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Monday, November 20, 2017

Someday, Somewhere: A Mid-Novel Pep Talk




Hello, my lovelies!

It’s day twenty of NaNoWriMo. It’s so hard to believe that there are only eleven days left to November! It’s around this time when the doubt really starts to creep in and I need someone to remind me of the important things and keep me grounded.

So without further ado, I would like to offer you some encouragement and remind you that someday, somewhere someone is going to read your book and:

-Compare themselves to your main character

-Claim it was written for them

-Compare themselves and the love interest to their relationship

-Make the hero their role model

-Use it to get them through a rough patch

-Tell someone it is their favorite book

-Write their own book because it inspired them

-Write fanfiction about your characters

-Dress up as one of your characters for cosplay or Halloween

-Make fandom posts about it

-Give it a fandom name

-Connect with people simply because they all love it

-Make Pinterest boards and Spotify playlists and Facebook groups about it

-Draw fan art

-Talk about how they need to make a movie based on it

-Underline their favorite passages and read them over and over again

-Give copies of it to all their friends for birthdays and holidays

-Write reviews of it for their blog or vlog

Your story will impact people in ways you never imagined it would. It will become as part of someone else’s world as your favorite book has to yours. It will change lives and probably even save some. It will get people through unimaginable horrors and help them face the day or week or month or year ahead of them.

There are people out there who need this story. People who need your characters and what they go through. They need the message your book will offer them, even if you don’t even know what that message is yourself.

This story doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t need to be spectacular or the next great American novel. It just needs to be. With all its heart and quirks and every last bit of you that you pour into it.

People need that. People need you and they need this story. And while this is your story and you don’t owe it to the world, you do have something to offer it. Don’t ever doubt that.

Your story will make the world a better place for people. You will bring them light and hope and joy. You will give them an anchor in the darkness. Your story has the power to change lives.

So keep writing, dear one. Through the doubt keep pressing on. You’ve got this. You will get this story written and it will be worth it.

On Monday I’ll be talking about how God used stories in my life. And of course Friday will bring another movie review. I hope to see you for those.

Until the next time we meet don’t forget to live happily ever after <3
~Jennifer Sauer, the Ivory Palace Princess


P.S. Let’s Chat! What are some ways you honor your favorite books? What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced this month?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (2017): A Review


Murder on the Orient Express official promo graphic ©20th Century Fox


Hello, my lovelies!

I went to see a movie last night with one of my closest friends and since it falls into the criteria for my review series I thought I would share it all with you!

Given that this is a mystery and one that only just came out (the movie, anyway) this review will be spoiler free. So even if you haven’t seen the movie, you can proceed safely.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
3.5 Stars
When a murder occurs on the train he's travelling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case.
-From IMDB

I honestly had no idea what to expect from this movie- I saw it announced ages ago because I’m following Leslie Odom Jr. on Facebook and it looked like it had potential. But the only two other things I can think of that I’ve seen that are connected to Kenneth Branagh (Cinderella and Much Ado About Nothing) I’ve had mixed feelings about.

So I went into this with reservations, wanting to be excited but also really terrified that I was going to end up hating it.

In the end it wasn’t as good as I wanted to hope but a whole lot better than I was afraid it would be.

What I Liked:
Poirot’s Introduction: Until this movie I hadn’t met Hercule Poirot. I’d love to read the book this is based on now, as well as others featuring him, but before this he and I hadn’t had the pleasure of being introduced.

So you can imagine how important the opening of this movie was in making an impression on me. I am delighted to report it didn’t disappoint. We’re introduced to him and all of his intricacies so quickly and yet so masterfully. I felt like within minutes of meeting him I knew what I needed to know without it feeling forced or convoluted. Right from the moment the movie started it drew me in.

The Humor: This movie was funnier than I expected it to be. It still somehow managed to maintain the very serious air that you would expect from this sort of a mystery but the dialogue was just so snappy- it was sarcastic in places, witty in others, just so very stunning.

I didn’t expect to laugh but I did in all the right places. Every joke, every clever little line of dialogue was there for a reason and it helped enhance the mystery rather than detract from it. This was in no way a comedy but it had little moments of humor that made me laugh a lot more than I expected to and I appreciated that.

The Visuals: As I said, I’ve seen two other things Kenneth Branagh is connected to and so I expected at the very least that this movie would be visually stunning. And it was.

The scenery, the costumes, and color schemes were just out of this world. And the cinematography was amazing. This movie was gorgeous. Like drool-worthy, jaw-dropping, breathtakingly gorgeous. If for nothing else this movie is worth watching to see the art and beauty involved in the visuals.

The Cast: This movie has an all-star cast, which is something that can either make or break a movie. For this movie it worked. There were so many characters all of whom were played to perfection.

Leslie Odom Jr., for instance, I’ve only actually heard sing (thanks to his role in Hamilton, his Simply Christmas album, and the Nationwide Commercial). I’ve never seen him act before and it was a lot of fun to see him in this role.

I’ve never been the largest fan of the roles Josh Gad has been cast in but I liked his character a lot in this movie (as in, he was an interesting one, not necessarily a moral or likeable one). And it was nice to realize that I don’t actually dislike the actor, just the characters he has played in the past. Before now I hadn’t made the distinction.

Johnny Depp’s character, while not the greatest person in terms of morality, was well-written and more importantly, he wasn’t really weird, which I’ll admit I was nervous about since most roles I’ve seen him in have given me the creeps.

I liked getting to see Daisy Ridley in a role other than Rey, as Star Wars is all I know her from.

And, of course, Kenneth Branagh’s acting is beyond incredible. The man is a master, to say the least, and in this role he does not disappoint.

The Mystery (to an extent): What the movie did right it did so very right. Watching Poirot unravel the threads of the murder was engaging and the kind of mind puzzle I would expect from this sort of mystery. It moved slowly yet interestingly, the story becoming more and more complicated which only served to make it all the more intriguing.

I was on the edge of my seat watching it all unfold and when it was all unveiled I felt a little silly for not having figured it out myself. But it made sense.

What I Didn’t Like:
The Mystery (to an extent): That is, it all made sense for the most part.

Not everything made sense. Until the very end when it was all revealed this movie had a solid 5 stars. No question. I was in love with it, hanging on every word, every action, every small detail. But then it didn’t make sense.

I don’t want to go into detail to keep this spoiler free, but I feel like I would be amiss in not saying it disappointed me. If you’re interested in my reasons or would like to discuss it, feel free to contact me as I would be happy to share my thoughts on the matter.

The Ending: Because of the points that didn’t make senses to me, I felt like other things that happened as a result of that also didn’t make sense. And so while I was so deeply in love for a good portion of the movie, the ending left me feeling a little empty and confused. Again, I’m trying to remain spoiler free here but if you wish to discuss it, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The Body: I know, I know. It’s a murder mystery, of course there’s a body! But I didn’t want to see it and I felt like it was on screen a tad too long. Long enough for me to be initially horrified and then stare at it until I realized it really wasn’t all that bad. But then I remembered I was staring at what was supposed to be a dead body and got horrified all over again.

Maybe I’m just squeamish but I didn’t like it.

The Character’s Introductions: As I said, there were a lot of characters in this movie. And great lengths were taken to make sure we were introduced to each and every one of them.

Unfortunately since there were so many and their introductions took place in a crowded train station, I felt a little lost as each one was introduced. In fact, for a long time I thought Johnny Depp’s character and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo’s were one and the same.

It wasn’t until the murder had taken place and Poirot was unraveling the different characters and their stories that I really started to get a feel for who was who. So don’t get discouraged if you see it and you can’t keep the characters straight. It’ll all make sense eventually.

Overview:
Overall, I enjoyed this movie. It was beautiful, it was clever, it was well cast and well acted. It had me on the edge of my seat for the whole thing, eyes wide and eager to not miss even a single second.

Unfortunately the ending didn’t quite sit right with me and left me feeling empty and confused. I didn’t want to take stars off for it but I can’t shake the feeling that it was wrong and that maybe it should have played out just a little differently.

That said, I’m not sorry I saw it and I would gladly see it again. I’m also more than ready to read the book and delve deeper into the world of Hercule Poirot. I'm excited to see what Agatha Christie has to offer me.

I hope to see you all on Monday for a little mid-novel pep talk! And next Friday I’ll be back for another review.

Until the next time we meet, don’t forget to live happily ever after <3
~Jennifer Sauer, the Ivory Palace Princess


P.S. Let’s Chat! How familiar are you with Agatha Christie’s detective? Have you see this movie or are you planning to?

Monday, November 13, 2017

How to Keep Your Creativity Flowing




Hello, my lovelies!

November is almost halfway gone already! I hope you're all doing well and keeping on track and having a blast.

But whether you’re doing NaNo or not, it’s easy to fall into writing slumps. Your writing starts to drag, you find yourself procrastinating, hitting a brick wall every time you try to write. It’s hard to focus, hard to find the energy to write, hard to get anything done. You’ve hit a creative slump.

It’s time to kick that creativity back into drive.

What Do You Need?

One of the most important things to do when trying to boost your creativity is knowing your cues. They’re different for everyone and only you can really tell what you need. But when it comes time to start taking action you need to know which you need- drive, inspiration, or to disconnect.

Drive:

Sometimes all creativity needs to get going is for you to sit yourself down and force yourself to write. The writer who doesn’t write if he isn’t inspired is going to find himself inspired less and less.

Sometimes you just need to make yourself write. Whether you want to or not, you need to sit down and force yourself to put something on the paper. Anything. Just put words on the paper until you find it easier than before to keep doing that.

Word Wars or Word Sprints:

But sometimes just forcing yourself to write doesn’t work. You’re distracted, you can’t focus, it just doesn’t work. Which is why Word Wars or Word Sprints are a thing.

I first learned about Word Wars from the OYAN community. They’re pretty simple- you find someone to war with you (either in person or via the internet. At the moment the NaNoWriMo group I'm part of has a Word War group in Facebook messenger for this purpose). Then you agree on an amount of time and write until the time is up. Whoever wrote the most words “wins.” NaNoWriMo Word Sprints work the same way, just with a different name.

But sometimes there aren’t other people available to war with and that what are you to do?

NaNoWriMo does have it set up so that you can sprint withyourself. Or you can just use a regular timer. Or, if you’re like me and you like having random apps on your phone, the Forest app is pretty cool. You set a timer and if you don’t use your phone the entire time it’s running you grow a little tree (or a bush, if you set the timer for a shorter amount of time). It’s really adorable and I like having all my little trees.

But regardless of how you do it, the idea of the timer is to give you pressure to keep you focused on the story. You don’t have time to think about other stuff or you can’t work on other stuff if your phone is “locked” (the Forest app doesn’t actually lock your phone, but it does know when you use it so the moment you open something else it asks you if you want to kill the tree!!)

Break It Into Pieces:

But maybe timers aren’t your thing. Or maybe you just don’t want to do that right this second.

Something I use all the time is to break it into small little chunks. It works better if you have something like NaNoWriMo or Pacemaker to keep track of your progress, but I have done it without those before.

Basically how it works is I take the number of total words I’ve written on the project and the number of words I’ve written that day and I’m constantly trying to get one of them to a rounded number. So if I’m at 12,258 words and I want to reach 13,500 words for the day, instead of just setting my goal for 1,242 words and getting stressed I break it up.

I start with the 12,258 and I tell myself that I only have to write 242 words to get myself to 12,500 words. Then when I reach that number, I look and see that I ended up writing 257 words so if I write another 243 words I’ll have written 500 words today. But once that’s written I only have 242 words until I reach 13,000 words.


It just keeps going like that until I reach my word count for the day and then some. On days when I do this, I usually end up doubling my word count because I just keep telling myself to write another 200 words or so. And it usually goes by pretty fast- on Saturday I wrote almost 3,000 words in less than two hours by doing this.

Inspiration:

But sometimes just sitting down and writing isn’t enough and no matter how many tricks you have up your sleeve, it’s not enough. Sometimes you need inspiration.

Inspiration comes from finding things connected to your story to help you get excited about it all over again. You’re missing a piece of the puzzle and you just need to find it again.

The first step is identifying what piece you’re missing. Sometimes you have some research that needs done or you need a clearer direction on what happens next. Or sometimes you don’t know what you need, you just know something is missing.


Research:

Research is a rather easy fix in that if you know what needs researched then all you have to do is take the time to do it. Go to the library or start Googling until you start to feel inspired to write again.

If you’re retelling a story sometimes your research might be as simple as rereading the original tale over again to remind yourself of the details and look for things you might have missed the other times you read it.


Think it Through:

Finding direction is a bit more difficult. Sometimes it helps to have a friend help with this- someone who is willing to talk the story through with you to offer advice or suggestions or just a sounding board for your ideas. Try outlining or going back over the notes you originally made about this story (if you’re like me and you made those notes in the first place).


Character Sketches:

Try doing some character sketches to help ground who your characters are, solidifying them in your mind. I really like Charahub’s questions. I’ve also used a journal with writing prompts before, with things like “What does paradise look like for you” or “What are some things you would like to pass onto your children?” I answer them as if the character is the one writing the entry and that helps me not only get to the heart of their thought process but also offers me insight into aspects of them that I might not have tapped into before.

Plus it’s just a lot of fun.

Know What Inspires You:

I love having a Pinterest board for each of my stories to pull up at the moments when I need a quick inspiration fix. My boards are usually a mix of pictures that remind me of the aesthetic and tone of the story along with quotes that fit the characters and themes.

Music also inspires me so listening through a playlist for my story or trying to track down some new songs to add can be the much needed inspirational recharge that I need.

Know what inspires you most and partake in that- if I’m writing a sci-fi I might watch a sci-fi movie or immersing myself in a fantasy might be helpful if that’s what I'm working on.

But be careful- it’s easy to blur the lines between plagiarism and inspiration. Make sure that you aren’t even inadvertently stealing elements from someone else’s story to fix your own. For example, while I might watch a sci-fi show while writing a sci-fi, I always try to avoid retellings of the fairy tale I’m retelling. This month I’m writing a Snow White/Robin Hood story so I avoid all kinds of Snow White or Robin Hood media. It’s easy for me to get confused on what is part of the original tale and what is someone else’s interpretation and to keep it from getting all muddled up I just avoid those things for the duration of my writing process.

Disconnecting:

But what happens when the drive tricks aren’t working and the inspiration is just stressing you out? You try disconnecting.

To disconnect you need to step away from the story entirely and work on other things. This is hard if you’re like me and your stories take up a good portion of your life.

But sometimes it’s easy to get so immersed in your story that you get overwhelmed. Sometimes what your story needs it for you to take a step back, breathe, and come back to it later with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

Find a Distraction:

Sometimes you just need to step away and do something else for a little bit- take a shower, finish a chore, read a book or watch a movie (preferably something outside the genre you’re writing), bake something. Find a task that isn’t linked to your story and throw yourself into it for a time.

Sometimes when I’m particularly stressed I’ll even set a time limit for myself- I can’t think about this story for the next hour or four hours or even the rest of the day.

Walk Away:

Sometimes the physical act of walking away from your story is all you need. Go for a walk, make plans to go out with friends, do your grocery shopping. Get out of the house and breathe. I write in my house most of the time so most of my stories are tied to my house mentally- when I leave without a notebook or my laptop it’s easy for me to disconnect completely from the story since it’s my house that I associate with the story.

Know the Difference:

The biggest thing to know though, with all of this, is whether you actually need inspiration or to disconnect or if you’re just procrastinating. My greatest enemy is putting off writing simply because I don’t feel like doing it. It’s easy to mistake lack of desire to write for lack of inspiration.

Sometimes there comes a point, after you disconnect and look for inspiration, that you need to put your butt in the chair and you need to write. You can only make so many character sketches before it becomes time to stop putting it off and just start writing.

So learn your cues and know what you’re doing- since I often take Sundays off, Mondays can be hard for me to get back into the writing groove, so on Mondays I know I need to give myself an extra push to write. I rarely allow myself to take time off on Mondays because I know those days that I’m not in need of anything other than a kick in the pants.

But forcing yourself to write when there is legitimately a problem will only produce more frustration and can often be bad for your story in the end. So if you aren’t sure what you need, it won’t hurt to take a little time off from writing to work on something else. Just make sure you don’t take too much time off and you recognize that there comes a point where you have to kick yourself back into gear again.

Conclusion:

Writing is hard and it’s always good to know what you need to keep from burning out. And if you feel you might be in danger of that, make sure you take the time to take care of yourself. Writer self-care is very important.

But also know what you need and don’t use “writer self-care is important” as an excuse to put off doing the things you know you need to do. Your words won’t get written unless you write them.

I’ll be back on Friday for another movie review and I hope to see you then. Until the next time we meet, don’t forget to live happily ever after <3
~Jennifer Sauer, the Ivory Palace Princess


P.S. Let’s Chat! What are some ways you find inspiration? What are your favorite ways to disconnect from your writing?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Much Ado About Nothing (2012): A Review




Hello, my lovelies!

I am so excited to be starting this series on reviews of movies based off classic tales. Today’s review is Joss Whedon’s film based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

I utterly adore the original play- it’s my favorite of Shakespeare’s works- and I was a little apprehensive about this movie. I’d read mixed reviews but I have a lot of respect for the people involved. I went into it not knowing what exactly to expect.

Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
4.5 Stars

What I Liked:

The Cast: If you have watched anything Joss Whedon has been involved in you will recognize at least one actor in this movie. This movie is filled with incredibly talented people- Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond, Sean Maher, and so many more.

And each one of them brings their character to life in unbelievable ways. Their acting is stellar, especially Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedick. They’re incredible.

The Setting: This movie was made for fun by Joss Whedon at his house. You can tell this is true as the men settle into a bedroom with a Barbie house and stuffed animals and the police station is clearly in a basement.

The simplicity of the setting juxtaposed with the amazing acting is beautiful because it proves how incredible Shakespeare’s works really are. They can be performed anywhere, on any platform, with any setting and they’re still the same. It shows just how much the actors carry the work, not where it is filmed. This play doesn’t need beautiful sweeping landscapes or jaw-dropping costumes. It needs its characters brought to life and that is what this version does.

Beatrice and Benedick: I already mentioned how wonderfully these two are played, but I need to gush about them some more.

The casting choices are A+ and these two play their roles to perfection. The scenes with them are some of the funniest I’ve ever seen- no matter how many times I watch this movie I actually laugh out loud every single time. I don’t do that often when I’m watching stuff alone.

The Way They Make The Story Come Alive: This is Much Ado About Nothing for me- I don’t need any other version for me to be happy. It obviously doesn’t beat seeing it performed live- nothing is ever a substitute for that- but this is the best movie version I’ve ever seen and I think I ever will. The way they bring this story to life, I can’t even put it into words.

They don’t add anything to Shakespeare’s words. Every line in this show- save one place where ‘Jew’ is used to mean ‘fool’ which is what they swapped it out for- is exactly as Shakespeare wrote it. But with their facial expressions, their inflections, their movements and actions, they add another layer to the story. They add meaning to certain scenes, bring depth that wasn’t there before, and just make the story come alive in ways I didn’t know I needed until I saw this version.

It's the kind of movie you can watch over and over again and find another facial expression that you missed, another subtle movement, another slight inflection. It just gets deeper the more you watch it.

I cannot say enough good things about this movie. I could gush forever, except I don’t want to spoil things for anyone who wants to experience it spoiler free.

What I Didn’t Like:
The Sexual Content: There is one thing I didn’t like about this movie, though it’s broken into smaller parts. But it basically all boils down to the sex.

I know Shakespeare can be full of inappropriate things and this story certainly has thematic elements that can’t be ignored but it always makes me sad when people draw attention to that and make it a main focus of the story.

The movie’s intro, for example, in keeping with no added lines, it a silent little snippet of Beatrice and Benedick waking up in bed together, clearly after sex. I know they added it because of that curious little exchange later where Beatrice implies that she and Benedick had been in a relationship before but it’s honestly just such a strange scene. There’s a confusing air to it that possibly comes simply from my complete lack of understand of secular romance? But knowing they slept together before falling in love honestly makes it harder for me to believe that years later they’re able to form a different sort of relationship. I feel that by adding that to their past it should have made things even weirder between them. It should almost change the entire story.

And then there are two other instances with sensuality that are quite frankly just a little too passionate for me. I would have preferred things to be more tastefully, less in your face. That’s the one downside to having a movie instead of a play- you generally get things like this handled more bluntly rather than subtly. I wish they would have taken a different direction with that.

Overall:
This is my favorite Shakespeare play and given that I already know what is happening and I know which parts to skip, the sexual content isn’t a huge deterrent for me. It does make me a little hesitant to recommend it to others though. But if you’re okay with skipping parts of the story or that sort of thing isn’t an issue for you then you should definitely watch this movie. Like, right now.

It’s an incredible portrayal of a classic that does the original work the justice it deserves. I look forward to watching it again and again to help me always remember just how much I love this story and why exactly.

And here's the playlist for the play (it also fits the movie, as little is changed)

I hope to see you all on Monday for a post on creativity. Until the next time we meet, don’t forget to live happily ever after <3

~Jennifer Sauer, the Ivory Palace Princess


P.S. Let’s Chat! What is your favorite of Shakespeare’s plays? Which one would you like to see turned into a movie?

Monday, November 6, 2017

How to Use Rewards to Boost Productivity




Hello, my lovelies!

I hope all of you are having a productive November! It’s six days into NaNoWriMo for those of you who are participating and I hope it’s been a great six days.

Today I want to talk about how I learned to use a reward system to boost my productivity when I write. I discovered it the first year I did NaNoWriMo so it seemed fitting to share it with you today.

What is a Rewards System?
Simply put it’s exactly what it sounds like. You set a word goal and then you reward yourself when you reach it. If you don’t reach that goal you don’t get the reward. Usually you pick something you really want because otherwise there won’t really be an incentive to reach the goal.

The first year I did NaNoWriMo we had bunches and bunches of peanut butter cups left over from Halloween. I am my mother’s daughter and by that I mean that I love peanut butter. And when you pair it with chocolate it’s a match made in heaven.

But I was also trying to be healthier so I decided that for every 5,000 words I wrote I could have peanut butter cups. In between I wasn’t allowed to have sugary snacks of any kind. So what ended up happening was I would push myself to reach the goal so that I could earn my peanut butter cups. There were usually two days in between each time I earned my reward and the sugar cravings made me write all the faster.

How Often Do I Use Them?
As often as you want. I don’t have a set reward for reaching my daily word count except for a basic “the sooner I reach my goal, the sooner I can be done and do something else.” Sometimes that something else is reading a book or watching something or making a new playlist. But very rarely do I set a reward for my daily goal.

I would recommend picking a word count you’ll reach every two or three days and setting a smaller reward for that (like me and the peanut butter cups).  This could be something like catching up on episodes of your favorite show or a certain snack or a long soak in the tub. Something simple and sweet to make you want to write faster. Unless you have tons of money to throw around, don’t make this something costly. And don’t make it anything harmful or that you aren’t supposed to be doing.

Then you can also set rewards for larger goals that do cost money. I plan to buy myself a NaNoWriMo mug if I win this year, which I’m pretty excited about. You can also use things like a book you’re considering buying, a pastry from a special bakery, or tickets to see a new movie. Or find other things that won’t cost you anything. Rewards aren’t about how much they cost, but about pushing you to write more.

Find something you really, really want and tell yourself you can have it when you reach your final word count (for those doing NaNo that would be 50,000 words).

Set a Schedule:
It’s really easy to keep yourself on track with this if you aren’t firm about it. Set your word goal and be strict about it. Don’t say “If I write 2-5 thousand words I get a reward” or “I still deserve a reward even though I didn’t reach my goal.”

There’s really no point in using a rewards system unless you’re going to stick with it. If you’re bad at sticking with it, find a close friend who is willing to hold you accountable.

What Counts Toward My Word Count?
Especially if you aren’t doing NaNo and you’re the kind of person who works on your stories even on days when you don’t write it’s easy to ask what counts toward your word count. Does an outline count? But does the outline then have to be wordy and complicated so that you can reach the goal? You might work on an outline for an hour or more but only get a couple hundred words.

Don’t ever pad your word count for the sake of padding your word count. That’s just going to bring you trouble in the end and is never a good idea.

A good rule of thumb for determine what should count toward your goal would be to set rewards for a certain number of tasks completed rather than words written- if you want to get some outlining done, research something in particular, and write the next chapter sometime in the next three days set that as your goal for your next reward. Get those tasks done in the next three days and you get the reward. Don’t get them done in that allotted time and you don’t get the reward.

The Downside:
There is one downside to all this and I think it’s important to mention. Using a rewards system can easily become an excuse to fall into unhealthy habits.

If you aren’t supposed to be eating certain foods or you aren’t supposed to be spending money on certain things, don’t use this as an excuse to do this. The best way to use this system is to pair it alongside another habit (if you’re trying to limit your sugar intake, having to earn your intake and setting a goal you’ll only meet every two or three days is a good way to do this) or to use things that are harmless or you would already get (last year a friend and I agreed to send each other a small snippet of what we were working on for every 5,000 the other person reached).

Rewards also don’t have to be expensive- my friend and I sending each other snippets cost us each nothing but about five seconds of our time.

Again, rewards should never be harmful to you and can be as simple as you want. As long as they make you want to reach your goal, that’s all that matters.

Recap:
Set goals. Reach goals in allotted time. Get reward. Or, set goals. Don’t reach goals in allotted time. Don’t get reward.

It’s as plain and as simple as that.

I hope you found this useful! I was excited to share it with you and look forward to hearing your thought on it.

I’ll be back on Friday for a new review series so I hope to see you then. Until the next time we meet, don’t forget to live happily ever after <3
~Jennifer Sauer, the Ivory Palace Princess


P.S. Let’s Chat! Have you used a rewards system for your writing before? What do you usually use for rewards?

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Princess Tales: Final Thoughts and Giveaway Winners Announced!

Hello, my lovelies!!

I can’t believe this is the last Princess Tales post!

As I mentioned in my first post, I read this series years ago. So rereading them to review was interesting, as I came at them from a different perspective than I did as a girl.

I had a rough start reading them at first. The third book was especially rough for me. But by the end I was in love with this series. Especially the last three books. The series picked up by the end and I found I loved it as much as I did as a girl. Differently, but definitely just as much.

Books in Order of Favorite to Least Favorite:
The Princess Test- 4.5 Stars

That puts the average rating at 4.25 Stars but since I don’t think .25 stars is allowed, I’ll round up and give the entire series a 4.5 Stars. Definitely well deserved.

I said when I reviewed The Princess Test that I would hold off announcing it as my favorite until the finished the series and I was surprised to find that the last three almost all bumped that one down on the list (even as it stands, The Princess Test and The Fairy’s Return are tied in fourth place). There were so many good books in this series and it has been a delight to share them with you all over the last so many weeks.

As promised, here is the series playlist!

And now the part you really all came for- the giveaway.

Without further ado, I am excited to announce Abigail and Mara as the winners! I will be contacting you with further details about that.

NaNoWriMo is in full swing and I hope to further connect with those of you who are participating in that. If you want to stay in touch be sure to like my Facebook page for all the fun I’ve got in store for this month.

Next Friday I’ll be starting a new series for the rest of the month of movies based off classic tales. And on Monday I’ll be offering some mid-NaNo writing encouragement and advice. I hope to see you then.

Until the next time we meet don’t forget to live happily ever after <3
~Jennifer Sauer, the Ivory Palace Princess


P.S. Let’s Chat! What are some of your favorite movies based on classics or fairy tales?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What are Your Writing?: NaNoWriMo 2017 Edition




Hello, my lovelies!

Two weeks ago I explained what all is involved in participating in NaNoWriMo. I also mentioned how incredibly excited I am to be participating.

November starts today so I thought I’d share with you the story I’m so excited to be working on. No commentary on life or writing, no ranting or offering insight, no showing you the world through my eyes. Just a post about what I’ll be writing this month.

Title: The Merry Adventures of Snow and Robin
This is a working title. I don’t know that I’ll keep it but at the moment I love it so at the moment it stays. When it’s actually written and edited and I’m considering publishing it is when I’ll start thinking about whether I want to change it or not.

Logline (what’s it about in a very short amount of words): Snow White/Robin Hood retelling which Robin is supposed to kill Snow on the eve of her eighteenth birthday but they decide to become outlaws instead.
The book is going to focus on Robin and Snow’s adventures as they form their band of outlaws and work to reclaim the throne for Snow from her stepmother.

Genre: Medieval Adventure Comedy
I want to keep the medieval setting from both of the original tales. The tone of the story will be lighthearted and funny but also have plenty of action and excitement (hopefully…)

Projected Word Count: Around 55,000
I usually have some idea before I start writing of how long I want the story to be. Sometimes I end up coming up short, sometimes the book ends up longer. But usually it stays within 5,000/10,000 words of my originally projected goal.

I think this one is going to hit the official “novel” mark of 50,000 words (I hope so, because if it doesn’t, I don’t win NaNoWriMo!). But I also don’t think it’s going to be a whole lot longer than that.

Main Characters:
I know I’m going to write in third person so I’m not sure if I’ll stay in Snow’s perspective or if you’ll get some of Robin’s perspective as well. I’ll probably just start with Snow and see what happens as I write. I usually don’t plan these sorts of things in advance and like to discover what is right for my story as I tell it.

But whether or not we get inside his head, Robin will definitely be a major character in the story (his name is in the title, after all). He’s the strong, warrior sort, while Snow is more clever and cunning. They balance each other out nicely and once they team up it becomes clear that together they’re a force to be reckoned with.

The other major characters are the Merry Men/Dwarves, who aren’t actually dwarves in this story. They’re a family of miners who take the two main characters in and end up getting roped into their quest. Each one is based off a different one of the Merry Men from Robin Hood and I love them all so much. I won’t say more though because while I have an idea of who I want them each to be they’re probably going to change over the course of the story as it’s written.

Preparation:
I don’t have a set way that I prepare to write a story and usually just do what I feel that individual story needs.

I generally always make a Pinterest board for inspiration and a Spotify playlist. I did those for this book and I’ll share them with you a little later on. I also have my short little character sketches that just summarize who each character is in a paragraph or two. This helps me remember what exactly I had in mind when I created the characters so that I have a standard to hold them to as I write (though they are certain to change as the month goes on and I start to get to know them better and develop them more).

And beyond that I’ve done some rereading of the original tales the story will be based off of. There were a couple elements of Snow White that I’d never noticed before that I’m excited to include in my story. Robin Hood is a little harder since there are so many stories to read but I’m pretty excited about the ideas I have as to how to incorporate the original legends into this story and world.

I’ve also been getting a lot of other stuff off my plate in terms of writing- I finished the novella I was working on and wrote a good number of my blog posts for November this month. That way when I do have writing time it can all be devoted to my NaNo word count.


The Links:
As promised: Pinterest Board and Playlist

If you want to add me as a writing buddy, here’s my NaNoWriMo profile.

And if you want to stay connected this month about NaNoWriMo be sure to like my Facebook page as that’s where I’ll be posting that sort of stuff.

I hope to see you in Friday for the giveaway winner announcement! There’s still time to enter if you haven’t already.

Until the next time we meet, don’t forget to live happily ever after <3
~Jennifer Sauer, the Ivory Palace Princess


P.S. Let’s Chat! Whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or not let me know what your November looks like. What are you planning to work on?