Out of the Shadows



As promised, I have started a new blog and would like to invite you all over to my new home at www.satinrussell.com.

I’ve mentioned before that my real name is not Janyaa. As you have probably surmised, it’s Satin Russell. (How do you do?)

It took me awhile to decide whether or not I wanted to use my real name as my author name. Many people choose to use pen names, instead, and I seriously considered doing so as well.

In fact, it has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make this past year.

You may be wondering why it was such a big deal. For years now, I’ve used this moniker – Janyaa – as my internet identity. It started way back when I first started playing World of Warcraft. (I’ve since quit playing.)

At the beginning, I did it for privacy reasons. Let’s face it, there aren’t a whole lot of people out there with my name. The subject of privacy was particularly relevant given the fact that I was a female gamer, and safety can become an issue.

I also used to write a blog about playing a holy paladin in World of Warcraft. As a stockbroker, I didn’t want my gaming to come up in any searches and bleed into my professional life.

After I quit playing and retired that older blog, it still became a way to differentiate between my “real life” and my “internet presence,” so I kept it. All of my social media was listed under Janyaa, from Twitter to Pinterest. In fact, the only thing that wasn’t listed under that name was my personal Facebook page.

Now that I’m moving into this new phase, being able to connect with potential readers under my real name has become more important. I want to be able to foster a healthy community and interact with people when they discover me as an author.

However, that still left the door open to me using a pen name. As I’ve said, there are a lot of authors out there that go that route. What was to stop me from doing the same?

Ultimately, I guess you could say it comes down to courage, commitment, and ego.

It has taken a lot of courage for me to make this transition and pursue my dreams. Trust me, every day I worry if I’m making the right choice. And every day I take another step towards my goal, I consider it a win against the self-doubt demons inside me.

In some ways, I think it also forces me to reach for a higher standard. There’s no hiding. I need to put out the best product I can. I’m obviously committed to doing exactly that if I’m going to put my name on it.

Lastly, I want to be able to point to my accomplishments and say, “I wrote this. This is me.” I guess you could say there’s a little bit of ego in that, but if I can’t take pride in what I’m producing, then what’s the point?

So, that’s it. This is me! If you’re currently following this blog, I hope to see you at the new site!


The Hunger Games (Movie Review)

The movie isn’t bad…it’s just not as good as I thought it could be.

Pros: I liked Jennifer Lawrence in this role. I thought she did a very good job conveying stoic resolve while still giving glimpses of her emotional landscape. This is especially remarkable given the tight camera shots of her face throughout the movie.

I liked how they utilized Caesar Flickerman as a means of explaining some of the environmental information necessary in order to establish the society and plot devices. (ie: what are tracker jackers?) I thought that was a clever way of getting viewers who hadn’t read the books up to speed.

The costume and set design were on key. I especially loved the extravagance of the Capitol fashions contrasted with the faded Grapes of Wrath dustbowl aesthetic of the outlying districts.

Cons: My biggest complaint with this movie is two-fold. First off, I felt the pacing was off. Granted, there was a lot of content to cover, but they sped through so much of it at such a frenetic pace, that most of the emotional foundation was lost.

Secondly, I feel they gutted the harder truths and social commentary out of the movie. It’s as if they didn’t have faith in the masses (especially teenagers/youth) to be able to handle the content. I think it was a disservice to them to assume they wouldn’t be able to tackle harder issues, and I’m not referring to the kid on kid violence.

I’m talking about the idea of staying true to your convictions, despite the odds. The idea of not succumbing to being a puppet in society’s games and having the courage to hold onto your humanity in a world that is littered with “reality tv.” They really lost that, and in the few moments where they briefly touch on it, it is quickly glossed over and moving on to the next event.

Lastly, I really hated the shaky cam. John, my brother-in-law, mentioned it was probably away to imply violence without truly showing it. However, they even used it during the first scenes through the Seam…and it was totally unnecessary and hurt my eyes. Why not linger on the poverty, starvation and despair? It would have created a much better contrast with the Capitol’s mania and excess.

Even though I liked the casting of Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, the portrayal of Haymitch was the biggest disservice that will probably come back to haunt them, given his role in the rest of the series. I was even disappointed in their depiction of the prep team. In the books, Katniss views them as “colorful pets.” It provides a great tool for showing how lavish, frivolous and self-centered their Capitol existence is, while illustrating Katniss’ ability to recognize their lack of intentional maliciousness. There’s nuance in that. Despite their pampered perspective, she is not cruel to them. She recognizes that they are still puppets.

In the end, while the overall movie was okay…it could have been SO much better. I found myself disappointed and saddened by the squandered potential. All I can say is “Go read the books!”