Short Story Sunday 286: More

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

Bella picked up another book off the shelf and flipped it over to read the back cover. Her gaze glazed over the words on the back. She grinned and nodded to herself and tossed the book into the basket her boyfriend was carrying. He looked down at the stack of books in the basket and let out a sigh.

Bella ignored him.

She continued down the isle of books, her hand caressing the spines along the shelves as she leisurely moved along. Theo followed along sighing with each step, getting louder and louder.

Bella looked over her shoulder at him. “Don’t rush me.”

“I’m not rushing you.”

“You told me you’d take me to the bookstore to get whatever I wanted for my birthday.”

Theo glanced down at the basket again. “I did and I instantly regret it. This basket of books must weigh at least 100 pounds.”

Bella giggled. “Oh, I can’t wait to go home and start reading them!”

“Great, so let’s go home.” Theo said grabbing her arm and nodding his head toward the check out. “We can go pay for what we have, I’ll make you a bath, and you can read in the tub while I go through my bank account.”

Bella smirked at him. She stood on her tip-toes and kissed him on the cheek. “Have I told you lately that you’re the best boyfriend in the whole world?”

“You have, but not often enough.” Theo replied holding up the basket of books again.

“Well, I’m telling you now. I have to say that this is the best birthday I’ve ever had!”

Theo let out a nervous chuckle. “I’m never going to be able to top this birthday, huh? There’s no way I’ve ever telling you to go nuts in a bookstore with my wallet ever again.”

Bella shrugged. “It’s okay, I’m getting all paperback books.”

“Well, I appreciate you considering my income for this very large gift.” Theo deadpanned.

Bella gave his hand a squeeze and turned the other way. She disappeared around the corner heading into the next isle. Theo lifted the basket balancing the handle on his elbow while using his other hand to count in the books. Then he followed her to the other side.

“You have eight books here. How about you get two more and then–”

Bella walked straight toward him, a book in each hand. She placed them both into the basket with a grin and turned back around again.

“That was fast…” Theo muttered. He stared at the back of Bella’s head. “Okay, so there’s ten books now. We can pay and go home, right? This should last you for a little while? I hope?”

Bella laughed at him. “Don’t be silly, those ten won’t last me a month.”

“But… we’re done, right?” Theo asked again.

“One more minute?” Bella asked sweetly.

“How about one more book?” Theo said with another sigh.

Bella chuckled again shaking her head. “Oh, please, Theo. I can’t promise that.”

“Why not?”

“We haven’t made it to the mystery section yet.”

Words: 511

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Time To Write Stories

Last week I posted another sentence starter. If you’ve read my I’m Starting Over post, you’ll know these prompts are on a break until January 2020. Thanks to all those who have participated and I hope to see you again in a couple of months.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the writers who submitted stories for this sentence starter.

Time To Write: Sentence Starter: "I need more." | Creative Writing | Writing Prompt | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

Happy Writing!

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Pen & Paper [Healthy Writer]

Being a writer means that you’re sitting down for most of the day writing. Or, at least, trying to write. This also means that you’re most likely sitting down at a computer staring at the screen all day too.

Healthy Writer: Pen and Paper | Creative Writing | Healthy Habits | Work From Home | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

The Computer Age

I don’t know about you, but I do the majority of my writing on the computer. Typing is faster, I can Google research right away if I need to, and… well, there are other distractions of the Internet. It’s not ideal, but still fun.

My point is, I spend probably about 80% of my day on the computer. I’m writing, blogging, researching, or doing other work. Or I’m mindlessly scrolling through various social media sites. The latter isn’t exactly good and I’ve cut back, but still. I do it. We all do.

With all that said, we can really strain ourselves from being on the computer all the time. Which is why it’s not a bad idea to pick up a pen once in a while.

Pen & Paper

It sounds like it’s more work, I know. Handwriting takes longer than typing and, to me, it tires my hands out faster since one is doing all the work. However, I love writing by hand once in a while for a few different reasons.

1. It Gives Your Eyes A Break

This is obvious. You’re off the computer and aren’t staring at a bright screen for a long period of time. Not to mention it’s easier to pick up a pen and notebook and bring it anywhere and everywhere with you. Yes, you can do that with a laptop, but notebooks are easier and lighter to carry.

2. It’s Great For A First Draft

I’ll admit that I haven’t done this in a while, but I used to love writing my first drafts on paper and then transferring it to the computer. I know this seems like an extra step, but by typing it up on the computer after it’s already written is kind of like the first round of edits. You’re typing up the second draft and editing as you go because you’re writing and reading the first draft at the same time. You’ll catch errors and also come up with a few new ideas as well.

3. It’s Satisfying

I know I’ve said this before, but writing by hand is satisfying. I’m not sure what it is about it, but it just feels good once in a while after you’ve been typing for so long.

Do you write by hand often? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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What My Anxiety Attacks Are Like [Mental Health Mondays]

Thankfully, I haven’t had an anxiety attack in a while. I used to get them frequently when I was in school and, on occasion, I’ll get the feeling that I’m going to have one, but tend to talk myself out of it. If I do have an anxiety attack though, this is what it typically feels like for me.

Mental Health Mondays: What My Anxiety Attacks Are Like | Anxiety | Generalized Anxiety Disorder | Mental Health | Mental Health Matters | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Hot Flash

Usually, when I begin to have an anxiety attack, I start to get a hot flash everywhere. I get clammy hands, sweaty everywhere, it’s gross. And it’s not a nice feeling either. I think I start to feel this way when I get overwhelmed and my body is trying to tell me to step outside and just get some air. When I begin to feel this way, I try my best to find a bathroom just to splash some cold water on my face or anything to cool myself down.

I love the summer, it’s my favorite season. I also would rather be hot than cold. However, that doesn’t help when I’m out in public and get hot. Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s the weather or I’m about to have an anxiety attack… in which case, I often work myself up to have an attack.

Shaking and Dizziness

These two go hand in hand sometimes. I’ll feel shaky and unsteady on my feet or get the feeling that the floor is moving or uneven. Then I’ll get dizzy and start to feel claustrophobic. I normally get this way in stores or restaurants. I felt this way all the time when I was in school. If I’m in a place that has little to no windows, then forget it. The entire room will be spinning for me.

I normally try to find a way out of where ever I am when I start to feel this way. Depending on the situation, I can sometimes stick it out, but I usually need to leave.

No Vision

If the anxiety attack gets far enough, I’ll lose my vision. I’ll basically blackout, but I’m not passed out. I’m still conscious and can hear things going on and such, but I just can’t see. It’s a weird thing and I don’t know if that happens to anyone else or not. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened in a while, but when it does, I just have to sit and let it pass. Once it does, I’ll be dizzy for a few moments while my body gets back to normal.

Shortness of Breath

This usually happens at any time, but mostly if the anxiety attack gets bad enough that I need to just let it pass and get through it. A million things can go through my head when I have an attack because it feels like I’m dying. Thus, shortness of breath. I also have asthma so mix that in with thinking I’m dying and… yeah.

Exhaustion

Once all of this is over, I’m down for the count for the rest of the day. It puts such a strain on my mind and body that I am super tired. The last thing I want to do is work, socialize, go anywhere, or do anything. It’s not fun.

Of course, tiredness comes with the package as a whole. Anxiety makes me feel tired all the time and having an attack just makes it worse.

Overall, anxiety attacks aren’t fun and I know people experience different things when they have an attack. I also know some are more severe than others. This is what I usually go through when I have an anxiety attack. Luckily, as I said before, I haven’t had one in a while. Usually, I tend to get them in the middle of the night too so at least it doesn’t interfere with work or anything else during the day. It doesn’t make it any less annoying though.

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Short Story Sunday 285: Bad

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

“How is it?” Jasmine asked. She stood right in her roommate’s face wiping her hands in her floral apron around her waist.

Lucy chewed the food inside her mouth, her gaze wandering around the kitchen. She was having a tough time chewing the piece of brownie and she wasn’t sure if it was meant to be like that. The taste, on the other hand, she wasn’t sure about either. Was it her taste buds that didn’t seem to care for it or was it just cooked badly?

“Well?” Jasmine demanded straightening up and putting her hands on her hips.

“It’s good,” Lucy lied still chewing on the small piece.

“Then why aren’t you swallowed?”

“I’ve tried, but my throat keeps pushing it back up.”

Jasmine pouted and turned away as Lucy went over to the trash and spit the piece of chocolate out.

“Oh, man… what are we going to do?” Jasmine sighed. She sat down at the kitchen table. The kitchen was a pit. The sink was overflowing with dirty dishes, all the ingredients were left out scattered about on the counters and the table, as well as some of it spilled on the counter and even onto some parts of the floor. Lucy turned around from the trash and noticed the mess for the first time. She had no idea how Jasmine managed to make such a mess, but she had a feeling she wasn’t going to clean it all up on her own.

“I don’t know,” Lucy replied staring at the mess. Though she knew Jasmine wasn’t talking about the mess in the kitchen.

“I told them I’d bring something.” Jasmine wailed burying her face in her hands. “We have to go to the party in two hours and we have nothing!”

“Seriously,” Lucy stared at the empty egg carton, flour bag, and there was barely any sugar left. These brownies were not her first attempt. Lucy woke up this morning to the aroma of chocolate. The thing was, Lucy had no idea how one could mess up such an easy thing as brownies, but Jasmine refused to use a box. She wanted to try it from scratch. Even that was easy, but she still messed it up.

Honestly, Lucy was getting sick of tasting all the mistakes and Jasmine wanted to do it on her own so she wouldn’t accept any help from her roommate. Lucy was the one who always cooked dinner and she was beginning to think that she should have Jasmine help her more often. Maybe she’d learn a thing or two.

“It’s not a big deal. There’s always the grocery store.” Lucy explained. She picked up the empty ingredient containers and brought them over to the trash. She wanted to make Jasmine clean the kitchen herself, but she was so upset, Lucy figured she might as well help where she can.

“I don’t want to bring something store bought though… I told them I’d make something. Everyone else is going to make something. We’re adults now, we have our own apartment. I want to bring a home made something to their engagement party.” Jasmine complained.

Lucy sighed. Just because they lived in an apartment didn’t mean they were adults. They both had full-time jobs, but Lucy was still in school, and both of them called their mothers every night with some sort of question. Jasmine had to ask her father to come over the other day to change the lightbulb in the kitchen for them because neither of them could figure out how to take the cover off.

They had decided to move in together and take that step in their lives because they’re other two girlfriends were in relationships and living with their significant others. One of them had just gotten engaged and ever since they announced it, Jasmine has been feeling subpar. They were all the same age and Jasmine felt as though she was behind where she should be. Lucy had tried explaining they were more focused on their career while their other friends weren’t, but it was still a weird feeling for Jasmine.

Lucy understood that. It was weird for her as well. But she had a feeling they wouldn’t be the only people to show up to the engagement party with a store-bought item.

“How about,” Lucy said knowing everyone else with a store-bought dessert would have the same excuse, “we just say a few things came up and we didn’t have time to bake anything? No one will even ask, but in case they do.”

Jasmine wiped her eyes but nodded.

“Do you want to run out and get some fresh air? You can pick up something yummy and I can get started on this kitchen…” Lucy said tried to stifle another sigh.

Jasmine nodded. She stood and took off her apron, putting it on the back of the chair but it fell to the floor. She walked away not noticing and left the room to grab her keys and purse.

Lucy stared at the apron on the ground and grunted. She had only been roommates with her friend for about two weeks and was already wondering how much longer she was going to last. Jasmine was usually the level-headed one of their group.

It just goes to show how some people show their true colors when you live with them.

Words: 895

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Time To Write: Sentence Starter 51

Thanks to all those who have continued to do the Time To Write prompts while I was away and couldn’t keep up with them. It’s time to get back into the groove with it though, so here’s this week’s prompt:

Time To Write: Sentence Starter: "I need more." | Creative Writing | Writing Prompt | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

Write a story beginning with the dialogue: “I need more.”

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!

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I Finally Got Scrivener

Scrivener has been a writing program that’s been in the back of my mind for a long time. So many of my writer friends that I’ve met through WordPress, social media, and NaNoWriMo swear by it. Even though I typically reach my goal each NaNo session and claim a “win,” I’ve never taken the opportunity to get 50% off of Scrivener. Until this summer.

I Finally Got Scrivener | Creative Writing | Writing Programs | Writing Community | RachelPoli.com

Too Comfortable With Word

In the back of my mind, I knew I would make the leap someday. I’ve seen people post screenshots of their work using the program on Instagram and other social media. I’ve always thought, “That’d be cool to use!”

I mean, the way I write my novels are using Word document and having a large poster with post-it notes along with a notebook or two of outlines and research. It’s a lot and if you use Scrivener, all of that is in one place.

(Who am I kidding, I’m still going to use the post-it notes and notebooks because I’m visual in that sense!)

Also, I’ve been using Word since I’ve learned how to type. I feel like, if I stop using Word, I’ll be cheating on it in some way. All my novels are already on Word and I know how to use it. So, part of me didn’t want to make the switch because I didn’t want to learn how to use something new. I didn’t want to take that time away from actual writing. Not to mention I didn’t feel like moving my novels from one program to another.

Too Much Money

Silly me, I thought Scrivener was too much money. Even though I get 50% off, I thought it would still be about $50 for me because I thought the program was $100. I also thought it was a monthly or yearly subscription. It just wasn’t something I wanted to commit to.

So, after all this time, I looked it up at the end of July, early August when the last Camp NaNoWriMo session ended. I got the 50% off code and decided to check it out.

Apparently, it’s a one-time payment and it’s only $45 which means it was about $22-$23 for me. In other words, I should have made the switch long ago.

Do your research, kids.

I Finally Got Scrivener

I’ll admit, I haven’t used it much yet. I’ve mostly been exploring what I can do on the program and am working toward moving some of my novels over onto it. Needless to say, I haven’t really sat down and “wrote” using Scrivener just yet. I’m looking forward to starting something new with it though. I’ll be continuing my mystery and other novels, but I might try to start something new so I can learn the program as I go along with a new writing project.

I think I need something fresh like this to get myself back into the habit of writing again. I think, between Scrivener and NaNo coming next month, this is a good opportunity for me to get back into that routine. I’m looking forward to it.

Do you have Scrivener? How do you like it? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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October & November 2019 Writing Submissions [Writing Contests]

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

October & November 2019 Writing Submissions | Writing Contests | Creative Writing | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Poetry | RachelPoli.com

October 2019

Genre: Fiction
Website: Writer’s Digest
Deadline: October 14, 2019
Entry Fee: $30
Prize: First – $2,500

Genre: Nonfiction
Theme: Laughter is the Best Medicine
Website: Chicken Soup
Deadline: October 31, 2019
Entry Fee: N/A
Prize: $200

Genre: Flash Fiction
Website: Craft Journal
Deadline: October 31, 2019
Entry Fee: $20
Prize: First – $1,000

November 2019

Genre: Short Fiction
Website: Writer’s Digest
Deadline: November 15, 2019 (Early-bird)
Entry Fee: $25
Prize: First – $3,000

Genre: Fiction, Nonfiction
Website: Narrative Magazine
Deadline: November 30, 2019
Entry Fee: $27
Prize: First – $2,500

Genre: Fiction
Website: The Masters Review
Deadline: November 30, 2019
Entry Fee: $20
Prize: First – $2,000

Ongoing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Goals [October 2019]

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

Reading

I haven’t read any books for a long time. I’ve been doing research on some things which are technically reading books, but I haven’t read any fiction or the like. It’d be great to get back into the swing of things this month, but I think my plan is to just start reading again. I may or may not have any book reviews for the month. I might start that up again in November. I’ll certainly be trying to read something though. Even if it’s just one or two books.

Writing

Writing too has fallen to the wayside. I’ve been making a list of what needs to be done for each of the novels I’m working on and started to break them up into months. I’m figuring out what I need to work on this month and beyond through 2020. I’m sure things will change, but as of right now, I have a tentative plan. Also, NaNoWriMo is next month so I think that will also help me get back into the swing of things.

Blogging

October may look a bit like Swiss cheese. My original plan was to start blogging daily again this month, but September was busier than anticipated and I got sick for the last week. Needless to say, October is not ready at all and it’s already the first of the month. So, I’m going to take this time to catch up on some things. I actually have some ideas for 2020 so I might start implementing those and really get back into the swing of things come January. But I’ll still be here posting when I can. I’m hoping I can start posting daily again in November, but we’ll see how things go.

Overall

2019 has been a crazy year. So much has happened in the past few months that it’s too much to explain and even though I’ve lived through it, I can’t wrap my head around most of what’s happened. There have been good things and bad things and my writing and blogging have taken a blow due to it all. I’m ready to get back into my routine and bring things back to “normal” and what they were before. I’m just going to take it slow.

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

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Short Story Sunday 284: Hook

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

“The importance of the first line or the opening paragraph or even the first chapter is to hook the reader in.” Mrs. Terris stated pacing in the front of the classroom. She held up the current book they were reading in their creative writing class. She was a firm believer that people needed to read a lot in order to write, but Jane didn’t necessarily think that was always the case. Sure, reading helped, but she didn’t believe it was a requirement to write well.

Needless to say, Jane didn’t expect her first creative writing class in college to be like this. She had expected to learn the craft of writing and test it out for herself through writing her own short stories and maybe even begin a novel or try out poetry or something. Instead, they were reading novels and then discussing what makes them so good. The thing was, Jane didn’t care for most of the stories her professor picked out so she wasn’t learning much.

“I want you guys to pick out a sentence or two from the opening the chapter that you believe was the hook to get you to read more.” Mrs. Terris explained further.

Jane sighed. This better not be an essay assignment.

“Just write a quick paragraph about why that phrase hooked you into reading more of the book.” Mrs. Terris explained.

Jane stared at her copy of the book sitting on the corner of her desk. She didn’t like the book. She only kept reading because she had to do it for homework. If she had found that book in the bookstore herself, she would have read the back blurb and put it back on the shelf not giving it another thought.

So, she rose her hand.

“Yes, Jane?”

“What if you didn’t like the book?” she asked bluntly.

Half the class turned their heads to look at her while the other half looked onward at their professor, curious about her reaction. Mrs. Terris looked at her puzzled and held up the book higher for her to see – as if Jane as mistaken or thinking about something different.

“Jane, this is a classic.” Mrs. Terris stated.

“Yeah, and?” Jane replied. “I didn’t like it. It wasn’t an entertaining read for me and I didn’t get anything out of it.”

Mrs. Terris paused for a brief moment. She put the book down on her desk and leaned her back against it. She looked at the class with a curious gaze. “Is there anyone else who didn’t care for the book?”

A few of Jane’s classmates slowly raised their hands, scanning the rest of the classroom. It was almost as if they were afraid to voice their opinion about such a classic tale.

Mrs. Terris nodded. “Okay, that’s fair. The thing with reading books is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and we all interpret the words differently. That’s why, as an author, accepting rejection is a key piece to being a writer.”

Jane straightened in her seat. She was aiming to be an author, that’s why she took creative writing classes. So far, Mrs. Terris has just analyzed other stories. She felt as though she had just opened a can of worms but it might be in her favor this time around.

“With that said,” Mrs. Terris continued, “if you enjoyed the book, I want you to do the assignment I just said. Pick a sentence or two from the first chapter that hooked you into reading more of the story and write a paragraph or why that phrase worked. If you didn’t enjoy the book, I want you to choose a sentence or two in the first chapter that you believe was meant to be the hook and then write a paragraph about why it didn’t work for you. Or why the first chapter as a whole didn’t pull you in.

“Then,” Mrs. Terris continued on, “I’d like you all to take the sentence that you choose and use that as a first sentence to write your own story. How would you use that phrase differently to hook your readers into your own story?”

A boy in the back of the class raised his hand. “Does it have to be the very first sentence of the story?”

Mrs. Terris teetered her head for a moment. “No, I suppose not. Fit the sentence into your story where you see fit. Just make sure it’s early enough in the story.”

Jane grinned as she wrote down the assignment. She was thankful to finally have a creative writing assignment in her creative writing class. This was what she was expecting.

This was certainly an assignment she felt confident in doing.

Words: 787

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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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