10 Steps To Hero By Sacha Black [Book Review]

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Book Review: 10 Steps To Hero by Sacha Black | Writing Craft | Book Blog | Nonfiction | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I bought it on my Kindle.

Summary:

From cardboard cut-out to superhero in 10 steps.

Are you fed up of one-dimensional heroes? Frustrated with creating clones? Does your protagonist fail to capture your reader’s heart?

In 10 Steps To Hero, you’ll discover: 

+ How to develop a killer character arc

+ A step-by-step guide to creating your hero from initial concept to final page

+ Why the web of story connectivity is essential to crafting a hero that will hook readers

+ The four major pitfalls to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs

Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create your perfect protagonist. Whether you’re writing your first story or you’re a professional writer, this book will help supercharge your hero and give them that extra edge.

These lessons will help you master your charming knights, navigate your way to the perfect balance of flaws and traits, as well as strengthen your hero to give your story the conflict and punch it needs.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comI like the book cover a lot. It’s simple and the title really pops against the gray picture. It also matches the book before this one, 13 Steps To Evil.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI enjoy Sacha Black’s writing and I loved her book about villains. I had to give the hero one a try.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This book is a simple read with a lot of information. The author reiterates some things from her villain book, uses examples from other popular novels such as The Hunger Games, and completes all the information with nicely done charts and diagrams here and there. I think the charts were my favorite part because I’m a visual learner.

The end of each step, or chapter if you will, was wrapped up neatly with a summary of what that step explained. I especially loved that because, since I have the book on my Kindle, it will make it easier for me to go back to look at certain information again.

Overall | RachelPoli.com10 Steps To Hero was a great read and very helpful. I don’t normally read too many writing craft books, but this is a nice quick read to learn more about main characters and protagonists and get to know your characters on a deeper level.

10 Steps To Hero by Sacha Black gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Buy the book:

Amazon

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: Picture Prompt 26 [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a general prompt. This week’s writing prompt is:

Time To Write: Picture Prompt | Creative Writing Prompt | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

Write a story based on the picture 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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Writing Is Like… Teaching

Writing is a creative activity and it takes a lot of thought, hard work, and most of all, imagination. But there are a lot of things we do in life that prepare us or aid us in other things. Writing is one of those things. With the research and growing we do as writers and readers, we can do anything. However, there are plenty of things we do in real life that help us with our writing.

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

Writing is so much like teaching. You, as the writer, is like the teacher. You’re teaching your readers and your characters a plethora of things. These things can be real life skills, life lessons, or simply something fictional.

Research

No matter whether you outline or not and no matter what genre you write in, most likely you’ll have to do some research. Even if you’re writing a fictional story, there’s always a little bit of truth to some of it. Whether your readers know it or not, they’re learning something and you’re teaching yourself a little something as well.

If you’re writing nonfiction like writing craft or a biography, then a lot of research goes into writing that. Readers read those genres because they want to learn.

Life Skills

What are some things we learn in English class at school? We learn how to write essays – grammar, punctuation, pacing, etc. We also learn how to read and analyze stories. At the time, it’s not a skill I thought I would ever need. I mean, I just want to read stories and enjoy them, you know? However, as a writer, reading is something that definitely helps to learn what other writers have done.

We also learn to critique and take feedback. Giving feedback isn’t easy but receiving it is even harder. We learn to get some thick skin and by giving feedback to others, you learn a lot about yourself as well.

Life Lessons

We learn a lot from writing and reading. I know reading books such as Harry Potter and The Lord of The Rings has taught me a lot. Each character has a purpose, a will of life, and the realistic themes of the overall books are true to life that we can all relate to. We’ve learned from our favorite characters and will remember it forever.

Overall, writing is like teaching. You as the writer teach yourself a lot and your readers will learn alongside you.

What are some ways writing reminds you of teaching? 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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Things I’ve Learned While Writing Short Stories

No matter what we do in life, it’s always a learning experience. Writing is one of those experiences. Short stories specifically helps with that experience as well as learning about writing as a whole.

Things I've Learned While Writing Short Stories | Creative Writing | Short Story Writing | Writers | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I Ramble A Lot

I mean, I guess I kind of already knew this one. I ramble in my novels, I ramble in my blog posts, I ramble when I talk. That’s just how I roll. Writing short stories had made me realize that I really do ramble a lot but also that I can control my rambling. I get surprised when I read through old short stories and then read through more recent ones. I’ve definitely improved on my rambling and have learned to cut back – and not just through editing but by through the first draft as well.

I Have A Lot Of Ideas

There are days when I feel like I’ve run out of ideas, but if I look back at all the short stories I’ve written, I realize that there’s a lot of novel potential out of them all. Some are perfect as short stories but some would be cool to expand on. I have expanded upon most of them too. If my Short Story Sundays are any indication. Not to mention that one of my Wattpad novellas was based off a short story.

I’m Not Too Bad Of A Writer

We all have that self-doubt that plagues our minds as we write. During the first draft of any story, I always feel like it’s not good. I know I’m not the only one who thinks that but I have to admit that writing short stories has made me feel like I’m less inadequate if that makes sense. Writing short stories has allowed me to hone my writing skills and tighten up my words which means I write better dialogue and description.

Overall, writing short stories has been one of the better writing decisions I’ve ever made.

What have you learned while writing short stories? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Why Writing Short Stories Help You

I didn’t start to appreciate writing short stories until fairly recently. I always viewed short stories as something “quick and easy” to write. Of course, they’re not easy to write at all. Just because they can be 5,000 words as opposed to 50,000 words doesn’t mean it’s faster or easier. Another thing I thought was that writing novels was “better” for your writing. I figured the more I write, the more I would improve. Writing one long story isn’t the only way to “write more” though.

Why Writing Short Stories Help You | Creative Writing | Short Story Writing | Writers | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Short Stories Help You Tighten Your Words

One great thing about short stories is that it helps you learn how to tighten your words. It’s easy to ramble and to describe something that doesn’t matter. Especially if you’re just trying to get the words down, it’s super easy to get excited about quantity over quality. Writing short stories allows you to recognize what isn’t necessarily needed in your story. Instead of writing paragraph upon paragraph about once certain thing, you’ll soon learn how to cut that down to the bare minimum needed so that you can stay in that short story word count range.

Short Stories Help You With Self-Editing

Similar to tightening your words, short stories help with self-editing in the way that you learn what to edit out when it comes to trying to shorten that length. Personally, when I self-edit my novels I sometimes tend to think everything has to be there. I either think it’s too funny, clever, important, whatever. The truth is, it’s usually not and can be cut out completely. Or it can stay but I can write it in a way that cuts out a good chunk of words.

Short Stories Help You With Plotting

When it comes to writing a novel it’s easy to get carried away with the plot. I know it can be for me. I tend to come up with more and more ideas as I write and eventually decide to have a hundred sequels to whatever I’m writing. Short stories allow me to say what needs to be said and no more. There are no sequels, there are no second parts (well, sometimes there are if we’re talking about my Short Story Sundays), it’s just one full circle with my characters with a beginning, middle, and end squished together.

Overall, I’ve definitely found a new appreciation for writing short stories. I’ve been enjoying them a lot more than I thought I would and I’ve been learning a lot and improving on my writing in the meantime.

Do you write short stories? What does that type of writing help you with? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Meet I.L. Cruz, Author [Author Interview]

Author Interview: I.L. Cruz | Creative Writing | Self-Published Author | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thanks for having me on your blog today! I’m I.L. Cruz, author of the epic fantasy A Smuggler’s Path: Book One of the Enchanted Path series. I’m originally from Brooklyn, but I now live in Maryland. My childhood surrounded by strong women and diverse people has influenced my writing. And my protagonists are usually Latinas because I didn’t see enough of that as a kid or even now.

How long have you been writing for?

Writing is something I’ve always done as a creative outlet and to work things out on paper. It was about 12 years ago I wanted to write an entire novel, but it took another five or six years before I decided that I wanted writing to be my career.

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

The most random things motivate me write. A documentary about trees. A nursery rhyme. A strange noise in the middle of the night. That and so many other things trigger ideas (not all good) and if I can string enough of them together, a story emerges. For example, my current series started because I’d been reading fairy tales and nursery rhymes to my daughter and a combination of horror at the female protagonists (if you can call them that), the uptick of fairy tale retellings, and wanting to know what happened to the nursery rhyme characters after the rhyme led me to write my first novel.

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

My routine is more a plan than a day-in, day-out fixture. I plan project by project. When it’s a first draft, I stick to pen and paper (made more high-tech by my Light Scribe smart pen, which lets me upload my notebooks to my computer) and write a chapter at a time. When I finish a chapter, I scribble notes about what should get done in the next chapter. I continue that way until the draft is done and then I take two weeks off before I read it back. I do this during school hours on the weekdays and it’s worked so far…

How did you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional company?

It wasn’t just my choice. I’d been fiddling with my series for years and agents didn’t seem to know what to do with my book. Some said it was too whimsical for adults. When I tried making it YA, my MC was too close to her mother, which they said wouldn’t work for teens. I didn’t agree with blanket statements like that and my family kept urging me to publish my book, myself.

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

Indie publishing is such a process! I had to learn things like creating maps, blogging, formatting, hiring an editor, and hundreds of little things I never even thought of but learned along the way. But in reality it took longer to take the leap into indie publishing then getting down to the business of putting it out there.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Now that A Smuggler’s Path is out in the world, I’m working on editing the second book in that series. When I decided to write a series, I wrote the entire thing (all four books) so now I’m in what feels like permanent editing mode. It’s called A Noble’s Path and continues Inez’s story. I’m also putting out a separate novella series called The Cemetery Circle, which comes out Valentine’s Day.

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

I’ve become so immersed in books, I would still want to stay in that world. Ideally, I’d own a travel book store with a special section for “fantasy travel” containing speculative fiction books. Either that or work in a museum…I have an MA in history and since I can’t imagine being a teacher, it’s the next best option.

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

I wish I had known how long it was going to take! Until you decide you want to be a writer, you have this vague notion of all the work that goes into it. Somehow, I’m imagined sitting with my notebook and pen and finishing novel after novel followed by publication a few weeks later. I assumed only the mythic great American novel took years. Now I have more realistic expectations.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

I have one for each. Although my favorite genre (lately) is fantasy, my favorite book is Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, a novel about the history of philosophy. My favorite authors are all over the map: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Sharon Kay Penman, Edward Rutherford, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Hunter. There are more, but that could cover a separate interview!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

There’s too much advice out there and in the beginning, you’ll listen to all of it and even judge yourself by it. The day your able to take it all in and realize some of it isn’t for you, then you’re a writer.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

My superpower is research. I believe numbers and letter have a sex (for example 4 and A are female, but 1 and B are male). Rainy days are underrated, and I still remember lyrics to jingles and cartoons from the 80s.

Oh, and I tend to be random with my thoughts. Thanks again for letting me share!

About I.L. Cruz

IL Cruz, Author | Author Interview | Creative Writing | Self-Published Author | Writers | RachelPoli.comI.L. Cruz decided to make writing her full-time career during the economic downturn in 2008. Since then she’s used her BA in International Relations to sow political intrigue in her fantasy worlds and her MA in history to strive for the perfect prologue. When she’s not engaged in this mad profession she indulges her wanderlust as often as possible, watches too much sci-fi and reads until her eyes cross. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and a sun-seeking supermutt named Dipper.

Blog | Twitter | Website

A Smuggler's Path by IL Cruz | Author Interview | Self-Published Author | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com The Cemetery Circle by IL Cruz | Author Interview | Self-Published Author | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comBuy A Smuggler’s Path:

Ebook | Paperback

Short Story Sunday 252: Admit [Flash Fiction]

Short Story: "Admit" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

Gina opened the front door to her house and poked her head in. Neither one of her parents were in the living room. She didn’t hear anything coming from the kitchen either. Hopefully, her father was in the basement and her mother was in their bedroom. She entered the house and closed the door softly behind her. She wasn’t in the mood to talk to them. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to, but she didn’t want to lie to them.

She adjusted her backpack onto her shoulders and quietly made her way over to the stairs. As long as she’d be able to make it up there without making too much noise, she should be in the clear.

Except pretty much every step squeaked. Why was it that the stairs never made a sound when she walked normally on them, yet they spoke loudly whenever she was trying to be stealth?

“Honey, is that you?” she heard her mother call.

Gina froze in the middle of the stairs. Honey could mean one of two things – either her mother knew Gina was due home from school or she thought she was talking to her husband.

“Honey?” she called again.

Gina bit her lower lip. Come on, say a name! Honey wasn’t getting anyone anywhere.

There were a few moments of silent. Gina hoped her mother had given up. Maybe she thought she had heard things. Yeah, that would be good. Now all Gina had to do was try her best to keep as quiet as she could. She was halfway up the stairs already. She could do this.

Gina lifted her left foot to take the next step when she heard other footsteps. She froze again. The basement stairs were directly below the stairs going up. That meant her father was coming up from the basement.

That was okay, though. Maybe he was just going into the kitchen to get a snack.

She heard the basement door open. This was still okay. As long as she didn’t move, no one would notice her and she’d be fine.

“Gina?”

She remained still. How had she not heard her father round the corner? Clearly, he had much more practice at being stealth than she was.

“Uh, Gina? What are you doing?”

Oh, right. She was still frozen. She relaxed and turned around to smile at her dad. “Hey, how are ya?”

Her father narrowed his eyes in confusion. “I’m good, how are you doing?”

“Great,” Gina replied all too quickly.

“Honey, what’s going – oh. Hi, Gina.”

Gina snapped her head around. Her mother was now standing at the top of the stairs. “Oh, no… I’m cornered.” She muttered.

“Cornered?” her father repeated folding his arms sternly.

Gina grinned. What else was she supposed to do?

“Did anything interesting happen in school today?” her mother asked.

“Well, you don’t have to pressure me! Fine, I’ll tell you.” Gina said exasperated. She threw her arms up in the air before turning back to her mother. Did she detect a small smirk on her mother’s face?

“I got…” Gina began but then sighed.

“Suspended, we know.” Her father finished her sentence.

Gina paused. “Wait, how?”

“Your principal called.” Her mother answered.

“Oh,” Gina relaxed. In a way she was relieved. She didn’t want to lie to them but she also didn’t want them know she had gotten too many detentions to warrant a suspension. Which reminded her… “Do you know why?”

“Too many detentions.” Her father said.

“Which explains why you’re home late sometimes.” Her mother added.

Gina nodded. There was no getting out of this one.

“So, were you sneaking up the stairs?” her mother chuckled. “What were you going to do during the school day for the next week without us knowing?”

Gina opened her mouth. Honestly, she hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. It was true, she would have had to pretend to go to school every morning. What would she do? Where would she go? Her mother stayed home, there was no way she’d be able to just hang home all day.

“Well, it doesn’t matter, Dear.” Her father said. He started walking up the stairs and slid past his daughter. “She’s grounded anyway.”

Her mother nodded. “Yes, I suppose you’re right.” Once her husband was at the top of the stairs, she took it upon herself to go downstairs. She patted Gina on the shoulder as she passed.

Gina watched her mother as she disappeared into the living room. She looked above her and her father was already gone. She leaned her back against the wall and sighed. Well, that didn’t go as planned. Deep down she knew that was for the best.

Words: 783

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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Warriors: Thunder And Shadow (A Vision Of Shadows 2) By Erin Hunter [Book Review]

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

Book Review: Warriors Thunder and Shadow (A Vision of Shadows 2) by Erin Hunter | Book Blog | Fantasy | Fiction | YA | Middle Grade | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I got this as a Christmas gift.

Summary:

Nearly a moon has passed since Alderpaw returned from his journey to SkyClan’s gorge, where he found the territory taken over by rogues. Now the same vicious cats that drove out SkyClan have traced Alderpaw’s path back to the lake… and ShadowClan may be the next to fall.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comThe cover, as usual is very pretty. I really love the new designs and the cats look fairly realistic.

Plot | RachelPoli.comLike the title suggests, this book focuses on ThunderClan, as usual, and ShadowClan. The rogues that drove out SkyClan in the previous book have followed Alderpaw home and taken over ShadowClan as their own territory. All that’s left of ShadowClan is Rowanstar, Tawnypelt, and Tigerheart. All the other ShadowClan cats have remained in ShadowClan with the rogues for various reasons.

The stakes have truly raised in this book from the last. All the Clans are effected by these rogues, but ThunderClan and ShadowClan need to truly team up to defeat the threat – and this isn’t a typical team in this series. With that said, it was very well done.

Characters | RachelPoli.comAll the characters are confused in this one and trying to figure out who to trust and what to do. My only complaint about the characters is that Twigpaw and Violetpaw’s relationship is starting to get annoying. The two of them are confused and want to be together but are making very different choices. Yet, they each seem to think that whatever the other decides is because of them. It doesn’t make any sense and they bicker over nonsense because of it.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This particular book was very well written. Up until now we’ve always seen the books through the eyes of a ThunderClan cat. This book goes back and forth between ThunderClan and ShadowClan. We’re allowed to see how ShadowClan runs, their customs, and how they’re different and the same as ThunderClan. It’s made me want a separate Warriors series based in ShadowClan as well as one based in WindClan and one in RiverClan. I would truly love to see how the other Clans run.

Overall | RachelPoli.comThis was a pretty intense book but there was a lot of arguing and misunderstandings which got old quick. I think this book was a set up for what’s to come later. I really enjoyed the way it was written though and seeing through the eyes of another Clan was eye-opening and very cool.

Warriors: Thunder and Shadow (A Vision of Shadows 2) by Erin Hunter gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Shared knowledge is never wasted.” -Erin Hunter, Warriors: Thunder and Shadow (A Vision of Shadows 2)

Buy the book:

Amazon

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: Love & Hate [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a set the scene prompt.

This week’s writing prompt is:

Time to Write: Love and Hate | Creative writing prompt | flash fiction | short story | RachelPoli.com

Write a story based on the prompt 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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Character Asks: Valentine’s Day Edition

I’ve decided to do something a little different on the blog this time around. I may even turn this into some sort of feature down the line. I’ve done book tags and writer tags in the past, but I’ve never done a character tag before. I used to interview my characters long ago way before I even started my blog. I enjoy getting to know my characters more though and thought it would be fun to create a new tag for characters. This time it’s Character Asks: Valentine’s Day Edition.

Character Asks: Valentine's Day Edition | Writer Tag | Book Tag | Character Tag | Character Interview | Writing Asks | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

George Florence & The Perfect Alibi

I’m juggling a lot of WIPs right now so, for this particular one I’m going to focus on the characters from my mystery novel, George Florence & The Perfect Alibi. These characters are the most developed and I have a lot of fun with them.

Is your main character single? If so, who would they spend Valentine’s Day with?

All of my characters are single except for Ebony, George’s older sister. With that said, George and Lilah would most likely spend the day together. Then again, they spend every day together. However, George would probably want to keep working throughout the day.

Do any of your characters have a crush?

As of right now, no. I do have plans for Lilah to develop a crush on a certain someone later in the series, but in book one, no. No one has any crushes on anyone else.

What’s the perfect date for your main character?

George would want to stay in and watch a movie or go for a nice walk in the park. He wouldn’t want to do anything too fancy but he’d want to get to know her as well. Lilah, on the other hand, would want to go out to eat – probably for burgers. But if she met someone who planned something simple, she wouldn’t mind.

Which character would go to Valentine’s Day dinner alone?

Caleb. He would probably order dinner for two and then pretend he got stood up. He’d get extra food and possibly a discount on the bill if his sob story was hardcore enough.

Which character hates Valentine’s Day?

George. There is a reason for this, but it would be spoilers for book two.

What turns your main character on?

Logical thinking turns George on. He gets very impressed and wants to give that person puzzles to solve or to help out on an investigation. Lilah doesn’t have too high of standards. If a man gives her coffee, she’s sold.

Which character just wants the candy?

Lilah. And probably Caleb.

Does your character feel as though they need a date for Valentine’s Day?

No. None of them really care too much about Valentine’s Day so none of them have a need to go out and celebrate. This isn’t just because their single either. George has his reasons, but Lilah believes every day is a good day to show friends, family, and significant others that you love them.

Which character would participate in something Valentine’s Day related for the sake of celebrating a holiday?

Caleb… probably to get that free candy!

Which character would take their best friend out?

George or Caleb. (Seriously, Caleb has become a much bigger part of the series than I originally meant for him to be.) George would do something special for Lilah as a thank you for all her help, but that’s it. It would just be the nice gesture. Caleb would gladly take Lilah out if it was something she truly wanted. They’ve developed a hardcore friendship with each other. Caleb would also fake being Lilah’s boyfriend if it was needed for whatever reason.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this character ask. Feel free to answer these questions with your own characters and WIPs. If you do, please link back to this post as well as let me know you participated. I’d love to see some other answers!

Can you answer these with some of your characters? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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