Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I cannot do this without spoilers. If you want my spoiler-free reaction to the movie, I can simply repeat what I said on my facebook page:

Enjoyable movie. Fixed some of the issues I had with episodes 7-8 (mostly episode 8). The plot felt convoluted and extremely rushed. Character arcs were good. TONS of gaping plot holes and (because: JJ Abrams) UNANSWERED QUESTIONS (but we watched LOST, we knew that would happen). Also, the writers demonstrated a complete lack of understanding or grasp of any kind of battle strategy/tactics… all of which I will discuss in my much-longer post on the blog… a few moments made me cry (but in a good way). Not a lot of laughter, I think there was maybe one moment that made me chuckle.

But overall?

Entertaining movie that didn’t make me want to walk out at any point. So… that’s… good?


 

And thus ends the spoiler-free portion of this post. If you have not seen Rise of Skywalker and you do not want to encounter any spoilers… READ NO FURTHER.

Proceed at your own risk…

Beyond this point, there be spoilers! (Also, I’m going to assume that if you’re reading the post, you’ve seen the movie, so I’m not going to give you the play-by-play, and if you haven’t seen the movie, most of the following will most likely be confusing).

Okay, I think that’s enough warnings.

All righty. If you have made it past the second graphic, then you know that there are spoilers coming. I’m going to chat about all the things in the movie, and there were things I liked, and things I didn’t like, and things that I didn’t think made much sense, and I might not write them in with a whole lot of coherent thought…. but here goes!

I went to see The Rise of Skywalker with a WHOLE lot of trepidation. I pretty much hated elements of The Force Awakens (you can read my full review of that movie HERE if you’d like to get a little more info on what I didn’t like about that movie and why (mainly, I hated the way they killed Han Solo)). And The Last Jedi didn’t even merit a review on my blog because it was just seriously awful.  Also, plenty of other people were already ripping it to shreds and pointing out all the things that were wrong with it, and… honestly… the movie didn’t even merit the time and effort it would have taken to write a blog post review for it. Yep. That pretty much sums up my feelings on episode 8.

So, with all the hubbub surrounding The Rise of Skywalker, the fact that the executives clearly had no idea what the fans actually wanted to see, the trouble they’ve had keeping a director employed, and the fact that The Last Jedi a) walked away from everything set up by the Original Trilogy and spat in the face of one of my all-time favorite characters and b) had so much agenda in it that the plot was barely discernible… it was with varying degrees of apathy and extremely low expectations that I bought our tickets.

Summary (this is the too-long, didn’t read version)

My final thought and last word on the entire trilogy as a whole is this: you shouldn’t “pants” Star Wars. (pantsing, for my non-writer readers, means the act of sitting down to write a story without doing any sort of outlining or planning first). When Disney got hold of Star Wars, they should have started by writing a trilogy. (No, they should have started by making blu-ray and 4K versions of the original trilogy in its digitally remastered but PRE-1997 tampering form). But AFTER they did that, they should have written a trilogy (preferably one that didn’t toss out all the EU books as non-canon). Instead, they first tried to play it safe (plagiarizing episodes 4 & 5). Then they decided to up the ante and try to use Star Wars as a vessel to shove an agenda down our throats… and that backfired big time and hit them right in their pocketbooks (which is the only agenda they actually care about). Now they’ve done what they could to appease the fans, and I’d say they did an okay job with what they had left to work with. But it would have been better if they had written a cohesive story across three movies that actually made sense.

If you would like to now read way more info on what I liked and didn’t like about the movie than you probably actually care to know… here are the details:

Things I loved about the movie:

1. Rey – Okay, I know she’s basically a Mary Sue. (A female character with basically no flaws or weaknesses). But then, so is Cinderella. Sometimes (NOT OFTEN) a Mary Sue character can work, and when she’s as epically likable as Rey is and has been since The Force Awakens, I’m willing to overlook it. Rey has been the saving grace of these movies for me, I really like her. She’s got this childlike wonder and this incredible goodness to her that is endearing. Like Luke Skywalker (and especially the Luke Skywalker of the EU books) she is unfailingly kind to everyone she encounters, whether they be a former Stormtrooper, a random droid, or even the Emperor himself. Even in the midst of trying to kill Kylo Ren, Rey cares about him. In many ways, I wish that these new movies could have somehow taken place further in the future and not had any of the original characters, because it would have been so much easier to just fall in love with these new characters if I didn’t have to set them right next to the extreme mishandling of my favorite old characters.

sigh.

But we’re talking about things I liked right now… so…

2. Abrams ret-conning/fixing multiple things from Episode 8. I’ll get into this more in my later points, but so much of this movie made up for the horribleness that was episode 8.

3. Finn – I’ve liked Finn from moment one. (In spite of the fact that he went on a pointless side-quest in E8 and Johnson turned him into a bit of an idiot) Abrams did a ton in this movie to grow this character up from where he began in E7. I LOVED the hints that he may be Force-sensitive (and that the other stormtroopers you meet in this movie who decided not to take out a bunch of innocent civilians might be, as well), and I am now wondering if a lot of those force-sensitive kids the Empire has been kidnapping have been to brainwash them into Stormtroopers, thus effectively eliminating them as a threat to the Sith while also increasing the size of their army. (I’m not saying that IS what has been happening, just that it fits and I like it as a theory).

4. Poe Dameron - Another character I’ve liked from moment one, and in this movie we continue to see him grow up into the leader you kind of knew he had to be. He is clearly the Han Solo of this trio, with a checkered past, fantastic piloting skills, a flare for taking risks and coming out okay on the other side. I loved learning more about his past in brief snippets, and I loved seeing the way that Leia clearly believed in him and the trust she placed in him leaving him in charge.

5. Han Solo - if you read my review of Episode 7 – or know me at all – you know that this was the biggest beef I’ve had with the new trilogy. Han’s death seemed so pointless. So… unworthy of Han Solo’s character. The brief moments in E9 when he appears (as a memory, not a force-ghost) to Kylo Ren… ALMOST made up for what I consider to be one of the worst cinematic decisions ever. So, that’s saying something. I still can’t be okay with Han’s death. He’s supposed to go out on the Falcon, saving the galaxy. BUT… his words and his memory helping to push Kylo Ren back to that moment of decision, and this time he makes the RIGHT choice… and then goes on to save the galaxy…. that almost made it all right.

6. Lando Calrissian – I mean, it’s Lando. And he was every bit the Lando he’s always been.

7. Luke Skywalker – the biggest ret-con of them all… the moment when Rey goes back to Ahch-to and decides to follow Luke’s decision to hide away from the galaxy and she tosses her lightsaber into the burning remnants of Kylo’s ship… and Luke’s force-ghost catches it and gently chides her for not taking better care of her lightsaber, and then utters the words, “I was wrong.”

Chills, man.

Chills.

Thank you, JJ Abrams, for giving me back Luke Skywalker.

8. Rey’s parentage – I really wanted her to be Luke’s daughter. I mean, yeah, I know some people were all excited about her not having a “royal lineage” and just being an ordinary person… but… fiction doesn’t generally work that way. I don’t actually see this as a ret-con from E8, because the Dark Side of the Force lies. That’s what it does. When it told Rey she was nobody, I assumed it was lying. But… Palpatine’s granddaughter was a twist I did NOT see coming. It’s incredibly creepy and weird, but hey, it works. And I liked it.

9. Lightsaber duels – all the lightsaber duels. Epic and awesome and yes… I mean… we can’t deny the fact that a good percentage of the reason we love Star Wars has to do with lightsabers. The more, the merrier.

10. Kylo Ren/Ben Solo - Honestly, I’d happily watch three full movies of JUST Kylo and Rey. They were about the only thing I liked about E8, and while I didn’t actually like Kylo Ren at all in E7 the first time I saw it… he’s grown on me. His character arc is one of the most well-done things about this entire trilogy, and his ultimate redemption at the end of this movie is one of my favorite cinematic moments ever. I wish he didn’t die at the end, because the whole “Force Dyad” this is super cool and I would have liked more story with them, especially with them working together like they do when they’re both in Palpatine’s temple… lair… creepy throne room thing… but at the same time, his character arc was complete, and his death made sense. And it made me cry.

11. Callbacks – while I ripped E7 to shreds for basically plagiarizing the first two movies in the Original Trilogy, this movie did a great job with tons of call-backs that were just enough to be nostalgic but not so heavy-handed as to be obnoxious or take over and left plenty of room for this movie to have good moments and lines of its own.

Things I didn’t like:

First of all, there are already many other people on the internet starting to talk about the plot holes, etc this movie leaves you with, and others explaining why those things aren’t ACTUAL plot holes or unanswered questions…. and I’m not about to even pretend to be as smart as they are. Or as nerdy. Because I’m not.

(For example: if you would like to read a humorous discussion on how Palpatine’s tendency to have back-up plans for his back-up plans means that everything in this movie about his plan makes perfect sense, I recommend THIS ARTICLE)

1. Lack of actual strategy/battle tactics evidenced in the movie. “This fleet will increase the First Order’s strength a thousand-fold.”

So… just how many Star Destroyers were there up there? More than a thousand, I’m guessing, because I’m pretty sure the First Order didn’t have like, just one other Star Destroyer.

But… even if I accept that this enormous fleet of Star Destroyers has been either built over the past 30+ years, or that these are old Star Destroyers being retro-fitted with planet killing weapons, and I accept that somehow we can get planet-killing weapons onto a craft smaller than a small moon (because historically that’s what it took… Death Star…) because technically while not canonical, the starship Sun Crusher was a thing in the EU and… okay… I still find it hard to believe that it makes sense to keep all of these deadly weapons in a place where they cannot leave quickly or without some kind of guiding beacon. Why in the galaxy would you engineer that weakness into your fleet?

Also, the beacon is supposed to be on the ground, but then the Final Order (because we can’t just call it the Empire, it has to have yet another new name) transfers the signal to one of the Star Destroyers. Okay, fine, well and good. But why doesn’t the Resistance still knock out the one on the ground? I mean, if they knock the one out on the Star Destroyer, can’t they transfer it back to the one on the ground? Or for that matter, couldn’t they just bounce the signal around the fleet until they got out of orbit or whatever?

Also, did you see how difficult it was to get to that planet? The way that Rey needed the Wayfinder, not only to find the planet itself, but also to navigate through that weird hyperspace jumble of redness… and she signaled that trail to the Resistance because otherwise they never would have gotten there?

So… um… how did Lando and company all suddenly show up without issue? Did they all have to fly through that rigamarole and we just didn’t see it? Seems like that’s not what happened, since all the ships suddenly appeared together above the planet…

2. Logistical issues. Continuing to gripe about tactical stuff…. if you’ve got, say, 1,000 star destroyers (for the sake of argument, we’ll say that the claim of this increasing the strength a thousand-fold was an exaggeration), each with a crew complement of 37,000, that means you’re talking about 37 MILLION people just on Star Destroyers. I’m not wondering where all those people came from, the Outer Regions are largely unexplored and it’s possible there could be a lot of Sith devotees. The Empire never seems to lack for finding people to follow them. But what I do want to know is where did Palpatine come up with all the money to pay for such a fleet? The difficulties of funding a large-scale war/fleet/army/etc come up rather a lot in the cartoon “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and if this project began even before Palpatine’s first death… we’re talking about a massive, massive amount of money not just for building the ships (in theoretical shipyards somewhere in the Unknown Regions), but also for paying the crews… who are hovering, trapped, inside the atmosphere of a planet that looked largely devoid of life. So you’re also paying to bring in supplies and food and water (because replicators are a Star Trek technology, not a Star Warsian one) just to keep all of these people alive.

3. No sense of danger. In E4 when Luke goes on that first run at the Death Star, 2 x-wings, 1 y-wing, and the Millenium Falcon limp away from that battle. There was a very real sense of loss and finality and difficulty in that battle, even if it was for mostly nameless characters. In this final confrontation, I’m pretty sure we saw one Resistance fighter die, though my husband tells me it was many many more.  Even still I didn’t get the sense of danger, because the Resistance numbers never appeared to decrease.

4. Convoluted and rushed plot - Because this movie was so obviously attempting to both be its own epic conclusion to the saga while also trying to ret-con most of E8 and squash two feature-length movies into 2 hours and 21 minutes, the plot felt extremely rushed. The characters are sent on an epic quest, which would have been a great thing to see a whole three movies about… but instead it was a whirlwind ride smooshed into a single film. They hop from world to world, searching for a thing, the villain always shows up exactly at the perfect moment to perfectly destroy all their well-laid plans, and then they have to reel back and figure out something else.

5. Unnecessary POV switching - in a book, this would be called “head hopping.” There was at least one moment in the movie where this occurred and it annoyed me when it happened. Rey has to get out to the fallen Death Star. We are told that it is extremely dangerous to cross the super choppy water, but she gets in a little boat and does it anyway. Moments later, Kylo Ren lands his ship on the Death Star. And moments after that, Finn and his new buddy show up, having followed Rey out in the other little skimmer that was so handy. All of this only served to decrease my ability to believe that what Rey did getting there was actually anything impressive (see point 3), and the only reason Finn was there was to show part of the story from his perspective. He didn’t need to be there. His presence only served to undermine Rey’s ability in the minds of the audience. His perspective would have been stronger, and her character arc would have been better, had he been left pacing on the cliffs waiting for Poe to finish fixing their ship so they could go over and rescue Rey… only to get there in time to see her fly off in Ren’s ship.

6. Unanswered Questions - There were tons of questions left swaying in the breeze at the end of this movie. Some of which we may never know the answers to. Such as: why was Hux the mole? What did Finn want to tell Rey? Is Finn force-sensitive? How did Kylo Ren get off the Death Star after Rey stole his ship? How did Maz end up with Luke’s lightsaber that fell off Cloud City all those years ago? What happens to the galaxy now? Where even did the First Order come from? What happened to the New Republic? (I do realize that some of these questions may be answered in books and video-games, but I am of the personal opinion that if your blockbuster movies require me to read 7 novels and play 3 video-games, then there is a major problem with your story and your story-telling abilities).

So, those are my initial reactions to the end of this portion of the Star Wars story.

Wow this has become an incredibly lengthy post. I apologize profusely, and if you’ve made it this far, I commend you and greet you as a fellow fan and nerd.

What are your thoughts? Do you like the new Star Wars trilogy? Which movie of the 11 is your favorite? Which is your least favorite? Have you seen the new movie? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and continue the conversation!

~ jenelle

Surprised by God: A Back-Page Pass

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you probably already know that I published a Christmas-themed picture book a few months ago. But today, I thought it would be fun to give you a special “back page pass” as it were to see how this little book came together, because the story behind the story is one that is full of surprises! And I hope that it might be full of encouragement, as well.

Front Cover - v01

Sometimes there is no super-spiritual “feeling” that comes when God works. Sometimes there is no special “calling.” Sometimes God simply works through you and around you and uses the gifts He’s already given you and you don’t even know that he’s doing anything until he’s done. Sometimes, God Surprises You.

I don’t say this to downplay in any way those times when God calls you specifically to do something. Those moments definitely exist. This… just wasn’t one of them.

When God moved our family to Wisconsin from North Carolina in October of 2015, far away from family or anyone we knew, I was already an author. I had published two fantasy fiction novels and was working on the third. Writing was not a new talent or skill for me. 

When God led us to Chippewa Valley Bible Church in May of 2016, my husband, Derek, joined the media team. Because of this, he got to know our worship director, Jodi. He came home one Thursday after rehearsal and told me enthusiastically that, “Jodi loves fantasy fiction! You should get to know her better.” (He was a little worried about me because I hadn’t made many friends yet… he knows that I am shy and introverted, and so he figured he had found someone that I at least had two things in common with: a love of Jesus, and a love of fantasy).

Jodi and I did become friends after that, and she even read my books!

Throughout my adult life, one of the things I have struggled with at times is a feeling that the gifts God gave me aren’t really needed by the church. 

Reading is my super power… but it’s hard to use that on behalf of others. 

And while God has given me a talent for writing, He’s also given me a deep love of fiction, which isn’t usually something the church generally asks for. So when Jodi contacted me in the spring of 2017 and asked if I might be interested in writing a small skit for Easter, I gladly agreed to do so. It was nice to feel that my talent was wanted.

On September 11 of that same year, Jodi sent me the following email:

Would you have time to write something for our Christmas Eve service? I’d like to have a Christian version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. There are some okay ones online, but they don’t have the same cadence and pattern of the original. Well, either that, or, they’re really downers. 

I’m looking for something that follows the cadence of the original, (so, at some point, has an alternative to On Dasher, On Dancer, etc.) Is that something that would be doable for you?

Just to give you an idea of the service, our theme is Christmas Surprises, and throughout Advent we’ll be looking at the surprising things God did at Christmas. For the Christmas Eve service, I’d like it to be like Christmas through the eyes of a child, with all the wonder and excitement and surprise. And, of course, we’ll focus that towards Jesus, since He is what gives us hope in the season.

Once again, I jumped at the chance to help out, and set about thinking about what I could write. 

It took a while. 

A month later, I was still spinning my wheels… with absolutely no ideas about what I could write.

As I was trying to think of something, at times praying for inspiration, I turned to my husband for help. We often chat about my books and he helps me work through those awful moments of writer’s block. 

Derek asked if I HAD to write it from the perspective of a modern-day child? Which was what I had  been attempting to do, because I knew that was the theme of Jodi’s Christmas song that she had written for the service. He asked, could I perhaps write the story from the perspective of a child who might have been there on that first Christmas Eve night? Maybe a young shepherd, or what if the innkeeper had a child?

I liked the idea, asked Jodi what she thought, and she liked it too!

After that, the story came together in kind of a whirlwind. I wrote all fourteen stanzas in a single afternoon while the kiddos were taking naps. I read what I’d written to Derek later that night and we did a very small amount of tweaking and editing. The next morning, I sent it to Jodi and kind of figured that’d be the end of it.

However, Jodi (and God) weren’t quite done.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Jodi reached out to another lady in our church that she knew had a talent for painting and drawing and asked if she had time to do a few illustrations for this poem I had written. She said yes, and created four pictures to go with the poem so that they could put them up on the projector while someone read the story to the kids up on stage. Sierra also didn’t really see her painting as a “gift” per se, but rather a hobby that she enjoys and doesn’t get much time for.

The Wednesday before Christmas, I was at church helping with AWANA, when Jodi came over to me with a huge, excited smile on her face and handed me something. 

It was a book. 

She had taken the words and the illustrations and gotten them printed and bound at Walmart so that the person reading the story on stage later that week could have something to hold and make it feel more like “storytime” for the kids.

As I held the book and showed it to Derek, the thought suddenly struck me that, “I’ve just written a children’s book!”

That was a surprise!

Writing a children’s book is something I’ve always wanted to do, but hadn’t because I have zero artistic talent when it comes to drawing or painting. And that’s kind of important if you’re going to write a picture book, since, in my opinion, most children’s picture books rely heavily on the actual PICTURES.

Derek and I knew that if we wanted to actually turn it into a children’s book, we would need a few more illustrations, and I had no idea if that was something Sierra would be interested in. I also… wasn’t exactly sure how to go about walking up to this person I didn’t really know to broach the subject of publishing a book together. So I kind of hemmed and hawed my way about, sort of trying to work up the courage to talk to her about it.

But God took care of that, too.

After the book was read up on stage during the service, Sierra and Jodi both had numerous people come up to them and ask where they could purchase the book. At the time, that was not possible, since we hadn’t actually published the book yet and getting it printed at Walmart was pricey. Sierra actually approached ME and asked if I had any interest in publishing the book, and told me that she had no idea how to go about that (she didn’t know that I had already published books, so it was a surprise to her that I already had that aspect of things pretty much figured out). She agreed to do five more illustrations for the book, and we set out to put the book together.

Honestly, the road to get this picture book written and published has been one I know I can take absolutely no credit for. 

Hindsight being 20/20 and all that, I can definitely look back now and see God’s hand in every step of the design. 

From moving us across the country to Wisconsin (which was an answer to prayer in and of itself), to helping me find a friend, to planting the idea for the story itself in my husband’s mind…. I can’t even claim that he sent the inspiration directly to me! 

Jodi’s original idea, my words, Sierra’s beautiful paintings, and my husband’s hours spent on graphic design and figuring out how to turn all the pieces into one single file we could upload and send to the printer… every single piece of the puzzle has been perfectly fitted together to result in this picture book being created. 

You may not know what your gift is, or how it can be useful to others. But 1 Peter 4:10-11 has become a key verse for both Sierra and myself throughout this process and I hope that you can find encouragement in it, as well:

10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Usually, when you write a book, you sit down with the intent to do just that. I should know. I’ve written rather a few of them. But this one… for me, will always mark the year that God gave me a special Christmas Surprise all my own.

You see, I may have written the words, but God authored the whole event.

~ jenelle

Adventures and Episodes: Wrapping Up 2019

Adventures& Episodes

December is here! Christmas is coming! It’s my favorite time of the year. It’s a hectic, busy, (often sniffle-filled) time, but it’s also cozy and fun and beautiful. I’ve been busy with all the reading and writing and watching and living and not so much with the keeping up posting things to this blog of mine.

But rest assured, I have not forgotten you, dear Reader.

Even though I apparently haven’t done an Adventures & Episodes post since… er… May.

*whistles innocently*

The blog is probably going to remain a little quiet here for the rest of the year (though I hope to have my “Best Reads of 2019″ up before the end of the year, as well as a fun “Behind the Scenes” story of how ‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem came to be written), and then I’ll probably be posting fairly sparsely through January, as well… but after January comes…. everybody’s favorite thing… FEBRUARY IS FANTASY MONTH! I’m working on some plans for making this the best fantasy month ever, and if you have any ideas, please feel free to pitch them my way!

So, what have I been up to this past couple of months?

Reading

Reading List

 

I’ve been reading up a storm this year. I originally set my Goodreads reading goal at 35 books for the year, knowing how much writing I had to get done, but then I passed that somewhere in July, so I bumped my goal up to 50, and so far this year I’ve read 60 books! And so many of them have been exceptional! But I’ll save my fangirling for my actual “best reads of 2019″ post.

Watching

The most notable things we’ve watched in the latter half of the year have been two-fold.

Ford Vs Ferrari 

Halfway through this movie, I found myself thinking, “The second this comes to blu-ray, I’m buying it.”

By the end of the movie, I had not changed my mind.

This doesn’t happen very often. I generally reserve judgment until I’ve seen the credits roll, but this movie was fantastic. In many ways, it reminded me of Miracle, and in others it reminded me of Tucker: A Man and His Dream, both favorites of mine. There was so much heart to this movie. It’s a true “buddy” movie, and I loved the friendship depicted between Carol Shelby and Ken Miles. I also loved Ken Miles’ family… his wife and son were just fantastic. All of the protagonists were genuinely likable… which doesn’t mean they didn’t have their flaws, but I couldn’t help but root for them.

The only criticism I have is that there is a bit more swearing than I would have preferred (including one F-word). And the movie was a bit mis-titled, as it really felt more like it ought to have been called “Ford vs Ken Miles.” But other than that, this movie was absolutely beautiful.

The Mandalorian

With the advent of Disney+ we went ahead and subscribed (as we were kind of looking for a way/reason to ditch Netflix anyway (which we are planning to do as soon as we finish watching Miraculous Ladybug… which was SUPPOSED to be on Disney+ according to all the advance lists).

Anyway.

I’ve already posted my reaction to the first episode of The Mandalorian. Suffice to say, that this Star Wars Western has continued to steal my heart with every new episode. It is fantastic and beautiful and it is everything I’ve been wanting from the live-action Star Wars franchise since George Lucas announced he was making prequels… and then… did what he did with them.

If you have Disney+ and haven’t watched the Mandalorian… I highly recommend it. Somehow it manages to beautifully capture all the essence of the original trilogy while telling a completely unique-to-the-Star-Wars-Franchise story. Who’dahthunk?

 

Not much else of note when it comes to watching things. We also recently watched Star Wars (the very original original… in high def… it was awesome… Han Shot first… and all that… we are such nerds). And we watched Solo again and liked it just as much the second time around, except they should have introduced Xixor and Black Sun at the end instead of relying on Darth Maul yet AGAIN. Seriously. We don’t love him that much, guys. Also, HOW IS HE ALIVE? I know this was explained in the cartoons, I still don’t buy it… and if MAUL is alive, then in my mind, Han Solo has every right to still be alive, as well. Hmph.

Derek and I are re-watching all of Stargate SG-1, and will then probably move on to Atlantis. We’ve been watching Star Trek: Voyager with the hobbits. I’ve watched a couple of ridiculous and girly Christmas movies (The Knight Before Christmas and Another Cinderella Story Christmas) both of which were sappy and ridiculous. (Christmas Knight was actually quite good, even Derek enjoyed it more than he thought he would).

We also watched the new Grinch cartoon with Benedict Cumberbatch. I have mixed feelings about it. They really nailed the first half of the movie, but the ending was one of those places where I felt like, “Man… they just missed it.” And that disappointment kind of detracts from the entire experience. Will I watch it again? Probly. The kids loved it. Will it make it onto my “Christmas movies we must watch every year list”? Not a chance.

Writing

After finishing up Summer Princess at the beginning of July, I sent it to my AMAZING editor and dove back into writing Towers of Might and Memory, the fifth and final book in my Fantasy/Gaslamp series: The Turrim Archive. (Actually, there’s even a little bit of actual science in it. I asked Derek the other night, “So… since there is actual science tech in my story that COULD work… can I call it Sci-Fi?” He said, “No.” Very definitively. To which I asked, “Science Fantasy?” and he kind of tilted his head back and forth and said, “Okay, that could work.” So… Science-Fantasy-Gaslamp… this story refuses to stay neatly in a single genre, so I’m embracing the madness and trying to see how many niches I can work in… without actually doing it on purpose).

Before Summer Princess took over my life, I had struggled through 31,000 words of Towers. I added another 3k at the end of July, and then forced myself to take the entire month of August off from writing.

In September, I wrote approximately 8,875 words, mostly bumbling around and feeling as though I was ramming my head against a wall.

In October, I wrote practically nothing. I was extremely discouraged with the entire series, feeling overwhelmed by the task I had set before myself, and questioning if I should even keep trying at all.

When my mom came to visit later in October, she watched the kids one evening while Derek and I went out to have an outlining/book planning discussion and he provided some massive help with the issues I’d been having, as well as encouragement to keep going and that I could, in fact, finish this book by the end of the year.

As you know if you read my NaNo update posts, I added approximately 33,000 words to Towers in the first three weeks of November, then had to take a break for Thanksgiving and family time.

This month so far, I’ve added another 20,000 words to the story in only 11 days and only have about 25,000 left to go. I’ve been writing up a storm, and inspiration has been plentiful, so I think I can actually finish this book before the New Year!

Fairly accurate depiction… :-D

Listening

As I’ve been writing a lot, I’ve been listening to a lot of music. Mostly Christmas music (Mannheim Steamroller for the win!). But also quite a bit from The Piano Guys, Lindsey Sterling, William Joseph, and some epic Celtic music mixes like these:

And I just discovered this one recently:

Life-ing

Lots going on here this Fall. We traveled across the country and visited family in Washington, D.C. and dear friends whom we consider family in North Carolina at the beginning of August. We’ve had some family come and visit in October and for Thanksgiving. There have been some unexpected medical expenses and ER visits. We’ve begun the process of finishing our basement. And I’ve been taking the two oldest hobbits to go rock climbing every week, one of my favorite hobbies that I haven’t gotten to do in a couple of years. L and N are LOVING it and I am enjoying getting to do something I enjoy, as well!

Our family ventured out to cut down a real tree for the first time ever and fun was had by all!

We got 10-12 inches of snow the week of Thanksgiving, and another 3-4 inches earlier this week, so the holiday season has been draped in a blanket of glittering white. It has also gotten bitterly cold, temperatures dropping down to -11.

The girls are both in our church’s Christmas Musical this coming weekend, and they are excited about that.

I am presenting with my illustrator at a women’s tea at our church on how we came to create our children’s book… we’re both a little nervous, so if you think of me on Saturday for any reason, prayers would be appreciated!

And now it’s your turn! What have you been up to this past Fall? Any Christmas plans or traditions you are especially looking forward to?

~ jenelle

All the Sales! Black Friday – Cyber Monday Deals for You

BLACKFRIDAY-coffee

 

Happy Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday…. Holiday Shopping Weekend!

Did you know that Independent Authors are small business owners? It’s true! Becoming an indie author means that you are an entrepreneur. So if you want to support a small business this weekend, consider purchasing a book from an indie author! And to help you on this quest, should you choose to accept it, I have  some fabulous book sales to tell you about. There are so many titles…. you are NOT going to want to miss these! It can be difficult to wade through the titles and descriptions of books, so I’m here to help you find some GOOD indie books to peruse!

First of all, my own ebooks are ALL on sale this weekend.

King’s Warrior is FREE

Second Son is just 99 cents

Yorien’s Hand is $1.99

Minstrel’s Call is $2.99

Twas an Evening in Bethlehem is 99 cents

AND THE PAPERBACKS have been discounted a wee bit as well… so if you’ve been wanting to get the paperbacks of my Minstrel’s Song series and waiting until they were on sale… NOW is your chance!

King’s Warrior is on sale for $10.99

Second Son is on sale for $12.25

Yorien’s Hand is on sale for $10.99

Minstrel’s Call is on sale for $12.99

But don’t worry, that’s not all! 

I’m also participating in several big sales with many other indie authors.

Black Friday banner

Check out this massive Indie Authors Black Friday Sale  with over 200 titles to investigate in a variety of genres from Mystery to Fantasy to Sci Fi to Romance to Christmas-themed and MORE!

Then there’s also this sale of Speculative Fiction from the Pens of Christian Authors with tons of amazing-looking sci fi and fantasy titles! I’ll be checking out both of these sales, myself!

 

Happy Shopping! Happy Reading!

 

 

 

~ jenelle