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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The Daily Westin

Hey friends!

I haven’t blogged in a while. To put it simply, it’s because I haven’t written in a while. Okay, I’ve written but not like I need to be writing if I am to become a published author one of these decades.

On Painting

If you’ve read any of my more recent posts, you know that I took up painting. Do you want to see how that’s going? Let’s get that out of the way real fast, shall we?

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I’m kind of proud of that one. I had just completed one layer of a very colorful painting, which took me about a week, and decided to turn around and do a grayscale within about 30 min of that. It only took me a few minutes but was very satisfying. If I were ever to make prints of my paintings to sell, the grayscale one would be the first one I’d think about.

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This colorful piece was done purely on instinct. It was completely random and very reactive in the sense that I had no idea what was coming next and, thus, had to react to every single brush stroke. It was challenging but also very fun.

You can see that my painting style has changed dramatically if you take a look at what I was doing when I first shared a painting with you. I threw any attempt at realism out the window and have since focused my energy on the abstract. It’s much more challenging than even I would have ever imagined, and it’s because of that intense challenge that I find it so rewarding.

On Writing

I was doing so well with my novel, The Liberty Chronicles. I’d made some major revelations in the story and was super excited, as per the usual, to build on it more and more. Then I got a shiny new idea and I could not stop. I kept on developing it despite knowing that I should just write it down and move on. It is my firm belief that this is what did me in.

I haven’t written in something like three weeks now. For whatever reason, my creativity has manifested in visual art lately and, despite how much I love painting, writing is still my passion. Sure, I would love to make an income as a painter but I want even more than that to be a published author and make my living that way someday.

Maybe this is what I needed to do, to publically say, once more, that writing is what I want to do. Perhaps something as “simple” as blogging will be enough to get me back into the writing groove.

It’s going to be tough trying to balance writing with painting, but I am going to try my hardest to do just that. I am going to put my shiny new idea down and get back to work on The Liberty Chronicles. I think I have been away from it long enough now that I can actually do what I was planning to do weeks ago. I think I will go back to the drawing board, keeping the main points but developing a new outline for the story and then starting the manuscript over from scratch. It’s a big task but I am glad I was less than ten thousand words in when I decided I needed to do this.

So, that’s the plan ladies and gents. Thank you to those who’ve stuck around and I hope you will continue to do so. I will be doing better at blogging and trying to be the example I set out to be for you all.

Happy writing!

–Trevor

The Daily Westin

Hey friends!

As most of you know, I have been working on oil painting lately. I still am. I just made my first attempt to tone a canvas last night. Now, waiting for it to dry, I wanted to get back into my book, The Liberty Chronicles.

Today I made a pretty important discovery in my story and I want to tell you all so bad! Alas, it will have to wait till you read it. I just wanted to share with you because I am always amazed at how the story keeps uncovering itself. Some say that, when painting, it’s a lot like sculpture. The canvas is the stone, and all the painter is doing is uncovering what lies beneath that stone. Writing is, quite often, exactly like that. It doesn’t matter how well you think you have it outlined and all plotted out. Your story, for better or worse, uncovers itself the more you chisel away at it. Every keystroke turns that blank white page into your masterpiece. Enough art analogies? Haha.

I’m lucky in that I won’t have to go back and rewrite the whole story to accommodate this either. I’m early enough in the thing to adapt it now. But what is so wonderful about this is that I think I found something that will help carry the story through a duology, or perhaps even more. I could probably go with a trilogy, but those are cliche now, right? Who knows. We shall see what happens.

Thanks for reading!

Happy writing,

–Trevor

The (sort of) Daily Westin: Whiny Writer Edition

Good morning, friends!

So, I don’t know how many of you have stuck around, but for those who have, thank you. I am sorry I have been away for so long. You wouldn’t believe how crazy things have been lately. Work is busier than ever. I know I say that all the time, but that’s because it’s actually been getting busier and the help is minimal. Hard to find good help anymore.

The biggest reason, however, that I have been away is something much deeper. 2017 was a weird year for me. I felt very creative for most of the year, too creative in fact. There were so many things I wanted to do with writing and blogging and, quite frankly, I didn’t even come close to getting any of it done. It wasn’t until just a couple days ago that I came to the conclusion that I am kind of in the midst of an existential crisis. Today is my 30th birthday and, as I look back on the last twelve years of my adulthood, it’s hard for me to come up with a list of accomplishments. It’s also hard for me to remember a time when I was genuinely happy with life as a whole.

I love my wife and kids, and those are my greatest accomplishments. I have a job that allows me to live a comfortable life. But, aside from my family, I am not happy. I try to make the most of my job, but I don’t want to do what I do for the rest of my life. The bad thing is, I don’t even know what it is I want to do. I know I want to write and I know I want to create for a living. But what do I want to create?

I don’t know if everyone who is creative has a hyper-creative brain like I do but I think that one of my problems is that I have so many ideas. I have too many ideas. I want to write books. I want to write screenplays. I want to start a YouTube channel. I want to paint. Someone please tell me how to do all of that and work 70 hours per week as well as being a husband and a father. I can’t see how and it’s killing me.

It doesn’t help that I am suddenly beginning to ponder all the things in life. I am no longer living for today, though I am excessively aware that today may be all I have. I’m not healthy and I know that every day could be my last. Which is why I am so frustrated that I have not accomplished more. I have nothing to leave my family if I were to die today.

So, it’s time for that to change, right? Right. 2018 will be better. I will be successful.

I will write a book this year.

I will write on this blog and work on a screenplay I have wanted to write for years.

I will paint a picture.

Through all of those things, I will tell a story, one that I know my children will be proud of. To say, “Hey, that’s my dad’s story.”

That is all. I will blog more, I promise. Be ready!

Thank you so much if you read this and thank you for sticking around. See ya next time!

–Trevor

NaNo and Me

Hello guys and gals!

For all of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo this month, I hope you are doing well meeting and exceeding those word counts!

For me, well, let’s talk about that, shall we?

I had high hopes when I started this NaNo, even going back during PrepTober. I felt like my story had come together, despite not having a full and proper outline. I hadn’t fully fleshed it all out but I had the main points and it was all great. I was excited.

Then November came, and it did so with what seemed like zero notice whatsoever. Seriously, where the hell did October go? I blame the crazies who started celebrating Christmas on October 1st. I kid, I kid. Mostly.

And here we are nearly a third of the way into November and I’ve gotten so far behind there’s no way I can catch up, not with work never letting up. So. Who am I kidding. I’m not winning NaNo. Why am I giving up? I’m just not good with the pressure I guess. I don’t know. I need to do things at my own pace, whatever that may be.

I love writing and I will write without NaNo. It would be so cool to say I won NaNo and was able to tackle such a challenge. I just don’t have it in me. I have so many things I want to write and sometimes I can’t stick to just one, which makes NaNo virtually impossible.

So I’m going to continue to write no matter what. It’s my dream. And I’m going to continue to share my dreams with you all. I hope you’ll continue with me on my journey.

As you may have figured out by now, I have a problem with Story A.D.D (it’s a thing, look it up) and I don’t want to leave you today without telling you about a project I am working on.

About 8 years ago, I was really big into screenplays and film making as a whole. I bought and read (many times over) several books on both subjects and began writing multiple scripts in various genres from comedy to drama to crime. One of my biggest undertakings was a comedy which mimics a sort of gangster story where five groups of people go against one another in something we would look at as trivial but which they take very seriously. It was a huge project because there were so many characters, so many personalities, and so many moving parts.

While I never wrote a single word to the script, I did do a metric ton of planning. I built the world, named the characters, built broad descriptions for the groups of people involved, and outlined the story, more or less, completely.

Well, I was looking through one of my screenplay books the other day to get some tips for my NaNo project and, tucked within the pages, was the bulk of the planning notes I had made for that screenplay. It had been nearly eight years since I had touched those pages so, naturally, I had to read over them. Immediately, I felt the fire. The same fire I felt back when I first wrote those pages years before. Now, I cannot tell you why I put the project down. Hell, I had even contacted some people who were willing to participate in the making of the film. I was on the right track but something happened.

Well, I am picking it back up. I can’t let this one slip away, not again. I have learned a lot in the years since starting that story. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I don’t want to make films and, because of this, I can write the script as I would write any story. I can write it as an author, not a director, camera man, set designer and builder, location scout, none of that. This is what I needed to write this story, to think about it as a story and not such a demanding project.

So, I am going to spend some time on this one. I hope you all will understand what I am doing and I hope you have at least some interest in this aspect of writing because there are some things I would like to share with you about the project as it grows.

I am sorry I wasted your time as far as NaNo is concerned. Maybe I will make up for it next yeat by actually winning. We will see what the cards hold.

If you read this all, thank you so much for spending some time with me.

All the best!

–Trevor

The Daily Westin- 10/11/2017

I’m so torn.

I have always just used Microsoft Word to do all of my writing. That is, until the past year and a half or so when I started using the famous (or infamous) Scrivener.

The thing about it is that Scrivener has a huge learning curve. I will use it for a while and then get discouraged because I don’t know all there is to know about it and go back to Word before I even give myself a chance to figure it out.

I really want to use Scrivener though. But it’s not enough to just use it, I want to use it effectively. Word is easy because all you have to do is create a new document for every chapter and place it in a folder for the novel. Unbelievably simple.

Scrivener, on the other hand, is easy in the sense that all you do is create a new project and all the files and documents that have to do with your story are right there in front of your face. You don’t have to create a new file somewhere on your computer (and let’s be honest, it can be anywhere, even somewhere that the rest of your story isn’t) and try to keep track of it all. When you want to write, just open the project and it’s all there. But there are so many nuances. Things that are supposed to make it a more streamlined experience. But you have to learn all the things first. Ugh.

In trying to plan during PrepTober, I am also trying to decide where I want to write this novel. This is tough. The only real benefit to Word, aside from it being simple and being able to save a copy to the cloud so I can edit on my phone, is that when I send this to publishers, it will likely have to be in something like Word. Not Scrivener format.

I don’t know. If any of you have any suggestions or want to share your thoughts on either program, please comment!

Sorry about the rant, just wanted to share my PrepTober struggles.

–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