Currently Writing…

March is coming to a close a lot faster than I expected it to.

As a teacher, this month drags on and on with no breaks until the end of April. As a writer, however, this month goes always seems to come and go in the blink of an eye.

One main reason for this is because I’m trying to prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo that begins on April 1st. Plus I’m working on other writing projects. Not to mention that I’m trying to get my blog in decent order by April so I can focus more on Camp than I do with writing blog posts.

I think it’s been a while since I’ve really talked about what I’m currently working on writing-wise, so I thought, with Camp around the corner, this was a good time as any.

My goal at the beginning of 2017 was to have either the first novel of my mystery series or The Lost Girl be 100% completed by the end of August (and the other completed by the end of 2017). At this rate, I’m not sure that will happen.

Of course, I’m still going to work towards those deadlines, but I’ve realized that I have much more to work on in addition to those novels.

I’ve felt stuck with my writing lately only because I’m unsure what I should be working on. Which projects take priority?

I have three novels to work on (if you include Camp’s novel), plus I plan on posting two stories on Wattpad by the end of the year. That’s five novels.

I’ve always been submitting to contests and magazines at least twice a month, so I’ve been working on short stories and poems. Not to mention that I’ve been trying to get my foot into the freelance writing world at the same time.

Stir reading, blogging, and video games for Double Jump into the mix, and you’ve got a pretty good reason for as to why my head feels like it’s going to explode.

With all that said, I’ve realized that I haven’t gotten too much writing done in the past couple of months. I’ve been working on my blog and other things trying to think about how to tackle my writing projects without actually implementing my plan of attack.

I’ve written a few things, of course, for submission on other websites and magazines and the like, but I haven’t worked on any of the novels I planned to work on in 12 months. Well, now we’re down to almost nine months left and I don’t have much progress to show for it.

I realized that Camp NaNo is exactly what I needed. Because of Camp, I’m going to get myself back on the right track with my novel writing.

Sure, because of Camp, an extra novel got thrown into the mix, but it’ll be fun to think about a different project than the ones I’ve been working on for so long. Plus, I can take my time with it as I edit it bit by bit and submit it each month to my local writing group. I only submit about 15 pages (or one chapter) a month to my group, so it’ll take a while for the group to get through it.

In the meantime, I’m going to tackle editing The Lost Girl and George Florence as well as plan and write the two Wattpad novels (one of those novels is based off this Short Story Sunday everyone seemed to love so much).

I’m going to start this as soon as possible. Hopefully, by April, I’ll be in a decent enough routine with it so I can work on more than just my Camp novel. I know that will take priority for the month, but I hope to get other things done.

I’ve updated the “My Books” page with deadlines for each of these novels. Go check that out if you want to see the timeline I’ve planned for each novel (and if you want to hold me accountable for the deadlines… that’s why I posted it on the blog for all to see).

Where do you stand in your novel writing at the moment? Are you just as swamped as I am or are you working on just one project? Let me know in the comments below!

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On Themes: How To Write About Love

Love is a broad topic. You can love your significant other, your family, your friends, your pets, objects, anything.

There are certain kinds of love. There is such a thing as loving too much or loving too little. Sometimes something is mistaken for love or there’s no love at all.

When it comes to novel writing, romantic or not, there’s always some sort of love element thrown into the mix. No matter who it’s between, someone is loving someone or something.

how-to-write-about-love

Common themes about love:

  • Loving others – relationship
  • Loving others – friendship
  • Loving yourself
  • Mistaken love
  • Lost love
  • Forbidden love
  • Marriage/Divorce
  • Parent/Child
  • Love triumphs
  • Happy love
  • Unhappy love
  • Accidental love
  • Forced love
  • Rejected love
  • Love at first sight
  • Teen romance

There’s so much more, but I can’t think of them all right now.

What kind of love are you writing about?

Before you begin, figure out what kind of love you’ll be focusing on. A sweet romance? Erotica? Friendship? Is this something you experienced in real life, or are you winging it?

Either way, lay it all out for yourself so you can figure out where to go next and when. Of course, your characters will have a lot to say about it, as they should, but it would help if you had some sort of idea.

What makes a good love story?

I’m sure this goes without saying, but…

Emotion. You need emotion.

If your main character is falling in love, let your readers fall in love, too. There’s nothing I love more than falling in love with a fictional boyfriend and then getting mad that he’s just that: fictional.

How love can help your characters grow

We all have a heart. We all feel love, we all feel heartbreak.

Falling in love or falling out of love can help define us as a person. It puts us through a certain challenge that we may or may not be ready for, but we face it head on because that’s life. This should be no different for your characters.

If someone asked your protagonist out, what would they do? If someone broke up with them, what would they do? If they broke up with their significant other, what would they do?

If they were losing a best friend, if they rekindle with an old family member, what would they do?

In conclusion

Love is important and you can interpret it in so many ways. When it comes to writing about love, let it come from the heart. Let it come from experience.

Okay, this is getting corny now, so take this as you will.

How do you interpret love, romance or otherwise? What other tips do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

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Favorite First Lines

Kris posted this on her blog last month and I thought it was a good idea, so I decided to share my own.

I have a lot of novel ideas. Some I’ve started and am editing, some I’ve started and have yet to finish, and others are still just ideas that may or may not ever begin.

I’ve decided to post the first lines of novels that I’ve started and completed.

favorite-first-lines

From Diary of a Lover, the first novel I ever completed and have edited multiple drafts. I’m not sure if this novel will ever see the light of day, but it still holds a special place in my heart.

“Dear Diary,
Today is the first of October 2008.”

Riveting start, huh? Also, I love that it’s 2008. That’s how long ago I started working on that novel. It’s been almost ten years.

From Saving Each Other, a novel I wrote for Camp NaNoWriMo a while ago. I have a series planned for this one, but I’m not sure if this will ever see the light of day, either.

“Our story begins in the scene of Flower Petals Preschool.”

I have no idea whose POV that is. Also, “Flower Petals” is bolded, which means I had planned on changing the name of the preschool.

From Take Over, a novel I hope to publish someday.

“My name is Roxana, but everyone calls me Roxie for short.”

Like I said, I have some editing to do.

From Hunter, the first book in The Hunt trilogy that I plan on working on soon after the two novels I’m currently editing.

“The house was quiet except for the rush of water pouring from the kitchen’s sink faucet.”

…I’m not sure how I feel about that one. Spoiler alert, an argument is about to start.

From George Florence, the first book in my mystery series, titles for the series as a whole and the novel itself is in the works. I’m hoping to have this novel finished by the end of the year.

“She believed him to be a hero, even if she had never met him… Or not that she could remember.”

This first line has changed so many times. And it may change again.

From The Lost Girl, a standalone novel I’m currently working on in between breaks of George. I also hope to have this one finished by the end of the year.

“It was supposed to be a lovely day.”

But apparently it wasn’t.

And there you have it. Some first lines from all the novels I’ve completed first drafts for. There are so many other novels I’ve started and haven’t finished. Maybe I’ll do a first lines post for those ones someday.

First lines are so important. For some, it can make or break whether a reader will continue the story or not.

Some of these may change, some may not. I’m not even sure how I feel about some of them. Either way, I hope you found this interesting at the very least.

What are some first lines from your WIPs? Which was your favorite from mine? Let me know in the comments below!

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Why I’m Writing Short Stories for NaNoWriMo

I’m sure most of you know by now that I’m writing short stories for NaNoWriMo this year.

I tend to write whatever I want during the Camp months because they’re more flexible, but I like to stick to the “rules” of writing 50,000 words of a brand new novel in November.

I tried to write short stories last year for November and it didn’t go over that well. I can’t remember if I won or not, but I don’t think I did. It was hard and I said, “Well, I tried something different. Next year I’ll stick to my novels.”

So why did I change my mind?

It’s not that I changed my mind, I just had completely forgotten I told myself to stick to novels during November until just the other day.

I decided to write short stories this year for a number of reasons…

1. Short stories are “easier”

Short stories are not easy to write, but I think writing a novel is harder. Some people may agree or disagree with me and that’s fine. But short stories are smaller in the word count and there’s not as much planning as a novel. Sure, it’s difficult to wrap up a conflict in a short amount of pages, but overall I think it’s “easier” than writing a novel.

2. To get ahead for 2017

I’ve been trying to plan ahead for my blogs for 2017. There’s a lot that I want to do and the only way I’m going to get it all done is if I can get some things done right now. If I don’t have to worry about taking the time to sit and write a few thousand words every so often, that would be a huge weight off my shoulders. Any writing time can be spent working on my novels next year.

3. New novel ideas

The short stories I’ve written so far (I have January through May completely done and the other months are half done) vary in genre. I’ve written mystery, mainstream, memoir, poetry, and fantasy. I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with the different genres. It’s great practice and the best part is I think I’ll be turning some of those short stories into novels someday. One story in particular (I think it’s a July short) I already have mostly planned out for a novel.

4. To submit to contests and magazines

I’ve been getting serious with submitting my work lately. I’ve submitted to magazines and a few contests at least once a month since August. I currently have two short stories out in the world that I’m waiting to hear back. I hope to keep that trend up and hope that something comes from it. I’ve written a few shorts so far that I think will be worthy of magazines some day in the near future.

Here’s a reason as to why I love writing short stories for NaNo: I don’t get burned out as easily.

Last Thursday I attempted to write 10,000 words and I ended up with 10,095 (I was pretty tired afterwards). I don’t remember how many shorts I wrote (most are about 1,000 words, but some are as long as 2,000 and as short as 500), but after every break I went back to writing something completely brand new.

There was no thinking, “Where do I go from here?” or, “What should my characters do next?” I just grabbed a prompt and went with it.

My word count is currently at 40,000 words. I have 10,000 more to go. I wanted to finish by Thanksgiving, but if I keep my 2,000 words a day trend up, I’ll reach 50,000 words on Friday the 18th.

And let me tell you, it’s been a wonderful thing.

Have you ever tried to write something else other than a novel during NaNo? How did it go? How is NaNo going for you this year? Let me know in the comments!

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Why Fan Fiction is Important to Me

When it comes to writing, we all have to start somewhere. For me, it was fan fiction.

I started writing when I was ten-years-old using up notebook after notebook. It was a little while later that Kris discovered a website catered to just fan fiction. She got an account on there and posted a story based off of one of her favorite video games, The Legend of Zelda.

Meanwhile, in my notebooks, I was writing fan fiction based off of my favorite TV show, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

When I found out people were reading and liking and reviewing Kris’s stories online, I begged her to post my story. I was too young to get an account and Kris decided to be a nice sister and add my story on there.

Thus began my fan fiction “career.”

Why Fan Fiction Is Important To Me

The majority of people I know or heard about say they love fan fiction. They think it’s a great way to get started with writing. Plus, it’s always fun to fantasize about your favorite characters. Put them in new and different situations than your shows or comics would normally put them in or even add yourself as a cast member. The possibilities are endless and fun.

But there are those few people that don’t like fan fiction. They say it’s not “yours” or it’s not “original.” Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I think any writing is writing.

Fan fiction is important to me because, without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I might still be jotting down random ideas in notebooks and never getting anywhere with them. Or maybe my writing would have fizzled out completely.

But one of the reasons why I stopped writing fan fiction was because I kept coming up with all these new, great ideas. And I thought to myself, “Why not create my own characters and use this idea in an original novel by me?”

There are times when I want to get back into fan fiction. I still have my folder filled with ideas for various categories on the website. When I get stuck on my original novels, I sometimes get the itch to revert back to fan fiction.

I never have, though.

My account is still on fan fiction. I have a link to it on my Contact Me page. Though I wouldn’t advise anyone to go check it out or to even read some of the stories I wrote on there.

The stories are old, pretty dumb from the mind of a young kid, and just plain old embarrassing.

I’ve thought many times to take down my old stories or even just to delete my entire account. Like I said, looking back on some of the stories now, it’s really embarrassing. I cringe just by looking at my profile.

Yet, I can’t take them off. Those stories are part of who I was as a kid. Those stories got to me to this point in my life. They helped me realize what I want to do for a career. They helped me realize what I truly love and have a passion for.

Writing. Creating. Using my imagination.

Once I was old enough, I created my own account in January 2005. That was almost 11 years ago. I last updated my profile in December 2014 with hopes I would get back into it, but I never did. In all that time, I uploaded 58 stories and a total of 421,396 words. The last thing I posted on there before that was in 2012.

April 2012, to be exact. I started blogging in May 2012.

I think it was at that point when I realized I wanted to be a full-time writer. I started my blog to build my platform and get more of my original writing out into the world.

I stopped fan fiction, ending one chapter of my life to begin a whole new chapter; writing originals. Writing for a career. Writing for you. Writing for me.

So, as embarrassing as it is, it’s fun to see how much I’ve grown as a writer since I’ve started. I’m still not a perfect writer, but I’m a lot better than I used to be.

With that being said, I’m posting a four-part series about my fan fiction (this post being the first part). The next two parts will be posted in October and the last part will be posted in November.

I hope you’ll enjoy this blast from the past with me as I make a fool of myself looking back at my old stories.

Have you ever written fan fiction? What got you into writing? Let me know in the comments!

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Writing Update

I’m hoping to start updating you guys more frequently about my writing. I rarely do it now, so we’ll see how it goes.

So. What have I been working on? Well, a lot of things.

Writing Update Rachel Poli

I ended up not following my June Goals as well as I thought I would.

I had planned on editing George Florence for the first half of the month and editing The Lost Girl the second half of the month.

I, of course, did not follow that. When I wrote my June goals I knew Camp NaNoWriMo was a month away, yet I forgot about it at the same time.

So I have been editing George Florence and have been working on that off and on all month. The novel is getting there. I think I have about two or three more drafts before it will be ready to leave the nest. I was hoping to have it finished by December, but I’m not entirely sure that’s going to happen.

But instead of editing The Lost Girl, I’ve been reading Hunter.

Hunter is my fantasy novel that won the poll you guys voted in for me to write for Camp NaNoWriMo. I wrote this novel last July for Camp and wrote 50,000 words of it. Now I have to remember where I was going with the story and add on another 50,000 words.

So July is going to be a busy month. I’ll be trying to work on Hunter as well as George Florence. We’ll see how that goes. I have no idea what August is going to bring.

But that’s the basic gist of where I stand with my novels at the moment. Since I’m working less this summer, I want to take these next two months to get myself organized and figure out what I really want to do with my novels.

How has your writing been going?

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Hanging Out With Fictional People

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest
Show of hands: who would want to hang out with fictional characters?

Let’s be honest… pretty much all of us would, right?

What if you could only hang out with the characters from one novel? Which novel would you pick?

What if you could only hang out with one character from each novel? Would you pick the main characters or secondary ones?

What if you could only hang out with characters that you’ve created? So, that means no hanging out with Harry Potter!

At least one character from all the novels I’ve written have a piece of me in them. So if I chose to hang out with them, I’d be hanging out with myself pretty much.

I’ve been putting all my effort into my novel George Florence so I would love to hang out with him and Lilah, but I would also love to meet the characters from my other novels, as well.

I think it would be a very tough decision if I had to narrow it down to just one book or just one character.

What about you?

Reading List

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Via Pinterest

You can never have too many books. We all know that, we all understand that. However, it’s hard to say that’s a good thing when you don’t have the time to read all the books in the world.

I have 183 books on my to-be-read shelf on Goodreads. That’s not even a dent of all the books I want to read. The books I add to that shelf are books I don’t own so I remember to buy them at some point. Even then, there’s still a lot more.

I go to Barnes & Noble once a week and the books are always rearrange neatly, new books are always added. There are times when I splurge, but most of the time I have to tell myself, “I have too many books at home I haven’t read yet.” So I take a picture of the book with my phone, go home, and put that book on my TBR list.

A few weeks ago I went through my books at home and wrote them all down. Between my two book shelves, Kris’ two book shelves, and my Kindle, my household owns over 330 books. I haven’t even gone through my mother’s book shelf yet because she has books I would like to read, as well.

So, let’s see… we’ll round up from 183 and say 200 (because I know there are more books that should be on my TBR), plus 370 (adding an estimate of my mother’s books) makes almost 600 books I want to read. I even rounded up the answer because I know there will be more books to come. Plus, I only have the first book of a lot of series’ on my TBR list. I’m sure I’ll be reading the sequels.

This is one reason as to why I can’t wait for school to end. I can wake up in the morning and read for two hours before I go to work. When work ends, I can sit outside all day long on the deck or by my pool and read.

Maybe then I can start making a dent on all the books I want to read.

Two Book Reviews #2

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

They all thought he was gone. But he was alive and trapped inside his own body for ten years.

In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged twelve, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within eighteen months he was mute and wheelchair-bound. Martin’s parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and less than two years to live.

Martin was moved to care centers for severely disabled children. The stress and heartache shook his parents’ marriage and their family to the core. Their boy was gone. Or so they thought.

Martin was an ordinary boy up until the age of 12 when his body shut down. He couldn’t eat, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t walk or use his arms. He couldn’t do anything. To the naked eye he was lifeless.

However, there was much more going on that only Martin himself knew. He was very much alive mentally, but for some reason his body betrayed him.

This novel, written by Martin Pistorius himself, is his journey through dealing with his sickness, overcoming his fears, finding love, and learning how to be alive again.

Martin tells his story from beginning to end showing us the confusion and frustration that he and his family felt when his body shut down. Everyone was confused as to what happened to him and why and Martin was frustrated to the point of rage when his body stopped working. Trying to tell people you’re still alive and conscious when you can’t move or speak is anyone’s worst nightmare.

Even though the story is through Martin’s point of view, I felt as though I learned a lot about the other characters as well; his parents, his siblings, and his wife. Both of his parents–especially his mom–developed quite a bit when coming to terms and understanding their son’s illness.

Martin is great storyteller and to see the world through the eyes of a mute and paralyzed man was both inspiring and amazing.

Ghost Boy gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Dreams can be any size you want them to be. But the important thing is that you have one that is yours.” –Martin Pistorius, Ghost Boy

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Not everything you see on your favorite crime show is accurate. In fact, a lot of it is flat out wrong. “Police Procedure & Investigation” helps you get your facts straight about the inner workings of law enforcement.

With a career in law enforcement that spanned nearly two decades, author Lee Lofland is a nationally acclaimed expert on police procedures and crime scene investigations who consults regularly with best-selling authors and television producers. Now you can benefit from his years of experience with “Police Procedure & Investigation.”

I started this book in January and didn’t finish it until March because this book is not a novel, but I read it like one.

This book is a reference guide for writers written by Lee Lofland who has over 20 years experience in the law enforcement field.

The book covers a variety of topics such as the court system, detectives, fingerprinting, different kinds of crimes, police officers and the academy, drugs, a look inside prison, and so much more.

There are some real life case explanations to give the reader a good feel of what it’s really like to work in the law enforcement field. Also, if I had a dime for every time Lofland mentioned that TV police officers are nothing like real life ones, I would be rich. At the end of the guide, there are quotes from real police officers comparing real life to TV show crime dramas.

As a mystery writer, this book definitely comes in handy. I learned a lot reading it. However, there is so much information that I don’t intend to remember it all. Whenever I get stuck in my own writing, I know I’ll always be able to go back to that book for reference.

Police Procedure and Investigation gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Police officers don’t fire warning shots! For goodness’ sake, what goes up must come down!” –Lee Lofland, Police Procedure and Investigation

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page!

Two Book Reviews

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Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves.

The Namesake is a coming of age novel about a young boy named Gogol. From being a young boy through his young adult life, he hated the name Gogol and was always embarrassed by his name. He didn’t like telling people his actual name so he would lie. When he finally turned 18, he changed his name to Nikhil with both his parents’ blessings.

Despite that, his parents continued to call hi Gogol–so did the narration.

It isn’t until halfway through the book where we–and Gogol–discover who he was named after and why. It is a touching father and son moment in which Gogol feels guilty, but he still doesn’t regret his decision to change his name.

Through long narration and very little dialogue, we go through Gogol’s life from birth to adulthood. We follow him as Gogol and as Nikhil as we learn more about him and he learns about himself.

Overall, it was a good story about a young boy finding himself and trying to figure out who he is. However, I felt as though there was a lot more to the story that wasn’t necessarily needed. Because of that, the book was boring to me. It was a quick-read, but felt extremely tedious.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“She has the gift of accepting her life; as he comes to know her, he realizes that she has never wished she were anyone other than herself, raised in any other place, in any other way.” –Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer–a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.

In Real Life is a graphic novel told through a young girl playing an online role-playing game. We follow her character both inside the game and outside. Through the game, she discovers that real life can be a harsh world.

It’s through the video game that Anda, the protagonist, realizes that she wants to make a difference in the world. She wants to help people–even if it’s through a video game.

I’m pleased that the story is a graphic novel. The pictures certainly help piece together the differences between reality and virtual reality. It’s awesome to see the main character in real life and her avatar in-game. She has two different personalities that end up merging into one.

It was a wonderful story about a girl gamer doing what she loves to do and not letting anyone stop her.

My only complaint for this was that it was too short–I would have liked to see more of the story. However, it is a graphic novel, so you can only go so far with it.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“It is not gender, nor age, nor race, but your ability to work hard at what you love.” –Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang, In Real Life