Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Epoch Ch4 Good vs Evil

Among all the millions of inhabitants sharing planet earth, humans are the only species capable of spirituality. Even those who proclaim themselves agnostic exercise a measure of spirituality.

Spirituality is not falling on your knees and praying to a supernatural deity whose existence you accept on faith alone.

Sharks, lions, and eagles do not pray. As I previously pointed out, their existence revolves around food and procreation. With humans, another force is at play, and that’s the pursuit of happiness according to a moral compass governed by spirituality. 

Regardless of religion or origin, every human confronts life with an individual understanding of right and wrong. The vast gray areas between these moral extremes raise questions that are best left to be answered by Yahweh, Jehovah, Zeus, Allah, Buddha, Ra, God, Jupiter, Shiva, Inti, Odin, The Sun, The Moon, and other forms of higher power humans deem worthy of worship and adoration and in some cases, omnipotence.

The universal mandate of each of these deities is to be a good human, but what exactly does it mean to be good?

The concept of good is not written in stone. It’s fluid. It’s interchangeable. It manages to justify extreme actions, and good is deemed good by the victorious side of an argument. Isn’t it?

Bad is the opposite of good, but it doesn’t mean it’s been defined any clearer. The concept of bad is also fluid, and much like good, it’s defined by the victorious side of an argument.

Allow me to better illustrate this concept. American soldiers are sent overseas to battle Nazi forces in the Second World War. The allies battle their bloody way into France through tremendous sacrifice and sheer determination. They kill thousands of Nazis and defeat them, eventually freeing France. The heroic triumph results in history bestowing the title of good guys to the Americans.

Now try switching perspective. 

German boys and men rush to defend a beach head to guard the Aryan ideals and secure the future of their nation. They gallantly defend their right to make France a part of the German dream, but the evil American war machine breaks through and chases the once mighty German Army back to Berlin.

Good and bad. Good and evil. Although every master of higher spirituality has commanded you love your brother as you love yourself, both combatants earn both labels depending on their place in history. The German people of the 1930’s regarded their Nazi troops as the good guys, and the opposition was the villain.

As it turned out, the Allied forces claimed the right to enter the annals of history as the good guys, and most of the world has acknowledged this fact.


Evil is a tangible phenomenon that has been demonstrated by every single protagonist of human history at one time or another. 

Hitler murdered hundreds of thousands, Russia wrote their history in blood through the deeds of their ideals and monsters like Stalin, the Spanish destroyed entire civilizations in the New World under the pretense of spreading God's word. Kofi destroyed the lives of countless children in his pursuit for a deranged army. An American President and his team of elite scientists left their mark in history through decisions that annihilated Japanese cities, and a crazed, hateful group of backward, bearded, zealots plotted the destruction of two famous towers, resulting in the death of innocents who did nothing more than go to work that September morning. As horrid as it is to contemplate, these protagonists of history are deemed heroes, depending on the way their contributions to history affected people. 

Oh how far we’ve gotten away from my initial purpose as a manuscript. My most sincere apologies.

However, some points demand an argument, and the subject of good vs evil and hero against villain is worth exploring from my point of view because of one undeniable truth: a manuscript such as myself, a compilation of pages incapable of taking a spiritual stance, cannot possibly bring you a story without the conflict of good versus evil.




















And thus, we begin.



to be continued...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Two Flags Foreword by Acclaimed Author Monica La Porta

Foreword

As seen on My Two Flags Vol. 1 I pledge allegiance...


Sometimes, what looks like the end of a journey is the beginning of a lifelong experience. Anybody who left their motherland for America, seeking betterment in life wears the emotional scar that comes with that decision.

After the spellbinding roller coasters of The Gaze and The Next Chapter, author Javier A. Robayo has delved into the depth of cultural alienation.



In My Two Flags, Tony Amaya, a teenager from Ecuador, leaves a wealthy life to move to America with his family, only to find himself the victim of endless acts of bullying. Unable to express his feelings and unwilling to burden his parents with the truth of what his life has become, Tony struggles to belong. 

Chilling at times and heartbreaking at others, My Two Flags will force you to reflect on social issues and what it means to be The Other when you are only thirteen, and can't speak a word of English.

Monica La Porta

About Monica La Porta
A quintessential modern renaissance woman, Italy's own Monica La Porta is a sculptor, an accomplished artist, as well as an author of Sci-Fi epics like The Ginecean Chronicles, a dystopian series set on the planet Ginecea, where women rule over a race of enslaved men and heterosexual love is considered a sin. Monica has published the first three books in the series, The Priest, Pax in the Land of Women, and Prince at War. She also wrote and illustrated a children's book about the power of imagination, The Prince's Day Out. Her latest published short, Linda of the Night, is a fairy tale love story celebrating inner beauty. Stop by monicalaporta.com to read about her miniature, sculptures, paintings, and her beloved beagle, Nero. Sometimes, she also posts about her writing. .







Find Monica's compelling work at: 

 AMAZON


Friday, April 4, 2014

Infuriatingly Funny: Trailer Trash With A Girl's Name

   Dr. Elizabeth Curry, simultaneously my tormentor and hero, graded my work according to her set of rules written in stone, indelible laws each of her students eventually learned to follow. Getting that coveted A+ was a minor detail. We wanted her respect, and believe you me, that did not come easy.
   
   The gaunt, lanky, snowy top, lady in the long monochromatic dresses and knee-high leather boots often reduced would-be-writers to shameful tears as she tore sub par essays and dumped them in her waste basket. I was victimized early on, we all were. Only half of the initial eighteen students finished her course but when we left, we attained an appreciation for voice, style, originality, and knowing how to compose words to show rather than tell.

   I would have loved to have her read Stacey Roberts' debut novel Trailer Trash With A Girl's Name, just to watch her shake her head or roll her eyes at Roberts' unorthodox dialogue format. She would've undoubtedly screamed redundancy at the character's labels, and she might have even given in to her harsh, hypercritical nature that drove her to tear up pages written in the blood and tears of the author, but I have no doubt whatsoever that my old nemesis would have laughed her butt clean off.

   Trailer Trash is written in a way that goes against a large part of my own training as a novelist. Despite the two voices in empty space sensation, the dialogue carries the scenes and mounts images that often called my own childhood memories into play. At times it was difficult to know whether the Ssssstace in the scene was a teen, a child or a grown man, but it didn't matter. Imagining the main characters at any age in any of those scenes is comical in itself.

   I did not have a Jewish mother who turned food into sorrow or the tears of an inmate in his first night of prison at lights out. My mom did not melt my corneas (and everyone else's) with onion chopping, and the times that she'd ask "What's wrong with you?" I'm sure I actually did something that warranted it, like jumping off a roof onto a serial killer's discarded mattresses.


   I despised the Mom character (whose image in my head is that of Theresa the Long Island Medium for some reason though with red hair). Hated everything she put this boy through, especially with her idea of what a good boy Layne the Favorite was. Had I left my sister behind with a concussion, I'd be unable to sit to this day, and don't get me started on her inability to retain names or the tonsillitis incident...you'll just have to read it. 

   If Ssssstacey would've turned into a bitter adult, he'd be well justified but instead, every page of Trailer Trash holds little resentment. In fact, just when I thought I had it and I swore I would push Mom into a fire, she redeemed herself if only for a moment.

   Typically, I resist funny. I do. As soon as a friend recommends a book, a show or a movie she deemed funny, I know I won't even smirk at it. My best friend adores Will Farrel. To this day I wonder why. I have not found the man funny, not once. Close friends of mine in PA talked up The Birdcage, Saturday Night Live, and Chelsea Handler but to me? Yawn...

   I feared reading Trailer Trash would be similar, that I would find nothing funny, and despite the many readers that swear they fell off chairs and their sides hurt so badly from laughing so much, it wouldn't even elicit a chuckle from me.

   I'm happy to report that wasn't the case. 

   The witty lines Stacey fired back at Marvin King of the Jews or Ted the Lightbulb Salesman, sure found my tickle spot and I laughed not only because it was indeed humorous, I laughed in celebration of the strong spirit of this kid, who teaches his buddy to appreciate a normal sandwich.

   Comedy suits Stacey Roberts' voice. All comedians draw their material from their own lives and those around them, along with that unique sense of self-deprecating humor that goes on to make them beloved characters and storytellers.

   Through all the humor, the unusual format, the sheer tragedy of growing up with the Mom person and her arsenic-infected logic, Roberts' reveals what Dr. Curry, my benevolent tormentor, would've lauded as the elusive "IT" she made her students strive for.

   "...the three of them stood together in the kitchen in a tight cluster, a coven formed around my lamentable incompetence and lack of foresight, awaiting one last unspeakable ingredient for their noxious cauldron..."

   Dr. Curry could've taught an entire week's worth of lessons based on that passage.

   Trailer Trash is a fun, quick read, and I would recommend it to anyone who was ever a fan of memoirs like A Christmas Story and The Wonder Years, where the narrative only adds emotional spice to the characters' perspective as their dialogue carries the story. 

   Download it, get the paperback, you will undoubtedly enjoy it. In my life I hold onto the notion that no matter how dark and hopeless one day may be, there will be another day when you'll think back on those moments and tell your story with a disbelieving chuckle. It's a testament to our own fortitude. We love to laugh, especially at our own tragic moments that eventually shaped us, and Stacey Roberts clearly knows it.

   Javier A. Robayo


 Find it on Amazon
Find Stacey Roberts' Trailer Trash With A Girl's Name at:
http://www.amazon.com/Trailer-Trash-Girls-Stacey-Roberts-ebook/dp/B00IX0MIAO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396614083&sr=1-1&keywords=trailer+trash+with+a+girl%27s+name



   

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Epoch Ch. 3 Crux





haven’t asked what you are. Think about it, is there a more impossible question than that? The answers are as broad as the question, but if we really pull away all the layers of what we think makes us what we are then it’s safe to say you are a human, and I am a manuscript. 

   There.

   Our natures have been defined.

   You see, it doesn’t matter what label we hope to attribute to ourselves or what label is attributed to us. 


   Take me for example. I am one of trillions of pieces of writing that will inevitably become labeled depending on my contents. It's a fool's errand, for a story, much like life itself, is composed of an array of facets from every genre simply because we must elicit an emotion. Whether a manuscript makes you laugh, cry, dream or jump out of your skin when the phone suddenly rings, we are given our label according to which of these emotions we produce, even when one of us can successfully evoke the entire emotional spectrum.
   

You on the other hand, you may be White, Black, Asian, Hispanic; you may be American, French, Sudanese, Russian; you may be a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, a transgender, gay, Catholic, lesbian, Jewish or any of the ever-growing number of labels that exist in an attempt to define what you are. Do you allow labels to define you? As soon as you let that happen, you limit your own openness of mind. Us manuscripts would not exist if it weren't for those brave souls that decided to question everything. Besides, when you strip all your learned doctrines, attitudes, and moral compasses, what are you? That’s right. You’re human.

   What does it mean to be human exactly? 

   Well for one, you’re more fragile than you may ever understand, but simultaneously stronger than you will ever truly know. You’re a virtual accident of creation yet perfect in design. How do I know? My brethren holds millions of accounts of bravery, strength, tenacity, and fortitude. Legendary characters like Alexander Dumas' Edmond Dantes, C.S. Lewis' Lucy Pevensie, Jane Austen's Lizzie Bennett, Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp, Suzanne Collins' Katniss Everdeen are just some examples of the millions of amazing characters who inhabit the pages of fiction, and just about every one of them was inspired by a real human. 

   Doubtful? Then I suggest reading biographies of great humans like Winston Churchill, F.D.R., Gandhi, and Princess Diana, just to name a few. 


   Based on this observation, you should feel quite proud of being human.  You are the only creature in full control of realizing an unlimited potential. You're not limited to life under water like fish. You're not a predator's prey like zebras if you don't wish to be. What you are is entirely up to you so don't sell yourself short. But getting back to our question, what gives humans the rule of the land? Intelligence? 

   By definition, intelligence is one's capacity for logic, abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, memory, planning, and problem solving, but although you possess a tremendous reserve of intelligence, it's not what separates you from the rest of earth's inhabitants. You’ve seen rats solve mazes, chimpanzees employ sign language and to be fair, animals typically exhibit a much better connection with their natural instincts than humans. 

   So what separates humans from the rest of creation? The ability to communicate? 

   No. It’s been proven that animals communicate sometimes in more advanced ways than humans. 

   The rest of Earth creatures have two simple drives: to find food and to continue their species. At one point in time, humans were driven by the same directives. 

   In most parts of the world today, humans are driven by wealth, power, fame, and the continuous acquisition of possessions in the hopes of defining their place. In falling hostage of these forces, humans have left behind one of the things that elevates them from the rest of earth’s creations, and that’s spirituality. 
Picture
   Although the term brings to mind chanting and praying, do not confuse it with religion. Religion is an ideology that has spurned some of the greatest conflicts throughout history. Each has written its history in blood for centuries, sometimes changing the course of events and other times impeding progress while offering comfort in coming to terms with your mortality. Religion requires a degree of spirituality, yes. But think about what spirituality really is. Spirituality is  a personal connection with the unseen, and that's what brings this chapter full circle. 

   Despite the fact that I can put images, sounds, scents, textures, and tastes in your mind, you can only see them in your mind the same way you see what your idea of paradise may be. Men and women of superb vision and talent have given us their representation of spirituality's goal through some of the most compelling artwork in history. But in the end, paradise is the result of your own, personal connection with the unseen. 
   


Are you with me so far? 

   What I'm trying to say is that since I will never be able to ascertain what you are in order to make a tangible connection with you, I can only strive to make a mental connection that borders on the spiritual. Not because you, with all your human intelligence and life experience, cannot see me, but because I can't see you.
   And herein lies my challenge, my friend. The crux of every page ever written. How do I, just a manuscript, manage to connect with at least one aspect of what you are in order for you to remember me?


to be continued...

Epoch Ch. 2 Whenever




ow that we have a where, and maybe even a who, we need a when.
   
   In most cases, a story has a rhythm that allows you to understand beginnings and ends. In your world, you travel from a first moment to a last in a one way ticking set of time measures, none of which you or the most powerful human alive can ever get back.

   I can exist anywhen. (Hey, I’m just a story and new words can be made under certain liberties if only to better illustrate a concept) But what will make a better connection from me to you?

    I can bring you back to the time of the dinosaurs and I can spring you far forward to an apocalyptic future full of uncertainty where the sun begins to die. I could even take you into a world where time holds no meaning whatsoever, and how enchanting would that be? 

   For me to guess where you are in time will be daunting to say the least. Lucky for you, I can tap into virtually every experience along that line. I mean, it's a great time to be a story. We have an affinity for recording our past, and your time has seen the rise of technology to the extent that allows glimpses of the future. My knowledge of time, human time, goes a bit further than that.

   I can tell you what it’s like to feel nutrients flow through new blood to shape limbs and organs. I can tell you what it’s like to try to move in the warm darkness of the womb, where the echoed voice of a joyful mother speaks of love and dreams, and sometimes of shock and regret.  

   I can tell you about the wonders of childhood and how that time frame teaches you everything you’ll need for the rest of your days. 

   I can show you the thrills of youth, the great list of first occasions that you will revisit in your golden years.

   I can show you the acceptance of the inevitable departure from life. I can make you feel the way your body loses its vitality, your mind loses its sharpness, and just how truly simple it is to say good bye to those you leave behind.

   So, when are you? Teen years? Roaring Twenties? Settling Thirties? Raising Forties? Discovering Fifties? Wise Sixties? Golden Years?

   It is something I can only guess, and makes my job of connecting with you quite the challenge.

   But let me start with this: whoever you are, wherever you are, and whenever you are, I can only hope you’ve achieved a level of happiness that keeps you believing and fighting. I hope your heart contains more forgiveness than wounds. I hope your mind contains more dreams than regrets. I hope when you close your eyes, you still see the light that surrounds you and makes you shine in the eyes of those who love you.

   More than anything, I hope I can offer something that you will always take with you, whoever you are, wherever you are, and whenever you are.


to be continued...


Epoch Intro





h, hello there. I’ve been waiting quite a bit for a pair of hands or the pad of a finger to open the cover. My guess is you’re looking for a story. My friend, depending on where you’ve walked in life, and what your attitudes may be, I can safely say you’ve come to the right place.

   Before we begin to venture into faraway lands or another place in time, let's take the time to get to know each other a little better.   
   You may be male, and so I must offer more than a touch of action, adventure, the valiant struggle and ultimate victory of the underdog and of course, the very sexy and willing heroine whose beauty has tested the creativity of the person who first entered all these characters upon these pages.


 You may be female, and so I imagine I must offer a whirlwind of emotions, love, hate, longing, and all that entails the essence of passion or at least, make an emotional point that will enrich your own life experience and leave you breathless for a fictional character you will forever wish he were real.

   Tough line to define from my perspective.

   You may be an old soul and someone who has lived, I mean truly lived. If so, the cumulative cynicism that blossoms as you come of age will set the bar pretty high in terms of entertainment value. I have shock and nostalgia at my disposal perhaps, but I know it's my mission to appeal to your heart of hearts.

   If you’ve just started down the road of life, I'll be overjoyed that new readers are not a dying breed. I know you  will most definitely wish to be drawn into a story within the first chapter or else you’ll go back to your texting, your video games or my old nemesis, the television. 

   I have no way to discern where you are on that scale, but I know who I am.  I’m a manuscript, a compilation of ruminations and ideas born in the mind of someone crazy enough (or courageous depending on your point of view) to let the words flow onto a page for no other reason than to quiet the multitude of voices and images inhabiting the confines of that someone's mind.

   I have the choice to take you into outer space, Victorian England, the wilds of Africa or good old New York City. Every story needs a setting but in this particular case, the setting is you.

   Like each of my new pages, your mind has a way of presenting an empty canvas, your own blank page if you will. That’s my playing field. It’s where I'll gain a voice, maybe even a face. Heck I can gain a body and use your own living experience as a set of guidelines with which to come to be. The images destined for that canvas are not stills meant only for your eyes or music meant for your ears alone. I have to touch all your senses. 

   Of course, now that you have the beginnings of a voice in your head as you read these words, your mind demands a face. Well, I'll tell you that I reserve the right to make my image extraordinary. I can be a boxer, a child with telekinetic powers, a female cop, an old wise man, and even a ghost, a vampire or a three-legged alien. I can be as ordinary as any stranger who fails to catch your interest. I can be anything, and that’s where the magic starts, for if I can be anything on the page you read, so can you, my friend. 





    That's the beauty of the written word. Now just imagine, what will you find on our next encounter?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Birthday My Two Flags


   When an athlete reaches the home stretch, the blood pumps harder, the heart beats faster, and every fiber pushes to the limit in order to cross that goal line. 

   In writing, you are barely aware of how fast the word count adds up. Your characters fight to be included in each chapter as the manuscript reaches its completion. Your blood pumps faster, your heart beats faster, and your mind will grant you no peace until that last line is written. That's where I am with My Two Flags Vol. 2 All men are created equal...
   
   In one of the chapters, the first line reads "What a difference a year makes." Glancing at the clock on the lower right corner of my screen, I caught sight of the date. 

   One year has passed since publishing a novel that took me over two decades to write. My Two Flags officially turns 1, and based on 19 wonderful reviews and a plethora of private messages, these series has enjoyed a warm reception thus far.

   My Two Flags follows the life of Antonio Amaya, a thirteen year old Ecuadorian kid whose lifelong dream of living in America turns into a nightmare as the stark reality of immigrant life crashes down on him and his family. 

   Through struggles with prejudice, ostracism, and bullying, Tony (Antonio) holds onto principles instilled in him by his parents, and ultimately finds the determination to belong and embrace his new life.

   Several 100 page composition notebooks filled with Spanish and English chronicles from high school life are involved in weaving this series. Virtually every experience of adolescence is explored through the eyes of the cast and each point of view is sure to make you look back on your own.

   I never sat down to map out a novel with a point to make or a lesson to teach. I just felt there was a story to be told. 

   Regardless of our path, we are each destined to go through something that's bound to not only touch someone else's life, but also change it, and change us along the way. 
   
   Life as an immigrant looking for acceptance is one aspect of the story. In truth, we all wish to be part of something. Especially when we are faced with obstacles and challenges that put our determination to the test as we fight for our dreams.

   You don't have to be an immigrant to have been ridiculed by your peers at one time or another. We've all been aggressors and victims. We've made fun or been afraid of people different than us, and we've all been at the receiving end of some cruel joke based on our origin, race, sex or age.

   But, there is always someone else wanting to be a part of your life. No matter how high you build your walls, someone will find a breach to touch your heart. No self-imposed isolation can keep you from falling victim to the feelings inspired by someone special, and we all inevitably meet that someone.

   I eagerly envision the next volume in the saga. I don't see the pages as much as I see the faces of those who carved their niche in my heart and mind to become the muse that drives me to the keyboard. 
   
 Reviews for My Two Flags
Click to see what people are saying about Flags
   So, happy birthday to Flags as some of my readers refer to the series. I know if you give it a try, you will find someone who reminds you of someone you knew; of something you lived; perhaps you'll find a reflection of you.

   As many of my readers have said, you will gain an understanding of what it's like to be The Other, and how crucial family values and good friendships are in shaping a young mind.

   I invite you to read it. Let me know what you think. I dare you to prove me wrong. Whether your high school experience was good or bad, it's sometimes irresistible to wonder back to those years through someone else's eyes.

   No author truly expects their writing to come to life and evoke an emotional response. It's the unspoken goal of every manuscript, but anything written from the heart has a chance to do just that. If I have a writing goal, it's to forge a connection with you that you'll keep for the rest of your life. And finally, it's my sincere hope you find something healing about Flags the way I have.

   Javier A. Robayo

My Two Flags Vol. 1 I pledge allegiance... is geared for ages 14 and up and weighs in at 320 pages. It contains some strong language. Published in March of 2013, My Two Flags has struck a chord among educators and anyone who are or know of someone close to them who's lived under the Star Spangled Banner, and their motherland's flag.
You can find it on Amazon at My Two Flags Vol. 1 and Javier's Website