Star Wars

Grab Bag January 14, 2012

Like a grab bag of candy where you reach your hand in and pull out some fun surprises, here are some surprising treats from around the web.

For Science Fiction and Fantasy Lovers

Star Wars’ Greatest Villain by Patrick Thunstrom – For every Star Wars fan who hates Jar Jar Binks.

Robin Hood: The Man Beneath the Hood by Jessica O’Neal – Do you believe Robin Hood really existed? Was he one man or many?

Who Were the Amazons? by Lisa Hall-Wilson – My co-writer Lisa gives a sneak peak at the society that forms the basis of our current work-in-progress.

For Writers

How to Know If Your Agent Is Any Good? by Jane Friedman – Since I’m headed to the Writer’s Digest conference in New York next weekend, this post couldn’t have come at a better time. As helpful for those still seeking an agent as for those who already have one.

How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day by Rachel Aaron – She gives three great tips for increasing your writing productivity without burning out–know what you’re going to write before you write it, great excited about what you’re writing, and track productivity and evaluate.

What Star Wars “A New Hope” Can Teach Us About In Medias Res by Kristen Lamb – As writers, we’re told to start our story in a way that will capture the reader. The dilemma is if we start in the middle the reader has action but no emotional connection to the characters. Kristen helps sort out this seeming catch-22.

The Meaning of Life

What Are We Doing About the Children? by Louise Behiel – We can’t help stop child abuse until we know the symptoms of it. The statistics Louise shares will shock you.

Timing Is Everything by Serena Dracis – If you have a dog (old or young), you’ll find Serena’s weekly posts on dog training tips infinitely helpful in understanding how your dog communicates and learns.

True strength is keeping everything together when everyone expects you to fall apart – Anonymous

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Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars The Old Republic MMOI’m excited today to welcome special guest poster Sarah Quick. Sarah and I met years ago in high school where our quirky personalities quickly made us friends. Sarah was lucky enough to take part in the beta for Star Wars: The Old Republic and fell in love with the game. I’ve invited her here to tell you a little more about why she thinks Old Republic is perfect for Star Wars fans and non-Star Wars fans alike . . .


Gaming has been a big part of my life for many years now. Though there are plenty of different video games to choose from, my personal favorites are Massive Multiplayer Online games (MMOs for short). I’ve been actively playing MMOs for the better part of seven years, starting with World of Warcraft, moving on to Rift, and recently turning to the dark side and playing the newly released Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is, in my opinion, the best MMO out there. So why is it the best? Well, I could simply say that it’s Star Wars and leave it at that; however, for those of you who aren’t Star Wars fans, I’ll expand a bit on the reasons why I think this game beats out all others.

Interactive Conversations and Environments

In many MMOs, you simply walk up to the quest giver, they hand you the quest, and you walk off to do it. In Old Republic, you interact with the quest giver, holding a conversation where your replies are often divided into three categories: Friendly, Neutral, or Evil. Depending on what your character says, the quest giver will respond in a certain way. This means that, should you do the quest again on a second character, their conversation will be different. This also gives you the feel that you are truly gathering information before going out to perform the task.

The environment is also interactive for some of the classes. For example, certain areas can provide natural cover for classes such as Smugglers, and allow them to minimize the damage they take while defeating enemies.

Space Battles

Nothing says Star Wars better than some space battles. Old Republic offers multiple levels of battles. Each battle is timed and has certain objectives you must complete in that time. As you level up, you need to upgrade your ship’s armor and weapons since targets are harder to destroy and your ship takes damage faster. Keeping your ship fully upgraded means the best outcome for your missions. Space battles also provide a great amount of experience points and credits to help you level, and pay for upgrades and training needed for future quests and missions.

Player Vs. Player (PVP)

I’ve never been much of a fan of PVP content. In many MMOs, there are a high amount of characters referred to as twinks. Twinks are generally second characters belonging to players who have another high level character (generally that person’s main character) supplying them with the best of the best gear. This means that particular person is darn hard to kill and often will single out one other player to repeatedly kill. Perhaps this will one day effect the PVP in Old Republic; however, at this point, there aren’t a lot of characters at maximum level, which means no twinks to be seen just yet.

Whether you play a lightsaber wielding Jedi or a gun slinging Commando, I must admit there’s something enjoyable about the PVP in Old Republic. There are three random matches that you can end up in, two of which are based on a timer as well as an objective. The team that scores the most points or holds the objectives the longest during that time frame wins and is granted the most experience, credits, and commendations for the match. The losers, however, don’t walk away empty-handed. They get the same things to a lesser degree. PVP commendations can be used to buy gear and weapon upgrades for you and your companions.


Each class gains certain companions throughout the game, ranging from wookies to droids and beyond. Companions help in battles, craft items for skill crews, and go on gathering missions. You can gain affection, somewhat similar to reputation in other MMOs, with your companions depending on what you say in a conversation. A higher level of affection means better results on gathering missions. However, it’s important to know that companions are gear-dependent, so it’s not just your character that needs to have their gear updated but your companions as well.

There are generally three types of companions that each character gets—a tank, a healer, and a dps. A tank has lots of health but doesn’t do a lot of damage. They are hard to kill and are great for fights against extremely tough mobs or beasts that you are killing. A healer has the ability to keep you alive through fights, yet they are often labeled as squishies because they are quite easy to kill. A dps (damage per second) type does a lot of damage, and while they’re not as easy to kill as a healer, they’re also not as long-lasting as a tank. Choosing the right type of companion in a fight can mean the difference between success and defeat.


Old Republic has great storylines for each class, as well as planetary story lines. Class specific storyline quests often occur in the same areas as regular quests; however, they lead to very specific interactions with various people and encounters with enemies. Because each class quest line is different, you won’t be constantly repeating quests whenever you level a second or third character. Only a certain number of quests on each planet are shared between all of the classes, so it makes leveling up multiple characters much more enjoyable. Nothing is worse than having to constantly repeat quests over and over every time you want to make a new character.

I could go into more reasons, but these are the ones that make the game for me. So whether or not you’re a Star Wars fan, if you’re looking for a great game to play, check out Old Republic.

Happy gaming, and may the Force be with you.

Have you tried Star Wars: The Old Republic? Would you consider playing it? More importantly, are you a Star Wars fan? 🙂

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Lightsaber Duel

One of the reasons I love fan fiction is that it allows up-and-coming creative geniuses to learn and to showcase their talent in a safe environment. Will fan fiction ever earn them money? Probably not. But I think if you’re trying to earn money from fan fiction, you’ve missed the point. Fan fiction needs to be about having fun, learning, and becoming part of a world you love.

Ryan and Dorkman’s lightsaber duel is a form of fan fiction at its finest.

(My inspiration for this video post was a post called “To Those Who Write Fan Fiction: Beware” by Patrick Thunstrom.)

Were you impressed by what Ryan and Dorkman created? How do you feel about fan fiction? Have you ever tried it yourself?

And come find me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Google+. I’d love to chat.

Ace Combat: Wedge Antilles vs. Kara Thrace

Welcome today’s special guest poster–my husband Chris 🙂 He’s the biggest Star Wars fan I know (don’t believe me, check out the picture of him in his jedi Halloween costume to the left), and he’s also the one who introduced me to Battlestar Gallactica. I couldn’t think of anyone better to pit the best fighter pilot from each against each other and see who wins . . .


In much the same way that sports fans have fantasy leagues to make dream-team matchups, it’s fun for science fiction fans to have dream matchups between some of the larger-than-life characters in the most successful science fiction franchises.

I’ve heard in a few places that Kara Thrace of Battlestar Gallactica (whose call sign is “Starbuck”) is the best fighter pilot in the sci-fi universe. I’ve also heard that Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo (all from Star Wars) are the best. With this thinking in mind, I decided to do my own little all-star matchup between Wedge Antilles, the long-time leader of Rogue Squadron, and Kara Thrace, arguably the best fighter pilot in the Colonial fleet.

(I didn’t choose Luke Skywalker or any other Force user, as they have an innate advantage through the Force. I didn’t choose Han Solo because the Millenium Falcon, although an amazing ship, is a heavily modified light freighter, and he doesn’t qualify as a fighter pilot.)

In terms of skill, Wedge and Kara are probably equal. They are both aces (they’ve racked up five or more kills), both served as commanders of large strike groups, and are highly respected for their skills inside the cockpit.

Wedge’s decades of experience (eventually he’s promoted all the way to Admiral), cool head, and innate calculating instincts serve him better than Kara’s fiery personality. Wedge excels at getting inside an opponent’s head, both with his flying and with his words.

Kara’s drive to excel probably matches or even exceeds Wedge’s, but hotheads like Kara can easily be manipulated, in much the same way a skilled martial artist uses his opponent’s weight and momentum against them. For example, in the Star Wars books, Wedge frequently uses his ship’s comm system to talk to opposing pilots. He would probably try to talk Kara down from a fight, while she would likely tell him to “shut the frack up” and be ready to lose.

If they both flew the same starfighter, it’d be a coin toss as to who won the fight. The difference between the two pilots really comes down to the equipment at their disposal, so let’s take a look at the birds they fly.

Imagine it like a dogfight . . .

Kara’s Viper Mark II would easily outmaneuver Wedge’s X-Wing, but she’d have to pack missiles to get through his shields, which can be placed into a double-strength configuration wherever he wants. And Wedge’s four laser cannons outclass Kara’s machine guns. As she maneuvers out of any lock he achieves on her and angles in behind him, he has his astromech droid program a proton torpedo to go off via a proximity fuse.  She has no shields, and a proton torpedo can destroy unshielded enemy fighters.

Should she manage to take out his weapons and disable his shields, all he needs to do is plot an emergency hyperspace jump and live to fight another day, while she has to wait for Gallactica to recover her, determine his course, and plot a trailing FTL jump to find him.

The Mark II Viper probably has an edge over the T-65 X-Wing in terms of speed, power, and maneuverability. However, the X-Wing has a definite advantage in terms of armament, range, supralight travel capability, navigation, and survivability.

The winner of this duel would be Wedge Antilles, based solely on the equipment used.

But I’m just one sci-fi fan.

What do you guys think? Would you bet on Wedge or Starbuck in a dogfight? What other science fiction or fantasy characters would you love to see faceoff?