Posts Tagged ‘book’

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 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 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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Glimmertrain is a publication that has regular monthly contests for writers.  Each month has a theme.  April’s theme is “Family Matters.”   I have three short stories nearly ready to go for this month’s contest.  Well, OK, two that are nearly ready.  They just need a good once over for fine tuning.  The third is only half written, but I can finish it in time.  The deadline is looming, however.

The Glimmertrain deadline is April 30.  Three days, three stories to finish.  I was originally only going to submit one, but I think all three are good enough for consideration.

A bigger deadline is looming on May 1.  That is the early bird deadline for the Writer’s Digest contest.  The actual deadline is May 15.  I have a pretty good story I can submit for that one, but it needs some editing.  I don’t know if it will be ready for May 1.  It might be, but I can definitely have it ready for May 15.

I have a lot of writing work to do this weekend to get ready for these contests, but I am up for it, definitely.  Wish me luck!

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Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned

Yes, yes, I broke one of my own rules. I committed the cardinal sin of seeing a movie BEFORE I read the book. I know. The shame of it all.

The minute I could download on iTunes the movie Never Let Me Go, I did. I saw the trailer somewhere and I thought the story looked very compelling. I am also a fan of Carey Mulligan and enjoyed her acting in the movies An Education and Pride and Prejudice. Plus, it takes place in England, and since I have already expressed my deep appreciation of all things British, it was a win-win-win as far as I was concerned.

Just so you know, I do plan to discuss the plot of the story a little and the differences between the movie and the book, so if you would prefer not to know until you have had the chance to check them out yourself, stop reading now and come back to this post later.

I enjoyed the movie, even the creepy “reveal” scene where one of the teachers tells the children their true purpose in life, (more on that later).

Well, I finally read the book this week. True to form, I was not disappointed, the book was much better than the movie. Better mostly because of added depth and detail of the story, characters and their relationship to each other.

I loved the movie, but there was so much ground they did not cover, I think if I had read the book first, I may not have liked the the movie as much as I did.

Major Differences:

The first major difference was the love triangle. In the book, the love triangle is not nearly as pronounced as it was the movie. From the beginning of the movie practically, you feel an acute sense of injustice at the fact that Ruth pre-empts Kathy as Tommy’s girlfriend. Kathy is noticeably heartbroken and forever relegated to the role of third wheel.

In the book, Kathy is Tommy’s friend and does not really express romantic interest or heartbreak for much of the story. The relationship is much more complex and there is more of a slow, life-long growth towards a romantic interest than the perpetual yearnings of young unrequited love.

In both the book and the movie, Ruth betrays Kathy. In the movie, the betraying primarily revolves around Tommy. In the book, while the ultimate betrayal revolved around Tommy, Ruth’s betrayal is much more constant. Ruth is a “frienemy” in every sense of the word. She includes Kathy as one of her intimates and then later betrays her very early on. This continues throughout the story at Hailsham and the Cottages. But she also does care about Kathy, probably as much as she cares about anyone. When one of Kathy’s favorite possessions goes missing, Ruth, unbeknown to Kathy, recruits both male and female students to try to find it.

The big reveal, the astonishing plot of the both the book and the movie is that these children are clones created to donate their vital organs to keep “regular” people alive. They do not live past their mid-late 20s, although no specific age is given, and once they have made 3-4 donations, they die, or “complete” as they say in the story. The book and movie handle this very differently as well. In the movie, one of the teachers tells the children in a big dramatic scene and the children are stunned and horrified.

In the book, there is more of a slow build to this. In the book, the children always know that their job is to make donations, that is why they were created. They just aren’t told upfront what those donations will be. The reality is being revealed to them slowly a bit at a time, so it is not a huge shock when one of their teachers agonizes over whether to tell them the truth. As in the movie, she tells them, “you’re being told and not told” the truth of the purpose of your lives. So, by the time the truth is revealed to them, while the teacher struggles with the truth, the children are much more accepting. That is the horror of the book, not how stunned the kids are of their fate, but that their reaction is almost, “Yes, we know this, we will donate our vital organs until we die. You’re not telling us anything we do not already know.” That’s not to say the kids do not later try to find ways to put off their donations, or that they maybe do not dream of having a different kind of life, but they do not try to completely thwart the system.

The second big reveal comes right before the end. The kids talk about how they were trained at Hailsham to create art and write poems to “reveal their souls.” Tommy is one of the big proponents of this since he thinks it will allow the powers that be to look into his soul to show that he and Kathy are truly in love and therefore worthy of having their donations put off for a while. In both the book and the movie, it is revealed when they ask for a deferral that they were encouraged to create art not to reveal their souls, but to prove that they souls at all. To prove that they were, in fact, “all but human,” as their former teacher Miss Emily puts it. In the book it is left at that. In the movie, of course, so much more is revealed about how the clones are viewed by society as a whole and why Hailsham existed and why it ultimately closed.

One thing the movie did better than the book. The final scene where Kathy reflects on her life before she is set to begin her donations. She asks if in the end, where the lives of the donors any different than that of the people they help. She surmises, that after all, they all complete. Maybe none of them really understood the meaning of their lives or felt they had enough time. I found that insight to be touching and was noticeably absent from the book.

Obviously, I enjoyed the book so much more than the movie. I still enjoyed the movie, and I’m very glad that I downloaded it. This book, however, had so much depth and consequence, that I think you cannot get away with just watching the movie. I highly recommend both.

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So, I’ve been thinking of a blog post for today.  I have not really wanted to look at the computer anymore and had nearly given up on posting today.

Luckily, a friend from my writer’s group shared some very exciting news with me tonight!

His name is Jeff Miller and his book, The Bubble Gum Thief is being published.  I do not know the exact date, but you can already pre-order it Amazon.  This is excellent news!  Jeff has been working very hard to get this published for at least a year or two.  I am so happy for him.

Since we are in the same writer’s group, I have had the pleasure to read a chapter, maybe more of this book.  I love it and cannot wait to read the rest.  This book is a police mystery/thriller, and no, it’s not about a guy who steals bubble gum.  I do not normally delve into that genre, but I enjoy reading Jeff’s work.  I have read a screen play by him, a chapter of this book, a poem he spontaneously wrote at an AWG meeting, just to name a few things.  His writing is prolific, effortless, engaging, creative, and thoughtful.  I enjoy reading his work and I’m sure you will too.

I know I cannot wait to read the book when his publishers finally release it.  Please check out his website and check out his book!  I will add and update once a full release date is announced.  

I fully predict this book will be hot and sell millions.  I will write a review of the book after I read it.  I also promise to follow up with a review of the movie that will obviously follow and will truly lament all of the wonderful scenes they leave out!

Good luck Jeff!

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