WIP Wednesday [October 2018]

We’re already halfway through October. The weather is finally starting to turn more Fall than Spring and things are getting pretty chilly. I’m not sure I’m ready to start wearing coats again. I guess I just need to stock up on more coffee.

WIP Wednesday October 2018 | Work in progress | creative writing | blogging | novel writing | author | RachelPoli.com

George Florence & The Perfect Alibi

I’ll admit I haven’t really worked on this novel this month. I’ve had it in the back of my mind but I have a couple of other projects that I’m thinking about. I have sat down and created some sort of plan/schedule/deadline/thing for this one though. Once I get Sunday Morning figured out, I’ll start working on this again, which should be soon.

Sunday Morning

This is a collection of flash fiction I’m working on. I’m almost done with another round of edits and then I’ll start another rewrite. Sunday Morning is planned to be self-published in early 2019. My patrons over on Patreon are making this book possible. I’m running a special promotion on my Patreon for all who join my community over there. For $1 a month you’ll get a special book box which will include a copy of the book with a patron-exclusive book cover, a hand-written thank you note from me, a bookmark, and more! (I’m still thinking of ideas.) This offer ends on December 9, 2018.

If you enjoy my work on this blog and read my stories, please consider joining me over on Patreon where you’ll get fun rewards based on the tier you sign up at as well as access to a fun, exclusive community where you’ll hear news first straight from me! You can check out Patreon here. Or you can sign up directly here.

Patron Only Short

The last project I’m working on for this month is a short story for my patrons. One of the rewards for signing up at $1 a month is an exclusive short story from me each month. This short story is written in help with my $3-patrons in which they can name a character and give me a prompt to write about. Again, if this is something that interests you, please take a look at my Patreon.

What projects are you currently working on? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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The Downside Of Outlining Your Novel

When it comes to any stage of the creative writing process, there’s always some pros and cons to it. Not all writing is glamorous and it sounds more exciting than it really is at times. Outlining is a step some people skip and one that everyone does differently. So, here’s the downside of outlining your novel.

The Downside to Outlining Your Novel | Creative writing | outlining your novel | novel writing | blogging | RachelPoli.com

Before the First Draft

When I outline before the first draft, I feel a certain thrill for my novel. I’m excited, the ideas are brand new and fresh. I can’t wait to get to know my characters and explore a new world I’ve created.

If I get any new ideas, I have to write it down otherwise I’ll forget. Sometimes I write details that I believe the event might occur but other times I just write the basic idea down and call it day.

So, when the outline is over and it’s time to write the first draft, there’s one of two things that might happen:

1. I write the first draft without a problem.

Obviously, this is the best way to go. The outline guides me as it’s supposed to. Some ideas stay the same, some change. New characters are added and so on and so forth. This is the ideal way I’d love for all my novels to go.

But it doesn’t always happen that way.

2. The thrill is gone.

There have been times where I’ve outlined and then, when it comes time to write the first draft, I have no more motivation to write the story anymore.

Why?

Because I more or less already wrote it. Sometimes I write so many details into the outline, or I’ve worked on it for so long that the idea has been cooking for a while, that when I start the first draft I feel like I already wrote it.

This makes the process of writing the first draft slow. I wish that it was already written and I could just get started on the editing process. There’s a lot more detail and description that has to go into the first draft though.

I love outlining but there have been times where it’s been more work than I meant it to be. Sometimes, even if you outline all the time, it’s best not to outline and just wing the project. Everyone works differently but also I think every project needs to be tackled with its own unique approach.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you put yourself in a writing slump before? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Meet Carol J. Perry, Author [Author Interview]

It’s my pleasure to welcome Carol J. Perry to my blog!

Carol J. Perry | Author Interview | Witch City Mystery Series | Paranormal Mystery books | Blogging | Book Blogging | RachelPoli.comHow long have you been writing?

Seems as though I’ve been writing all my life if you count school things. I was editor of my high school magazine and wrote short stories and very bad poetry! My first experience with actually getting paid for writing began when I was nineteen and was hired as an assistant advertising manager for a local fuel company.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

Two motivations. #1. I enjoy doing it. #2. I like getting paid to do it.

The beginning: I knew in the seventh grade that I wanted to be in the advertising business and planned my future accordingly. I wanted to be either a copy writer or an artist. Turns out I’m a much better writer than I am an artist.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day for you?

I’m a morning person, so I like to work as soon as I have my first cup of coffee. I try to write 500 words before noon, then stop and do housework, errands, maybe go to lunch, then come back to the computer and do 500 more. 1000 words a day is always my goal.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I’ve been fortunate to have had more than one book published. The first one was a middle grade book, Sand Castle Summer, published by Willowisp Press way back in 1988. I’m sure the first thing I did was call my husband, Dan and tell him the good news. My first mystery book was Caught Dead Handed published by Kensington in 2014 and that was a super exciting day!

What was the publishing process like? How long did it take?

The actual process from the time I deliver the finished manuscript until the book is released takes about a year. That was true of both the middle grade books and the mystery series. First the editor goes over the manuscript and makes suggestions like clarification of certain points and maybe asks for another scene or sometimes asks that it be shortened. After that the copy editor makes corrections in punctuation, spelling etc. and sometimes even makes suggestions about the story.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Yes. I’m working now on Book#9 in my Witch City Mystery series for Kensington. My contract calls for two books a year.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I’ve done several other things besides writing. I’ve been a floral designer, a collectibles show producer, a salesperson in a store, a cartographer, a substitute teacher–even a commercial fisherman!

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

I wish with all my heart I’d taken a typing class somewhere along the line. I still have to look at the keys!

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

My favorite book is The Chronicles of Narnia by C. E. Lewis. Favorite writer is Sue Grafton. Favorite genre is and always has been mysteries.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read lots and lots of current books in your chosen genre. You’ll learn a lot about how to put your book together, how to pace the action, and what editors/agents are looking for. It also helps if you can join a critique group so that you can get some opinions while your work is in progress. I attend a critique group every Saturday morning and the help I receive there is extremely valuable.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Yes. If this was easy everybody would do it. Also, to quote Shay Mitchell, “Visualize. Have Faith. Then work your butt off.”

About Carol J. Perry

Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry | Book Trailer | Paranormal Mystery | Author Interview | Book Blogger | Blogging | RachelPoli.comCarol J. Perry is the author of the Witch City Mystery series, (Kensington.) She was born in that magical witch city—Salem Massachusetts–on Halloween Eve!  Carol’s writing background includes ad copy, non-fiction magazine articles (many on travel, more on antiques and collectibles) and several middle grade books. Her first Witch City mystery, Caught Dead Handed, appeared in 2014, followed by six more—the newest, Bells, Spells and Murders released  September 25, 2018. Carol lives in Florida with husband Dan, one black Lab and one spoiled cat.

Short Story Sunday 234: Zigzag

Short Story Sunday | Flash Fiction | Creative writing | writing prompt | RachelPoli.com

Stella poked her head into the living room. She wanted to check on her younger brother, who was being awfully quiet. Their parents had gone out for the night and had entrusted her to keep an eye on the four-year-old. It was a Saturday night and Stella would have preferred to be at her friend’s house or even just up in her bedroom listening to music, reading a book, or even just lying in bed alone. Anything was better than babysitting your little brother, right? Still, she wanted to get a little spending money since she was going to the mall with her friends the following weekend.

Walter was quiet in the room. He laid on the floor with blank paper and a box full of crayons. He couldn’t make too much of a mess with crayons, right? Stella tried to see what he was doing but couldn’t. She didn’t want to get too close to him. He was so quiet and calm that she didn’t want to disturb him. This was the easiest babysitting gig she had ever had and she didn’t want to ruin it.

Deciding that he was fine, Stella turned her back to go back out into the kitchen. Some new baking show was coming on and she wanted to watch it. She had never really watched baking shows before but all her friends raved about them so she thought maybe she’d give it a try.

“Stella?”

She winced. She was caught.

Stella backtracked to the doorway and looked over her shoulder. Walter was still where he was but now he was staring directly at her fiddling with a purple crayon in his hands.

“Yes?” she asked.

“Hi,” he smiled.

“Hi,” she deadpanned.

“What are you doing?”

“I was going to watch TV. Do you need anything?”

He shook his head.

“Good. Enjoy.” Stella turned back around to walk away.

“Stella?”

She groaned walking backward again. She stepped into the living room and leaned her body against the archway. “Yes?”

“Do you want to color with me? I’m making zigzags.” Walter held up a piece of paper to show her.

Sure enough, there were zigzags on the blank page, but it was just a couple of lines. Stella stepped further into the living room and looked down at all the papers he had. They all looked the same, just different colors. The pages were barely filled and each only had four or five zigzagged lines on them.

“What a waste of paper.” She muttered.

“What?” Walter asked.

“Nothing, I mean… they look good. But don’t you think you should put a little more color on the pages?” Stella asked. She squatted down beside him pointing to a couple of the pages. “There’s a lot of white on there and you have so many crayons that haven’t been used yet.”

Walter sighed in annoyance.

Stella narrowed her eyes at him. “What?”

Walter sat up and began rearranging the pages. He placed them beside each other, making their edges touch. He put some above, some below, and some next to each other. Stella watched carefully as he did this so precisely and narrowed her eyes trying to figure out what he was doing.

When all the pages were arranged accordingly, Walter sat back and looked at Stella expectantly. Stella too sat back impressed at the large picture before her. He had colored on about ten pages so far and when placed right beside each other, all the lines were connected to another page somehow.

“It’s a puzzle. Want to help?” Walter asked.

Amazed, Stella nodded her head. “I don’t think I’m going to be as good as you though.”

Walter grabbed a pink crayon and handed it to her. “Don’t worry. I’ll teach you.”

Words: 626

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around. Also, check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

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Wishtree By Katherine Applegate [Book Review]

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Book Review: Wishtree by Katherine Applegate | Reading | Middle Grade | Fiction | Fantasy | Book Blogger | Book Reviewer | RachelPoli.com

I got the book from my mom, who borrowed it from her school’s library.

Summary:

Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this “wishtree” watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comThe cover is very pretty. It’s simple and says a lot about what the book will be about.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comMy mom had borrowed this from the library and once she was finished with it, she told myself and my sister that we needed to read it. So, I didn’t really get much of a choice, but I’m glad she gave it to me.

Plot | RachelPoli.comRed is a big oak tree as is the narrator of the story. He has a story to tell, a lot of them. However, as a tree it’s his job to shelter certain animals and people watch. This is the story of Red trying to understand his own place in the world as well as understand the world around him, especially humans. There’s a much deeper meaning to the plot that was well executed, but I won’t say much further due to spoilers.

Overall, this plot was very well done and has a special message that everyone can read and understand.

Characters | RachelPoli.comThe main character was Red the oak tree along with his critter friends which included opossums, skunks, and owls alike. His best friend was Bongo, a crow. It was a great cast bursting with many different personalities. They were all written in a unique voice that made the book comical as well.

The human characters were done simply, which worked well since we see them through Red’s eyes. However, we get just enough information.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This book is a super quick read. The words just flowed right along throughout the book. It captures your attention from start to finish between the plot and sub-plot as well as the voices of the characters. It was certainly interesting to read a book from the POV of a tree.

The chapters are mostly short being only two or three pages long and some of them were broken up with pictures to illustrate the characters and aid the plot along.

Overall | RachelPoli.comEvery part of this book was well done. It was easy and fun to read and even though the story is over, I’d love to hear more from Red.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“It is a great gift indeed to love who you are.” -Katherine Applegate, Wishtree

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Time To Write: Set The Scene 11 [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a sentence starter. Check out some great pieces by fellow writers:

Now onto this week’s writing prompt:

Time to write | set the scene | creative writing | writing prompt | setting prompt | flash fiction | RachelPoli.com

Write a story based in the setting above.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below and I’ll share it next week. Please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt!

Happy Writing! If you want more, check out all my other Writing Prompts here!

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The Sticky-Note Method For Outlining A Novel

There are a lot of different outlining methods. Some people use lists, others use templates they create or find on the Internet, or there are methods floating around such as the Snowflake Method. I’ve never really outlined in those kinds of ways. I’ve always summarized or made lists. You know, the basics of the story. I recently started outlining scene by scene, especially now that I’ve been outlining as I write the first draft. So, here’s the sticky note outlining method that I use.

The Sticky Note Outlining Method | Novel writing | creative writing | outlines | novel outlining | RachelPoli.com

I’ve always loved office supplies, especially Post-It Notes, or sticky notes as I like to call them. I started to use them for a novels a long time ago. I’d make notes to myself within my manuscripts as I edited and stuck them in between pages. Well, I still do that, but I actually do it less now that I use them for outlining. Now I use each sticky note as a scene or an important event such as a plot point or special time.

Where I Put The Sticky Notes

I started using this method during my second or third time editing my mystery novel, George Florence & The Perfect Alibi. I placed the sticky notes 3-by-4 on each page. I filled in the notes as scenes in chronological order of what was happening in the novel. I did this for a while and filled up a notebook doing so, but then I decided I was kind of wasting good notebook paper.

While it was great to have the sticky notes together in a notebook that could close and keep them sticking and flat, I decided I’d rather use my notebooks for writing. So, now I use this method in a different way.

Instead of leaving the house to buy a poster, I taped a few card stock pieces of paper together and made my own poster – best part about this “poster?” It folds! So it works similar to the notebook in keeping the sticky notes together and portable, but I can also hang it up on the wall and work on it as I go while still sitting at my desk.

Why Sticky Notes?

They are so easy to move. You don’t know how many times I’ve written something down and then needed to change it. The only time I like to use pencil is if I’m drawing. So, I always use pen when writing or outlining. Then I need to scribble something out if I make a mistake or change something.

The sticky notes allow me to pick up the scene and either move it to a different spot or put it on a separate sheet of paper. I never throw away the sticky notes because even though I may not use it at that moment, I could very well need it later. I don’t want to forget any ideas no matter how good or bad, old or new.

I Love This Method

Sticky notes make things so much easier. As I said, I can easily move them around from draft to draft, see things all at once together in one big sheet of paper rather than flipping through pages of lists and ideas, and it’s really colorful. Sticky notes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They’re a lot of fun and brings your project to a new light.

Do you use this method at all? How do you tackle outlining your novels? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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The One Reason I Outline As I Write The First Draft

When I first started writing I always thought that you needed to outline before you began writing the first draft. That’s what I was taught in school, after all. I always had to brainstorm and write an outline to pass into the teacher before handing in the first draft of the essay. Most often than not, I’d write the essay and then write an outline based off what I wrote and passed them in respectively when they were due. My teachers never suspected a thing. Still, I always outlined my novels before writing – until recently that is. Here’s the one reason I outline as I write the first draft.

The One Reason I Outline As I Write The First Draft | Novel outlines | outlining your novel | creative writing | blogging | RachelPoli.com

There used to be a lot of steps I’d take in order to get through a couple of drafts of my novel. Why? Because I had to take notes. Notes meant an updated outline.

In other words, I would outline, write the first draft, then as I edited the first draft I’d outline again updating the original outline with anything that changed or was out of order than I originally intended. I would do this for every draft as well.

The reason I did this was because it became easier for me to edit if I have a solid outline or even a table of contents so I didn’t have to scroll through the whole manuscript to find that one certain scene.

Then I decided to cut out a step here and there. Now I outline as I write the first draft.

It keeps my first draft together.

Sometimes I’ll do research and make a list of characters and such before I begin writing but now I outline as I go along and write the first draft.

Not only does this make the editing process easier since I have that guideline, but it also helps as I write the first draft because if I need to stop writing for the night, I can always look at the outline the next day to remember where I left off and keep going without any hiccups.

This keeps my first draft together and allows me to brainstorm new ideas, expand on existing ideas, and get going on that first draft quicker. I’ll write a scene and then when the chapter is over, I’ll make a note of it in my outline. It reminds me of what happened (yes, even if I wrote it five minutes ago) and allows me to ponder on it more. Sometimes I don’t think of what could happen next until I write a summarized version of what’s already happened.

For me personally, I think outlining while I write the first draft works the best. I remember most of what’s going on in my own story and it keeps me organized which is what I like best.

When do you outline, if you outline at all? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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Why I Love Outlining My Novels

If you know me then you know that I enjoy the outlining process. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but I thought I’d do a post about why I love outlining my novels.

Why I Love Outlining My Novels | Outlines | novel writing | creative writing | blogging | RachelPoli.com

There are many different reasons why I love outlining my novels, but there’s one in particular that really makes me happy.

It keeps me organized.

Again, if you know me then you know that I’m a very organized person. I enjoy having a schedule or routine to follow. I enjoy cleaning and I love having a designated spot for everything. This goes for my writing as well.

I love outlining my novels because it keeps me organized – the novel itself and my thoughts. Outlining gives me a spot for a list of characters, locations, plot points, dialogue ideas, and everything in between.

My favorite part about outlining is that it helps me organize the general structure of the novel. Sometimes I summarize each chapter in a notebook, other times I use sticky-notes and index cards to plot the novel scene by scene, plot point by plot point.

There’s no right or wrong way to write a novel – we all work in our own way and at our own pace. For me, however, staying organized with your novel is key to completing that first draft, editing, and beyond. Staying organized in the beginning really makes things easier in the long run.

How do I stay organized?

I break my novels up into the stages of the creative writing process. I have a notebook for research and general notes plus a poster. (Or sometimes I just tape card stock together because who really wants to leave the house and go to the store?) Sometimes I’ll have an Excel sheet or Word document filled with bullet points and charts, but I’m old school. I like having pen and paper.

My first draft is written on the computer as if all the other drafts. I have an accordion folder to hold all the drafts as well as file folder to hold onto the current draft I’m on because I always hand edit.

I’ll admit, it doesn’t always look so pretty. I do have to organize and re-organize now and again. Still, it helps me and it looks nice inside the filing cabinet and on my shelves.

Long story short, outlining helps my novel itself stay organized. I mean, the outline is more like a guideline and changes a lot, but it still helps a lot.

Are you generally organized? Do you enjoy outlining your novels? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Two Purposes Outlining Your Novel Serves

Outlining is a hit or miss for some people. Some find it helpful while others think of it as an unnecessary step. Why plan when you can just jump right into the writing? Everyone works differently and there’s no wrong way to write your own novel. I personally find outlining super helpful. The way I see it, there are two purposes outlining your novel serves.

Two Purposes Outlining Your Novel Serves | Outlining a novel | novel writing | creative writing | writing tips | Writing Blog | RachelPoli.com

1. Before: Ideas

Whether you believe in writer’s block or not, we all get stuck on our writing now and again. You can get stuck on any part of the creative writing process – you may struggle with ideas, the middle of your story, a certain character might give you trouble… there’s a lot of baggage that comes with writing a novel.

This is going to sound obvious, but one thing that the outline really helps with is ideas for your novel. If you outline before, ideas tend to come easier. At least, they do for me.

Outlining is kind of like a brainstorming session. Sometimes I’ll outline by summarizing what may happen in each chapter. I’ll think of something to happen in chapter three and then that particular thing will spiral into another idea or another action or thought for one of the characters. This may happen for chapter four or chapter 12. The possibilities are endless.

Of course, ideas spark as you write the first draft as well, but I also felt as though outlining gave you more ideas to play around for the first draft. That’s the great thing about ideas – they change and they improve.

2. After: Editing

Editing has always been difficult for me and it can seem like such a chore. Outlining beforehand has always helped me with the editing process later.

Having an outline while I edit is great because if I need to take a look at a certain part of the novel or forget when something happens, I can turn to my outline. I use to spend a long time scrolling up and down, pressing CTRL+F in my document, and scanning all the written words for one particular sentence or scene. With an outline, it’s easy for me to look it up that way. In a way, an outline is kind of like an index of my novel. I jot down notes and summaries as I write each chapter. It works for me.

All in all, outlines do a lot. They don’t work with everyone, but I do think there are many different ways to go about a outline. Something will work for everyone.

Do you agree with me? Are there any other reasons outlines work for you? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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