Star Wars

With the upcoming release of the latest Star Wars movie, yes, I confess that I am a Star Wars fan and have been for as long as I can remember.

I grew up on the bickering of C3-PO and R2-D2 and the clashes of sparkling lightsabers and I never knew a world without them. But behind all that, is the ages old battle of good versus evil, but also with redemption of evil and rogues with hearts of gold. But it’s that triumph of heroes over villains that makes me watch it over and over. Not to mention the original story, new experiences, imaginative creatures, and exotic vistas. I even accepted the underperforming prequels considering they did still have characters to look up to, like courageous Padme who was more than just her office of Queen.

Admittedly though, I didn’t care much for Force Awakens. I keep trying to put a finger on why, since it wasn’t the performance by Daisy Ridley who has now become a hero for a new generation of girls. And it wasn’t the exotic locales with the desert planet very reminiscent of Tatooine, or the impressive ship interiors, as well as the return of the iconic Millennium Falcon and Han and Leia, and the remote end location.

Yes, the villain who threw temper tantrums like a 5-year-old was extremely hard to take seriously and not itch to make him do a time out in a corner, but I think the largest issue I had with it was originality in the plotline. So much of it felt like a retread of the very first Star Wars movie, so much that I started to wonder if they were aiming for a remake rather than a new story. Which brings me around to the upcoming new movie.

If Force Awakens was a retread of New Hope, I worry the new movie will be a retread of Empire Strikes Back. From the previews I know there will be an extended Jedi powers training session with Rey standing in for Luke and Luke standing in for Yoda. Makes me wonder just how much else will be copied. Will there be a scene on the run with Rey hiding out in a field of asteroids?

And will there be a showdown at Cloud City with Rey and Kylo where one loses a hand and a reveal of the relationship between them will be made? (I really doubt he’ll say that he’s her father, though brother is likely. It’s amazing all the bets that are being made over Rey’s parentage. I’m still hoping for her being a Kenobi rather than trying to turn them into Jacen and Jaina from the books instead of the writers coming up with their own original ideas).

Still, all of my quibbles won’t stop me from running to the theaters to see blinding lightsaber duels on a gigantic screen, and visiting new worlds, while the iconic theme of Star Wars blasts, heralding another out of this world experience.

Gypsy Madden is an author and costume designer, living and writing in the Rainbow State, Hawaii. She is the author of Hired by a Demon.

#BookReview: Legion Lost By K.C. Finn, review by Gypsy Madden

My blog at LiveJournal (and cross-posted to Goodreads) is where I review books that I read. So, to give you a quick taste of my reviews, I’m sharing one of my latest favorite books by the wonderful indie author K.C. Finn:

Legion Lost By K.C. Finn – I gave it 5 stars

Category: YA


Summary: In a dystopian future, there are interconnected cities known as the System and they are ruled over by the corrupt Governor Prudell. Our heroine lives outside of the System in a colony underground. But one day, the Underground is raided by System soldiers, and our heroine manages to escape though her mother and brothers are taken captive. Starving and on her own, she happens upon a young boy who is on his way to join the Legion. The Legion turns out to be the System run army made up of young teenagers. The girl decides to join, as a boy, and perhaps find a way to rescue her family members once she gets inside the System. But she finds that in the barracks everyone showers together, so her secret would be found out immediately, so she tries to hide herself in with the rejects. And in with the rejects she finds a new family of friends for herself.

Comments: K.C. Finn’s writing never ceases to amaze me. I love getting lost in her imaginative worlds and discovering new friends among her cast of characters. Legion Lost is a wonderful coming-of-age story with a dystopian background. I’m personally not a fan of anything to do with military, but it really didn’t bother me in this story. Having joined the military made a wonderful new set of complications that our heroine Raja had to figure her way through. And, yes, I adored Stirling. You could easily see the bashful, shy, awkward teenager, hiding behind his tough roguish captain façade. And all the other rejects had wonderful personalities, too (and especially Lucrece). There really wasn’t a character I could point to in this entire story and say they felt like a cardboard creation. Where so many of the indie YA dystopian books on the market right now read like re-treads of Hunger Games and Divergent, this one blazes its own direction. Yes, there are shades of Hunger Games in this (the corrupt government with a possibly evil leader, rebel factions itching to overthrow the established government, a heroine who grew up on the fringes and suddenly finds herself amid the struggle, not knowing who to trust, a strong heroine beating the odds, and yes, the touching coming-of-age). I hope it isn’t giving away too much, but I loved that this story had a Twelfth Night plot to it (my favorite Shakespeare play!) I can’t wait to see where the next book in this wonderful story takes us to!

You can pick up Legion Lost at (Right now only $0.99 cents!)

And visit my blog at or for plenty of more book reviews!

Gypsy Madden loves fantasy, science fiction, and anything British and adores making costumes and dressing up at conventions! She has participated in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest for 3 years as well as helping with the pitch workshopping thread, contributed chapters to the round robin stories of the Doctor Who Internet Adventures (DWIAs) and can even be spotted in the Naruto fan movie Konaha vs Chaos, dressed up as Harry Potter at several of the HPEF symposiums, and in LOST as a mental patient. Hired by a Demon is her first novel in print.

Being Jack Sparrow, by Gypsy Madden

picture credit to Zarli Winn
picture credit to Zarli Winn
Sometime after the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, one of my fellow cosplay friends was coming to Hawaii for a vacation and she wanted to get pics with her Elizabeth Swan outfit since they filmed part of the movie out here. I was struggling with finding a character, so she suggested I cosplay Will Turner to accompany her. What you have to understand is that I am secure in my sexuality and look at being characters as a tribute to how much I am a fan of the character, so I am secure in cosplaying either female of male without it threatening my own sexuality (so many people will only cosplay their own sex. And if they do the other sex, it’s strictly as a genderbent or rather the character done to obviously look like the other sex). My only worry is if I can pull off the look okay for being a suitable tribute to the character. Suffice to say, I pulled off a passable Will Turner and had fun getting some really awesome pics.

picture credit to Gypsy Madden
picture credit to Gypsy Madden
When commercials for Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides started playing on TV, it made me wonder if I could pull off the Jack Sparrow look. So, there was me, late on a Saturday night, playing with a tin of black eye shadow, brushing it on in all the places where Jack would have eye shadow, mascara, or facial hair. It looked awesome enough to spur on the idea of creating a full Jack Sparrow costume. Luckily since the movie was coming soon, there were plenty of costume items in the stores like straight off I was able to find all four of his replica rings and Elizabeth’s pirate medallion at Claire’s. I picked up one generic plastic pirate pistol from the local Party City. Admittedly, I had a long search online for the perfect Jack Sparrow wig, but I managed to find a perfect one at along with the Jack Sparrow bandana, wooden pistol, plastic sword, a mustache kit (which I had to majorly trim down since it was adult size and I’m rather small), and an accessory kit which included a plastic version of the compass.

picture credit to Tom Quach
picture credit to Tom Quach
I added some basic black boots and the pants are just pants I picked up from Rosses Dress for Less which I actually bought for, and hemmed Capri-style, for a Hobbit costume I had put together several years earlier. I had to make the shirt from scratch via a Simplicity pattern as well as the vest. I hunted through all of the local stores and online with no luck on finding the right print fabric for the vest, so I ended up having to paint it with copper brown fabric paint to achieve the proper scorpion pattern (which was a headache and a half). And I also couldn’t find the proper fabric for the sash either so I had to make it myself using ribbon to create the lined pattern. The belts are just strips of leather. And I swear by Sculpy/Fimo clay which you just toss into the oven when you want it hardened, which I used for the belt buckles, the intricate twist buckle on the sword belt, the tiny bones on the bandana, and for a large majority of the trade beads.

In all, Jack Sparrow has to be to date my most intricately detailed costume. Maybe not the most expensive though. That would probably go to the 9 yards of silk-velvet for my Lord of the Rings Arwen dress or the 7 yards of velvet plus 5 yards of satin for my Star Wars Handmaiden dress. In total, it took me about 3 months to fully assemble Jack since I had to budget in my usual full-time job, waiting for things to ship, and using my weekends to chase down odd bits (like I visited at least two bead fairs searching for specific beads, which I finally ended up crafting out of Sculpy instead. Of the odder items going into this, there are several different Chinese and Japanese coins, a feather, and a chopstick. It really made me wonder on the logic/sanity of the costume designers who put together his look.)
gypsy undergoing makeupThe entire outfit takes an hour to put on, I kid you not. The base layer (the shirt, pants, vest, and boots) takes barely a couple of minutes. It’s the making certain all the accessories and belts are in proper placement and then all of the makeup (I use a base layer of bronzer, then add on the beard, goatee, and mustache prosthetics with spirit gum, and then black cream eye liner with a brush from Maybeline to create the portion of the beard that goes all the way up to my cheekbones, and the black eye shadow). Amazing about this outfit is that I’m a rather large-chested female (so large that my size doesn’t exist at Victoria Secrets, which is a wild story for another time. #Imnoangel), but you can’t tell any of that under this outfit. Even good friends can’t tell who I am underneath.

Gypsy as Jack and friend JenI’ve been dressing as Jack Sparrow for about a year and a half where this outfit has been to several charity events, the symphony, a party on a pirate ship, a university basketball game, a tea party (which I modified the outfit to accommodate a Christmas theme), one random stop for gas at a 7-Eleven (where I got a grin from the clerk who waited on me), and even a hiking trail for a photoshoot. The surprising place I haven’t worn this outfit to yet is a convention. I’m used to quick changes at a convention and just don’t have time in my usually hectic schedule to budget in a 1-hour change time. Cosplaying Jack Sparrow has been a wonderful experience. So many children want pics with Jack at the events, to the tourists we delightfully surprised on the hiking trail, to the people at the basketball game who said I looked just like Johnny Depp. I love trying to match Jack’s facial expressions and walk. Personally, I’m way too shy to be as outgoing as Jack Sparrow, but it’s so much fun to try.
Gypsy Madden is the author of the YA paranormal fantasy, Hired by a Demon