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Posts Tagged ‘Star Wars’

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” — Woodrow T. Wilson

Friends are on my mind today. Two of my good friends, Karen and Wendy, have birthdays this week. Just last week, I had the opportunity to spend several hours (including lunch) with Patti, a friend who I haven’t had a chance to visit with in-person for two years. I chatted with dear friend Kelly on the phone just the other day. And I’m looking forward to spending time with more friends this summer.

Besides family, I think friends and their friendship are the most important thing holding my world together–which is why friendship often plays such an important role in my stories and books.

BeyondSheercliffs_Balticon Like the unlikely group pulled together in JRR Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, sometimes the friendships we forge because of a common goal turn out to be the most meaningful. At their core, Star Wars and Star Trek, are also about unlikely friendships. As is JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. For “Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.” [Bill Watterson].

The concept of friendship growing from a common goal (and enemy) led me to cobble together several groups of seemingly dissimilar individuals in my epic fantasy novel, The Enchanted Dagger (Book 1 of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir). And the idea of friendship is also playing an important role in my current work-in-progress novel, Beyond the Sheercliffs (Book 1.5 of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir). 

The fight against evil; the quest for an item or person of great value; shared hunger, thirst, and danger; a common goal; and unexpected circumstances that link characters together are all wonderful devices in storytelling that can be the seeds of friendship. And best of all, readers understand friendship. It is something we all have in common.

A great majority of us desire strong friendships. We all have known the pain of a friendship that has ended. Many of us have watched a friend grown apart from us or change in a way that makes them a different person–and one which we no longer want to be friends with. Most of us remember the joyful feelings of realizing someone has moved from friendly acquaintance to friend. And we embrace the truth of Helen Keller’s sentiment: “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

And so, as I shape and polish the various friendships in Beyond the Sheercliffs, I urge you to reach out to your friends. Take the time to phone, message, or better yet, visit with your friends. Or maybe, make the effort to develop a friendly acquaintance into a friend. Because “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” [Walter Winchell], and we could all use more of those sorts of people in our lives.

 

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IMG_2395 Only 2 weeks until Halloween and 6 days until HallowRead. So I decided to share with you one of my favorite readings of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, The Raven. Actor Christopher Lee is the reader.

A bit of background: Christopher Lee began his film career in 1947 in the Gothic romance, Corridor of Mirrors. Lee co-stared in classic Hollywood horror films with Peter Cushing, Boris Karloff, and other well-known horror actors. He also played Sherlock Holmes in several movies. Star Wars fans will recognize him as the villainous Count Dooku.  Fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies will remember him as the wizard, Saruman, Interestingly, he was the only member of the casts to have actually met JRR Tolkien. Other recent films he appeared in include: Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows.

The Raven is a long poem, so be prepared to lean back, relax (if you dare), and listen to a marvelous Raven recitation by British actor, Christopher Lee.

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“Everybody has talent, it’s just a matter of moving around until you’ve discovered what it is.” — George Lucas

I really like this quote because I do believe that everyone has talent. Just look at a film like Star Wars (I’ll pick Episode IV, because it’s my favorite!) To become successful, Star Wars needed good writers, artists, designers, special effects people, sound engineers, actors, make-up artists, costumers, props people, editors, cameramen, etc. And, of course, a good director! The amazing part, this long list of people doesn’t even scratch the surface of those who contributed to the success of the movie.

Some talents are highly visible. Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill were on the movie posters and book covers. I’m sure their action figures sold the best. But hidden under the robes and armor were extras playing Storm Troopers and Jawas. Their contribution made the movie work, too.

And lest I forget, there were cooks who prepared the meals eaten on set. There were assistants who made sure everything went smoothly. There were pre-production, production, and post-production workers whose names no one knows whose talents contributed to Star Wars. I think George Lucas would agree with me that each of them have talents – talents which made a difference in making Star Wars an iconic science fiction blockbuster.

Of course there’s a little more to it then having talent. I’ll quote George Lucas again: “Working hard is very important. You’re not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard.”

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Happy Star Wars Day and May the Fourth be with you! Here’s a link for a brief history of how this holiday began.

May is a special month in the Star Wars world – not only was George Lucas born in May, but most of the live-action Star Wars movies debuted in May, including Episode IV – the movie that began not only the Star Wars franchise, but was a major leap in film and special effects. And I think my birthday being in May is no coincidence!

Star Wars had a profound effect on my creative life. Since childhood, I’d been a watcher of Star Trek and other science fiction (and fantasy) television shows. When I got the chance to go to the movie theater, I usually chose to see speculative films. Many of the books I borrowed from the library or had on my bookshelves were adventure tales, fantasy, and science fiction. But I hadn’t yet embraced sf/f/h as my creative niche.

After Star Wars, I realized I belonged as an artist and writer in the fantastical worlds of fantasy and science fiction. I wanted to write about heroes (both male and female), sidekicks, magical creatures, faraway galaxies, and strange worlds. I wanted to paint the landscape and inhabitants of those imagined lands (or seas or starships or mysterious places).

When asked to list my creative influences, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and Arthur Rackham always make the cut – but in truth, George Lucas should be mentioned, too!

Here’s NASA’s May 4th greeting for your viewing pleasure.

Here’s a short video with a May 4th wish delivered by R2D2.

And finally, a link to a fun and geeky Star Wars website. Enjoy!

(And by the way, my new book, Owl Light, has several science fiction stories in it for SF readers.)

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Busy today tidying up (though in truth I can only make a small dent in the tidying that needs doing). As I slide books back into their slots on my bookshelves, I noticed the great number of stories that have swords or blades in them.

My favorite swords are the lightsabers of the Jedi knights of Star War’s fame, King Arthur’s Excalibur, and the famed sword/s of The Lord of the Rings. There is always the debate whether Arthur had one or two swords. One pulled from the stone and a different blade given to him by the Lady of the Lake seems to indicate two different swords, but there are other takes on these mythical events.

As for The Lord of the Rings’ sword/s, I refer to Narsil, the blade broken into shards during battle. Isildur, son of the king, used the hilt-shard to slice the finger with the One Ring from the hand of Sauron. The Ring takes quite a journey, eventually ending up in the spindly hands of Golem, then in the pocket of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. From there, the Ring is placed in the care of Frodo, and finally is destroyed in the lava of Mount Doom. Now, back to the Shards of Narsil. These broken bits of sword, are re-formed into a new blade which is renamed, Anduril – The Flame of the West, and given to Aragorn to use. And yes, JRR Tolkien geek that I am, I didn’t need to research these names!

I found an interesting list of 15 Legendary Swords which not only includes my favorites, but a dozen more. By the way, I find the inclusion of William Wallace’s sword a novel idea. I wonder if it would have been on the list prior to Mel Gibson’s movie?

Skean copy In my fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, the blade mentioned in the title is a boot knife, though I do have Beck use a fighting blade, too. As I work on the sequel, I’m toying with the idea of introducing a magical sword — but I worry it’s a cliché’. What do you think?

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AnneEJohnson Thanks to author Anne E. Johnson for stopping by and sharing the origins of her Webrid Chronicles. Enjoy!

Why I’m Writing The Webrid Chronicles by Anne E. Johnson

Almost three years ago, I wrote one bizarre sentence, having no idea what it meant or what it would lead to:

Ganpril Webrid handed a clod of jamboro cake to the roadman.

Obviously, I was expecting to write something very strange, maybe without a plot. I continued scribbling a few paragraphs as stream-of-consciousness. But, to be honest, that’s not my thing. By the end of the first page it was clear to me that I needed a story.

So I imagined a character named Webrid, who (in that first scene) is selling low-quality cakes from his pushcart on a hot day in a dirty city. When I changed roadman to blue-skinned businessman, I started to get a picture of Webrid’s life: a working schmuck with little patience for the people he’s supposed to serve, and who feels like he’s not in control of his own destiny.

Although that character description might be found in pretty much any genre, I approached the story as science fiction. And, considering the bizarre nature of the first sentence, I decided to make it extra weird, thoroughly alien, and funny.

GLD There are no humans or Earth in the Webrid stories, and the large selection of freaky species on display is influenced as much by Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books as it is by the Cantina Band scene in Star Wars IV: A New Hope (ahem, otherwise known to people of my age as just plain Star Wars, thank you).

To express the urban underbelly of Webrid’s world, I applied a layer of noir, complete with cutting sarcasm, off-hand slang, and sizzling babes. Combining such knowing, winking language to Webrid’s bumbling life and a posse of wacky creatures made for some fun writing. I hope it’s as much fun to read.

Although Webrid has two very different adventures in Green Light Delivery (Book 1) and Blue Diamond Delivery (Book 2), they have something essential in common: Webrid has no choice. He’s the victim of destiny, which repeatedly plucks him up and dumps him into circumstances where he and only he―with the help of some colorful friends―can solve a world-threatening conundrum.

BDD_cover_front.1 In the front pages of Blue Diamond Delivery, my publisher Candlemark & Gleam lists the title of Book 3 of the Webrid Chronicles. It’s called Red Spawn Delivery, and I’m writing it now. So, is that it? Is this a trilogy? Does Webrid get to retire for real next year and lead a calm life hanging out in bars and strip clubs?

Fate has a funny way of deciding questions like that…”

You can learn more about Anne E. Johnson on her website. Purchase Green Light Delivery and Blue Diamond Delivery at Candlemark & Gleam and other retailers.

Thanks again to Anne E. Johnson for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a fun-filled day! – Vonnie

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Older, but no wiser than the last time I blogged, I wish each of you a Happy Star Wars Day!

As for me, I fell in love with George Lucas’s saga from the opening frame of Episode IV, and have over the years read most of the Star Wars books and watched (multiple times) all 6 of the movies. And unlike many diehard fans, I have no problem with Star Wars Episodes I thru III. I enjoy them for what they are, and don’t compare them to Episodes IV thru VI.

Nevertheless, Episode IV will always be my favorite Star Wars movie. As I sat in the darkened theater those many years ago, spellbound by the action unfolding on the screen, I was reminded of my love of adventure tales with heroes, villains, damsels in distress, sidekicks, and exotic locales. Whether Treasure Island or Tarzan or Buck Rogers or Lord of the Rings, I’ve always been a fan of adventure tales. And that’s what Star Wars is – an adventure tale.

Wait, you say. It’s a science fiction world built by George Lucas and the various writers who’ve contributed to the Star Wars universe. True. But location, spiffy space vehicles, and lightsabers aside –  it is the sense of daring, of plunging forward against incredible odds, of using wits and magic and luck to battle the dark forces of the world, and the friendship between unlikely allies that lure us into the story. And oh what a story!

For writers like me, there’s much to be learned from Star Wars: world-building, appealing characters, redeemable villians, fallen heroes, complex non-human species, gadgets and gizmos, and creating a compelling adventure tale that is fun to read. Remember, dear readers and fellow writers, good storytelling is good storytelling whether it’s classified popular fiction/cinema or literary fiction/cinema.

For those who’d like to revisit a bit of the Star Wars world, the place to be is: www.starwars.com For those even geekier (I say that with no judgment. How would I know of the link had I not visited it?) — there’s Wookieepeida: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

So on May 4th, all puns aside – May the Force be with each of you!

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