were… “Mum in your life time you have experienced married life, had a family, owned two homes and been to a number of countries overseas, there is much there to be grateful for.” She is right! I thanked her for reminding me of what is essential here… gratitude!  My daughter is without doubt my most precious blessing.

As you set your goals for 2018 take a moment to be grateful for your own achievements and experiences. Especially if life has taken unexpected turns or perhaps you’re facing unwanted challenges. Looking for the light where you least expect it is often the pinnacle moment for turning life events around. Taking time for gratitude will also put into perspective what’s truly important to you.

The memories of my overseas adventures are very dear to me and I’m very grateful I have been fortunate to experience them. One of my favourite overseas ventures took me to Prague. Formerly a part of Czechoslovakia, Prague became a democratic society in 1989 and I was surprised just how well preserved and maintained this Gothic City is. It’s a true reflection on how much the people of Prague appreciate and respect their historical home.

When reading “The Roman” by the incredibly talented Sylvain Reynard (the author is another favourite of mine) I was delighted that the heroine of the story spent time in Prague.  The chapter devoted to this beautiful city invigorated my wonderful holiday memories. Today I wanted to include a review of chapter 58 from “The Roman” (the final instalment to The Florentine Series) as well as some of my own experiences as a mark of thanks for two things that has given me great enjoyment and helped to bring colour to my world. I do this in the hope that you may reflect on what you’re thankful for, what’s important to you, so that you may see clearer what brings colour to your world….

Beautiful Prague

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Everything about this place is enchanting, the people, the culture, the architecture, the atmosphere; upon my return home I would experience goose bumps every time I relived my stay in Prague. As we discuss this section from “The Roman” today, you’ll start to see why.

Chapter 58 begins with Raven Wood sitting at an outdoor table of one of the many quaint little cafes in old town square, she was situated across from Prague’s magnificent Astronomical clock. With her love for historical art and gothic architecture, I am sure Raven appreciated the vision that stood across from her. To help you see in your own mind’s eye – The Astronomical clock was first built in 1410 and has three main components – an astronomical dial that reflects the position of the sun and the moon, a calendar dial representing each month and a clock that depicts time with an hourly display of the twelve apostles, as well as other figurines.

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The Astronomical clock is housed on the southern side of the old town hall tower. When I visited Prague, I was extremely fortunate to have found accommodation in an apartment that was situated on the northern side of the tower still in old town square. Let me tell you, it was a wonderful experience to hear the trumpeter stationed in the tower almost every hour, announcing the coming arrival of the twelve apostles  – according to Wikipedia this is also known as “The Walk of the Apostles”. Close your ears people (and your eyes Mum), I can hear Professor Emerson (the hero from Sylvain Reynard’s incredible “Gabriel’s Inferno” series) mumbling….”Wikifuckers!!”

 

Our views from the apartment window

 

As Raven sat across from this gothic masterpiece she contemplated what had transpired since her departure from Florence two months ago.  She was escorted to Austria with her driver and two other females, departing with one of her travelling companions in Innsbruck where they also stopped at a safe house. It was here that Raven underwent another identity change and she was given a Canadian Passport. Switching cars, the driver then transported her to Prague where she was given a new life. She now held a position with St Vitus Cathedral writing and editing material in English. Although Raven no longer practiced in the art restoration I’m sure she would have appreciated being around such breathtaking artefacts that are housed in St Vitus Cathedral.

 

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This magnificent cathedral is situated in the grounds of Prague Castle and is the biggest and most significant cathedral in the City. Taking almost 600 years to complete, it was founded in 1344. SR discusses in chapter 58 how it is also home to St Wenceslas Chapel which houses incredible frescoes of the passion of Christ and the life of St Wenceslas. The chapel is also home to several holy relics.

 

St Vitus Cathedral

While Raven sat across from the Astronomical clock waiting for the next appearance of the twelve apostles, she absentmindedly touched her own relic that was given to her. As she did so, she thought of William and what had recently taken place in Florence. I found it quite poignant that Raven sat across from the Astronomical clock pondering William, that magnificent apparatus represents the very essences of time, very apt indeed.  Sipping her Saturday morning coffee, Raven suddenly noticed a man skirting the crowd congregated around the front of the clock, he was dressed all in black with fair hair – he looked like William.

She deserted her breakfast and she began to walk as fast as she was able towards the man who was now walking away from the crowd.  Suddenly the man stopped and turned around as the clock’s bell began to ring. Raven stopped and raised her hand in order to shade against the sun and make out his features, but it wasn’t William.

That evening as Raven lay awake in her apartment, she watched the light and shadows dance across the ceiling and walls of her bedroom.

She whispered and I quote from chapter 58…

 “You were the shadow on my wall”, pain piercing her chest.

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The shadow didn’t reply.

 

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If you haven’t experienced Sylvain Reynard’s impeccable writing. You can find all his stories from his own Amazon page here:-

 

Sylvain Reynard Amazon

 

If the first thing you do for 2018 is to read a book written by Sylvain Reynard, you’d be doing yourself a huge favour!!

Good luck as you set your own goals for 2018 and beyond, may you find what truly brings happiness and fulfillment to your life.

Until next time

Pax Vobiscum

Kez

Musings Blog Tour

        Featuring

Hopescapes

by

Becca Vry

 

 

G’day Readers,

Welcome to Kez’s bookshelf.

What a privilege it is to participate in the Musings Blog Tour hosted by Forever Valentine and help bring awareness to the great things ‘Musings – An Argyle Empire Anthology’ is doing. Through its support of homeless youth in crisis, 100% of proceeds are going to Covenant House in loving memory of Terry Aisenstein (a fellow muse of Argyle Empire).

Musings – An Argyle Empire Anthology’ is a collection of nine short stories written by seven talented authors that partly make up the muses of Argyle Empire (the official fan site for readers of Sylvain Reynard). These seven accomplished authors are:-

  • Kris Babe
  • Shari Ivey
  • Jennifer Locklear
  • Morgan Locklear
  • Tara Severance
  • Susan K Swords
  • Becca Vry

The Anthology is a fabulous read with topics covering comedy, romance, suspense, fantasy, drama, prose and with the forward written by Sylvain Reynard, who wouldn’t want to own a copy. Today however, I wish to focus on one story in particular that I found quite endearing and very thought provoking.

I was fortunate to sit down with the author to discuss their story and the anthology in more detail. What I uncovered was an  intellectual and inspiring author with so much to share and a message of hope for each of us.

Please join me in welcoming our special guest Becca Vry as we take a closer look at her short story with a powerful message…

 Hopescapes

 

Welcome to Kez’s Bookshelf Becca.

Thank you so much for your time today, it’s an honour to have you stop by.

Kez, I’m truly honoured that you’ve wanted to interview me, so thank YOU for taking the time to do this.

You’re welcome Becca.

Please tell us a little more about Becca Vry, your interests, how you became a writer, likes, dislikes, etc?

New readers can learn a lot about me by viewing my blog, at: www.beccavry.com  –  My interests include art, writing, poetry, music (I’m a huge lover of the Goth/Industrial genre) … anything with a creative pulse immediately draws my focus. I’m definitely right-brain oriented, and have written poetry and short stories even as a young child, but never dreamed that I’d pursue the written craft later in life. I’m a lover of words, and how they make me feel, which probably sounds strange. Even as a very young child, I’d sneak my parent’s thesaurus or encyclopaedias off of the bookshelf and write down words/meanings that I found compelling and interesting, and then use them in sentences at school. My teachers got a kick out of this odd, wordy propensity and often encouraged me because they realised my creativity/imagination coming through, but kids my own age often found me “strange” and didn’t understand my interests; they teased me mercilessly. Now, I own that “strangeness” and even wear it as a badge of honour, but my gosh, I was bullied as a kid.  I think those formative memories pushed me in the direction of creative writing over the years, a kind of embracing of my strangeness, my being a wordy bitch ;).

Other likes: Big Cities. Doctor Marten’s. Unique cultural experiences. Xanax. Leather Corsets laced extra tight.  Wearing black. Dancing in dark clubs. Tattoos. Vodka. A good, cleansing cry to release pent-up emotion. Cognitive Therapy. Open-mindedness. Kindness. Being able to laugh at yourself and notice your own absurdities.

Dislikes: Passive Aggressiveness. Sarcasm (I don’t like the snide, round-about-ness of it, just come out with what you actually mean, IMO). Walking barefoot on grass, dirt or in the wet, gritty sand (it’s a texture thing). Sports. Politics. Religion. Country/Jazz/Gospel music (Country music depresses me and the unstructured/erratic sonal elements of Jazz and Gospel messes with my ADD, makes me tense and incredibly anxious). Driving a car … I don’t belong behind the wheel of a vehicle, my anxiety sky-rockets and I can’t take it – thus my “like” of Xanax!

As we know, your story Hopescape is featured in ‘Musings – An Argyle Empire’s Anthology‘. Argyle Empire is the official fan site for Sylvain Reynard readers. How did you come across Sylvain Reynard’s writing and meet the amazing people who make up the muses of Argyle Empire?

Back in the 1990’s, I discovered Jane Austen Fan-fiction on the internet and began posting in Yahoo forums and other discussions under the pseudonym GothicTemptress. Over the years, my adoration of fan-fiction took me into many fandoms, and in 2008, my obsession with Twilight Fan-fiction began. I discovered a fan page/discussion forum on a website called “Twilighted” and there I found myself engaged in story discussions – meeting like-minded people from all over the world. One of my favorite stories was being written/posted by a very shy yet incredibly kind Canadian … the amazingly talented Sylvain Reynard. Through him and his story discussions, I connected with the Muses and many of the Argyle Empire participants, along with EL James and The Bunker Babes, Deborah Anastasia, Shay Savage, Helena Hunting (all who were posting stories of their own at the time) … Twilighted and my Twilight fan-fiction obsession/discussions led to some of the most treasured friendships of my life. These same friends now encourage me to chase my own creativity and dreams in new ways, and Sylvain Reynard has been a huge inspiration in this way.  His influence on my creativity, as well as the encouragement of the Muses and the other friends listed above, is undeniable, and for that beautiful fact, and their unwavering support, I’m so very grateful.

Congratulations on your story ‘Hopescape‘, I smiled widely when I read it. With so many people fleeing war torn countries over recent years and families displaced to various countries throughout the world. I found this story very apt for today’s society. What made you write about Yara’s story?

Thank you, Kez. I’m so happy that you enjoyed it. And yes, its tone and topics are very pertinent to modern day. It’s a story that evolved over years. My aunt married a wonderful man from Syria (he immigrated to Chicago and they met in medical school in the 80’s).  Over the years, his family has visited the US or moved to the States and to Canada, and hearing their stories regarding the changing political and religious landscape, their fears, the threats of remaining in Syria, all played a part in the slow formation of Yara’s back-story/character. Researching for certain scenes while composing Hopescapes was a really disturbing, hope-crushing, frightening experience – so much so that I credit Jennifer Locklear for being a guardian angel of sorts … she walked me through some really dark places as I was writing/editing the story, and I paid more visits  to my Therapist while writing it than I’d care to admit.

The way that groups of people use their beliefs or their “god” to force acquiescence and control over others…the way that fear and hopelessness is instilled in large groups of innocent people, so much so that they feel it imperative to flee their homes and homeland in order to remain alive … what some must endure in pursuit of a happier, emotionally and physically healthier life … what “freedom” means to each of us, and at what cost we achieve it … Sadly, Yara’s story is the story of millions, in every country. It’s so sad, yet layered with incredible hope, too, if we allow it within ourselves to see the positive, making lemonade out of lemons.

Here is a banner I made myself early on to inspire me while writing, as well as images that I compiled to keep me on track while composing Hopescapes. Just sharing it with you as reference, should it interest you. I printed these out and taped them on my computer screen, to keep the feeling and “tone” at the forefront while I wrote.

 

 

 

Hopescape‘ gives a great insight into Yara’s life as a refugee, the thoughts and emotions she deals with as she tries to move forward with her life.  I found this story a timely reminder of the human factor behind the displacement of refugees and asylum seekers. Was it your intention to create awareness of the personal challenges people who experience such traumatic events and relocation face?

Yes, it was my intention to create that awareness, but I also think that I was influenced by deeper intentions on a subconscious level, too … that of a hope that people would stop to look at the hopescapes around them in the same way that Yara’s mentality shifts by the end of the story – where she transforms from 5 perilous steps away from death, to 5 breaths – and realising the shining hope-filled examples of “life” and inspiring forward-movement around her.  Those same positive affirmations surround all of us, in some way.

This is a lesson that I began learning the hard way, while facing a health crisis at the beginning of 2016, and I found myself in an incredibly trying situation of having to make many life-changes in order to overcome my morbid obesity and get healthy. One of those decisions was to seek treatment for compulsive over-eating. Over time, it struck me how dysfunctional and harmful my eating was to my health, and how important it was to “displace” myself from the habits and amounts of food that were raising my blood sugars, blood pressure and killing me slowly, sending me into a health crisis. In many ways, I think that it took me experiencing this scary, life-changing situation and dealing with the associated emotions in order to really embrace Yara’s own emotional struggles. There is no comparison between what I suffered and what people in Yara’s situation suffer, but I do see some similarities between the conflicting emotions associated with “life  changes” and having to face your past in order to move forward in a happy and healthy way. Letting go of pain, of harboured emotions, of whatever it is holding us back … I feel as though I was able to draw from my own personal emotional experiences and channel them into the fleshing of Yara’s character in specific, and more thoroughly.

When it appeared all hope was lost, along came Raizie. A survivor with her own remarkable story to tell, but if it wasn’t for her kind and gentle hand, Yara’s story could have ended very differently. What was it that Raizie saw in Yara that day as she joined her on the park bench?

I once saw a quote that has stuck with me over the years:

“Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me.”

This mentality had a profound impact on the formation of that initial scene, as I imagined Raizie approaching Yara on the park bench.

Raizie is product of my own family history. My grandmother, grandfather and mother all survived a German Work Camp in WW2, and “survival” and “pushing on” has always been a lesson I’ve witnessed in their own pursuit of happiness. Raizie is also based on a dear friend of mine with the same name from the Twilight fandom – an inspirational Jewish woman who is dedicated to her faith, her family, her friends and her community, making the life of those around her a better place. Between my own family stories, and watching my friend Raizie advocate for causes and volunteer time serving and bettering her community, allowed me to form her character/back-story in Hopescapes with a great deal of ease. While her history is utterly painful and terrible to learn about for the reader (and compose as the author), she really is a warrior, an inspiration.

When Raizie first notices Yara at the beginning of the story, she realizes that Yara is in a bad place because Raizie was also once in that same emotionally perilous place, too. She “sees” Yara in a way that very few human beings actually could. She relates to the war-ravaged, traumatized young woman on a deeply visceral and human level because she’s had time to reflect, heal and move forward – it’s the awareness of herself that allows Raizie to react to Yara in the way she does in the story. In truth, Raizie “sees herself” sitting on the park bench, and chooses to comfort, relive her torment and inspire Yara in a way she’d needed to be comforted herself, so long ago. That quote I mention above has made a huge impact on my writing, as I compose scenes. It inspires me to look at interaction between characters in a new way.

When Raizie’s traumatic story of survival is revealed and it is clear to them, they are both survivors, only from different events in history. It was a profound moment for Yara. Was this the turning point for her, the moment the flicker of hope began to burn for her again?

Yes, and that’s why I stressed the “Five Steps” many times throughout the story. Those five steps were all Yara needed to take to plunge into that ending to her suffering that she longed for at the beginning of the story, and throughout much of it, actually. Survivors guilt and the torment, the suffering, are very real to those that live when their loved ones die. It’s only near the end, as Yara begins to look at the cold, grey landscape around her as hopescapes, as she resolves herself to take 5 cleansing breaths, instead … her initial desire to take those five tragic steps turns into inspirational, forward-moving and life-affirming steps into the future at the end. That distinction is perilous, however, and that’s why I felt it imperative that Yara witness Raizie’s family together at the end of the story. It’s the future, shared love and happiness Yara and all human beings deserve, I believe.  That’s not to say that Yara needs to push out babies or make other conventional life choices in order to be happy. Hell no! But by Yara witnessing the manifestation of Raizie’s pushing on, being a warrior, and “living” – that kind of visual, a validation of progress and hope for the future … that certainly is a moment of turning towards the future, not desiring the angry waves that will end her life, in my estimation. Five breaths instead of five steps. That choice to live fully and persevere. Yes, please!

Thank you for mentioning the five steps to five cleansing breaths, ‘Hopescapes‘ is a great example of how it  can bring someone hope and ultimately change their life. For others out there who maybe working through their own life changing events, what is your philosophy behind the five steps to five breaths and how could others apply it to their own situations?

Kez, on a very personal level, I spent many years of my life (especially in my late twenties and early thirties) living in a pretty dark place – I often refer to this as my “Decade of Woe.” I suffered four miscarriages, gained over 140 pounds, experienced post-partum depression after the eventual blessings of my two children (and even had to check myself into the hospital for a few days after the birth of my first child because I became suicidal), and remained weighed down beneath the life challenges that seemed too daunting for me to carry.  I allowed the darkness to define my outlook, my existence. The weight I carried grew to be physical as well as mental. When I started therapy, I began discovering that I was doing it to myself, keeping that darkness around me when I had the option to let light and happiness in. It would take me another decade to deal with the physical weight I carried, but from an emotional aspect, I began re-learning the eye-opening, burden-lifting language of ongoingness. That will sound familiar to you, because I mention it explicitly in Hopescapes … that philosophy of optimism, positivity, being mindful and appreciative of what is around us, even if what we have suffered in the past or face in the future may not be pleasant to reflect on at first – the shift in imagery at the end of Hopescapes, where Yara no longer looks at the buildings biting at the bruised sky, instead she sees this… 

 

I realize now how the landscapes of our lives can shift, just as our appreciation of them. We each make the choice of seeing dreary sadscapes or inspiring hopescapes – that beautiful philosophy of optimism creating inspiration, if we allow ourselves to be moved toward the positive, and not keep ourselves laden down by the negatives we keep focusing on in a self-destructive way. I did it for so long, and feel such relief for this positive shift into an optimistic perspective.

In truth, I believe most humans have a “bench moment,” just as Yara endured – a stagnant, dark, miserable place where we sit by ourselves and mull over the worst our life has presented us with, as we hurt and suffer and feel alone. Each of us may not ever consider those five steps in the way Yara did. Some of us do consider death, but others may consider the “five steps” towards a bar, a buffet, a relationship that is destructive, or a crime … we embrace the negative and self-harm in so many ways – we are all “five steps” away from something. I think that “bench moment” is natural and even necessary place to sit for a time, because sitting in a place like that teaches us a lot about ourselves. But willingly STAYING in that dark place for an extended length of time is where it gets dangerous and detrimental to our well-being. Sitting on that bench for too long shuts us out of the inspiring potential of a happier future, of a better life we are capable of embracing. Five steps towards self-harm, or five cleansing breaths and the decision to re-think what you’re suffering? If you make the conscious choice to take the life-affirming breaths instead of the future-ending steps in the other direction … I believe that is one of the most self-affirming and inspiring actions of all, and a perfect example of the philosophy of ongoingness.

Raizie and Yara create an incredible bond on that park bench that day, one that you know will stay with them a lifetime. A touch of human kindness and compassion can do miraculous work. What lasting message from Yara and Raizie would you like to leave with readers?

I believe that if we all took a moment to be kind to someone, to show compassion in their time of need … this world would be a much more beautiful place. See an elderly person struggling to cross the street with their walker? Stop to walk slowly beside them, to help them over the curb. Notice someone frowning on the street? Smile at them, let that smile reach your eyes, and show them that you noticed their suffering – that their feelings mattered to you enough to react in a positive way, even if you are a stranger. The next time you turn on the news – try to look at what’s happening in the world with new eyes, and show/feel some empathy for the plight of others, and that includes everyone (the average person and world leaders alike, because we’re all dealing with difficult situations, in our own ways). Instead of blaming, judging, or casting negativity on the journeys of others, stop for a moment and consider of how you can be a positive force in their life. By being compassionate, you invite so much warmth into the lives of all you touch.

In truth, Raizie has lived in Chicago for many decades. Like every seasoned big-city dweller, she had every right to assume that Yara was a mentally disturbed homeless person with violent tendencies, and could’ve turned the other way, never to approach the young woman who was obviously distraught, crying on the park bench at the beginning of the story. Turns out, Raizie saves a life and “created light” that day, not only in Yara, but also the reader (I hope). That’s why I end the story as I do, with that final question … there is more to every story than initially meets the eye.  How will YOU make your world a better place, or bring light into your life or the lives of someone else? Yara is a victim of many things, but will not remain a victim if she wants to move ahead and embrace the hopescapes of her future. Raizie’s choice to sit next to her, to try to comfort her, and reach the distraught woman … that kind of instigation of “connection,” especially with a stranger who is need of kindness and compassion … we are ALL capable of that. I just wish it happened more often, because what a different world it would be if we all just tried to understand, exhibit more empathy and help each other a little more.

All proceeds from ‘Musings – An Argyle Empire Anthology’ is to benefit the Philadelphia chapter of Covenant House, can you tell us a little more about this?

Terry Aisenstein was an active participant in the Argyle Empire group, a huge fan of Sylvain Reynard and a loving friend to many, including The Muses. She often volunteered at Covenant House because she loved the kids and believed in the mission of helping homeless youth. Unfortunately, she passed away after a hard-fought battle with cancer, and SR and a few Muses began talking about ways to honour her memory as well as bring awareness to a cause she believed strongly in.   Jennifer and Morgan Locklear spearheaded the collaboration and we all decided to write a collection of stories, Musings: An Argyle Empire Anthology, and donate the proceeds to Covenant House, in Terry’s honour. We were all so honoured that Sylvain Reynard composed the forward to the collection. All in all, it was a beautiful way to remember Terry, as well as a way to encourage each other in our own creativity, all in the name of charity.

What is next for Becca Vry, do you have any projects you’re currently working on?

After completing Hopescapes, I was convinced that Yara was content in my leaving her future wide open (as I left the ending of the story positive and vague) – but much to my surprise, both Yara and Raizie will not remain still … They’ve been poking me all summer (while I hoped to take a break from writing to spend time with my two teen daughters and husband). They definitely may appear in future works, if they have their way with me yet. 😉  I also have a selection of short, romantic stories that keep growing, and I’m hoping to turn them into a series one day in the near future.  But at the moment, my husband and I have begun writing about our journey towards better health, and everything we’ve experienced while losing over 100 pounds each … and how that quest for health broadened our perspectives on what it means to live a fulfilling (and honest-with-self, health-focused) life. For the longest time, he and I both discovered we were being dishonest with ourselves as we ate our way towards diabetes and into early graves. The lies we were telling ourselves about what we were eating, how much, and why it hurt us in ways we’re only beginning to understand. This collaboration is exciting for us, and it’s a constant work in progress.

As my special guest to Kez’s Bookshelf, what thought provoking message about love and life would you like to leave for readers.

One of my all-time favourite quotes is by Mark Twain:

“Let us endeavour to live so that when we die, even the undertaker will be sorry.”

This concept resonates with me so much because I believe that taking creative risks and pursuing an excitement-filled, “interesting” life is what’s important in love and life in general.  Our most important endeavour is to live a life to the absolute fullest – and while that means something different for every person, seeking out new, exciting experiences by yourself or passionately, with a loved-one by your side , is a hell of a lot more meaningful and interesting than being a stagnant observer, never participating, letting life pass you by. It’s my opinion that these are words to live and love by. I hope they resonate with your readers as well.

It’s been an honour doing this interview Kez. I wish you and your readers happiness, health, and the formation of the most beautifully rewarding Hopescapes in your future.

Much love from a very appreciative Becca Vry!

 

Wow!!

What an incredible woman!

Having read ‘Hopescapes‘ and spent time with Becca today, I believe we can each walk away not only with a little more empathy towards refugees and asylum seekers beginning their new journey for a better life; but also for those people we may recognize around us going through their own life changing challengers, perhaps readers may even see this within themselves.  Thank you so much Becca, for all that you so generously shared with us today. Your insight behind this powerful story and the message of hope is truly enlightening.

 

Before signing off today, I also wanted to pay tribute to Patricia Hinojosa who won the Musings Fan-art contest using a great quote from ‘Hopescapes’.  Congratulations Patricia for this beautiful fanart creation…

 

If you’d like to know more about this inspiring author, below is a copy of Becca Vry’s Bio:-

 

Becca is a Chicago native who prefers high-rise living and hasn’t owned or driven a car in over twenty years. She and her husband are about to celebrate their 20th Wedding Anniversary, and she’s a stay-at-home mother of two daughters.

 

When not doing the mom thing, she can be found at Art Galleries, poetry readings, or creating something on a canvas. Becca loves the freedom modern art affords her, creatively, and gravitate toward the textural/multi-dimensional aesthetic of mixed media. She prefers to not only work on the canvas but expand outward as new ideas take shape.

When not being creative, you’ll find Becca bounding in the mosh pit at a concert with her beloved husband Maximilian, or on the dance floor of her favorite Chicago Goth/Industrial haunts. No matter the setting, she’s usually wearing black and her sidewalk-stomping Doc Martens.

 

What started out as a secret hobby of writing online stories has turned into an insatiable passion for creating stories that inspire and provoke. Becca is now branching out into original prose with her first release, “Hopescapes.” It’s an inspirational short story that appears in Musings: An Argyle Empire Anthology. The story is about the evolution of lifescapes and how the promise of new beginnings inspire many dreamscapes. The theme of this story centers on emerging from the embers of profound loss and hopelessness to realizing the importance of survival, ongoingness, and the power that comes from re-learning the language of happiness . . . Two strangers discover that the journey to happiness often comes at a tragic price – the conversation between them, and the connections they realize they share will alter their perspectives in the most unexpected ways. They will never look at the Chicago skyline or the broadening hopescapes that expand before them, in the same way ever again.

 

Becca hopes to release a couple of steamy romances in the near future and we can’t wait to read more from her! 

 

Remember readers, ‘Hopescapes’  is just one short story you’ll find in the great little read – ‘Musings – An Argyle Empire Anthology ‘. Don’t forget THROUGH Covenant House, 100% of the proceeds will go to benefit homeless youth at risk.

 

Purchase your copy of ‘Musings – An Argyle Empire Anthology’ here:-

             

    Amazon USA          *             Amazon UK           *           Amazon AUS

 

To learn more about the great work of Covenant House, you can visit their website here:-

 

Covenant House

 

Readers, if you haven’t caught up with this fabulous anthology, then now’s the time to do so. 

 

Pax Vobiscum

Kez

The Fox Rocks the Guest Speaker’s box

Sylvain Reynard

aka

The Sly Fox

 Steps onto the ‘guest speaker’s’ box

in Kez’s bookshelf

Hi Everyone,

What a wonderful surprise I have to share with you all today. During the week Kez’s Bookshelf sat down with NYT Bestselling Author and a favourite storyteller of many avid readers….Sylvain Reynard.

Come and join me by the warm fire as I relive this special moment…..

Hello SR and welcome to Kez’s bookshelf.

Please, take a seat in the Chesterfield high back wing chair and warm yourself by the open fire. Tom has a lovely glass of Laphroaig 18 waiting for you, relax and make yourself at home.

I wish it was springtime; we could be sitting outside in the garden. But since it’s cold and wet, why don’t we bring a little springtime in doors…(Andre Rieu’s Nightingale Serenade, softly fills the room)

Andre Rieu Nightingale Serenade

Thank you so much for joining me today SR, you are the most prestigious guest I’ve had the pleasure of featuring on this blog, it’s an absolute privilege, and I appreciate your time today.

Thank you for inviting me to join you and your readers. I’m honoured to be with you.

It is of course, no secret that you are my favourite writer and I regard you in the highest esteem. Those people who have read your stories will understand why, while those who are yet to experience an ‘SR’ adventure have so much to look forward to. But there is so much more behind the great storyteller and online persona of SR and today I wish to highlight that.

Firstly, congratulations on building such a wonderfully warm and friendly online community, it is always such a pleasure to interact with you and fellow readers online. One aspect about your online persona that I most admire is your inclusiveness and ability to treat everyone with equality.  In today’s society, this is fast becoming a rare attribute. Why is it so important to you to foster such a warm and open environment?

Part of this stems from my core values – respect for all human beings, a desire to be an instrument of peace, etc. Beyond that, I try to create an environment that I will enjoy, knowing that others will likely enjoy it too.

At times I’ve seen you tweet comments like “Success should be shared” and “There is enough success for everyone”. You have actively supported others to become writers and follow their dreams (whatever they might be) and I’ve seen people grow with your success. As people strive for their own success in life why do you think it’s important to remember – success should be shared?

Several of these messages were a reaction to a negative, competitive trend I’d observed. It’s important for authors to realize that we can share readers and be successful; we don’t need to denigrate other authors and their work in order to improve sales and attract readers. We can be positive and encouraging to one another and be successful at the same time.  A positive, collaborative environment contributes to everyone’s success and to the happiness of writers and readers alike.

I am very proud to say I’ve been an active reader and follower in your online community for a number of years now. During this time I’ve heard many people say that you have made them strive to be a better person (myself included), many lifelong friendships have formed because of this online community you foster. How does it make you feel, knowing you have made such a positive impact on people’s lives and what would you like to say to all your followers and supporters?

First, I want to say thank you for reading. The readers have created the community, along with me, and made this space welcoming and positive.
I’m gratified that the community has had a positive influence. Like many others, I worry about the state of our world. I worry about injustice, persecution, poverty, and illness. If I can contribute in any way to helping address these issues then that is the greatest reward I can have as a human being.

There are many facets to joy and pain, like love and loss, each of us will experience them throughout our lives. Those of us who have read the Gabriel’s Inferno series know that Professor Emerson is very familiar with all four. With this in mind, if there was a secret recipe to living a good life, what do you think Professor Emerson would suggest it contains?

Friendship is one of the most important ingredients to a good life. You can’t thrive as a human being without friendship. It’s also important to choose one’s friends wisely. A good friend can be supportive and also challenging, when necessary. I also think charity and service to others are essential to a good life and I believe Professor Emerson would agree with me.

Many of your readers have described your stories (especially Gabriel’s Inferno) as ‘life changing’ why do you think this is so?

It may be because through my writing I try to address issues that human beings care about. It may be because each of my novels explores the theme of redemption and so overall the stories are positive and hopeful. I’m grateful that readers have enjoyed the novels.

As a well read individual yourself SR, are there any stories you’ve read that has had the same ‘life changing’ effect for you?

A lot of my reflections on justice, grace, and mercy were shaped by Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Misérables.”

What is your most loved childhood story?

Probably “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” by CS Lewis.

The Florentine Series draws to an end in December with the release of The Roman, this paranormal romance has been a thrilling ride about the dark and mysterious William York and his love Raven Wood. The plot is brilliantly written with many twists and turns along the way, I have the feeling it’s building to a wonderful crescendo. Is there anything you can share about this final book and what have you enjoyed the most about writing The Florentine Series?

the-roman-by-sylvain-reynard

On social media I posted a short teaser of one word “Prague.” One thing I can share about The Roman is that the novel takes us beyond Florence to Umbria and to Rome, as well as to Prague and a few other secret places. The novel is about trust, betrayal, love, and redemption and includes perhaps one of the most challenging scenes I’ve ever written. I think readers will enjoy it.

What is next for Sylvain Reynard? You have mentioned briefly in our twitterverse there is a new series on the horizon, is there anything about this new series you can share with us today?

I can’t say too much about it just yet but what I can tell you is that I am writing a new series, it is a contemporary romance and at least one of the novels will be set in Paris. I hope to share more about this soon in a formal announcement.

Are we likely to see any characters from either Gabriel’s Inferno or The Florentine Series?

Yes – more than one.

Like all good things, sadly we’ve come to the end of our interview. But before we say goodbye, I’d like to thank you again for joining us today SR. It’s been truly wonderful. To sign off, I like to leave readers with a thought provoking message about love and life. If William York were to leave us message how would it read?

Love is greater than you can imagine and can do far more than you ever dreamed.

Perfect!!

Thank you SR, for your time, generosity, kindness, wisdom and your beautiful words.

I hope you all enjoy this very special post as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing it to you.

Until next time

Pax Vobiscum

Kez

The Steamy, Sensual, Seductive Excerpt to The Shadow by Sylvain Reynard

G’day everyone,

Well it’s a very cold and wet Friday evening here on the west coast of Australia.

Fortunately I have something special to share with you all today that is surely to get the temperature rising in here…

The Shadow is the second novel in the Florentine Series written by the incredibly talented Sylvain Reynard. It is due to be released February 2nd 2016 and just quietly, I can’t wait.

The Shadow

Today marks the release of the hotly anticipated excerpt to the upcoming 2nd novel, hold onto your seats, it’s quite a hot and steamy ride…..

 

Raven watched as William efficiently disrobed, neatly folding every article of black clothing (with the exception of underwear, which he never wore), and placing it on the vanity.

 She brushed imaginary lint from her dress as he stood in front of her, naked.

 He was under six feet in height, his body lean and strong. Raven took a moment to appreciate the definition of his muscled chest and abdomen, and the strong cast to his thighs.  Not even a statue carved by the most talented sculptor could create a being with so much perfection.

 His face put her in mind of an angel with intense, gray eyes that now looked at her expectantly.

 She hid her face.  “You said you loved me.”

 “I did. What’s more, I meant it.”

 “Love is a peculiar thing. I’ve seen it. I’ve even cheered for it. But I never believed it was for me.”

 “Why shouldn’t a beautiful, fierce young woman hope for love?”

 “Because, as you put it, human beings are shallow.”

 “Love is deep.” His rich voice echoed in the bathroom.

 “Love is having the power to destroy another person.”

 William stepped closer.  “Are you afraid of being destroyed?”

 “Destroyed, consumed, betrayed.” She fidgeted with the neckline of her gown.

 William placed his hand over hers, stilling it.  “Love creates; it doesn’t destroy.”

 His lips found the place where her neck met her shoulder. He kissed her leisurely, tracing the path of her bared collarbone with his mouth.

 His fingers brushed her zipper.  “Let me.”

 He undid her dress, dropping it to the marble tiles.

 Her bra followed.  She was as naked as he.

 His eyes roved her body appraisingly.  His pale fingers caressed her cheek, her mouth, and her neck. His strong hands cupped her breasts, her abdomen, and her hips.

 His gray eyes met hers. 

 “The power you describe is the power you have here.” He touched her forehead before moving his hand to cover her heart.  “And here.  It’s the power you have over me. Power I haven’t yielded to another since I was human.”

 He brought his lips to her ear. “Your fears are shared.”

 With a slow kiss on her neck, he led her into the shower, standing behind her underneath a tropical rainfall showerhead.

 Raven closed her eyes and lifted her face, like a flower following the sun.  The warm water soaked her hair and streamed down the generous curves of her body.

 “I’ve never showered with another person.  What happens next?” William rested his hands on her shoulders.

 She wiped the water from her face.

 “Whatever you want. Just don’t let me fall.”

 William’s gaze dropped to her right leg, which she was favoring.

 “Is the pain terrible?”

 “It’s worse after I’ve been lying down.  Sometimes I topple over.”

William spread his arm around her waist, drawing her back to his chest.  “Then I must be sure to catch you.”

 She kissed him, reaching up to run her fingers through his wet hair as the water poured down their shoulders.

 Her motions were fraught with an eagerness born of love and affection and the relief of remembering she hadn’t lost him.

 He was hers.

 Even now, naked, with a myriad of flaws few men overlooked, he embraced her. He embraced her imperfections.

 He loved her.

 His cool hands scorched her skin, splaying fingers wide over her abdomen and bringing her backside into contact with what rose between his hips.

 She gave him her weight and he held firm, nipping and licking at her lips before enticing her to enter his mouth.

He entertained the intrusion for a moment or two then, with a growl, he spun her around, pressing their chests together.

 Raven looked up into blazing gray eyes.

 “Are you certain?”

She nodded.

 “I need the words, Raven. I need to know you want this.”

 “I want you.”

 He took her mouth, his tongue alternately penetrating and retreating in a sensual rhythm.

She tilted her head, welcoming him, as the water continued to rain down.

 Hands roamed over slick skin as their lower bodies came into alignment.  She touched his neck, his shoulders, his biceps, holding them tightly in an effort to remain upright.

William was not a tame lover.

 In his arms, she sensed his control, his desire, and the war that waged between the two. But he’d never harmed her and had always focused his attention on giving pleasure before taking it. Usually more than once.

 “You’re a dream,” she sighed.  “A dream of love I never thought I’d have.”

 His eyes burned into hers.

 Without warning, he lifted her, tugging her thighs around his hips.

 He lowered his mouth to her breasts, tasting and teasing before sucking droplets of water from her eager flesh.

 She wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling him eager between her legs. 

 He lifted her higher, hands beneath her backside, making sure he was correctly aligned.

 “Breathe,” he commanded, his eyes boring in to hers.

 Here was the vampyre, proud and powerful, teetering on the edge of control. He bared his teeth as if on instinct and his chest rumbled.

 “Just don’t break me,” she whispered, pushing a lock of blond hair from his forehead.

 William’s expression grew even more fierce.

 “I won’t break you.  Whatever harm I bring to you I vow to heal.”

 He swallowed her reply with his kiss.  Then with a single thrust, he entered her.

His kisses were as fierce as his movements as he pushed inside and withdrew, over and over.  His grip on her backside tightened as he lifted and moved her in concert with his own motion.

 Raven clung to him, her hand trailing to his lower back so she could urge him deeper.

 Not that he needed the encouragement.

 Her breasts brushed against his chest, the friction teasing and arousing.

 She ignored the warm spray of the water, the scent of soap and William, and the nagging discomfort in her leg and ankle.  Her focus was on feeling as he brought her swiftly to the brink of orgasm.

Before she could signal how close she was, she climaxed, her hand clutching his neck as she threw her head back.

William continued his pace until she’d finished, his mouth dropping to her breasts, drawing one of them into his mouth.

 When she opened her eyes, she found him staring at her hungrily.

 “I have only begun,” he rasped.  “Breathe.

 

 

Breathe….I think I’ve forgotten how!

Wow!!

Want to know more about the author now…

Sylvain Reynard has his own amazing amazon page which you can find here:

 

Sylvain Reynard

 

The Florentine Series currently consists of the Novella (The Prince) and the first novel (The Raven)

BzCUUWrIgAEOZxr 10405604_700431206680665_5097694841018106891_n

 

You’ll be able to source all his novels/Novella there as well as pre-order your copy of The Shadow…that is, if you can remember to breathe again. 🙂

 

Pax Vobiscum

Kez