div#ContactForm1 { display: none !important; }

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Getting Back to Your Basics

I’m taking a break from writing.

My mom challenged me last week to walk away from the story I was working on because it was giving me problems. It was getting to the point where my frustration with the story was translating to depression and moodiness. So, she challenged me to take a break from writing for a while.

I thought it would be one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I thought giving up on a story was quitting and wrong and that it would metaphorically kill me.

But, it hasn’t.

In fact, it’s been really freeing. 

This last week I’ve been working through a bunch of different stories in my head, playing around with old ideas, and reading through snippets I’ve written. I’ve been remembering things I wrote years ago, stories I loved but then completely forgot about. I’m discovering how horrible my writing was back then, but how great my ideas were.

And, I haven’t felt stressed all week.

I’m learning to enjoy my stories, to regain the love of imagination I had when I started this whole writing thing. I used to spend my time imagining what the characters would do and say and feel. I’d play over scenes in my head and create ideas that I could get excited about.

That’s something I lost in recent years.

I spend my time these days plotting ideas and trying to find the perfect thing to happen. I want my scene to be a killer scene, I want it to be a scene people will talk about, one that will be ingrained in their memories long after they’ve finished the book. Which isn’t a bad thing, but I think I’ve been trying too hard recently.

I’m losing my love of writing. I still enjoy making up stories and creating characters. But, the writing part? I just can’t do it anymore. There’s something missing.

And, I think I’m learning that what I’m missing is my imagination. I need to start letting my characters have control again, to allow them to do and say and feel what is natural for them. Forget if the action fits what I read about their personality type. More importantly, it needs to fit them and who they are.

I’m not sure where you are in your writing right now. But, maybe you’re struggling like me. Maybe you’re looking for ways to add life to your writing again. Maybe you want to regain the fire you had when you started writing.

You don’t have to take a week or more off, like I am. But I would suggest taking a step back and asking yourself why you started writing in the first place. I would suggest going back to your original stories not to judge or cringe, but to remind yourself.

Writing is an art, a profession, a lifestyle. But, it’s also something more than that. It needs to be taken seriously, but also childishly. Look at it from the point of view of yourself at the time you first started writing. What was it about your old story ideas that made you passionate? What was it about those ideas that you wanted to finish them and publish them so it could be the next bestseller? What was it about your writing that you loved so much you wanted to spend the rest of your life answering this calling?

And, once you’ve found that, you’re on your own. How does that apply to you now? That’s something you need to figure out, because it’s something only you can answer. But, once you’ve figured that out, you’re well on your way to moving forward.

Because when hasn’t going back to the basics solved the problem?

How about you? How do you regain your writing passions and get through a bump in your book’s journey?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Candor Fridays: Week Two

Well folks, it's Friday!

Two questions for our second week of Candor Fridays.

The first is from Rodger Sauer: Most of us are aware of the fact that you included Isabel Luke in the Acknowledgments of the first Kit Parker Book (Why Rodney Never Should’ve Gone to the NAPIC) in exchange for a batch of homemade brownies.  Some of us are also aware that you thought said brownies were so amazingly scrumptious that they needed to be hidden from the rest of your family members.  My question is this:  If Isabel Luke happens to bake you another batch of brownies in exchange for future acknowledgments, where exactly would you hide them?

Hide my brownies from my parents? I would never do such a thing. I don’t know where you’re getting your information but it’s false. Mostly. Sort of. Okay, it isn’t, but they were super yummy.

And, I’m not about to announce my hiding places on the internet. Didn’t anyone ever teach you basic internet safety? Rule number one is not to give out personal information. I shall take the secret of my brownies’ hiding place to my grave.

And, the second from HarpleyIf you could live in any fictional world, with any fictional person as your best friend, where/who would you choose and why?

Considering the fact that I spend about 90% of my time in fictional worlds and am a very character driven person, this is a really hard question. Really hard.

That said, I did some debating last night and this morning and finally settled on a reply.

If I could live in any fictitious world, it would be the Shire. After Lord of the Rings of course, when everything is back to normal (everything goes back to normal, right? It’s been a long time since I saw those…). Basically, I want to live in the Shire in the days when it’s nice and peaceful and I can just sit around reading books and eating ten meals a day.

And, in contrast to that (I’m a highly contradictory person… :P) if I could have any fictitious character as my best friend I would choose Zacharias Wrench from Michelle Magorian’s Good Night Mr. Tom (who most people reading this blog probably don’t even know. Sadly… :/). There are a million characters I love for different reasons but I would choose Zach because I think he’d be good for me. He has an adventurous spirit and there’s never a dull moment when he’s around.

Yes, I know that makes no sense, what with me wanting to live in the Shire, but I think it would be a good combination: days of fun and adventure, someone to keep me from getting too serious about life, and the slightest bit of rebellion to feed my artistic side but also a safe and secure place to sleep at night, the assurance of many square meals a day, and somewhere quiet hide from the adventures when my introverted side takes over.

Yup. Definitely perfection in its highest form. *contented sigh*

So, that's it. Both askers are entered in the August 15th giveaway! For more information on how you can enter, check out the Candor Fridays Page (http://ivorypalace.blogspot.com/p/candor-fridays.html). I can't wait to see what question you cook up for me this week!!

And, in the meantime, I shall see you all on Monday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

An Announcement Concerning Kit Parker and Her Second Book

Hello there, lovely people!

I have some news for all you faithful readers- the official release date of the second Kit Parker book is set. Mark your calenders for November 10th of this year. And, keep and eye out on Amazon for the little novel called How to Properly Deface a Book.

Now, I know November is a long ways off and those of you who have read Book One are probably wondering why I can't just get it off to you now if I've got the thing written. But, since I've still got editing to do and bumping up the release date isn't going to happen anytime soon, I thought I'd offer you all a consolation by giving you a little sneak peek at what you're waiting for.

And, if you haven't bought Book One yet, be sure to stop by Amazon and grab yourself a copy:  

And, without further ado, the synopsis and sneak preview of How to Properly Deface a Book: Kit Parker -- Book Two

The meeting with her mother leaves Kit Parker empty and depressed. The message Fiona finds hidden in a forgotten book leads to an encounter that confuses Kit more than ever. Then she’s kidnapped which results in a confrontation that throws her entire world out of balance.

Her triumph at the De Palma apartment has Kit determined not to ever let a situation like this get the better of her again. But, it isn’t long before she begins to realize that nothing is as it seems and she’s no longer sure who she can trust or what the truth is. The age old questions that have stewed inside her for so long keep cropping up. Why did her parents leave? Why was she left behind? But with every answer two new questions are asked. Will Kit find what she’s looking for or will her search for  the truth ultimately destroy her?

And, Chapter Ten:

I take a deep breath, telling myself that I need to make this convincing for it to work. There’s no need to be afraid, I assure myself. I know how Jason will react. I know what he will do. I won’t have to deal with this for more than a few minutes.
But, even a few minutes can seem like an eternity.
I have to do this. I have to be the one to save myself this time.
I take another deep breath as I begin to rock back and forth, searching for the panicked part of my mind. Usually, I look for the happy place to lock the frightened away. But, today, it’s the other way around.
I tell myself the walls are closing in on me, that the room is getting smaller. And, the more I tell myself that, the more I can feel it. My breathing grows shallow.
I stand and begin to pace again. Because I’m avoiding that woman and there are papers all over the floor, the room is actually kind of small. There isn’t much room to pace, which just makes me feel all the more trapped.
Please, Jason, notice me soon. Please, say something. Offer to help. I can’t take this much longer.
I walk around the desk, following the pattern of the carpet. It has maroon, navy, and white squares and I concentrate on only stepping on the white ones. There are more of them but it’s still a challenge. Something to take my mind off of the size of the room. And the closed door. And the windows that are painted shut.
I’m beginning to see what a bad idea this is. Because now that I’ve started riding this train of thought, I can’t stop. Aren’t trains supposed to have an emergency break or something? Because I want off. I can’t keep going like this.
Finally, Jason comes up and puts a hand on my arm. “Kit?”
I whirl to face him, wanting to ask what took him so long. I’m practically dying of panic over here and he takes his own sweet time about being helpful. Thanks, Jason, I appreciate it.
Only, I can’t snap at him, not now. Not when he’s going along with my plan so perfectly.
I realize I’m staring at him, eyes wide. He probably thinks I’m crazy right about now. And, Agent Parker’s probably rolling her eyes trying to come up with something snarky to say. I’d look but I can’t seem to take my eyes off of Jason. But, even then, I can’t seem to actually focus on him. It’s like, I’m looking at him, but not really seeing him or anything.
“Kit, are you okay?”
I manage to shake my head. At least I still know how to do that.
“Do you need some air again?” His tone sounds nearly as panicked as I feel. I nod.
He takes my elbow in his arm and guides me to the door, outside into the alleyway. As soon as the summer air hits me, I can breathe again. I take in huge gulping breaths, filling my lungs until I think they’ll burst, savoring the moment.
But, then I remind myself that I don’t have long. I need to get ahold of myself and make a move. In just a second, Jason is going to see I’m fine and take me inside. And, then we’ll be back to square one. Because, I’m not going to pull something like this again.
Next time I decide to save myself, I’m going to have to come up with a plan that’s a little less nerve-wracking.
Though, if I have my druthers there won’t be a next time.
I take a quick glance around me, taking in my surroundings. To my right, at one end of the alleyway, there’s a fence. So, yeah, I can’t really go that way. Straight across from me is another building with two dumpsters against it. And, at my left, is the street. Which is the way I want to go. Only, I need Jason to let go of my arm. And, I’d like to avoid injuring him if I can.
But, only if I can. If I need to, I will hurt him.
“How are you feeling?”
I shake my head. “I- I think I’m okay. Well, I will be. I could really use some water.”
I know he isn’t dumb enough to fall for that. He’s too smart to leave me alone in an alley when I’m supposed to be his kidnappee. But, he does exactly what I expect him to- he loosens his grip on my elbow as he considers it.
I drive the elbow he isn’t holding into his stomach and he winces as he lets go of me altogether. I dart down the alley, ignoring him as he calls out to me. His footsteps pound on the ground behind me and I think I hear him gaining on me.
 No, he can’t be. I can’t let him catch me. I have to get away from here. None of this has anything to do with me. I’m not a part of it so why should I have to suffer.
At least when someone kidnaps me because of Rod, I know why they did it. With this, I’m completely in the dark. And, that’s the way she wants it to stay.

Jason calls out again and I try to block it out. He’s been nice and I hate to run off on him like this. But, as long as he takes her side, I can’t go along with him. Not anymore. I just can’t live like that.
I’m out of the alley, taking a left and running down the street. Since it’s so close the safest place to go is my brother’s office. I just hope he’s there.
Please, Rod, be at your office. Please. You have to be. Please don’t be where I was kidnapped from. Please have gone back to the office to check something out or look something up. Please.
It could be days before my brother gets on lead on where I am. And, who knows how long until that woman and Jason accomplish whatever it is they hope to. I could be here for a week. There’s no way I can survive being locked in that tiny room with someone like her for that long. No way on earth.
As I run past the crowded Subway, I consider darting inside and asking to use a phone. I could call the police from there, right? But, I think better of it, since kidnappers are great at coming up with stories about why they’re dragging their victim away. They’re really good at making people believe their side of it.
No, Rodney’s office is my best bet.                                                                          
Another block though, and I start having to push myself. There’s nothing I’d like more than to collapse on the sidewalk and breathe. Nice, long breaths until my lungs feel full again. But, of course, that’s out of the question.
The light changes to red just as I start across the street. Cars honk rather furiously, but I can’t helping feeling pleased. That means Jason will have to wait for the light to change again in order to cross. That means I’ve got a bit more of a start on him.
My side burns and my lungs feel as if they will burst with each new breath. But I can’t give up. Not now. Just a few blocks more and I’ll be at the office.

I hear someone call out, but I’m not sure if it’s Jason or not since I block it out before the words register. The best way to avoid being conned is to not listen. You can’t be tricked by what you can’t hear. I hope it isn’t him though. Because that means he wasn’t delayed by the red light hardly at all.
That means he’s a faster runner than I am and there’s a good chance he’ll catch me before I get where I’m going.
I’m not going back.
With a spurt of determination, I press on, harder and faster than before. I will make it to the office. I will not be caught. Not by him. Not by anyone.
I’m almost there. Just another two blocks. Two more blocks and I’ll be safe. I force myself to keep on straight ahead, though it’s tempting to look back and see how close he is. But looking back will only slow me down and I can’t afford that.
Straight ahead, Kit. Just keep on straight ahead.
I honestly don’t know how I am going to talk to anyone once I get there- either Rodney or the police. I’m having so much trouble breathing, they’ll probably have to call an ambulance. ‘Cause when I stop, I’m probably going to collapse into a gasping heap and stay until my lungs feel normal again. Which, at the moment, seems like it could be years.
There’s a red light when I get to the corner, but I ignore it altogether and plow on across. More angry horns, which I ignore. Because there it is. Right at the next corner, this side of the street. Rodney’s office.
I don’t see his car out front, but I don’t let that worry me too much. Sometimes he walks to work. Claims it helps clear his head when he’s got a lot on his mind. Quite honestly, I’ve been so caught up in myself that I have no idea how much he’s got on his mind at the moment.
When this is all over, I’m going to have to remember to apologize.
I hear a voice behind me and this time I know it belongs to Jason. He’s catching up to me.
But, he’s not going to get me. Not now. Not when I’m so close. Half a block. That’s all I have left.
Never has half a block seemed so long. My body protests with every inch, my lungs pretty much up and declaring a mutiny, my side burning like it’s never burned before.
But still I press on.
Two more buildings. I see my reflection in the mirrored windows as I run passed and I wonder if there’s someone inside looking out. Maybe tonight they’ll tell their family about that mad-looking girl who darted past their office today.
I hope their story doesn’t end with the mad-looking girl getting shoved into the backseat of a car that drives away at breakneck speed.
Finally, I’m at the door to his building! I fling it open and cringe as I realize I still have a flight of stairs until I’m safe. I have to push on. I have to. I can do this!
My legs protest as I start up, the muscles throbbing. I’m thinking maybe moving is a good idea after all. To a nice, first-floor office. One that doesn’t require climbing stairs as steep as Mount Everest to get to.
And then I’m at the door. The one to the office. The one with the gold lettering that says Rodney Parker Private Investigator. Never in my life has that sign looked so nice.
The sign that looks significantly less nice is the one hanging underneath it. The removable one that reads Out on a case.
Which means he isn’t here.

And there you have it! I hope you are all looking forward to Book Two's release. I know I am!

And, in the meantime, make sure you send in your questions for this Friday! (http://ivorypalace.blogspot.com/p/candor-fridays.html) I'm eagerly awaiting your emails!

See you Friday!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Candor Fridays: Week One :D

It’s Friday folks and time for the very first Candor Friday answering session!! I received four questions this week and answered them a lot more in-depth than people probably wanted… oh, well. What can I say? I like to talk…

But, I won’t bore you with introductions. Let’s just get right to it:

Rodger Sauer asked: I hope a “two-parter” is OK: As a person about to leave her teens (next Tuesday… ), (a) what would you say is your best memory from your teen years, and (b) what one piece of advice would you give a teen (boy or girl) who is still working through their teen years?

A two-parter is fine. Technically, I’m not about to leave my teen years, I left them this Tuesday, but I suppose that’s what you meant.
And, to answer your questions:

(a): There are so many fond memories I could mention here. My teen years were good ones and I’m sure I had it so much better than most. I don’t deserve all the wonderful blessings I have received. But, after a lot of long, hard consideration, I finally settled on the one that sticks hard in my mind as the best- the time my dad called me while I was staying in Pennsylvania and sang the song he’d written over the phone. Made all the more wonderful by the fact that I felt like the song pretty much summed up everything I was feeling and going through in regard to growing up. And, I’d been feeling really homesick at the time and it was just perfect. Plus, what girl doesn’t want a guy to call her up and sing to her?

And, (b): If I had to sum up my advice to those still working through their teen years, I would have to say: enjoy it. Every stinkin’ second of it. Stop trying to rush to adulthood, stop wishing things would change, stop trying to be more grown up or less grown up or anything other than what you are. Because, let me tell you, it doesn’t get easier. The carefreeness of being an adult is childhood’s greatest lie. Trust me, if you’re a teenage living at home right now you’ve got it better now than you ever have an ever will. You’re old enough to get to do new things and experience more but young enough to not have all the stress and care that comes with the responsibility of growing up. So, enjoy it while it lasts. (Man, that sounds bleak… :P)

Lindsay Marie asked: Who is the best villain you have ever read about, and what made them such a great villain?

Okay, so this is a hard question, because when villains are mentioned, the ones that come to mind first are from movies and TV shows… But, I finally settled on a villain. But, ironically enough, he’s from an unpublished novel written by an online friend. He’s the villain from Hosanna House by Hannah Mills (https://plus.google.com/u/0/108129961349075440338/posts)

I had a really hard time pegging out why he was such a great villain. Honestly, my reason for picking him is because he’s the only villain I have ever wanted to climb into the book and strangle personally. But, I didn’t know why. And then I started reading Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth and Marcus Eaton helped me realize why.

I think the best villains are the ones who don’t know they’re wrong. And, I don’t mean that they’re these wonderful people who have the hero’s best intentions in mind but go about it the wrong way and don’t realize it. I mean it on a darker level. In their twisted minds they think that by hurting people they can help them. They think their evil actions are justified by the fact that they’re “doing people good” (that’s what they think, anyway…). They don’t realize just how evil they are. They think they’re the good guys, that they’ve just been burdened with this hard task of riding the world (or, sometimes just one person) of a certain evil. And, if they have to use force or violence to obtain that end, so be it.

They make me sick. But, they’re also great from a writer’s point of view because they’re more human than the stereotypical villain who wants to take over the world and doesn’t care that he’s evil and hurting people and all that jazz. The best villains are more complex than that.

 Taylor asked: Do you have any other book series that you would like to write and publish?

To answer you simply- yes.

Less simply- if you’re looking for titles, sorry, I can’t give those out. Because I have no clue which ones I will actually get written. I have (and I am not exaggerating here) over a hundred stories started. Some of those are part of the same series, but for the most part they’re individual books. But, what generally happens is I get so far into a story and then it turns into a series. I planned for Kit Parker to get only one book and now she’s going to get six.

And, I can’t tell you which ones I’m actually going to write because I just don’t know. I’d like to say all of them. But, I tend to get a few new story ideas a week. Most get an hour of my time tops before I toss them aside and forget them. But, a few stick around. So, I’m constantly getting new ideas and working on old ones and bouncing from idea to idea. I never know what I’m going to write next.

But, I can tell you that if I finish it and people think it’s good, I’ll publish it. And, I plan to keep writing and publishing until God clearly tells me that part of my life is over. I’m hoping He never tells me that.

And, cloudseeker7 asked: Where do your story ideas come from?

I get my ideas from a lot of different places, but I think the best way to sum up where most of them come from (for me) is to say I get my ideas from people. Mostly, fictitious ones, but sometimes real people too.

I am a very character driven person. I connect with characters even if I hate the story. Seriously. Even books I absolutely hate have a character I love. So, usually what happens is I connect with a character and I start playing around with creating a character of my own that fits the archetype of the character I connected with. Like, if I connect with a little orphan boy, I’ll start playing around with little orphan boys in my head. From there, I’ll start creating a setting and supporting cast.

The supporting cast usually comes from other characters I have connected with, which can get fun because I watch and read a lot of different genres all at the same time. So, I might connect with a little orphan boy in a Dickens drama and a cyborg in a sci-fi story and then I start to figure out how I can work them into the same story. And then I might start reading a book about an Arabian princess and suddenly little orphan boy and his cyborg sidekick are rescuing an Arabian princess from gangsters (thanks to that Humphrey Bogart movie I watched) in a sci-fi/ fantasy kingdom I created just to fit all the elements of my story into one world.

That’s a slight exaggerations (although, now I’m getting ideas… like a need another story idea!!) but that’s also basically how my train of thought works. And, sometimes I keep the idea, sometimes I throw it out after an hour or two of mulling over it.

And, that’s it! Everyone above is entered into the giveaway. I’ll announce the winner August 15th.

If you would like a chance to win (or, are just wonder what this post is even about) check out this page here: http://ivorypalace.blogspot.com/p/candor-fridays.html

I look forward to hearing from you all this week! Can’t wait to see what questions you come up with! :D :D

And, in the meantime, I’ll see you all on Monday!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Importance of Complex Villains

My parents took me to see Singin’ in the Rain on Saturday. They were showing it downtown on the big screen and it was awesome.

But, as I watched for probably the hundredth time, I suddenly saw it from a different perspective- oddly enough, I saw it through Lina Lamont’s eyes.

We tend to simply see her as the villain, as the one who causes trouble for Don and Kathy. She’s fun to laugh and poke fun at and she’s simply there to cause trouble. She’s very one sided, very much a villain from the 50’s.

But, as I watched, the writer in me started to mold her into a different kind of villain. I started trying to see into her, in to how she ticked and work, and tried to find the motives behind what she did. And, I realized, if that movie were made in a different time, Lina Lamont could have been a much more interesting villain.

But, she’s not. She’s just a cardboard cutout posing as a villain to move the story along (don’t get me wrong, I still love that movie, I’m just not impressed as a writer with the way the villain’s portrayed…)

One of my favorite quotes ever about villains is by Tom Hiddeston- “Every villain thinks he’s a hero in his own mind.”

See, we tend to forget villains are human. That they are people with thoughts and feelings and desires. They want things just as badly as the hero does and will work just as hard to get them. They have things they care about and love and there are things that make them laugh and cry just like us.

But, we’re scared to admit that because if we do, then suddenly, it’s a lot harder to hate them. And, we need to hate the villain. Because that’s good, right?

 Personally, I don’t think so. Creating people our readers hate is easy. It’s almost the lazy way out. And, it’s not how we’re really supposed to live. We shouldn’t divide people into categories of good and bad and then root for the good one and hope the bad die.

But that’s what literature teaches us. We’re taught from a young age to learn who to love in stories and who to hate. Who is good and who is bad.

And then that’s what translates into our lives. We divide people into groups of good and bad and when someone gets up into the bad category, that’s that. There’s no turning back.

Yet, God teaches us that there is hope for the worst of sinners. That anyone who desires to can change. That we don’t have to remain in our filth forever.

So why aren’t we portraying that in our stories? Why do we insist on cardboard villains who are nothing more than a vehicle to move the story along? Why does their development begin and end with “villain”?

I think it’s because we’re afraid of making our villains too real. We’re afraid that if we make them human it will hit too close to home and we’ll start seeing ourselves in them. We’re afraid of finding out just how fine the line between hero and villain really is.

A truly great villain is one who people are conflicted about. He should be someone your readers want to root for. They want him to succeed. Obviously not in the ways he wants succeed but in other ways. They should want your villain to change to be better.

And, at the same time, he should scare them because they should see themselves in his thoughts and actions. He should mirror the reader’s fears about the person they’re scared of becoming.

Your villain should always represent a negative ideal. They should always be evil and cruel and violent. But, they should also be human. There should be a reason why they’re the way they are, a believable reason we can relate to. It can be something twisted and insane, but it needs to be a path the human mind can follow. “Because they’re evil” is no longer an acceptable motive for a villain’s actions. Readers deserve more than that.

So, I’d like to challenge you to take a long, hard look at your villain and see where he fits. Is he a cardboard cutout or a human being? Does he have things that make him smile or afraid? Does he feel love and pain and loss and joy? Or are his emotions simply a mirror of the evil he represents?

Is your villain going to be a person or a vehicle? If you’re going to work so hard to create a hero and supporting cast of characters who are both human and complex, why short change yourself when it comes to the villain?

You owe it to yourself and your readers to create something more than that.

How about you? Who are your favorite villains and why do you think they’re such great characters?

Also, my email is still open if you haven’t sent in a question this week for Candor Fridays yet (http://ivorypalace.blogspot.com/2014/07/candor-fridays-come-ask-questions-to.html) Looking forward to hearing from all of you!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Candor Fridays: Come Ask Questions to Maybe Win Free Stuff!!!!!

It’s Friday, folks!

I know this isn’t my usual day to post, but I’m about to change that. From now on, I shall be posting twice a week.

Only, Fridays I won’t be posting regular stuff like reviews, articles, and the like. On Fridays I shall be answering any and all questions you throw my way. And, every person who asks a question will be entered in a giveaway I’ll host each month. I'm calling it Candor Fridays

Giveaway prizes will include:
  • Acknowledgement in my next book
  • A chance to name one of my characters/ have a character named after you
  • A chance to pick the topic for my next blog post (this includes book reviews)
  • Books, notebooks, other readerly/ writerly things
  • Gift cards to places like Amazon and Barnes and Nobel

How exactly do you enter this giveaway for a shot at earning these wonderful prizes?

Easy! All you have to do is email me at jennifersauer73@gmail.com and put “Candor Fridays Submission” in the subject line. Include your question in the body of the text and that’s that. Or, you can drop a comment below my blog page titles "Candor Fridays."

I will post answers to the questions every Friday. And, I will answer every question so long as they follow a few basic guidelines. For instance:

  • I will not answer any questions that are inappropriately personal or disrespect the privacy of myself or another individual. It’s okay to get personal, but please don’t ask for my phone number or anything that would be inappropriate to answer in mixed company. Not kidding on this one. It’s not funny and crossing that line will not impress me in any way, shape or form
  • Also, no questions regarding major spoilers to any of my stories. I welcome story questions, but understand that I will not post the ending to the book, so please don’t ask. If you’re not sure if it’s a spoiler question or not, go ahead and ask, but be aware that I may not answer it for the sake of my reader. But, please. Story questions are good and welcomed with open arms.
  • And, lastly, please, only one question per week. I’d like to make sure I’m able to devote an adequate amount of time to each question and if people send me a list of questions every week there’s no way I can do that. If you have multiple questions, please refrain from sending them all at once.

But, that’s it! As long as the question follows those guidelines, you are free to ask whatever you please, whether it is about me, or writing, or my books. Questions can range from serious, to wacky, to personal. If there is anything you've ever wanted to know about me, now is the time to ask!

Again, just email the question to jennifersauer73@gmail.com with “Candor Fridays Submission” in the subject line or drop a comment on the Candor Fridays page. And, remember each submitter will be entered for a chance to win one of the above prizes so make sure you get that email out!

I look forward to hearing from you all!!! Can’t wait to see what questions you’ll cook up for me!

And, in the meantime, I shall see you on Monday with my regular post!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Beauty and the Beast: Why Belle is the Best Disney Role Model

First of all, some exciting news:
My book is officially available on Kindle. If you follow the link on the "My Books" page it will come up as an option on Amazon.

And, Goodreads is hosting a giveaway with my book now through August 5th. So, be sure to enter if you don't have a copy and to tell your friends about it!!

Also, a word of explanation about this post- a while back I was talking with someone and after they left, I thought more about what had been said and formulated a better response and sent them an email. With a few modifications, this is the email I sent in defense of Beauty and the Beast and why Belle is such a great role model. And, if I get the chance, I might write a followup post about why it's the best Disney movie period. I'd really love to, but no promises...

Yesterday, when we were talking, you mentioned what you had read about Beauty and the Beast. You said that the message was that looks don’t matter unless you’re the girl. And, I agreed with you. Because, it does appear that way, doesn’t it?

That made me really upset, because, well that’s always been my favorite Disney Princess movie. I’ve always thought it was so amazing and a thousand times better than the others. But, when you said that, it made sense. I sadly agreed and moved on.

But, my brain obviously didn’t get the “moving on” memo because it kept thinking about it. And, I’m glad it did, because I came to the conclusion that, actually, I think you’re wrong about that…

Beauty and the Beast is a movie about looking passed appearances. It’s about how it doesn’t matter what’s on the outside, it’s what’s inside that counts, right? Here’s why I think that’s true for Belle as much as the Beast:

The Beast doesn’t fall in love with Belle because of her beauty. Think about it: he’s been stuck inside his castle, alone, for how long? He’s been hoping, longing for someone to come along and break the spell. But, he doesn’t think that’s ever going to happen. I believe the quote goes, “After all, who could ever love a beast?”

Enter Belle. Belle with her selfless proposal that she take her father’s place. Every time I watch that scene, I want to cry because of the way she says it, so passionately, without hesitation. And, then the way he replies with, “You would do that?” You can feel the hope stirring in him. He’s thinking “Maybe she’s the one. Maybe, if anyone, maybe she can break the curse.” Even after she asks him to step into the light, sees the horrible “monster” that he is, even with fear written all over her face, she still agrees to stay. How can he not help starting to love her?

But, because he’s be away from people for so long, he doesn’t know how to act around her. So, he’s a big jerk, they fight like crazy, until he eventually drives her away. The whole wolf scene occurs and then they go back to the castle together where Belle tries to nurse his wounds. Here’s where he falls a little deeper in love with her. She’s trying to wash the cut and he acts like a big baby about it and they get into a little fight? Remember how she gets the better of him and then washed his wound all gentle like? She’s probably the first person who’s talked to him like that in forever. All the others are his servants and while they do take some liberties, in the end, he always wins. But, here’s this girl who’s standing up to him and not even afraid at all. Like, really, he was growling at her and she’s all like “Well, it’s your fault it happened, so deal with it already…”

Then, there’s that whole Something There song. Remember, where he sings about how she’s not treating him like a beast at all, but like a normal person? (“She glances this way, I thought I saw. And when we touched she didn’t shudder at me paw. No, it can’t be, I’ll just ignore, But, then she’s never looked at me this way before.”) Remember the scene with the porridge where they both end up meeting in the middle so no one feels uncomfortable? Remember how they spend like every second together and the Beast is watch Belle the whole time with that look on his face like “How on earth did I get lucky enough to get a girl like this?” And, it’s not because she’s pretty. Not outwardly, anyway. She’s got a beautiful spirit and the movie portrays that. That’s what the Beast falls in love with.

It is only after all this that there’s the iconic ballroom scene. But, at this point, he’s already in love with her. And, can you blame him for being breathless when he sees her descending those stairs in that gorgeous dress? Have you never looked at your girlfriend like that, never had your breath taken away by her beauty? Part of love is physical attraction. It’s not all there is and it’s crippling to base a relationship on that, but physical attraction is not wrong. Physical attraction without love is wrong.

Besides all that, even the scenes without the Beast, Belle is an inwardly beautiful person. Seriously. She’s like the only Disney Princess I would be okay with my daughter saying she wants to be like.

I think she’s the only princess who doesn’t rebel against her father. She loves her dad more than anything in the world. She gives up her dreams for him. Remember that song she sings? “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell” is how it goes. And, you know what? She’s not going to get that locked up in the Beast’s castle. She’s giving that up for her dad.  Because she loves him, she’s concerned about him, and he is her whole world.

And, even as much of a jerk as Gaston is, she isn’t all like “Oh my goodness, Gaston, you’re horrible, leave me alone.” She’s polite to him. Yeah, he’s annoying, yeah, she’d not going to marry him, but she’s polite to him. He steals her book and tosses it in the mud (trust me, one of the gravest offense a guy can commit :P) and what does she do? She picks it up and wipes it off and continues to be polite to him. Even when he comes to propose she’s not like “I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last man on earth!” or “How could you even ask that, I’m so repulsed by you!” No, she listens to him and it’s only when he won’t let her answer him that she throws him out of the house. It’s not until she’s alone that she calls him “boorish” and “brainless.” It’s not until he’s trying to use her father to force her to marry him and going to kill the Beast that she calls him a monster. All those years she tolerated him because he was “harmless” and it’s not until he threatens those she loves that she speaks up.

And, all that’s just Belle. Don’t get me started on why that movie’s awesome because the Beast’s side of things. :P

Seriously though, I can see where you’re coming from. You don’t want your daughter to be wrongly influenced by this. But, here’s what I would say: The problem with this movie is not the story but the parents. You and I are both smart enough to know you don’t park your kid in front of the TV and leave them and never talk to them about what they watch. Maybe it does seem like this movie’s message is that looks don’t matter unless you’re the girl and then you better be pretty. But, when your daughters are twirling around saying, “Belle’s so pretty. I want to be just like her” take the opportunity to say, “Yes, she is beautiful. Both outside and inside.” Talk to her about how important inner beauty is. Remind her of the message the movie portrays. Looks don’t matter. You can be very beautiful and still be a horrible person. It’s okay to be pretty but you want to make sure your heart is pretty too. That’s the more important issue.

Also, I think beauty is a subject people are afraid to tackle. We get so focused on inner beauty that we forget how girls are wired. Girls want to be beautiful. They want someone to look at them like the Beast looks at Belle, like Flynn looks at Rapunzel, like every guy in every romantic comedy looks at the girl. And, is that wrong?

We teach our girls that inner beauty is all that matters, that outer beauty is vain and sinful. I think that’s wrong. I think we need to teach them what true outer beauty is. That it’s being comfortable with who God created you to be. Whether you’re short or tall or skinny or not. Girls come in all shapes and sizes and each and every one of them is beautiful. We need to teach our daughters to find their good points and learn to highlight them instead of trying to change everything about themselves. We need to teach them that love and attraction are two different things and that attraction without love is not good. We need to teach them that the look mentioned above isn’t all about outer beauty. That those guys look at the girl like that because of who she is as a whole. And, if the guy isn’t looking at all of you, inside and out, then he’s not for you.

And, if you really think about it, telling a girl who desires to be beautiful that inner beauty is all that matters could be taken the wrong way. I know if someone told me that I would take it that they were trying to be nice and spare my feelings because I’m not beautiful. I would feel like the inner beauty talks were a consolation prize because I can never attain outer beauty. And, all that’s going to do is cause the girl to gravitate toward someone who tells them they’re beautiful. Because that’s what she wants to hear.

Also, on a silly note, Belle was the only princess who didn’t make me insecure because she always seemed to be the most “normal” of the princesses. Her clothes were modest (unlike Ariel’s and Jasmine’s) and her hair wasn’t some gorgeous hairstyle could never have (I’ve always wanted red hair like Ariel or a cute bob like Snow White or long and straight and blonde like Aurora’s). So, really, Belle was the one who made me feel comfortable with who I was because I felt like she was someone I could be like rather than someone I simply envied.

And, she likes books which promotes the idea that reading is cool. And, princess-y.

So, yeah… sorry, this ended up a lot longer than I expected. But, once I started I just kept going and as you can tell, it’s something I’m passionate about. I understand where you’re coming from and there are probably other reasons too that you have against this movie. However, I just wanted you to get the other side of it. I get that you probably only read well thought-out articles on why Disney is bad and then fluffy “it’s so magical” things on why it’s good. And, I wanted to show that Beauty and the Beast is much more than at.

How about you? Do you agree or disagree with the points made in this post? Who's your favorite Disney Princess? Why?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Pink Post-It Note- A Short Story

Hello, faithful readers!

As you know I attended a writing conference last week. Such a wonderful week of learning and friendship! Unfortunately, my brain is on creative overload and between processing everything I learned, going through Workshop Withdrawal, working on a new story idea, and trying to sew this week has kind of flown by.

And, in the process I have neglected my poor little blog :/

Hopefully, I shall have a regular post at the beginning of next week. And, in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this short story I wrote off of a writing prompt ^.^

Write About the Pink Post-It Note

She left it where I could see it. Plain as day, there it sat stuck to the coffee pot, the pink post-it note, glaring at me with its bright color and harsh black letters.

I’m sorry, Graham, it’s through. I don’t think it can be fixed. :/

That’s all it said, as if those twelve words and a downcast emoticon were enough to make up for the years we’d spent together. Forget all we’d been through. Forget that there had been good times, not just bad. Forget that a vow was a vow and when two people stood before God and said “for better or for worse” they were supposed to mean it.

Maybe I had said some stupid things last night, maybe I’d spoken out of turn, but so had she. We both said a lot if things we didn’t mean. People did that when they were mad. It was just how a fight worked.

I never thought she’d meant it when she said she was through.

She’d said it before. Too many times for me to count. She said it every time we fought but then we always made up before she could. She always gave me that chance.

But, apparently, I had used up my last chance. Apparently, she’d meant it this time.

I’d overslept. I’d meant to get up before her, make her some coffee, bring her breakfast in bed, maybe even attempt to write a little poem about how sorry I was. There was nothing like one of my poems to soften her mood. Once she’d start reading one, she’d get to laughing so hard it was impossible for her to stay mad at me.

I snatched the note from the pot, crumpling it in my fist and shoving it into my pants pocket. Marching back up the stairs, I slammed the bedroom door behind me. Fine, if that’s the way she wanted it, that’s the way it was going to be.

She’d been just as much at fault as me. Maybe even more, since she’d been the one to start things in the first place. She’d screamed and sworn just as hard as me, tore into me with her spiteful words harder than I ever even dreamed of tearing into her.

And just because I hadn’t tucked my tail this morning, bowed and scraped to make amends, she left. As if there was something wrong with the fact that sometimes a man can’t just help sleeping in. It probably never crossed her mind that working all day and then coming home to her nagging tired a man out.

Of course it didn’t occur to her. All she’d have to say is that it probably didn’t occur to me that she worked too. She’d just turn it around to her, make it all about how she had it even harder than me.

Well fine, she could have it her way. Let’s see how long she made it before she realized you couldn’t live as expensively as she did on the pay she made. Let’s see how long it took her before she came to me, waiting to be taken back.

Let her come. But, this time, it was she who was going to have to tuck her tail. It was she who was going to have to do the bowing and scraping.


My phone rang just after noon. I was eating my lunch- a sandwich I’d had to run out and buy since I’d forgotten to make something in my haste to get out of the house. I liked the feeling of it, the power of being able to go out and buy whatever I wanted to eat for lunch, make my own decision. Ellie always said it wasn’t smart to buy out every day, that it made more sense to pack a lunch.

 Of course, it wasn’t impractical to eat out on nights when she didn’t feel like cooking. No, then it was a well deserved treat.

Maybe I’d start buying my lunch every day.

I didn’t answer the first call, since it was my lunch hour and I didn’t have to answer it. But, when it started ringing again within the next minute, I picked it up. Whoever it was, they were certainly a persistent caller.

“Graham Quinlin.”
"Hey, Sweetie.”s
Ellie. How could she act so naturally? Like this was just her calling me the same way she did every day at lunch? What kind of a fool did she take me for? Did she really expect me to play along, act like she hadn’t just walked out on me with nothing more than a pink post-it to say goodbye?
“Ellie.” It was all I could manage to say.
She let out a little sigh. “Oh, Graham, honey, I’m sorry. Are you still sore about last night? I hadn’t oughtn’t to have said those things.”
No, she hadn’t oughtn’t to. But, did she really think I was sore about that? Was she really that stupid? I’d lived with her for enough years to know that she got confused sometimes. But, I’d never thought her to be an idiot.
“No, I’m not mad.” It was a lie. I was beyond mad. But, I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of hearing me say it. She wanted to play it this way, fine, but she wasn’t going to hear any complaints from me.
“You sound mad. Honey, listen, what more can I say?” Her voice was desperate, pleading, like she really wanted to make up. Did she seriously think it was that simple? “I can’t take back what I said, but honestly, if I could, I would. Please believe me. I was wrong, Graham.”
“Is that all you called to say?” She was going to have to admit how wrong she was a hundred more times and about a lot more things before I’d believe it.
She let out a sigh of defeat, as if she was accepting that I wasn’t going to play it her way. Her first smart move of the day. “No, I called to ask what you wanted to do about the coffee pot. Do you want me to get one on the way home or do you want to?”
Coffee pot? She could seriously talk about a coffee pot at a time like this? “What’s wrong with the one I’ve got?”
“Did it work for you this morning?” she asked, sounding completely baffled.
  I started to tell her that yes, it worked just fine, like it did every morning, when I remembered. I hadn’t made coffee that morning. I’d been too upset. I’d waited and made some here at work. “I didn’t use it this morning.”
“Because you got the note I left on it, right?” she pressed.
I let out a long breath. Could she really bring it up that casually? As if it where nothing more than a little note left to remind me to lock the door before I left? “Yeah, that’s why. What does it have to do with getting a new coffee pot?”
Keep her on track, keep the conversation going the way I wanted it, stay in control. She could play all the mind games she wanted, I wasn’t falling for them.
“Graham, honey, you’re not making sense.”
I wasn’t making sense? Was I the one who couldn’t handle a little fight? Was I the one who left? Was I the one trying to discuss it by going roundabout by talking about buying a new coffee pot?
“If you got my note, then you know the coffee pot’s broken. I was going to make you some before I left, but I couldn’t get it to turn on. I thought about waking you, but you were sleeping so soundly and you work so hard I figured you deserved to sleep. So, I just left the note.”
I’m sorry, Graham, it’s through. I don’t think it can be fixed. :/
She’d talking about coffee pot. That blasted pink post-it hadn’t been about our relationship at all. She’d meant my coffee maker. Not us, not our marriage. She hadn’t walked out on me after all.
I’d never been so happy to be wrong in all of my life.
“I left you lunch in the fridge too, with another note. Did you get that?”
“No, no, Ellie, I didn’t,” I said, unable to contain the joy that burst forth in me. “I was in a hurry, I’m sorry, sweetie.”
“It’s all right, it was just some leftovers. Are you all right, Graham?”
“Fine, Ellie, fine.” I was grinning so hard my face began to hurt. “About the coffee pot, let’s go and get one tonight, after dinner. Maybe we could go out somewhere. Somewhere fancy. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a real date.”
“A date?” Ellie accompanied the question with a little laugh of joy. “Graham Quinlin, are you sure you’re all right?”
“Fine, Ellie, I’m fine,” I told her, meaning it. In fact, I was beyond fine. Today was just about the most perfect day of my life.

And, there you have it! Let me know what you think?