Category Archives: Art & Recreation

A Frog, Food, and Cajun Culture: A Trip to Louisiana

Originally posted on my Contingency Writer’s Blog

I arrived home at about midnight this morning after a 10-day trip in Louisiana. The primary reasons for my visit were to see family, and to work on a romance novel and the third Detective Games entry; although it became a great deal more.

Instead of a linear progression for this blog post, I’d like to try out bullet points!

  • I tried my hand… er, legs, at Irish dancing. My cousins had been Irish dancing for years, and I had come along to support them. Their instructor welcomed me to join in as well. My fencing instructor had always said I should go dancing, and about a year apart from his remarks, I was clumsily thumping across a multipurpose ballet studio.
  • Trekking through Jean Lafitte National Park, I wished I had first put on some bug spray, with the presence of a multitude of mosquitos. But the beauty of the marsh and swamplands were incredible, and afforded the opportunity for many pictures.
A tiny tree frog

A tiny tree frog

A young alligator surfaces near a walkway

A young alligator surfaces near a walkway

  • We visited Destrehan Plantation and took a tour of the grounds, with its grand trees covered in Spanish moss, and learnt of the vast history, including the day to day lives of the household owners and the enslaved, as well as the construction process and architectural functions. At the end, a blacksmith with a heavy cajun accent, demonstrated the use of his forge.
  • The food. Oh boy, the food. The delicious simplicity of red beans and rice, messy po’ boys, savory gumbo and jambalaya, fun flavors with stuffed snowballs, and the mandatory beignets (from Café du Monde) I had to have on a daily basis.
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Beignets and powdered sugar! Yum!

Savory gumbo!

Savory gumbo!

  • The French Quarter was a fun experience, with sights to see, a banana smoothie in hand, and trinkets to be had in the market.
DSCN1329

The Jackson equestrian statue

Antagonist Theme & A Return to Literary Things

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

My Story, Jake’s Story: The Writing of a Novel

Foreword

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.

Cheval Ailé et Tour Eiffel: France Photography

Paris Portait (PNG Image)

Ahhh, beautiful Paris! This wonderful sunset scene was captured a few paces away from “Le Coucher du Lion.” Also in the vicinity of the popular Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

As the others, this photograph was taken using the Kodak Easyshare M341, with a focal length of 6mm, and settings at 1/400s, f/3.1, ISO 80. Thank-you WordPress.

 

 

 

A Parisian Medley: Photographie

Rouen-Giverny (PNG Image)

A photographic medley of France. I incorporated flowers from Monet’s Garden in Giverny and the memorial cross of Joan of Arc in Rouen. ©2012 Zechariah Barrett – All Rights Reserved.

Query Craft: Step One

The novel is complete. By all means this is a great relief, and now the journey continues in its publication.

100_9867 (JPEG Image)

“Taking each element of the book and compounding it into a few compelling sentences may be a challenge, but it is one I relish!”

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)

One Thing Remains

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).

PNG Image

What do you see in this picture? I cropped this image from a photograph I took in Colorado. It’s the shadow of a horse named Trainer. As my book, it is not yet fully defined.

 

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

Settling Into My Niche

Brilliant. My “Big Day” widget has at last starting counting down the days to Project Ordine, or rather what may come to be referred to as LoCN (an acronym which will make much more sense when the novel’s title is disclosed).

Progress stands at 75 pages (though not for long!).

Lately I’ve gotten into a habit of visting Barnes & Noble and lounging about writing… whilst sipping smoothies and eating scones. The atmosphere is a pleasant one, and what better than a place full of books?

In conclusion – whenever I mention my roman en cours, I feel an irresistible urge to thank Jesus Christ for the purpose given to my life, as well as the talents I pray will be utilized to their full extent for His Glory.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139:6 NKJV)

Transitional Writing

I first began work on the novel (working title) Project Ordine two years

Grasshopper

Unnoticeable at first glance although unmistakeable upon a second. This grasshopper came to my attention as did my literary folly, although without so much shock, considering the creature is so harmless… whilst errors are so corrosive to the lifeblood of a tale.

ago when my writing was undergoing tremendous refinement. My whole outlook on storytelling was given a major transformation, and I started to pick up on elements I hadn’t noticed before.

Looking back at the first few chapters, I’ve been quite nearly appalled at how crudely constructed some thoughts were, especially at such a vital time of the story where a significant portion of background information is provided.

Even upon examination of my two-page prologue, I found ideas that I once stubbornly clasped onto as artful prose, disrupted the flow of the story and took away from the suspense which would initially draw the reader in. After a few necessary revisions, however, the issue was remedied. Nevertheless, there still remains much to reform.

I was surprised to have received very little negative feedback from my chosen readers (a small group of acquaintances, friends, and family). The errors were most certainly quite subtle, but they seemed to form such a maelstrom, I would have supposed an outcry.

Such, it would seem, is the retrospection of a literary perfectionist (in terms of mine own manuscripts [time to mix a little bit of Shakespeare into the blog posts]).

Oh the Irony! (and a cliché post title)

Working on my novel tonight, I’ve begun to appreciate the literary technique of “irony” and the clever / covert ways in which it may be implemented.

One of my favorite uses lately has been that of naming irony. Whether the meaning of the name refers to a particular characteristic (as well as setting) of the target person, or is used when referencing an important event in the novel which affects surrounding characters, etc.

This well-loved device may be easily overused, however, if not situated correctly at proper intervals and pivotal moments where it is best suited.