July 26, 2011

Lunch with Timothy Zahn & Shelly Shapiro

Obligatory fan picture!
I don't often win drawings, contests, or raffles. Except lately. Suvudu held a contest for three people to win the opportunity to have lunch with author Timothy Zahn and editor Shelly Shapiro at San Diego Comic-Con. I crossed my fingers, entered, and tried not to obsess over it. When an email notification popped up in the corner of my desktop at work that said "Lunch with Tim Zahn," I might have squee'd loudly enough for everyone in my office to look my way. I couldn't believe I'd won.

If you're not familiar with the name Timothy Zahn, he's a talented author (that's the understatement of the year). He's written several Star Wars books, including (and starting with) the Thrawn trilogy that pretty much spawned the modern generation of Expanded Universe books. For the love of Ewoks, this is the guy that created Mara Jade! Shelly Shapiro is an editor at Del Rey, and she's in charge of the Star Wars fiction. She's grabbed authors and helped shape the most beloved novels of the Star Wars EU. Yeah. I know.

I met up with the other two winners - one of whom flew in from Indiana just for the lunch - at the Hilton Bayfront. We talked nervously until Mr. Zahn and Ms. Shapiro arrived. We took seats at the restaurant, nd the three of us (the winners) were smiling ear to ear. Mr. Zahn and Ms. Shapiro took the time to chat with us about whatever we wanted. One of the group came prepared with a list of a questions. I should have been that prepared, but I was just excited to be there. I also didn't want to slip into reporter mode. So I winged it. Between the three of us we asked about the editing process, how the character of Thrawn was created, how to get a foot in the editorial door, the issues with long series and different authors, playing in George's driveway, writing characters that other authors have created, and so many other tidbits that were washed away in the sheer excitement of sitting at that table. I know I'm not the first person to ask about Thrawn, but I couldn't help it. Zahn wanted to create a character that commanded by loyalty rather than fear, and he knew it had to be an alien (so it would be more impressive that he was a Grand Admiral, given the Emperor's disdain for aliens). He had a few other components and from them, Thrawn was born.

We promised to carry more than a couple of topics to our graves, but a few things were left open. I'm jazzed about this one: Mr. Zahn expressed an interest in writing an episode or a three story arc for The Clone Wars. He hasn't talked to Dave Filoni yet, and I won't say the idea he has in mind - but it's fantastic. It would fit, and fans would flip out. Another point of interest is something he always wanted to work into a novel but hasn't been permitted to include: he thought it would be neat for the Emperor to allude to the Death Star being built to use as a weapon against the threat of the Yuuzhan Vong.

We moved from the restaurant to a quieter lounge area, and Leland Chee (Keeper of the Holocron at Lucasfilm) wandered by. And then he sat down to talk with us. That man has an astounding memory. Shapiro asked about x, y, or z, and Chee would pause for just a minute before filling in the details around each point.

One of my favorite parts of the lunch was listening to Mr. Zahn pitch ideas to Ms. Shapiro about [redacted] and hearing the back and forth conversation. It was by turns inspiring and exciting. He even spun a new idea in front of us. Ahh! I love hearing other people talk passionately about Star Wars, and when it's people that have hands in books I stay up late reading... it was surreal.

Once in a lifetime opportunity is the phrase that goes here, and it's appropriate.

Read about the lunch from another winner's point of view.

Thanks to Suvudu and Del Rey for holding the contest, and thanks to Shelly Shapiro, Timothy Zahn, and Leland Chee for being so generous with their time.

July 22, 2011

SDCC: Clone Wars Panel Highlights

Star Wars: The Clone Wars panel was on my list of panels I had to attend at Comic-Con. I got in line over an hour before the panel to find it was already long. I got in the room though, and I'm so glad I did. It was packed with news and clips!  Pablo Hidalgo, Dave Filoni, and Cary Silver gave us a lot of news about the upcoming season. Here are the highlights:

- The first three episodes of season four will be an arc involving the Mon Calamari. Much of the episodes take place underwater. It's not as challenging to do underwater as it is to do the surface of water (like Kamino). The hard part about these episodes was creating the Mon Calamari civilization. The animation was also challenging because all of the models have to move/be animated in an entirely different way.

- Hidalgo asked Filoni what the tagline for season four, "Battle Lines," meant. Filoni answered: "Lots of things go boom."

- Filoni confirmed that it is Captain Ackbar we are seeing in the season four preview.

- Filoni said he designed the new scuba clones just to see the 501st Legion walk around the convention in flippers.

- We'll visit a new planet in season four: Umbara. It's always dark there. Clone troopers fight a battle on this planet against a humanoid force that is allied with the Separatist. We'll be seeing a lot of Rex in this story.

- A clip showed Adi Gallia fighting General Grievous.

- Bounty hunters will be around in the 4th season. Cad Bane, Bossk, Boba Fett, and Dengar will make appearances.

- A space battle clip showed Headhunters, the predecessors to the X-Wings.

- Another clip showed Lux and Ahsoka alone together on a trip of some sort. They are surrounded by members of the Death Watch, one of whom is a female. She is voiced by Katee Sackhoff. Jon Favreau will be back as Pre Vizsla.

- Yet another clip (this one wasn't rendered) showed the Nightsisters fighting battle droids.

- Team Unicorn came to the panel dressed as Nightsisters:

Check out IGN's wrap-up of the panel; they included lots of details about the clips that were shown.

July 20, 2011

Comic-Con Coverage

I know not everyone can make it to Comic-Con nor does everyone even want to go. While I'm there, I'll try to bring you as much of the con experience as I can. You can keep with up me through these sites:

Twitter - I'll be live-tweeting as long as the wireless network plays nice. Last year, it was a bit overloaded but I was also using AT&T last year. Verizon > AT&T. Follow me on Twitter to keep up on SDCC fun and some panel coverage.

Facebook - This is my geek with curves fan page, and I'll be uploading photos there or posting a link to my Flickr account nightly from the convention.

Geek Girls Network - I've installed a Wordpress app on my iPhone and so have the other writers at GGN. I might do some quick posts while I'm waiting in one of many lines.

I'll post recaps of each day starting next Monday.

Shockingly, I'm not the only person talking about Comic-Con. Follow the #SDCC hashtag on Twitter! I guarantee it will be buzzing.  To hear specifically from the League of Extraordinary Ladies, look for the #lxlsdcc hashtag. If you have a panel for your favorite show that you are bummed about missing, just keep an eye on YouTube the day after the panel is scheduled. It will probably show up.

July 19, 2011

Interview with Captain America... I mean, Chris Evans

Chris Evans likes playing Captain America. He says it's a good feeling to play such an earnest guy. I recently talked with him at roundtable interviews at a press conference for Captain America. I reported on the event for Geek Girl on the Street. Evans also discusses being on the set of The Avengers, why he was apprehensive about taking the role of the Cap, and about taking the job home with him.

Read the complete interview at Geek Girl on the Street.

Keep an eye on Geek Girl on the Street for an interview with Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes) and my review of the Captain America movie!

July 18, 2011

Where I'll Be at SDCC

I like to meet people at San Diego Comic-Con. This was not always the case. For the first couple of years I attended, I scurried about from the convention floor to panels to the hotel room. I didn't go to any parties, I didn't talk much... I have made leaps and bounds conquering my shyness since then. I try to get outside the convention center more and generally just say hi to people. Twitter has paved the way to make starting conversations easy. I'd love to meet as many of you as possible at SDCC to say hi and thank you for reading my scribblings. I know some places and parties that I will be at for sure, and if you're in the area, flag me down. If you see me on the convention floor, please say howdy. I promise I don't bite.

Oh, You Sexy Geek - 10:45-11:45am - Room 6A
"Does displaying the sexiness of fangirls benefit or demean them? When geek girls show off, are they liberating themselves or pandering to men? Do some "fake fangirls" blend sex appeal with nerdiness just to appeal to the growing geek/nerd market, or is that question itself unfair? And what's up with all the Slave Leias?"

Star Wars: The Clone Wars S4 Preview - 4:45-5:45pm - Room 6BCF
"The epic conflict of Star Wars: The Clone Wars intensifies in the upcoming season, as new battle lines are drawn, new threats arise, and old enemies resurface. Take an unparalleled first look into this fall's action, drama, and adventure as the creators of hit series from Lucasfilm preview some of what will astound Star Wars fans in Season Four."

Her Universe - What Women Want in Their Female Sci-Fi Heroes - 6:00-7:00pm - Room 25ABC
"In the early days of sci-fi, female characters were the designated damsels in distress. Thankfully, today a new generation of creative minds are molding the strong, intelligent, and powerful female roles we see in some sci-fi films, TV shows, comics and other media. What are the differences between past sci-fi adventures with female characters and today's feminine heroes that women can really connect with? How do you create truly interesting and unique female characters in the sci-fi universe? How are they different from their male counterparts?"

I might be at 3:00pm Game of Thrones panel, it depends on the line.

New Media Meet-Up - Meet-up is from 5:30-8:00pm and co-hosted by the League of Extraordinary Ladies.

I'll pretty much be in Room 7AB for Star Wars panels most of the day.
I will be on the floor cosplaying as Lady Indiana Jones for a few hours though.

Archaia: The Making of a Graphic Novel - 6:00-7:00pm - Room 9
Three new graphic novels coming from Archaia Entertainment's Black Label have some very interesting stories behind them, and if you ever aspire to create your own graphic novel someday, you may pick up some pointers!

Mythbusters - 7:45-8:45pm - Room 6BCF
A Comic-Con fan favorite, MythBusters is back with their traditional Saturday evening panel. Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, Tory Belleci, Grant Imahara, and Kari Byron talk about their recent exploits and upcoming fall Mythbuster-y goodness!

Archaia & The Jim Henson Company - 10:00-11:00am - Room 4
Jim Henson was a creative genius responsible for some of the most iconic properties today, including The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, and The Dark Crystal. But what was he like leading up to that success? Archaia and The Jim Henson Company explore his early works and creative process, complete with archival, rarely seen footage, brought to you by Henson archivist Karen Falk. Then, get an advance look at Tale of Sand, the new original graphic novel coming in September, based on a never-before-seen screenplay written by Jim Henson and his longtime collaborator, Jerry Juhl. Falk, Archaia editor-in-chief Stephen Christy, and A Tale of Sand artist Ramón Pérez will discuss the behind-the-scenes production of the book and debut some new images.

The Superhero Battlefield - 4:00-5:00pm - Room 4
What drives superheroes to keep fighting the good fight without getting burned out, disillusioned, or transforming into villains themselves? Trauma psychologist Dr. Andrea Letamendi (UCLA) explores the minds of your favorite comic book heroes and villains, linking them with the very real minds of actual trauma survivors. Alongside Dr. Letamendi are fellow psychologists Dr. Robin Rosenberg (The Psychology of Superheroes) and Dr. Travis Langley (Batman in his Belfry), as well as guest panelists including writer Len Wein (Swamp Thing).

Also, in case it comes up, I like Guinness and gin and tonics.

July 17, 2011

Rambling Round-Up

Here are links to articles I've posted around the internet over the past two weeks! Making this list made me realize why I've been so tired lately.

New Convention in Town: Comikaze Expo - Comikaze Expo is coming to Los Angeles in November, and I'm looking forward to. Read my article on Geek Girls Network to find out why.

Must See Panels & Booths at San Diego Comic-Con - Saying there's a lot to see at SDCC is an understatement. A huge one. I've gone through the list and picked out some panels, booths, and parties that I think have universal appeal.

Harry Potter Highlights: My Favorite Scenes - The Harry Potter movies have taken audiences through an epic journey. The Boy Who Lived traveled a long path to get to the point where he could face down Voldemort. This list represents my favorite scenes from each film. Putting that list together made me realize how much I'm going to miss those movies.

Harry Potter: From the Beginning - The same as the above except instead of favorite scenes, it's a quick and dirty summary of each movie in the series.

Hermione Saves the Day Again - Hermione Granger is always there to pull Ron and Harry out of danger. I like that girl.

How I Lost My Sci-Fi Virginity - I haven't been a geek for my entire life. Almost though. And I remember exactly how it started.

American Gods 10th Anniversary - Have you read American Gods? If not, read this article and then go read this genius bit of Neil Gaiman's work immediately.

Her Universe Makes Sci-Fi Jewelry Sexy - Her Universe, Ashley Eckstein's awesome company that makes sci-fi merch for the ladies, is releasing new jewelry at San Diego Comic-Con. This toaster necklace is just one of the new, shiny pieces.

Quick Blurbs
LEGO Star Wars TV Special
Middle Earth Map Dress
LEGO Batman Cave

July 15, 2011

Harry Potter Mania

Unless you've been hiding in the Forbidden Forest with the centaurs (and really, who could blame you), you know that today it all ends. The last Harry Potter movie played across the nation at 12:01am last night. It is the end of an epic journey. The eight films were a monumental undertaking. I'm practically bouncing in my seat in anticipation of seeing The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 in less than eleven hours. I'm also sad. This is the last time I will don my Ravenclaw costume and stand in line to see a Harry Potter movie. Sigh.

So. I'm making today Harry Potter Day. To kick things off here's a round-up of some stories, crafts, and recipes. I've read each one of these and didn't see any spoilers for The Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

How To Make Butterbeer - You've been wanting to make butterbeer for a decade. Now is the time. This video is step by step and easy to follow. Cheers!

Lord Voldemort Responds to Critics - Ralph Fiennes talks about what it meant to him to play an evil character. "How “evil” is Lord Voldemort? He’s a demonic spirit. He’s a satanic force. Young Voldemort was an orphan and denied any kind of parental affection or love, so he’s been an isolated figure from a very young age."

Daniel Radcliffe's Life as Harry Potter - An exhaustive gallery that shows us just how much Daniel Radcliffe has grown up while playing the Boy Who Lived.

Hermione Granger: Minority Geek Girl - An essay about Hermione's path and her importance in the story.

Instructables Harry Potter Round-Up - I think it would be lovely to spend a weekend picking from this big list of HP crafts and food how-tos.

Good-bye Letter to Harry Potter - A touching good-bye letter to the young wizard and the series. This really captured a lot of why the series has meant so much to me.

A Few Questions About Harry Potter - This tongue-in-cheek list of unanswered questions in the world of HP cracked me up. One example: "How did Hufflepuff become known as the short-bus house? The books are neutral on the badger house occupants — but it’s a conclusion fans seem to have come to all on their own. Groundswell!"
The comments that thought the author really wanted the questions answered are equally funny.

The Evolution of Neville Longbottom - You need to read this just to see how that kid has grown from an awkward boy to a smoking young man.

Harry Potter is My Star Wars - Some kids grew up wanting to be a Jedi, and others waited for an owl to show up with their Hogwarts letter.

My Favorite Scenes in Harry Potter - Full disclosure: I wrote this one. I picked out my favorite scene from each movie and reminisced. I'm going to miss this films.

Finally, a goose bump inducing video from Warner Bros. that summarizes each movie.

July 12, 2011

Social Media & Spoileritis

Social media.With the power of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and all those other social media sites with ridiculous names that we find absolutely normal comes the power to post any thought to the world instantly. Any picture, any news, and any moment that just happened on a television show.

Remember: with great power comes great responsibility.
(You have no idea how long I've been wanting to use that line in a post).

Just because you can post a spoiler doesn't mean you should. Repeat it, learn it, make it your mantra. When you are excited to tell the world about the insane scene that just aired on Game of Thrones, restrain yourself. Sit on your hands. Phone a friend you don't like. Don't put it on Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr to slap the world in the face.

Sometimes I want spoilers. I want to be the one to go dig them up. It needs to be my choice. When Battlestar Galactica was airing, I spent an inordinate amount of time on the LiveJournal Battlestar Blog community reading theories and leaked spoilers. When I couldn't watch episodes the night they aired, I'd log on with the desperation of a dehydrated maniac and read the episode summary and analyze the main events. Even so, the spoilers were politely put behind cuts. You had to actively click on a link to face the spoilers. It was hard to do by accident.

But now. I visit my Twitter feed within five minutes of a show ending on the East coast and some tool is posting the ending. How long should you wait to post spoilers? My advice: if it is that hard for you to contain yourself, find a forum or specific chat room where everyone's on the same page. Or episode. After a particularly frustrating experience after Game of Thrones, someone mentioned - "well, I at least wait until it has aired on the West coast." Here's a crazy thought: not everyone gets to watch a TV show the day it airs. You can't put Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr behind a break. You are forcing your spoilers down the throat of anyone who follows you, and damnit it's rude and inconsiderate.

This has been a public service announcement.

Geeky Links of the Week

You know the drill. Some of my favorite links around the interwebz over the past two weeks. Please enjoy! I don't like thinking I clicked around in vain.

Miniature Grail Diary - Yes, that is a 1/6 scale miniature grail diary. If you could call something related to Indiana Jones cute, this would be it. There's also a Raider's Journal.

Neil Gaiman on The Craig Ferguson Show - Neil Gaiman and Craig Ferguson have the hilarious, make-you-spit-out-whatever-beverage-you-were-drinking, sort of chemistry. They talk about Doctor Who and American Gods and practice being generally awesome people.

Doctor Who Companion Infographic - There are a lot of companions in the Doctor Who universe. Read this infographic before you go to any convention. Cosplayers get annoyed when you call them by the wrong companion's name.

Close Up Look at Harry Potter Props - EW has beautiful, magnifiable images of some props from Harry Potter. That's all I can say about this link. Otherwise I'll start getting melancholy about the fact that the last movie is coming out this week.

The 10 Coolest Homes in Comic Books - Everywhere I would want to live.

Gaming With Sock Puppets - No, that's not a euphemism. This website is an interactive sock puppet RPG. You have to see this neat idea to believe it.

Daenerys Stormborn fanart - One of my favorite artists drew some great fan art of Dany. It does reveal a major spoiler for the end of A Game of Thrones (the book and the television series).

Big and Wacky Map of Westeros - Speaking of Westeros (I don't get to say that nearly as often as I'd like), this giant cartoon map of the Seven Kingdoms makes me smile. If you haven't read the books, you won't want to click. Spoilers abound.

Hughes the Force - A fan film that combines John Hughes movies and Star Wars. Do I really need to say anything else? Visit the site and watch the trailer; you can thank me later.

July 5, 2011

Rambling Round-Up

Here are bits I've wrote around the internet over the past two weeks!

Get Your Cosplay Ready for San Diego Comic-Con - It's not too late to prep a costume for SDCC; here are my tips on putting something together in a hurry.

In Defense of Sansa Stark - People don't tend to love Sansa Stark. Though I don't blame them, I tried to look at the world through her eyes and understand why she behaves as she does.

Game of Thrones Season One review - Speaking of Game of Thrones, here's my review of the first season. I discuss what worked and touch on the few things that didn't come across just right.

Having Geek Friends - It's made a big difference for me to finally find and be surrounded by geeky friends. In this post, I talk about how they have improved my life.

Quick Blurbs
Wearable Tatooine Sand Wristwatch
Doctor Who Dalek Dress DIY
Muppets Fight for the Iron Throne
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