Tag Archives: RRBC

Welcome to #RRBC’s NOVEMBER “SPOTLIGHT” Author Blog Tour!

Today, it is my great honor to share with you a fantastic author and an amazing human being. Introducing Rave Reviews Book Club’s SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR for November, D. L. Finn! 

Take it away, D. L. . .

Thank you for having me on your blog for day one of the Just Her Poetry Spotlight tour!

Finn Facts:

  1. I won the first place ribbon, at our local fair, of an icicle picture taken near Reno, NV.
  2. I’ve almost drowned in a river, pool, and the ocean, but I still love to swim.

 

Blurb:

Take a journey with D.L. Finn as she blends her love of nature with her deepest emotions. Sit with her on the forest floor observing its tranquil beauty, or stroll along the ocean’s shore admiring the vastness of its horizon. Here in these peaceful moments you’ll be able to experience her thoughts and feelings in the light—and in the darkness. This is a thought-provoking collection of poetry that invites the reader into all the seasons of a soul.

Excerpt from Just Her Poetry: NATURE Spring and Summer

SPRING SUN

I sit outside in the spring sun

Listening to the birds sing

As a bee hums near me searching.

Small patches of snow are slushy

Everything’s waking up from the dormant season

The cats are exploring…the dogs sunbathing.

I relax in the warmth that renews my soul.

It is a day for new beginnings…a new seed

A place to plant buried dreams in the stars

In the fertile magic of a perfect day in spring.

Amazon Purchase Link

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

D.L. Finn blog

More Purchase Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

 

Welcome to Part 2 of “THE MEREST LOSS” Blog Tour! @StevenNeil12 @4WillsPub #RRBC

Q & A THREE

Getting to know Steven Neil, the author of THE MEREST LOSS.

A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

 

The Learning Process

 

  1. The ability to write is a gift. True or false?

It is a gift that most of us have, to a greater or lesser extent. What is missing is usually application. Having said that, not all writers are created equal and some people do seem to have the ability to write effortlessly. Lucky them.

  1. Some people think that writing cannot be taught. What do you think?

Clearly no one can teach you to be a great writer. You have to have some feeling for language and a story to tell. However, I think the craft of writing, the technical ability to write grammatically, to be able to describe character and to be competent in building the arc of a story, can be taught. It is no certainty, however, that the skills will be learnt.

  1. How did you learn to be a writer?

I studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the Open University. It took me five years to complete my degree. I enjoyed it so much I carried on and took a one year Masters in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes. I also read almost a lifetime of books!

  1. What experiences have been most useful to you in honing you skills?

My formal education and my reading helped me, but I have probably learned most from getting feedback from other authors on my drafts.

  1. Have you read any helpful texts on writing?

Stephen King: On Writing

  1. Which authors do you regard highly for their technical excellence?

Amongst nineteenth century writers I think Anthony Trollope is the master craftsman. Amongst modern writers Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel and William Boyd are technically excellent but they are also great storytellers.

  1. Would you recommend creative writing courses?

I would absolutely recommend courses, but I do understand that my courses were taken at a time when tuition fees were much lower than they are now and it is hard to justify the cost of a degree course.

  1. What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Stick to your guns. Whilst all the advice I have been given along the way has been helpful, one particular development editor thought I should rewrite The Merest Loss from a different point of view. I’m glad I took the conscious decision not to change it.

  1. What do you wish you had known before you started writing?

I have mixed feelings about this. I am proud of my novel The Merest Loss and pleased with the critical feedback. However, if I had understood the true economics of publishing, where even a successful novel brings meagre financial rewards for an author, I might have done something else with the time I invested. Who knows?

  1. What would you recommend to someone setting out as a writer?

Read a lot. Write a lot.

 © Steven Neil

THE MEREST LOSS is available in paperback and eBook in the UK, US, France, Canada and Australia.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.com/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.fr/Merest-Loss-English-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.ca/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

https://www.amazon.com.au/Merest-Loss-Steven-Neil-ebook/dp/B077D9SHB5

Follow Steven Neil on https://twitter.com/stevenneil12 for information on how to purchase the paperback through an independent bookseller in the UK.

4Wills Blog Tour

 Book

The Merest Loss by Steven Neil  ISBN: 1788039718

Blurb

‘A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet?
Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father?’

Genres

Historical Fiction and Victorian Historical Romance

Bio

Steven has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. He has been a bookmaker’s clerk, bloodstock agent, racehorse breeder and management consultant amongst other professions in his varied career. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire, England. The Merest Loss is his debut novel.

Twitter

@stevenneil12

IAN author page

https://www.independentauthornetwork.com/steven-neil.html

Email

stevenneil1@aol.com

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
 
Thanks for supporting this author and his work!

 

 

 

Welcome to “MOMENTS WE LOVE” Blog Tour! @BalroopShado @4WillsPub #RRBC

MOMENTS WE LOVE – 4 Wills Publishing Tour from 18 October to 24 October 2019
Day – 6

About the Book:

Moments of fragrant love that stand frozen in time, of dreams that dare not unfold, of passion that fleets by, of erratic joy that we meet at the crossroads of life, butterflies of time that add color to our dark moments to scare the demons away – I have gathered all of them in this book. Some of them whisper softly to create a magical aura while spring of life sings with them, trying to wipe silent tears. Mother Nature steps in with all her grandeur to breath quiet messages of tranquility.

Each poem would soothe your emotions with élan and add a dash of color to your life. Life – that doesn’t halt for your sad moments; that just floats by. You just need to dive in to soak in myriads of moments to discover how it could ignite positive tones. All the poems in this collection are imaginary but inspired from people around me, some of whom chose to share their frustrations and tremors with me. Sometimes I could read between the lines to pen my thoughts down.

Memories and moments merge here
Today when I return to share
The glow of rainbows
Embers of emotional entreaties
And smoldering debris.

Buying links:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07W57M462

US UK DE FR ES IT NL JP BR CA MX AU IN

Do you Like Poetry?

I don’t remember when I started liking poetry. Probably I was born with it or was fascinated by the lyrics of Mother Nature. When I walk down my memory lane, one image looms large and that is how much effort one of our English professors used to put into explaining the poetry of Tennyson and Wordsworth. While the latter was relatively easier to understand, the former much more complex and obviously we didn’t like the one that was more challenging.

The real challenges came my way when ‘Paradise Lost,’ an epic poem by John Milton was not taught in the class (or if it was, I must be mentally absent) and even when it was discussed, it didn’t evoke any interest!

While prose can be effortless reading unless it is stream of consciousness writing, poetry can become quite boring if we are not familiar with its techniques and tones.
Despite the tests and trails, I continued to like poetry and discovered that it is a genre par excellence. It can say a lot through literary techniques, which only an admirer of Literature can understand. I still struggle to understand some subtle messages conveyed through simple words.

Ambiguous ideas in a poem provide a food for thought and chisel your creative skills.
Who has the time and the inclination to read and re-read a poem in this fast-paced world? Only poetry lovers do! Most of my blogger friends are elaborative when they share their reflections on my post. Whenever I post a poem, I get a lukewarm response and I often wonder – is it because of poetry?

Quickly my mind hurtles back, my interactions with teenagers get refreshed, all their expressions, yawns and glances stand before me, bringing those lovely memories of hate-love relationship we had with poetry…when we would try to convince each other why poetry is good or bad and how we could understand it better.

I am not an expert but I have figured out a few ways to understand poetry.
How to understand a poem:

All readers have their own approach and interpretation but how imagery is used defines a poem. Can you read between those special words to fathom their depth?
It is better to read slowly.
Stop and ponder over at the word that seems simple but abstruse.
“If you’re curious, there is always something new to be discovered in the backdrop of your daily life,” says Roy T. Bennett.
Be curious. Inquisitiveness and interest are two important elements that lead to our understanding of a poem.
Poetry can’t be scanned and understood like prose as the former demands concentration, attention and gentle reading.
If you read a poem in a hurry, you would miss the real meaning. Many times words are used as metaphors.
You have to be familiar with most common literary techniques like simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification, alliteration and assonance.
Imaginative flights of poets can’t be predicted, we have to fly with them to figure out their proficiencies.
Critical analysis of a poem reveals the nuances of its theme, undertones and other signals, which remain hidden to a scanner.
Some poems are ambiguous. Probably they relate to the poet’s past or buried memory, which he wouldn’t like to reveal yet, give a vent to his emotions through writing.
© Balroop Singh

Author Bio:
Balroop Singh, a former teacher and an educationalist always had a passion for writing. She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

A self-published author, she is the poet of Sublime Shadows of Life, Emerging From Shadows and Timeless Echoes – her widely acclaimed poetry books. She has also written When Success Eludes, Emotional Truths Of Relationships, Allow Yourself to be a Better Person, her latest poetry book Moments We Love has just been released.

Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.
You can visit her blog at: https://balroop2013.wordpress.com
Connecting links: https://twitter.com/BalroopShado
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Emotional-Shadows/151387075057971

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7340810.Balroop_Singh
https://www.amazon.com/Balroop-Singh/e/B00N5QLW8U/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.

Thanks for supporting this author and her work!

WELCOME TO THE #RRBC 2019 OCTOBER-WEEN BLOCK PARTY!

Greetings to all! Welcome to Rave Reviews Book Club’s 2019 October-ween Block Party! Today, in keeping with the Halloween spirit, I am sharing my short story entitled Monster, from my short story collection Strange Hwy

CONGRATULATIONS TO MY WINNERS! 

1. Mark Bierman

2. Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

3. Jerry Marquardt

**This giveaway is now closed**

Three lucky readers will win prizes! (Who doesn’t like prizes?)

Here are my prize packs:

1. A $10 Amazon Gift Card and your choice of a signed paperback copy of one of my books!

2. A $10 Amazon Gift Card and your choice of a signed paperback copy of one of my books!

3. A $10 Amazon Gift Card and your choice of a signed paperback copy of one of my books!

Those books to choose from are:

  1. Jazz Baby
  2. Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories
  3. Strange Hwy: Short Stories

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below!

And now, on to my Halloween short story. . .

 

Monster

 

“Indecent liberties with a minor,” my mother explained, repeating the same words Danny Deagle sprinkled on us kids earlier in the day. “I don’t want you girls trick-or-treating at his house tonight.”

The old man at the end of the street, she meant. A swirl of new words followed him into our neighborhood—words shrouded in secrecy, in a thick fog of mystery. The simple ones I’d commit to memory, intending find them in the dictionary I got for my tenth birthday this past summer—a secret gift that nobody else knew about.

Perv—that’s the one I looked up last night, right before bed. Millicent, my older sister, she used it when telling Grandma Myron about the new neighbor in question. But if there’s such a word as perv, well, old Merriam-Webster hasn’t been told. I couldn’t find it to save my life.

“I ain’t going anywhere near that side of the street,” Millicent announced. “—not as long as he’s lurking down there.”

She’d go over there, though. Millicent thinks she’s hot you-know-what just because she’s thirteen now. Besides, every kid in the neighborhood wants to be the first one to walk up those front steps and ring the doorbell. You have to be seen doing it, though, or it won’t count for anything.

I tossed in a handful of words meant to be my two cents. “Danny Deagle says he got in trouble down in Kentucky before he got in trouble here in Ohio—that old man, I mean.”

Danny Deagle knows about these sorts of things. His stepdad is a cop.

My mother lit a fresh Marlboro and proclaimed, “He’s got no business staying on this street—not with all you kids around.” Thin lazy smoke slithered from her nostrils like twin snakes in search of a meal. “Don’t let me hear that you girls went trick-or-treating at his house.”

* * *

Millicent dressed as a belly dancer again—same as last Halloween and the one before that. She just likes the attention from boys like Danny Deagle and Jeff Brahm. But they like her only because she’s practically naked in her costume.

Me? I got stuck being a hobo again—even though my mother promised me I could be the belly dancer this year.

Millicent grabbed her pillowcase from the kitchen table and said, “Ready, dweeb?”

“You’re the dweeb,” I argued, snatching my own pillowcase.

My mother said, “Don’t stay out all night.”

We’d stay out as long as it took to fill those pillowcases to the full.

Danny Deagle met us in front of his house. Those gray eyes of his drank up Millicent like she’s cool water and he’s been thirsty for days. But he really couldn’t be blamed. Booty shorts and a sports bra, that’s all she wore underneath that sheer white fabric that left her belly bare and exposed.

Our father, before he remarried and moved to Cincinnati, wouldn’t have allowed one of his daughters to go traipsing through the neighborhood wearing only a couple of tissue papers.

.

But our father doesn’t come around anymore. And our mother, she won’t play the villain—as she likes to say. So Millicent gets away with murder.

Kids of all ages crisscrossed our neighborhood exchanging tricks for treats. Smarties and Sweettarts mingled with fun-sized Snickers and Milky Ways in the bottom of our pillowcases. And later, when we’d finally have to call it a night, Millicent would try to swindle me out of all of my Hershey’s Miniatures, offering junk like jelly beans and peanut butter chews for trade.

Billy Pinsler found us where Delbert Avenue and McCaully Drive cross. Billy’s my age—only shorter. “Anybody going to the perv’s house?” he asked.

Danny fixed me in his sight. “You’ll go up there, won’t you, Melanie?”

My head twisted left and right. “Mom said to stay away from his house,” I told him, knowing full-well he’d poke and prod until I agreed to answer his dare.

Danny’s good like that. He knows how to get kids to do what he’s too scared to do—only he’d never admit to being scared.

Millicent joined the push, said, “Since when do you listen to Mom?”

We were already there, bags half-full, in front of that house on the end of our street. I’d be the one going, as usual.

“Melanie won’t go,” Billy announced. “She’s too scared.”

My eyes found Millicent’s eyes. “You’re the one who’s half naked; why don’t you go up there?”

“Because the guy’s a perv, nimrod!” said Danny. “You want him to try something with her?”

And what about me?

I tossed my gaze toward that house. A lone porch light shined out of the dark.

“If I scream,” I said, walking to my demise, “you better run and call the cops.”

A fall breeze passed through the trees overhead, sending loose leaves gliding to the ground.

My legs went heavy and stiff, unwilling to move without provocation. Somewhere on that street a dog barked warnings at kids in costumes.

My body halted at the bottom step leading to the front door. I tossed a glance over my shoulder. Millicent, Danny, and Billy took refuge behind shrubs at the foot of the driveway.

“Ain’t gotta be scared,” the voice said, suddenly there like a spook in the night. “Just come on up. I won’t bite—except you want I should.”

A bead of sweat raced down my belly, which was stuffed with an old pillow to make me look fat.

Gray hair going thin twisted this way and that, like weeds, atop his head. Skinny, like maybe he’d been sick for a while.

My foot found the first step, brought us closer.

He asked, “You gonna say it?”

I would. It only seemed right. “Trick or treat.”

A laugh just like my father’s slipped past his lips. He kind of resembled him, too, around the eyes and nose.

“You say it with no real conviction, girl,” he said, almost accusing me of something.

The mouth of my pillowcase yawned wide, ready to swallow whatever treats he chose to dispense.

Two Hershey’s miniatures.

Mr. Goodbar and Krackle.

“Where’s your sister?” he wondered aloud, throwing his gaze like a pair of marbles down the driveway.

“Hiding,” I confessed, backing away.

But those eyes of his—cobalt blue, same as my father’s—took hold on me, wandered along my length as if sizing me for a new dress.

“You ’sposed to be a bum?” he asked.

Denim coveralls, a gray T-shirt that used to be white, and worn-out tennis shoes seemed the easiest of Halloween costumes to put together.

I corrected him, said, “A hobo.”

“Hobo, huh?” He waggled his finger, drew me closer to his grasp. “Take the rest of these,” he said, offering me the entire bowl of miniatures.

“What about the other kids?”

“Ain’t no other kids. You the only one come ’round tonight.”

It made my bag heavier and more than satisfied, this extra loot.

My voice came tight, higher-pitched than normal. “Thank you.”

“Polite—just like your daddy at that age.” The weight of his body found relief against the door frame. “Did you get the Merriam-Webster I sent for your birthday?”

My head tipped a nod, my voice said, “Thank you, Granddad.”

* * *

“Did he lose his goo over you?” Danny Deagle asked, acting like a big brother. “I’ll tell my stepdad if he did.”

“He didn’t,” I assured him, not really understanding what goo just might get lost.

Millicent’s gaze took hold on mine, passed words into my head, words demanding my silence on the matter.

Aloud, her words asked, “What’d he give you?”

“Jellybeans,” I told her. “Nothing but jellybeans.”

This story can be found in Strange Hwy: Short Stories.

If you ever find yourself on the Strange Hwy–don’t turn around. Don’t panic. Just. Keep. Going. You never know what you’ll find.

You’ll see magic at the fingertips of an autistic young man,

  • A teen girl’s afternoon, lifetime of loss.
  • A winged man, an angel? Demon–?
  • Mother’s recognition, peace to daughter.
  • Danny’s death, stifled secrets.
  • Black man’s music, guitar transforms boy.
  • Dead brother, open confession.
  • First love, supernatural?–family becomes whole!

You can exit the Strange Hwy, and come back any time you want.

See, now you know the way in, don’t be a stranger.

BUY:

 

Welcome to the “GRANDMOTHERS: A FORCE FOR GOOD” Blog Tour! @HealthMN1 @4WillsPub #RRBC #RWISA

Greetings! Today I am honored to welcome author Harriet Hodgson to The Indie Spot.

Excerpt from The Grandma Force

Readers remember stories more than statistics. I use personal stories to emphasize points and link me to readers. This is my favorite story in The Grandma Force.

It was early morning at the family cabin. I sat in a log chair on the dock with my granddaughter on my lap. Patches of fog lingered in the forest and mist was rising from the river. We sat there silently, no words, no wiggling, and watched the current carry a few leaves and twigs downstream. Mayflies had hatched in the night and trout jumped from the water to catch them. One trout jumped up inches away from us. We heard other trout splashing in the river as they tried to catch mayflies.

At the edge of our property, an eagle had built a nest on top of a Norway pine. When we canoed on the river, we often saw the eagle in its nest. That misty morning my granddaughter must have been thinking about the eagle because she jumped off my lap and called, “Eeeagle, you can fly overrr, if you want to.” Her sentence as almost a song. We smiled at each other and she came back and snuggled on my lap.

Minutes passed. Suddenly we head a flapping sound as the eagle swooped low over the river, a couple of inches above the water, its claws poised to catch a trout. But the eagle missed the trout, made a quick turn, gained altitude, and flew back upriver. My granddaughter and I looked at each other in amazement. Neither of us said a word. Spoken words would have spoiled the miracle.

I tried to write a children’s story about the experience and failed. There were too many facets to the story—the stillness of the forest, the mist rising from the river, the jumping trout, the grandmother-grandchild bond, and the eagle who answered a little girl’s call. Much as I hated to admit it, the story exceeded my ability to tell it. Yet I remember the story and it’s one of the most beautiful times of my life.

 

Author Bio:

 

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance writer for 38 years, is the author of thousands of print/online articles, and 37 books. Hodgson is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, and dozens of television stations, including CNN.  A popular speaker, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, bereavement, and caregiving conferences. She lives in Rochester, Minnesota with her husband, John. Please visit www.harriethodgson.com for more information about this busy wife, mother, grandmother, caregiver, speaker, and author.

 

 

Purchase Links: Amazon paperback   https://amzn.to/31Kklgs

Amazon eBook   https://amzn.to/31FoUt5

Barnes and Noble paperback   http://bit.ly/2N28jLY

Barnes and Noble eBook   http://bit.ly/31GeWaj

IndieBound paperback   http://bit.ly.2TBRpol

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
Thanks for supporting this author and her work!

A Solid Collection of Essays!

The Reclusive Writer & Reader of Bandra: Essays

Rating: ★★★★★

The Reclusive Writer & Reader of Bandra: Essays by Fiza Pathan is at once heartbreaking and uplifting. The author shows within this wonderful collection of personal essays that life can be whatever you make of it. Through rejection by her father for the sin of being born female, to her own discovery of new friends found in the pages of books, Pathan shares the course she plotted for herself in this world.

These essays offer snippets from the life of the author. The reader is invited to tag along for the coming of age of a young woman dealing with a reality so many of us couldn’t possibly comprehend in our own insulated little corners of the world.

Pathan is an overcomer. She found her refuge in the bookstores and libraries of Mumbai, India. It is between the covers of many books that she found who she really can be—her true identity. And it is here, in this collection, that she lures us readers in for a glimpse of her world.

This book is beautifully crafted by an accomplished storyteller. Fiza Pathan’s style puts the reader right there beside her, listening to an incredible woman telling her own stories as only a true author can.

Get your copy HERE

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RWISA – Bernard Foong @bernardfoong

Vignettes Parisian by Bernard Foong

Vignettes Parisian

Vignettes Parisian is a collection of four short stories about the Author’s past and present experiences in the French City of Love and Romance, commonly known as Paris.

 

Christian Dior Couturier Du Reve

It is impossible not to have a close encounter with fashion when I am in Paris. Even if I had to wait in the freezing cold for an hour and a half to enter the Christian Dior Couturier Du Reve (Christian Dior Couturier of Dreams) exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts). My husband, Walter, and I were the lucky few who arrived early before the museum opened its doors. The late arrivals were banished to the back of the queue for a five hours wait before admission was granted.

This spectacular exhibition was worth the wait. Not only were the lives, times, and accomplishments of Christian Dior, one of the great French couturier and his successors well documented, the exquisite fashions and well-thought-out displays were equally impressive.

Since my first visit in 1966 to the French capital of romance, luxury, and fashion, my love for Paris has never waned. Before I left sunny Maui, I had designed and made a haute couture gold, silver, and black embossed velvet fleur-de-lis patterned coat to wear during my recent holiday in France. It was at this exhibition that I received compliments for my one-of-a-kind creation.

A stranger approached me at the exhibition to buy the coat off my back because he loved what I wore. Perhaps I should be the next designer to take over the reins for this resplendent Maison – The House of Dior. After all, I am a knowledgeable and seasoned fashion designer who knows every aspect of the international fashion industry.

Shopping In Paris (Then & Now)

I am one of those blessed individuals with a pair of discerning eyes and can detect items I wish to purchase in cramped spaces on my crazy shopping sprees. It was in such a circumstance that Walter and I found ourselves in the middle of the crowded shopping Avenue, des Champs Elysées.

A sole of my shoe had divorced itself from the body of my long-lasting suedes and left me to hobble around Paris like a circus clown with flapping feet. I had to take immediate action to remedy this unanticipated situation before the remainder of my footwear disintegrated onto the wet and soggy ground, while my beloved, sniggered at my fashion malfunction.

I remembered an amusing incident that happened in 1969 at this boulevard. Back then, I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed fashion student. Accompanying Moi was Count Mario, an accomplished Vogue fashion photographer, Andy, my model-looking lover and Valet, and Sammy, a flamboyant young fashionista. The four of us were shopping at the avenue, that drizzly day.

To elongate his petite stature beneath his wide bell-bottom jeans, Sammy wore a pair of eight inches high platform shoes. He also donned a fitted denim jacket over a sassy body-hugging bodysuit. To complete his eccentric ensemble, his dyed cornflower yellow, emerald, and turquoise hair flowed behind him like an exotic mane as our quartet floated down the street.

Eyes turned in our direction as we trotted around Paris in style. Before I realized what had transpired, Sammy was flat on the pavement. Colorful socks bounced around him like raptured pom-poms. The lad had stuffed pairs of rolled-up socks inside his footwear so he could fit his tiny feet into the platforms. He had stumbled on the wet and slippery sidewalk.

Mario, wasted no time whipping out his camera to capture this unanticipated fashion faux pas, while Andy and I looked on in shock.

As if modeling for a Vogue fashion shoot, the quick-witted Sam posed this way and that on the wet thoroughfare while the photographer clicked away at the gaffe. A pedestrian circle had formed in the middle of Avenue des Champs Elysées to witness this “fashion happening.” Advertently, our friend had transformed an embarrassing situation into a photo-opt as the applauding crowd showered the boy with accolades. By the time Sammy got on his feet, he had saved his face with poise and grace.

 

The Magical Power of The Written Word

“Why are there beds located at different corners of the bookstore?” I asked Monsieur Mercier, an assistant at the Shakespeare & Company bookshop.

“The beds are available for writers to stay a night in Paris for free,” the man responded before he resumed, “ Are you a writer? Do you intend to stay the night?”

Surprised by the man’s inquiries, I evinced, “I am a writer. But no thank you to the lodging offer.”

“What genre of books do you write, Monsieur?” Mercier queried.

“I’m an autobiographer,” I replied. “Because of its controversial and provocative contents, my books are often classified under the Erotica genre.”

The bookseller questioned, “What are the titles of your books, and what is the author’s name?”

A HAREM BOY’S SAGA; A MEMOIR BY YOUNG. It’s a five-book series,” I declared.

“I believe we have your books in the store. Are the titles: INITIATION, UNBRIDLED, DEBAUCHERY, TURPITUDE, and METANOIA?” he promulgated.

I nodded, delighted by his information.

The Frenchman led me through a series of narrow pathways covered with volumes and pamphlets of the written word. When he finally extracted five volumes of my autobiography from a shelf, my heart nearly leaped out of my chest.

“I read the series. What a compelling teenage life you’ve led. I wish my school had a secret fraternity program like yours,” the teller quipped smilingly.

He recommenced, “Our store is a focal point of English literature in Paris. Anais Nin, Henry Miller, and Richard Wright are frequent visitors. We also host literary activities, like poetry readings, writers’ meetings, book readings, writing festivals, literature festivals, photography workshops, writing groups, and Sunday tea.

“Ms. Sylvia Whitman, the owner, might invite you for a book reading at our store.”

“That will be splendid. Unfortunately, my husband and I are in Paris for a short period. Maybe we can arrange a book reading and signing session when we are in Paris again,” I proposed.

Monsieur Mercier and I had exchanged contact information before I left the Shakespeare & Company bookshop. Hopefully, during my next visit to Paree, I will get to meet Madam Sylvia Whitman with a book reading and signing gig in place.

 

S.O.W. and R.E.A.P.

Over the years, I have been asked by many, “Why do you love Paris so much?” My reply is always the same – S.O.W.

Although the Parisian cityscape has changed over the years, these three alphabets continue to shadow my existence whenever I am in or out of Paris. S.O.W. is also a reason Walter and I chose France as our home away from home.

In the autumn of 1966, when the Simorgh (one of my Arab patriarch’s private jet) touched down in Charles de Gaulle airport, I had contracted the romance bug. Back then, the ebullient Moi, an inquisitive teenager with a quest for adventure, was whisked to the Paris Ritz Carlton in a luxurious Bentley by my host, Prince P. I had fallen head-over-heels in love and in awe with both the prince, Andy, my then chaperone and Valet, and Paris, the city of romance. That was before our entourage visited the haute couture fashion Houses of Chanel, Dior, Ungaro, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Patou, and the fancy eateries, such as Café de Flore, La Belle Époque, Maxim’s, and last but by no means least, Le Folies Bergers. Back then, these infamous Parisian establishments were places to go, to see and be seen. Nowadays, they are tourist attractions.

Through the subsequent years, I had accompanied many princes, princesses, sheiks, sheikas, and their aristocratic Arabian entourages to the French capital. Most significantly, this city of love and romance had taught me the art of Seduction (S), Originality (O), and Wit (W). Some may say that wittiness is a congenital trait, but I purport it as a learned art of human relationships. Whatever definition one chooses to use, I had returned to this electrifying metropolis of S.O.W.; where I had sown many a wild oat. Now, with my beloved husband in tow, I’m here to R.E.A.P. its rewards.

“What the hell is R.E.A.P.?” you ask.

I will explain:

RRomance continues to exist in this alluring Capital of Love; even amid an influx of foreign refugees and political upheavals. Another series of stories, I will narrate another time.

EElegance in this sordid city of high culture is a trait Walter and I find irresistibly seductive.

AAuthenticity is historicity in this Center of Romance. And I am not referring to the faux reproduction of the Las Vegas ‘Paris’ in Nevada, United States of America.

PParis equals Sophistication, Originality, Wit, Romance, Elegance, and Authenticity. But last and by no means least, this French capital is where Perfection reigns supreme.

PARIS – Mon Paree!

 

Bernard Foong (aka Young)

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