NY Times Best Selling Author Sylvain Reynard on Poetry.

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NY Times Best Selling Author and my favorite enigma Sylvain Reynard was gracious enough to write a guest blog on poetry. If you aren’t familiar with Reynard’s books,you are missing out on riveting tales full of suffering, sex, love, faith, and redemption. You can find out more about SR and his work by going to http://sylvainreynard.com/ You can also find him in all his tweeting glory @sylvainreynard

This poet is a huge fan. You will be too.

Now I give you SR in his own words

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Many people avoid poetry.

Poetry usually brings to mind limericks, or schoolyard sing-songs, or angst-driven blank verse. But The Iliad and The Odyssey are poems. Dante’s The Divine Comedy is a poem.

Poetry is extremely flexible as a genre and like other arts it contributes something important to the human experience. Poetry can be a thing of beauty and a medium for reflecting on profound and sometimes unsettling truths.

When I wrote The Gabriel Series, I was inspired by the poetry of Dante, hoping to introduce the beauty of his art to a wider audience. Dante is not very well known anymore and few people read him outside of school or university.

In my new Florentine Series, I was inspired by the poet Apuleius’s account of the love affair between Cupid and Psyche. Again, this is a poem that is not very well known and infrequently read.

You can read the tale by starting here: http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/TheGoldenAssIV.htm#anchor_Toc347999726

Psyche was the youngest of three sisters and very beautiful. Her beauty was so great, it intimidated prospective suitors. Her older sisters quickly found husbands, while Psyche remained alone.

Her father feared that Psyche had been cursed by the gods and so he sought out an Oracle, who instructed him to deliver his daughter up to marry a great winged evil. In sorrow and despair, the father obeyed. Psyche went along with the Oracle’s instructions, proclaiming that her condemnation was the result of unbridled envy.

And then something surprising happened…

“…prompted by the sight of the evening star, Psyche retired to bed. Now, when night was well advanced, gentle whispers sounded in her ears, and all alone she feared for her virgin self, trembling and quivering, frightened most of what she knew nothing of. Her unknown husband had arrived and mounted the bed, and made Psyche his wife, departing swiftly before light fell. The servant-voices waiting in her chamber cared for the new bride no longer virgin. Things transpired thus for many a night, and through constant habit, as nature dictates, her new state accustomed her to its pleasures, and that sound of mysterious whispering consoled her solitude.”

Psyche was delivered up to someone, but far from treating her evilly, he treats her well. He gives her pleasure. He loves her body. But he only comes to her at night, so she has no idea who he is.

The oracle prophesied of a great winged evil, but her husband reveals himself as a tender, attentive lover, who truly cares for her. One evening, he speaks to her,

“Sweetest Psyche,” he said, “my dear wife, cruel Fortune threatens you with deadly danger, which I want you to guard against with utmost care. Your sisters think you dead and, troubled by this, they’ll soon come to the cliff-top. When they do, if you should chance to hear their lament, don’t answer or even look in their direction, or you’ll cause me the bitterest pain and bring utter ruin on yourself.”

Psyche subsequently is faced with a dilemma – should she trust her husband’s actions and how he treats her, or should she trust the judgments of her family and the Oracle.

Psyche knows what it is like to be judged on appearance alone, without regard to her character. Suitors shunned her, because she was thought to be too beautiful and too perfect – like a statue. In the poem, it looks as if she places all her trust in appearances as she strives to discover her husband’s identity, not trusting that his actions have revealed his true character.

But what would looking on his face reveal? Would it make his actions a lie? Psyche doesn’t stop to reflect on her husband’s nature. If he were truly monstrous, he’d treat her badly and not kindly. He loves her and brings her pleasure and she seems to enjoy his company, although she is plagued with doubt. Her doubt, however, reveals a fatal flaw in her character – she cannot trust her judgment of her husband based on his actions; she must judge him based on his appearances. This fatal flaw will be her undoing …

You can read the rest of the story through the link I posted above.

I deal with similar themes in “The Prince” and “The Raven,” and also the next book in the series “The Shadow.” The male and female leads find themselves in a situation where they end up having to trust one another’s characters rather than outward appearances. Indeed, the importance of having a good character is one of the themes of the novels, along with love, sex, hope, and redemption.

I welcome your comments on the myth of Cupid and Psyche and I hope that you will take time for beauty and poetry in your daily life. – SR

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THE RAVEN by Sylvain Reynard (A Review) When Nevermore becomes Once More.

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The Raven.  Synopsis.

“Raven Wood spends her days at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery restoring fine works of Renaissance art. But an innocent walk home after an evening with friends changes her life forever. When she intervenes in the senseless beating of a homeless man, his attackers turn on her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is only semi-conscious when their assault is interrupted by a cacophony of growls followed by her attacker’s screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, but not before catching a glimpse of a shadowy figure who whispers to her…

Cassita vulneratus.

When Raven awakes, she is inexplicably changed. She returns to the Uffizi, but no one recognizes her, and more disturbingly, she discovers that she’s been absent an entire week. With no recollection of the events leading up to her disappearance, Raven also learns that her absence coincides with one of the largest robberies in Uffizi history – the theft of a set of priceless Botticelli illustrations. When the baffled police force identifies her as its prime suspect, Raven is desperate to clear her name. She seeks out one of Florence’s wealthiest and elusive men in an attempt to uncover the truth about her disappearance. Their encounter leads Raven to a dark underworld whose inhabitants kill to keep their secrets.

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Review 

Once in a great while a book comes along that you can’t put down. Sylvain Reynard’s The Raven is one of those books. I fell in like with Reynard’s literary prowess with his Gabriel’s Inferno trilogy; after reading The Raven, I can say I am head over heels, crazy, twerking in the street Miley style, Tom Cruise chair-jumping, forget that bass, Meghan Trainor is sure to be all about this novel, IN LOVE with this man’s prose. He has my undying book devotion until pen doth us part. The Raven is everything you could want in a good read: intelligent, witty, thrilling, sexy and hard to let go of. It’s the type of book you’ll spend all night reading and not feel guilty about it in the morning. You’l l even want to take it home to Mom. It’s hard to express how much I love this novel, but I will try.

Let’s dish about the heroine of the book, shall we? Raven Wood is strong, feisty, determined, witty and real. She has overcome adversaries with grace and lives a life of purpose. This woman knows how to make the proverbial lemonade out of lemons. She compassionate and brave, to use the vernacular, she is a total bad ass. In a book age where the romance genre is inundated with wimpy, subservient, spineless, superficial women, Raven is a breath of fresh girl power air. I love her.

Of course you can’t have a heroine without a hero, or in The Prince’s case antihero. He is very much an alpha, Byronic male but atypical in his otherworldly abilities. At first glance he seems mercurial, but underneath beats a tender but tormented heart. Still, he is a force to be reckoned with, but Raven is up to the task. Together, they are a formidable match. The chemistry between the two leaps off the pages.

Reynard, in signature style throws in literary, cultural, historic, art and aesthetic references. There’s a strong Machiavellian theme throughout the book and a huge nod to Cupid and Psyche. He’ll also have you clamoring to catch the next flight to Florence, Italy. The Florence Tourist Board owes him a commission. You’ll feel like you are taking the Renaissance Walk and touring the Uffizi Gallery. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the rich history of Florentine art. There are even analyses of a few of the great artworks of the Renaissance, deftly explaining them in terms of the religion and politics of the time.

Reynard took some creative risks with this novel and did it in an audaciously ambitious way. The dividends pay off. His style is terse but lyrical, bold and edgy Gritty and visceral. His voice is original and commanding. The novel manages the delightful tricks of being harrowing and romantic, suspenseful and intellectual. He effortlessly weaves in themes of justice, mercy, loss, hope, love, redemption and good old-fashioned fortitude of character. The Raven is a fearless and flawless read by a remarkable author.

Excerpt from The Raven 

In the distance, the Prince could hear voices and muffled sounds.

He approached silently, almost floating across the floor.

Desperate groans and the rustling of fabric filled his ears, along with the twin sounds of rapidly beating hearts. He could smell their scents, the aromas heightened due to their sexual arousal.

He growled in reaction.

The corridor was shrouded in darkness but the Prince could see that the professor had his wife up against a window between two statues, her legs wrapped around his waist.

Her voice was breathy as she spoke, but the Prince tuned out her words, moving closer so he could catch a glimpse of her lovely face.

At the sight of it, flushed with passion, his old heart quickened and he felt the stirrings of arousal.

It was not his custom to observe rather than participate. But on this occasion, he decided to make an exception. Careful to remain in the darkness, he moved to the wall opposite the couple.

The woman squirmed in her lover’s arms, her high heels catching on his tuxedo jacket. Her fingers flew to his neck, undoing his bow tie and tossing it carelessly to the floor.

She unbuttoned his shirt, and her mouth moved to his chest, as murmurs of pleasure escaped his lips.

The Prince felt more than desire as he watched the woman’s eager movements. He caught a glimpse of her exquisite mouth and the toss of her long hair that would no doubt feel like silk between his fingers.

She lifted her head to smile at the man who held her close and he could see love in her eyes.

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​The Raven – Book One of The Florentine Series 2/3/15

BN
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-raven-sylvain-reynard/1119619658?ean=9780425266496

Amazon

Amazon Canada

iTunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-raven/id888019240?mt=11

Interview with Author Ellen Totten

 Ellen Totten in addition to being a lovely human being is also an amazing writer. I just finished her latest work A Scent of Gardenias in one sitting (no less). I was entranced by the story of Sarah Ann Baker, a young woman who’s early beginnings were rooted in happiness and love only to be tainted by tragedy and lost.  As an adult Sarah is faced with even more adversity and heartbreak, but her optimism, force of will, and her never wavering belief in hope serves as a guiding light on the road to happiness, reconciliation and survival. A Scent of Gardenias is not only a love story, but also a mystery with the mystic woven throughout. You see, Sarah has the gift of a sixth sense-  a sense of foreboding and knowledge of bad things to come.There’s enough suspense in A Scent of Gardenias to keep you guessing up until the end. Overall a stellar read. Ellen was gracious enough to consent to an interview. We discuss her life and work.

Hi Ellen, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

First, I want to thank you, Tosha, for the invitation to be interviewed about my new book, “A Scent of Gardenias.” It’s a pleasure to be here.

 I’m a native of Boston. In 1967, I was transferred to Washington, D. C. because of my job, and based at National Airport with Delta Air Lines. It was there I met and married my husband, Jerry, who was with Naval Sea Systems Command. Because of our work, we were able to travel the world and meet some wonderful people who became lifelong friends.

Has writing always been a passion of yours?

1.     After my career of thirty years, we retired to Florida in 1992 where we both took up the game of golf, and I found I had a love for writing. When we moved to The Villages in 2006, I took classes in creative writing at our Life-Long Learning College and joined a writing group. During these sessions with the group, we read chapters and receive feedback from the members, some of whom have backgrounds in journalism and editing.

Describe your writing process?

I do most of my writing in the morning; however there have been times I’ve written late at night because of poor sleeping habits and my mind won’t shut off. I love listening to soft classical music without lyrics when I write.

Your latest work titled “A Scent of Gardenias” is paranormal romance, which you wrote under the pen name Elena M. Tell us a bit about the novel and why you opted for a pen name?

 I wanted to write a ghost story, however my story evolved into something more along the way. There is always a story in the news, unfortunately, about one child bullying another. And how bullying can be instrumental resulting in a tragedy like Columbine or even suicide.

 I wanted to explore how, with the support of a loving family and, perhaps a friend or two, a child could overcome these threatening roadblocks in life. It’s a story about a woman who finds the power within herself to rise above a lifetime filled with ridicule, loss, abuse, and courage to love again.

I chose to use my real name this time, Elena M (M stand for Marie), because I felt this was the best book I have written so far and wanted to separate it from the others. Although, I was pleased with my second novel, “Lake Charm.” I wrote it under the name of Ellen M. Totten.

In the book the main character, Sarah, endures some horrific abuse at the hands of her husband. What prompted you to focus on the theme of domestic violence?

 Domestic violence is a cancer in our society that continues through generations. The only way it can be broken is if women can find the courage to leave and seek help. Often times, children are born into this despicable environment and later become abusers themselves. A man who truly loves a woman would never subject her to such violence. I wanted my story to be dedicated to these women and inspire them to find their way out and seek help.

On a lighter note, what authors inspire you?

 The author that inspires me like no other is Sylvain Reynard. I have never been addicted to an author’s writing as I am to his. He touches my heart and soul with his brilliant prose and compassionate heart. His characters actually become part of your life, and you never want the stories to end. He not only entertains you with an amazing love story (I refuse to call them erotic because they aren’t), but he educates you in the process. He inspires me to be a better writer.

Is there any book you have read and thought “Darn, I wish I had written this?”

 No. Being a novice writer, I can’t say that I have. I only aspire to improve what I write in the future.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

 I would say to them never be afraid to start. Write for yourself and what is in your heart. If you have a favorite author or genre, read as much as possible to find your style.

Please tell our readers where they can buy your wonderful books.

 My books can be found on Kindle, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com and Books-A-Million in paperback for those who prefer to hold a book.

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