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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.
DSCN1373]

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

The Serialization of eBooks: The Rationale Behind The Unknown

Originally posted on my Contingency Writer’s Blog

Charles Dickens (Public Domain)

Charles Dickens (Public Domain)

In 2014, I conducted a poll inquiring what readers thought of “book serializations.” Out of a varied group of 41
respondents, 31.7% indicated that they did not know the meaning of ‘book serialization.’ 26.9% indicated a relatively neutral attitude,19.5% had a negative outlook, and 14.7% were positive towards book serializations. The opinion of the remainder was dependent upon factors such as the genre of book serializations, and the format (e.g. comics, manga) [1].

Being only a group of 41 respondents, it isn’t a representative sample of the general readership. However, it did provide a measure of insight – these reactions were mixed or unestablished.

The meaning of ‘book serialization’ varies. Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote serials, although they varied in length. In general, a book serialization entails a story begin broken up into parts, and then published in a periodical or in eBook form, rather than the entirety of the story begin published in a novel.

The question to ask may be, ‘why serialize in the first place?’ Unless the traditional format is such (e.g. comic books), why serialize mainstream genres?

The answer for me was a multi-faceted one. Firstly, why not? The fact that it’s a relatively unseen medium in novel-dominated genres does not indicate that it is unsuccessful. Could it not open up an untapped market? I thought of myself. I used to be an avid reader of novels. From my elementary into early high school years (primary to secondary), I was frequently looking for new books. As my schoolwork increased, and I was given assigned readings, however, I found that my desire and ability to recreationally read decreased. I began to shy away from 300+ page books. Yet, if a story was short enough, I would be more likely to read it. For I still loved to read. Now, there are readers who make time no matter the workload. They’re ravenous readers year round. There are also readers like myself who enjoy reading, but find it more challenging to make time, and for which serials could be a fantastic prospect.

Writing Cubism

The Trials & Tribulations of Writing

Secondly, serials are great when there’s little time to spare on the writing. I had written about three novellas before I became interested in serializations. These novellas generally took a couple of years or more to develop, and I saw my writing style mature over the course of each project. However, I did not believe these novellas to be worthy of publication. I saw need for improvement. I then wrote two short stories (“War at Our Doorstep” and “400 Years of Silence”), which would become my first published eBooks. I felt fairly confident in my writing style, and the reviews I received were generally favorable if not exceeding my expectations. Shortly after, I had the idea for my current Detective Games series. The setting would vary across the world, and the character roster would be expansive. It would be a hefty project, and certainly take me beyond 300+ pages. But I wasn’t ready to write another novella, much less a novel. I was (am) in college and the coursework didn’t allow for as much free time or mental energy as I would require. So I wrote my first serial, and often found greater motivation than I had for my longer projects.

Thirdly, serials can be great for testing the market and trying out new ideas without fully committing to a novel. The idea of the Detective Games wasn’t an ordinary one. Detectives across the world linked by a common villain? Exploring the journeys of each detective, in each region (thus far the United States, France, England, and Ireland have been utilized. My vision is to include South American, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, African, and Asian countries with detective adventures as well) and then uniting them all in a finale? I wanted to get more feedback than could be offered by beta readers. Publishing serials could provide the feedback I needed (as indicated with the feedback I received with short stories), without requiring me to travel the globe and finish the novel first. Likewise, it could be beneficial to the readers who, as aforementioned, wanted shorter stories to read.

Design #2

The upcoming second installment in The Detective Games series.

Finally, it could gradually provide resources and exposure. Over time, readers could discover the series as it was being released, as opposed to releasing a single colossal book or trilogy. It could generate more exposure through the additional releases, revenues to continue supporting the series (rather than potentially waiting for years, or even never earning enough to cover the costs of time spent), and allow for the series to be cancelled if the reaction was overly negative. The alternative being years upon years spent on a dismal book. Readers couldalso contribute to the series as it progressed by providing feedback and speculation – establishing a collaborative environment – rather than an author or editor calling all the shots. And it could be fun!

As it stands, the Detective Games has one installment. I’m receiving a great deal of feedback, and have finished the next installment and am having it beta read. Although the revenues are very small at this point, that’s not the point. I’m engaging readers and learning along the way. Revenues can come as the series progresses and gains greater exposure. In my experience, serializations are a worthwhile endeavor. In addition to benefits separate to author and reader, they may also serve to bring both groups closer together. That’s ideal in establishing a lasting impact.

Side Notes

  • I’ve been utilizing Write On by Kindle, Goodreads, and WattPad to gather more feedback prior to publishing serials, and I’ve received a great deal of constructive feedback!

Contingency Writer: The New Adventure Writer’s Blog

Retaining the same URL as before, I have decided to change the name of this blog to “Contingency Writer” : Spur of the moment contemplations, reviews, and wondrous tales.

As I tend to post quaint poems, various other literary pieces, and the occasional photography highlight, on a spur of the moment basis, I thought this would be a most fitting revision. And there are already numerous “adventure writers.” It didn’t hurt to innovate a little.

I would also like to welcome one who is new to the WordPress blogosphere, a friend and skilled programmer: the contingency coder.

 

One Couplet After Another

I found a thread within a message board while upon a website I frequent, and found that it challenged viewers to write couplets. So I began with one… and then another… and soon found that I had a poem going.

I grunt and I yawn,

I spot a frollicking Faun.

The Faun says to me,

Why so pouty?

It is Writer’s Block I say,

Oh if only I had a day,

Where I could write with ease,

Instead of getting words by a squeeze.

It’s Friday again,

Just look at Big Ben,

When it hits midnight,

I’ll have a chapter to write!

Sir, the Faun says to me,

Do not be so whiny!

The words await you right here,

Amdist the trees and the deer.

You see that one nibbling there?

He doesn’t have such a care!

He’s living life but with eyes open wide,

He doesn’t have such a need to decide,

Which words to keep and which words to throw,

It’s as his footsteps in the snow.

They just happen, I say!

In the course of the day.

So shall the words come,

Says the Faun, like the beat of a drum,

They are consistently there,

Just look about somewhere,

And let the inspiration flow,

The story shall come to you, I know!

I’m Still Here!

Everything is so very different! Well, I suppose just the WordPress homepage, streamlined post editor, and Go Premium button.

It has been quite some time since I last posted! I was originally making updates weekly, but I haven’t really had much of a chance to write anything of note, with the hubbub that accompanies the Christmas season.

First off, I’ve gotten nowhere with the literary agents. Many of the agencies have response times posted on their web pages, and it would seem my queries have surpassed those. Therefore, I’m moving on. Self publishing has become ever more tempting, albeit I have a gut feeling that I should pursue publication traditionally, at least, for this particular novel.

I have also been meddling, once again, in the photographic arts, and in the pencil-paper arts as well (I’m attending a college course). Oh the joy of perspective of drawings.

A Merry Christmas to all, and a happy end to the 2012 blogging season!

The Pruning Process

On Friday I posted my “first detective serial” which I had planned to publish, and which was in a very rough form. After gathering second opinions, I’ve decided to prune that piece of writing and let another branch flourish in its stead. In other words, I’m keeping the pages I’ve written for future reference, but I won’t be publishing that particular piece. It was an experimental thing, and it was fun working on it. Now that that’s out of the way, I can get onto what I really want to publish.

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.