Blog Archives

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.

 

 

Make That A Triple Stacker: Manuscript Completion

Manuscripts and Burgers

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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.

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“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 Avengers (2012): Movie Review

Marvel’s The Avengers is a box office hit, topping The Dark Knight’s midnight premier

The Avengers (2012 film)

The Avengers (2012 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

records and emerging as #1 opening weekend at $207,438,708 [1] in the United States and Canada alone. However, is this highly acclaimed film worth the hype? Or is it simply another blockbuster blown out of proportion? Even many of the staunchest critics agree – The Avengers is a superhero masterpiece.

Incorporating elements from the previous films, The Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man II, Thor, and Captain America, The Avengers embodies a fantastic medley of the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes and villains, all the while, paving the way for the next installments. It is highly comedic and intensely action-packed, superior to the Transformers series which attempts a similar plot-line in Dark of the Moon.

The Avengers opens up with a most ominous, alien voice, rambling on about some plot which entails the power-hungry Loki, banished of Asgard, like something produced by Garage Band’s “deeper vocals” voice modifier. Following this singular introduction, we find SHIELD agents and scientists (some from Thor) working diligently at unlocking the secrets of the divine Tesseract, a source of seemingly ultimate and limitless power. Albeit, as one might expect of the suspenseful setting, their experimentation goes terribly wrong. The Asgardian device suddenly reacts with a violent burst of light and generates a portal, which may be likened to the destructive force which presumably annihilated the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, sending forth the vengeful Loki who is bent on conquering Earth with an army given him in return for the Tesseract. The available SHIELD agents surround the self-proclaimed “god,” albeit are disposed of by a few blasts of Loki’s newly acquired staff. Nick Fury arrives on the scene, shooting a few rounds in vain, whilst Loki uses his staff to mind-control the mercenary Hawkeye and Dr. Erik Selvig to aid in his escape. The next few moments are without respite – the SHIELD complex sinks underground, collapsing inward as a maelstrom, due to the effects of the Tesseract. Fury and company give chase, although lose their quarry and are forced to flee.

On less dramatic grounds, fan-favorite Tony Stark and his girlfriend Pepper Pots, are debating who deserves the most credit for Stark Tower – a top of the line, self-sufficient complex inspired by the reactor core. Amusing quarrel aside, SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson -promptly arrives with a briefing for Iron Man, in preparation for the “Avengers Initiative” – it would appear the world is once again in peril and only the aforementioned team of heroes can save it.

In another part of the world, Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), after dispatching with a Russian general, is sent to extract Dr. Bruce Banner (The Hulk), and Director Fury introduces Steve Rogers (Captain America) to the Initiative. The team slowly comes together as the peril grows greater, and there is much dissonance among the members, as they fight to recapture Loki, and then amongst themselves (Thor vs. Captain America & Iron Man) to retain him. All the while, the preparations for Loki’s army is nearly complete… will the team be able to come together and save the world, or will the alien apocalypse fall upon them?

The Avengers is a barrel of fun, with enough intrigue to keep the audience guessing until the end and a good portion of comedy to provide the necessary balance. It introduces [to the series] the developmental process of a team, rather than a single protagonist. The villain is likewise in control of a massive army and it is evident another power is pulling the strings at the start, adding depth. In this way, it separates itself from its superhero predecessors outside of the animated realm, attaining the claim by some that it is “the best superhero movie ever.”

Family Perspective

This time around, the violence gets a little bloody, with the death of a great number of characters (as opposed to those scenes which are given little reflection), some more evident than others which are merely suggested.

Language is fairly minimal, albeit a few curse words are used in the course of the film.

Natasha Romanoff, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, remains a source of eye-candy, albeit not as overt in as in the Iron Man films and much more of an independent protagonist. Her top, during the Russian interrogation, is low cut and gratuitous during fighting scenes, yet the “buck stops there” so to speak, in that the female form is not exploited for the vast remainder of the film (note: at the beginning, Pepper Pots wears “short-shorts,” she, however, plays a minor role in the film and takes up only a small fraction of screen time), aside from the skin tight suits.

The Avengers is better suited to teen and adult audiences, especially on account of much more mature conceptions and visuals.

Notable Quotations

“Earth’s mightiest heroes type-thing. / Yeah. Takes us awhile to get any traction, I’ll give you that one. But let’s do a headcount here. Your brother the demigod, the super soldier living legend who kind of lives up to the legend, a man with breathtaking anger management issues, a couple of master assassins, and you, big fella, have managed to [anger] every single one of them.” -Tony Stark to Loki

“You miss the point, there’s no throne. No version of this where you come on top.” -Tony Stark to Loki

“I’m in the middle of an interrogation, this moron is giving me everything.” -Black Widow

“I’m bringing the party to you. | I don’t see how that’s a party.” Iron Man | Black Widow

“How desperate are you? You call on such lost creatures to defend you. / It burns you to have come so close. To have the tesseract, to have power – unlimited power. And for what? A warm light for all mankind to share, and then to be reminded of what real power is.” -Loki

“Well, let me know if real power wants a magazine or something.” -Nick Fury

Christian Perspective

The Avengers delves deep into what it means to be a hero, as clashing egos and selfish motives are put aside for teamwork and integrity.

Captain America, Steve Rogers, stands for traditionalist, Christian America, when, after a remark is made about Loki and Thor’s “godhood,” retorts “I mean no disrespect ma’am, but there’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that!” All the while calling for team to unite and realize their duty.

References are made to the macro-evolutionary theory, as Loki jokingly states he had thought “humans were more evolved” than they were behaving. Loki, furthermore, observes the depravity of man and the hopeless nature therein (without a remedy).

The Parisian Experience

A few days ago I published a photography sampler eBook entitled, The Parisian Experience,

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(Copyright © 2012) For the cover, I used one of my favorite photographs, which was well liked in its original posting on this blog. The composition depicts a Normandy harbor beautifully covered in a blanket of sunlight.

as a precursor to the full-length book I am developing.

This free edition features some of my most well-received photographs which have appeared on the Adventure Writer’s Blog, including Louis XVI, Omaha Beach, Notre Dame de Paris, and multiple others.

The book is currently being reviewed by B&N and Apple’s respective quality assurance teams.

On a different note – tomorrow I hope to post my comprehensive Hunger Games review, as well as an audio edition for the AW Blog YouTube channel.

Kid Icarus: Uprising – Review

Kid Icarus: Uprising is the latest Nintendo 3DS game released by Nintendo and designed by Masahiro Sakurai, creator of the hit Smash Brothers series.

Introduction

You play as the angel Pit, following the orders of Palutena, the goddess of light and protector of

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Kid Icarus: Uprising (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

humanity, as you fight against the resurrected Medusa. Your journey takes you from towns to spaceships, futuristic landscapes to ‘natural’ wonders – each equally captivating, with an added vibrancy due to the extra dimension of 3-D. The story, however, does not end after your primary objective, taking an unexpected turn and extending gameplay exponentially as a result. Chapters may also be replayed at different intensity levels, from practically effortless to an infernal onslaught which may pose a challenge for even the most experienced of players.

Gameplay

Ease of gameplay has been disputed among players, however, it is certainly do-able. Albeit more suited to right-handed players, lefty’s should by no means be deterred, as only simple swipes of the stylus are required of their right hand. As a left-dominant player myself, I found the game to be difficult at first, albeit much easier after the first few missions had accustomed me to the configuration – no adjustment of the controls was necessary, albeit Nintendo has provided that as an option in addition to the circle-pad pro.

Sound

The soundtrack of Kid Icarus: Uprising is incredibly beautiful and uniquely assorted. From soothing orchestral, violin accompanied tracks, to simple ditties which serve but a momentary purpose – all serve to heighten the enjoyability of the game and immerse the player within the world of Greek myth. Not to mention, each piece is made available as an unlockable, by the completion Treasure Hunt achievements (which also reward hearts, weapons, idols, etc).

Dialogue is a key characteristic of the game, seemingly present without ceasing. Albeit, it rather serves as a compliment to gameplay, once a player is acquainted with the controls and may appreciate the witty repartees and mindless jabber with comprehension. Otherwise, they are aggravations at best. Once, however, this condition has been met, the dialogue maintains interest in a seemingly empty world (aside from the attacks of underworld minions), where there is little character interaction, aside from these exchanges.

Content

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Defeated! Visual depicts an AR Card idol battle captured with in-game camera applications.

The content of Kid Icarus: Uprising is truly abundant. With 25 chapters, unlockable back-to-back boss battles, dozens of weapons (to be bought with hearts, the KI:U currency) and power customizations (and a land + battle practice range to try them out on), three treasure hunts with one-hundred twenty achievements each, collectible in-game and paper-card “idols” (digital figures with descriptions and AR Card capabilities), streetpass-spotpass enabled, online / local multiplayer, and much more. Albeit some features are more engaging and useful than others.

Multiplayer is a competitive challenge, although there are no overall leaderboards, which is a letdown. Players accumulate points during the process of each match and are ranked according to their totals at the conclusion. Wins are saved and exchanged via streetpass.

Playable characters include:

  • Pit (primary): chief angel of Palutena, the goddess of light and protector of humanity. He is persistent, passionate, and often quite silly.
  • Pittoo: Pit’s Doppelganger, created by Pandora’s mirror, often an antagonizing force, albeit (highlight spoiler > ) linked with Pit in life force and becomes an ally due to necessity and a slight change of heart.
  • Magnus: powerful human mercenary, dedicated to fighting against underworld forces.
  • Little Girl: details unknown, resident of a ruined city.
  • Dog: details unknown, resident of a ruined city. Can sniff out and locate food in garbage, runs without tiring.

Family Analysis (E10+ [ESRB])

The characters within KI:U aren’t exceptionally frightening, albeit some are notably grotesque, such as the lord of the Underworld – with pointy fangs, red eyes, and whatnot. There is no blood, and most combat is against the forces of the underworld, in the form of giant eyeballs, frog-like beings, and other odd but otherwise inhuman creatures. There are, however, a few human / god encounters where a character will make known they have been defeated and may even make a corresponding exclamation of defeat. However, deaths are seldom, often with enemies returning to fight again unscathed. Albeit, this does not dismiss the violence in itself. The game is likely more suitable for tweens, teens, and older, than ten year-olds, unless families take care to monitor their child’s gameplay and discuss plotline implications. There are a few  sexual references – in one instance, Palutena jokingly tells Pit she can read minds and that he “better not be thinking anything naughty,” to which he exclaims in surprise, as if he had been contemplating unsavory matters. Some characters, such as a Nature-Force leader is flirtatious, while Amazon Pandora takes it a step further, emphasizing her appearance and is overtly coquettish.

Christian Implications

The fact that there are collectible “idols” should be telling in itself of the game’s religious affiliations. Rape, murder, and other mature concepts of Greek mythology are not mentioned, however, spiritual references are made. Pit “prays” for Palutena’s safety, at which point another goddess remarks he is a very confused angel, since he has no god/dess to pray to at the moment. A reincarnation of Helios, Hades, Medusa, and Poseidon (as well as others) make appearances, with a few original gods and goddesses exclusive the Kid Icarus realm. Pit is the protector (by extension of Palutena) of the helpless humans who are referred to as selfish and greedy, the gods are also revealed in their folly (often warring against one another and causing trouble).

A Reader’s Request: The Hunger Games Analysis (TBW) & Mii Update

A Reader’s Request*

To Be Written*

This afternoon I received a request to review the Hunger Games trilogy – I did some form of this before

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Getting "Kreative" with Kirby!

the box-office craze had begun, mainly focusing on the final book, Mockingjay, which I had found to be well-written, albeit with quite a graphic nature. In the next few days, however, I will begin developing a comprehensive post for the purpose of my reader’s request (readers are always welcome to make requests for posts. I realize I haven’t posted my reviews for MI:GP, or the full review for H.O.S., however, anticipated posts [even by one person] gain higher priority]).

Publication Progress

In relation to the literary realm, my free publications (War at Our Doorstep & 400 Years of Silence) have steadily been gaining popularity on retail markets (iBookstore / NOOK) and the Lulu store, with their ninety-nine cent (retail) counterparts making progress as well. If you have read any of these stories, feel free to post your feedback on my blog! It helps me grow as a writer, knowing what I’m doing right and where I can improve.

Nintendo Celebration

In the world of video game technology, it is the Nintendo 3DS’ one-year anniversary and spotpass-enabled users will receive a visit from Reggie (President and COO of Nintendo of America) in the Mii Plaza app, in celebration of the event. One may note the COO’s recently played game is “Kid Icarus: Uprising,” the latest release by Nintendo.

Tech (Pre)Review – Kid Icarus: Uprising

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Kid Icarus: Uprising (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kid Icarus: Uprising is the latest Nintendo 3DS game released by Nintendo and designed by Masahiro Sakurai, creator of the hit [Super] Smash Brothers series.

General Review:

  • Graphics
    • Kid Icarus: Uprising has spectacular, immersive graphics which are heightened to their utmost by the extra measure of depth provided by the 3DS.
  • Storyline
    • Simple and humorous, with a few twists and turns to keep things interesting.
  • Music
    • As numerous modern video games, the soundtrack of Kid Icarus is a masterful, orchestral blend which may be enjoyed by even the most discerning listeners.
  • Spiritual & Family
    • The world of Kid Icarus is loosely founded upon Greek mythology.
    • Mention of “empty souls”
    • Similar to Metroid & Zelda in that a battle is being waged against monsters, sometimes humans are involved, such as in one of the early battles. There is however, no gore or impact effects.
  • Gameplay
    • A widespread complaint from left-handed users has been prevalent in discussions of the game and its criticisms. However, being left-handed myself, I find no problem with gameplay, except for a slight takeaway. The left hand controls the circle pad and L-button, while the right hand makes simple movements on the touch screen. Up, down, side-to-side – as this game does not require handwriting, and so long as one may move their hand in the proper direction, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem, only discomfort.

Full-Length Review Coming Soon…

Passion: White Flag [Deluxe Edition] (Music Review)


Official Album Cover (Amazon)

Passion: White Flag is the latest installment from the Passion music series, recorded live at Passion 2012, and debuting commercially March 9th, 2012. During its first day, it climbed to the top of the Gospel Christian charts and achieved a high ranking overall.

It is a thoroughly diverse album, featuring the talents of such artists as Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels, Charlie Hall, Matt Redman, and the recently retired David Crowder Band who made their last performance at the live event. Boasting [in Christ] an incredible seventeen songs, four videos (including a sermon by GA Pastor & Passion Pres. Louie Giglio), and song booklet –  the deluxe edition is certainly the best deal financially and in terms of quality content.

Its tone is vibrant – full of energy and passion. Its lyrics are not watered down, but beautiful, powerful, and pertinent. A common thread of surrender [and conformation] to Christ unites the album, hence the name, White Flag. 

The full content list reads as follows:

» Not Ashamed (feat. Kristian Stanfill)
» White Flag (feat. Chris Tomlin)
» Jesus, Son of God (feat. Chris Tomlin)
» How I Love You (feat. Christy Nockels)
» All This Glory (feat. David Crowder)
» Lay Me Down (feat. Christy Nockels)
» You Revive Me (feat. Christy Nockels)
» One Thing Remains (feat. Christian Stanfill)
» Yahweh (feat. Chris Tomlin)
» Sing Along (feat. Christy Nockels)
» The Only One (feat. Chris Tomlin)
» Mystery (feat. Charlie Hall)
» 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord - feat. Matt Redman)
» No Turning Back (feat. Chris Tomlin)
» Let Me Feel You Shine (feat. David Crowder Band)
» Who You Are (feat. Kristian Stanfill)
» Jesus, All in All (feat. Charlie Hall)
» Twenty Seven Million (feat. Matt Redman & LZ7)
» How Great Is Our God (World Edition - feat. Chris Tomlin)
» Fearless (Passion 2012 Talk - Louie Giglio)
» Passion 2012 Slideshow
» Digital Booklet

The Adventure Writer’s Blog Rating:

10/10 - Quality, diverse content with something for everyone.
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Brief Review Summary on iTunes

Our God’s Alive: Andy Cherry (Song Review & Rouen Photography)

Yesterday Andy Cherry released his first album, Nothing Left to Fear, containing the hit song Our

Joan of Arc Memorial - Rouen, France

God’s Alive – a beautifully orchestrated piece with unique vocals and a dynamic personality.

This is by far one of my favorite songs within the Contemporary Christian genre, with well-thought out  organization, instrumentals, and powerful lyrics with a simplistic message, effectively echoing the salvation message through a captivating medium.

News (3/07): Our God’s Alive is currently available for free [legally supporting the artist] on iTunes for a period of one month, by download code. Instructions are available on this page.

Blog Updates (Oh, and a camel)

-New Personalized Message for New AW Blog Post &  Comment Subscribers

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This camel has a tough life - always being fed food by tourists, always an object of photography and interest (that might get annoying, actually), and always having to wake up in the morning in time to display its pearly whites.

-Default User Identification Avatars are Set to the Gravatar Logo

-All Comments will now be held for moderation, despite previous postings by an approved blogger. This is for quality control, to ensure all comments are appropriate and void of advertisements. Comments are generally approved within 24hrs of posting (sometimes in as little as thirty seconds.).

-“Reply to this Post” prompt has been personalized.

-Posts with out-of-date content are being updated (such as the 3DS review, which is consistently being viewed due to Google listings)

-Reposting photographs from my “travels” in 2010, such as this camel.

-Tomorrow will be the start of our  Irish photography series!

-UPDATE: The next two blog posts will be auto-published over the next two days while I prepare additional drafts for future posts.