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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.

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eBooks: Two Sides to the Story

From Freshly Pressed on WordPress, to self-pub aggregators [1][2], and many of the top news corporations and papers [3][4], eBooks are a hot topic.

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 [5]. 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.

 

 

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)

War At Our Doorstep: Finally a Worthwhile Promo

As the YouTube description goes:

The last “War at Our Doorstep” video I found to be quite a bore without the additional text and music…

Thus, the purpose for this slightly better video, which only took a small portion of time to create. Some of my blog posts likely take longer!

If you’ve already read War at Our Doorstep, then I recommend closing your eyes and listening to the soundtrack. Garage Band loops (legally available from the Apple Inc.) were utilized to create the soundtrack which was composed by Zechariah Barrett.

The soundtrack is a remix of something I composed for a prior obligation. This time there’s an extra background loop to add to the tone, as well as sound effects.

“It all started three weeks ago, when the first HWK-325 emerged from the night’s sky followed by a score more of its kind. 

The residents of our humble town knew little of the ways of war and were unprepared for the onslaught to come. Many lives were taken that first day, mainly of those who did not heed the alarm.

Since then, many of us have not dared to set foot out into the now foreboding pastures of our country which holds such terrors in the night.

Our storehouses we have filled with what sustenance we may until the bombers pass (which is our one last hope).

Those who have lived to see the bombers firsthand, such as myself, have reported many great wonders, such as the arrival of the AGL-435’s, great white bombers of extraordinary size which fought against the HWK-325 in a war of unknown causes.

Perhaps they warred for control of our land, for every day they would annihilate a few of our land’s kind residents in their destructive conflict.”

Forum Design

Example forum view, from PhpBB.

Image via Wikipedia

One thing I’ve never really touched on at the Adventure Writer Blog, yet I have been working with for quite a few years, is forum management and design.

Running a forum can be beneficial in understanding how various things work on the internet, how traffic flows, how to keep people’s attention, and maintain a constant rate of mass discussions.

I currently co-operate a forum which has around 132 registered users, and a total of a total of 12625 messages.

The statistics are far from satisfying:

# of Registered Users:
Feb 2010 2 10%
Mar 2010 5 25%
Apr 2010 1 5%
May 2010 1 5%
Jun 2010 0 0%
Jul 2010 0 0%
Aug 2010 0 0%
Sep 2010 1 5%
Oct 2010 6 30%
Nov 2010 2 10%
Dec 2010 2 10%
Jan 2011 0 0%

And this may be the typical result with a new forum (as ours is, as we’ve changed our focus), or stale conversation.

A forum must have a fairly universal subject, or one that will hold the interest of it’s members for a lengthy period of time. In other words, be able to maintain a fan-base and keep activity flowing.

We will continue to explore forum-making at a later date – for now, back to all-things-reviews and a literary focus!

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Image via Wikipedia

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps romanticizes the stock market, and utilizes that blockbuster movie feel. It’s one of those movies where, if you don’t know the context, you won’t understand half of it – considering the movie’s immediate setting is right before the stock market crash.

Abundant in romance, melancholy, corruption, and revenge – it’s certainly a most complex film in the emotional spectrum.

The first half of the movie is quite “technical” and not for your average bear who doesn’t know a thing about stocks (count me in, I learned everything I know about stocks through a business class where we experimented with the Stock Market through a website called SimuStock. However, through this, I understood the basis of it). Though that same average bear may enjoy the second half which is filled with fast-paced, suspenseful sequences which keeps the audience second-guessing. The actors portray their characters most convincingly, and the cast was evidently well thought-out, though I found some of the music a bit randomly chosen at times.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps focuses on the life of a man named Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a wall-street expert who fancied the illegal, yet has now come out of prison a seemingly reformed man. He seeks to re-strengthen a distant relationship with his daughter through her fiancée, a man named Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf), who, as Wikipedia calls him, “an ambitious, young proprietary trader.” It soon becomes evident, however, that Gekko wishes to reclaim his position and power – by an means necessary.

Unlike a majority of other movies I’ve reviewed, this is not particularly a family movie. I’d recommend it for teenage to adult audiences.