Short Story Sunday 250: Secrets [Flash Fiction]

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

Allan opened the bedroom door a small crack. He peered in, slowly craning his neck to look into the room. When the coast seemed to be clear, he slid through as small a crack in the door his body would allow, and closed the door behind him with a soft click. He scanned the room, taking it all in, wondering where it could be.

His back was pressed against the door. Allan knew he needed to actually look around the room and move things around if he was ever going to find it. However, he also knew this was wrong. He shouldn’t have been in his brother’s bedroom. He shouldn’t have been thinking about snooping around and invading his privacy.

Allan sighed and pushed himself away from the door. He wouldn’t be a very good little brother if he didn’t snoop around, though… right?

He started to his right where his brother’s dresser was. He looked on top – nothing. He opened the first drawer and lifted the neatly folders shirts – nothing. Allan closed it and opened the second drawer. He picked up some dress pants and jeans – still nothing. He closed it and opened the third drawer, shuffling around his brother’s underwear and socks – absolutely nothing. He closed the drawer in frustration, the drawer slamming. Allan winced. Hopefully no one heard that.

He straightened out turning around. No, his brother wouldn’t leave it in such an easy spot like his dresser within his clothes. Allan smiled at his brother bed. He’s hide it in a much tougher spot.

Allan lunged at the bed. He lifted up the bed sheets. It wasn’t there. He lifted the mattress on one side – nothing – and then the other side – nothing.

Allan pouted. Surely, he had thought his brother would hide it under his mattress. He didn’t bother looking under the bed. That was too obvious of a spot. He sat on the bed, lying down. His head hit the pillow hard.

“Ow!” he exclaimed sitting up. He rubbed his head. Man, his brother had a stiff pillow.

Allan froze. Wait a minute.

He picked up the pillow and turned it upside down so the opening of the pillowcase was pointed to the ground. Gravity did its job and a book fell out of the case and onto the bed.

Allan grinned. His brother’s journal. This was sacred. But now he’d be able to see who his brother had a crush on.

Words: 407

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: The Apprentice’s Quest (A Vision Of Shadows 1) By Erin Hunter [Book Review]

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Book Review: Warriors: The Apprentice's Quest (A Vision of Shadows 1) by Erin Hunter | Middle Grade | Fantasy | Book Blogger | RachelPoli.com

I got a hardcover copy as a gift for Christmas.

Summary:

For many moons, ThunderClan, ShadowClan, RiverClan, and WindClan have lived in peace in their territories around the lake. But now they must decipher a mysterious prophecy—a message that will send one young medicine cat apprentice on a quest to determine the fate of all the warrior Clans.

Full of epic adventure and thrilling intrigue, the beginning of this fifth Warriors series is the perfect introduction for readers new to the Warriors world, while for dedicated fans, it’s a long-awaited return to the era of Bramblestar’s ThunderClan, after the events of Omen of the Stars.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comThe covers for the series as a whole got a make-over. The covers all look gorgeous and even though these are “new” for earlier books, this is the first edition cover for A Vision of Shadows. I really like the colors and think the art style is beautiful.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comAfter reading Omen of the Stars, I hopped right into this series since I’m trying to catch up on the books before the next series comes out.

Plot | RachelPoli.comAlderpaw and his sister Sparkpaw are Bramblestar (the clan leader) and Squirrelflight’s kits. They’re made into apprentices at the beginning and begin their warrior training. Except, poor Alderpaw is a terrible “warrior.” His fighting skills are lacking and he has yet to catch a single piece of prey. He’s worried about what good he would be for his clan if he can’t defend it or catch food.

So, Bramblestar and the two medicine cats, Leafpool and Jayfeather, decide to make Alderpaw a medicine cat apprentice. Shortly after, he begins to have visions from StarClan and must go on a quest to help SkyClan from long ago.

I enjoyed this particular plot because it’s not every day you meet a protagonist who “can’t” do what they’re supposed to – at least, not in this series. I was certainly intrigued by his story and how he would fit into his clan throughout.

Characters | RachelPoli.comAlderpaw makes a great main character. He has a lot of anxiety and is very self-conscious which makes me feel bad for him and root for him all the more. His sister Sparkpaw is an interesting character, though she’s a bit of a know-it-all and can be a snob. I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship plays out throughout the next few books.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The Apprentice’s Quest is an easy read and definitely a page-turner at some parts. The book is just shy under 300 pages, which is the typical length. The plot and characters are interesting enough and easy to follow along with.

Overall | RachelPoli.comThis was a great beginning to a new series of Warriors books. I’m looking forward to reading book two and seeing where Alderpaw goes from here.

Warriors: The Apprentice’s Quest (A Vision of Shadows 1) by Erin Hunter gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“And from the way you described Mistfeather, all ragged and skinny, the attack didn’t happen just yesterday.” -Erin Hunter, Warriors: The Apprentice’s Quest (A Vision of Shadows 1)

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

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

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Time To Write: Sentence Starter 43 [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a picture prompt. Check out some stories and photos from other great writers:

  • []

This week’s writing prompt is:

Time to Write: Sentence Starter | Creative Writing Prompt | Writing Prompt | First Line Prompt | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

Write a story beginning with the sentence 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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January 2019 [Wrap Up]

Wrap Up January 2019 | Creative Writing | Reading | Blogging | Goals | RachelPoli.com

Reading

Reading was, I’ll admit, slow-going this month. I think it was because I was ahead for reviews so I felt like I was ahead with my reading. I did finish reading what I had planned to read this month though. I’m hoping to get more reading done in February though. I’d like to get back into that habit.

Writing

I had planned a lot of writing for the month of January, but plans changed. I ended up doing a lot of planning and outlining instead. I can’t complain about that though. I still made progress. I also officially started my Fiverr account. This is something I’ve flip-flopped on for a really long time and decided to do it in addition to the services from my blog. Mostly though, I’m still plugging away at my books.

Blogging

January was a good month for blogging. I got so many graphics done ahead of time, which was be super time consuming. I have a list of series that I can write for the whole year, which I plan on doing soon. Overall though, I got my January and most of my February blog posts done.

Overall

January was kind of a weird month. I didn’t get done what I had originally planned on getting done, but I still accomplished some things. January was a huge planning month for me and I got myself organized and prioritized a lot of projects. So I feel good.

Posts To Remember

1. Why I’m Opening Up [Mental Health Monday]
2. Writing Goals for 2019
3. Why I Chose To Join Patreon

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

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Organizing My Notebooks

Here I am, still organizing! I went through my books the other day and now I’m organizing my notebooks. I’ve felt so good going through all these things and more. Maybe I’ll talk about the more part later on, but I think I’ve overloaded you guys with so many organizational posts lately!

Organizing My Notebooks | Creative Writing | Organize | Lifestyle | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I have more notebooks than I can count. I’ve got a drawer under my bed filled with notebooks that have been used and filled. I have two other bins under my bed filled with notebooks and journals that have yet to be used. I also have a three-shelf bin in my office. The top holds my accordion folders with my manuscripts and various drafts in them as well as notebooks that are being used for current drafts and projects I’m on right now.

I had gone through those last summer (I think) and that’s why they each have their own little home. I also have a filing cabinet in my office that has two drawers. The bottom one is filled with Kris’s things and the top drawer is… overflowing with my stuff.

I give each of my writing projects a file folder that holds the current draft as we as an research or loose-leaf notes. I didn’t count how many folders I had in there, but the drawer was filled enough that when I opened the drawer, it would sag because it was so heavy with folders and paper.

I have a list of stories I plan on writing and when I was younger, this list used to be pages and pages long. So, instead of waiting until I officially began a project, I made a folder. For every. Single. One.

Half of these weren’t even “ideas,” mind you. If I came up with a title idea that sounded cool, I turned it into a folder because… I’d come up with a plot to go along with that title at some point, right?

So, I put the live action 101 Dalmations movie on Netflix over the weekend and I tackled that drawer. It took me almost two hours to go through it all. (That time could also be because I got distracted by the movie at times.) I saved the folders of stories I knew I was going to write soon or in the future. I put the other folders to the side and went through them separately. I wanted to double check I would never write those stories and I also had to go through any research or notes that might have been in the folders. Most of the folders were, however, empty.

My drawer is now just a little less than halfway full. I can open and close the drawer smoothly because it no longer weighs a ton. Not to mention I can fit the folders in standing up now rather than stacking them on top of each other to make them all fit… and then taking them all out one by one to look for that certain folder.

Looking at it, it doesn’t seem like I did much but it really made a difference. I feel so good that I’m slowly going through all my things and de-cluttering everything.

Have you gone through your notebooks and writing lately? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Organizing My Books

Since I’ve been doing so much organizing this month, I decided I should probably do my books as well. I have two bookshelves in the basement as well as two small “floating” shelves in my office. I typically have the floating shelves hold books I’m currently reading or what I’ll be reading next as well as writing craft books.

My bookshelves in the basement have been overflowing for a long time now and they’ve been needing some organization.

Organizing My Books | Creative Writing | Reading | Organize | Lifestyle | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Except I didn’t actually organize my books. I took all my books off the two bookcases and went through the ones I want to keep and got rid of some others.

Every time I try to get rid of some books I end up donating a handful. I become too attached to the books and keep them all. Except, I’ve been in the mood to clear some things out and make room. I have too much stuff and things have been super cluttered lately. It’s driving me nuts.

It took me a half hour to go through my books and I ended up with six stacks of books that I’m getting rid of. Honestly, I didn’t seem to get too attached to any of the books either. I think I’m just “ready” to clean house.

The books I got rid of were old series like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars that I will never read again. I was into those books in middle school and a bit of high school and then grew out of them.

Other books I decided to donate were books I’ve had for years and I know I will never read. Then there were other books I let go of that I have read but know I will either never read again or I just didn’t care too much for the book and it no longer needs to be displayed on my shelf.

I always hate getting rid of things. I’m one of those people who believe inanimate objects have feelings and I feel bad donating them. Unless something is broken or in bad condition, I never throw anything away. I always donate it to my church’s Thrift Shop or other places that accept donations. I know someone will be able to use whatever I give away more so than how I’ve been using it… or not using it.

I was proud of myself for getting rid of so many books. Honestly, it didn’t free up that much space on my shelves, but it did make some sort of dent.

I definitely feel good about getting that done and out of the way. Now I need to go back to it at some point and actually organize the books by series or author or… something.

Have you gone through your books lately? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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How To Build A Fantasy World In Flash Fiction [Guest Post]

I’m happy to welcome Carin Marais back to my blog for another guest post! Thanks, Carin!

Guest Post: How To Build a Fantasy World in Flash Fiction by Carin Marais | Creative Writing | Guest Blogging | Short Story | Fantasy Writing | RachelPoli.com

When writing fantasy or sci-fi stories in a flash fiction it can be difficult to get the world in which the story takes place across because of the word limit. However, there are some steps that you can take that will make your worldbuilding in flash fiction not only work but also stand out.

Choosing a world to write in (a new world/a world you already know)

First of all, you need to decide whether you’ll be writing in the primary world (i.e. our world), or a secondary world. There is a bit of overlap – or grey area, if you want – between primary and secondary worlds. For instance, in “Scorched Earth”, I wrote a “straightforward” historical flash fiction piece, but added some paranormal aspects:

Johannes’ voice sounded in my ears as I turned to climb onto the wagon.

“Want Hij zal Zijn engelen vam u bevelen, dat sij u bewaren in al uw wegen.”

I looked around and spotted him standing some way off. Still dressed in simple clothes, he no longer held a Mauser in his hands. His chest was covered in dark blood and sand crusted his face. I wanted to wipe it away, to tell him it’s alright. I wanted to beat his chest and ask him how he could have left me. How he could let me go to the camps. How he dared recite the Bible to me.

I jumped when a young soldier touched my arm and I stepped back.

Jy sien ook?” he asked, the words barely recognisable. “You see them as well?” he repeated in English, his eyes pleading.

“See what?” I shrugged and climbed onto the wagon, sitting down next to Maria.

The young soldier folded his arms around him, eyes darting from ghost to ghost.” (“Scorched Earth” by Carin Marais, 2018)

Then there are those who are set in a world that is either completely alien to our own (Daily SF has published many stories that uses this wonderfully), or which are a complete secondary world, hinting at a larger world beyond the story:

They had always said that my blood wasn’t pure enough to work here, that the gods would take vengeance for having their holy objects exhibited for all to see. I rolled my eyes at them – but only behind their backs.

The priests added their voices to the surging crowds once money changed hands and their earlier blessing of the travelling exhibition was recanted. All objects were to be returned to the half-forgotten temples.” (“Red” by Carin Marais, 2018)

This also brings me to the first part of worldbuilding when you’re writing flash fiction – build only the part of the world that is necessary for the story.

Building only what is necessary

When you only have a thousand words to work with (give or take), you hardly have time to go into the intricacies of the economic system of the city where your story takes place.

However, if you need to show a disparity in income, for instance, you can mention hijacked buildings turned to slums or the beggars in the streets. Perhaps your character passes a soup kitchen line, or perhaps they drive past informal settlements that line the main roads out of the city. You don’t (necessarily) have to give up too many words for this kind of description if you use your words economically.

You also shouldn’t underestimate the intelligence your readers – you don’t have to spell everything out to them, but just leave enough breadcrumbs for the reader from which to gather the whole picture. You can always make a few notes about the world if you want to return to that world later, but just watch out for ending up with worldbuilder’s disease before you’ve even written the flash piece! This includes writing languages and cultures.

Other languages and cultures

(Fantasy) culture is a lot easier to portray in flash fiction, in my opinion, than other languages. However, using words in another language – or even languages – can be a powerful way to ground the story in a specific milieu.

For instance, I used three languages in “Scorched Earth”; English (the language the story is written in), Dutch (the language of the Bible quotations), and Afrikaans. The story is set during the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902) and, at that time, the Dutch Bible was still used by Afrikaans Christians. Each time, however, I noted that it was verses from the Bible that was being quoted and, in the context of the story, it wouldn’t be a huge problem if the reader didn’t understand the exact verse that was being quoted.

Johannes’ voice sounded in my ears as I turned to climb onto the wagon.

“Want Hij zal Zijn engelen vam u bevelen, dat sij u bewaren in al uw wegen.”

How he dared recite the Bible to me.” (“Scorched Earth by Carin Marais, 2018)

When it comes to using fantasy culture(s) in your fiction, there are some simple steps you can take to make it work.

If you’re just working from a vague idea in your mind, try some free writing to get a better grasp of what the culture is about and where it may have parallels to cultures in the primary world. If it does, and you need to do some research, now is the time. Talk to people of that culture, read up (for example articles by people of that culture) if the culture is on the other side of the world as you, etc. NaNoWriMo forums are especially good for this type of research.

Of course, if it’s a fantasy culture that you’re not actually basing on any real culture (much easier to do in a short piece than an actual novel!), you can basically do what you want and show that element that you want to highlight. For instance, this can be a part of their mythology and ritual as I did in “They Burn Your Birth-Tree” (2017) that I wrote for Paragraph Planet:

They burn your birth-tree with you when you die. Your ash would mix before being scattered by the ever-swirling-whispering-wailing wind. I always thought winter – that dark season – was the perfect time to die. My son was born with the first blossoms. I held the newborn at the newly planted birth-tree next to his mother’s stump. A bitter wind blew ashes from the pyre into the sunlit sky. You shouldn’t die in spring, I thought. “They Burn Your Birth-tree” by Carin Marais (2017)

While the fantasy culture may be foreign or strange to the reader, ways to make it understandable and relatable includes smart naming of the objects or rituals in the culture. So, for instance, I chose the English name “birth-tree” to denote an otherwise strange and alien idea instead of making up a word in another language. The reader immediately has some inkling of what I am referring to even though they have probably never heard of the word before.

You also don’t have to give more information about the use of the tree-burning than that which is in the final story, as the story only hinges on the reader understanding the implications of the mother’s tree having been cut down. The whole history of the tree-burning is therefore unnecessary clutter in the story even though you may have made worldbuilding notes about this. (More about it in the ‘editing’ part of this post.)

The magic system/technology

When writing a magic system or technology in flash fiction, it’s best to keep the magic “magical” and the technology “something that works” as you are really pressed for space.

Remember that it’s always important to focus on the story and what the story and characters need rather than focusing on that which goes on behind the scenes. Your readers are much more likely to enjoy one where the magic just works than one where the magic is being discussed for no apparent reason. Of course, if your whole story is about that, then go right ahead, but don’t feel the need to do it in every story.

The same goes for technology. In a tome of over 100K words, you’ll have more than enough space for explaining how certain technologies work. In 1 000 words, however, it’s unnecessary. All you have to really know that it works (or doesn’t work) and what the actual story is about. For instance:

I pick up the old delivery box and open it. Inside is my stinging, half-beating heart, its cogs and wheels and pipes all scattered. No wonder my chest ached so. I take a small screwdriver and go to work…” (“A Cup of Tea” by Carin Marais, 2018)

Don’t info-dump

All of the above basically boils down to one thing: don’t info-dump in the story. If your story ends up being 2 000 words, it’s more than likely that things can be edited down by half by either re-writing and deleting unnecessary details.

Here is an example of my first draft of the beginning of “They Burn Your Birth-tree” and what ended up in the published story:

“They burn you when you die in the winter, or so the old people always said. When the ground is frozen and the birth-trees bare, they would cut down your birth-tree and burn it with you.” (Draft 1)

Versus

“They burn your birth-tree with you when you die.” (Published story)

This took about 4 edits and I ended being a lot happier with the concise sentence of the final piece than the info-dump of the first draft when I was still finding my feet in the story.

  • Editing your flash piece

When you start to edit your story, first look at the number of words you need to cut – 100? 1 000? Once you know that, you know the minimum you need to trim from the story to turn it into a flash piece.

Start by deleting all unnecessary words. You’d be surprised how many you can use in such a limited space!

Next, go through all your descriptions. How can you tighten them or even rewrite them to make them punchier?

Usually by this time I find that I’d cut quite a large number of words already and may have already hit my target number of words! If not, I look at the story itself. Are there details that I can delete? Or perhaps whole characters that I can leave out without breaking down the story? Remember to spellcheck before posting or sending!

About Carin Marais

Carin Marais is a South African fantasy author and copywriter whose fiction and articles have appeared in Every Day Fiction, Jozi Flash (2016, 2017), Speculative Grammarian, Inkspraak and, most recently, Vrouekeur (June 2018). Her flash fiction collection Dim Mirrors (2016) was followed by Shards of Mirrors in 2018, shortly after the short story Forgotten (2018) was published on Kindle and Kobo. She is also a regular contributor to The Mighty.

Website & Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Shards of Mirrors By Carin MaraisShards of Mirrors is a free collection of 16 flash fiction pieces by Carin Marais. The stories are thematically linked, with the writer exploring loss, grief, forgetting, and remembering throughout the collection. Though not light-hearted, many of the stories are bittersweet and even hopeful. The genres range from steampunk (“Calling the Rain”), and horror (“The Call from Below”, “Red”), to sci-fi (“Shared Memories in High Definition”, “Petrichor”) and fantasy (“A Cup of Tea”, “A Fair Trade”).

DOWNLOAD SHARDS OF MIRRORS HERE.

Be sure to let Carin know what you thought of her post in the comments! Check out her links and show her some love. If you liked the post, please share it around.

If you’d like to write a guest post for my blog, then read the Guest Post Guidelines.

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Short Story Sunday 249: Shallow [Flash Fiction]

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

Sidney sat down in the far corner of the black leather. She crossed her arms and legs and turned her head to face the wall. She would have looked out the winder but then she’d had to look at him.

Cameron was already sitting. He too was on the couch and could tell that Sidney had purposefully sat far away from him. He sighed and turned his attention to the guidance counselor.

“Do you see what I mean?” he said pointing to his friend.

Mr. Warner stared sympathetically at Cameron. “Let’s not point fingers now. We’re here to talk about what’s bothering us and work out our differences.”

Cameron pressed his lips together. He sat stiffly. He had never been in the guidance counselor’s office before unless it was for something school related. He was a good kid. He did his homework, he was friendly with everyone. He didn’t understand why one of his best friends was so angry at him that they needed peer mediation.

“Sidney?” Mr. Warner turned his attention to her. “Did you hear me?”

She grunted, still staring at the wall.

“Sidney, we all need to be in this together 100-percent.” The guidance counselor said calmly. He opened a notebook and rested it on his lap. “Now, would either of you like to volunteer to start?”

Sidney cast a side glance over her shoulder. Once she noticed Cameron looking at her, she immediately turned away again. Cameron sighed looking at Mr. Warner. He opened his mouth to begin, but noticed the notebook.

“What’s that for?” he asked.

“To take notes.” Mr. Warner replied.

“Why do you have to take notes on us?” Cameron replied hastily. “This isn’t like… therapy or anything, is it? We’re having an argument, what’s there to take notes for?”

“I want to make sure I can understand and remember everything you guys tell me. Taking notes allow me to take a look back at your statements and try to piece things together.” Mr. Warner explained.

Sidney snorted.

“Statements?” Cameron stood up from the couch. “You make it sound like we’re on trial for something.

“I assure you, Cameron, that’s not the case.” Mr. Warner said shaking his head. He pointed to the couch. “Please, take a seat. Would you like to get us started?”

“What was that sigh for?” Cameron asked. “You think I’m ridiculous, don’t you? Well, I’ve never been on trial before!”

“You’re not on trial.” Mr. Warner said a little louder.

“Do you see what I put up with?” Sidney piped up.

Mr. Warner and Cameron froze turning their attention to Sidney. Neither of them had noticed she was looking at them now and actually listening.

“I’m beginning to. Sidney, would you like to start?” Mr. Warner replied.

“Oh, so now you’re both against me?” Cameron replied. He threw his arms up in the air and began to pace.

“No one is against you. No one is ever against you.” Sidney replied. She too stood up. “You overthink everything though. I’m frustrated because I corrected you with one little thing and you flipped out. You yelled at me and I don’t care too much for that, so yeah. I’m mad.”

Cameron’s shoulders relaxed. He swallowed a lump in his throat. “Oh.”

“You never ask about what’s going on in my life. You don’t care about how my day is. All you care about is whether or not you’re doing a good job.” Sidney explained.

“A good job with what?” Cameron asked.

“Anything and everything. It’s annoying.”

“Okay, but we’re not a couple, so I don’t need to ask you about your day and stuff.”

Sidney rolled her eyes. “We don’t need to be a couple to be interested in each other. We’re friends, we still care about each other. Well, I care about you. I don’t know much about you caring about me.”

“Is that all?” Cameron wondered aloud.

Sidney nodded her head. “I just want to be normal friends without my day having to revolve around you.”

“Oh,” Cameron said with a nod. “Okay, I can work on that. I didn’t realize. I’m sorry.”

Sidney smiled. She walked over to him and gave him a big hug. After they pulled away, they both chuckled at how silly this whole thing was. The bell rang and they left the room side by side.

Mr. Warner remained in his chair. He let out a sigh. “Uh, glad I could help?”

Words: 740

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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Thomas Wildus And The Book Of Sorrows By J. M. Bergen [Book Review]

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Book Review: Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M. Bergen | eARC | Middle Grade | Fantasy | Book Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I received an eARC from the author and his publicist.

Summary:

Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real.

Seven years have passed, and Thomas hasn’t forgotten. He hasn’t forgotten the blue of his dad’s eyes either, or the tickle of beard on his cheek as they hugged goodbye. Last moments with a parent are memorable, even if you don’t know that’s what you’re having at the time.

Now, with his 13th birthday rapidly approaching, Thomas’s search for magic is about to take a radical and unexpected turn. At an out-of-the-way shop filled with dusty leather books, a strange little man with gold-flecked eyes offers him an ancient text called The Book of Sorrows. The price is high and the rules are strict, but there’s no way Thomas can resist the chance to look inside.

With the mysterious book guiding the way, a strange new world is revealed – a world in which Thomas has a name and destiny far more extraordinary than he ever imagined. But time is short. Even as Thomas uncovers his secret family history, enemies emerge, threatening to end his rise to power and destroy everything he holds dear.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comI think the cover is gorgeous. I enjoy the swirl of dark colors and it really emphasizes the magic portion of the book.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI was approached by the author’s publicist. I enjoy middle grade novels and with it being about magic, I was more than happy to give it a try.

Plot | RachelPoli.comThomas Wildus is living his normal pre-teen life – going to school and hanging with his friends. He lives with his mother and his father has been dead for quite some time. Thomas then comes across a strange bookstore and is given the Book of Sorrows. Then the story begins.

This was the classic beginning of a fantasy world where the protagonist finds their powers on their 13th birthday. Except, he didn’t really find his powers accidentally.

Overall, it was pretty well done. The way Thomas finds out about everything seems a bit cliche to me, but it was done well enough for the story that sets it aside from other books that got about that trope the same way.

Characters | RachelPoli.comI enjoyed all the characters in this one. Thomas made a great protagonist and his friend Enrique was highly amusing. The two of them definitely acted like middle-grade kids, which was fun to read.

All the supporting characters – Huxley, Adelia, Professor Reiley, Thomas’s mom, etc. – were all great too. Each character had their own unique voice and each one had a purpose and seemed to have enough equal light in the spotlight.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This book is about 350 pages long. It can be a quick read, but for me, I had trouble getting through the beginning. I felt the pacing was slow to start and the story didn’t really start until 100-150 pages into the book. There was a lot of build up, which wasn’t necessarily not needed, but I felt it could have been done in a different way.

Then, when the action did start, I felt it went along pretty fast because, at that point, there was only half of the book left. Thomas and Enrique were training for about two weeks before they confronted Arius and, while they trained, Arius seemed to be finding and collecting crystals left and right. It was too fast for the stakes to get high and tension to build.

Other than pacing, the book was easy to read and well written overall. The story was interesting once the magic really began.

Overall | RachelPoli.comThomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows is a pretty good read. I enjoyed the characters and the plot is definitely intriguing enough. The pacing was the biggest issue for me and because of that, I wasn’t able to get into the story as much as I would have liked. However, I’m still interested enough to read book two when that comes out.

Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M. Bergen gets…
Book Review Rating System | 3 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com3 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“I’m just trying to keep you from embarrassing yourself. It’s not easy, you know.” -J.M. Bergen, Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows

Buy the book:

Amazon

About J.M. Bergen

J.M. Bergen | Author | Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows | Middle Grade, Fantasy | RachelPoli.comA long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

J.M. Bergen graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in creative writing and a minor in business. Over the years his writing has appeared in a variety of publications under a variety of pen names, and though his favorite stories are about magic and adventure, his best-known work to date has been non-fiction.

J.M.’s debut series originally started as a bedtime story for his oldest son. The story turned into a saga, and one book turned into five. The first book in the series, Thomas Wildus and The Book of Sorrows, is scheduled for release in February 2019. The second, Thomas Wildus and The Wizard of Sumeria, will be published in late 2019, with the remainder of the series released before the end of 2021.

When J.M. isn’t working on the Thomas Wildus books, you can find him playing with his kids, splashing in the ocean, or dreaming up new adventures. If you ever meet him and can’t think of anything to talk about, you might ask about Herman the Shark, the Kai and Eli stories, or why Riddle-Master by Patricia McKillip is his all-time favorite book. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll have questions and stories of your own (if you do, he’ll think that’s far more interesting).

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Time To Write: Picture Prompt 25 [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a general prompt. Check out some stories and photos from other great writers:

This week’s writing prompt is:

Time To Write: Picture Prompt | Creative Writing | 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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