My latest literary endeavor, The Detective Games serialization, has had its first installment published and is now available on the iBookstore, NOOK, and in the EPUB format for computers and other eReaders.
The cover is an altered version of the Notre Dame de Paris photograph I featured on this blog some time ago.
The current edition available is a preview of the beginning of second serial, which introduces the case at hand. It is called “Blackmailing the Great Detective.” The second edition, a much more action-packed teaser, will replace the first through all retail channels quite soon. It’s an excerpt drawn from the second serial as well, albeit further on when the protagonists have found themselves in dangerous circumstances. Thus the name, “Bullet Proof Barrels and Chandeliers.”
It is my hope that this free, first brief look at the series will enthrall readers to such an extent that they will eagerly anticipate the future installments which should be released on a monthly basis once the teaser has had its run.
The idea for the series occurred to me while I was aiding my father with the carpet cleaning division of his business. I had recently finished my first novel, The Labyrinth of Cosa Nostra, and was eager to delve into a new project, and so I mulled over the possibilities. There were so many genres to pick from, and I had numerous past works that could be improved upon. I thought of one which I had called Tête-à-Tête, and wrote in the format of brief entries, presenting them each night to some family of mine which had come into town. I had continued working on the series during my schooling and hoped to see it to completion, but as I grew busier and found other interests, it fell into the pile of old attempts.
The Detective Games takes place after my old story, vaguely hinting at its history while forging a new, deeper and more dynamic path. It has so far proved to be every bit what I had desired in a new tale, with plenty of suspense, lively characters, and a wonderful world for readers to explore.
The story begins with two of our main characters: Joe Holmes and Leor. The latter is a detective unaccustomed to seeking assistance. The former, however, is very much inclined to the opposite. Joe is a detective as well, but has no reservations in seeking others to do that work which he finds overly taxing. Although a fan of Sherlock Holmes, Joe is far from attaining the legacy of a great detective. Leor successfully solved the last cases which had proved too much of a challenge for Holmes, and has now come to discuss a couple loose ends which he suspects Joe might have some knowledge of. He is sorely disappointed when there is little information to be had. As he leaves 221B Baker Street, the home of the fan boy, he is covered in dust, spider webs, and has a sullied disposition to boot. Yet he finds hope in a shard of glass from a bottle of wine. Upon it is an address which may lead him to another, more gentlemanly source of knowledge, and our third detective-protagonist.
Joe, although failing to solve his own cases, also observed the curious threads that Leor discovered. As Leor journeys to France, he makes a trip to Ireland on his own precarious investigation.
With two very different methods, and very different leads, the two men find themselves in very similar circumstances of life and death.
I have included two excerpts. One from each edition of the first serial, and consequently parts of the serial to come.
Excerpt from Serial One (1st Ed.)
When stormy, Baker Street could be quite the foreboding place. When traveling to speak with a man of peculiar habits and unmannerly tendencies, the sense was heightened. So it was when one traveller arrived at the renowned address, and with great trepidation opened the office door. There was no landlord to greet him, or a friendly doctor with which to sympathize. Only dank darkness.
The floor creaked and the door squeaked as the man made his first steps through the entryway. The dust upon the room was so thick as to seem purposeful – dusty everything, from the appliances to the floors. It seemed the home of a rodent, rather than a detective.
“Holmes, are you in here?”
A man sat hunched over his grey desk, in a complimentary grey suit. Vibrant as always. “I know that voice! Leor?” he exclaimed.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Leor answered wearily. His disposition was hopelessly distraught as he proceeded towards the seat reserved for clients.
“Have you finally come to a standstill?” Holmes inquired, with relish. He was very much a foil to the shell of a man who stood before him. “Have you come for my help?”
“No, Joe Holmes, I have not come for your help.” Leor said, taking a step into the aura of light which surrounded the detective’s desk, and consequently colliding with a few spiders’ webs. Leor vigorously wiped off the lot of them, and flicked away the spiders whose abode had been ruined.
“Well you seem antsy enough,” Joe observed, straightening up to get a proper look at his companion.
“What gentleman wouldn’t be, covered in this filth and infestation?” Leor protested, rubbing off the last bit from his face.
“This gentleman,” Joe replied. “I like the spiders. They’re interesting to observe.”
“Oh quit it already!” Leor demanded, slamming his hands on Joe’s desk, then quickly moving back in repulsion as his hands were coated in grime. “You’re no gentleman,” Leor continued, wiping his hands on his jacket. He would wash it later.
“And you’re no… man, either.” Joe countered, albeit slow to the punch line.
“Profound,” Leor retorted, lowering his brows in contentment. “I am a man, and a gentleman, as I have already pointed out. My tidy nature isn’t bane to manliness. Though it may be to you. I’d rather retain my professionalism, than make a sty my place of business.”
“So you came here to be an Aedus then?” Joe said with a smile.
In the course of a few minutes, Leor had transitioned from a dread to a frazzle. “That’s the most clever you’ve been thus far. No, I’m not here to crack jokes or engage in repartee, as our Irish friend has done for his living. I’m here for your testimony. And, before you make another obscure reference to the Great Detective, which is not a reference at all because you’ve interpreted his character rather poorly, you are not him. Just because you’re a Holmes, doesn’t make you a Sherlock. You’re a fan boy.”
Joe was aghast. “A fan boy? You’re a pretty boy!”
“Thank-you, I think myself rather handsome. Now, about that testimony,” Leor said, drawing a notepad from his pocket and a pen from atop his ear. “You had an encounter at Hantée Mansion a few years ago. You came to my office, left quite a mess, but also paid quite a sum. I solved your murder, larceny, and kidnapping cases. I essentially did your job, though I actually made progress. Now, however, one point which I observed in that case, something that had never quite cleared itself up, has surfaced from the collective puddles of despair that were those cases. It has surfaced in the form a man named Jean Rusé. You know him, and you know of his cryptic occupation. I would like to share in that knowledge.”
“No,” Joe said bluntly. “Sorry, can’t do that.”
Excerpt from Serial One (2nd Ed.)
Two men stood at the entrance of the château, a third was in pursuit of their man – a fellow whose shaven head provided a stark contrast for his unkempt, stubbly face. All they had was a description, and that was all they required. A name was of no use to a corpse. The two men at the entrance had the easy job. If the third man got shot down, they would move in and carry out the job in his stead. If the target somehow managed to navigate around the third man, they were there to block the entrance. Their strategy was fool proof, but it wasn’t Joe proof.
• • •
Joe was the target, and an unusually delighted one at that. He gripped his gun with a smile, knowing his prissy detective friend would never have had the guts to pull through in a firefight. Leor had a knack for cases, but he didn’t know his way around a bullet. It was pure bliss when you had your niche.
• • •
Leor stumbled past the barrels, gripping his arm. The bullet had narrowly missed him, but the burning sensation on his arm gave him the impression that it hadn’t. He grimaced, both in pain and aggravation. He had been spotted again, and this time there was little chance of escape. Unless wine barrels were suddenly bulletproof. With a piece of glass for his clue, Joe never would’ve found his way to the winery, but he certainly could’ve done better in this fight.
© Text and Cover 2013 Zechariah Barrett
All Rights Reserved
Tonight I’ve been working on a persuasive essay for a college course. My goal is to portray my novel as something to be greatly desired, thus, my language is over the top.
My novel is comparatively short at thirty-eight thousand, one-hundred and forty-one words, but that’s part of its charm. Each word is to be savored and rolled over in contemplation. Each sentence is a multi-faceted diamond, to be gleaned by the most stringent of excavations. It has a universal appeal, both in regards to readership age and cultural applicability. Character names and personalities are vibrant and rich. They are not commercial, cardboard cut-outs without a soul. To the reader, they live and breathe, and are understood.
The story is simple, not abstract. It has significant depth to entertain the mind and play with the emotions, but not to the point of incomprehensibility. It is not a work to be solely understood by its author or a scholarly clique. It should adequately entertain the masses. However, this does not mean, that it is unoriginal, as many pop culture sensations tend to be. In fact, the opposite is true.
It procures attraction by its singular approach to the fantasy genre. It is not for isolated audiences, such as those following the Inheritance Cycle, or the Inkheart Trilogy. Its seeming realism dispels the bogus-factor which the average readership may apply such a work under normal circumstances. The world of my novel is not so contorted or such a labyrinthine chasm the likes of which may only be explored by a genre’s most avid supporters. Rather, it levels with its readership, incorporating the human element and its inseparable spirituality.
Over the past year, the Adventure Writer’s Blog has transformed from a conglomeration of reviews, musings, and photography, to a place where I primarily discuss my writing endeavors. I hope to do some more of that soon, once there are further developments in the publishing process and in my others works. It’s slow-going at the moment, and I’ll likely begin making more queries soon, as well as starting a serialization project that I can self-publish.
In other news, after Protagonist Rising, I developed another short track of music which I’ve deemed the Antagonist Theme. It’s very short, and very gritty in terms of tone, heavily relying upon guitar and bass. I find that while I’m taking a short break with my writing, I can continue to express through my music. I may also use this theme for a movie project I’ve begun with a friend.
Below is the video in question:
Secure Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe7_9IgSCOU
The host of loops within Apple’s GarageBand ’11 is simply extraordinary. The fact that one may utilize them in innovative assortments is better yet.
Shortly after writing my novel, I decided to redirect my creativity to music. I had developed songs before, using the aforementioned application, but I had frequently had a particular objective in mind. This time, however, the ‘lines’ which were to guide the project were much less distinct. I decided that I would make the soundtrack reminiscent of one of my novel’s characters, the protagonist, Jake. I utilized guitar, violin, drum, even choir melodies, until I had something significantly varied in sound and tone. Although, upon its conclusion, I found that it hardly sounded anything like the character I had in mind. Albeit I still liked the results!
I’ve named the video, Protagonist Rising, in light of its previously designated purpose.
Some time ago I drafted an essay for an English Comp. class. I ran it past a well-acknowledged literary professional at a local writing center, and they believed the writing to be quite good. The essay begins with a prologue to my novel, not included here, and discusses the technical process of writing (what it takes to develop a masterful writing style), as well as the up’s and down’s of the publishing world. I wrote in a style characteristic of one of my novel’s characters, an Irishman by the name of Aedus Butler. It’s much less formal and much more witty.
My Story, Jake’s Story
This isn’t my story. Far from it. It’s about Jake Laskaris, a seemingly average teenage boy with extraordinary powers. While my tale, my yarn of a narrative, may not have my novel’s, The Labyrinth of Cosa Nostra (LoCN), explosive properties, it literarily packs a punch. Yes, literarily is a word. I had my doubts too. If it was literally, you’d have a very sore jaw right now.
To avoid common stereotypes of writers, I’d be wise to clarify about my novel journey and myself in particular. I like adventure. No, scratch that, I love adventure, and not just writing about it. When I first went zip lining, I was a bit shaky in the legs, just like I usually am after giving a speech, but I knew I was going to have an amazing time, so I went for it. White water rafting was… well, insane to say the least. While we navigated the malevolent, white crested river, our guide told us all the ways we could die. If we were to, say, make a mistake on the next bend, our boat would be pulled underwater and we’d be crushed.
This is to say, I have experienced my share of adventures. Therefore, I am quasi-qualified to state that writing a book is just as thrilling, just as frightening, and just as worth it. Though that comes later. Before I could be up to bat with a novel, I needed to prep myself, just as I had to sit through the safety protocol of one of these events.
My first lesson was a fun time because it involved reading, one of my passions, and something, despite my other shortcomings, I’ve had a sure grasp of. Certain novels were a bit trying though. I had been told, through books by authors of bestsellers and all across the grand internet, time and time again: READ READ READ. All caps, I realize that’s yelling, but I would’ve deserved a scolding if I had disregarded this simple tip. Reading is the bread and butter of any good writer. And if I couldn’t have gluten, then it would be the gluten-free brand. That is to say, if I was not at the level where I could read high-level books, I had press on until I got there. Because until I had at least a partial comprehension of the English, The Count of Monte Cristo, and not the kiddy version, I wouldn’t have the literary comprehension I needed to proceed and succeed in the various genres of the writing world. Therefore, I took this advice, and I read.
I took reading classes, not because I was behind in the game of comprehension, but because I knew I had to press forward to find the golden nuggets that would provide me with the wealth of knowledge that I so desperately needed to be up to par with the amazing writers of this world.
Once I had read a great deal, I wrote a great deal. I finished a novelette in ninth grade, wrote a serial, submitted short stories to a contest, and finally, when I felt comfortable that I could write something worthwhile, I drafted my current novel. It was slow-going at first, until I reached scenes of passion, action, and humor. Then it all began to flow so much easier.
In my mind, it was as if a film were playing out. I could see the story going by in completed form, in all its grandeur. I longed to see it become a reality, so I wrote. I wrote till’ my faculties were spent, then I went to Barnes & Noble’s Starbucks and started writing again, this time munching on a blueberry scone. I sat staring at the blank paper until the next antagonist was presented, until the next bullet let fly and I would record the event in a flurry of pen and paper. The pen is mightier than the sword, for the pen may envision. It may create. It makes declarations of great import. It captures the human element.
Writing this novel wasn’t just a simple process of envisioning a story. At the end, I did not just experience euphoria, I felt a part of the tale. Now as I contact agents, ascertain a publisher, and the bookstores are persuaded to carry my book, it shall be shared with the world. A sentiment I could not have imagined back in Middle School, because I was so far from my goal. Even now, I have those areas that I struggle with.
I struggled to write fluid paragraphs, with neat transitions and sufficient imagery, while not going overboard into superfluity. I did the latter for far too long. I cringe when I look at my past manuscripts. Stories which I started, but didn’t have the confidence to finish, and then stories that I finished, but that I didn’t feel were worthwhile to share. It felt like a hopeless endeavor. As if I were on a weight loss plan, starting off a one-thousand pounds and making my way down to a hundred. An extreme example, yes, but it is truly telling of the emotions that were at play in my heart. With time, however, which equated to many years, I started to notice my own progress. I began to like my own writing, and instead of being my own worst critic, I built myself up through constructive criticisms, and by heeding the advice of others.
Now I struggle to get it out there. It, being my novel. It, being that stack of papers that I, as the cliché goes, poured my heart and soul into for many, many hours every day. There, being the world. What stands between me and my readers, is no longer just myself. It’s the agents and publishing companies. After my first query letter, my first attempt at pitching an agent who would help me make it to Barnes and Nobles shelves, I received a rejection within about twenty minutes. Oh, and it wasn’t a form rejection either. It was only five words telling me they were passing on my project. No reason, whatsoever. I moved on, because I wasn’t going to give up after I had gone so far. I tried another agency, followed by a couple more. I altered my pitch to sound better, give them what they wanted to hear. I waited. No response. In the traditional publishing world, no response is as good as a rejection. Nevertheless, I moved forward. To this day, I still don’t have an agent, but I will. I must.
Writing a novel wasn’t the romantic journey I expected. I didn’t get there right away, and it took a lot of hard work. That’s the American dream – having the opportunity to succeed, and working hard to achieve your aspirations. It’s been worth every moment. The thrill I feel in writing transcends the action I experience in the physical, and I want to share that sentiment with everyone who is willing to open up my book cover and relish the words within.
Millions have already embraced the digital world of reading, and self-publishers are taking advantage, some making their stories exclusively available through eReaders, forgoing the traditional bookstore. Yet despite this, there are those who simply prefer paperbacks and hardcovers. They argue there’s nothing like the feel of paper in your hand, to have something tangible to interact with. My High School English teacher was one of them, and I frankly enjoy something more solid as well. eBooks being relatively new, and print being the tradition, this is no surprise.
eBooks have a sort of revolutionary feel to them. They’ve made ground in the last couple of years, even outselling print in some cases, as Amazon reports . It’s an exciting concept, and certainly a lucrative one for Amazon and Barnes & Noble who are leading the market with their Kindle and NOOK respectively, as well as authors who have been able to capitalize by a further purchasing route that is more accessible to readers. It’s the age of convenience, and print had to make the transition sometime.
I first delved into the world of eBooks when I was told of a short story contest, held by the Lulu Corporation. Yet, as tends to be so, I didn’t stop with an entry. I pursued this new concept, and thoroughly researched it. I couldn’t believe there was such a simple way to publish, to distribute, and to make connections with readers.
It will be fascinating to see how the eBook develops, as innovation comes, as well as the opinion of print-advocates.
The novel is complete. By all means this is a great relief, and now the journey continues in its publication.
Having decided to forego self-publishing in preference for traditional means, I find myself in need of a captivating hook for my story. The name, Labyrinth of Cosa Nostra, may raise an eyebrow but the catch must raise awareness.
The 2012 Guide to Literary Agents has been a fantastic resource in formatting the query letter, avoiding various greenhorn faux pas, and, without which all prior would be rendered ineffective, identifying particular agents of interest.
My novel is a rollicking, fast-paced adventure that is stripped down of unnecessary embellishments, yet remains an artful piece of literature. Suspense is the key element, as each chapter renews the reader’s interest with further complications, almost in the fashion of a serial. Characterization becomes more involved as the story proceeds, deepening relations between guests to the world of LoCN and its denizens.
Characters span a variety of cultures, as the novel absorbs the whole world in its conflict. There is Jake, Michelle, Lucio, Domenico, Inahka, Chun, Izo, Owen, Renfort, Kabu, Cніr… despite their numbers, they each hold a great significance in the scheme of things, and some even garner some extra spotlight with appellation repartee (for example, Cніr means snow. She is also a cold character).
Taking each element of the book and compounding it into a few compelling sentences may be a challenge, but it is one I relish!
(“The Labyrinth of Cosa Nostra” Novel ©2012 Zechariah Barrett - All Rights Reserved)
Manuscripts and Burgers
What is quite like the feeling of completing a book? Perhaps completing a burger (veggie or meat, take your pick)? I believe the latter’s jubilant expression, mixed with grease and morsels, is hardly able to compare with the writer’s exhausted cry. Especially since the former is often accompanied by abdominal pains and regret of the worst sort… unless it’s a slider. Those are more harmless.
“Ludicrous, appended to my delicious tropical friend…”
With some parallels to the foodie fandom, the writing journey is filled with a series of stages, often including bouts of perseverance, jubilation, courage, ingenuity, boredom, aggravation, and rain clouds (“Writer’s Block”). When the haze of conflicting emotions finally fades, however, all that is left is triumph and relief. In my case, there is also an overwhelming sentiment of gratitude.
It often takes a measure of encouragement to get a good book going, to establish momentum, and I’m grateful to those who have joined me in cheering the story onto completion. It does, at times, seem to be a very detached process, the story unfolding itself like a scroll tossed in the wind. This is why I include myself in the story’s audience, for some details are only revealed in the process, and I am equally awed as the reader when they come to light.
Seeing the story in its printed form, aside from word count statistics and page numbers, was a surprise at first. It looked very much the manuscript I was hoping for, although it was shy of aspirations of a few hundred pages.
While assembling the book, I found it tremendously helpful to keep a “To Do” .docx or Pages file on hand, to jot down ideas and plot points which had yet to be resolved. On occasion I’d visit Barnes & Noble’s Starbucks and brainstorm whilst (as I put it last time) munching on scones and sipping smoothies and hot cocoas. As an INFP personality, I found it imperative to set a deadline, even if I couldn’t reach it in time. It was better to have a goal than to leave it unrestricted, likely to fade into the oblivion of daily life. Break-time was also a must, both in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and retaining concentration.
“Have you finished relaxing?”
Book Excerpts & Quotes ©2012 Zechariah Barrett - All Rights Reserved
This morning I sent out a message to those who have shown an interest in my novel, proclaiming the most important acknowledgement. The official name of the novel (Copyright ©2012 – All Rights Reserved) is disclosed.
8/15/2012 – 1:00AM (E-mail)
Praise be to God, I’ve completed The Labyrinth of Cosa Nostra, my long awaited (I have long awaited finishing it!) novel, at a little past midnight.
It’s been a fantastic journey, but it won’t stop here. Now I must go back and make revisions, maybe flesh out and abridge some portions, and identify all the nitty-gritty errors. Then it’ll be time to find an agent, get published, and worry not about its future.
I trust in God for this novel because I feel a great conviction to write for Him. I believe that I was guided by His Holy Spirit in my writing, that I may glorify Him through this work like many writers before me: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein… those who held to the truth of His Word and expanded the Church’s ministry through the world of fiction. It was an amazing feeling, having the words flow through me like they did. It’s reminiscent of my duet play, 400 Years of Silence, which I felt Christ gave me in the course a study hall period, and may soon expand upon.Above all else, through every bit of the process, in every minute of my life, I want to keep God fully involved and wholly in control. Prayerfully considering every step I take. For in it I may bring great glory to the one who sent His Son to die for me.
This is my prayer: that in my thinking, saying, writing… in all my doing, to glorify the One who made me.
At 33,487 words and eleven chapters, the primary story is completed, with only the epilogue left to wrap up which I estimate will be about three chapters long and should be finished on schedule (God willing).
Jake looked up in trepidation at the enormous boiler before him from which all sorts of wicked mists were produced. It hissed with the malevolence of the fiercest cobra, and its inward flame roared like a hungry lion.
Burbero stood behind Jake, observing his reaction with a laugh. “Oho! It’s not all bad as that, stowaway. She grumbles like my Nonna, but has the temperament of a dove!”
Text and Image Copyright © 2012 Zechariah Barrett - All Rights Reserved