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Hello Blogosphere!  It sure has been a while since I’ve written on this blog.  A couple of quick updates…

  • I have been doing a ton of writing this year.  Several essays, a couple of short stories, and of course, my middle grade novel.  I may not reach my yearly goal of 12 personal essays, but I’m not too far off.
  • I am finish up my children’s novel for Nanowrimothis year and I am almost done!  I will finish Nano successfully for the first time this year.
  • My weight loss blog is doing very well.  I have lost 127 pounds with only 46 more to go.
  • My overall health is great.

Now, onto what I really wanted to write about today…

catching fire

I saw the new Hunger Games movie last night.  I am a huge fan of the books, which I re-read in preparation to see this movie.  Anyone who has read my blog in the past knows that I am definitely an advocate of reading the book before seeing the movie.

That said, let me start my review.

Any time a book is adapted for the screen, there will be changes in how the story is told.  Film is a completely different medium, after all.  Events that can take pages or chapters to describe in a book can be done more effectively with imagery and music in film.  Conversely, a character’s inner dialogue, which can be so revealing in a book, can often be lost in film. Some film makers often use voice-overs to fill that gap, but done poorly, voice-overs can ruin an otherwise good movie.  Francis Lawrence did not use voice-overs, thankfully.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I thought it was a good adaptation from book to screen.  There were changes, of course, but I thought they were very true to the source material.  I think anyone who is a fan of the books will love it.  Anyone who hasn’t read the books but liked the first movie, I think will like it as well.  But be prepared, this is not your typical feel-good, holiday movie.  This movie is very emotional and has a very mixed ending.  Some good, some bad, a lot of heart-break, and a cliffhanger. Overall, I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars.

*******SPOILER ALERT BELOW!!**********

Some things that I thought were lost in this retelling:

  • Katniss’s inner dialogue and the way she analyzes each situation or thinks through the problem at hand.  Don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job, but it’s hard to translate that inner struggle sometimes.
  • A sense of time.  The film sometimes felt a little rushed.  There was no sense of the time that had passed between events.  In the book there were 6 months between the 74th Hunger Games and the victory tour, A couple more months between the tour and the announcement of 75th HG, the Quarter Quell.   Then a few more months until the actual games themselves.  In total, between the 74th HG and the 75th, there was a full year.
  •  We lost the wedding dress montage.  Thankfully.  In the book, a lot of prep goes into Katniss & Peeta’s engagement and wedding.  The citizens of Panem have the chance to vote on her wedding dress and there is an entire episode where she is filmed trying on dress after dress.  Thankfully, unlike the citizens of Panem, we were spared that spectacle.
  • We lost the preparation Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss did before the games.  We also lost learning more about the other tributes through the research Peeta & Katniss did ahead of time.

That said, I do not think any of this distracted from the quality of the movie, particularly if you have not read the books.

What I loved about the movie:

  • Nothing was sugar-coated. Katniss is clearly suffering from PTSD from the last games throughout the movie.
  • The emotional connection she feels towards her family, Gale, Peeta, the other tributes, Cinna, and other people she cares about is palatable.   This keeps the movie from being just an action film.
  • I love the inclusion of showing events from Snow’s p.o.v. and Heavensbee’s p.o.v.  I think that adds a real depth to the film and ratchets up the tension.
  • Conversations with her sister.  They are few and far between in the movie, but when they do happen, you can see the connection they share.  You also know that her sister is quite clearly becoming her own person and does not need Katniss to protect her any more.
  • The friendships she begins to form with the other tributes during the games.  They work together and save each other over and over.  At one point she turns to Peeta and asks, “How are we ever going to be able to kill these people.”
  • The scene in District 11 when Peeta & Katniss speak about Thresh & Rue.  Very emotional.

I really enjoyed the movie.  That said, I was not jazzed with the ending.  I know that it was pretty true to the book, and it was a hook to get you into the 4th movie, whenever that is released, but I still found it unsettling.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy had cliff hanger endings as well, but they always ended on a somewhat hopeful note.  Francis Lawrence could take a page out of Peter Jackson’s playbook and give us a little more to hold onto.  I’m not saying have a happy ending, but this is the start of the revolution.  Ending the Capitol’s stranglehold on the districts, while complicated emotionally, is a good thing.

Yes, the movie ends with Katniss, Finnick, and Beetee being rescued from the arena, while Peeta & Johanna are captured by the Capitol.  District 12 is in ashes.  Thousands are dead.  Everything is in disarray.  But the revolution has begun and there are hints that the citizens of Panem can really hope they are able turn the tide and take control of their own fates. That, at least, is something to hold onto.

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What a horrible blogger I am!  I feel like it has been months since I have written on this blog.  I have spent all of my time writing on my self-absorbed weight loss blog talking about myself and my gastric by-pass surgery.  I have completely neglected this blog and my other writing obligations.  Just a quick note, the surgery went well.  I have lost 71 pounds.  I have been writing quite a bit.

I owe my friend Jeff Miller a review of his book, The Bubble Gum Thief.  I need to post my 2013 writing goals.  I also want to talk about some of the other non-diet-blog writing I have been doing.

In this post, I am going to talk about my 2013 writing goals and about some of my other writing.  You see, my writer’s group asks each of us to create goals for the new year and to be specific.  We cannot just say, “write more,”  we have to set specific goals to show what “writing more” looks like.  The only thing I did not finish last year was to finish my children’s novel.  I am giving myself to Chinese New Year’s though, so I could still make it.  (see what I did there?)

Writing Goals for 2013:

  • Submit writing, short stories, essays, etc to four contests or other publications.
  • Finish children’s novel, which is almost done and hanging in limbo.
  • Write, finish, edit 12 personal essays.
  • Blog on both writing blog and weight loss blog 4 or more times a week.
  • Begin editing children’s novel and submit to my writer’s group for review and revision.
  • Join SCBWI and attend one of their conferences.

Lofty, I know, but I have to set lofty goals to guilt myself into doing something about it.

Current Writing Projects

A couple of the girls in my writer’s group formed a separate group that is dedicated to personal essays and/or creative nonfiction.  I have been attending that group as well.  Because the group is small, about seven of us I think, we are much more demanding about making each other submit their work.  As a result, I have written several personal essays and semi-true short stories.  I also have many more ideas on future personal essays.  I would like to put together a collection of essays.  I am not sure if I will turn it into a book or not, but I first want to get them together and see what I have.

I plan to dedicate my next post to the book review of The Bubble Gum Thief.  I will also post my review on Amazon.

That is pretty much what I have been up to.  I hope to spend more time on this blog and sharing all of my writing ups and downs throughout the year!  Happy writing in 2013!

 

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A member of my writer’s group has a book release today.  The Bubble Gum Thief was released today through Thomas and Mercer.

 

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The Arlington Writer’s Group has been waiting a long time for this book to be published.  Several years ago, Jeff shared a couple of chapters with us.  We have waited patiently for this release as Jeff slogged through the arduous task of finding an agent, editing, re-writing, re-writing again and then finding a publisher.  The release of this book is the result of years of hard work.  We are all so excited for his book release and the obvious success that will follow.

I did receive an ARC from Jeff, which I regret to say, I’m not finished reading.  I should have it finished tonight and a full review up in a day or two.

I will say this, however.  I am loving this book.  Jeff is a fantastic writer and storyteller.  The story is complex and exciting.  There are many twists.

It is a police/FBI thriller.  The story begins with a minor crime and the perpetrator leaves a card that says, “This is my first crime.  My next one will be bigger.”  The crimes escalate in violence in severity until it comes to the attention of the FBI where Agent Dagny Gray becomes involved.

I do not want to say much more than that yet.  I want to save that for my full review.  I do recommend The Bubble Gum Thief.  If you like thrillers, books with interesting characters, good stories, you will love this book.  Buy it.  Read it.  Pass the word on to all your friends!

Happy Reading.

 

 

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A few months ago, I submitted a short story to Glimmer Train for their “Family Issues” contest.  For this contest, I took an actual family event from my own life and I created fictional characters, changed a couple of things, and wrote a short story.  I never heard from Glimmer Train and I apparently did not win.  I was disappointed, of course, but rejection is part of the writing process.

I had my memoir writing group look at the story, but not before I had a chance to submit it to the contest.  They gave me great feedback.  They loved the dialogue, enjoyed the interaction between the two kids in the story, but they thought the emotion at the end of the story needed to have a bigger punch.  There were a couple of other comments, but pretty good feedback overall.

I then submitted it to the Arlington Writer’s Group.  I have been with AWG for a couple of  years now.  AWG is a very large writers group.  Almost 200 members, and we can get 30 people plus at any given meeting.  Receiving feedback can sometimes be overwhelming and the conversations can very easily veer off course.

We have worked very hard over the years too keep the feedback process focused and make sure people give a useful critique.  That can be a daunting task for whomever is leading the group when you have 30 or so people giving their opinions. 

I have to say, I’m very lucky with both of my writers groups.  Wonderfully thoughtful people in both groups.

So, last night I had my story critiqued by AWG.  I don’t want to describe it too much as I want to try to get te story published.  Basically, it is a story about one girl’s broken dreams.

Just like my other writers group, AWGers liked the dialogue, the interaction, between the sisters, and the story overall.  But they did pick out some major holes in my plot and made great suggestions.  I have a lot of work to do, but I think the story will be a lot better once I’m done. Then I can enter it into a couple more contests.

On another note, this is what my day has been like.  Everything I do seems to run into some kind of complication.  It’s really too bad too because I would have enjoyed discovering alternate uses for lederhosen while I wait for train schedules to appear on my screen.

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I have been doing a lot of writing recently, which is part of the reason I have not blogged quite as much.  I submitted a short story to the Washington Post Humor contest and I have written another short story.  I have also been working on my children’s novel.

One of my goals was to finish the first draft of my children’s novel before my surgery.  Well, the date for my surgery has now been set for September 26, 2012.  That is a tentative date pending final approval from the insurance company and pending the other stuff I need to get done before surgery (surgery related stuff…not writing goals).

I am mostly done with the first draft, which is good because I only have a month to get that done.  After surgery, I am going to do a complete read through and take notes.  Then the editing process will begin.  Once I’m recovered from surgery, I will be heading up to New Castle, PA to get pictures of the park I use in the novel.

I am excited about finishing the first draft.  It will be good to have that done.  It has been a bit more difficult to write than I thought it would.  Also, there were some changes from the original vision I had for the novel, but I think those ideas only made it better. 

Right now it’s crap and kind of all over the place.  But after I do the editing and more editing and even more editing, I’m sure it will be a little better.   🙂

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I know I have not been writing much of late on this blog.  So what have I been doing with myself?

Mostly, I have been preparing for my upcoming surgery.  The surgery has consumed a lot of my time and mental thought recently.  As a result, I have been doing a lot of blogging on my other website where I discuss my pre-surgery progress and my thought, fears, and hopes for the upcoming big day.

Writing updates:

My short story did not win the Glimmertrain Family Matters contest.  Oh well.

I have started writing another short story, although I am not quite certain what it is about yet, so it is kind of hard to finish.  I had a really great idea for one scene and one other event.  I wrote the scene and the event, now I have to figure out what to do with it.

The idea for the scene has been in my head for a while, but I did not quite know what to do with it.  I did not write it down because I didn’t have a story to go with it. Now I have written the scene and I have one character at least.  If I cannot think of anything to do with it, I may just set it aside and wait for my writer’s group to have a Flaming Fragments session.

WTF is a Flaming Fragment, you ask?

Well, one of the original members of the writer’s group had this great idea for a workshop.  She called it, Fanning Fragments into Flame.  During the workshop, you share bits of a story, an idea for a story, a character that’s been stuck in our heads looking for a story, a scene with nowhere to go, whatever with the rest of the group and see if they can give you an idea or direction.  Sometimes it works.

Well, you cannot expect to put the words “flame” and “fragment” into a title and expect it to stay intact.  Plus, the originator of the session moved back to Canada.  Top that with no one could remember the very long, artistic title of the workshop, so it very quickly became “Flaming Fragments.”

So, I might just set the idea loose during one of those sessions and see if anyone has any good ideas.

The third thing I’ve done is work a little on my youth novel.  I am almost done with it.  I had some huge gaps in the plot and with the last few scenes and I was pretty stressed out about that.  I had a great idea on how to fix it.  I had an epiphany after my sister and her family subjected me to 14 hours of Doctor Who this weekend during the DC power outage.  Either that, or I just went a little crazy.  Perhaps a bit of both.

I have updated the outline and started adding to the plot in my current location.  I still have to go back and insert the idea in several other places.  Mostly, the idea will help me finish the story and bring the kids back home in a semi-believable yet fantastical way.   My original idea was a bit too boring.  If I can pull this idea off, it can be a connecting thread throughout the entire book.

I would like to get the book finished before my surgery.  The surgery will be some time in August.  After the surgery then, I can read through it and see what I need to fix.  Then the re-write process will begin.

Even though this is a kid’s novel, it has been harder to write than I thought it would be.  It’s been good though.  I really had to think through a large scale plot.  I wrote a poem the kids have to figure out.  And I wrote a song.  The poem is short, just a few lines, and it is more of a riddle than a poem.  The song is longer and actually kind of bad, right now.  I don’t imagine that it will ever be a top ten hit or even set to music, but I’d like it to be not bad.  I am going to have to have someone who writes poetry look at it to see what I can improve.  A poet, I am not.

I think the story is fun and I hope that I can do something with it once I’m through writing/editing, etc.  We shall see.

Have a Happy 4th of July!

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It has been some time since I’ve blogged.  A couple of weeks at least.  I would like to say that I have not been posting because I’ve been slaving away at my novel or some other writing project, but that would not be entirely true.  I have done some writing.  Entered a contest.  Worked on another story for another contest.  And jotted out a rough outline for the last part of my youth novel. But that’s not what has been keeping me from blogging.

Excuse #1

I could blame the beautiful weather that has hit the DC area.  I even escaped outside to try to get some writing done today.  See here’s the proof:

I’ve done everything but write today, actually.  I read a bit of that book next to my computer (more on that book later).  Had a great lunch.  Walked around my neighborhood.  Now I’m sitting in front of the library sucking in the sunshine and warm weather that has finally come to the area.  I seem to only go out when it has been raining, so it’s nice to be outside for once.  It seems to rain every Wednesday, which is when I go to my writer’s group.  We even joke about it.  “It’s raining, must be Wednesday!”  or “Oh yuk, it’s raining!”  “Of course it is, it’s Wednesday! Time for writer’s group!”

Excuse #2

Work has been extra stressful recently and I’ve been pretty crabby about it.  And when work is extra stressful…

Excuse #3

I have a tendency to use video games to de-stress…after work of course.  Specifically, games that have loads of destruction, explosions, or pvp.  (that’s player vs player arenas for you non gamer types.)  Yes, the secret is out, I’m a gamer. “But you’re a girl!”  Yes, yes I am and I have a wicked backstab, so watch out.

But these are simply excuses.  The truth is, I could do all of that and find time to seriously focus on writing and blogging.  So, I guess it is time to face the music and admit the real reason I’ve avoided blogging recently.

Fear.  Yes, I said it.  Fear.

Let me explain.  I’ve had another idea for another project recently.  One that is much more personal that will force me to discuss very personal issues that I have been dealing with recently.  Well, more than just recently.  But it has been recently I have been actively working to do something to solve a huge obstacle in my life.  And I have spent a lot of time considering whether or not I should blog about it.

My idea would require that I create a separate blog plus a huge time commitment, the willingness to stay focused, and the promise to be open and honest about what I’m experiencing.  It is my hope that what I am doing will be a profoundly life changing event in a very positive way.  I think it will be.  But it has already proven to be much different than I thought it would be.

I will still be doing this blog 2-3 times per week as I promised at the beginning of the year.  I will probably link the blogs.  I have not worked out all of the details yet, but I will probably be getting it started this weekend.  So, stay tuned.

And since my laptop is not solar powered, I have to regrettably find my way to an outlet, which is probably inside.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!  🙂

 

 

 

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