Sweet Summertime

Hello there, dear Reader! Well, it’s June. And that means… summertime. Which also means that my schedule is simultaneously going to both slow down and explode. Slow down because school is finished, and explode because… that’s just what happens in the summer. There will be playdates and swim lessons and sports camps and picnics and house-building and traveling and vacations… oh, my!

Oh, and I’m hoping to finish up that rough draft thing I’m working on before we go to Realm Makers.

Which means that blogging is going to look a bit different this summer. I’ve got tons of ideas for blog posts, but I don’t have a lot of time to write them. So, for June, the plan right now is to blog once a week, I might manage more than that some weeks, but that’s the goal. (It’s more of a “guideline” than actual “rule”). And then I will most likely take a HIATUS of some kind in July. I’m not sure what August is going to look like, but it might also have a once a week schedule as I’ll be gearing up for the Silmarillion Awards in September… which will be super spectacular, as always.

I’m hoping to do some “Favorites” posts, and pick up my “Favorite Family Films” feature that was popular last summer and recommend even more awesome movies for you. Maybe Henry Fairchild will even poke his head back out from whatever rock he’s been hiding under… we shall see. Like I said, I have lots of ideas, I just don’t necessarily have time to write them all… AND finish this rough draft I’m working on!

I’ve also been hearing a lot of desire for informational/instructional posts on getting started in writing, self-publishing pros/cons, and the like. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t always feel qualified to write those types of posts. Partially because I can’t compare/contrast indie vs traditional publishing, as I have no experience in traditional publishing, and partially because I just don’t feel like I have a whole lot to offer. I may have four books out there, but I’m not by any stretch of the imagination making any kind of “real” income from this authoring thing. I dabble in trying to market things, but I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m pretty certain I’m rubbish at it.

Here on the blog, I’d much rather jump up and down and cheer you on in your own writing or fangirl over whatever awesome movie I’ve just seen or book I’ve just read, or have super nerdy discussions about Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.

Buuuuut… because so many of you have asked, I’m going to try. One thing I can promise: these info-posts will be pretty short, but I’ll try to offer you some of the tips and tricks I’ve accumulated along the way.

So, tune in next week for the first installment… So You Have an Idea!

~ jenelle

Silmarillion Awards 2018: Update

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Hello, fellow wanderers!

It is now June, which is usually about the time we start looking forward to the Silmarillion Awards! However, this year we are making a slight adjustment.

We are still having them! Never fear!

But we are changing the dates. You see, usually we like to schedule them through July, ending near July 29, the original publication date of the Lord of the Rings. However, right in the middle of July, this little conference called REALM MAKERS occurs. And, well, over half of our Silmarillion Awards bloggers are going to be attending, including Yours Truly, which makes running the SilmAwards a bit difficult.

So, we have decided to adjust and tweak and move the Silmarillion Awards to September.

This has multiple benefits:

First, it will no longer play bumper cars with Realm Makers.

Second, the Silmarillion was originally published on September 15, and since we take our name from that great work in honor of Tolkien’s genius (many thanks to the Tolkien Estate for letting us use the name) it works thematically slightly better than July.

Third, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins’ birthday falls on September 22, which also makes it “Hobbit Day” in our realm.

Fourth, many significant events throughout the Lord of the Rings occur in September… including Frodo and Sam leaving Hobbiton, Gandalf meeting Shadowfax, and finally, Bilbo going to the Grey Havens (source)

Fifth, alliteration. Never underestimate the power of alliteration.

Sixth, and finally, summer is just busy. Hopefully September will be a better time for everyone to enjoy these awards and the hilarity and entertainment that they bring each year.

I will have exact dates and information for you when the event gets a bit closer, but for now I just wanted to update you with the general plan for this year’s 3rd annual Silmarillion Awards!

~ jenelle

SOLO: A Star Wars Story

I went to see Solo this past weekend. I was kind of dreading it, actually. Every new installment of this beloved franchise since Return of the Jedi has been a major disappointment (with the notable exception of Rogue One), and I had heard rumors that Solo was not doing super well at the box office. People aren’t going to see this one.

The movie-makers think that it’s “Star Wars Fatigue” – and in a way, they are right, but I don’t believe it’s the kind of fatigue they think it is.

Star Wars fans LOVE Star Wars. But we’re also a bit put-out with the writers and directors messing with our favorite story (and messing it UP).

One of the biggest problems with the new movies, in my opinion, is that the writers and directors underestimated something extremely important: they underestimated the fans’ LOVE of Han Solo. And they overestimated the fans’ love of Princess Leia. (No offense intended to Carrie Fischer, I love Leia, I do, but nowhere nearly as much as I love Han and Luke). Nothing demonstrates this better than the two movies in the new trilogy.

People aren’t staying away from Solo because they’re tired of Star Wars. They’re staying away from Solo because they’re upset with the new writers. JJ Abrams did the unthinkable. He killed Han Solo. And he didn’t even do it in a grand, awesome, quippy, SAVE THE GALAXY sort of way. No, it was a stupid, pointless death, designed to give the story an emotional “oomph” but really just made most of the faithful fans angry.

Solo is reaping the culmination of that anger. Han was our favorite, and they killed him. And now they want us to embrace this new what’s-his-name-actor PRETENDING to be Harrison Ford’s Han Solo?

Can I get a resounding, “No, thanks!”?

And that’s really too bad. Because Solo is a great movie.

First, the spoiler-free version:

As you might have guessed from the trailers… in this movie you get to see a lot of Han Solo’s back-story. Including his first meeting with Chewbacca, Lando, and the Millenium Falcon. All three of these stories were clever and entertaining. They weren’t exactly as I had pictured them, but they were well-done and fun and managed to capture that Star Wars essence that is difficult to define.

Things I liked:

Han Solo - No. Alden Ehrenreich is no young Harrison Ford. But I knew that going in. His voice is different, his mannerisms are different, and with the exception of a few momentary frames, he looks nothing like Han Solo (except for the outfit). Also, he kind of felt too short. HOWEVER, all that aside, I thought he did a pretty good job portraying a young Han Solo. He’s cocky, brash, and sometimes he’s as good as he thinks he is… and he did a good job being the totally reluctant hero. At the beginning of the movie, Han is a kid living on the streets of Corellia in a sort of Dodger/Fagin sort of Oliver Twist kind of scenario. I love Oliver Twist, so I enjoyed this parallel. Han and his girlfriend (whose name is apparently spelled like this: Qi’ra – pronounced “Kira”) dream of escaping to a better life. Han dreams of being a pilot (not unlike another young Star Wars hero we know), and Qi’ra… well, I’m not sure what she dreams of, other than being free. I also loved that Han is not portrayed as a bumbling idiot who just sort of stumbles into things that work… yes, he can improvise when he needs to, but he also manages to plan things out ahead of time and pull them off fairly brilliantly!

EDITED TO ADD – actually… now that I’ve said that… I went and looked at some side by side comparisons, and I’m thinking maybe there’s something wrong with my memory. Because, all things considered, maybe they did get someone who looks the part more closely than I realized…

side-by-side comparison found in a Google Image Search

Corellia – This is not the Corellia I was expecting… though I am willing to believe that not ALL of Corellia is a slum, as the idea of a planet-wide slum is a bit difficult to swallow (sometimes, sci-fi movie writers forget to think BIG enough), and because Han has always struck me as being proud of being Corellian (though that might just be what I’ve gleaned from the books, and not movie-canon). However, from what I saw of Corellia, it was different than a lot of other places I’ve seen in the Star Wars movies, and props to the writers for not making it a desert planet.

The story – I would have liked to get to see Han at the Imperial Flight Academy. I was a little bummed I didn’t get that. But I enjoyed the story that they did show me. There was a little bit of a Wild West feel to it – which is appropriate, since Han is the closest thing to a cowboy this galaxy has. There is a pretty fun heist story running through the veins of this movie, which makes it a bit of a lower-stakes sort of Star Wars story, which was actually quite refreshing. There was no spherical laser canon of death to blow up, although there was some coverage of the Empire and its activities, as well as a passing reference to the beginnings of the Rebellion.

Donald Glover – while he’s also not a young Billy Dee Williams by any stretch of the imagination… he did an excellent job portraying a very believable Lando Calrissian. I loved the tiny nods to the EU fans, in that Lando is a character who is constantly known for going into and out of retirement, always on the brink of “settling down and living the good life” but also ultimately incapable of actually doing so. I also loved getting to see the beginnings of Han and Lando’s frenemy-style relationship.

Sabacc - Although they didn’t have digital cards and a randomizer (EU fans will understand), we haven’t gotten to see sabacc played in a Star Wars movie before, and it was fun to finally see that happen.

Han and Chewie – The way that they meet is not what I had pictured, but no less fun and entertaining for that.

The humor. There is a lot of humor in this movie. Most of it comes from Han’s dialogue, of course, but there are just moments that were truly, laugh-out-loud funny.

The Millenium Falcon – I mean, she’s every bit as much of a character as anyone else in Star Wars, right? Honestly, watching Han Solo fall in love with the Millenium Falcon was quite possibly the absolute best part of this movie. I would not have minded at all another half hour of story in which he has to pilot her through all sorts of difficult terrain… but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, what was in the movie was fantastic.

The visuals. Some people have complained about the visuals… but I really liked the way this movie looked. There was an element of soft-focus to it, a kind of haziness that made me feel like I was watching something that would fit in well with the original trilogy. There was none of the ridiculous cartoony bright colors of the prequel trilogy, nor the pristine, sharp focus of the new trilogy. It was kind of its own thing, and I liked that.

The open-ended nature of the end of the movie. It is not a cliff-hanger, but the movie leaves a lot open for TONS of stories about Han Solo between the end of this story and the beginning of Episode 4. My GREAT HOPE is that they will go ahead and write those stories, because there is no way that I could ever believe that the Han Solo at the end of this movie could possibly be the Han Solo at the beginning of A New Hope just a few days later. There have to be YEARS of stories between the two… and I think there could be some great ones.

Things I didn’t like:

The only really big negative I have with this movie is that in spite of all the fun and humor and nostalgia… I did feel that the movie was ultimately lacking in what a friend called “its emotional trajectory.” I never really felt like I got to a point where I was emotionally invested in the characters (there may have been a moment or two) but ultimately, I never got too bent out of shape over any of them, even when emotional things happened. I wanted to, but none of them succeeded in grabbing my heart and not letting go.

I also felt like the soundtrack was a little bit lacking. Which is weird, for a Star Wars movie.

OKAY…. THAT IS ALL I CAN DO WITHOUT SPOILERS. My summary: GO SEE THIS ONE! It’s fun, fast-paced, and entertaining. It’s got a fun story, a lot of humor, and plenty of nostalgia without completely ripping off the plot of any other Star Wars movies (here’s looking at you, The Force Awakens). If you read any further, there will be spoilers.

 

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!


The second Sabacc game! I loved the way that the second game played out – and proved that Han is every bit as awesome as we already knew he was. For most of the movie, I thought Han was just going to find out that Lando cheated and claim his winnings that way. I did not see a second game coming, and I LOVED it.

I really liked the nod back to ROTJ that they did with Han and Chewie’s first meeting. I would have liked an actual reference to the “life debt” aspect of their relationship, but that is a minor nitpick.

There was quite a lot that I enjoyed about this movie. There were two mostly minor things that I did not like about this movie, and I just have to mention them here.

I’m sorry, but the Empire does not get to name Han Solo. This part of the movie didn’t even make any sense and seemed a bit like a plot hole, because later in the movie, Han talks about his father and how he used to build Corellian ships… if he knew his father, how come he doesn’t know his last name? I know that the prevailing theory is that Han is part of a “peasant” class and thus has no last name, but that seems like a bit of a stretch, since we haven’t run into this particular issue with any other human characters before. Anyway, I prefer the EU version of this. However, this was a minor nit-pick.

The big bad villain reveal at the end of the movie. Okay. This kind of goes in the pro/con list, because on the one hand, I’ve watched both cartoon series (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels) and so it wasn’t a huge shock to me that Darth Maul is still alive and kicking (if a bit mechanically, haha) but I spent the ENTIRE MOVIE thinking that they were going to propel Prince Xizor of the Black Sun into the canon (Black Sun is already part of the canon, as it shows up in Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon) and have HIM be the big bad behind everything. When I told my husband that afterwards, at first he didn’t agree with me, but then as we talked he changed his mind and was able to clarify why that move would have turned a movie that basically was a ground-rule double into a grand slam. It would have introduced a new, awesome villain that they could have explored. It would have intrigued those who haven’t read the books, because it would have been something new. It would have appeased the EU fans who love the books and are still a bit put-out that they have been relegated to “legends” and treated like second-class citizens. And it would have provided an even better hook for new movies. Darth Maul… makes sense. He’s like a cockroach… he manages to survive EVERYTHING (and he is the main reason I refuse to believe Han Solo is dead, because basically he was wounded less severely than Darth Maul, and everything that falls down a shaft in the Star Wars universe comes back just fine, and doesn’t even always need an explanation). But still. Prince Xizor would have been EPIC.

And that’s my review.

I give it… four dragon eggs, and deem it the best New Star Wars movie since Rogue One. My favorites go in order thusly: 5, 4, 6, Rogue One, Solo, 3, 1, 2, 8, 7

Yeah. I went there.

(And yes, oddly enough, I actually prefer ep. 1 to ep. 2… mostly because the equation in my head goes: whiny Hayden Christensen < pod racing + best lightsaber duel in the series)

dragonEgg4star

~ jenelle

Adventures and Episodes May 2018

Adventures& Episodes

Welcome to a much more timely edition of Adventures and Episodes! What a month May has been!

Writing

It’s been a great month for writing.

I wrote 18,000 words in Turrim 3 this month. Half of those words I wrote over the week of Indie e-Con while running the word wars, which was super exciting! And I got to encourage other writer-friends in their pursuit of writing at the same time, which is one of my favorite things to do. Currently, I am sitting at 60,000 words, and while I was sort of hoping that I could finish this draft around 80,000 words, I’m starting to accept that this draft is going to be longer than that. I have one plot line almost wrapped up, but I still have 4 plot-lines to work through, most of which are only a quarter to half written at this point in time… so we’ll probably be sitting around 100-120K when it’s all said and written.

But I am enjoying where this story is going and how it’s all shaping up. The characters are really fun, and some surprising things have happened in this series, and when the story or characters surprise me, that’s always my favorite thing. This particular cast of characters is a bit more secretive and apt to spring last-minute 180s on me, but I don’t mind… too much!

Arguing with characters

I’m also starting to really look forward to Realm Makers. I’ve scheduled all of my appointments and my critique session, and I’m nervous-cited about those… the other night, my husband and I went for a walk and began the process of trying to figure out a good “elevator pitch” for the Turrim Archive, because blurbs/reducing my hundreds of thousands of words down into a single awesome paragraph is definitely the most difficult part of this whole authoring gig. We started to make some progress, so that was good. We chatted about publishing and the future of my writing career and while my plan at this point is to continue going the indie-pub route… I definitely wouldn’t flat-out turn down TOR if they come knocking.

Reading

I started a “Read the Bible in One Year” plan back on May 5, 2008, and I finally finished it on May 5, 2018. So my one-year plan only took 10 years to complete…. (in my defense, I pretty much only used the reading plan when I wasn’t actively participating in a Bible Study…) and while I’m sure I’ve read every verse in the Bible more than once, it’s nice to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’ve read every verse. Next I’d like to read it in chronological order, I think that would be interesting.

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 4.03.07 PM Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 4.02.56 PM

I finally read Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. It was interesting. I had a bit of a hard time focusing on it, because it seemed a bit more jumpy or scattered than other books I’ve read of hers… but I enjoyed the story and look forward to reading the sequel.

With my kids I read Corrie Ten-Boom: Keeper of the Angel’s Den, Miracles on Maple Hill, The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, and Bruchko – all of which were fantastic.

I also read Common by Laurie Lucking for the Indie Book Club. Absolutely loved that one!

Journey from Skioria by Kandi J Wyatt, which was a cute Middle Grade story. My review on that is coming next week.

Watching

We watched Avengers: Infinity War… and I’m still sort of internally screaming about that one. I’ll wait a bit longer before doing a review, as I know spoilers are still an issue for many.

Troll Hunters: season 3 released on May 25, and the whole family is enjoying it. We loved seasons 1 and 2, and it’s fun to be back with some of our new favorite characters.

With the kids we watched Epic and Mary Poppins and the Lego Movie… all re-watches, all excellent movies. We got Saving Mr. Banks recently and after watching Mary Poppins I really want to rewatch it. Also, knowing the story of Saving Mr. Banks… there were a lot of newly emotional moments in Mary Poppins this time around!

Derek and I watched Thor (the first one) again. I haven’t seen it since it was in theaters and AAAAAHHHHHH I just love it to pieces! Then we watched Avengers (1), because the Avengers movies are like Pringles. Apparently. It was as fun and hilarious as I remembered, and I was also reminded of why Tony Stark USED to be my favorite character (besides Hawkeye, of course) and why he has been bumming me out in the past several movies… because he lost some deep essence of what made him who he was in recent movies, and it’s hard to take. He had it back a little bit in Infinity War, but not quite to the same extent. He hasn’t really been “TONY” since Avengers, and I miss him.

Other than that, we’ve mostly been watching Star Trek: TNG. And Lost in Space, but I can only handle that in small doses because it’s INTENSE, y’all. (Usually I don’t mind intense, but this show has the feel of constantly being on the edge of everything going horribly wrong that requires a lot of energy to watch…)

Life-ing

Now that the weather is better, we’ve had some fun days going outside and picnicking at the park. We’ve had some friends over for game nights and made our patent-pending Giordano’s knock-off pizza a handful of times. The kids and I drove into the cities to see a friend of mine who happened to be in town with her new baby, and we got to hang out and catch up for a few hours, which was a blast.

We are finishing up the school year, just have about a week and a half left of work, and the kids are getting antsy for the freedom of summer vacation and trips to the pool. Gotta admit, I am, too.

The biggest news is that we’ve started clearing our property of trees and will soon be the proud owners of a large hole. (A foundation hole) *grin*

How was your May, dear Reader? Any big summer plans or trips?

 

~ jenelle