Posts filed under ‘Writing’

Why the Hunger Games Books are SO Good

I’ll go ahead and admit it, I was hesitant to jump on the train. For months, my friend Ditty insisted I read the Hunger Games trilogy. I fell in love with Water for Elephants, and then fell even deeper when I randomly ordered a book called The Help for entertainment during a family reunion. Hopelessly wanting another “amazing read,” Ditty suggested Hunger Games. But for some reason I didn’t bite right away. Maybe it’s that the title didn’t appeal to me. Or because it’s a trilogy. But I’m glad that finally after her insistence and then my bud Amy’s promptings (and loan of her book copies) I finally jumped on board.


Loving the Hunger Games

I’ve not yet met someone who read the Hunger Games books and didn’t like them. Sure, there are some critiques of the second book being too much like the first. And there are those who don’t enjoy the third as must as the first two. But overall, the Hunger Games is a hit. And I mean a Harry Potter-like hit. Plus … it’s comes without the conservative guilt trip that you’re reading something with wizards, vampires or “from the Devil” as some of the Potter and Twilight fans have been told.

What Makes the Hunger Games SO Good?

As a writer, I’m always looking for tips and tricks of what makes a certain book so great. Sometimes it’s simply the story that pulls on the heart-strings (The Help), but I believe other times there are some hidden gems housed between the lines of a best seller. So as I’ve reflected back on the Hunger Games books, watched many more fans jump on the bandwagon and anticipated the movie release, here are some observations about why I think the Hunger Games are SO popular.

1. The Book Is Extremely Readable

They taught me in PR school to write to a “7th grade level.” Thus, the blog world is my home. But I think there is something to say about readability. The Hunger Games are categorically young adult fiction. So are the Potter and Twilight series. Yet the audience of the books and the movies isn’t just young adults… it’s those in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s … and probably even older than that. The world is busy and stressful. Our lives are hectic. So having a great book that’s easy to read is a joy for many readers. Even if it’s technically written for a junior higher.

2. The Books are Fast Paced And Don’t Get Boring

One of the book reviews compliments the “pace” of the books. I have to agree. It’s a rather long and complicated story, however the author manages to write it at a pace where I don’t get bored. I don’t get overwhelmed with words or details. I want to know more. And yes, even after three books, I didn’t feel like the story was too long. Now that’s pure writer’s (and editor’s) genius if you ask me.

3. It Has Hot Guys & Hot Girls

No, the book doesn’t have pictures or photos, but it might as well have. The descriptions of the characters are so great that most walk away from reading the books with a visual of what they feel Katniss, Gale and Peeta look like. And they’re attractive kids. The book details character qualities AND physical qualities so well, I felt as though I was actually in the book and could “see” everything. And as a visual person in general, it was perfect. (I’m so far happy with the casting of the movie, the actors do look somewhat like what I had in mind!)

4. It’s A Good Mix of Future And the Real

The book has a great mix of current world and a “what if” future world to appeal to everyone. Although it may sound like it’s futuristic at first, it’s really a good read for anybody, even if you don’t like Sci-Fi. (Now I urge everyone to start watching tv show Fringe – same deal there too.) Once you meet the characters you get lost in the fact it’s set in the future. It tugs at our imaginations yet also grounds us in some reality.

5. It’s Got Some Romance, but It’s Not a Romance

Now, take this comment with a cup of tea. I happen to be the gal who skips over the rom-coms for the dramas and action flicks. However, I LOVE that this isn’t a romance book, yet has a great romance story in it. The book captures me with the action and dramatics of the story, yet the themes of a teenage romance run so thick it’s addicting. The romance draws us in, and is what keeps many readers captive throughout the story. However, it’s not so heavy and sappy that it gets old (or embarrassing that you’re following it.) The action happening around the “lovers” is actually often more interesting than the drama itself.

6. Everyone Wants a Hero

Just about any movie has a great hero, and the Hunger Games is not exempt. And yes, I happen to love that in this series, she is female. But really, she’s a great inspiration for anyone (and especially young girls) looking to find their place in the world and fight though “life’s not fair” situations. Katniss, the main character, is a fighter. She doesn’t give up. She’s beautiful and doesn’t know it. She’s got guys dropping at her feet. And yet all she can do is stick to her convictions, do what she’s good at and focus on surviving. Sounds like a girl I’d like to be friends with one day.

So that’s my take on the Hunger Games and some of the reasons the books are SO popular. Many books have some of these themes, but this series happens to have them ALL. That’s why I think it’s become such a best seller, and why I predict the box office will see the same results once it’s on the screen.

What do you think? Any other reasons that these books are SO wonderful?

March 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm 2 comments

Five Takeaways from a Writer’s Conference

Over the weekend, I attended a writer’s conference. And then I got in a fight.

No, not with a writer. Not with an editor. It was one of those spiritual battles none of us like to talk about.

You see, there’s something about having the call to write, and then actually signing up for one of these conferences that is terrifying. Those of us who write – we have ideas. We have passion. And then to talk about them and anxiously hear how our most genius brainchild of an idea sounds to someone with the credentials to give feedback – it’s nerve-wracking. Even when it’s Christian.

So, after another up-and-down weekend (my first writer’s conference felt just like this), I made it through the conference. I am so grateful for the Heart of America Christian Writer’s Network for putting this event into play. They brought in all-star professionals to give real critiques – and real opportunities – to those of us “starving artists.” And after a long weekend, I made it through.

What did I learn? Here are my 5 biggest takeaways from the Writer’s Conference:

1. I’m called to Write.

Thanks to a great session from Sue Brage – Group Publishing on “Five Questions to Move You Forward in your Calling,” I left the conference with peace. She challenged us with questions like “Are you willing to persevere in the face of opposition?” “Are you willing to change, be stretched?” Ooh good stuff. This clued me into the idea that my anxiety about the weekend was actually a plan to derail me from what I’m called to do.

2. I need to write on this cancer stuff.

I think I realized this weekend after sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with other writers that I have a unique, God-given niche. Nobody else in that room had been diagnosed with colon cancer at age 17. Shocking, right? But while this should be obvious to me, I guess I needed this conference to realize it even more. It’s OK for me to embrace my cancer and write about it. And I’ve actually got a hunch that people want to know what I have to say.

3. Linking Verbs are for Wimps.

Writer’s conferences are actually fun for me – as someone who’s been out of school for a while, yet no desire to return. These conferences are a way to brush up on my writing skills without having to go to class. So the session about writing your story and avoiding linking verbs turned out to be a great lesson for me. I felt excited. No wait – I clung to the edge of my seat as I waited for the speaker to deliver each point. (See, I learned well.) Using verbs like felt/was/had/seem/looked – out the door. Tell vs. Show. I’m learning.

4. Query Letter and Book Proposal – Can Be Done!

I’m a newbie into this whole world, and really have no idea what I’m talking about. But thanks to a couple of classes, I feel like this is actually do-able for me. Especially Deborah Herman’s class. I now understand how to write these pieces that are so critical to editors and publishers. And I feel like when I set out to write a book proposal, I know what to do (and what not to do.)

5. God attends these conferences, too.

One great feature of the HACWN conference is the opportunity to have a professional critique your work for a small fee. I reviewed the guests for the conference for about a week, and prayed about who to send my book proposal to review. Pamela Sonnenmoser stood out. She was with a publisher looking for new authors and something unique and edgy. So, I chose her. And the realized over the weekend she too has faced infertility and cancer. We speak the same language. We’ve faced some of the same things. Now that is God.

Good things are ahead for this gal who writes a blog about poop.¬† I have a feeling God wants to use all of this. I’m excited to follow the Lord’s promptings and use the lessons He’s taught me to save lives – both for here and eternity.


November 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

Oh Yeah… My Blog!

Wait – I have a blog? Oh yeah…

Sorry guys, in the midst of working for the church, growing my small business and um, getting the hang of this mom thing – good ole’ Semicolon Stories has gotten the shaft. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Our dogs feel the same way too.

But, I’m just checking in to say hello to the blog world, and that life here is good, busy, changing, yet good. Let’s see here… for a few updates…

  • My hubby is about ready to change careers and bring his teaching gig to an end in about a week. He’ll be joining me in the website arena and working on CSS for a website company.
  • Mae’s doing great. She’s doing this awesome rock-n-roll, I’m about to crawl thing now. She’s really great at getting on all fours and then lunging. I love it – it’s not pretty but she doesn’t care. She can get anywhere she wants these days – except out of her bed and onto my plate.
  • I’m doing well! Health-wise, I got the “all clear” again this week after another CT scan. Docs wanted to make sure that the pelvic activity showing up on the scans is still just scar tissue. The CT last week didn’t show any concerns. Hallelujah.
  • I’m working like a beast – that is my imagination of how a beast would work. I’m also in the midst of approaching a healthy balance between my full-time job and side business, so in the meantime I’m keeping rather… active. But don’t worry – it will be changing soon. Promise.
  • And my last bit of WAY exciting news for now-
    (no we don’t have another kid stashed away or anything like that…)
    But – I am headed to NEW YORK again in a few weeks for the 2012 COLONDAR SHOOT!
    Oh my friends, I am so excited, honored and in awe that I get to return to the magical place of all-things Colondar. I’ve been asked to write the bios for the new 12 calendar models. I can’t wait to meet them, to write their heroic stories, to make more friends who’ve also experienced colon cancer at a young age, and to return to see good friends at the shoot.

So, that’s a short and quick update! I’ll make it a goal to post more soon but in the meantime, we’ll just be chilling in a laundry basket.

May 20, 2011 at 11:47 pm Leave a comment

Cancer Scares

One part of survivorhood I never really prepared for was the cancer scares. Sure, I knew that I would need to keep a healthy lifestyle and make sure I went to routine scans, but for some reason the element of the constant scares had never crossed my mind. That is, until about a month ago.

It’s never fun when your doctor calls to personally to deliver the CT scan results. He was concerned, sent me for a follow-up PET Scan, and about a week-and-a-half of anxiety ridden days and nights, I finally got the news that all was clear once again. Apparently, being operated and radiated on as a 17-year-old can have some residual effects like scaring in the pelvis that looks questionable.

While I’m thankful that in this instance, all was clear, it opened my eyes to the long journey that I, as well as all of my fellow cancer survivors, are on. Especially for those of us who’ve been hit with the disease twice or more; it’s an eye-opening and sobering experience to realize that you’ll be fighting a disease for the rest of your life. When I first realized this after my second diagnosis, I was angry. My anger has subsided these days, but it’s still shocking to me sometimes when I realize the risks associated with just living life. I realized as I waited for my PET scan results to come in, that even if all was clear, this wouldn’t be the last time I’d have a scare like this. Unfortunately, this is a lifelong journey.

As I went about church and life group yesterday; however, I began to see a comforting¬† parallel between living with Christ, and my life as a cancer survivor. Both require a “wartime” mentality, as we must always stay on guard for the next attack. We mustn’t be surprised by it, but rather, anticipate that the enemy will work to get us down… whether it’s sickness, debt, rough relationships, sinful temptations, etc. We won’t have these “scares” subside until we reach heaven. So until we’re there, we must anticipate them.We must stay in the fight, and remember that we’re at war.

I found encouragement yesterday in remembering that I serve a God that is here to help. Christ didn’t come down to earth to leave us hanging. He sent the Holy Spirit to get us through tough times, give us unity among one another, and bring about a perfect peace that gets us through any trial. While we can’t always change our thoughts or make ourselves feel differently, we can plug into the source who will “guard our minds and our hearts” with only the peace He can bring. Whether it’s a cancer scare, or any other life problem that gets us down, we must keep pressing on and hold the line in this war.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

April 4, 2011 at 11:40 am Leave a comment

I Need to Write More

Well, it’s March 25. Man where has the time gone?

While the time has been going – where I don’ t really know – what has NOT been going are my blog posts. It’s so hard to write sometimes, and especially as a writer. I wonder if people in other trades have the same problem. Do chefs go home and make dinner for the family? Does a painter make sure his house and all of his walls are crisp and fresh in paint? Probably not. Or at least, I’m going to choose not to think so in order to feel better.

Anyways, all of that to say sorry for not writing more. I’ve got about a million ideas swirling around in my head about what could-be blog posts. Not to mention there’s a new opportunity to write for a devotional book again. Oh – and I really want to write a book about my cancer-infertility-adoption story this year. But you know – yeah.

However, I was encouraged and challenged yesterday by a book that I’m reading right now. It’s my first “I’m a Mom Now” book – meaning it has “mom” in the title. A whole new experience for me that’s a whole new blog post – BUT – my point is that the book has challenged me. It’s challenged me because it recognized that as a mama of a young kiddo, life is BUSY. However, as busy as we are, we must make time to exercise our God-given gifts and talents for His glory. We have to make time for us, make time for Him, and make time to exercise our gifts.

I’ve been writing a lot for my freelance copywriting business lately, but not for my personal benefit – nor the enrichment of others. The book was great for me to read yesterday, as it’s given me a new challenge to get back in the game. It’s harder now than ever, but I have to make the time to write. I think it’s why I’m still here. And by golly, I am going to make the most of this.

March 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm 2 comments

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