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The Importance of Sisterly Love in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

If I were to ask you to show me a movie about sisterly love, chances are Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 wouldn’t be it.

Not only is the relationship between Nebula and Gamora a side story, but look at how much these two characters love one another.

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And maybe right now you’re wondering, “Why is she bringing this up? What does this have to do with anything? BRING ON END GAME!”

Fair point, but I can’t get this movie out of my head, so we’re going to talk about it.


Siblings of Shared Trauma

I’ve been on the MCU train for a long time now, but the ride is getting a little repetitive. I don’t pay for a ticket to see them in theater anymore (with the exception of the major cast compilation flicks), and I don’t feel the same passion when the characters keep going through the same arcs (although some of the recent films have left me pleasantly surprised). The movies aren’t bad, they’re just getting old. Because of this, I didn’t go see GotGv.2. While I loved the first Guardians movie, I felt like it was going to be the same as the last one.

I was glad when I finally did watch, it was from the comfort of my own home. I was a sobbing mess by the end. Not only because father/son narratives resonate with me more than mother/daughter narratives, but because for the first time watching a movie, I felt something in how they portrayed siblings.

This movie finally got it. THIS was how I needed to see sisterhood and sister relationships portrayed.

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When I watch other sisterhood movies, the relationships, while tense, never felt real to me. Characters often times fight because one’s better at something than the other, or one sister is the black sheep of the family, or one was even born to save the other from cancer. The fact is, I couldn’t relate. These rivalries were either too petty or too out there.

Then I got to Gamora and Nebula’s fight in Guardians of the Galaxy. At first, I was kind of over it. Nebula’s rage felt displaced and Gamora was just done with dealing with these “temper tantrums”, and then Nebula says this –

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and it felt like someone knocked the wind out of me. This was it. This is what I’d been feeling.

I was left asking, why couldn’t I get this type of sisterly relationship sooner?

To get a little personal, my sister and I grew up during a… difficult time in our family and that’s putting it lightly. Some parental figures were abusive or neglectful, and when my sister was given a way out, she took it. I can’t blame her for this. We were kids, and kids do what they can to survive, but at the time I was crushed. And no movie ever showed that struggle I felt. Maybe I wasnt competing against my sister in hand to hand combat, but we were pitted against one another and had to survive all the same. I was angry, and sometimes I still am, and no piece of media had ever held a mirror up to my situation and said “This is what abuse does to sisters”. At least, not until Guardians vol. 2.

You never really see this in most media, or at least not main stream action films. When siblings are showed in this light in action/sci fi movies, as children who survive abuse with one resenting the other, it’s usually done with brothers.

When sisterhood is portrayed, it’s almost always in dramas or romance, but for the first time, I was seeing sisterhood in a way I could relate to. No, we didn’t survive Thanos as a father, but we experienced a lot and can’t really understand what the other went through to get where we are today. We very much were Nebula and Gamora, and our relationship still feels like this sometimes. We fight over our experiences growing up away from each other, and yeah, the resentment is still there.

Yet when I watch this movie, I see how both characters experience rage and I realize hey, maybe we’re too different to see the world the same way, but we can find some peace. Sure it’s fiction, but there’s hope that one day the anger will go away and forgiveness will come in.

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And that’s what’s so important about the sisterly love in Guardians vol. 2. It’s not the sweet stuff of tears and drama, it’s a violent rage over unprocessed shared trauma. It’s screaming and fighting because what happened to both of you was too harsh to brush off with swelling music.

The conflict between Gamora and Nebula is an important one that we need to see more of on screen and in books. It’s the story of children who grow up experiencing abuse, and how they recover from it. We need less “Why are you so much better than me?” and more “How can we go on after what happened to us? How can we go back to being sisters? How can we heal?”


Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

If you’d like more about this typ of topic, check out Lindsey Ellis’s video titled “The Complex Feels of Guardians and the Galaxy v.2“, particularly this part here. She helped me process a lot of what I was feeling and inspired this blog post. If you haven’t watched this, please do. In fact, watch any and all of her videos. Even though she talks about screenplay, she knows her stuff when it comes to story structure and character development.

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Overshare Hour – Goodbye 2018

In spirit of shaking off the old, I’m taking one last minute to reflect on the past year before saying goodbye for good.

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An accurate depiction of my entire year.

Honestly? 2018 was an off year for me. I had a lot of self doubt, a lot of insecure thoughts, and a lot of seeing other people achieve things when I just felt kind of stuck. At the same time, I also got published for the first time, my extended family grew by 5 babies/future babies (3 more due this year), and I found someone who’s considering publishing Flightless. It was a year filled with growing pains.

One of the biggest changes was, for the first time since I graduated high school, I didn’t have a 9 to 5 job. Sure, I was still getting a little bit of money from a few commissions/updating my dad’s social media for his business, but that sort of thing doesn’t take as much time as a “real job”, so I rarely count it. Those are both things I enjoy doing that I happen to make some money now and then with, but not something I have to focus on every day, with a boss to answer to. I’m not complaining, I consider myself very lucky in this aspect, however it made me focus on myself, my writing, and what my plans were for the future.

The problem was, I had no freaking clue what my plans were. I wish I could tell my younger self that by the time you get closer to 30, you suddenly get some cosmic knowledge and things just make sense, but they really don’t.

And oh boy, it was hard. Being forced to only spend time with yourself, when you thought you knew everything you could know about who you are, is HARD. That being said, I think I needed to do it. I put a lot of my self worth on how other people view me/the work I put out in the world, even if that work is just a 9 to 5 job, and without the recognition that I was doing a good job, I felt like what I did didn’t matter. It started messing with my head, and even my husband was shocked when I came to him crying because I felt like people who mattered the most in my life didn’t need me. I kept asking myself, how did I know if I was good enough if I wasn’t working and contributing to other peoples’ lives somehow? I wasn’t bringing home a paycheck, I wasn’t putting everyone else before me, I wasn’t focusing on a career, so how, HOW could I be contributing?

I had no idea how little I valued myself if I wasn’t working and bringing home a paycheck. 

After some very long talks with friends and loved ones, I slowly began to change my thinking. Instead of seeing the only thing I could provide was a dollar sign, I started focusing on just being there for people, including myself. I sent letters, like paper and stamp letters, to friends and family, I worked out more, I got back into writing, and traveled with my husband and our dogs in our camper van. I cut toxic people out of my life and started telling people when things hurt me instead of just pretending like I had to be okay with everything everyone did, or else they’d leave me. It was painful, don’t get me wrong, but that kind of pain that comes from any change.

And yeah, I still cried because it sucked, but when I was done, I somehow felt stronger.

All in all, I’m happy 2018 is over with, because I was getting a little down there this past year, however I definitely needed to experience it. My husband’s favorite saying is “iron sharpens iron”, meaning we have to go through hard times to become what we’re meant to be, and damn there was some emotional sharpening this past year.

Now I’m ready for whatever 2019 brings. Even if it’s shit, I’m ready for it.

Small Touches – Guest Author Daniel Link

I met Daniel at the DFWcon mixer, and hit it off right away. I had the pleasure of listening to him do a reading during a read and critique and was blown away so I knew I had to introduce myself to him. A month later, I’m still in touch and am very pleased to have him featured on my blog. Enjoy!

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Small Touches

by Daniel Link

 

DFWCon was not my first conference, so I thought I knew what to expect.

There were some pleasant surprises, things I hadn’t seen before. For instance, the sign-up slots for the Read and Critique, or Fix My Manuscript. Then there’s the ten-minute agent sit downs. The laid-back Texas vibe made talking to people easy, and that was most evident at Saturday night’s gala, which may have been the biggest surprise of them all.

First, the special sign-up opportunities. Fix My Problem was great, but my favorite was the Read and Critique. Those were fantastic, and I hate to say, underattended. I sat in on a Read and Critique Sunday with only five people there to read their work.

I get it, we’re introverts. We don’t like people all that much, and the idea of reading to them is terrifying. What we do love, however, is words. You have a chance to read your words to other people. How many chances to do that do we get? To walk into that room and see it empty, with two hundred and however many authors outside, some of them spending their whole conference in the lobby talking about getting to work on their book instead of doing it, that got to me.  If we won’t champion our own words, who will?

Sure, it’s important to touch base with people. It’s important to build that platform. It’s good to have a social media presence and a website and all that cart-before-the-horse nonsense.  Don’t get me wrong. When you’ve got your book in hand and you’re ready to promote it, when your baby is as polished as you can make it and it’s time to find an agent—that’s when it’s time to put on your business hat. Before that, though, there’s the all-too-important business of writing your best work. Don’t overlook that.

Another surprising aspect of DFWCon was the ten-minute sit down with an agent. I’ve attended conferences where the whole weekend is centered around pitch writing, pitch polishing, then group pitch practice, until you’re so pitched out you don’t even like the premise of your book anymore. The whole experience funnels you toward a fifty-minute speed dating session, three minutes to pitch an agent. It’s a whirlwind of shoving and flying elbows and an overall vibe of competition that I never felt at DFWCon.

The luxury of talking to an agent for ten minutes was a strange experience. I got to shake his hand and tell him my name, and I didn’t have to boil a year of my life into a ninety-second commercial or use cross-comps like Game of Thrones meets When Harry Met Sally, or Flashdance meets the Godfather. The downside, of course, was that I only got to talk with one agent. Then I got my biggest surprise—the gala.

The idea of the gala is nothing new. Another conference, one I will not name but takes place in a city in California by a bay, has a gala. Meet the agents and editors, the program said, so I put on my shiny shoes and got ready to mingle. It was in the bookstore downstairs, and the place was packed. A quick scan of the badges revealed that everyone in attendance was either a writer or a conference volunteer. The agents were all tucked into bed or out on the town laughing at everyone fooled into attending the gala. When I asked a volunteer where the agents and editors we were supposed to meet were, she disappeared in a puff of smoke like an 80’s movie ninja. When word spread that people were looking for the agents, the rest of the volunteers fled, leaving a hundred or so writers holding plastic cups of wine while tumbleweeds rolled through the bookstore.

The gala at DFWCon this year was the opposite. I arrived as it was starting, and the first person I ran into was Marisa Corvisiero. We talked for a few and she never used a smoke bomb to escape. Then I met Uwe Stender in the corner by the bar, where I talked with him for ten minutes or so. I moved on and mingled with other writers and geeked out properly for a while, then ran into Kevin O’Conner and Patty Carothers, both of whom I talked to at length. By the end of Saturday night I’d spent more time talking to agents than I had in two years at Unnamed City by the Bay Con combined. It was a great environment to try on that business hat—a pressure-free place to practice pitching and see what others think of your ideas.

As well as things went for me at DFWCon, I didn’t get everything right. I didn’t take enough pictures, didn’t post a single one to social media. I didn’t exchange numbers and business cards with all the wonderful people I met. The weekend got away from me, as it’s sure to do. If I’d been more on the ball, I’d have recorded my ten-minute sit-down with my agent. He gave me a lot of advice that I sort of remember. They wouldn’t let me take note paper in, but I did have my cell phone. We’ll try that again next year. And as for the people I didn’t connect with on social media, I hope they signed up, too.

My experience was a positive on a number of levels, enough so that I took advantage of the early enrollment for DFWCon 2019. The people were so pleasant and the price so reasonable that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Next year, I’m going to try to sit in on as many of the special classes that I can. These small touches are what set the conference apart.

There’s no better place to share your ideas, make contacts, and learn about trends in book marketing than writer’s conferences. Everyone should go to one. Then after you’ve been to one, been overwhelmed by the constant information and handshaking and notetaking, you need to do another one, then maybe one or two more for good measure. Do one of the Read and Critiques. No matter how scared you are, you’ll be glad you did. Then, once you’ve gotten over your fear of reading your words to strangers, you need to do it again. You’ll get better at it. Things will slow down. Until then, keep writing, keep championing your work, and getting it ready for next year.

 

 

Want to learn more about Daniel Link? Check out his website!

You Can Never Go Home

Once a year, from the age of five to seventeen, I escaped the Texas heat and traveled to a magical place. The trees were taller, the air was a sweet mix of cool rain and wet soil, and every night was lit with fireflies.

This magical place was Michigan.

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I know. Not exactly what most people would consider to be a gateway to another world, but as a child, there was magic across the Wolverine State. I used to think there were mermaids in The Great Lakes, fairies in the never ending forests, and when we went up to my grandmother’s cabin, the loons were singing to me and no one else. I loved, and still love, Texas, but there was something about Michigan that made me feel like I was home.

And then I went back as an adult.

As I rode from the airport to my grandmother’s house, I waited for that magical feeling. Even into my late teens, I felt it the second I was on Midwestern soil, but the more I looked around this time, the more I felt like I was seeing through the glamour. The sidewalks were cracked, the roads covered with litter, and worse of all my grandmother’s smiling face, a face that never seemed to age, was worn.

I thought maybe the dread would go away the longer I was there, but it didn’t. The places of my childhood were closed, or replaced with something new. The cabin now could only be visited once a year, and they had gone earlier without me. The magic was gone.

It was like someone ripped away a blanket I had been hiding under. I realized that the feeling of home I longed for in my adulthood was gone, and in that moment, I saw things for how they really were. The map of my childhood had been thrown away, replaced with the reality that those roads had changed and now I was lost.

I guess everyone goes through this in their late twenties. You begin to realize that the way you saw things when you were younger, while maybe not a lie, was a beautiful retelling of the truth. You become more aware of the family politics, of why people are the way they are, and you realize your heroes and idols are just as flawed as you are.

Maybe it’s just me? Maybe I was a child who saw things that weren’t there, and now I’m finally having to face reality? But one thing I know is that sometimes you can never go home. You have to build it elsewhere, and hopefully the foundations are stronger. Your walls need to be made out of stone instead of gingerbread, and the next time someone or something tries to knock it down, they’ll stand firm.

Or maybe that’s all life really is? One knocking down after another, and learning how to grow from it? Home is, after all, just a construct we build to make ourselves feel safe. Once that’s gone, and the net is pulled away, maybe that’s when we can really start living?

Biting the Bullet Journal

I was definitely late jumping onto the bullet journal trend.

I was never good at journaling, and even as a kid, I’d start one, give up and then go out and buy another only to have the process repeat itself.

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When I finally sat down and bought some pens, washi tape, way too many stickers and pretty paper to count, and a journal, I thought that bullet journaling would turn me into the type of person I always wanted to be. Someone who wrote down their thoughts and dreams and treasured those memories close to their heart.

Unfortunately, that’s just not me. So I decided to do something else. I was going to bullet journal for my writing life.

Since I’m a perfectionist, I definitely wanted to make sure I was doing this right, but the problem was, there wasn’t a lot of “how to’s” out there. I was going to have to come up with my own bullet journal ideas.

Here’s what I’ve got so far –

  • Flightless Themed – This journal is for nothing but building the world of my series. It has everything from my alternate Earth timeline, important terms, and species information, along with any possible plot points that could shape future novels.
  • Character Bank – I’m the most excited about this one. Because I love coming up with characters, I have this character pool to skim from whenever I need to add a new person to a novel. I’ve posted a picture up on both my Instagram, and Twitter, if you’d like to see more.
  • General Writing Journal – This one is based off of the multiple writing journals I’ve seen out there, with a little bit of a reading twist to it. I keep what books I’ve been reading, or book challenges, as well as how many words I’ve written, inspirational quotes, and general ideas for future works. Here’s a picture of my March page.

I do have one more that’s more of a daily agenda, and money journal, but I won’t bore you with that.

Are you doing any bullet journals? Share below! I’d love to see them.