Posted in Guest Posts, Inspiration Station, Writing

Inspiration Station: When and Why Did You Begin Writing? With Herminia Chow

As you know, guest bloggers appear on my site twice a month. For the months of August, September, and October, my guests will be discussing the same topic:

When and why did you begin writing?

This week we’ll learn a little bit more about Herminia Chow. Thanks, Herminia!

Inspiration Station: When and Why did you begin writing? With Herminia Chow by Rachel Poli

Thank you, Rachel, for inviting me to write about writing.

When did you start writing?

I started writing when I learned to pick up a pencil.

I started writing for fun when I was around 12 years old.

I started writing more seriously in high school.

Growing up, I used to read all the time. But I didn’t write much back then. If you asked me when I was a kid whether I’d read and write as much as I do now, I would’ve told you you’re crazy and should go to the doctor to get a check-up.

In elementary, I did better in math than in English for several years. Maybe it’s because my first language is Cantonese. Maybe it’s because math was an easier language to learn so to speak. Maybe it’s because I’m weird.

I used to sit with a girl who could spell much better than I could. And every time I needed to write out a word I didn’t know how to, I asked her. I guess I should thank her. Fortunately, the older I got, the better I could spell. I went from doing quite poorly on spelling quizzes and tests to doing just fine. I guess I should thank myself for reading every night, huh?

I also have to thank my parents for putting up with my trips to the library every few weeks. And later, they would put up with my trips to the bookstore.

At some point, things changed. Right around grade 4 or 5, I think. A teacher recommended I read Bridge to Terabithia. I didn’t have anything better to do, so I did. That book had such a profound effect on me. It’s a book I read forever ago, yet I still remember it. Around that time my grades in Reading and Writing started to change. For the better. I still fell short in Oral Communication. Introvert alert.

I decided I wanted to write a novel in grade 8. 12 years old me must have thought I was too god for fan fiction and short stories. Obviously, I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn’t pull off a short story back then, much less a full-fledged novel. But you live and learn. In retrospect, I have no regrets. I still hope no one ever reads anything I wrote prior to high school, especially that novel. It took me about 2 or 3 years to finish the first draft because I put it away a few times. I guess I just couldn’t wait to create my own characters and worlds. However, when I got into the project, I felt a bit overwhelmed. But the experience is one I will never forget. And if you ask me about my most memorable accomplishment, it’s finishing the first draft of my first novel.

Why did you start writing?

I used to read other people’s work all the time, not just novels but newspaper articles, magazine ads, and everything in between. I loved words. I still do. Reading about fictional characters in fictional worlds inspired me to not only imagine my own but to get them down on paper as well. So I started to do just that. I haven’t looked back since.

Reading and writing were also an escape. I’d be lying if I said I had a perfect, happy childhood. Both allowed me to escape to a different world, if only temporarily.

I write because I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I don’t know how I would pass the time if I couldn’t create or consume good content.

I don’t always feel like writing, but once I pick up a pen and start putting words down on the page, I usually don’t want to stop. It’s insane to think that the characters and worlds I’ve created didn’t exist before. Isn’t it incredible to think that a blank page could turn into a beautiful story?

I almost always seem to lose track of time too when I’m working on a project. Like right now while writing this post. I can’t say the same for other activities.

Creating something is the best feeling. Getting to share it is the cherry on top.

Once again, thanks Rachel for everything. And thank you for reading. I hope you keep writing!

Author’s bio:

Herminia Chow resides in Canada where she is fond of curling up with good books (and bad ones too), obsessing over her blogs (on WordPress and Tumblr), and coming up with new ideas for stories (or thinking about them). She hopes to major in Book and Media Studies while doing a minor in Writing and Rhetoric. Herminia is a creative writer, a brief blogger, a recreational dancer, and an avid reader of all things.

Connect with Herminia:






Posted in Blogging, Reading/Book Reviews, Writing

Blog Round Up: August 2016

August 2015 Blog Round Up Rachel Poli

Here are all the articles I found helpful and amusing this month. Enjoy!


Never Have I Ever | Reading Edition
5 Reasons Why Books Are The Best
5 Favorite Authors
Cover Reveal: Bleeding Hearts
What I Look For In A Book (As A Reader)


Chasing Freedom
7 Activities for a Waiting Author
The Patient Scribbler
Unfinished Drafts
Writespiration #94 Condense Your Novel Into 3 Sentences
Soft-Footed Death — A Riddle
Family Bonds — A Riddle
Returning to an Unfinished and Previously Ditched Draft


The Benefits of Blogging

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Posted in Reading/Book Reviews

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo book review by Rachel Poli
Via Goodreads

Title: An Elephant in the Garden
Michael Morpurgo
Genre: Young adult historical fiction
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Goodreads):

With Lizzie’s father fighting in World War II, her mother takes on the job of a zoo keeper to provide for her family. Lizzie, her mother, and her eight-year-old brother Karli have become especially attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene. The bombing of Dresden is imminent and soon, so the zoo director explains that as a precautionary measure all the animals must be destroyed so that they’re not running wild through the city. Lizzie’s mother persuades the director to allow Marlene, the elephant, to come stay in the family’s garden.

As predicted, Dresden is bombed, and the family, including Marlene, is forced from the city. Lizzie and her family aren’t alone. Thousands of Dresden residents are fleeing to find somewhere safe to stay. Lizzie’s mother has to find a different route out of the city to keep the elephant and the children safe from harm. Once they reach the abandoned home of their relatives, they come across Peter, a Canadian navigator who, by putting himself at risk of capture to save the family, gains their trust.

My Review:


Like all Holocaust stories, this book can be a difficult read. But this story was unlike the other World War II stories I’ve read and in that sense, it can be a refreshing read. It’s bittersweet.

The protagonist, Lizzie, is old and frail living in a nursing home. She befriends a nurse and her son, Karl, who happens to have the same name as Lizzie’s little brother. This prompts her to tell her story on the anniversary it happened so many years ago during World War II.

Lizzie was 16-years-old when her father went off to war, their city was bombed by the Americans and British, and they had to journey through the dark and cold struggling for food and shelter. It was just her, her mother, little brother, and their elephant, Marlene, who was brought home by their mother from the zoo.

Most Holocaust stories are about the Jews in the camps, their experiences, horror stories, and how they survived and stayed strong. Lizzie and her family are Germans who disagreed with Hitler. When you think of the Holocaust you think of two sides: the Jews and the Nazis. You don’t think about the other Germans who were actually good, who didn’t agree with Hitler and wanted peace.

Yet Lizzie and her family were caught up in the war because all of Germany was bombed and attacked in an attempt to free the Jews. They didn’t decide to just attack the Nazis, they attacked Germany as a whole and that resulted in so much more innocent lives lost and destroyed.

The overall story was told nicely as Lizzie narrated her life. Once in a while, the story would bounce back to present day as Lizzie in the hospital with her nurse and the nurse’s son sitting by her bedside intrigued by the story.

The characters were fun to read about. Each one had a purpose and was strong and brave in their own way. They were all imporant and easy to read.

This book is inspired by true events, but I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. Either way, it’s an important read.

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“What we are seeing now is a world gone mad, children, a world full of brutes, all intent on killing one another. And we should not forget that we are all responsible for making it happen, for letting it happen.” –Michael Morpurgo, An Elephant in the Garden

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Posted in Author/Site Information, Interviews

Interview on Writer’s Treasure Chest

Happy Monday!

I don’t really have a post for you guys today, but I wanted to share something with you.

The lovely Aurora over at Writer’s Treasure Chest was kind enough to interview me and showcase me on her blog.

Aurora posts a wide variety of different things such as author spotlights, guest posts, her own creative pieces, articles about writing, and reblogs. She loves to share the work of others as well as her own work.

So, please, go check out her blog and give it a follow if you’re not already. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Aurora’s Blog | My Interview

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Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing, Writing Prompts

Short Story Sunday 123

            “Wake up, wake up!”

Crystal blinked her eyes open. The moment her blurred vision cleared and she saw her little sister standing over her bed, she rolled right over groaning.

“What are you doing?” her sister asked.

“Rox, go back to sleep.” Crystal moaned.

“No. We need to get this day started.” Rox cheered.

“What time is it?”


“Please tell me you’re joking…”

“The sun is already up, Crystal.” Rox sighed. “It rose at five-eighteen. Do I need to open the blinds?”

Crystal rolled back over glaring at her sister. “Don’t you dare.”

Rox put her hands on her hips and stared down at her older sister. She let out another sigh wondering what to do. She didn’t understand why Crystal didn’t get that when you started the day earlier, you got more out of the day. There were so many things to do during the day, so why waste the first couple of hours of it?

Crystal had closed her eyes again and Rox couldn’t tell if she was back asleep or if she was just trying really hard to pretend to be sleeping again.

So she poked her.

“What are you doing?” Crystal’s eyes shot open once again into a death stare.

“I was wondering if you were awake.” Rox shrugged.

“Of course I’m awake! You’re still here.” Crystal shifted her weight and sat up in her bed. She stretched her arms up high and released a yawn as big as a lion’s roar.

“Are you ready to get out of bed now?” Rox smiled batting her eyes cutely at her sister.

Crystal narrowed her eyes. “I’m not ready, no. But I’m going to get up anyway because you’re annoying me.”

“Great!” Rox cheered plopping herself down on the foot of Crystal’s bed. “It’s in the seventies right now since the sun isn’t completely awake. I figured now would be the perfect time to sit outside on the deck with a cup of coffee and read a book together.”

Crystal swung her legs over the side of her bed. She paused and stared at her sister suspiciously. “You have the whole day planned out… Don’t you?”

“Of course!” Rox grinned. “It’s the first day of summer vacation, after all. We have to make it count.”

Crystal glanced over at the clock on the other side of their bedroom. She sighed again while standing up. “Let me at least take a shower first.”

Words: 405

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Posted in Reading/Book Reviews

Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt book review by Rachel Poli
Via Goodreads

Title: Two Way Street
Lauren Barnholdt 
Genre: Young adult romance
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Goodreads):

There are two sides to every breakup.

This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They’re even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation.

Then Jordan dumps Courtney — for a girl he met on the Internet.

It’s too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney’s heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la — this is Courtney pretending not to care.

But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot.

Turns out, he’s got a secret or two that he’s not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can’t get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other.

My Review:

For the sake of keeping this review spoiler-free, I won’t go into too much detail. But I had a lot of problems with this book.

The style of the book is really well done. We hop back and forth between Courtney and Jordan’s first-person point of view in each chapter. But not only do we see their thoughts, but we jump back in time as well. Some chapters are written a certain amount of days before the trip, some are during the trip, and then when we get to the end we see after the trip.

Courtney and Jordan are broken up, but they still go on a road-trip together to college. Jordan tries to be nice while Courtney is bitter on account they broke up because Jordan met some chick online.

The writing style is the only aspect of this book I didn’t mind.

It makes sense for Courtney and Jordan to be the narrators, but both characters were extremely annoying–more so Courtney than Jordan. Their best friends, Jocelyn and B.J., weren’t hot tickets themselves. I couldn’t find myself to care for any of the characters.

The whole story was predictable. From the summary, you kind of know what will happen at the end. I mean, it’s a young adult romance with two teens who are broken up, but still clearly have feelings for each other. Oh, and their stuck in the car together for a couple of days. Hmm, I wonder what will happen?

There was a scandal with both of their families. I figured that one out pretty quick as well. Let’s just say I know why the kids are so annoying. It’s because their parents are just as immature as they are.

This book was a fairly quick read. I read it in one day. But it got to the point that I continued reading just for the sake of saying I finished the book and get it over with.


Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt gets 2 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Usually the hard stuff you’re forced to do makes you learn a lot.” –Lauren Barnholdt, Two Way Street

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Posted in Writing, Writing Prompts

Time To Write: Show Your Character’s Biggest Pet Peeve

I don’t know what’s up with the character theme this month, but here you go.

What’s the one thing that annoys your character the most? It can be a simple thing that really grinds their gears or something big that annoys most people.

How do the people around your character feel when he/she becomes annoyed?

Feel free to post your story in the comments below. I’d love to see what you come up with. If you respond by Thursday, August 25, I’ll post your story and a link to your blog for next week’s Time to Write prompt.

Happy writing!

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