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 (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

When NOT to Write Horribly

You know you’ve heard it. We all have. Your first draft will be crap. All that matters is getting the idea out and onto paper, you can fix it in editing. You can’t fix a blank page. The list goes on and, while this is usually the case, it isn’t always.

Just yesterday, I made a discovery in my story. Now, I have always been a half planner,  half pantser. It’s just what’s “worked” for me. So, I have been working on a story and I have a partial outline, character development, and massive world building. Countless hours put into the pre-writing phase. I have been doing well dealing with letting go of my need to control the words as they come out of my head, following the idea that you can fix it in editing. This has been a huge leap for me. Nearly six chapters in, I can no longer do it.

Now, I don’t know if my half planning method is to blame for this. It could very well be. I’ve started to realize that my story actually isn’t working. I’ve written a character into a position where I have no idea how they even got there. Why should they be there? What did they do to deserve this? Shouldn’t they have to work a little harder? Nothing in life, even in an alternate dimension believe it or not, comes for free. Yet here I am, giving my character something I have never seen just given.

  I have to rewrite my story. 

This is the time when just editing simply will not get the job done. If I continue from here, there is no telling where the story will end up. Hell, it might not even be a story because half of  the story is missing. And I am only approaching the sixth chapter!

So, I wanted to tell you guys that editing does not always fix the story. Everyone will tell you to write like crap until all 50,000, 75,000, 100,000, whatever, words are on paper. What editing won’t fix, however, is a broken story.

This can happen to anyone too, not just a half planner like me. You can have a fully fleshed out outline and know every scene down to the dialogue, and this can happen to you. I want to tell you that when it does happen. Stop. You need to stop. You have to figure out what happened to your story. Yes, it is a huge time consuming task, especially if you’ve written more than I have, but you have to. Why? Because your story will suck. Unless you find a way to fix all the inevitable plot holes, you won’t fool your reader. And if you think you can fool your reader, you are insulting them because you can’t!

Just stop and fix it. Go back to your outline. Go back to your character development and world building and see what went wrong. I promise you, it’s in there and if it’s not, that could be your problem too.

I hope you learned something from this today. I wanted to share with you my mistake so that, perhaps, you would recognize it in your own writing. I’ve seen too many authors not recognize this mistake in any number of variations, and they go on to self-publish their story thinking it was okay and it wasn’t. This is a waste of your time and, most importantly, your reader’s time.

Happy writing, guys and gals!

–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

The Weekly Westin

Total Manuscript Word Count: 3973

Hey guys and gals! 

  I hope you all had a wonderful and productive week last week and that you’re having a good “extended” 4th of July weekend if you’re lucky enough not to be working, unlike me. 

  I wanted to give you guys a quick little update on my manuscript. 

  As you can see, I didn’t get too much done. I had a super crazy week with work and personal stuff and only managed to crank out a few words when I was able to actually sit down and think. I is write every day, just not much. That’s okay though, progress is progress. 

  I still love my story, which is a step in the right direction for me, seeing as I usually get discouraged or get a shiny new idea to work on. 

  Speaking of shiny new ideas, I made another big leap, if I may say so myself. I got another idea and was able to take a couple hours, thought dump it, and get back to my story. That’s been a huge struggle for me in the past. I get a new idea and I just have to work on it because, surely, it’s better than whatever I’m working on now. I’m happy to say that I’m in a place where I love my story enough to keep going despite having a cool new idea. 

  In Other News

  I have to admit, I’m ready to stop referring to my WIP by ‘WIP’ or anything else. I haven’t had a name for it to change that until now. 

  Tentatively, my novel will be called In the Grid. So, there’s that. Progress! 

That’s about all I have for you all today. I hope you all have an amazing and productive week. Have fun celebrating Independence Day and be safe. 

Happy writing!

–Trevor 

The Daily Westin

Hey guys and gals!

It’s time for a quick update on my writing, or lack thereof.

I’ll be honest, I’m in a super weird place with my writing right now. If you keep up with my blog, you know that I decided a few weeks ago to go full analog in my writing. It was a huge leap considering I have always written on a computer, save for the times when I was in school.

I have kept this up and, for the most part, I plan to still. I outlined a full novel with nearly forty chapters, all in pencil and on a legal pad. I even began to write it in a Leuchttrum 1917.

During this time, I have also began to pursue multiple product reviews, from pencils and notebooks, to sharpeners and even pens. Needless to say, I have gotten in WAY over my head. I’ve gone down the proverbial rabbit hole. I’ve ordered more pencils than I know what to do with, I have literally six journals I need to review, and all of this is on top of my writing goals.

All of this sounds like a shit ton of excuses and, well, I am damn tired of making excuses.

I say I am in a weird place because I am simply not getting as much writing done as I want to and I don’t know what to do. Even when it comes to blogging, I am not getting anything done and I feel like I am not doing what I set out to do with that.

I also don’t know that I want to continue writing fully in longhand. It’s so time consuming and, sometimes, inconvenient. Writing digitally, I can use my laptop at home and my phone while I am away to do my writing. On the other hand, I love writing longhand but I am so worried about taking it to work and my journal/pencil getting messed up. I work a dirty job.

I am wondering if there is a happy medium. Perhaps I will try writing the outline longhand and writing the draft digitally.

I just don’t know. It sucks not knowing. I’m sorry I always seem to have negative updates, but this is how my mind seems to work.

Thanks for reading!

–Trevor