Tag Archives: Star Wars

Rob’s Update: The 4th Will Be With You

Week of 30 April – 6 May

Greetings all

What a great weekend at Planet Comicon. I’d like to thank all of you who joined this list at KCPC. I hope you had as much fun as I did. Looking forward to next year.

Of course, I’m watching Return of the Jedi as I type this out. I also hope everyone had a great May the 4th.

There’s another reason I titled this update. I finished my 4th book, Where Now the Rider (3rd in the Edward series), on Tuesday. My editor is working on it as we speak. I’ll be doing most of the preproduction next week and you’ll see it soon.

By the way, for those who read last week’s update, that announcement might be familiar. I told you all last week that it was done, except for a few edits. Well, funny story that. I did those edits and in so doing I realized I had a much better ending. So I threw about 4000 words on the page on Thursday at Comicon and then spent the entire weekend waiting to get back to it. Writer problems.

But I like this ending better, it’s stronger, with more action, and with more to bring my overall plan forward. I think you all will like it as much as I do. As a side note, it ended up being around 120,000 words, my longest story in the Edward world.

Quote of the Week

And what else could this week’s quote be?

“It’s a trap!”
– Admiral Ackbar

News and Works in Progress
  • Plotting for Brief Is My Flame, the next Irina novel
  • Plotting for a couple of short stories

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Anita C. Young. You can find her books here: https://www.amazon.com/Anita-C.-Young/e/B00HI6MD3G/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1493952386&sr=1-2-ent

She’s also a fantastic artist and you can find some of her work here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/clanyoung and on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AnitaCYoungCreations/

 

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works
  • A Lake Most Deep (Edward, Book 1)
  • The Eyes of a Doll (Edward, Book 2)
  • Where Now the Rider (Edward, Book 3) Forthcoming 2017
  • I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens, Book 1)
  • Brief Is My Flame (The Kreisens, Book 2) Forthcoming 2017
  • None Call Me Mother (The Kreisens, Book 3) Forthcoming 2018

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

ChattaCon 2017 AAR

I attended ChattaCon as part of my trip to Birka. A very productive con, enhanced by getting to participate on a bunch of panels.

My first panel was on Friday at 5pm about what makes the well-rounded character. I believe a well-rounded character has to have a little bad to go with the good and a little good to go with the bad. Protagonists have to be appealing to the reader in some way, so that the reader wants them to succeed (compare how much people wanted Anakin Skywalker to succeed vs. Darth Vader). I also add to my characters by having them like, or not like, food or other normal things around them. The scratch of rough linen on their skin, for example. There weren’t a ton of people at this panel (nor at any panel, really) but those that were there said they got something from it.

That was my last official thing on Friday, though I believe that if I’m a professional on panels at a convention that it is my responsibility to be at opening ceremonies. I went, they were ceremonial, and then I went to the Meet the Pros ceremony, which again I feel is part of my responsibility. I had a good chat there with a number of people, including a couple that had come to the first panel.

More importantly, I got a few minutes with Mike Resnick, the Guest of Honor. One of my favorite books is Birthright: The Book of Man, which is a collection of short stories that are tied together to tell a future story of mankind. Brilliant stuff. More importantly right now, Resnick wants to promote new authors so I’ve a new venue to submit some short stories.

Guess I’d better write some.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the evening hanging out at the LibertyCon room party. LibertyCon has been very good to me, and I will attend and help as long as they’ll let me. Had great conversations with a bunch of people, and Melissa Gay and I had a great idea for a panel, which I’ll talk about more when things get firmed up.

I might have stayed up late on Friday night, so I was a little slow Saturday morning, but made it to my panel at 11am. Unfortunately, no one else did. It was my panel on Moana, humorously enough. Ah well.

At 4pm, I had my chance at the Author signing booth. In real terms, I only had 4-5 people chat with me, but in all honesty that was more than I expected. Every reader matters and that was a well-spent hour.

Immediately afterwards, I went into a panel talking about using non-European mythologies in fantasy. While I haven’t done this a ton yet, this is actually something I’ve been planning for a while. The Secret History of the Mongols and the Mahabharata are major parts of my world-building, even if I haven’t revealed those sections of the world yet. I enjoyed the panel quite a bit.

At 7pm was a panel on Gaslighting. This was an odd panel topic, in my mind, since to a certain extent at a meta level, my job is to gaslight the reader. Of course, we were talking about things like 1984. I moderated the panel, and I think we served a difficult topic well.

Given my activities the previous night and the fact that most of the socializing was at Track 29, which is a goodly distance from my hotel room, I ended up wandering about for a bit after dinner but not really doing much. I went to bed early and read.

On Sunday morning, my first panel was on Futuristic Visions of the Locked Room Mystery. This panel seemed a little disjointed to me, in part because I don’t know if it’s a topic that really needs an hour. Maybe a better topic would be a discussion of the traditional mystery types and using them in science fiction instead of limiting it to one particular type. Still, any panel with Stephanie Osborn on it is fun.

Right after that was to be a discussion of the best and worst science fiction films. Many thanks to Mark Wandrey for inviting me to join him. Unfortunately, I really don’t remember what we talked about because it was during this panel that I received mom’s call about dad passing.

Anyway, I had one more panel, the power of storytelling. It was a good discussion, and I lost myself in the topic, which was nice. We roamed far afield on our important aspects of storytelling, which included the kinds of challenges characters overcome and the importance of those challenges making characters grow. Again, Stephanie Osborn and I riffed off of each other. It was nice.

Louise Herring-Jones was at that panel, and she and I ended up having a great discussion afterwards about books and philosophies. Smart woman, lotta fun to talk to, look forward to chatting again in the future.

All in all it was a productive con. The attendance was low, but in all honesty, that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. I got to actually talk to a number of other professionals like A.R. Cook, Mark Wandrey, Dave Schroeder, Melissa Gay, Louise Herring-Jones, and a bunch of others. There was also time to spend with readers, and I enjoyed that most of all. A good time.

I’m hoping that I do well at Birka, because it would be nice to make this swing a normal trip. We’ll see this weekend.

In the meantime, I’ll be sitting in bars in Frederick, MD working. Maybe do some sight-seeing afterwards.

Review: Moana

One of the challenges I face with my blog is finding topics. Obviously, I can write about sports, and update my writing, but that’s not enough.

So, I’m going to start doing reviews of things I read, see, or hear. Yesterday, I went to see Moana because one of the panels I’m on at ChattaCon will be a discussion of Moana as Disney’s version of Lord of the Rings.

The full panel description: Disney’s latest animated film is unique in its choice of a Polynesian setting and mythology, but some of its aspects seem Tolkien-esque. This panel compares Moana with LoR, and other kid’s flicks similar to Tolkien and other fantasy epics.

I thought it might be nice to, I don’t know, actually see the movie before talking about it. I know, I know. Weird, but that’s me.

Oh, and I’ll be giving spoilers. If you’re wanting to go see it and haven’t, don’t read any further if spoilers bother you.

Anyway, here are my thoughts. First, the story is loosely based on the mythology of Pacific islanders. Dwayne Johnson’s character, Maui, is a central figure in mythologies in many different cultures.

Moana, which is a word that means “the ocean” in Maori and Hawaiian. It is also the name of the main character who is chosen by the personified ocean to get the people of what is probably meant to be Samoa out of their self-imposed prison inside their reef.

Part of the reason she needs to do this is because the islands are threatened with death from a personification of lava. Moana needs to return a pounamu stone whence Maui had stolen it centuries before.

As plots go, it’s fairly standard. However, we’re talking about a Disney film aimed at children, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Also, since I’m watching this movie in order to compare it to Lord of the Rings, I can immediately see the similarity of the Ring and pounamu stone, especially since Moana needs to put the stone into lava, although it’s solidified at that point.

However, I found the plot much more comparable to Star Wars. Moana is Luke, though she is much more likable and resilient than Luke in many ways. Maui is Han, a trickster with a good heart with a sidekick that nags him, though in this case it’s his magical tattoo. Moana’s grandmother is Ben, who teaches her, then dies and becomes a ghostlike manta that helps her along the way. The Force is the ocean itself. The lava creature is the Death Star and putting the pounamu stone is like Luke’s shot.

I fell in love with Star Wars at the age of 9 and it’s no surprise that the same threads are in a cartoon movie aimed at that age group.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, even though I sort of knew what was going to happen because the plot seemed so obvious. I really like Dwayne Johnson as an actor, actually, as he’s getting better and better. Interestingly, he’s not the former bigtime football player to contribute his voice to this film, as former Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu also participated.

I love that most of the actors have South Pacific backgrounds. Of the 12 actors listed in IMDB, only Alan Tudyk (who mostly plays the crazy-eyed chicken), and Louise Bush (who plays the baby Moana) are not Maori, Samoan, or Hawaiian.

However, I wish they’d been even more focused on those traditions. I’m not going to get into some of the criticisms which are based in cultural insensitivity, but the odd mix of South Pacific traditions and Broadway did not work for me.

What do I mean by Broadway? Well, the movie is a musical with the music in part written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. There’s no doubting Miranda’s talent and he collaborated with Opetaia Foa’i, a Samoan musician. Unfortunately, while the songs were good, the music is exactly the sort of thing one would hear on Broadway, and Foa’i’s contribution may have been major but did not change the feel.

Every time they started a song, I got kicked out of the story. I would have loved more of the Maori, Samoan, and Hawaiian traditions, especially traditional folk music. For example, I loved when Maui started a haka before a major fight.

Overall, it was a nice movie, especially for kids. I like the concept quite a bit, but I think it could have been executed better.