Redwood Summer [Guest Post]

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Robert Kirkendall. It’s the first chapter of his novel, Redwood Summer. Thanks, Robert!

aerial photograph Santa Clara, San Clara county, California


Was it all just too good to be true?  Jason was in the passenger seat of a work truck as he reflected on the life changing events of the previous few months.  He looked out across the austere expanse of unadorned one and two story concrete tilt-ups of Silicon Valley as the truck passed one building after another.  I had a good job with room to grow, Jason recalled, I had all my friends, Christine and I didn’t have a care in the world.  How did all change so quick? Jason lamented, then wondered if all the good times were gone.  The morning sun was above the eastern Mount Hamilton range and shone across the late autumn sky.  The faceless buildings cast shadows on half filled parking lots and dry landscaping.

“So what do you think about all this?” Hal asked from the driver’s seat.

“Huh?”  Jason was knocked off his train of thought.

“You know, what’s going on in the Persian Gulf.  They’ve been talking about it on the radio all morning.”

“Oh, I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”  Jason once again noticed the news talk over the radio.  He was a little annoyed at the interruption, then wondered how long his mind was somewhere else.

“Don’t you follow the news?  This is going to be major.”

“Of course.  I was just thinking about some other stuff.”

“We may soon be going to war,” Hal emphasized.  “What’s more important than that?”

“Look, I hear ya,” Jason agreed, “but I got other things on my mind right now.”

“More important than what’s going on?”

“Maybe not, but it’s important to me.”  Jason sensed Hal’s waiting for an answer.  “You know, personal stuff.”  He tried to hold onto the series of memories he was thinking of as he waited for the intrusion to end.

“Okay, I won’t pry.  But you might want to start paying attention to what’s going on.  I’m too old to be drafted, but you aren’t.”

“No one’s been drafted in years,” Jason replied.  “I’m not worried about that.”

“Well if things gets worse, you’ll hear about it,” Hal warned.

“No doubt,” Jason said reflexively.  They drove along further through the maze of nondescript structures.

“Well, maybe it’ll be good for the economy.  Wars usually are,” Hal pointed out.

“Yeah, as long as you don’t get killed.”

“Serious, look around at all these tech businesses.  This whole valley was built because of the Defense Department, and with the Cold War over we need something new to keep the wheels turning.”

Hal continued to talk as Jason looked out the window in thought.  He tried to focus on the day and the job ahead, but the past kept drawing him in.  When did it all start to change? he wondered.  The year started out really good, every weekend was a party, I was working toward my A.A.  Jason then remembered how credit card bills suddenly piled up at around the same time the rent on the house he was sharing went up.  When was that, he wondered, April?  May?  He remembered how his parents let him move back home so he could pay off his debt quicker.  He remembered how he told himself at the time that it was only to be temporary situation, but he also couldn’t help but be bothered by the idea that it was a step backward.

Jason leaned back in his seat and rested his arm on the window frame.  Did my life already hit its peak? he worried.  When did things began to go downhill?  His memory searched from the beginning of the year onward.  He thought back to a company meeting at his last job, not long after he moved back home, but when things were still good.  That was some day, he thought.  They said everything was looking up, and the future was only going to get better.  We were true believers.

Jason focused on that day.

About Robert

Robert KirkendallRobert Kirkendall grew up in San Jose, CA, lives in Santa Cruz, CA, and is the writer/producer/director of Pacific Television Theater, a live drama anthology broadcast from Community TV of Santa Cruz.

Meet Jessica Dall, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Jessica Dall to my blog.

Jessica Dall

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a history nerd turned writer who, I think, has finally worked out how to properly join the two. I’ve written a little bit of everything at this point, but most recently have been focusing on my historical fantasy and just plain historical fiction works for the last year or so. It takes a good deal of work when you’re writing things in historical settings (especially since I’m a stickler for accuracy. I spent much longer than I should have looking up the moon phases in 1755 to make sure I had the right moon on a particular date in the work I’m shopping at the moment…) but I find it incredibly enjoyable being able to marry my two passions so completely.

How long have you been writing for?

My mom will tell you that I’ve been writing since before I actually knew how to write. As a four-year-old I would take pieces of paper and do a bunch of loops on them pretending it was cursive (before leaving the scribbled papers around and driving my mother crazy, of course). I didn’t seriously get into writing until much later, though. I dabbled in fan fiction early on in high school because my friend was very much into it, which then led me back into writing original works (though I entirely admit my first novel is pretty much Harry Potter with the characters’ names changed…) By college, I was fully immersed in writing once again, and it’s been my life since!

What is your writing process like?

Since I have recently been focused on settings that take a fair bit of research these days, I start out with my trusty friend Scrivener (a writing software) and begin researching. Most of the time that ends up getting a relevant book on my Kindle and then taking notes from it so I have a good background in the time period I’m using. From there I work out who my main characters are and how they fit into the events playing out around them. Since I’ve never been able to fully stick to an outline, I try not to over plan, though. If I have my beginning worked out, I’ll start that and then stop and plan again when I hit a snag. This often means that there are times when I’ll have to stop and do some more research along the way, but as I said I’m a history nerd, so I like the researching almost as much as the writing some days.

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

I admit I’ve never been good at sticking to a routine. I work from home most of the time, so I tend to have whatever I’m writing open in one tab with whatever editing work I have open in another and then bounce back and forth throughout the day whenever I need a change of pace. Some days that means I get thousands of words written, some days nothing (especially if I’m up against an editing deadline and my focus is entirely on that other work), but everything always seems to get done in the end, and so the system works for me!

What motivates you to write?

I always joke and say I have self-diagnosed hypergraphia (the compulsive need to write). Whether or not I actually do, I do get rather tetchy if I go too long without being able to write something, so it’s often not what motivates me to write but what keeps me from writing the times that I’m not. If you run into me sitting alone somewhere, you’re very likely to find me scribbling away wherever I am.

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

The first time I got an acceptance, I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down then felt the need to tell everyone I know. Sadly I’m a little jaded at this point down the line, and so there hasn’t been jumping recently, but it’s still always an amazing feeling to hear that it isn’t just you who thinks your book is good and it really is going to get out there for the world to see.

Are you currently working on anything new?

There are a bunch of pans in the fire at the moment. I’m in edits for the third book in my historical fantasy series (currently titled Shattered Tempests) which will be out sometime this year if all goes as planned. I’m also shopping my straight historical fiction novel, set in Age of Enlightenment Portugal, which is a really interesting time period I knew absolutely nothing about before writing the book. As for writing, I’m in the early stages of working on a book set a little closer to home—namely colonial Maryland.

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

I actually have a political science degree, since in high school I was planning on going to Law School after college. It was an internship junior year that turned me on to being a writer/editor full-time (with some teaching on the side). I love what I do so much that it’s difficult to imagine being as happy in another profession, but I have to imagine I would now be somewhere in the legal profession, had I not had that switch in college (lawyer, paralegal, wherever life would have had me end up).

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest part of writing for me has always been dialogue. Once I develop my characters, they seem to take on a life of their own and writing dialogue becomes me trying to keep up with what they’re doing. Coincidentally, the hardest part is keeping everyone on track. I have a tendency to end up with conversations that don’t move the plot forward/add much that I know need to be cut but really like. I’ve started another document full of conversations that don’t add anything to the stories they were a part of but are too enjoyable to delete entirely.

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

While your first novel is always going to be your baby, it likely isn’t going to be very good. There are certainly people who are the literary equivalent of Mozart and the first thing they put down on paper will be brilliant, but for the rest of the world, you will finish your first novel, think it’s amazing, and then look at it five years later and go “What was I thinking?” Writing is a skill. One that gets better the more you practice, and that means while your first novel will always have a special place in your heart, it likely isn’t the first thing you’ll want readers to see—not unless you edit it several years down the line once you have gone from “beginner” to “professional.”

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

Unsurprisingly, my favorite genres are what I’ve ended up writing—namely historical fiction and fantasy. When it comes to a favorite book, I have plenty, but the one that I tend to come back to is The China Garden by Liz Berry. I first read it in high school, and the historical and fantastical combination really spoke to me, I suppose. I still have the beat up copy in my bookshelf now and I pull it out from time to time since it has a brilliant sense of nostalgia mixed into the storyline now.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? 

Write. No matter how good or bad you feel you are doing, you need to keep going and put words on the page. As said above, writing is a skill, and you can only get better if you practice. And remember, there’s always editing. You can’t compare your rough draft to a completely edited, published book. Editing fixes many sins; it just can’t fix an empty page.

About Jessica

Jessica Dall finished her first novel at the age of fifteen and has been hooked on writing ever since. In the past few years, she has published novels such as, Raining Embers and The Paper Masque, along with a number of short stories that have appeared in both magazines and anthologies.

In college, Jessica interned at a publishing house, where her “writing hobby” slowly turned into a variety of writing careers. She currently works as both as an editor and creative writing teacher in Washington, DC.

Connect with Jessica

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jessica’s Books


Buy Links

Raining Embers
Graven Idols

Meet Phyllis Edgerly Ring, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Phyllis Edgerly Ring to my blog.

Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Because I began life as an Army brat, and I’m a Baha’i, I value a world citizen’s perspective about where our human family is going on its shared journey.

My nonfiction books explore how to create balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life. I write fiction because, like so much of art, it can help us discover just what shape this balance is taking within our own lives. More than any other kind of writing, book-length fiction requires an absorption and immersion that will lead to what wants to be known and realized — in a story, and in a life. When a writer goes the distance with this, it allows mysterious unseen threads to weave into what both emotions and spirit can recognize as true and, in that recognizing, encounter what transcends this earthly life.

How long have you been writing for?

Since my teens and, in a focused way — selling and publishing work — since my late 20s. I wrote for magazines and newspapers, which was a great way to build the skills I now value and rely on as I write books.

What is your writing process like?

I allow whatever portion of a work that wants to come to reveal itself and I capture it down. I’ve never started at the beginning, but what the beginning is always becomes clear as I allow the process to reveal things in its own way, which is almost never in chronological order. Once enough pieces come into existence, they begin to show me how they connect and relate to each other, and what further directions to take. This, for me, is one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience.

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

I’m possessive and protective about the start of my day (which may come even before the sun shows up) because of the quality of its energy. For newly arriving writing, this is the very best time. For revision work, late morning and late afternoon seem best. I don’t necessarily get words onto a page every day, but I am always writing – living with the work, and “noodling” and discovering more about it.

What motivates you to write?

The utter joy of it, immersion in this deeply absorbing and revealing experience. As some writers describe, it can be like living in my own movie. Plus, the research that most of my writing requires is a delight for nerdy me. It never feels like work, just pure delight in discovery, with inevitable surprises.

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

Called my sister, who is also a writer, as was our mother. Then I went straight downtown to inform my wonderful local independent bookstore.

Are you currently working on anything new?

My first book for children, Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House, is coming out this year. And my latest novel, The Munich Girl, keeps me busier as I interact with book clubs and other widening circles of readers, and offer presentations about it at libraries and such. I’ve also waded into 2 new projects. One is what I’d term spiritual memoir, based on my experience with writing The Munich Girl and some of the nearly inexplicable synchronicities that it brought. The other is historical fiction set in 19th-century New England.

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

Something that incorporates the powerful role of story in human experience, and healing. I worked in the healing field early in my life. I learned that story plays an enormous part in how people heal, because it supports how they come to resolution, understanding, and eventually, find peace as they make meaning about life experience.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest: that it’s there waiting for me everyday, and I can pursue it anywhere I am in the world. Hardest (sometimes, at least), is that every writing work has its own timetable, directly related to the one connected with my own development, and that it’s wise not to try to force or speed up.

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

If I am true to the nature of my own writing self, allow it to be the soul-led experience it is, the process will be enjoyable, full of discovery, even empowering. It will amaze me. And, I believe, it will be a part of what transforms me.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

Historical fiction has attracted me from my earliest (grade school) reading days. The first book I read on my own that made a huge impact on me (third grade) was a biography of the medieval life and work of St. Elisabeth.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read, persevere, learn craft — do all of these until you find both your voice and the process that works for you. Then relish the rewriting as much as you do the exciting early drafting that brings with it so much discovery. Also, learn how to be edited, so that you’re able to recognize when someone’s applying this fine skill to your work and it really does improve it, help you past your blind spots, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I love hearing from readers with their thoughts and reflections about my books. They can contact me at Thanks very much for this opportunity, Rachel. ☺

Author bio:

Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and frequently serves as workshop facilitator and coach for others’ writing projects. Her published work includes fiction and inspirational nonfiction.

Connect with Phyllis Edgerly Ring:

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

Phyllis Edgerly Ring’s Books:

munich-girlBuy Links:

Amazon | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Audible

Welcome To My Newsletter!

I’ve finally put together a newsletter for my blog! This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and it’s finally ready.

My newsletter will go out on the last day of each month starting this month (November).

So, if you enjoy my blog and would like free, exclusive content about reading and writing sent straight to your e-mail, click the image below and sign up for my newsletter!


Or, if you would like to know more information about the newsletter, such as what content will be included each month, check out my new page here: NEWSLETTER

rachel poli sign off

Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Cover Reveal: Deceived by Heena Rathore P.

I’ve had the pleasure for doing a cover reveal for Citrus Publishers! Deceived by Heena Rathore is a psycological thriller that will be coming out in February 2017.

The blurb is enticing and so is the cover to go along with it. Bare feet with blood trickling down one leg in the middle of the forest is an interesting grab, especially with the jagged title bright and bold in the middle.

If I were to see this cover on the shelf in the bookstore along with the title, I would pick it up and take a look at the back. The summary of the story has me sold and I can’t wait to give it a read.


Deceived by Heena Rathore P.



How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl who’s trying to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.

A journalist who is chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.

A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughters her parents.

And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

A psychological thriller that weaves its way through the sadistic past of a traumatized child to the snare of dark mysteries of a beloved father.

Add to your Goodreads to-read shelf

About Heena Rathore P.:

Author Heena Rathore P. Heena Rathore P. is a 25-year-old full-time novelist, part-time Social Media Strategist, Novel Critic, Book Reviewer and a YouTube Podcaster.

She draws her inspiration from the works of legendary Stephen King and Sidney Sheldon.

She is an introvert, a thinker, a neat freak, a voracious reader and a GSD-lover. In her free time, she loves watching apocalyptic, thriller and slasher movies and series.

She lives in Pune with her beloved husband in a house full of books, music, and love.

She loves creating fictional worlds, but more than that she loves living in them.





Short Story Sunday 133: Watchers (Part Five)

            “Maria!” I heard Dad shout.

I could see him standing in the doorway on the other side of my bedroom from the corner of my eye. Yet, the red-eyed monster was still right in my face. I didn’t dare look away from it to look at Dad.

I heard some rustling and before I knew it, Dad was scooping me up in his arms. He hugged me tight jerking my gaze away from the red eyes. Then he placed me gently back down on my bed. I scanned my bedroom for the three monsters, but they were all gone again.

My shoulders relaxed, but I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing that they were gone not. They always disappeared when Dad came so Dad never believed me that there were any monsters.

“Maria, what are you doing in here?” Dad broke me out of my thoughts. He backed away from my bed and stared at the floor in disgust.

I leaned over the edge of my bed and noticed the glass shards lying on the ground. I had completely forgotten that the lamp fell and shattered on the ground. I peeled my eyes away from my favorite, but broken, lamp to look at Dad.

“Did you feel the house shaking?” I asked.

“What?” Dad narrowed his eyes confused.

“Didn’t you hear the monsters talking to me?”

Dad folded his arms across his chest and stared at me blankly.

“Didn’t you see the three monsters standing directly in front of me? One of them was in my face!”

Dad hung his head and let out an exasperated sigh. After a moment of unbearable silence, Dad looked back up at me and pointed to the mess on the floor.

“I have no idea what you’ve been doing in here, but it’s late and you really need to go to sleep. Enough fooling around, Maria. I’m going to get the broom to clean this up and then you have to go to sleep.” Dad turned around to exit the room.

“But Dad!” I called after him, but he was already out in the hallway. I was sure he heard me call after him, but he didn’t want to hear anything else I had to say to him about the monsters.

Frustrated, I hopped off my bed on the other side of the broken glass as to not cut the bottom of my bare feet. I ran over to the other side of room as quickly as I could. I didn’t want the monsters to come back before Dad came back upstairs with the broom. When I made it to the door, I turned on the light, my heart pounding in my chest as I raced the darkness.

As soon as the light shone in my bedroom, I let out a sigh of relief. I turned around leaning my back against the wall, but it turned out the light didn’t help at all.

I thought the monsters ran away when Dad came into the room and when the light was turned on. But that didn’t seem to be the case now. The red-eyed monster was standing at the foot of my bed, while the two yellow-eyed monsters stood tall behind it. All three stared at me and none of them looked happy.

They all looked the same. They were all scary, broad, and tall. They were covered in brown fur as though they were large bears, except their nails looked to be at least five inches long on each hand, even on their feet.

Each monster had two long fangs sticking out of the tops of their wide mouths. I didn’t see a nose on any of them, but their eyes were big enough to cover half of their faces. The red-eyed monster was a little bit bigger than the other two and it had three horns coming out of the top of its head. And while that one had horns, the two yellow-eyed monsters had two pointy ears like bats on top of their heads.

I slid my back against the wall eventually sitting down on the ground. I brought my knees up to my chest and just stared at the monsters. They clearly weren’t going away anytime soon. I had given up. Dad wasn’t going to believe me that there were monsters in my bedroom. In fact, I wasn’t even sure where he went. I didn’t think it would take him so long to grab the broom and come back upstairs.

The red-eyed monster took another step closer. The whole house shook again. I lost my balance and fell to the side. I put my arms out to catch myself even though I was already on the ground.

It took another step.

Dad was probably still getting the broom, for what was taking him so long I had no idea, but I bet he didn’t hear anything. He didn’t feel the whole house rumble earlier when he was right down the hall. He definitely wasn’t going to hear anything downstairs.

Frustrated, I crawled along the floor back over to my bed. The monster stopped walking and his gaze followed me as I shimmied along the floor on all fours.

I was careful around my nightstand as to not cut myself, but I noticed a pretty large shard of glass. I picked it up as gently as I could. I stood up, turned around, and whipped the glass right at the red-eyed monster.

The shard bounced off the monster’s leg as though it had a protective coating around it. I let out an exasperated sigh.

Okay, now I was out of ideas.

“Maria!” Dad growled.

I twisted my neck to look back over at my bedroom door. Dad stood in the doorway holding the broom and the vacuum. He stared at me appalled.

“Now you’re throwing the glass around your room? What is it with you tonight?” he glared at me and I could see his forehead veins beginning to pop out.

Whatever I had to say about the monsters now definitely wasn’t going to go well. He didn’t believe me before and he certainly wasn’t going to believe me now.

I turned my attention back to the monsters and I could have sworn they were smiling.

“You need to help clean this up.” Dad was suddenly standing beside me now. He handed me the broom and reluctantly, I took it.

I watched the monsters as they slowly vanished from my sight. I still didn’t understand how Dad wasn’t able to see them.

I swept up the broken glass into a pile and then pushed it into the dustpan. I walked over to the other side of my bedroom to dump it in my trashcan while Dad turned on the vacuum to pick up any of the smaller pieces we may have missed.

As he vacuumed, I peered into my closet. There was nothing there.

Dad turned off the vacuum and sighed. “Look, Maria. I don’t know what kind of nightmare you had, but there are no monsters in your room. There are no monsters anywhere near here because they don’t exist.”

“Okay.” I murmured in response. What else was I supposed to say? There was no sense in arguing with him anymore. He wasn’t going to believe me.

Dad walked over to me and closed my closet door so I couldn’t look inside it anymore. “Why don’t you come sleep with me in my room tonight? At the rate this night is going, it seems as though that would be best.”

I smiled at Dad. I knew he was suggesting this to me so that we could both get some sleep before our alarm clocks went off in a couple of hours, but I was grateful that he thought of this solution.

We shut the light off in my bedroom and closed the door. I crawled into bed with Dad once we made it to his room.

No monsters showed up for the rest of the night.

We were just going to have to wait and see what the next night would bring.

Words: 1,353

rachel poli sign off

Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Short Story Sunday 132: Watchers (Part Four)

            I swallowed a hard lump in my throat. As much as I wanted to believe there was no such things as monsters like Dad said, I knew he was wrong. There was nothing in my closet that would trick me into thinking a pair of yellow eyes was staring at me.

Nothing in my closet changed to add a second pair of yellow eyes. And nothing changed still in order to add a pair of red eyes. They multiplied every time Dad came into the room and told me there was no such thing as monsters.

This was not my imagination. I was not dreaming. This was not nothing. There were monsters in my closet and I had to get rid of them somehow. If Dad couldn’t see them, then I was going to have to do something about it.

I shifted my weight on my bed and sat up tall on my knees. I bit my lower lip. All three pairs of eyes were staring back at me. Neither one of them moved, none of them groaned. I was at a loss of what was going on.

“What…” my voice cracked and I cleared my throat. “What do you want with me?”

The six eyes blinked in response.

“Where did you come from?” I asked again stepping down from my bed.

They blinked again.

“Are… Are you friendly at least?” I choked out walking towards my closet again.

The more monsters that entered my closet, the more times I called my Dad to check my closet, I felt less afraid. They weren’t doing anything. They hadn’t done anything in the past week. I wasn’t sure if they were biding their time until something big or if they were just camping out for some reason.

It didn’t make sense to be afraid of these monsters anymore. It was time that I confronted them. It was time I confronted my fears.

“I’m not going to be afraid of you anymore. Just tell me why you’re here and what you want.” I sighed exasperated. They must have wanted something if they kept hanging around to watch me sleep.

All six eyes blinked once more. I grunted in response and stopped in the middle of my bedroom. I didn’t want to get any closer. I didn’t want to touch any of the monsters again. They growled at me last time, who knew what would happen if I accidentally bumped into them again?

I raised an eyebrow at the six eyes staring at me blankly. “Hello?” I shrugged. I knew they could move since they disappeared whenever Dad entered the room. I knew they could communicate in some form since one of them growled at me earlier. I didn’t expect answers to my questions, but I expected some sort of response other than blinking.

Yet, as soon as I said that, all six eyes shifted to look at each other. I clamped my mouth shut and took a few steps back. Okay, I clearly got their attention. But now what were they doing?

In just a couple minutes, all the eyes turned to me once more. The yellow pair, the first monster that first appeared in my closet a week ago, seemed to come forward. My bedroom shook and I latched onto the edge of my bed to keep my balance. Holding onto my mattress for my dear life, I took a few more steps back.

The eyes lowered as though the monster was ducking in the doorway of the closet and then they got higher once more as if it stood up tall again.

I craned my neck to look up as the monster took hard steps closer to me. My bedroom continued to rumble after each footstep. I glanced at my bedroom door wondering where Dad was. Surely he could feel the house shaking! Wasn’t he going to come check up on me?

The monster stared down at me while the other monster with the narrow yellow eyes repeated what the first monster did. The whole house shook again under his steps. He stood beside the first monster, both of them staring down at me.

Then it was the red monster’s turn. It seemed bigger than the other two monsters as his eyes were closer to the ceiling and his footsteps were so heavy that I thought he was going to fall right through my floor breaking my house.

I climbed back on top of my bed as though that would help me get away from the three monsters. I was suddenly afraid of them again. They had never left my closet, though they still didn’t speak and they still continued to stare at me. What were they doing and what was I supposed to do to retaliate?

I stood up willing myself to be brave and stand before them as though I wasn’t afraid, even though I felt like wetting my pants. I hoped they weren’t the type of monsters that were able to smell fear. If so, I was in trouble.

“Wh—What do you…” my voice shook and I had to clear my throat again. “What do you want?”

The monster with red eyes took another step forward shaking the entire room. The lamp on my nightstand beside my bed vibrated so far between the monsters moving that it fell off the stand and crashed to the ground with the bulb popping like a balloon.

I let out a quick scream turning to the sound of the lamp. Then I immediately turned back to the monsters and the red eyes were directly in my face.

I held my breath trying not to panic. I could feel a warm air breeze by my face as the monster breathed on me.

“Maria.” A deep, raspy voice rang out through the room.

Then my Dad entered my bedroom for the third time that night.

Words: 982

rachel poli sign off

Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Short Story Sunday 131: Watchers (Part Three)

            I recoiled my hand away the moment I touched… was it fur? I wasn’t entirely sure what it was, but I knew I shouldn’t have been touching it. I backed away slowly holding my hand with my other hand as though it had been burned on a hot stove. I tilted my head back up and the eyes were staring at me again.

The first pair of yellow eyes, the eyes that have been there every night, stared at me normally. The other pair of yellow eyes looked narrower now, almost as though it was glaring at me.

I thought I was closer to the first pair of eyes, but I guess I was wrong. Maybe I touched the monster that looked scarier and meaner?

The growling had stopped.

I looked into the first pair of eyes. Whatever it was, it didn’t seem angry at me for being curious and going right up to it. It didn’t seem as though it was going to do anything.

It just continued to stand in my closet. It continued to stare at me and watch my every move.

“Dad!” I screamed again from the middle of my room. I didn’t take my eyes off of the four eyes staring back at me. I wanted to watch them and see where they went when Dad came into the room. There was no way they were going to try to escape this time.

After just a few minutes, Dad opened my bedroom door groggily. I continued to stare at my closet, but as soon as Dad turned my light on, both pairs of eyes disappeared.

I gasped.

“Maria? What are you doing standing in the middle of the room?” Dad yawned.

I frowned at the clothes hanging in my wide open closet. “There was another thing in my closet… There were four yellow eyes instead of two this time. But now that you turned on the light, they’re gone.”

Dad sighed. “Maria, I told you. There are no such things as monsters. Whatever you see in your closet is just your imagination playing tricks on you because it’s late and you’re tired.”

I turned around and looked at the clock. It was already midnight. I went to bed three hours ago. How was this night going by so quickly and yet so slowly at the same time?

Dad walked over to me and pointed to the inside of my closet. “I don’t know what is in here that looks like a couple of eyes staring at you, but you’re fine.” He closed the closet door all the way allowing it to click shut. “Now, come on. You have school in the morning and I have to go to work. I’m tired, you’re tired, it’s time to go to sleep.”

I released an exasperated sigh as Dad gently pushed me towards my bed. I climbed back in and he tucked me under the covers for the third time that night. I continued to stare at my closet. The door was still closed tight. I wasn’t able to see inside and nothing will be able to see outside.

Dad kissed me on the forehead once more. “Goodnight, Maria.” He said gently.

He walked over to the other side of my room and turned off the light. He smiled and winked at me. I forced a smile back at him as he closed the door again.

I lied back down rolling over onto my side. I closed my eyes lightly willing myself not to look over at my closet. Dad closed the door and he checked inside the closet twice. There was nothing there. It was just my imagination because I was tired.

Yet, I couldn’t help myself. I needed to double check that the closet door was still closed and that the monsters hadn’t come back. Surely, they must have been tired too, right?

I immediately regretted looking over my shoulder. I shot straight up in my bed gaping because not only was the closet door back open, but now there was a pair of deep red eyes staring back at me as well.

Words: 687

rachel poli sign off

Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Short Story Sunday 130: Watchers (Part Two)

Read Part One.

            I pulled the blankets over my head and squeezed my eyes shut willing for the second pair of eyes to go away. It was bad enough there were now two monsters staring at me, but the second pair of eyes was a deep golden color. The eyes were bigger than the other monster’s and the pupils were thin and looked like diamonds. It was much scarier than the other monster, whatever it was.

But that was it. This monster had been coming to my room every night for a week and now more were coming. I had to get rid of it once and for all.

I finally peeked over my blankets. Sure enough, four yellow eyes were still burning into my own gaze. I kicked the covers off of myself and reached down over the side of my bed. I had a plastic baseball bat to play wiffle-ball with my Dad. Whatever these monsters were doing, I would get rid of them. I could at least try to knock them out so they couldn’t run when I asked my Dad to come back into my bedroom to help me get rid of them.

Drawing in a deep breath, I swung my legs over the side of my bed, my knuckles turning white from gripping the bat so tight. I hopped off my bed inched my way closer to the closet with the bat high above my head as though I was waiting for a curve ball to be thrown at me.

I stared intently at the four eyes and each one of them slowly blinked as I made my way closer to them.

They blinked again. I swallowed a dry lump in my throat.

The first pair of eyes grew bigger. I stopped walking and held my breath. Did it grow bigger in size? Or was it coming towards me?

It stopped. So I took another deep breath for courage and stepped forward once more.

The closet door was already open since Dad forgot to close it all the way. He knew I liked it closed all the way, but it didn’t seem to matter anyway. The yellow eyes were going to come back no matter what. And they were able to open the door themselves anyway.

My closet door seemed so far away. My arms were getting tired from holding the bat up in the air. I wasn’t even sure if the bat would do anything to the monsters. I wasn’t sure if I would be strong enough to hit them or even have enough guts to swing the bat.

But when I finally made it to the closet I craned my neck to look up. Both pairs of yellow eyes were nearly as high as the ceiling. My mouth gaped open and I lowered my baseball bat. My breathing turned shallow and my neck ached as I stared up with wide eyes at the two monsters before me.

It was darker in my closet. I couldn’t see any form of body in front of me other than the four yellow eyes staring down at me. Neither one of them moved, only blinked now and then. They didn’t seem as though they were going to make the first move.

I gripped my bat tighter, but it still remained by my side. One part of my brain was trying to tell my arms to swing the bat, but my muscles weren’t cooperating. The other part of my brain was screaming at me to run, to go crawl in bed with Dad and hope the monsters wouldn’t go into his bedroom.

I took a step backwards. What was I doing? I couldn’t take on any monsters. Even if I did have the courage to whack them with the bat, it would only make them angry and I would certainly lose that battle.

But what were they doing here? What did they want? Why did they just stand in my closet and watch me? Even now as I stood directly in front of them they didn’t do anything to me. I didn’t get it.

Finally, something took over me, and I leaned the baseball bat up against the wall next to my closet door. I took another step forward and reached my arm out.

Dad had to have been right. There were no such things as monsters. Whatever was in my closet was a figment of my imagination. Maybe I was already asleep and I was dreaming. I had the same dream every night for the past week. My subconscious was trying to tell me something.

But as I reached my arms out further, I glanced up and noticed the four eyes followed my arm watching silently.

Then I touched something. Something soft, something furry.

And I heard a low growl coming from right in front of me.

Words: 807

rachel poli sign off

Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Short Story Sunday 129: Watchers (Part One)

            Yellow. It was all I could see in the black of night.

Dad had tucked me into bed just moments ago and it had already showed up. Usually it took about an hour for it to come, but it was right on time tonight. It seemed to be coming earlier and earlier.

I didn’t know what it was or what it wanted. I didn’t know what it was doing there or where it came from. It didn’t do anything. It didn’t bother me. It just stared.

The yellow eyes stared at me and never blinked.

I lay stiffly on my back in bed. My blankets were pulled up over my neck covering me completely. I peeked over my covers also trying not to blink. I was afraid if I did the yellow eyes would move elsewhere in my bedroom.

I felt as though I needed to keep an eye on it just like it was keeping its eyes on me.

However, I did sometimes try to close my eyes and sleep. It never did anything except watch me and I always eventually fell asleep as tired took over. When I woke up the next morning, it was always gone and I was always okay. The only way I could get through the night was to just fall asleep in hopes morning would come faster.

So, pulling together the little courage I had, I closed my eyes.

“One, two, three…” I counted to myself hoping that would help me sleep faster. “Four, five, six…”

I opened one eye slightly. It was still there. Watching.

I squeezed both my eyes shut. “Seven, eight, nine…”

I opened my eyes again. “Ten?”

It was still staring. I sighed. And then it did something it had never done before.

It blinked.

“Dad!” I sat up straight in my bed screaming as loud as my lungs would allow. “Dad, Dad! Come quick! Hurry!”

I heard heavy footsteps pound up the stairs. I breathed deeply anticipating my dad to open my bedroom door and charge right in. He would get rid of the yellow eyes for me. Right?

My bedroom door opened the light from the hallway streaming through the cracks. Dad flicked the light switch. My eyes squinted in the sudden bright light. Once my vision adjusted, I pointed to my closet.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” Dad asked in a panic.

“There’s something in my closet.” I whispered. Though I didn’t know why I whispered. If it was still in my closet it could probably hear me. It probably knew why I had called my dad to my room.

Dad sighed and his shoulders relaxed. He cracked a smile. What was he smiling about?

He walked over to my closet and opened it wide. There were my clothes hanging neatly on their hangers, my clothes hamper on the floor beneath them, and my various pairs of shoes surrounding the basket.

He turned around and pointed to the inside of the closet. “See? Nothing here. No monsters.”

I blinked. Of course it wasn’t going to be in my closet. Dad was there and the light was turned on. Why would it stay in the closet for Dad to see it?

“It must be under my bed now.” I said. That was the only other place I could think of for it to hide.

Dad chuckled and walked over to my bed. He got down on his fours and stuck his head under my head. “Nope. Nothing here.” He sat back up resting on his knees. He took my hands in his smiling.

“You’re okay. There is nothing in here. We have an alarm system, no one can get in.”

“It’s not no one, though. It’s a monster or something. It doesn’t need to come through the front door.” I stated.

“Maria, there are no such things as monsters.” Dad stood up and tucked me back in again forcing me to lie down once more. He kissed me on the forehead and walked back over to the door.

“I’m right down the hall if you need me.” He winked turning off the light again. Then he closed the door.

I pressed my lips together trying to keep my nerves in check. The room was pitch black once more and my vision wasn’t adjusted to the darkness.

I looked back over at my closet. Dad forgot to close the closet door.

The yellow eyes were back.

And this time he brought a friend.

Words: 744

Read Part Two.

rachel poli sign off

Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

September 2016 Wrap Up


I read most of the books I had planned on reading this month. Time got away from me when I started back at work halfway through the month, but I still read a good amount. My Reading List has been updated with the books I read and reviewed this month.


My writing was non-existent this month. I started off strong in the beginning, but then once I had to get back into my day job routine, everything kind of fell apart. There aren’t enough hours in the day, but I’m playing around with different schedule ideas. I’ll see what works and hopefully get back into a routine soon.


I did manage to get a lot of blogging done, though. I had most of my September posts done by the time the first week of September ended. So that was a load off my shoulder to say the least.


September wasn’t as productive as I thought it would be. But I had worked on other things and tried to write whenever I could. I have a plan for the next couple of months, provided I can get myself into a good rhythm balancing work and life.

Posts to Remember

1. September/October 2016 Writing Contests
2. Top Ten Things To Do When You Lose Internet
3. 5 Quotes by Mark Twain
4. Guest: When and Why Did You Begin Writing? With Topaz Winters
5. Guest: When and Why Did You Begin Writing? With Nthato Morakobi

How was your month? Did you get your goals accomplished? Let me know in the comments!

rachel poli sign off

Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Blog Round Up: September 2016

September 2016 Blog Round Up

The Looking-Glass, Part 1
How To Make Lemonade When Writing Gives You Lemons
Still Can, Still Am | A Poem
First Signs of the New Season – Fall 2016
What’s Your Sign?
Saoirse & Connor: Ch.1
Just Thought I’d Point That Out
Seeping Scarlet Screams 

Apparently, all the posts I bookmarked this month were writing-related… I’ll try to have more of a variety next month!

rachel poli sign off

Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Thinking Ahead

September is almost over. I feel as though the month dragged on, but now that the end is just about here, I feel as though the month went by too fast.

I didn’t get as much done as I planned to this month mostly because of work, but I’m still trying to figure out ways I can still be productive without burning myself out. I’m always planning ahead.

October begins at the end of this week, which means a lot of things for some people. Autumn is officially here, Halloween is coming up, and pumpkin everything. But, if you’re a writer, you think of one thing:

NaNoWriMo prep time!

I’ve known what I wanted to write for NaNo for the past few months now. I think I decided what to write at the end of July, the last Camp NaNo session.

Last November I wrote a novel called Second Chances, which I think came out very well and I enjoyed writing it. But I probably won’t continue that novel for a while.

The year before, I didn’t write a novel at all. I wrote short stories.

This year I’ll be doing the same thing. I’m going to write my Short Story Sundays ahead of time for 2017.

My Short Story Sundays are mainly flash fiction, but some do run a bit longer. And who knows? Some stories may turn into actual shorts and some might even turn into novella or novel ideas. So some shorts I write in November may not actually appear on the blog.

Either way, I’ll be able to get new ideas out of these short stories while getting a little ahead on my blog for next year. Every little bit helps.

The reason I’m not working on a novel this year is because I already have two novels I’m currently editing. I’m hoping to spend some of my NaNo time editing at least one of those novels if it’s not too much between writing 2,000 words a day on top of my day job.

Kris and I are still trying to work at least one hour every day on one manuscript, though we’ve missed pretty much this entire month. We’re going to try again between now and the middle of October and then swap manuscripts to look at each other’s work.

Both October and November will be busy months, but I’m determined to find a rhythm that works to fitting in work, writing, editing, blogging, reading… and whatever else I do in my life.

Plus, even though November is NaNo, I only have two full weeks of work due to voting, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving. So I’ll definitely take advantage of those days and there’s always the weekends.

I just hope that I can remain focused on those ideas.

Have you started thinking about NaNoWriMo yet? Let me know in the comments!

rachel poli sign off

Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump