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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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!

Happy Writing! 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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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

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

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Short Story Sunday 283: Bend

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

Grant stepped out of his pick-up truck and pointed to the river bend as Hazel stepped out of the truck on the other side. He drew in a deep breath and grinned. “Can you smell that?”

Hazel nodded her head. “I smell something… dirt, maybe?”

Grant smirked. “Come on, Hazel. I love camping and I want to share this experience with you. I used to come here all the time with my dad.”

“You make it sound as though your dad is gone.”

“I don’t mean to. I know you say you hate camping, but you’ve never been before. I just want you to experience it and if you don’t like it, then we’ll never do it again.” Grant said. He stuck his hand out to his girlfriend. “Deal?”

“No deal,” Hazel took his hand and he led her down to the stream. “I’ve never been camping because I’ve had no interest in it and I don’t think I’m going to last out here. But I don’t want you to never go camping again because of me. If I really don’t like it, I’ll still come with you once in a while.”

Grant kissed the back of her head. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Hazel replied, “but I might kill you by the end of the weekend.”

“Have you ever skipped rocks before?” Grant asked ignoring her comment.

Hazel narrowed her eyes. “Yeah, I skip rocks in my above-ground pool…”

“Alright, alright. No need to be snippy.” Grant chuckled. “Find some flat rocks.” He let go of her hand and started looking on the ground.

“Shouldn’t we build the tent?” Hazel asked pointing to the truck. “Or build a fire or something? Doesn’t that keep bears away?”

“Oh, I found one.” Grant said still ignoring her. Though now he was wondering if this was such a great idea. This whole weekend might be filled with Hazel panicking and him trying to calm her down and convincing her they won’t get eaten by bears.

“Great.” Hazel sighed. “How is that little rock going to protect us from the bears?”

“Calm down, would you? We’re not going to get eaten and the rock is for skipping.” Grant got behind her and pushed her toward the water.

“If you push me in…”

“Would I really do that to you?”

“Yes,”

Grant hesitated. “Well, not right now I wouldn’t.”

“Gee, thanks…” Hazel grunted.

Grant, without another word, put the rock in her right hand and held onto her arm from behind. He did a couple of swinging motions before telling her to let go of the rock. She did and the rock plopped into the river.

“Huh.” Grant stood up straighter. “That was a lot more romantic in my head.”

Hazel burst out laughing. She turned around and gave Grant a kiss on the cheek. “You’re a delightful idiot, you know that?”

“I’d like to think so.” Grant agreed deciding to take it as a compliment.

“It seems like we both need some practice skipping rocks.” Hazel stated. “I bet, by the end of the weekend, my rocks will go much farther across the river than yours.”

Grant grinned. “You’re on!”

The two of them pushed away from each other and spent a good chunk of their afternoon scurrying about the shore in search of flat rocks, tossing them into the river, but none of the rocks going very far.

Words: 568

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

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Short Story Sunday 282: Set

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

“Everything needs to be just so.” Stella said. She placed the plates, utensils, and napkins down on the table. She backed away and took a mental picture of the place settings.

“No, they don’t. Trust me, no one is going to care where their fork is along as they have a fork.” Claire replied with an eye roll.

“No, this is our first dinner party as adults. We’re inviting our parents and close friends, I want everything to be perfect.” Stella paused to look at her roommate.

“I don’t think we should have a dinner party in the first place. Neither one of us knows how to cook.” Claire countered.

“We cook dinner for ourselves every night.”

“Yeah, we make noodles because it’s quick and easy and we have no idea how to cook.”

“Well, we need to learn.”

“I agree,” Claire nodded, “but I don’t think cooking a grand meal for all our close friends and family is a great time to start, you know?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Stella dismissed the thought with a wave of her hand. “I’ve picked out a couple of recipes from some cookbooks and we’ll test them out. If none of them go well, I have a backup.”

“What’s your backup?” Claire wondered aloud.

“Homemade mac and cheese.” Stella grinned.

Claire sighed. “Oh, yeah… mac and cheese. People are definitely going to want their forks and spoons to be on the correct side of their plate now.”

Words: 244

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

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Short Story Sunday 281: Stomp

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

Mary entered her house as loud as can be stomping her feet through the hardwood flooring in the living room.

Her older sister, Audrey, was sitting on the couch reading a book when her sister stormed into the room. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked.

“School was dumb today.” Mary growled. She kicked off her sneakers, tossed them into the closet as well as her backpack.

“Why was it dumb?” Audrey continued.

Mary closed the closet door. “My backpack can stay in there for now. I don’t want to even think about my homework.”

“I say again,” Audrey sighed putting a bookmark into her book and closing it, “why was school dumb today?”

“I have a lot of homework.” Mary pouted. She threw herself onto the armchair slouching her whole body like a slinky.

Audrey scoffed. “Yeah, okay. Been there, done that.”

“No, you don’t get it.” Mary said sitting up. “I have homework in every single subject tonight.”

Audrey nodded. “Yeah, that happens. You’re in high school now.”

“But it’s the first day of school!”

“The teachers don’t care about that. They want to get down to business as soon as possible.”

“I have five tests tomorrow too.” Mary continued.

“Five? Out of seven classes?” Audrey wondered.

“Six classes. I have a study last period.” Mary clarified.

“Then why didn’t you get any of your homework done then? Or why didn’t you get a head start on studying? That’s the whole point of a study period.” Audrey couldn’t help but smirk. Mary was so exited to start high school just that morning. She had no idea what the next four years was going to bring.

“I got some of it done.” Mary replied calmly. “Really, I did.”

“I believe you.” Audrey put her hands up. “What are the tests for though?”

“Summer reading, the summer homework we had to do, and one test is a placement test… whatever that means.” Mary said rolling her eyes.

Audrey frowned sympathetically. “I’m sorry. I know it’s overwhelming. This isn’t what you expected at all.”

“No, it’s not. And I already have two projects assigned! Both are from two of the books I had to read over the summer. One is just an essay that’s due by the end of the week and the other is an essay along with some sort of presentation with visuals and stuff… that’s due in two weeks.” Mary ranted.

Audrey raised her eyebrows. Mary must have had some tough teachers. She didn’t remember the teachers in high school being this brutal when she was there – especially not on the first day.

Mary sighed. “Please tell me your first day of college was just as rough. I’m sure that’s ten times worse than high school.”

Audrey tilted her head to the side. “Why would you want it to be worse? You’re going to have to go through it someday as well.”

“I know, but I don’t care right now. I just need to know I’m not the only one having a tough time.” Mary said.

“You’re not the only one, Mary. College was brutal today.” Audrey stated.

“How are you so calm about it right now?” Mary asked in shock.

Audrey shrugged. “I’m used to it from high school, I guess.”

“Oh. Okay.” Mary nodded. She stood up and headed toward the kitchen. “Maybe high school really does prepare you for college then…”

Audrey watched her sister leave the room. Then she went back to reading her book. She didn’t have the heart to tell her sister that college was great. Her professor is really nice and they didn’t have any homework to do tonight. She also had a feeling Mary forgot that Audrey made her own schedule and she only had to attend school three days a week for four classes. She wasn’t about to tell Mary that just yet though. Audrey decided to let Mary get used to high school and settle in with the new school then.

Then Audrey would brag to Mary about how wonderful college is.

Words: 673

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

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Time To Write: Sentence Starter 50

Last week’s writing prompt was a picture prompt. Check out some stories from fellow writers here:

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This week’s writing prompt is:

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

Write a story beginning with the dialogue: “Um…”

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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