The Merry Writer Podcast: Episode 011 Now Live!

What are your thoughts on pen names? | The Merry Writer Podcast | Creative writing | RachelPoli.com

The Merry Writer Podcast

The Merry Writer started as a hashtag game on Twitter and Instagram. Hosted by Ari Meghlen and myself, The Merry Writer Podcast is a fun, friendly show about all things writing and bookish. Join us as we ask all the “write” questions.

Episode 011: What are your thoughts on pen names?

In this week’s episode, Ari and I discuss our thoughts on authors using their real names vs pen names. Be sure to give it a listen through the YouTube video below or any of the links below.

New episodes are published every Wednesday at 10:00 am EST (2:00 pm BST). Please subscribe to the podcast so you can be notified when a new episode goes live. Also, give each episode a “like” wherever you enjoy tuning in. It’ll help the podcast grow and we’d really appreciate it!

Thanks for listening!

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What are your thoughts on pen names? Let me know in the comments below so we can chat! Please feel free to share this post.

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Short Story Sunday 306: Hostility

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

Detective Elliot stared at the suspect through the one-way mirror. The man sat in the other room, leaning back against the metal chair looking bored. The detective didn’t know what to do with this guy. He didn’t seem to care about the situation he was in right now. On the other hand, the suspect wasn’t talking too much. Elliot couldn’t tell if he just didn’t understand what was going on or if he was too crafty and knew exactly what he was doing. The suspect had refused a lawyer so Elliot was given the go-ahead to question him. So far, he hasn’t made a dent.

Judging from the way the suspect acted, Elliot and his partner, Detective Grace, assumed Elliot would have it all under control. Grace had decided to get a head start on the paperwork while Elliot finished up with the suspect. Now he waited for his partner in the back room so they could interrogation the suspect together. Elliot didn’t make any headway so maybe between the two of them, Grace would be able to get something out of this guy.

Grace entered the back room with a deadpan expression. “I thought we’d actually get off shift on time for once.”

Elliot sighed. “I’m sorry, but this man isn’t budging. I thought maybe if we gang up on him he’ll talk.”

“Does he want a lawyer?”

“Still doesn’t want a lawyer,” Elliot said, shaking his head.

Grace let out a frustrated sighed. “Well, it doesn’t seem as though this guy wants to make anything easy for us.”

“Why would they?” Elliot smirked. “I got all I could out of him. He kept giving me one-word answers. It got to the point he kept answering yes or no for all my questions even when I didn’t ask a yes or no question.”

“Oh, one of those?” Grace commented with a grunted. “Do you think he’s in a daze from all the events from today? Or do you think he’s faking trying to play us?”

Elliot reached over Grace and grabbed the manila folder on the shelf by the mirror. He opened it up and took a look at the case file that was quickly made up before they began their questioning.

“According to the woman in the apartment next door, she heard a man scream and she checked the hallway. The apartment to her left – the suspect’s apartment – was opened ajar. She took a peek to make sure everything was already and she found our victim dead on the floor in a pool of blood with a knife sticking out of his chest. Then she saw our suspect walking calmly out of the next room wiping his hands of, what she assumed, to be blood,” Elliot said, reading from the folder. “We of course, brought him in for questioning under the suspicion he murdered his roommate, but he has never once flinched. Didn’t resist arrest, doesn’t even seem to realize a homicide has taken place.”

Grace watched the suspect through the mirror with furrowed brows. He leaned back in his chair making the legs click on the floor. He began to hum along with the tune in a happy manner. “I feel like he doesn’t know what’s going on… either that or he’s a really good actor.”

“My guess is a good actor,” Elliot replied. “He refused a lawyer and said he didn’t mind talking to us about what happened. My guess is this is all an act in an attempt to fool us into thinking he’s crazy. If a lawyer was here, they’d see right through him.”

“That doesn’t matter. A lawyer would still try to protect him, that’s their job. We see right through it though and we don’t have to protect him,” Grace stated.

Elliot didn’t reply for a moment. While his partner was right, he still thought there was something off about the whole situation. Would a person really go through these lengths to cover up the fact that he murdered his roommate? People did crazy things when they were in crazy situations and were scared. Elliot had thought he’d seen it all but he knew he’d jinx himself for the next case if he said it out loud.

Either this suspect had planned to kill his roommate but didn’t expect the next door neighbor to hear – which Elliot thought was ridiculous in the first place. The apartment had thin walls that he was sure a lot of people in the building would have heard the struggle. Or, the suspect got too heated in the moment and didn’t mean to kill his roommate. Of course, you can’t accidentally stab a knife through someone’s chest, but Elliot has heard and seen a lot of crazy things throughout his years being a detective.

On the other hand, this suspect could have actually been innocent and the next door neighbor was too afraid and only thought what she was was actually what she witnessed. Maybe the suspect wasn’t talking because he was afraid. Why he didn’t want a lawyer was beyond Elliot. Maybe he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford one or maybe he was too confident that he’d be found innocent that he didn’t think he needed one.

Elliot watched him carefully through the glass. The suspect was too calm. It truly was hard to say if he was innocent and confident he’d be found so – despite the evidence and testimonies against him – or he was crazy and didn’t care at all about the situation he was in.

“Any ideas how to pursue this one?” Grace asked.

Elliot shook his head. “Do you want to go in alone and see if he’ll talk to you or tag-team this one?”

Grace shrugged. “I’ll see if he’ll be inclined to answer any of my questions.”

Elliot watched as his partner left the room. There were quite a few suspects who usually submitted to Grace’s questioning. Elliot had been doing this for years and he wasn’t sure if he was becoming less intimidating. Grace, on the other hand, had only been doing this for a handful of years but she was more intimidating to most suspects than Elliot was. He didn’t understand what he was about her, but she often scared people into talking. However, she was never out of line.

He watched as Grace opened the door to the interrogation room. Before she could take a step into the room, the suspect stood, let out an ear-splitting scream as he picked up his chair, and chucked it toward the detective before rushing toward the door.
Elliot jumped out of the back room and was just about to help his partner when he entered the interrogation room. When he made it to the doorway, Grace had the suspect pinned on the ground under the chair. Elliot tried not to crack a smile. “Did you catch the chair?”

“Of course I caught the chair, I’m no rookie,” Grace said as though she were offended he asked. “Go get backup, will you? I think he needs some more time in the holding cell.”

Elliot did as suggested and as a few police officers cuffed the suspect and brought him back to a holding cell, Elliot and Grace watched from the hall. He had the case folder in his hand and let out a sigh.

“You know,” he began, “I know nothing is ever easy. But for once, I would like a case that’s on the easier side. He was totally calm with me, I don’t know what you did.”

Grace shrugged. “My face scares people, as it should.”

Elliot chuckled.

Grace then sighed. “Great, now I have to add this in the report. More paperwork.”

Elliot didn’t answer his partner. Yes, she was right. They were going to have to add that into the case file, but there was certainly something that wasn’t right. “I think we should go back to the apartment and check it out again. I feel like there isn’t something right with that guy.”

“Ya think?”

“I want to go back to the apartment.”

“Alright, we’ll go back to the apartment.” Grace shrugged. “You can drive.”

*

The two detectives ducked under the caution tape that sprawled across the door frame to apartment 205. The remained in the doorway on the other side of the tape staring at the still-life apartment before them.

“Died right away from a stab wound to the heart,” Detective Grace said shaking her head. “What a way to go.”

“We’ve seen worse,” Elliot added.

“We have, but it still never gets less creepy. What are we looking for here?”

“Honestly, I’m not sure,” Elliot replied softly. “I thought something would jump out of me once we got here. I know that sounds a bit too easy, but… I have this feeling that we have the wrong guy.”

“The crazy guy is the wrong guy?” Grace said with a deadpanned tone.

Elliot nodded. “Maybe? I’m not sure.”

“He threw a chair at me.”

“That doesn’t mean he’s a murderer.”

“A metal chair.”

“Right, but-”

“And then he tried to run out the door. If he were innocent, would he try to run? What does he had to hide?” Grace continued.

“I can’t imagine being accused of murder when you’re actually innocent. I bet he’s afraid trying to put on a cool act.” Elliot explained.

“I get that, but I still find it completely odd. Something must be off about him. Regardless, he attacked a detective so he’ll be in trouble for something,” Grace stated. She watched as Elliot entered further into the apartment. “What are you doing?”

“Looking for clues.”

“I’m pretty sure we got everything.”

Elliot wasn’t convinced. He looked under tables and chairs but nothing seemed to be jumping out at him. He stared at the blood stains on the carpet in the middle of the living room.

“Do you think,” he began, “it’s possible our suspect came home and found his roommate dead? He might have tried to revive him with CPR or something and that’s how he got the blood on his hands. That’s what the neighbor witnessed.”

Grace walked further into the apartment and looked down at her partner who was squatting on the ground. “It’s possible, yes. Anyone who would walk home to see that would try to revive them with CPR despite a stab wound to the hear. Panic and grief sets in. But what about the scream?”

“It was our suspect. He came home and was shocked to find his roommate dead.” Detective Elliot stood up. “How would our witness be able to tell the two screams apart? They’re both male and I’m sure they don’t scream so often that their neighbor has been able to tell them apart.”

“Well, I hate to admit it, but you do have a point. Our witness didn’t actually witness the murder, she saw the aftermath,” Grace agreed.

*

The two detectives made it back to the station. They immediately walked down to the holding cells and found their suspect. He sat in a lonely corner of the cell weeping.

“I don’t think he did it at all,” Elliot whispered. Seeing him in this state confirmed any thoughts he had. He walked over to the cell and knocked on the bars to get his attention.

The suspect looked up, his face wet and eyes blood-shot from crying. He stood, walking to the bars. He looked confused but Elliot could tell he was trying to act tough.

“We went back to the apartment,” Elliot began. “You didn’t kill your roommate, did you?”

The suspect’s mouth gaped open. He looked back and forth between the two detectives before settling his gaze back onto Detective Elliot. His gaze softened as he smiled with relief. He shook his head.

“Then why wouldn’t you talk to us before?” Grace asked, glaring at the suspect. Elliot put a hand up signaling her to simmer down. Though he couldn’t blame her. He’d be annoyed if a chair was thrown at him too.

The suspect shrugged. “I’m sorry. I thought I was done for. I panicked.”

“You need to tell us what happened. No more staying silent if you want your roommate’s killer to be caught,” Elliot said sternly.

The suspect nodded. He looked Detective Elliot in the eye. “I think I know who killed him.”

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

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Time To Write: Theme

Here’s this week’s prompt:

Time To Write: Theme | Creative Writing Prompt | Creative Writing | Writing Prompt | Writing | RachelPoli.com

Write a creative piece such as a short story, flash fiction, poem, or something else based on the word, “theme.”

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below by 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday, May 27th and I’ll share it next week. Also, please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt! Thanks.

Happy writing! I look forward to reading your work. Please feel free to share this post.

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The Merry Writer Podcast: Episode 009 Out Now!

The Merry Writer Podcast | What's Your Worst Data Loss? | Creative Writing | Writing Podcast | RachelPoli.com

The Merry Writer Podcast

The Merry Writer started as a hashtag game on Twitter and Instagram. Hosted by Ari Meghlen and myself, The Merry Writer Podcast is a fun, friendly show about all things writing and bookish. Join us as we ask all the “write” questions.

Episode 009: What’s Your Worst Data Loss?

In this week’s episode, Ari and I discuss data in the writing world. Be sure to back up your work often and in numerous places. Be sure to give it a listen through the YouTube video below or any of the links below.

New episodes are published every Wednesday at 10:00 am EST (2:00 pm BST). Please subscribe to the podcast so you can be notified when a new episode goes live. Also, give each episode a “like” wherever you enjoy tuning in. It’ll help the podcast grow and we’d really appreciate it!

Thanks for listening!

Podbean | Spotify | iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | YouTube | PodLink

What’s your worst data loss? Let me know in the comments below so we can chat! Please feel free to share this post.

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Short Story Sunday 305: Suit

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

Jude stared at himself in the full-length mirror with disgust. In his 18 years of being alive, he had gotten out of wearing a suit with an almost 100-percent success rate.

Weddings? He’d wear sleek black jeans with a nice dress shirt. He’d the same thing for other special occasions or parents. The only time his parents truly forced him to wear a suit was when they had a funeral to attend and, lucky enough for him, he’d only gone to two in his life.

He fluffed out of the dress pants he was forced to wear. They were a bit baggy on him and they made a rustling sound when his thighs rubbed together as he walked. When he complained about it, all his mother had to say was that she told him to get the suit fitted before tonight. Apparently, he had no one to blame but himself. He supposed that was true. He didn’t get the suit fitted because he thought if he had “forgotten” to do it, he’d get out of wearing it.

The shirt fit just fine but the buttons at the end of the shirt were bothering him. The small plastic pieces rubbed against his wrists – not tightly, but just enough to be annoying. He tried to fold the button over, rolling his sleeves up a quarter of the way.

Whenever he did, his mother appeared by magic and “fixed” them for him. He tried to leave them unbuttoned but that didn’t work either. His mother wouldn’t stand for that because it looked too sloppy.

Jude didn’t even want to talk about the shoes. They fit him fine, but he must preferred his sneakers. He had half a mind to sneak his sneakers into his car so he could change without his mother’s knowledge. He was lucky she wasn’t chaperoning the senior prom. Otherwise he’d be in big trouble.

Looking at himself in the mirror, Jude realized something. He cleaned up nice. However, if he didn’t feel good in the suit, he didn’t care how good or bad he looked. He wanted to feel comfortable so that he was able to have the best time he could.

His father now entered Jude’s bedroom. Jude sighed knowing his mother had sent him into the room. He had most of the suit on so now they were arguing about the tie. It wasn’t fair that his mother didn’t feel fit enough to fight that battle. So she tagged her husband in to take her place. Jude didn’t have anyone to tag in, so what was he supposed to do?

“I brought three of them. You said your date is wearing a black dress, right?” his father asked.

Jude lifted one shoulder into a small shrug. “I think she said it was mostly black but it had silver specks in it. She said it looked like a starry night.”

“Oh,” his father chuckled holding up a tie. “So, I guess you don’t want to wear this one?”

Jude’s eyes widened at the tie his father presented to him. It was a crisp white with large, black polka dots all over. It looked like a cow and Jude didn’t want to be caught dead wearing that.

“That’s hideous,” he said.

His father continued to laugh as he tossed the tie onto the bed. “Alright then, you’ve narrowed it down to two.”

Two ties were held up in front of Jude’s face. One was a sleek black that seemed to be almost as shiny as his new dress shoes were. The other was another black tie with gray at the bottom. The gray dissolved as it climbed to the top of the tie allowed for small gray specks in the middle of the tie. Jude thought it looked as though someone had spilled something on the tie, but he thought it looked okay enough. He pointed to the black one with the gray specks.

“That one actually probably matches Paige’s dress.”

“Ah,” his father grinned, tossing the black one onto the bed. He stepped toward his son with the gray tie and tossed it around his neck. “So you do care that you match your date.”

“No, I do not,” Jude said firmly. “But I know girls tend to like this kind of stuff and can go overboard with the whole matching thing, so I guess I might as well try to make Paige happy about it.”

“Sure,”

Jude sighed. His father’s “sure” was always code for, “We both know I’m right so I’m not putting in the effort to argue.”

“Is Paige excited?” his father asked tightening the tie around his son’s neck.

Jude swallowed a lump in his throat hoping he’d be able to breath. Who invented ties, anyway? They were such a stupid way of being classy. There was no need to choke yourself in order to look good so you can have a nice time.

“I think she is. She hasn’t said too much about it, to be honest,” Jude explained. He put a hand on the knot in his tie trying to loosen it just ever so slightly as his father took a step back to admire his handy work.

“You look good, son,” his father said, a proud grin on his face.

Jude didn’t reply in fear he’d say something mean. He certainly didn’t feel good.

“Have you asked Paige much about tonight?” his father asked.

“Asked her what? I wanted to know about her dress because we need for match for some weird reason. I’m just glad she didn’t pick a bright pink or purple dress.” Jude rolled his eyes. He turned back to look at himself in the mirror dropping his hands down by his side. On the outside, he looked good. On the inside, he felt like a dope. Prom better go quick.

“Aside from making sure your tie matched her dress and asking her to the prom, have the two of you talked about it at all?” his father asked again.

“What else is there to talk about?”

His father let out a sigh.

“What?” Jude peeled his eyes off himself in the mirror and at his dad.

“Do we need to have a talk about woman?”

“God, Dad. No.”

“Alright, well, make sure you listen to her tonight, okay?”

Jude’s face twisted in confusion.

“Girls live for senior prom. Paige is probably way more excited than you’ll ever be about it. You want to make this night special for her, not for yourself.” His father sat down on the bed and patted the seat beside him, but Jude ignored the gesture.

“I need to make this night special for her by dressing up fancy even though I’m uncomfortable?”

“Yes.”

Jude’s face deadpanned. He didn’t know what else to say to his parents at this point. They didn’t know Paige, but if Jude thought about it, he didn’t know too much about Paige himself.

No, the two of them had never really talked about prom or anything else. He saw Paige across the room in math sophomore year when she moved to the area and he had wanted to talk to her ever since. They barely spoke a word to each other when he asked her to go to prom with him. They were working on a lab project together in science just two months ago and he blurted out, “Will you go to prom with me?” instead of a normal greeting such as saying hello.

Much to his surprise, she found it amusing and agreed.

Most girls Jude knew were going ga-ga for senior prom. It was true, he heard them talking about it ever since freshmen year. He didn’t doubt his father when he said some girls lived for senior prom. He wasn’t so sure one of those girls was Paige though.

In fact, the more Jude thought about it, the more he realized that when he asked Paige what color dress she was wearing so they could match, she didn’t seem too enthused about the idea. He got a weird tone from her voice over the phone when she described it. She only seemed to be excited about the starry night part of the dress.

Jude paused in his thinking. Maybe she wasn’t actually excited to go to prom at all. Maybe he was forcing her to do something she didn’t want to do. Maybe she was too nice and didn’t want to say no to going to prom. That was possible, wasn’t it? Some girls actually didn’t care about the prom stuff. Or maybe she didn’t actually want to go with him but she had already made the commitment a few months ago that she’d feel bad going back on her word or feigning ill. He knew he had asked her too early!

“Uh, Jude? Are you okay? You’re making an awful lot of faces.” His father stood up holding his arms out as though he thought Jude was going to fall over and he needed to catch his son. “It’s okay to be nervous. I sometimes feel that way when I’m nervous too. Just head to the bathroom now and get it all out before you leave.”

Jude stared at his father horrified.

“Otherwise you’re in a long night of embarrassment in front of your entire school.”

“Dad, please stop talking,” Jude sighed. “I’m not nervous. Of course I want Paige to have a good time. It’s just…”

He stared at his father who patiently waited for an explanation. Except, Jude had no idea how to explain this to his father and he didn’t want to get into it just then. He knew he needed to pick up Paige in about ten minutes.

“I need to leave now,” Jude said.

“That’s the spirit!” his father cheered.

Jude left his bedroom with his father trailing behind. He didn’t know what his dad meant by his cheer, but he didn’t want to ask.
After saying a quick goodbye to his parents – well, it wasn’t as quick as he would have liked. He needed to take the corsage from his mother and take a couple of pictures first. Once that was out of the way, he got into his car and headed to Paige’s house, which was about ten minutes from his own house.

He had to do the same thing at her house. They took picture after picture. Individual pictures, pictures together (all in various poses), pictures putting on the corsages… Jude was seeing so many spots he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to drive to prom.

Throughout the picture taking, Jude grew more nervous. Paige seemed to be in an okay mood, but she didn’t seem to want her picture taken at all. She was flattered by the corsage and even his tie, but she wasn’t overly excited about any of it. Jude knew there had to be some other guy she wanted to go with or maybe she just wanted to go with her group of friends. Jude shouldn’t have asked her in the first place. How was he supposed to help her have a good time when it didn’t seem like she wanted to have a good time with him from the get-go?

They made it into the car and as Jude pulled away from her house with Paige waving goodbye to her parents, Paige let out a long groan which startled Jude.

“Um, are you okay?”

“My mother picked out the floofiest dress,” Paige said.

“Floofy…?”

“I hate wearing dresses. I just wanted to wear pants. I even tried to compromise with her and told her I’d wear dress pants instead of jeans. She didn’t budge, as you can tell.”

Jude took his eyes off the road for a moment to look at her. “Well, I think you look lovely.”

“Lovely? Really?”

“Great?”

Paige snickered. “Listen, you don’t need to feel like you have to make me feel good or pretty or anything tonight, okay? Let’s just have a good time.”

“Do you want to have a good time with me?” Jude asked. He didn’t know where the question came form and wanted to rewind the moment it came out of his mouth, but there was no going back now. He continued before Paige could answer. “I mean, you don’t seem all that excited for prom. I didn’t know if you agreed to go with me because you felt awkward saying no or maybe I asked you too early… I know we barely talked before I even asked you and it’s kind of a weird situation.”

“Dude, shut up,” Paige laughed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you think I didn’t want to come with you or anything. I just don’t like getting dressed up. I want to experience prom but I also want to be able to move at prom.”

Jude let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, okay. Well, we’re in the same boat then. I didn’t want to wear a suit or even these shoes.”

“The shoes look good though. I brought an alternative.” Paige pulled a pair of sneakers from the floor in front of her.

Jude glanced at her. “Where did you pull those out from?”

“I told you, this is a floofy dress.”

“Yeah, but…?”

“I’m going to step on your feet at least eleven times tonight, would you rather I do so in heels?”

Jude shook his head. This was the most he had ever heard her speak. He didn’t mind it though.

“I’m sorry you need to wear those shoes all night,” Paige said.

“Nah,” Jude smirked, “My sneakers are in the trunk.”

Paige grinned. “I knew I liked you.”

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

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