Blog Archives

A Novel Description: Over the Top

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.

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

A Tranquil, Vibrant Melody: Protagonist Rising

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.

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.

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)

Make That A Triple Stacker: Manuscript Completion

Manuscripts and Burgers

000_0027 (JPEG Image)

Not quite like writing, though much more delectable.

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…”

-Jean Rusé

Literary Excursion

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.

100_9867 (JPEG Image)

“The Three Tier Papier”

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.

Two-Cents Worth

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?”

-Mr. Lombardi

Book Excerpts & Quotes ©2012 Zechariah Barrett – All Rights Reserved

The Spiritual Journey in Writing

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.

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

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.”