by Javier A. Robayo

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

One Petal Flower by Kristi Ayers

   When Stephenie Meyer wrote Twilight, she inspired an entire generation to look beyond their world, and fall in love with a being from beyond.  I confess I didn't care to read Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Paranormal until one of my dearest friends told me to read the story of Bella, Edward, and Jacob.  
   A great work of fiction is the genesis for an abundance of novels in that genre as authors begin exploring the "What if...?" Thus Paranormal Romances gained tremendous popularity, connecting not only with its intended teen and young adult audience, but with the public at large.  
   Vampire stories are plentiful now, and there may never be another Twilight, but that didn't stop one author from writing a more original Paranormal Romance.  
   One Petal Flower revolves around Darian, a girl who would give anything for one more day with her late boyfriend, even her own life, inviting good and evil to fight for her heart.

   What inspired the title?

   Kristi: The title came to me as I was writing the end.  I wanted something that no one else already had or at least to the best of my knowledge.  Without giving anything away, there's a scene that directly speaks of the title.  It has a profound meaning of unquestionable love.  I guarantee every girl would love to receive a one petal flower from their true love.

   One Petal Flower... its title offers romance and no reader will be disappointed.  I know I wasn't, and I genuinely felt for the characters.  Chayton in particular.  One of most daunting challenges in writing Young Adult novels is capturing the teenage voice, yet the dialogue in One Petal Flower is well done and believable.  What's the secret?

   Kristi: I'm young at heart, and that's probably why I choose to read the YA genre.  I admire the innocence of the world through teenage eyes; the fierce feelings of first love, and the endless opportunities for the young generation to explore.  Reading a novel is a form of relaxation and escape, and teenagers are all about being free from the confines of the "real world".  Their most important daily activity is socializing.  Many life lessons are learned from simply going to high school.  In One Petal Flower, heartbreak and new love are two things the main character, Darian, goes through.

   I can tell you my teenage experience definitely has given me plenty of material for a story.  One of the cool things of being an author is inviting a reader to get lost in those memories and dreams where we lose ourselves.  One of your characters, Sterling, was particularly memorable to me.  Is there someone who's the basis for him?

   Kristi: Sterling was not a particular person, but rather a collection of temptations.  He was the epitome of evil that held so much mystery that one could not help but to be drawn to him.  His dark looks and Old World charm were enough to capture Darian's attention.  He can be seen as anything that lures teenagers into making wrong decisions.

   What's behind the pages of One Petal Flower?

   Kristi: Overcoming heartbreak, having faith in something you can't see, fighting temptation from the dark side, and finding new love in unexpected places.

    That said, I'm tempted to read it again.  Was it tough to come up with ways to develop a different concept than the usual vampire theme, and how's this novel different?

   Kristi: I love vampires, but I had to stay away from them.  I wanted to go with a different "undead" being.  The one I chose in the end is the opposite of spirits and angels.  This being wants to sway humans to die and join him as companions, but that forfeits the human's chance of going to Heaven.  Every potential choice comes with a consequence.  Darian has to choose her path.

* * *

   I had the privilege of reading this novel in advance then once more when it was finalized.  After this terrific insight, I have no choice but to re-add it to my reading pile.  I miss the characters.  I miss Chayton and my connection with his plight.  I miss that allure of the dark side Sterling provides.  I miss losing myself in a teen's voice, and escaping the Real World behind the pages of... One Petal Flower.

   Javier A. Robayo

   For more of Kristi and her work visit: 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Suki by C.F. Winn

   My dad has always said there are books and there are novels.  Many times, as a kid, I've asked what's the difference?  His reply was always the same: "You'll know it when you read one."  And thus began my love affair with writing, and through the many years in between, I've finally learned the difference.  The word book refers to the physical object.  Bound pages in between two covers.  Anyone can write a book.  You see them everywhere.  Now a novel...
   A novel is a fictitious prose narrative of considerate length.  In essence, it's a piece of writing that will touch you, even change you, in unforeseen ways.  A good novel is often full of people that make you wish you knew them in the flesh.  These characters are virtual reflections of someone we know, even ourselves, and connections are inevitably made.
   And then there are novels like Suki...

   In my opinion, Suki stands alone, almost a genre onto its own.  A courageous piece of literature.  Where did the decision to write it come from?

   C.F. Winn I agree with your observation of Suki and genre.  That's been a tough question for me to answer when asked... in part, because of how secretive I've been about its plot.  
   The reasons for writing this novel have evolved right along side the story itself.  To reveal all of them would ruin the experience for the reader but ultimately, Suki had to be written, and here's why: As a society, we label everything and in the case of people, as time goes on, it's hard for us to shake off the roles we've played and to be seen as anything else.  This book is for my kids and grandkids.  I want them to know me as more than the woman who raised them, and as the future old lady they (hopefully) visit once a week.  My writing gives me the opportunity to present myself as more... as a creative human being with a story (or two!) to tell.  That's how I want my family to see me in life, and to remember me in death.  

   I love that fame and fortune never came into it.  That tells me you write from the heart.  Would you tell us about that question on the cover: What does love really look like? 

   C.F. Winn Love looks like every flash of joy I've ever felt in my life... 
   Just writing this answer now is overwhelmingly joyful - I feel the emotion welling up because of the appreciation I feel for the opportunity to share my vision of love.  It comes in so many forms... from when I take a cleansing breath and am surprised by my favorite smell (wood burning in a fire pit) to the inner warmth of a sincere hug from someone who means so much to me.  Everyone's picture is different, yet the same... it looks like anything that makes you feel like the "you" you're meant to be and that varies from person to person.

   I'm privy to the story behind the cover, but I'd like you to tell the readers in your own words.

   C.F. Winn I'm a soccer coach and one evening at practice, one of the girls on my team tugged on my sleeve and said, "Coach, Coach!  Look at the clouds!  It looks like they formed a heart!"  I was very busy running plays, so at first I ignored her... until something clicked.  I looked up and when I did... You've never seen anyone fumble harder than me for the camera in my phone.  It was breathtaking!  And as I was finishing the last of my edits on Suki, I realized it was a perfect picture for my cover.  I've thanked that girl about a million times since then.

   That was definitely a one-in-a-million shot.  Let's talk characters.  Although Savannah carries a good part of the novel, it's Dwayne who becomes a driving force, a source of strength and optimism.  What or who inspired Dwayne?

   C.F. Winn Dwayne is inspired by a real person that I was once lucky enough to know.  I wish there were more people out there like him, because then I would NEVER be asked "What does love look like"... It would be obvious because of people like him.  Savannah is a strong woman, but the Yin to her Yang will always be Dwayne... without him, a piece of her is missing.

   What's behind the pages of Suki?

   C.F. Winn The lines of beginning and end are blurred... I mention reincarnation indirectly, and the epilogue and prologue are purposely flipped, but the idea that we love and are loved on many levels is clear.  

   Giving us this peek into what made Suki means more than you know.  Any words for your readers?

   C.F. Winn Appreciate as much as you can remember to every day, because sometimes, things turn bad and you can never get those moments back.  Don't cheat yourself out of them in the first place.  I'm going to loosely quote Suki here, "Don't waste time on fear and sorrow because nothing is more important than the quality of time you have here with your loved ones on earth."

* * *

   We're always in need of perspective or inspiration.  We want to know someone else understands something we feel and once in a while, we find it in the pages of a novel like C.F. Winn's Suki, written straight from the heart.

   Javier A. Robayo

   You can find Suki at 




Friday, November 9, 2012

John and Ezekiel by Javier A. Robayo

   I've toyed with the idea of starting a review blog to promote my favorite authors and books I'll remember forever.  It's a bigger undertaking than most people think, but it's so worth the effort.
   This initial post will serve as a pilot.  I still have a hard time with the self-promotion angle of a writing life.  I'd rather speak about others' work.  
   This is a first step and I'll use my short story as the proverbial guinea pig.
   Behind the pages of... will focus on what inspired a piece of writing.  Most often that not, that's the real strength of a book, a novel, a poem or a short story.  After all, one of the questions I've gotten the most is "What made you write that?"  
  The answers can become a novel all unto themselves because what's behind the pages of a story you've come to love, makes you fall in love with it a little more.
   And thus...
   What kind of story is John &Ezekiel?

   The story can best be described as an inspirational.  Maybe even spiritual.  It's a story about believing when there's nothing left to believe.  

   Why the title John &Ezekiel?

click to Kindle
  I couldn't think of anything more apt.  In many ways, I was trying to convey a fact of life that I find interesting.  Whether you believe in God, Buddha, Allah, or any other divine entity, you are constantly hoping for a message from above.  The message doesn't come in the shape of a thunderous voice from the heavens.  It comes from many unexpected sources, so unexpected in fact that we may not realize it until we are granted a moment of clarity.  
   At times, the message is perfectly obvious.  Other times, that pearl of wisdom is delivered so obscurely that we fail to get it until later.  
   In the case of John, the message comes from the book of Ezekiel in The Bible.  

   Is there a real John?

  Nearly every character is based on someone we know, or have known throughout our lives.  Sometimes it's something purely physical while other times, it's their spirit or that impression left on us that fleshes out a character.  There is a John.  I actually have a feeling that there have been many, especially nowadays.  Along those lines there have been many people like Jodi, John's wife.  She's someone John will do anything for, good or bad.  And I can only hope we all have someone like Andy, that one special friend or relative that knows when to give you a hug or a backhand in order to get you moving in the right direction.
   What's behind the pages?

  Much of the story is based on real events, its central plot point has reshaped my life in many ways.  I can only hope it gives someone else that feeling of not being alone, a reason to believe.

   Note from the author: To you, my dear reader, (at the risk of coming off as someone of little modesty) I'd like to invite you to read John & Ezekiel.  It's my sincere hope you find behind the pages, what I found while writing them.

   Javier A. Robayo