Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Star Wars, The Writing Life

Star Wars VII, Books, Movies Based on Books, and Vice-Versa

Yesterday, the official cast for Star Wars VII was announced over at  The “Big Three” will be back, as well as a cast of new faces, most of whom I hadn’t even heard of except for Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in Lord of the Rings and Captain Haddock in Tintin.  I wonder who he’s playing…?  (And I know you were probably expecting me to include a picture of Gollum here, but I didn’t.  Ha!  And let that be a lesson to ye!)

Not long before that, Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm announced that to “give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience,” they will be officially discrediting the Star Wars “Expanded Universe” of books to make way for the Star Wars: Rebels TV show and Star Wars VII.  That means, Timothy Zahn’s post-Episode VI supercool Thrawn novels, the adorable Young Jedi Knights series for teens, and all of the subsequent (generally depressing) books about Han and Leia’s kids are now gone.

(In hindsight, that was probably why the Star Wars website’s character database stopped referencing EU content last year or so when the site was revamped.  They’ve been planning this as cunningly as the Emperor planned Order 66 for all those years, huh?)

According to the article featuring Ms. Kennedy’s announcement, George Lucas endorsed the Expanded Universe as merely an “official” fanfiction outlet for writers and nothing more than that.  He wasn’t going to commit to the timeline writers had set if (and when) he decided to make more movies.  But to so many readers, the Expanded Universe, starting with Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, became our non-film sequels to the original trilogy. Continue reading “Star Wars VII, Books, Movies Based on Books, and Vice-Versa”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life, Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt #1 –

I’ve been considering posting weekly/monthly/sometimely writing prompts for all of those people who need some writing inspiration fast, and I’ve finally gotten around to doing one.  Of course, I reserve the right to use these ideas myself, and if you do use any prompt I share, I’d prefer that you give credit to the source.

Prompt #1: Someone you know is an alien from outer space!

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings

Allison the Writer vs. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: The “Glass Bubble”

In my research for my previous post about Newbery Medals, I read a highly thought-provoking quote from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the author if ‘Shiloh’ and the ‘Alice’ books, both of which I strongly denounce (in the context of “antonym of ‘recommend'”, courtesy of the thesaurus).

When confronted in an interview with some alleged concerns towards the amount of profanity in her book Shiloh, (as opposed to the atrocious grammar, both written and “spoken”,) author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor commented, “There are people in the world who speak crudely … You can’t put your child in a glass bubble and protect him always.”

My response, twenty-one years later: Indeed, you (probably) can’t shelter a child forever, but who are you, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, to determine between the ages nine and twelve is the right time to quit sheltering all kids cold turkey?

I can just see it now:



MRS. PERKINS — a middle-aged, conservatively-dressed woman — enters the kitchen holding her purse, some groceries, and a small paperback book.  Let’s call it The Greater Prowess of Lucy, a book that is infamous for being banned (let’s say for legitimate reasons) all over the United Provinces of Atlantica by educational institutions.  SUSIE PERKINS, age ten, is sitting at the kitchen table, reading Little Log Cabin in the Countryside.  She looks up excitedly at her mother’s entrance.

The Little Log Cabin series is practically the only series her mother permits her to read.  The critically-acclaimed Franny Crewe mystery series considered too inappropriate in their household, because Franny dates Fred for purposes other than marriage prospects.


Hi, Susie.  I bought a book for you and I figured you might enjoy it.

MRS. PERKINS hands her daughter The Greater Prowess of Lucy with almost undetectable hesitance. Continue reading “Allison the Writer vs. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: The “Glass Bubble””

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings

Who Picks the Newbery Awards?

My musing for today is, who selects which books intended for children receive a Newbery Medal and how do they do it?

Here’s how I imagine (and embellish upon) it:

A group of women between the ages thirty and sixty sitting at a San Diego Comic Con celebrity panel-style table, each engrossed in a 100 to 250-page book comes to mind.  (That last bit  about the celebrity panel is purely my imagination, sparked by the word “panel”.)

I imagine these women to be school teachers or librarians or of similar careers relating to children and/or the educational system, and that they would much rather read novels for adults, like Harlequin novels about forbidden love and other more “exciting” things.  Hence, they are extremely bored by the simplistic, “namby-pamby” children’s books they’re presented with.

But then one of the nominated books has some illicit behavior in it, or talk of something really, really controversial from a child-appropriate perspective  — just like in their favorite adult novels.  Now, these panelists’ interests are piqued!  Of all the books they’d perused that day (or, to be realistic, in a longer time frame), they have finally found a book that holds their interest, that stands out from the other childish (duh) books they’ve seen.  Unfortunately, though, they’ve lost sight of what audience these books were written for.

And so they give that book — the one with the iffy stuff — an award for being a “distinguished” (AKA notably different from every other) nominated contribution to literature (due to its controversial/inappropriate materials no other children’s author dares to include), but they’re only dimly aware of what genre of literature this was intended for: children.


Here’s how they say it is:

 …The original Newbery was based on votes by a selected jury of Children’s Librarian Section officers. Books were first nominated by any librarian, then the jury voted for one favorite. Hendrik van Loon’s non-fiction history book The Story of Mankind won with 163 votes out of 212.[2]:11 In 1924 the process was changed, and instead of using popular vote it was decided that a special award committee would be formed to select the winner. The award committee was made up of the Children’s Librarian Section executive board, their book evaluation committee and three members at large. In 1929 it was changed again to the four officers, the chairs of the standing committees and the ex president. Nominations were still taken from members at large.[2]:13

In 1937 the American Library Association added the Caldecott Award, for “the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published in the United States”.[7] That year an award committee selected the medal and honor books for both awards.[5]:7 In 1978 the rules were changed and two committees were formed of fifteen people each, one for each award. A new committee is formed every year,with “eight elected, six appointed, and one appointed Chair”.[2]:7 Committee members are chosen to represent a wide variety of libraries, teachers and book reviewers. They read the books on their own time, then meet twice a year for closed discussions. Any book that qualifies is eligible, it does not have to have been nominated. Newbery winners are announced at the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association, held in January or February. The results of the committee vote is kept secret, and winners are notified by phone shortly before the award is announced.[2]:8

–Wikipedia, “Newbery Medal

Continue reading “Who Picks the Newbery Awards?”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Ideas Take Time

In fact, ideas can take a lot of time.

How long does it take to write a book? It’s difficult for me to say. Usually, an idea “cooks” in my head for a very long time before I begin to write it. During that preparation time I will make notes and do research. The actual writing can be relatively quick—four to fifteen months—but I could the preparation as part of the work. So in that way, The Great Train Robbery was 3 years. Jurassic Park was 8 years. Disclosure was 5 years. Sphere is an odd example: I started it and wrote part of it, but didn’t have a good ending, so I stopped. Twenty years later, I picked it up again and finished it in about two months. So: did it take 20 years, or two months?

Michael Crichton (via a young readers’ Q&A page on his site)

Suddenly, I feel I can survive waiting three-plus years at a time in between each Penderwicks book. (I’ve been following that series for awhile now – it’s by Jeanne Birdsall and I highly recommend it!)

But my point is, I think I can relate to this quote, because, although I have not lived as long as Mr. Crichton, a lot of my ideas for stories have floated around in my head for extended periods of time before they develop and mature into what goes on paper. And even then, they’re never fully developed! (Yay, rewriting and editing and revising – NOT.)

But enough about me. How much time do you spend forming an idea for a story in your head before it goes on paper? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂