Camp NaNoWriMo Wrap Up

I tried something different for Camp NaNo this session. I decided to log in hours instead of words. It has been, to say the least, interesting. Here’s my Camp NaNoWriMo Wrap Up.

Camp NaNoWriMo Wrap Up | Creative Writing | Writing Challenge | Book Update | RachelPoli.com

Starting Strong

Instead of writing 50,000 words this month, like I normally do for all Camp sessions, I decided to edit Crossroads. Of course, at this point we all know how that turned out. I ended up re-doing everything and did a total rewrite. So, in a way, I probably could have logged in words instead of hours.

However, because I was planning on editing I decided to count my hours. I set my goal for 31 hours so as long as I worked on the novel for at least one hour a day, I’d be happy. It’d get me into a routine at least. This worked beautifully the first week of Camp. I consistently worked on my novel for one hour every day.

A Little Lag

Then week two came along. Everyone calls week two the slump. It never really has been for me, but this time? Oh, yeah. It’s not even that I was really in a slump, per se. I just kept putting off working on the novel. I had so many other things to do that I kept telling myself, “I’ll get to it after this.” Before I knew it, the end of the week was near and guess what? I had logged in zero hours.

Luckily, I sat down on a Saturday and worked on my novel for five hours straight. I had a few epiphanies while doing so as well. This didn’t completely catch me up though. I was still three hours behind after this. I figured, if I worked two hours a day, I’d be able to easily catch up.

Crunch Time

Not only was I behind, but I was going on vacation the last full week of July. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work on my novel while on vacation. I mean, I guess I could have, but I wanted the break anyway.

So, the week before, I scrambled to get some hours in. Now, I have just a couple more hours left to go with just a few more days left in the month.

I’m pretty sure I can do it.

How did Camp NaNoWriMo go for you this month? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Short Story Sunday 275: Coffee

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

Penny walked into her local coffee shop. The café had just opened about five minutes ago and the line was already nearly out the door. Everyone was on their way to work or school so most of the tables were vacant. Penny loved coming at this time of the day because there was a certain buzz around the coffee shop. It was loud, but it was almost like white noise. It wasn’t difficult to concentrate. She loved the aroma of the café between the various flavors of coffees being made along with the freshly baked pastries.

She claimed her usual table by the window across from the main counter where people ordered their drinks. She took her laptop out of her bag as well as a notebook and a couple of pens. She had a lot to get done today. Her boyfriend had taken the day off from work so he was home and still sleeping. Penny wanted to have some peace and quiet to work on her writing without her boyfriend nagging her to hang out with him and go out and do something. She’d get herself a coffee, write a couple thousand words, and then head home with a pastry for him. Then they could spend the rest of the day together.

It was six o’clock in the morning and she knew he wasn’t going to be awake for another two or three hours anyway. They’d have the whole day ahead of themselves and she’d be able to get her writing time in.

Penny sat down opening her laptop and turning it on. She was thinking about getting a scone but decided to settle for just a coffee for the moment. Her stomach was starting to rumble with all the smells around her. Hearing other people say their orders and receive their drinks, Penny was beginning to wonder what kind of drink she wanted to get. Her boyfriend always got the same thing whenever they got coffee. He was pretty easy but Penny enjoyed a wide variety. It always took her a little while to figure out what she wanted to get. She never really ordered the same thing twice in one week. Of course, the holidays were upon her which meant the winter drinks were out. There were so many good flavors that she wasn’t sure what she wanted to get this morning.

An older gentleman moved out of line after ordering and paying for his drink. The cashier behind the counter puffed his cheeks out in a breath. Penny and him locked eyes and she they smiled and waved to each other right before the next customer got in their line of sight and began to order their own drink.

Penny looked to the door and noticed the line was now inside the café. She figured now was a good enough time as any to hop in line. She usually didn’t mind waiting for the line to die down. She was never in a rush to get her coffee and she knew she was going to be there for a while anyway that it didn’t matter if she got her coffee now or an hour into her writing time.

She was never one who needed a coffee to wake up. She was a natural early bird and only made herself a lot of coffee throughout the day because she thoroughly enjoyed the taste – and she loved holding onto a mug of coffee during the colder months because she was always cold.

The line steadily moved forward. Penny waited patiently. The smells were beginning to get to her. She had decided that she didn’t know what she wanted to get so she was going to let the man behind the counter surprise her. He knew her well enough since she was at the café just about every day. It would be interesting to see what flavor he would pick out for her.

By the time she made it to the counter, she greeted him with a smile. Though before she could give him her order – or allow him to make it for her – he dismissed her with a wave of his hand.

“You can move on.” He smirked.

“What?” she asked.

“Your drink has already been ordered and paid for.” He said.

Penny looked around the café and the people in line behind her were starting to look a little grumpy. She didn’t care though. She wasn’t even taking long. “What are you talking about?” she asked again.

She had heard of people paying it forward but she had never imagined that it would happen to her. Usually when someone paid for a drink it was then honored by that person paying for the next one and so on, right? Penny took out the money from her wallet anyway. This was the point of paying it forward, wasn’t it?

“Okay, then here’s a medium for the guy behind me.” She said and noticed a smile go across the gentleman’s face who stood in line behind her.

The cashier chuckled. “Thanks for paying it forward, but I think your boyfriend was just trying to surprise you.” He took the money and put it in the cash register. Then he waved her on again.

Penny looked over her shoulder and sure enough Oliver, her boyfriend, was sitting at her table. He was sipping a coffee and there was a festive cup beside her laptop.

Her jaw dropped and waved a goodbye to the cashier. “Oliver?” she said as she made it back to her table and sat down.

“I got you a peppermint, hope that’s okay. I don’t think you’ve gotten that kind this week.” Oliver grinned.

“Nope,” Penny smiled and took a sip. “Oh, this is so good. Thanks for this.”

“Of course,”

“But what are you doing here? You were sleeping when I left.” Penny inquired.

“I pretended to be asleep. I wanted to surprise you. I want to spend the day together, but I know you want to get this done. I brought a book.” Oliver pointed to a book on the table.

Penny nodded. “Okay, fair enough. Well, I’m happy to have you here with me.”

“Me too.”

“How’d you sneak into the café though? I didn’t see you at all. I was watching the line.” Penny said.

“You weren’t watching it close enough,” Oliver laughed. “I was right in front of you a couple of times and you looked right past me. You hopped in line while I waited for the drinks. Then I sat down and waited for you to get through the line.”

Penny pouted. “You made me wait in line all that time even though you had my drink ready and waiting for me?”

Oliver chuckled and took a sip of his own drink without a reply.

Words: 1,136

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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I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 By Lauren Tarshis [Book Review]

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I borrowed a paperback copy of this book from my library. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review: I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 By Lauren Tarshis

Book Review: I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 by Lauren Tarshis | Historical Fiction | Middle Grade | Book Blogger | Reading | RachelPoli.com

Title: I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906
Author: Lauren Tarshis
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Series: I Survived, 5
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: March 1, 2012

Summary – I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906

Ten-year-old Leo loves being a newsboy in San Francisco — not only does he get to make some money to help his family, he’s free to explore the amazing, hilly city as it changes and grows with the new century. Horse-drawn carriages share the streets with shiny new automobiles, new businesses and families move in every day from everywhere, and anything seems possible.

But early one spring morning, everything changes. Leo’s world is shaken — literally — and he finds himself stranded in the middle of San Francisco as it crumbles and burns to the ground. Does Leo have what it takes to survive this devastating disaster?

First Thoughts

I’ve read the first couple of books in the series and I’m going down the line.

Book Cover

The cover is “realistic” enough in the sense that shows the heart of what the story is about – right in the middle of the natural disaster.

Plot

Leo goes about his normal life, selling newspapers and occasionally getting beaten up by some local bullies. He treasures his father’s piece of real gold that was passed down from his father’s father.

Then the earthquake happens and the fire spreads. Leo and his friend stick together in order to survive and possibly get out of the city – but there’s really nowhere to go. The journey they go on for those few hours is a great one of determination and survival that no one should ever have to go through. It was an interesting read.

Characters

Leo and his friend Morris were great characters to read about through this tragedy. They even help the two bullies out when they were in trouble and even become friends with one of them. It was great character development for all of them throughout.

Writing Style

As always, this book was a quick and easy read. There was just enough information about the natural disaster, but it wasn’t thrown into your face.

I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 by Lauren Tarshis

Rating

Plot
Characters
Writing Style

Overall

This is another great, informative read. Even though it’s a big young, anyone can read it and get something out of it.

3.3

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Book Review: I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 by Lauren Tarshis | Historical Fiction | Middle Grade | Book Blogger | Reading | RachelPoli.com

Time To Write: Picture Prompt 31 [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a general prompt. You can read what some writers wrote here:

Now onto this week’s prompt…

Time To Write: Picture Prompt | Creative Writing | Writing Prompt | 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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Why I Chose To Self-Publish My Books

I self-published my debut book three months ago. It hasn’t been an easy journey and I’m certainly still trying to figure things out. I’ve been wanting to write this post and explain why I chose to self-publish my books for a while but never thought there was a right “time.” I recently saw someone on Twitter post something that rubbed me the wrong way and I figured now was as good a time as any.

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All Opinions Matter

I’m not going to name names or quotes tweets. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I recognize there are people out there who believe traditional publishing is “better” than self-publishing. On the flip side, there are people out there who believe self-publishing is “better” than traditional publishing. What I’m realizing is that these people all have one thing in common – they write what they know.

“Write what you know” is a big piece of writing advice that people toss around. The people who think one way of publishing is better than the other, do just that. They write what they know in the sense that traditionally published authors believe that’s better because they never tried self-publishing. Self-published authors think that’s better because they were never published by a traditional company.

Obligatory disclaimer: I, of course, don’t mean everyone. There have been authors who let go of their agents deciding to self-publish instead and there have been some self-published books that were picked up by agents. These things happen and if it happens to you, great. You get the best of both worlds and try out all the different angles of getting your work out into the world. Again, everyone is entitled to their option no matter how they came to the conclusion.

Here’s What Bothers Me

The tweet I saw basically said that an agent or publisher will pick you up if you write good books. Rejection means that’s it not good enough, it won’t sell. Therefore, keep working and try again.

I don’t agree with that.

Yes, rejection, in a sense, is good. It allows you to grow a thick skin, take another look at your work and keep improving. Determination, patience, all that fun stuff. Who is to really say whether a book will sell or not? There have been traditionally published books that didn’t sell and the agent left the author because… well, it’s all about money. I mean, fair enough. It is a business for agents and that’s their job. If they can’t make money off your book, then bye-bye to you.

What really bothered me about this statement – and maybe I misinterpreted it, but I think it’s worth talking about anyway – is that it said you’ll only get picked up traditionally if you write good books.

Well, who is to say a book is good or not? Certainly not one single opinion. Certainly not that person who has two books in hand and can only take on one more project and they just happen to enjoy that other book more than yours.

In my opinion, the readers decide that. If you market the target audience well and have a great following before, during, and after your book is released, you’re most likely good to go. No one said writing was easy. No one said it was a “get-rich-quick” scheme.

You will be someone’s favorite author someday. Even if it’s just a handful of people. Your writing is good. Your story matters. Don’t ever forget that and keep going. It doesn’t matter if an agent or publisher deemed your book “worthy” to see the light of day or if you took a chance on yourself and tossed it up on Amazon.

The Rules Of Writing

Okay, there are “rules” that we should follow when it comes to writing. Grammar is important. However, there are other general rules when it comes to creative writing. Show, don’t tell. Write what you know. No adverbs.

Well, rules were meant to be broken. People don’t speak in perfect English, so neither should your dialogue. Sometimes, it is better to tell than to show. Research is your friend – write what you don’t know. If it’s fiction, embellish a bit and make something up.

Do you know what this is called? Style. Every writer has their own writing style. This doesn’t make your writing “good” or “bad.” It’s your own unique voice. Some people may not be impressed but others will absolutely love it.

So, I ask again, who is to say a book is good or bad?

Which Is Right?

I have read some great self-published books and some not so great. I have also read some awesome traditionally published books and some that were not so hot. Why didn’t I enjoy these books? Not because the author was represented or because they did it themselves, it just happened to not be my cup of coffee. Maybe I couldn’t relate to the protagonist, but someone else out there does. Maybe I thought the plot was dull, but someone else out there thought it was fabulously well-executed. Maybe my copy was riddled with typos but someone else got a later edition than mine and that had been fixed.

You can say authors who are traditionally published are hard-working to meet their agent’s deadlines, determined to get that agent, and patient while they wait for their query to hopefully be seen. You can say authors who are self-published are hard-working to meet their man-made deadlines, determined to get their story told regardless of the number of rejections, and patient while they research their audience, trends, marketing plans, cover designs, and more.

There are people out there who self-publish because they were frustrated no one would pick them up. Or they self-publish because they just want to get their story told. They’re not looking for the money. They do it because they love it.

Some people go the traditional route because they don’t want to do the majority of the work or they don’t think they can. Or they want to see their physical books on the shelves in bookstores.

There are so many reasons people choose one or the other. They do what’s best for them, what’s best for their story. And that’s the way it should be. If someone wants to spend, potentially, a few years querying, then more power to you. Good for it and good luck. If someone else would rather do the majority of the work themselves and learn the ropes of self-publishing, then I say the same. Go for it and good luck.

Why I Chose To Self-Publish My Books

I’ve been writing since I was ten and, at the same, traditional publishing was the only “right way” to get published. Self-publishing wasn’t as big and it didn’t have a great rep around it. I didn’t know anything about anything, so I followed the crowd and thought my book would be on the shelves at Barnes & Noble from some big traditional publishing company and I’d be sitting in a pile of money.

Of course, ten-year-old me didn’t realize how obnoxiously wrong all of that actually is.

I chose to self-publish for two reasons.

1. I tried the querying game and didn’t like it.

I queried for a few years. Novels, children’s books, poetry. Nothing ever came to be. The rejections were hard, but I knew I just had to work harder.

Just because no one wanted my work, doesn’t mean I chose to self-publish as a way of “giving up.” I just didn’t like the process of it. This agent is currently not taking on new clients, this one wants the first three chapters, that other agent wants the whole manuscript, while this guy wants a blurb. The agent wants a paper copy, this one wants an email. It was hard to keep up and keep track of it all. Sure, I had a spreadsheet of which novel I sent, to who, which company, when, what format, when/if I heard back, etc. But it was time-consuming and the research was killer. (Seriously, I can’t begin to explain many agents and publishers I researched that I could find any of their information anywhere on their website… I hope this has changed since then because one of those agents could have been the one for me. But I shall never know now.

In addition to this, I realized something about myself as I got older and learned more about the process. Hence, my other reason for choosing to be self-published.

2. I want it my way.

Yes, sounds selfish, I know. But when I was in high school and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, my therapist noticed something about me. They wanted me to get back into school, but she recognized my ambition and took that into account. Instead of trying to get me back into high school for my senior year, she found a dual enrollment program at a local community college.

I went to college for my senior year of high school. My courses counted toward my high school credits as well as credits toward my degree. I killed two birds with one stone – getting my high school diploma and getting my first year of college under my belt.

This was the best thing for me because she knew I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I was already doing it. Writing in between school, homework, and my job. Not only did this allow me to continue my schooling and graduate high school, but it allowed me creative freedom and set the foundation for where I am now.

Later in life, I’d take a risk and quit my job and pursue this writing thing. I have worked harder than ever before, researched and taught myself so much. I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve become a businesswoman. I’m always looking to grow and expand my current work. I’ve learned about creative writing, blogging, website building, freelance, social media/marketing…

Hey, I even published a book myself.

And I’ve helped other writers and bloggers along the way, promoting their work as well. I’ve met a lot of great friends and have learned from them as well.

I have ideas. I know how to grow. I want to create bigger and better things. I can’t do that if I had to go through my agent who then needed to go through whichever publisher decided to take a chance on me.

I mean, I have a novel timeline through 2021. Do you know how fast publishing a book would go if I went through traditional publishing? I’m not sure, but I know it can take a year or two. Faster is not always better, of course, but it’s easier when you’re mostly answering to yourself.

Do What’s Right For You

I’m not saying self-publishing is better than traditional publishing. I’ve never been traditionally published so I have no idea what the pros and cons are. What I am saying is that self-publishing was the right choice for me. Some people may not enjoy my books, but I know there are people out there who will enjoy them. To those people, my book is considered good. And it wasn’t accepted by an agent or represented by a high publishing company.

Which route did you or will you take when publishing your books? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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5 Quotes From John Green

5 Quotes from John Green | Author | Quotes | Inspirational Quotes | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

1. “You can love someone so much…But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.”

2. “Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we’re quoting.”

3. “Lucky Charms are like the vampires of breakfast cereal. They’re magical, they’re delicious, they’re a little bit dangerous and bad for you.”

4. “I try to live life so that I can live with myself.”

5. “Not that smart. Not that hot. Not that nice. Not that funny. That’s me: I’m not that.”

What’s your favorite quote from John Green? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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I Survived The Bombing Of Pearl Harbor, 1941 By Lauren Tarshis [Book Review]

This post contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission should you purchase anything from these links. It’s no extra cost to you and supports this blog. If you’d like to learn more about affiliate links on this website, please read my Privacy Policy. Thank you.
I borrowed a paperback copy of this book from my library. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review: I Survived The Bombing Of Pearl Harbor, 1941 By Lauren Tarshis

Book Review: I Survived The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 by Lauren Tarshis | Historical Fiction | Middle Grade | Book Blogger | Reading | RachelPoli.com

Title: I Survived The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941
Author: Lauren Tarshis
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Series: I Survived, 4
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 1, 2011

Summary – I Survived The Bombing Of Pearl Harbor, 1941

History’s most terrifying moments are brought vividly to life in the action-packed fictional I SURVIVED series! Do you have what it takes to survive … the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

Eleven-year-old Danny Crane is alone on his favorite beach in Hawaii when the world is torn apart and World War II officially hits the United States. Does he have what it takes to find his way home in the midst of the bombs, the smoke, and the destruction of the day that will live in infamy?

First Thoughts

I’ve read the first couple of books in the series and decided to continue them.

Book Cover

The cover says a lot of what the book is about and set it right at the climax of the story.

Plot

Danny and his mother move to Pearl City, Hawaii from New York City. She’s a nurse on the island and Danny isn’t too thrilled to be there. When she leaves for work, he’s torn with the idea of running away back to New York, but he doesn’t want to hurt his mother. Then the attacks happen.

Like the other books in this series, the plot is well-executed and the fictional character is always set up to be brave and help out in any way during the disaster. It was certainly an interesting read.

Characters

I liked all the characters in this one. Danny was a great protagonist and he was great with all the other characters. The supporting characters such as Mack and Mrs. Sudo were helpful and had a purpose throughout the story as well.

Writing Style

Like the rest of the series, this is a quick and easy read. There’s a lot of information about the bombing of Pearl Harbor in this one, including facts, resources, and other information in the back of the book. It’s certainly a good read.

I Survived The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 by Lauren Tarshis

Rating

Plot
Characters
Writing Style

Overall

This was a great read and, in my opinion, the best so far in this series. It’s worth a read to learn more about this tragic event.

4.3

Favorite Quote

“You’d have to be crazy not to be scared, with what was happening in the world, with America at war with both Japan and Germany now.”

Lauren Tarshis, I Survived The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 (I Survived 4)

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Book Review: I Survived The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 by Lauren Tarshis | Historical Fiction | Middle Grade | Book Blogger | Reading | RachelPoli.com

When I First Fell In Love With Reading

I didn’t always enjoy reading. In fact, I thought it was stupid. To me, it was just homework from teachers. All the books were always picked out for me and I never cared for any of them. In the middle of all that, I did fall in love with reading.

When I First Fell In Love With Reading | Fall in love with reading | books | reading | book blogger | book reviews | RachelPoli.com

When I Was 11

I was in the sixth grade and Erin Hunter, a group of authors under a penname, came out with a book titled Warriors. You’ve all heard me talk about this series now and again. I’m still reading the books and catching up with the series. There are a ton of books, 37 in the main series with number 38 coming out in October 2019. The very first one that started it all came out when I was 11-years-old.

It was my sister’s book. I don’t remember how she got it. I can’t remember if it was a gift from someone knowing she enjoyed reading and animals or if she had come across it at Barnes & Noble and bought it herself. Either way, she read it and enjoyed it. When I found out it was about cats, I wanted to borrow it.

She let me and I brought it to school. I remember her telling me, “Keep it nice. Don’t dogear the pages. Don’t lose it.” There was a list. She was very particular about keeping her books nice, which is fair. So, what did I do? I stepped out of the car one morning when my Mom dropped me off at school and immediately the book slipped out of my hand and fell into the snow. Of course, my sister didn’t actually care about that. We still look back on that and laugh.

“Don’t ruin it.” (Immediately drops it in the snow.)

It Didn’t Last Long

I remember reading the first couple of books and then stopped for a long time. The books assigned to me in school throughout middle school and high school pushed me away from reading. I had too many things to read for school that if I had any downtime to read whatever I wanted, I just didn’t feel like it. I was totally turned off from reading even though I enjoyed the Warriors series so much.

There were other series I enjoyed as well – Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and I enjoyed my mysteries by Joan Lowry Nixon and Caroline B. Cooney. I was just never too into reading on my own. It reminded me too much of homework.

Then, when I was in high school I rediscovered the Warriors books again. I tried my best to read them in my spare time. I got really into them again. In fact, I read one of the super edition books for a book report in my freshman year.

But again, school got in the way. The book report was an easy assignment for me since we got to pick out whatever we wanted to read. The book was about 500 pages long and when I got my grade, there was a note on it from my teacher.

“Next time, maybe pick a more age-appropriate book.”

I still got a good grade and she didn’t take any points off for me reading a book that was supposed “too young” for me, but the comment still rubbed me the wrong way. I was 14 and the book is targeted at a middle-grade level. Close enough, right? I mean, I was in middle grade less than a year before that book report was assigned anyway. I enjoyed it, that’s what I loved to read, so I didn’t see what the big deal was.

I don’t even think my teacher knew what it was. All she got out of it was that it was about cats. Therefore, animal books are too young for high schoolers. (I mean, really, I’m almost 26-years-old and I already pre-ordered the next book that comes out in three months.)

College & Blogging

This was the time in my life when I really got into reading. I graduated high school in June 2011. At that point, I already had a year of college under my belt. Sure, I had to read books for college but they actually weren’t bad books. I enjoyed them. Not to mention, later down the road, I was assigned to read The Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter for one of my classes. Yes, please.

Then I started this blog in May 2012. I didn’t start reviewing books until 2015, but I still talked about them on the blog. I still read and, in a way, the blog held me accountable for reading. I met so many wonderful writers and authors through my blog while in college that I had a better appreciation for reading – despite wanting to be a writer myself.

That’s when I really started reading. Four years ago was when I started reviewing books and really getting into a reading routine while it wasn’t until 2011/2012 that I grew an appreciation and love for reading.

If You Want To Write, Read

This is a piece of advice that I had always gotten when I told people I wanted to be a writer. I think, to a certain extent, reading does help writers. However, I don’t think it’s a huge necessity. I made t this far, haven’t I? I’ve only been actively reading books for less than ten years and voila! Here I am.

When did you first fall in love with reading? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Short Story Sunday 274: Wander

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

Ellie headed down the street not really sure where she was going. The day hadn’t started off well for her when she woke up late, thus making her late for working. In fact, she didn’t notice it until her partner at work had called her wondering where she was. So, she went into work late and had decided to stay late, but the case she was working on wrapped up. It didn’t end in the way she had expected, in the way she had hoped. In fact, the case ended in such a depressing way that, despite scolding her for being late earlier, Ellie’s boss had let her go home early.

Ellie was still a fairly new officer. She had seen many things happen and had worked on a good amount of cases. However, she had by far seen everything. People were mean and they were weird. The cases were bizarre and didn’t make sense half of the time. After each case, she always thought they could never get any worse and they always did.

She was a hard worker and she was good at what she did. Ellie and her partner worked well together. They made a good team and always had each other’s backs. It was easy for them to split up their workload and they each had designated things to do whenever they worked a case together. Ellie was the better observer while her partner, Jim, was a better conversationalist. Usually, Ellie would investigate the crime scene and Jim would talk to any witnesses and get victim statements. He was more empathetic than she was anyway so it was easier for him to do rather than for her to talk to people. She enjoyed collecting the evidence and the sight of blood or dead bodies didn’t bother her in the slightest.

This case was different though. It hit close to home for her. The next-door neighbor at Ellie’s parents’ house, the home and neighborhood she grew up in, had died. She was an elderly woman who had watched Ellie and her siblings grow up. They played a lot with her children and Ellie even babysat her grandchildren.

Ellie’s boss didn’t want her on the case because it was personal for her, but Ellie insisted. She knew she would be able to keep her emotions in check and she did. She was mourning the death of her old neighbor, but that wasn’t why her day was so bad. It wasn’t why her boss was sympathetic and had let Ellie go home early. In fact, her boss never let anyone go home early. It was part of the job and Ellie knew that. Normally Ellie wouldn’t have left her shift early, but this really bothered her.

Ellie was always observant and never missed anything. She did this time, however. Her neighbor’s killer – her own daughter – was just proven innocent because of piece of evidence Ellie had missed. Sure, part of it was the detective on the case and the defense attorney was strong and determined to get the woman Ellie grew up with and played with as a child off free.

While she knew it wasn’t completely her fault, the other officers and detectives missed the key piece of evidence as well. Ellie still took the blame. It was bad enough that her childhood friend had murdered her own mother, but what was worse was that now she had to go the rest of her life not knowing why. Of course, she wasn’t going to admit it now that she was proven innocent so there was no way Ellie could figure out the motive. She wanted to keep investigating but part of her knew it would be a waste of time.

Her boss even warned her of that as well. It was part of the reason she let Ellie take the rest of the day off. She didn’t want Ellie to feel tempted to keep investigating even though there was plenty of other work that needed to be done and other cases that needed to be solved.

Ellie made it over to the park and she sat down on the bench in the middle of it. A few families were there with their children. Some were having picnics while others were playing on the playground or simply going for a walk. The air was a bit nippy and Ellie was beginning to get cold, but she didn’t want to move from her spot. She remembered her neighbor taking her to this park a couple of times with her daughters. They had a lot of fun together.

It was weird to think back to those times, especially since at the time, they had no idea things would end up this way. Ellie watched the other families gather together and have a nice time and she wondered what went wrong between her neighbor’s family. What made her daughter snap? Her neighbor was in her 90s. What was the point of murdering her? It broke Ellie’s heart that it was a daughter who killed her own mother. She couldn’t imagine it.

No, none of the cases that Ellie had ever worked had bothered her. They were sad and they were out there sometimes, but Ellie was always able to keep a straight face. She knew this was part of the job and she felt bad for the people involved, but she needed to do her job and that was that. Sure, she knew these people personally, but she wondered how she would have felt if she didn’t know them. She wondered how different things would be right now.

Ellie would still feel bad, but at least she would have been at work right now working on the next case. That’s what she did as a cop. She moved on from one case to the next and always hoped for the best. It was just part of the job.

That’s what she was going to have to do for the next case. She would start that tomorrow though.

Words: 1,005

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I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 By Lauren Tarshis [Book Review]

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I borrowed a paperback copy of this book from my library. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review: I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 By Lauren Tarshis

Book Review: I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 by Lauren Tarshis | Historical Fiction | Middle Grade | Book Blogger | Reading | RachelPoli.com

Title: I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005
Author: Lauren Tarshis
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Series: I Survived, 3
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: March 2011

Summary – I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005

His whole world is underwater…

Barry’s family tries to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina hits their home in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. But when Barry’s little sister gets terribly sick, they’re forced to stay home and wait out the storm.

At first, Katrina doesn’t seem to be as severe a storm as forecasters predicted. But overnight the levees break, and Barry’s world is literally torn apart. He’s swept away by the floodwaters, away from his family. Can he survive the storm of the century – alone?

First Thoughts

These are quick reads and I enjoy the historical tidbits. After reading the first two books in the series, I grabbed the next three.

Book Cover

The cover shows Barry and a dog he rescued in the middle of Hurricane Katrina trying to find their way to safety. As always, it shows a lot about the plot and the design is well done.

Plot

Life is normal for 11-year-old Barry until the forecasters urge everyone to evacuate for the upcoming storm. Everyone is worried, though Barry doesn’t fully understand why until the storm is directly on top of them.

The plot was well executed with enough information about the historical tragedy without laying it on thick.

Characters

Barry was a good protagonist to follow along with such a story. He was strong and brave throughout the whole event. He followed his parents’ lead and overcame the storm. It was interesting to see the events through his eyes, even though he’s fictional.

Writing Style

This is a super quick and easy read. I learned more about Hurricane Katrina than I thought I knew. The information is easy to comprehend and it’s quick enough to read in one sitting.

I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 by Lauren Tarshis

Rating

Plot
Characters
Writing Style

Overall

This is another great addition to the I Survived series. If you’re looking for something quick with a little history boost, this is the one for you.

4

Favorite Quote

“Out there in the flood, Barry had discovered some powers of his own.”

Lauren Tarshis, I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 (I Survived 3)

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Book Review: I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 by Lauren Tarshis | Historical Fiction | Middle Grade | Book Blogger | Reading | RachelPoli.com