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Star Wars, The Mystery is Refreshing

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When I went to see The Force Awakens with my friend Kevin J. Anderson on opening night, (which was absolutely awesome, by the way!!!) Kevin said something along the lines that while it was nice that his fans would defend his work so much, it was actually kind of refreshing to have a movie where he had no idea what was going to happen.

At the time, I really didn’t think much about it, because I WAS WATCHING A NEW STAR WARS MOVIE WITH KEVIN J. ANDERSON! However, after watching The Force Awakens for the third time, a few things clicked.

It all started when I was overhearing a conversation before the movie started, about what color lightsaber Yoda and Luke had.

“All lightsabers are blue.”

“No, all Jedi lightsabers are green.”

After hearing this go back and forth for a minute, I just had to turn around and settle the debate with my vast geeky knowledge. Okay, okay, I know, this wasn’t a debate requiring all that much geeky knowledge, but that’s beside the point.

<< WARNING: Mild Spoilers beyond this point. >>

If you haven’t seen the movie, this stuff will give a little away, but not everything. It might just make you more curious or make you pay attention to things better.

After the movie, the same group of people started a discussion about the origin of Rey. They went through a few different theories, and then asked me what I thought. Who was this Rey character?

And my answer?

I don’t know.

And I realized, that’s awesome!

tumblr_nzj2fo1lE71rr8ze4o1_500I know it sucks that they did away with all of the extended universe as Star Wars canon, but it gives all of us Star Wars fans a unique chance to experience Star Wars the same way those who lived the original release in the 70’s and 80’s got to experience it. With complete aw and wonder.

Think about it. When the prequels were released, we (big Star Wars fans) knew what was going to happen. We knew that Senator Palpatine would become the Emperor. We knew Anakin would be tempted to the dark side and end up fighting Obi-Wan near a lava pool, turning him into the masked machine-man that the galaxy learned to fear. We knew that he would be the father of two kids who would be strong in the force.

Overall, there wasn’t all that much that was a surprise for us. At least none of the major plot points. We went to watch the movies just to see how they pulled off what we knew would happen, and to complain if they pulled it off in a way we didn’t like.

But today, we can watch a new Star Wars series, and have no idea what’s going to happen! We have assumptions and conjectures, but we don’t know. Isn’t it great?

We don’t know:

  • Who Rey is
  • What will happen with Kylo Ren (will he become less emo?)
  • Why R2-D2 was such a sleepyhead and why he finally woke up
  • What will happen to the resistance
  • Who is Snoke, and where did he come from?
  • Who is that old guy in the beginning that has the map?

These next four years are going to be interesting, as we wait for Episodes 8 and 9 to come out. After those movies come out, we will have all the answers, we will have more books to give us way too much information, and we will dominate geeky conversations over every small point that can be conceived of. Then the balance will resume where when a geek is asked the origin story of some character they can come to the rescue.

But until then, let’s just enjoy this strange time where we don’t know what’s going to happen.

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What I loved about this movie

There were some really cool parts in this movie. One of the interesting things was that it showed an example of how the Jedi were first born, when they didn’t have anyone to train them in the ways of the force, but the let the force guide them through instincts and visions. Watching Rey come into her powers off nothing more than a few legends and visions, is neat.

They didn’t completely remake everything. There were several throw backs to the original series. When J.J. remade Star Trek, he basically threw away everything and remade everything with more flashiness than a ferengi knows what to do with. But in this movie, the TIE fighter weapons displays looked like what we saw in A New Hope, only upgraded. And the targeting computer in the Falcon was the exact same graphics and sounds used in the originals. They did an amazing job at adding new ships, droids, and weapons to the universe without feeling like they had to remake everything. And it was fantastic.

Also, watching the Millennium Falcon drifting on Jakku, awesome.

So yeah, there was a lot that I loved about this movie. The only thing that really bugged me was pretty much everything to do with R2, which sucks, since he’s one of my favorite characters. But all of that, hopefully, will be explained in a satisfying way in the next movie.

And now, to discuss THE BIG SPOILER.

<< WARNING: Huge Spoilers Ahead! >>

If you haven’t seen the movie, you really shouldn’t read any further than this!

First up, my favorite line in this movie.

Luke is a Jedi, but you are his father.

That line, says a lot. Yeah, Jedi can train people to use the force and have cool abilities, but nobody has more influence in someone’s life than their father. Good or bad, a father will impact you more than even Luke Skywalker.

But even a perfect father can’t guarantee that their son will stay on the straight and narrow. What’s up with Ben? That guy is way too emo. I understand that he has the whole light side dark side conflict going on inside of him, and his temper tantrums are funny, but the final scene where he needed help seemed to add more confusion than anything. Why? Why was that the task he needed to do at all, let alone needing his father’s help with?

Killing off Han, that was a low blow. I wish they didn’t do that. However, of any way that he could go, was there a better way? In a strange attempt to redeem his son from the path that he was following? I still think it would have been better to set his pistol on stun, knock the guy out, then drag him home and give him the whooping of his life, along with a lot of parental love, but that was a good death.

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I really hope I didn’t spoil the movie for anyone, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

What did you think of the movie? Favorite scenes? Favorite new character? Let me know in the comments!

It’s a New Year, Time For New Goals

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Welcome to 2016!

First up, a thank you for following me and being a fan! It has meant so much to me that so many people have been supportive this year, buying my books, leaving reviews, and sharing my works with others. You were such a great help in getting me to where I am.

2015 was a huge year for my writing. I went from just writing stories to actually publishing something! I self-published my first ever book, Rite of Passage, and then helped put together an anthology with some friends and my writing group. It was this year that I decided that I can turn my writing into something I can make a living at.

That is a massive undertaking. One that can be depressing to keep trying for without seeing any traction after several years. So, to make it easier to see if I’m making progress towards that goal and to work toward it in a logical manner, I created a ten year plan, breaking my dream up into smaller, manageable, parts.

 

Years 1-5

2016 marks year 1 of the 5 year plan. During this phase of my writing I have 3 goals.

  1. Improve my writing through a lot of practice, publishing at least 3 short stories and 1 novel each year
  2. Build a following of readers by releasing books and short stories
  3. Build a following through social media, monthly newsletter, and blogging

Years 6-10 Plan

This five year goal is to take the writing that I have been working on, and really focusing on making a career out of it.

I will still continue publishing at least a novel each year, and short stories as I can, but my main goal will be learning to market my works and finding an agent and book contract. This will mean writing an extra novel a year that I don’t publish through whatever means I have been using up to this point (self-publishing or small presses) and use the book to attract an agent.

10 years from now, in 2026, I hope to be able to quit my day job so I can pursue writing full time. God willing, I think it’s an obtainable goal.

2016 Goals

Okay, now that you have my basic plan, time to get to this year’s specific goals.

Writing Goals

  1. Write and release 3 short stories, although I hope to release 5 or 6 for my Patreon supporters.
    • Eternity’s Ark – part of the Sidekick’s anthology, I hope
    • Domesticated Velociraptor story – part of my writing group’s anthology
    • Soul Shifter story 3
  2. Release Gate Hacker as a novella mini series, with the full work coming out as a novel in December.
  3. Publish a blog post once a week.
  4. Send a monthly email to my followers with a status update about my writing.
  5. Plan out another novel before NaNoWriMo

Other Goals

For goals to be effective, they have to be in writing. Otherwise we forget about them too easily and are never reminded to strive for them. So, I might as well put all of my goals in the same place to make them easier to follow.

Several of these goals really should be daily, but I suck at doing things every day for more than a couple weeks at a time, so I cut them back to make them more realistically obtainable.

  1. Most importantly, I need to draw closer to God. I spend too much of my life trying to live my own way. Nothing matters as much as following God and serving Him. I’m not doing this out of a religious obligation to meet objectives and check boxes. I’m doing this because I want to be closer with God. I want my heart to yearn for the things that God wants. I want my life to be a reflection of Him, because He is awesome! Here’s how I plan to do this:
    • Read the Bible at least three times a week
    • Pray daily
    • Tithe
  2. Lead my family in following God by:
    • Family Bible time at least once a week
    • Praying with the family daily, especially for meals
  3. Follow a budget to improve our finances!
    • No stupid big purchases
    • Reconcile my YNAB budget at least 3 times a week.
    • Limit eating out by cooking at home and doing weekly grocery shopping.
  4. Get in shape by getting my bike fixed and taking Malikai out riding regularly.
    • Regularly being at least once a week, weather permitting.

I have a lot of goals to work on this year!

Several of which are weekly, meaning it will take a lot of dedication and constant reminders. There are other things I would like to do this year but making this list of 2016 goals too large will make it difficult to achieve most of them. I would like to learn how to play the Piano with Malikai, and I want to continue to learn how to cook awesome meals, but as long as the main things I highlighted above are achieved, I will be extremely happy.

I don’t know what this year holds for me, with the help of God, and the support of my family, I will face it. 2016 will not just pass by in a blur where I continue on unchanged. I will be intentional with the days and weeks, making the most out of them instead of letting them fly by in blurs of routine.

What about you? What are your goals for this year?

NaNo Time! Take two…

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This year has been crazy! I got a new job (way better location!), worked a lot on a web application, painted my son’s room into a Minecraft world, made a lot of progress on a web application that I’m working on, and redesigned several of my sites.

But my writing… kind of got ignored. But fear not, my dear followers, NaNoWriMo is here!

I’m going to be trying something a bit different this year. I uhm, actually outlined my entire novel… Yeah, I know, scary! I’m hoping this will help me write more this year, and make the story less… random. But we’ll see.

I did get some writing finished though. Some on ETM, and I finished a short story that I was asked to submit for an Anthology. I’m still waiting to hear back about that, but I’m just happy I finished something! Edited it and everything. 🙂

So anyway, plan on hearing more from me over the next month.

I will be posting a lot from my Twitter account (@JLZenor) if you want to follow me there.

You really should. Go do it now. I’ll wait.

Will you be doing NaNoWriMo this year?