Saturday, May 17, 2014

Book Review: Sold by Patricia McCormick

by M. J. Joachim

Map of Trafficking of Men, Women & Children by Country/Destination

Researching human trafficking couldn’t have been easy for McCormick, based on the story that unfolds. It is a diary of sorts, of a young India girl from a very poor family. All she wants is to help her mother keep food on the table and buy the much needed roof their little family needs, since her stepfather does nothing much but gamble away any meager earnings they have, leaving them even more destitute than they already are. 

Herein reveals the plight of women and young girls in these distant countries - a gender without a voice, reliant on a man’s status, even if he is unwilling to care for them like anything more than possessions, to be tossed, used and mistreated, broken, disregarded, whatever he wants, because women clearly have little or no value to this culture or society. 

You’d think it couldn’t get any worse than that, until you get to the part about selling the daughter into servitude, to provide for the family and her younger brother (again the gender issue exposed, but he is a baby, after all). Except the 13 year old daughter isn’t being sent to work as a maid to a wealthy family. Instead she is being sold into prostitution, something she and her mother do not know. Her stepfather literally sells her to get more gambling money. 

She progresses on a long journey, and her story unfolds in rapid page turning fashion. Readers can’t help but be intrigued by the lengths these human smugglers go to, to hide and keep the girls, intimidating and instilling fear in them every step of the way, dashing their hopes, dreams and any dignity they might have, all to earn a price from the highest bidder. 

Sold was a National Book Award Finalist. It is geared toward young adults, but I believe it is important for adults to read it too. It is a gentle way to understand the background of human trafficking, and what truly happens to these girls. It is a call to action, if one has the heart and means to listen and respond. Sold is a story that is bound to make a difference for everyone who reads it, which in turn might cause a ripple effect and make a difference for those caught in the throes of human trafficking. 

Thank you for visiting and commenting on Writing Tips today. I do hope you’ll make time to read Sold, and that it will inspire you to reach out in even the smallest of ways to help these young girls and many others like them. These are the stories with the ability to change our lives, if only we will let them. 

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: KVDP, Trafficking of Women, Children & Men (2012), CCA - Share Alike 3.0 License 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Movie Review: Playing for Keeps

by M. J. Joachim

Priorities are challenged and rearranged for washed up super soccer star, George Dwyer in this playful, romantic sports comedy about a deadbeat dad, who gradually comes to his senses. Falling from grace as an amazing soccer star, Dwyer makes his way back to his son and ex-wife. 

The journey is filled with opportunity, as Dwyer ends up coaching his son’s soccer team. The mom’s on the team throw themselves at him. And a few of the dad’s are less than savory characters. George is put in the precarious position of making important personal decisions, which go against the grain of his former personality.

Playing for Keeps is a love story, a warm and fuzzy family story, where wrongs are addressed and healed, so all family members can move forward in more positive relationships, and it was pretty fun to watch.

That’s all for now, kind followers. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, and looking forward to seeing you again soon. Thanks for visiting and commenting on Writing Tips today.

M. J.

© 2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Rick Dikeman, Football iu 1996, GNU Free Documentation License

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Helium Writing Community is Closing Its Doors

by M. J. Joachim

Helium is finally shutting down. I wondered when that would happen. It’s where I first started writing online, immersing myself in a strange new world of Internet writing, promotion and making pen pals, if only by visiting and commenting on their work. Later it became a source of writing income for me, as a couple of clients recruited me to be among their freelance writers, and Helium itself recruited me to write for their assignment desk. It was a good gig while it lasted, until I moved onto blogging, eliminating the middle-man between me and my writing.

I made a lot of cool online friends through Helium, many I still keep in touch with today. A few years ago, I pretty much walked away and didn’t look back - no regrets, and the site still has hundreds of my articles on display. From what the email said, these will be converted to read only in the next few weeks, before everything completely goes offline at the end of the year. I haven’t checked in for a while. I suppose I should see if my pennies for page views added up to the minimum payout of $25. (Of course, I haven't done any rating, so probably not.) It was so hard to get to that payout, as their percentages for doing so were always in the favor of big business, and rarely in favor of the independent writer trying to compete against all the other independent writers, busting his butt to crank out consistent work as rapidly as possible. 

Helium taught me a lot, so I will gladly tip my hat in its direction. I’m not sorry to see it go, as I think it should have gone a long time ago. Their business model never was about the little guy struggling to collect and cash out those too few pennies. It was always about big business bottom line, imo. I guess big business discovered Helium wasn’t going to the be cash cow they had hoped for, and finally cut their losses. Or maybe they got busted for changing the rules too many times. I don’t know. All I know is there’s a reason I walked away without apology, but I will always be grateful for discovering online writing and meeting some of the most amazing writing friends a girl could have. 

Farewell, Helium. I’m glad to see online writing will continue to move in new directions. 

Did you start writing in an online writing community? How do you feel about them? Do you miss them when they go away? How have online writing communities helped or hindered your writing goals?
M. J. 

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Jurii, Helium-glow, CCA 3.0 unported license

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Movie Review: The Lorax

by M. J. Joachim

Dr. Seuss stories make for some amazing animation. The characters are charming, while the thought-provoking tale fully engages the audience.

The Lorax is an intriguing satire about greed, jealousy and control. I couldn’t help but think about how society never dreamed selling water would be profitable. In The Lorax, the story is about selling air. The parallels did not escape me. 

True to form, Dr. Seuss’s story shares the consequences of one’s actions, providing a reasonable solution to remedy the ill-effects of poor decisions on a happier note. It’s a good movie, one children and adults will find information and enjoyable.

I’m so glad you stopped in for a visit today, and look forward to seeing you again soon. 

M. J. 

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit: Ted Geisel, NYWTS, Library of Congress, Public Domain

Monday, May 12, 2014

Movie Review: The Rebound

by M. J. Joachim

Catherine Zeta-Jones plays the mom in this atypical family drama about a single mom who falls for a younger man. She’s the happy homemaker who gets an unexpected rude awakening about her husband’s extra-marital affair.

Devastation turns into survival and ultimately self-affirmation, as Zeta-Jones moves to the city with two kids in tow, takes on a career and meets a new man who also has romance problems of his own. 

The love story unfolds in a light and easy to watch romantic comedy, nothing too thought provoking, good for when you want to zone out, watch a movie and just vegetate for a couple of hours.

Thanks for stopping by commenting on Writing Tips today. I appreciate you more than you know, and it always makes me smile when you stop by for a visit. 

M. J. 

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit:  U. S. Library of Congress, Public Domain

Photos are chosen at random, because I like them and because I think they somehow fit the topic in a direct or odd sort of way.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Movie Review: Bachelorette

by M. J. Joachim

It’s almost always enjoyable to watch high school underdogs win the prize later in life, which is exactly what happens in Bachelorette.

The three meddlesome (and feeling somewhat entitled peers), set on a path of jealousy and destruction, as the bride begins to come to terms with her (high school) past, preparing to embark on her 20-something future.

The comedy of errors begins, as the bride (the last person any of these friends thought would get married first) takes center stage, much to the chagrin of her bridesmaids. Their gossip and mockery of her behind the scenes makes you want to start a food fight, if only to watch these bad girls get taken down and slip on the banana peel as they exit the scene completely mortified.

Bachelorette is an exciting, fast moving film that will have you laughing, spitting nails, holding your breath and reminiscing. It’s a story of victory, defeat and revelation, showcased in such a light and humorous way, you’ll find yourself kicking back for a relaxing good time, and reminding yourself never to take life too seriously.

Because we all deserve to be winners, regardless of who might think otherwise. Thank you for visiting and commenting on Writing Tips today.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit: В.Е. Феклистов, «Приготовление невесты к венцу» 1848, Public Domain

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Movie Review: Safe Haven

by M. J. Joachim

Based on the book by Nicholas Spark, Safe Haven is the story of a woman seeking shelter from the storm. Her courage knows no bounds, as she does whatever it takes to free herself from the nightmare that has become her life. Finally, she is free, but not without constantly looking over her shoulder, and with good reason too. 

A mysterious friend and new love interest enter the scene, allowing her to let down her guard (just a little bit) and open her heart to life again. She knows better, and the film takes on an action/adventure journey easily considered a nail-biter, edge-of-your-seater joy ride, where viewers can only wonder who will be left standing, if anyone at all.

Safe Haven is a chick-flick, one even guys might enjoy. It’s written and directed well, and definitely worth a couple hours of your time.

For those who have ever conquered fear, and that those who haven’t never need to. Thank you for visiting and commenting on Writing Tips today.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.
Photo credit:  Avanduyn, Cycle of Abuse, Public Domain

Friday, May 2, 2014

Movie Review: The Shunning

by M. J. Joachim

Take a journey into the secluded life of the Amish community and discover how life can be fore each individual, family, community group, as well as the community at large.

The Shunning is a sad story about how power can be taken too far, and love must be hidden to avoid mob mentality gone extreme. It’s the story of lies, secrets, cover-ups and the consequences thereof, because eventually, even if it takes many years sometimes, secrets get revealed.

The Shunning is a story of betrayal, hope and promise, a story that reveals hearts hold the truth, and when they are open, there’s no stopping them.

May the road rise to meet us, the wind be at our backs…thank you for visiting and commenting on Writing Tips today.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.
Photo credit:  Gadjoboy, On the Way to School, CCA-2.0 Generic License

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Movie Review: Steel Magnolias (Original)

by M. J. Joachim

The classic movie, Steel Magnolias, showcases some rare and established talent in the the film industry. With stars like Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton and Tom Skerritt to name a few, this movie couldn’t miss, and was bound to stand the test of time.

Character interaction and dialog sets the scene for ann intriguing tale of love, betrayal, fight, flight and destiny. (Sorry, no spoiler alerts here. If you haven’t seen it, you simply must find the time to do so.)

As writers, it’s important to let our characters reveal themselves through their actions and interactions with others. Steel Magnolias does an amazing job of letting us get to know the characters intimately and personally, as opposed to telling us about them, describing, explaining and justifying who they are and why they do what they do. Instead, we become observers in a story about a community’s real life, and we get to decide how to feel, based on what we’ve learned.

Can’t thank you enough for stopping by and commenting today, and look forward to seeing you again real soon.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit:  Sten Porse, Magnolia, GNU Free Documentation License