Writing Is Like… Playing

Remember using your imagination out loud in front of your parents or friends and not caring about whether people are watching you or not? Yeah, I miss those days too.

Writing Is Like Playing | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

You’re Using Characters

I’m almost 26-years-old. I still have my action figures from when I was young. I still have my stuffed animals too. In fact, I still collect stuffed animals. I’m always creating characters in my head and having conversations with them. That’s one of the things I love about writing. I’m bringing my characters – some I made up or fan fiction – come to life. I can give them a voice and give them an adventure.

You’re Using Your Imagination

We all talk to our imaginary friends. We all wish we were someplace we’re not. We all wish we had superpowers or something of the kind. Writing allows you to take your imagination to new heights. It allows you to bring it to live and live the life you want, even if it’s just for a little while.

You’re Sharing It With Others

By writing down you’re imagination, you’re sharing it with others. Whether you get it published or just post it on your blog, others are reading it and being absorbed into your world. You’re teaching others morals from your story. You’re sharing life lessons and how to be imaginative with children. You’re allowing people to love reading. In the end, it brings us all together.

What are some ways writing reminds you of playing? Does it remind you of anything else? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Going To The Movies [Mental Health Mondays]

When it comes to anxiety, some triggers for myself are known and some aren’t. Going to the movies is one of those known triggers for me. In fact, movies, in general, can be a trigger for me. However, I finally went to the movie theater for the first time in forever a few months ago.

Mental Health Monday: Going To The Movies | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Why Movies?

Honestly, I have no idea why movies are a trigger for me. I’m not one for blood and gore and, I think, with the more serious kinds of movies, not knowing what to expect or what will happen throws me off. I used to be able to watch superhero movies like Iron Man with ease and now that kind of stuff bothers me. I still watch them though because I love those movies, but I can only take one or two movies at a time.

I can watch PG-13 movies to a certain point, but I’ve never watched a rated R movie before (not willingly, at least). Needless to say, I can’t and will never do horror. There are exceptions, of course, though when watching a movie for the first time, it can be rough for me.

Why they’re a trigger for me, I don’t know. I think a lot of it stems from school. We’d watch movies that, I personally believe, were not age-appropriate. In ninth grade, my biology teacher gave the substitute a movie for us to watch and it was similar to America’s Funniest Home Videos but it was called That’s Gotta Hurt and was totally bloody and people were getting hurt and screaming. It was not entertaining in the least bit. The sub happened to be the most infamous one among all the students and he refused to let me go to the nurse thinking I was trying to get out of class… because we were totally busy, right?

Long story short, I had an anxiety attack and passed out in front of the class.

More Examples

In eighth grade, we watched a rated R movie about some war and I have certain bloody scenes embedded in my mind.

In fifth grade, we watched Pirates of the Carribean. I love that movie now, but at the time, I was deathly afraid of the pirates and skeletons. I spent that whole time with my eyes closed.

In third grade, that was when 9/11 tragically happened. My teachers were in a panic and, rightfully so, couldn’t focus on work. They brought in the TVs to the classrooms and we watched it all happen on live TV. Their reasoning was that it was “history in the making.” Of course, they didn’t mean that in a good way. I can’t begin to imagine what people went through who were actually present and had loved ones pass away. However, for an eight-year-old watching that live on TV… it was pretty scarring.

Needless to say, whenever I saw a TV in the classroom, I immediately felt anxiety to the point where I would fake being sick or lie to my teachers and tell them my parents didn’t allow me to watch whatever it was we were watching.

I Shied Away From Movies

Throughout the years, I became more and more distant to movies. Cartoon movies and such are totally fine but rated R and some rated PG-13 movies along with live-action or even CGI are tough for me to watch. Despite all that I just said, I still don’t entirely understand why. Again, I think it may be the unknown of what’s going to happen in the movie but I haven’t pinpointed the exact reasoning.

This grew to affect the movie theater as well. I was never one for loud noises, crowds, or the dark – all of which can describe a movie theater. I stopped going to the theater when Fantastic Four came out in 2015. I went with Kris and our friend and I ended up leaving in the middle of the previews. I never went back to the theater after that. Only on the occasion when a new Disney movie came out or something. Then I might go, but I usually waited for the DVD. That way, I could pause and walk away if I needed a break.

Aside from the occasionally Disney movie exception, there was one movie in particular that I was determined to see.

Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu came out in May 2019 and I couldn’t resist not seeing it. It’s Pokemon, which I adore, and I’ve been waiting for this movie for so long. CGI and live-action have been daunting to me because there can be some scary or trippy scenes. (And there was.) But, I made it work.

I’ve never forced myself to work on going to the movie theater. One thing I learned from therapy was to pick and choose my battles. School gave me anxiety, but I needed to work through that as it was stopping me from doing something important in my life. Going to the movies is just a fun activity that I could live without. Plus, there are DVDs and streaming. In fact, it saves me money in the long run.

I didn’t want my anxiety to stop me from seeing a Pokemon movie though. It was something I looked forward to for so long. Being in the gaming community, I would have sorely missed out on Twitter conversations talking about the movie. It’s not the same watching it on a DVD for the first time months after everyone has stopped talking about it.

I Was Prepared

We got our tickets early and went opening weekend so we could get the special Detective Pikachu Pokemon cards (another incentive for me to go). So, I knew it was coming for a few weeks. I was mentally preparing myself.

When I go to the movies, I have my worry stone and bring a cold drink and a snack. The food helps me focus on something else if I need a distraction from the big screen in front of me. For Detective Pikachu, I hid an entire bag of cheese pretzels in my backpack – they were so good!

I sat in between Kris and our friend Nickie and we were also in the back, which I prefer if I need to step outside for some air. I also had two other friends with me to cuddle with – Detective Pikachu himself and Psyduck.

Kris and I went to Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks before the movie and I found plush toys from the movie. Psyduck talks and Detective Pikachu, oddly enough, doesn’t. I got both of them though because Psyduck is one of my favorite Pokemon and Detective Pikachu is the title character. ($40 later…)

I had both plushes in my lap throughout the movie (I even brought them into the restaurant with us for dinner before the movie). I had anxiety, yes. That was to be expected. However, when the movie actually started, all of that seemed to go away.

I’m Still Anti-Movie Theaters

After that, I’ve gone back to the theater to see Toy Story 4 and that’s it. I had a good time at Detective Pikachu, but I’m still not thrilled of the idea of going to a movie theater. As fun as seeing Detective Pikachu was, it took a lot out of me. I’m going to continue picking and choosing my battles.

But at least I can say I won that one.

Mental Health Monday: Going To The Movies | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health Matters | RachelPoli.com

Can you relate to any of this? What was the last movie you saw at the theater? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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Short Story Sunday 277: Follow (Part Two)

Short Story Sunday: Follow | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

If you haven’t read Part One, you can do so here. Last week, you guys chose to have the characters check out the banging by the window. Here is part two.

Another banging at the window came, shaking the wooden boards that held it together. Luna shrank back stepping away from the window while Alex grabbed a poker from the fireplace and pointed it toward the window. Felix watched this with wide eyes before holding a hand up motioning for her to stand down.

He crept to the window and peered above the board that covered most of the glass. He saw nothing. He ducked lower and peered before the plank.

Felix turned back around with a shrug. He didn’t know whether to be relieved or worried that the banging must have just been the bugs or maybe the wind.

Alex let the poker go lip, her face twisting in frustration. Luna looked as though she were about to pass out.

None of them spoke a word or dared to breathe loudly. There still could have been something out there, but no one was willing to suggest it out loud.

“I know you’re in there.”

Felix looked back over his shoulder at the window. He heard Luna gasp from behind and Alex possibly take out another tool from the fireplace. He crept closer to the window.

“If you want to live, follow me.”

Felix furrowed his brows. He couldn’t make out who was standing outside. The window was tinted with dust and there was only a small crack at the bottom, Felix could barely hear him speak.

“If you want to live,” the voice said louder, “follow me.”

He walked away from the window and Felix turned to the girls. “Did you hear that?” he said quietly.

Alex nodded.

“You’re not going out there, are you?” Luna asked, stepping forward.

Felix shrugged. “This could be someone in the same boat as us. Someone who can help.”

“Or it could be a trap,” Alex suggested.

“He could have sent the bugs,” Luna added.

“I don’t think anyone can really ‘send bugs,'” Alex said, rolling her eyes.

Luna glared at her. “Have you seen the size of those things? They’re not normal. Something altered their DNA or their mechanical. And where did they all come from?”

“Bugs lay eggs and nearly 100,000 of them are born,” Alex stated.

“You know what I mean,”

“Girls,” Felix interjected, putting a hand on his sister’s shoulder. “I’m going to go outside and check what’s going on.”

“Don’t you dare,” Luna snapped.

“Alright,” Alex agreed. Luna shot her another glare, though the new friend just shrugged in response.

“We haven’t heard any buzzing in a bit, so I’m thinking the bugs moved on to a new location. Let me just see what this guy wants. He might be able to help us,” Felix explained in an attempt to convince his sister.

Luna shook her head. “Or he could just be trying to kick us out of our hideout so he can have it to himself.”

“Oh, please. This is the worst possible shelter,” Alex grunted.

Felix, ignoring Alex, looked Luna in the eyes. “I will be right back. I promise.”

Without waiting for a reply, he turned his back and exited the house closing the door behind him. Luna stared at the door as though it would open back up immediately. She looked over at Alex, who sat dwn on the couch.

Alex shrugged. “And now we wait.”

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Time To Write: Set The Scene 16

Last week’s writing prompt was a sentence starter. Check out some stories from fellow writers here:

This week’s writing prompt is:

Time To Write: Set the Scene | Writing Prompt | Creative Writing | Writing Community | Creative Writing Prompt | Scene Prompt | Setting Prompt | RachelPoli.com

Write a story based in the setting mentioned above: At home.

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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Harry Potter Trivia Night

I got together with friends Sunday night. We went into the city for trivia night at a bookstore. It was Harry Potter themed and it was a great night had by all.

Harry Potter Trivia Night | Reading | Writing | Life | Harry Potter | Trivia | RachelPoli.com

My First Trivia Night

The first and only time I’ve ever gone to a trivia night was when I worked at the preschool. It was for a fundraiser for the school district and it was… fun, but not at all what I had expected.

Since it was a fundraiser, mulligans were involved. If you got an answer wrong, you could buy a mulligan and automatically get the answer right. The team that won bought about 20 of these and that was the reason they won. Granted, I understand it was to raise money, but it was totally one-sided and not at all fair.

The trivia was random facts. There were no real categories, just random questions. I knew one answer throughout the night. That was it. Not to mention, the host speed-read the questions out loud. There was no multiple choice and no visuals. Needless to say, I tuned him out a lot and just focused on eating – which we had to bring our own food.

After that, I never really got why people enjoyed trivia night. Sure, it was just one experience, but I felt kind of dumb at the end of the night.

Practice The Night Before

A few weeks ago, my friend’s friend discovered a Harry Potter trivia night at a bookstore in the city through an ad on Facebook. Teams were allowed to go up to six so we got a group together: myself, Kris, our friend, her friend, her sister, and our other friend. Kris ended up not being able to make it, so our friend’s husband joined us. The one who discovered the trivia backed out so our friend’s sister invited her friend. (I love how we have substitutes for friends.)

Anyway, we all got together the night before to practice. Kris joined us and she found a random list of Harry Potter trivia online. She read some questions and our friend’s husband knew all the answers. Like, obscure details that are in the books but we probably didn’t need to know. Apparently, he listens to the series on audio every year and practically has them memorized. Needless to say, we were thankful he was able to join the team.

We pigged out on chips and dip, salsa and cheese, and other goodies while we “practiced” for about an hour. Then we ended up playing the card game Uno for about three hours. It was a good night. Then, it was onto trivia the following night.

The Bookstore Cafe

The trivia was in a bookstore cafe. It was a cute place and if it wasn’t in the city (which is a pain to drive into – I’m too chicken and overwhelmed to do it). When walking into the bookstore, it’s just books upon books. There is a bar and cafe area and upstairs was the function hall, which was smaller than I thought it would be. Then again, it was a sold-out event and we were packed like sardines to fit everyone in. But it was comfortable enough at the same time.

Unlike the last trivia night I went to, there was a large TV screen that had the questions pop up as they were asked. Plus, they were all multiple choice which was nice. A few of my friends ordered drinks while I got a butterbeer and my usual soda water. My friend and I shared spicy fries which were really good. The place had a large menu from breakfast to dessert and it was overwhelming. There was a lot going on so it was nice to just pick at stuff instead of ordering a meal.

Harry Potter Trivia Night

Trivia lasted about an hour and a half. There were six rounds, each having five questions for a total of 30 questions. All the rounds were multiple choice on the TV screen except for the fifth round, which had pictures of the chapters from different books. Of course, the paper said, “write the chapter title of each picture.” If you’ve read the Harry Potter series, you know each chapter has a small picture along with the title. We completely guessed because who remembers the exact chapter titles?

When they went over the answers, they wrote the book titles. The directions were wrong and every team got them all wrong, so they automatically gave every team the five points. If we knew to write the book titles, we totally would have gotten them right anyway.

Aside from that, we only got three questions wrong out of 30 landing us in first place. We got a $35 gift card to the bookstore, which we gave to our friend’s husband because he was the one who knew all the answers for us. We won with 27 out of 30 points, the team that came in second had 25 out of 30 points. So we got the lead by two.

Overall, it was a great night. We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. Plus, I know some Harry Potter facts now… though some might be considered useless information, that’s okay. I can still say I learned something.

Have you gone to trivia nights before? Have they been themed like Harry Potter? Let me know in the comments below. Good luck! If you liked this post, please share it around!

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August & September 2019 Writing Submissions [Writing Contests]

Here is the updated list for August & September 2019 writing submissions. I try to find submissions and contests with no fee (or on the cheaper side at least), which is surprisingly hard. As always, if you know any places that run contests and accept general submissions that are not on my list, please let me know and I’ll check it out to add it.

August & September 2019 Writing Submissions | Writing Contests | Creative Writing | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Poetry | RachelPoli.com

August 2019

Genre: Short Story (new writers only)
Website: The Masters Review
Deadline: August 31, 2019
Entry Fee: $20
Prize: First – $3,000

September 2019

Genre: Any
Theme: Self-published ebooks only
Website: Writer’s Digest
Deadline: September 3, 2019
Entry Fee: $125
Prize: Grand – $5,000

Genre: Any Fiction
Website: Writer’s Digest
Deadline: September 16, 2019 (early-bird)
Entry Fee: $25
Prize: Grand – $2,500

Genre: Essay
Website: Literal Latte
Deadline: September 30, 2019
Entry Fee: $10
Prize: First – $1,000

Genre: Nonfiction
Theme: Laughter is the Best Medicine
Website: Chicken Soup
Deadline: September 30, 2019
Entry Fee: N/A
Prize: $200

Genre: Nonfiction
Theme: The Golden Years or Second Wind
Website: Chicken Soup
Deadline: September 20, 2019
Entry Fee: N/A
Prize: $200

Ongoing

Genre: Stories, essays, plays, poetry, art
Website: Literal Latte
Entry Fee: $3

Genre: Various
Website: Narrative Magazine
Entry Fee: Yes, but amount is not listed

Genre: Flash fiction and short fiction
Website: CRAFT Journal
Entry Fee: N/A

Genre: Fiction or narrative nonfiction
Website: The Masters Review
Entry Fee: N/A (for New Voices – new, unpublished writers only)

Genre: Short fiction, flash fiction, memoir, or poetry
Website: Split Lip Magazine
Entry Fee: Free (only during certain months)

Genre: Flash Fiction (53 words only)
Website: Press 53
Entry Fee: N/A
Deadline: 21st of every month (new prompt given on the first of every month)

Genre: Short story, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, novel excerpts, poetry
Website: Rejected Manuscripts
Entry Fee: N/A
*Your piece must have been rejected for publication or failed to win a prize at a literary competition in order to qualify.

Please be sure to read through the guidelines for each submission. Information may change.

Do you know any other deadlines coming up? Are you thinking of submitting to any of these? Let me know in the comments below. Good luck! If you liked this post, please share it around!

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Short Story Sunday 276: Contain (Part One)

Short Story Sunday: Contain | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Felix propped a couple chairs against the front door and wiped his hands on his pants. Dust flew around the room with any sudden movement they made and the house they ran into was filthy. It was clearly abandoned a long time ago. At least, he hoped it was… the last thing he needed was a stranger popping out.

“How about the couch?” Luna asked. She stood in the middle of the room hugging herself. She shivered with nerves but her face flushed with heat.

“The chairs should be enough for now. We might need the couch for later.” Felix replied. “Besides, this might be an okay play to stay the night. You can sleep on the couch. You’d be most comfortable there.”

Luna glanced down at the couch and gave it a disgusted look. It was leather, but the holster was scratched up as though a monster had come through and destroyed it. She wasn’t even sure what color the couch was supposed to be – brown, maybe? Whatever it was, it was faded. There was a thin layer of dust covering the whole surface of it as well.

“We have to make due, Luna.” Felix said exasperated. He knew exactly what his twin sister was thinking from the look on her face.

“Are we going to die?” Luna blurted.

Felix swallowed a lump in his throat. He didn’t know how to answer that. He wanted to tell her no, they weren’t going to die. However, their house and hometown were destroyed. They were on the move with no where to go. They had no money, no food, and this was the best shelter they could find. They haven’t come across another human in days. At least, Felix thought it was days. He had lost track of time.

There were no more days, only darkness. Whatever caused the bugs to come, it blocked out the sun somehow. It was hard to tell if there were clouds in the sky or if it were the bugs.

“You’re not answering me.” Luna sighed. She sat down on the couch. The cushion sunk pretty low but for some reason she didn’t even care.

“I don’t have an answer for you.” Felix shrugged. “I’d like to say we’re going to be fine, but mom and dad and… I just don’t know. I don’t even know what’s going on.”

Luna buried her face in her hands for a moment. She drew in a deep breath and then looked back up. She cracked a smile. “We’re going to be okay.” She said. She stood and walked over to the window. She pulled her sleeve over her hand and wiped away some dirt on the window. The bugs were swarming all around the house. There weren’t going anywhere for a long time. “Someone needs to contain them.”

“Who?” Felix asked. Now he sat down on the couch. He nearly fell over when the cushion sunk so low and he grabbed hold of the edge to balance.

“I don’t know. There must be some military or police around, right?” Luna asked. She hugged herself watching the bugs, listening to the buzzing getting louder and louder as they flew above the house.

“I hope so.”

“Are they following us? I feel like we haven’t been able to lose them at all.”

“They’re attracted to something.”

Luna jumped at hearing a strange voice. Felix too jumped from the couch and stood beside his sister. A young woman emerged from the other room.

“What they’re attracted to, I have no idea. I’ve been holed up in this house for a long time.”

“We’re sorry, we didn’t know anyone was here.” Felix apologized.

“No need to be sorry,” she shook her head. “We’re all in this together. It’s not like I’m going to toss you out and make you find a different shelter.” She smirked. “I’m Alex.”

“Thank you,” Felix said with a sigh of relief. “I’m Felix and this is my sister Luna.” Luna gave Alex a small wave.

“How far have you guys come? Is it just the two of you?” Alex asked. She walked over to the window and looked out.

“Just us, unfortunately. We’ve been walking for days. We’re not really sure how far we’ve come.” Luna explained.

“You and me both. I’ve been here for a while but I’m sure I’m a long way from home.” Alex stated. “It was quiet here and I wasn’t sure what to do next or where to go. I waited too long though and then the bugs made it here. They’re on the move, but like I said, I don’t know why. I don’t know what they’re trying to get to.”

“I wish we knew where they came from.” Luna added. “Maybe we could herd them back to where they came from or catch them or something.”

“There’s too many to catch. They’re too big to herd.” Felix countered with a shake of his head.

“We can’t squish them so the only thing I can think of is the light.” Alex said.

“The light?” Luna repeated turning her attention to the stranger.

“Think about it,” Alex began to explain, “the sun was blocked out as soon as the bugs came. I’m not sure if that’s coincidental or not. I’m not sure if it’s the bugs’ fault. But I know there are some bugs that are attracted to light and they bring themselves death by getting zapped. If we brought the sun back, then maybe the bugs would disappear or disintegrate or something.”

Felix hummed to himself. “You know, that’s not a bad idea.”

“But how in the world are we going to bring the sun back?” Luna sighed.

Felix turned to Alex. “Have you thought further on your idea at all?”

Alex shrugged her shoulders. “Well, that’s the problem. I have no idea how to get the sun back. But maybe, now that there’s three of us, we can think of something together.”

A banging came at the window causing the three of them to jump.

Words: 1,005

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Time To Write: Sentence Starter 49

Last week’s writing prompt was a picture prompt. Check out some stories from fellow writers here:

This week’s writing prompt is:

Time To Write: Sentence Starter: "I'll go with you!" | Creative Writing | Writing Prompt | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

Write a story beginning with the dialogue: “I’ll go with you!”

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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Goals [August 2019]

Goals August 2019 | Creative Writing | Blogging | Reading | RachelPoli.com

Reading

I’ll be reading and reviewing nine books this month. I have a list of books I want to read – whether I’ll stick with it or not, I don’t know. Though I’ve been utilizing my local library more often lately and my to-be-read pile keeps on growing.

Writing

I’ll be working on a couple of different projects this month, as usual. I’m going to do some final edits for Crossroads so that I can publish it on Wattpad in September. In addition, I’m working on the next Sunday Morning collection as well as the first book in my mystery series.

I made a list the other day of all the books I want to work on. The list is growing and I’m trying to give each and every one the attention and time it deserves without working on so much at once. I’ll probably write a different blog post about that soon enough though.

Blogging

I’m still making some changes to the blog, such as updating the pages and post templates. In addition, I’m trying to get this month’s blog posts done as well as some other posts done for the future months.

Overall

August is going to be a busy month. I have a lot of work to do outside of writing and blogging, so I’m definitely going to need to find a new balance for the month. I’m going to try to come up with some sort of schedule to keep up with this work, around all the other work I need to do. New month, new goals.

What are your goals for the month? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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July 2019 [Wrap Up]

Wrap Up July 2019 | Creative Writing | Reading | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Reading

I read a good amount this month. They were mostly books that were on the shorter side, but I think that’s just what I needed in order to get me back into a reading groove. I read a lot of good books and all the reviews were posted on schedule – eight of them, which is great!

Writing

My writing was pretty good this month thanks to the 85K90 challenge and Camp NaNoWriMo. I made excellent progress on my next Wattpad story, Crossroads. I’m looking forward to finishing that up and diving straight into the edits within the next couple of days.

Blogging

Thanks to my vacation, I got super ahead with my blog posts. So July was all set for the rest of the month plus a little bit of August!

Overall

It was a pretty productive month. Super busy, but it was great.

Posts To Remember

1. July & August 2019 Writing Submissions
2. Housesitting For A Week
3. Getting Out Of A Funk [Mental Health Mondays]

How did July treat you? What did you get done? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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