Mockingjay Part 1

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I am a big fan of Stephanie Collins’ Hunger Games series. You know that bit of ‘What If’ wishfulness that asks what book(s) do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time? For me there are many, but this series is definitely one of them. I remember when I picked up the first one, I had heard quite a bit of hype and read it on the off chance it was actually as good as many had said. I have read a lot of Young Adult books in the same vein, the dystopian and the love triangles, with some being more successful than others. But with the Hunger Games books, Collins had me from the very beginning. I’m a repeat reader and I’ve happily binged on this series several times.

As a reader, it can be quite difficult to venture into the movie theatre to see what has been done with the characters and scenes we have grown to love. Even with books we aren’t as invested in, we risk disappointment and frustration with casting, translation of the page to the screen and overall imagining of a world we have already ourselves envisioned.

With the first two movies, I was so impressed with the casting, the world they built and the faithfulness to the books.

Seeing the choice then to split the last book into two parts, I started to feel nervous. Were the creators of the movie series losing sight of the story and just bowing down to the almighty dollar? Would they just pad it with filler to make two movies work? Would I be left unhappy with the end to Part 1 when I have to wait so long for Part 2?

I saw Mockingjay Part 1 today and I am happy to tell you that I was not the least bit disappointed! In fact, this might be the best movie in this series of really well done movies so far.

Again they have continued with great casting of characters we care about. I love Julienne Moore as Coin, though she isn’t want I pictured. But this has happened time and again with this series. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch wasn’t what I pictured, but so perfect. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch? Never crossed my mind, but he is great in this role. (I thought the dedication of the movie to him was lovely, by the way.) Katniss’s camera crew, led by Natalie Dormer’s Cressida all seem spot on casting and I’m pleased with the choice for Boggs (Mahershala Ali). And is it odd to say that the cat seems well cast too? 🙂 Because I love that the scruffy, fluffy, resilient cat keeps cropping up.

But what I think makes this movie so successful is that Collins has such rich and translatable material in her books to begin with, so pulling key scenes and dialogue straight from the books really works.

“And that, ladies and gentleman, is how a revolution dies”

Haymitch’s reaction to Katniss’s staged speech making is perfect in the book and perfect in the movie. Collins, having written for TV, has a talent for writing what works great on the page but also really sings on the screen. When Katniss goes to District 8 & gives a blistering speech, it is greatness when read, but delivered on film, by the talented Jennifer Lawrence no less, amid the smoke and fire and special effects, it is even more powerful.

Yes, the screenwriters and directors did have space to fill in splitting this one book into two movies, but it did not feel like filler for filler’s sake. I liked seeing the action in the districts. I liked seeing the effect the propos had on those watching in the districts. I liked that it wasn’t about just District 13 or some arena, but felt like the broader world of Panem. I liked that they were still able to put a lot of the details from the book in though, so it did not feel like too much of a divergence from the book. It felt like they were just adding a bit more color to an already vivid picture. But just enough.

And while they may have tweaked it a bit, I was also happy to see them get Peeta’s “Always” promise to Katniss in the movie. I was worried how this part of the movie would work with so little Peeta, but they made the scenes with him very strong.

Was the movie perfect? No, probably not, but they more than satisfied this reader, and that, for me, is high praise.

Now I just gotta wait for Mockingjay Part 2! In the meantime, I just may need to see this a few more times and I am definitely due now for another reading of the books.

Have a great week everyone!

~CJ

Blog Updates

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I have started working on updates to my blog. I’m not doing a major overhaul – yet – but am just tweaking it a bit.

One big change – very exciting – is I’ve registered a domain name!  This site can now be accessed through the original, cjswriting.wordpress.com OR the new one, cjswriting.com. 🙂 I actually registered DYSBWriting.com as well, but don’t have that linked up to direct here yet.  I tweet as CJSWriting (@twinmomcj) and liked the idea of keeping things consistent.  I haven’t published anything yet, and am not sure what name I’ll use to publish under, so I’m sticking with my initials for now.

I’m playing with the themes and fonts and will continue playing around to find what I like the best.  Feel free to let me know what you think of changes.

I’ve been doing this blog for almost a year now, have posted almost a hundred posts, and have been blessed to have had so many great responses from so many of you.  Thank you so much for reading and for the “likes” and for the comments.  It does mean a lot to me.

Thanks and have a great week!

~CJ

Unless

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I saw this “No Soliciting” sign yesterday at a local business. It made me laugh and, come on, wouldn’t we all make the same exceptions? Chocolate is a little bit of heaven and Girl Scout cookies? Who could resist?

I loved this example of making exceptions. It can be easy to think in all blacks and whites, all yes or no, always ruling out the possibility of an exception to the rule, but who really can live like that? Who hasn’t needed an “unless” or to make an exception?

You could think, “I won’t publish a book any other way than with a major house”, but what about the possibility of a smaller press or trying your hand at going indie?

You could think, “I’ll never write anything but novels”, but what if there’s a short story living inside of you that needs to be told?

You could think, “I will not write a novel without having outlined every detail before putting a word on a page”, but what if you decide to try something wacky like pantsing your way through NaNoWriMo?

Unless we let ourselves make an exception to our own rules, we may never discover our own unknown possibilities. So maybe we should try changing our own limits.

Here are some of examples of times I’ve had an “unless”.

1). No writing poems, unless called by the spirit of a challenge. 😉

I never thought I would try writing poems, as I’ve said before, but accepting a challenge and pushing myself was a great experience for me. It was a pleasure to try something new and an excellent opportunity to play with language in a new way.

2) No outlining for me! Um, unless my story seems to be going off the rails and an outline will bring me back on track.

My current WIP has been flailing for a bit having reached a conclusion without having a complete cohesiveness. After struggling in the editing process (and yes being distracted by the “shiny” new things here and there), I started an outline of the current work to see where I really need to fill in gaps or remove pieces all together. I’ve also begun mapping the next books in the series rather than letting it emerge with no real direction, as I did with this first one.

3) (And probably the biggest one for me )
I won’t get anything ever written unless I make a commitment to myself.

Thus my 365 day challenge was born. I talked about writing a lot without commitment to do so. While maybe this first year of writing every day has been a learning process for what really gets me where I need to go, it has been a huge improvement from the scant amount of time committed to writing previously. I may have more bits and pieces than I had originally intended, but it’s been a big step in the right direction.

Do you have limits you have placed that might be opened to some exceptions? What will your “unless” be? Or do you have one you’ve already followed? What were the results of allowing the flexibility? Please do share in the comments.

Have a great week!

~CJ

Joining A Writing Challenge

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((photo credit – NaNoWriMo Store)

Writing my first blog post after my month long poetry challenge felt a little odd. I don’t have a fun prompt to start from or a poem to challenge me, but this got me thinking about challenges.

I know many people are now jumping into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). While I think this is a great challenge and plan to participate sometime, I wasn’t quite ready to jump in this year after just finishing another challenge. 🙂 But I have several friends and many others I know who have joined in. Best wishes to you all!

Whether working with a group like in NaNoWriMo, my recently completed OctPoWriMo, April’s NaPoWriMo or personal writing challenges like mine to write every day for 365 days, writing challenges are great for many reasons.

I would argue the biggest and best reason to take on a challenge is just to force ourselves to get the words on the page. I’ve made great progress this last year having challenged myself to write every day. OctPoWriMo made me not only create but publish something every day. NaNoWriMo will result in many who finish or make great progress on their novel. NaNoWriMo has a great tag line that says, “The World Needs Your Novel”. I love this.

Another result though of jumping into a group challenge is getting to know other writers also participating. Both group challenges I have participated in this last year have led me to new writer friends and lots of new blogs. Fellow writers have so much to offer, both through encouragement, but also by sharing their experience and advice. Writing can be such a solitary business, so any way we can find to connect with fellow writers is real treat.

While true that each new challenge will lead to different results, ultimately all of us will get some benefit from having joined in a challenge. If you haven’t joined one before, I highly recommend. 🙂

If you have done challenges:
What challenges have you joined in? Did you like it? What did you get out of the challenge(s) you’ve done?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Have a great week, and good luck with any challenges you may be tackling.

Poem a Day – Day 31 – Prompt is This Poetry Challenge

Happy Halloween and welcome to the last day of my adventure with poetry writing. I had some missteps along the way, but I think I managed to get a few up that I really liked. The overall experience has been a great one.

I am grateful to the OctPoWriMo organizers/creative team for putting this together and for the great prompts. Be sure to visit their blogs as they go into NaNoWriMo and other November writing challenges.

Julie Jordan Scott

Amy Phelps McGrath

Tamara Woods

Morgan Dragonwillow

My last poem speaks to my experience with this challenge. Here I would also like to say thanks to those of you who have joined me on this challenge and for the new people I have met along the way. Thank you. Hope to see you around. 🙂

What It’s About
By CJS

It’s has not been about perfection
It hasn’t really been about being good

It has been about trying for the best
It’s been-a lot- about pushing myself

It’s not as if I am a poet
It’s not like I have all the skills

It has been a lot about learning and
It’s been about allowing myself to try

It’s not been about competition
It has not been about harsh critique

It’s been supporting each other & also
It’s been about sharing love of poetry

It’s not really truly over
It will not end today

It’s been about changing ourselves.
It’s about continuing to change.