The Liberty Chronicles: Book One- Chapter One

Jordana Black had three weeks left until the end of the summer and the beginning of her Freshman year of college. She was enjoying every minute of it. During the school year, she had to find time to squeeze in reading, writing, and relaxing between all of the studying and homework. During the two months she got to be away, she could do all of those things.  

On a fine summer day, she was laying in the hammock her stepdad strung between the two oak trees in the backyard. She was reading a book, the one where the guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after when she got a call from her boyfriend Kade. The call went to her tablet and she saw Kade’s face on the screen, overlaying the book she was reading.  

“Accept call,” she instructed the device. “Well hello there stranger.” She could see Kade rolling his eyes on the video feed now taking over her screen, his normally curly black hair now mostly hidden underneath a ball cap.  

“Strange? There’s not a thing strange about me.” As he said this, he demonstrated his ability to shift both of his eyeballs outward at the same time. “Nothing at all.” 

“Gross, you win just stop that!” 

This always makes Kade laugh. “Hey, you. What’s a girl like you do with her time on a day like this?” 

“Well, you know, things that girls like me do, of course,” she said, “whatever that means.” 

“You’re reading, aren’t you”? 

“You know me too well. What are you doing handsome?” 

“Thinking,” said Kade.  

After a moment consisting of nothing much more than a blank stare, Kade breaks the silence.  

“Well, it’s been a while since we’ve done anything other than talk on the phone and, not that I don’t like talking to you, I just thought I might take you to a movie and maybe get some dinner before.” 

“A smile reaches Jordana’s eyes. “You would, would you?” 

“I would.” 

“Hmm. I guess I could make time for a guy like you to take me to a movie.” 

“Great. Then a guy like me will pick you up at about 730. Oh hey, I think you should be expecting some sort of delivery soon. Love you, bye!” 

“Love you too,” said Jordana to a blank video feed before her screen filled back up with the book.  

A few pages later, she was interrupted again by a low buzzing sound coming from above. The sound was coming from a delivery drone from Ember, a massive online retailer that sold nearly anything and, in the major cities, delivered most packages by drone shortly after an order was placed.  

Jordana got up from the hammock as the drone landed with the package a short distance from her. It shut down its motors as she approached. There was a red light above a small screen. This screen instructed her to place her index finger in a small box to certify receipt of the package. She did so and a green light replaced the red one. A message now appeared on the screen advising her to stand back, gave her ten seconds to do so, started its motors, released the package, and zoomed to the sky.  

When the drone was gone, she picked up the package and opened it to find another box labeled “Converse All-Stars”. Inside this box was a pair of shoes which she had only dreamed of having before today. They were white with pink accents. High top Converse All-Stars. At first, she could not even process what she saw in front of her. This was something that she had mentioned to Kade years ago when they were in Middle school. There were only 1,000 of these made and they cost over $200 when they first came out which meant either he paid a ton of money for them or he found a way to buy them back then. Either way, she was grateful she had someone in her life who cared this much for her. She wanted to call him back and thank him but she knew he would want her to wait and just wear them tonight. That’s exactly what she did.  

***

She was sitting on the curb waiting when Kade arrived. She stood and watched in unexplainable anticipation as the door on the PodShare pod lifted, allowing him to stand and walk out to her. The first thing he did was look at her feet to see her wearing the shoes he got her.  

“So, you got my gift.” 

Jordana slapped him on the arm before embracing him in a hug. “You’re crazy, you know that? I can’t even imagine how much these things must have cost you.” 

He smiled. “Eh, only a small fortune.” 

“Well thank you. I can’t even believe you remembered me talking about these.” She broke the hug but immediately took his hand.  

“You look good Jo. Really good.” She had the perfect outfit picked out for the shoes. She looked like a blast from the past with her ripped jeans, pink and white band shirt, and a pink hoodie, despite it being nearly 90 degrees outside. If he ever had any regrets about spending what he spent, it was gone now seeing her standing there.  

“Let’s go then, shall we,” said Kade, motioning for Jordana to get into the pod. Once inside, Kade pressed an icon on the tablet in front of them that said “continue”. A voice from somewhere in the pod said “continuing to Fire Grill. Arriving in seventeen minutes.   

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Warcross by Marie Lu: A Book Review

Warcross by Marie Lu: A Review

NOTICE: This review may contain spoilers! I will do my best not to spoil any major plot points but I won’t make any promises. Proceed at your own risk!

Hello all,

Today I will be sharing with you my thoughts and opinions on a popular Young Adult novel. I’m sure most of you have heard of a book called Warcross by Marie Lu. If you haven’t, I would be amazed as this book is literally everywhere.

Marie Lu is the author of the best selling series Legend as well as The Young Elites. Her work is very popular among readers of young adult sci-fi and fantasy. This book, the first in what will most likely be a duology, is no exception, as it is also a New York Times best seller and has been well received throughout the book community.

Warcross is a story about a young girl who is a bounty hunter and an avid video game player and hacker. Her name is Emika Chen and she never would have expected what comes her way following a hack gone wrong. She’s thrust into a world she’d never been further from, where she had all the things she could have ever asked for be it money or love. It isn’t long before she realizes she’s simply a pawn in a much larger game and her life is changed forever.

Brief Thoughts

I wanted so bad to like this book. I spent an Audible credit on it, after all and thought that it may live up to not only the hype but to the reputation of such a well-loved author. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

I thought Marie Lu could have done better. This book had so much potential and I thought she didn’t do her own story justice. Let me explain myself.

The Good

There is no denying the author’s ability to world-build. This, in my opinion, was the best part about the whole book and is the main reason I feel like she wasted so much potential.

To go along with her amazing world-building abilities, I feel like she did a good enough job when it came to fleshing out her characters as well. There were some spots where I remember asking myself why she would have a character do something or say something but, for the most part, I connected with at least the most important characters pretty well.

And that’s all. Yes, I really mean it.

The Bad

I hated all other aspects of this book. I know, hate is a strong word, but I found myself wanting to scream or pull out my hair more times than I can count.

Where to begin. The dialogue. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to throw my phone because the author did such a poor job with dialog. Some of the things these characters say to one another just would not be things that you or I would say to one another in real life. I understand it’s fiction, but seriously. It’s not just the person to person dialogue either. The narration is horrible. This story is told through the eyes of our protagonist which, to me, means that the story is told as if she were recounting it to us either verbally or in writing. I have never in any of my writing referred to the color of my own hair more than once, if that. Our MC, on the other hand, refers to it at least five times. I think I’m being conservative there but what matters is that no one would do this. “My rainbow hair streaming behind me.” That’s an actual quote from just one of the infractions. The character is recounting to us how she felt when the music carried her away as she closed her eyes momentarily. I can live with saying something like “my hair flowing in the wind as I zoomed through the streets on my electric skateboard.” There’s just no reason to keep mentioning color. We get it. You have rainbow hair. Can we move on?

Another thing that bothered me was that the author seemed to have tried to portray Emika as a strong-willed person while, at the same time, telling us how shy and standoffish she is. Marie did this sort of thing multiple times throughout the book and I never got used to it.

Let’s talk about this romance, shall we? I have never been more confused about a romance in a book. Here is this girl who hacks into your game on it’s biggest night (mind you she’s a bounty hunter for people who illegally bet on the game) in an attempt to make some extra money. You call her up while she scared to death that she will be arrested and tell her you want to offer her a job. Okay, fair enough. That’s not enough, however. You meet her and you basically both fall in love with one another instantly. In a nutshell, one minute this girl is trying to steal from you, the next you have her naked in a hot-tub at your mom’s house sharing memories with her via your super cool contact lenses, which oh by the way, are only meant to control the world. Yeah, that’s plausible.

Yet another annoying bit was how Hideo and Emika had practically just met and his best friend had to tell her to “talk to him” because he would listen to her and not him. Give me a break.

The last thing I will talk about is the backstory of his brother. I feel like it took so long for the author to explain that in such great detail but the story didn’t require it. Sure, it created a connection for us which allowed us to feel some level of anger in the end but I think you could have done that in just a couple paragraphs. I began to lose interest pretty quick.

My Rating

I rate this book 2 out of 5 stars.

The only reason I am giving it two stars is because I think this world was so much fun. It could have been so much better. That, together with the character development, I think deserves no more than two stars, and that may be too generous.

Thank you guys so much for taking the time to read this review and I hope I haven’t upset too many people, as I know so many love this book. It just wasn’t for me and I don’t know if I will even bother picking up the next one.

–Trevor

On Rebranding My Blog

Hey readers!

So I have been thinking a lot lately about the route I want to take with this blog. As most of you who have stuck around know, I write about writing most of the time but I also like to do product reviews.

Here is my dilemma. I still want to write about writing. I still want to share my journey to becoming a published author with all of you. That hasn’t changed and will never change. However, I also really love doing product reviews. It is honestly a joy for me to reach out to various brands, get their products, take the best photos I can, and then write about my experience with those products.

No, no, that wasn’t the only part of the dilemma. The biggest part of the dilemma is that my current brand doesn’t really fit too many niche’s. It’s not entirely difficult for me to get journals and pencils to review as a writer. It’s when I want to reach out beyond those things that I find a problem. I want to review all sorts of things. Tech, food, toys, all sorts of, well, lifestyle things.

So, here’s what I am thinking. I am going to find a way to rebrand this blog as sort of a writer’s lifestyle blog where I will still bring my readers along with me on my journey, but I will be able to share with you all some of the things I love and use on a day to day basis. I hope that sounds a little more fun to you guys.

It will take a little bit to get my brand figured out and then adapt the blog to it and I hope you all will stick around to see what comes out on the other side. I truly believe this is going to be fun.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to leave them below.

I hope you all are having a wonderful day!

–Trevor

Diversity in Books 

I don’t want to write this post. I’ll be one-hundred percent honest with you. I’m afraid that it could singlehandedly ruin any chance of me ever becoming a successful author. The thought that, as soon as this post goes live, the internet will have record of my opinion on this matter terrifies me.

But fuck it.

I just watched a few videos on YouTube by two different personalities. I want to name names. More than ever, I want these people to know how stupid they are, one in particular. But I won’t. The video that spurred this is one from a rather new person in the AuthorTube community and it is titled, in part, Writing With Diversity. 

Now, I feel like I have to mention that this particular person doesn’t seem to have any sense of originality whatsoever. They seem to have watched a few of their favorite AuthorTuber’s videos and said “Oh hey, I like her. I want to be just like her when I grow up and make my own videos”, then went and did just that. This person has copied the mannerisms of the other person in what seems like an effort to, I don’t know, be cool like them or something.

This particular video is the personification of that mentality. Here was their message on diversity in books, in a nutshell:

  • If you don’t write with diversity, you’re an asshole.
  • You MUST tell your reader what color someone is, otherwise they must be white, and you’re an asshole.
  • If you don’t write interracial relationships, you’re an asshole.
  • There are some sexualities that we don’t even know about. If you’re not writing about various sexualities, you’re an asshole.
  • The fact that YOUR characters are straight is stupid. Asshole.
  • If you don’t write about trans or non-binary characters, you’re writing isn’t realistic. Oh yeah, I forgot. Asshole.

This was seriously the person’s message. And here’s what I gathered from it.

This is the most important thing. What this person is asking writers to do, no demanding, is to conform to their ideal book. If I, as a writer, don’t do this, then I am doing something wrong. Fuck you, YouTube Person Who Must Not Be Named. Fuck you.

What makes this so much worse is that they are not the only person making these types of demands. So many popular BookTubers and AuthorTubers are doing this. And it is sad! Sad because they are willing to conform. Sad because they are perfectly fine with someone telling them how to write their story. Sad because they are okay with changing their vision to some cookie-cutter bullshit dream of this perfect world that, quite simply, does not exist.

  And let’s be honest, sometimes you can tell the cookies are homemade when they don’t all look the same, right? 

Writers write their visions. These could be visions of some utopian society where everything is perfect, they could be of a dystopia where nothing at all is perfect, they could be of a relationship they wish they could have but are too afraid to pursue it so they make up a story about it. Let me tell you something. When I dream, I don’t dream what anyone else wants me to dream. When I picture certain situations, I don’t picture them the way anybody else might picture that exact scenario. It’s not how our brains work!

Did you know that Hermione from Harry Potter was supposed to have been black? JK Rowling said she always saw her as black, but I bet you never would have guessed it.  There never were, in the early days before the films at least, any inferences to her color. You could have read her as black and the story would not have told you any different.

Did you know Dumbledore was thought by the author to be gay? There were literally never any parts of the story, be it in the books or the films, that would have ever suggested that, unless of course you count his lack of a partner at all. But JK Rowling told us that in the years after she typed the last words to a Harry Potter novel.

What I am getting at here is that I shouldn’t have to point out to you a color or sexuality to begin with. Now, if I do choose to specify, and I should only do so because it moves the plot forward, then I should do so respectfully and tastefully. However, you have no reason to expect me to include these things just for the sake of including them. You shouldn’t want me to! If my vision doesn’t include a transexual, why the actual fuck would you want to see one in the novel? It makes no sense!

If my vision is of a boy riding a dragon through over fucking Castlevania and I want to tell you his ethnicity, I will. If it is pertinent. But would you be any more amazed by the fact that this person riding the dragon was Indian? Fuck no.

If my vision involves a man fighting ninjas in back alleys across the globe, do you have to know he’s bisexual? Or what if he identifies as non-binary or gender fluid? Does that intensify the appeal of his fighting prowess? No. No it doesn’t. He can kick some ninja ass, no matter who he’s banging when he gets home and if telling you about it doesn’t move the plot forward, then I’m not going to tell you. 

I want you to know now that, just because I don’t tell you a character is bi or anything like that, doesn’t mean he or she isn’t. Believe me, I flesh my characters out and I know who they are. If them being bi doesn’t move the story along, I won’t tell you. Also, if the color of their skin is not important, I will not tell you. Instead, I will let you decide if they are black, white, brown, yellow, whatever.

And after all this, if I do write a book without any representation of a particular group of people, oh well. It’s my vision. Don’t buy my book. Naturally, I want to write a book that the world will love to read, but I refuse to conform. I refuse to alter my vision to suit any of these snowflake’s needs.

While I understand the need for people to consume stories with which they can relate, there is much more to being able to relate than just the color of a character’s skin or the people they choose to have relations with. Yes, our real world is not vanilla and it makes sense to have diversity, but not at the expense of changing a story to make it happen. If the story didn’t specify a certain diversity, simply dragging and dropping it into that story only seems disingenuous. Why would you want to read something like that?

Enough is enough. No more demands. No more templates for stories that don’t offend simply because they include the types of characters that meet specific requirements. No more.

If you read this all the way to the end, thank you so much. I love you all.

Happy writing!

–Trevor

 

 

What Even Is Going On?

 

Hello guys and gals.

So, I am certain you’ve noticed my absence in recent weeks. This is a problem and I am sorry.

I have, indeed, been writing, well, sort of.

I must admit to you all that I am so lost right now. I have no idea what I’m doing or where I am going. I thought I had finally found the proverbial yellow brick road, a path to something, anything that resembled hope. I HAD found it, and I had begun to see the way. Then, suddenly and without notice, the path dead ended into a dense forest which I will surely not be able to navigate my way out of.

To put it as simply as I know how, I am not doing well as a writer. I thought that, for once, I had this great idea for a story. Fully outlined it and even began writing it. I got no more than 5,000 words in before I was struck with Shiny New Idea Disorder (SNID).

SNID is an asshole. I hate SNID. SNID should die a fiery and most excruciatingly painful death.

I honestly don’t know how writers do this. Surely I am not the only one who encounters SNID. Perhaps my problem is that I have a severe lack of self-control. Couple that with a tendency to be easily distracted and SNID wins every time. Literally. Every. Freaking. Time.

I apologize for bringing you all such a dark and gloomy post but I owe you all something and this is all I could muster.

Help me!

Thanks for reading!

–Trevor

The Weekly Westin

Total Manuscript Word Count:  4,330

Hey guys and gals! Happy Monday! If that’s a thing. It’s a thing, right?

I hope you all had a productive and enjoyable week last week. Mine was busy of course. Work was crazy. I feel like I say that all the time but it’s been the absolute truth lately.

If you didn’t notice, my manuscript didn’t grow very much. I technically only added 108 words to my story last week. However, if you read last weeks post, you’ll know that I decided to change perspectives. I figured I may as well do this in the fourth chapter while my gut told me to. Naturally, this was almost like a first edit, not to mention some things that work in first person just don’t work in third. That said, even though my total word count didn’t grow, my novel did. There were parts that even I didn’t know were going to happen until I changed perspective. So this is a good thing.

Also, I had a major revelation on Saturday, but I can’t tell you what that is. All I can say is that I know how this book will end. As most ideas do, it just came to me out of nowhere. But I do think that this is how it has to end. I can’t wait for you guys to read it when it’s done.

Another bit of interesting news, I’ve acquired another analog writing tool. Well, I ordered it anyway. Can’t wait to show you guys. I bought a late 40’s to early 50’s Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriter. I’ve been wanting a typewriter for a while now and finally had the funds to get one so I did. I don’t know how much I’ll use it versus longhand or computer but I’m definitely excited to see how it works.

Well, that’s about all I have for you guys. I, unfortunately, have to get on the road to work. I cannot wait for vacation starting Saturday!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Happy writing!

–Trevor

Stationery Things – Review of The Baron Fig Confidant

Hello everyone! This week I wanted to bring to you something I’ve been excited to review and share: The Baron Fig Flagship Confidant.

*Disclaimer* I was sent this journal free of charge for the purposes of this review. Make no mistake, however, I have not been compensated in any way to provide a biased review. These opinions are my own.

Baron Fig was also kind enough to include one of their Archer pencils, which I will be reviewing in the future, but let’s get to the notebook.

The Specs

Page Count: 192 (96 sheets)

Paper Weight: Likely 100gsm

Size: 5.4″ x 7.7″ (slightly smaller than the standard A5 format)

Color: Charcoal

Style: Dot Grid

Cover: Hardcover

Binding:  Stitched and Bound. Glued to the spine.

A Wee Bit of History

Baron Fig is a company born by two friends and a Kickstarter campaign. They wanted to develop a notebook that could be used by creatives in the most comfortable and efficient manner possible, something they found to have been missing from many of the notebooks and sketchbooks of the day. It was important to them that they have a notebook which contains quality paper in a larger quantity, which opens flat, and which could comfortably travel with it’s user.

Thus, their Flagship Confidant was born. Today they offer several more products including various sizes and styles of notebooks, pencils, pens, and even a backpack.

In 2014, the company announced their Buy a Book, Plant a Tree initiative. Quite simply, they want to give back to the environment from which their notebooks are born by planting a tree for literally every book sold. How awesome!

My Thoughts

This is no doubt a quality notebook from a company that cares about quality in everything they do. The first thing you’ll notice upon receiving your Confidant is the amazing packaging.

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It’s simple, yet effective, not to mention very protective of the notebook inside. All of the information about the notebook (with the exception of paper weight to my disappointment) is displayed in an easy to read format on the back of the box.

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The box itself is a delight but the real joy comes when you open it and find your very own Confidant inside. I got the Charcoal because I wanted to have the best chance of not making it look filthy, as I work with my hands and can never seem to get them clean enough.

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As you might be able to tell, be it graphite or grease, I was not successful in keeping it pristine. The camera does not do the cloth textured hardcover justice however. You simply must see it and feel it to appreciate it.

When you first open the notebook, you will find a very thick cardstock, if you can call it that (it’s almost plastic) with what looks like a place to write down any pertinent information.

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There is no index/table of contents or anything like that. After the cover page there are 192 dot grid pages for all of your bullet journaling, doodling, or list making needs. In the back, there is no pocket or anything special. It’s the exact same as the front, only taking away the info square and adding a little Baron Fig info along the bottom.

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They wanted it to be simple and that’s exactly what it is. Aside from the slightly too short marker ribbon, there are zero frills. It’s simple yet elegant, just like a notebook should be.

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Above you can see the dot grid pages and the stitching of the signatures. I love these dots as they are dark enough to see clearly but not so dark as to be distracting. I also don’t feel restricted by them at all so I feel more free to doodle while also being able to write in a straight line. It’s the best of both worlds.

There are 12 perforated pages in the back of the book, good for, well, whatever one would need those for.

Paper Performance

Although I was not able to find the info on their own website, Jet Pens has a branded version of the Confidant and they claim the paper weight is 100gsm. I would say that’s about right. It’s definitely a little on the thick side, but it’s totally pleasant.

I don’t have the wettest pens available to me but it was able to handle everything I threw at it with little to no ghosting and absolutely no bleed-through. Feathering was minimal if present at all and I really enjoyed writing with all of the pens and pencils on this paper.

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If you are looking to use this with a fountain pen, I can definitely recommend it, at least for the Pilot Metropolitan with a medium nib.

Functionality

Baron Fig makes it a point to say that this notebook lays flat. And it will, but it may require a little initial work to make all the pages do so. Because it’s glued to the spine, it’s a good idea to bend it a little to break up the adhesive a bit. Don’t worry, this doesn’t damage the structural integrity of the spine, it just won’t lay very flat anywhere other than the middle if you don’t.

I love the yellow ribbon for marking pages. It’s thick and durable and I love the contrast it provides against the charcoal cover. My one complaint is that it’s so short! It could easily use another inch and a half or so, to allow you to pull the marker from left to right to easily access it’s marked page. This is not a deal breaker, just something to think about.

Final Verdict

9 of 10 points

This is a notebook of amazing quality made by people who really care about it’s users. It’s simple, which really seems to make it much more effective for creatives. I plan to use this one for my very first bullet journal because it has enough pages for the amount of spreads I plan to do and the paper is top notch. I might also want one of these to write some of my stories in, sometime in the future.

I only gave this 9 points because of the bookmark and the fact that it’s glued to the spine. These aren’t really problems but I think Baron fig could improve a little in these areas with future releases.

You can get the Confidant in three sizes: Pocket, Flagship, and Plus. All three sizes can be ordered with plain, dot, or ruled paper, and you can get them all in two colors: charcoal or light gray. I’m hoping to get my hands on a Plus soon, to keep my story outlines in.

From their website, this Flagship can be yours for $18.00, a great price for a notebook of this quality.

A few more pictures before I go.

 

Go get you one and thanks so much for reading!

 

–Trevor