HalCon and traveling as an introvert with social anxiety!

YOU GUYS!

I’m in Halifax for HalCon!

I’m super excited to be here! I’ll be speaking at three panels and have some book signings (gulp).

My schedule is:

Friday, September 22
Saturday, September 23
1:00pm – Women in Media
Sunday, September 24
12:00pm – Margarita Gakis Signing
1:45pm – Author Writing Tips

 

As I said, I’m really excited but also nervous. I’m an introvert with social anxiety – how can I not be nervous? Strangely, I have no fear of public speaking, but the one-on-one nature of signings and me sitting at a table is what has me freaked out! Most people who meet me are surprised I have anxiety because I socialize well. as I’ve said. I’m not an ogre. Like, I know how to do it. It just makes me nervous. And takes a lot of self pep talks to get me going places.

Because I get anxious, when I travel, I try to make it about little victories. Did I get out of the hotel room? Was I able to find coffee? Did I actually interact with people? Last night, I made it to the hotel pub for dinner – GRILLED CHEESE WITH BACON COMPOTE – like, you had me at bacon and cheese, y’all.

This morning, I went out in search of caffeine .I love how the FIRST and BIGGEST thing on this sign is the Timmy’s. I found it and used my HAL-CON COFFEE SLEEVE!
 YES THAT’S THE SLEEVE I GOT IN MY SWAG BAG (okay, yeah, I’m just caps locking everything now.)
My swag bag also had candy from Freak Lunchbox, and of course I had to go to a place with that name. It’s a candy shoppe!
 And I walked down by the waterfront.
I’m getting ready for my first panel this afternoon at 4.45. i was going to go to the convention center right now, but I got scared and it’s still early, so I’m blogging instead. #hidingout, #Ididgetoutalreadythough, #Idon’tfeeltoobad
Wish me luck!
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Show me your teeth

You guys.

YOU GUYS.

Ugh. I have had a number of root canals over the years. I try to take care of my teeth, but this is just the way they are. I don’t remember how many i’ve actually had, but I just had another and it was the THIRD ONE where the freezing wouldn’t take all the way.  Jesus take the wheel.

I’m no tough girl when it comes to pain. If something hurts, I want it to stop. And tooth pain? *shudder* THE WORST. Any kind of nerve pain brings me to my knees.

All that to say, I’ve had a lot of therapy in my life due to my mental issues, and that shit comes in handy. I’m able to breathe, self-talk and work my way through stuff. And also, I don’t blame the dental personnel for the problem. They are tryign to help me, and don’t want to hurt me, but may have to in order to make me feel better. My options were:

1: Wait another half hour for the freezing. At that point, it had been two hours and I’m like, BRO (YOUNG BRO – so YOUNG!! omg, I’m older than all my dentists now), half an hour ain’t gonna help.

2: Send me home with more antibiotics and hope they help whatever is happening and I can come back and it will work. Oh, young dentist. Bless your heart. You don’t realize this is my third go-round with freezing that won’t work.

Option 3 – just go in, do the work and hope for the best.

At that point it had been two hours of trying to freeze me and about 8-12 needles to the mouth. I lost count. I saw no other option than 3 – let’s GET ‘ER DONE. I said, I don’t think this will get better. I think option 3 sucks, but we gotta do it. and then it will get better. (me internally crying.).

This dude was trying so hard to be positive, but he knew it woudl suck too. He tried to give me a pep talk before he started. He was like, “Okay, so we’re going to go in and hopefully this will be…..”

He trailed off and I could tell he was coming up blank, not sure how to reassure me for something he knew would hurt and be unpleasant.

“QUICK,” I blurted. “THE WORD YOU’RE LOOKING FOR IS QUICK.”

He  gave me a nervous smile and said, “Yes. I hope this will be quick.”

He was – they were all super nice to me and efficient and though it was hella unpleasant, they did good work.

I *think* I’m on the mend now. My lower jaw is pretty fucking unhappy with me and sore, but BETTER. I CAN THINK NOW. I CAN PROCESS INFORMATION.

For those of you that struggle with chronic pain – you are far stronger and tougher people than I am. I pray for and salute you.

 

The Problem with Past Tense

My dad died in 2006. Death is a strange thing. It’s not like you stop missing someone, but you get used to it. I don’t think you get over it. I think you just learn to accept it. Dad is no longer here. It sucks. it will continue to suck, but it’s the way it is.

Today my mum and I had to re-add me to the safety deposit box because the bank ‘lost’ part of my access. DON’T GET ME STARTED – THIS BANK, MY GOD. IT’S NOT LIKE MY MUM HAS BEEN A CLIENT FOR FORTY YEARS OR SOMETHING. Anyway, we have to review the list of people for the safety deposit box. Guess what? My dad is still on the list. We said, you know, we removed him when he died. He shouldn’t be on the list. You should take him off the list. He’s dead.

The bank dude was like, “UMMMM, I can’t take people off the list without my manager *anxious shifty eyes*.”

We went back and forth for a few minutes, and I finally said, “well leave him on the list, I guess it’s not like he’ll be dropping by to access the box!” My mum laughed and agreed, “Yeah, it’s not like he’ll stop by!” We chuckled, but the young bank teller was visibly uncomfortable.

But, I have a problem with the past tense sometimes. It doesn’t always come up. I’m okay saying “My dad used to own a restaurant” – he sold it before he died. I can also say, ” My dad read Louis l’Amour books.” He did. Or, “My dad tried to garden but never had the time.”

Strangely, I struggle with, “My dad was Greek.”

I know this may seem odd, but it’s like when I say he WAS Greek that he’s no longer Greek or he lost his ‘greekness’ when he died. But he is Greek. He’ll always be Greek. Canadian too! But how else do I say it? He’s “Dead but Still Greek”?

I feel like I need a tense in between past and present.

Death, man. It’s weird even after millions of years of evolution.

 

Uncontrollable Burn (Covencraft #5) – Blurb and cover!!!

LOOK WHAT I HAVE HERE!!!

I’m still on target for an early June release. I’m aiming for June 6 or 13th!

You can face your past, but it doesn’t mean you’re free…
Jade thought facing a Gorgon and her past demons (including the one that shows up in her pantry on occasion), meant she’d get over stuff. Auto-magically, so to speak. It turns out, it’s not that simple. Still recovering from her time in the Dearth and her meeting with Medusa, Jade tries to understand her feelings for Paris. Is she ready to deal with her past as an assault survivor and move forward? Or is she perpetually stuck where she is?

Jade also struggles as Lily pushes for them to be independent. Now that they’re no longer sharing a body, they can lead separate lives. It should be everything Jade ever wanted.

Sometimes for the future, something has to burn…
While Jade struggles with her personal life, the Coven is called upon for magical assistance. A forest fire rages out of control, unable to be stopped by mortal forces. Any witch proficient with fire is called to help. If there’s one thing Jade is certain about, especially now when nothing else feels right, it’s fire.

Out of the frying pan…
If Jade can’t get the fire under control then landscape, houses, cities, people are in jeopardy. It’s gotta be easier than dealing with her feelings, right? Or has she just made the biggest, most fatal, mistake of her life?

Edits – and some notes on book 5 (Covencraft)

I’m editing book 5 (will have blurb up shortly) and sometimes, a particular song sticks with me through a book. For this one, it’s ben The Razor’s Edge by Digital Daggers.

This one really speaks to me for Jade and her struggles.  Here are the lyrics. Bold emphasis is mine.

“The Razor’s Edge”

I think I’m lost
I think I’m broken
It’s not what I wanted
The verdict won’t change
I’ve gone off the razor’s edge
Thought it would be different
Was treading the water
‘Til it took me under

Quick retreating
So stuck in these feelings
I’m taking the beating
It won’t let me go, go, go

I’m scared ’cause the past
Keeps pulling me back
Distorting the future
It’s holding me close
It loves me the most
It’s tearing the sutures

It won’t let me heal
It tells us what’s real
There is no truth there
My vision’s gone black
I’m scared ’cause the past
Keeps pulling me

Seems I forgot
Which way I was going
Echoed mistakes (mistakes)
Repeating again

Quick retreating
So stuck in these feelings
I’m taking the beating
It won’t let me go, go, go

I’m scared ’cause the past
Keeps pulling me back
Distorting the future
It’s holding me close
It loves me the most
It’s tearing the sutures

It won’t let me heal
It tells us what’s real
There is no truth there
My vision’s gone black
I’m scared ’cause the past
Keeps pulling me

I’m scared ’cause the past
Keeps pulling me back
Distorting the future
It’s holding me close
It loves me the most
It’s tearing the sutures

It won’t let me heal
It tells us what’s real
There is no truth there
My vision’s gone black
I’m scared ’cause the past
Keeps pulling me back
I’m scared ’cause the past
Keeps pulling me

 

I also have a song that I’m listening to for book 6 [Untitled as of yet] by Digital Daggers, BUT I CAN’T TELL YOU BECAUSE OF SPOILERS.

BUT IT’S THERE. AND I KNOW IT.

Uncontrollable Burn [Covencraft # 5] – status update!

You guys! I am THISCLOSE to finishing primary writing on book 5. My first draft is usually pretty close to my end draft [which is good or bad – take your pick!]. I’m just about to start chapter 17 [as it is numbered right now] and I think I need about 5000 more words to wrap it up. Then we’ll see what gets added/deleted during edits.

As I posted earlier, I have clinical depression and I just changed meds. Me finishing this book couldn’t have happened without it. Or rather, I could have done it, but a June release? Dude. IDK. I was working all of January and February to be on time and I’m a little behind, but I’ll make it! But if I hadn’t felt better? I would have still been back at 250 words a day, which is how I wrote book 4. Like, it can be done. But it sucks. Writing a book like that feels like chiseling out of marble with a teeny-tiny chisel. You can do it. Your exhausted and defeated most of the time, but it can be done.

But! I’m AM feeling good, and writing faster so that didn’t happen!

I’m happy with where the book has gone, emotionally and action-wise. It’s always a nailbiter to see if other people like it, but at least if they don’t, I know that I like it. [and if you don’t like it, I hope you tell me GENTLY why so I can review and learn! But if you post a review, you should know I make my sisters read them for me, lol. See my page on reviewing for why]

I will be in contact with the cover artist shortly and hope to post that as soon as it’s ready! I’m EXCITED. I don’t have the back blurb written yet, but will post as soon as I do. This book, generally, is a straight continuation of book 4, Dry Spells. Jade is continuing to deal with Lily being her own person, her feelings about her past, and her feelings for Paris. And then while she’s working on that, a Forest Fire happens! DUN DUN DUN.  Stay tuned!

 

 

Save

We’re up all night to Get Lucky! [Or for mental health, your choice]

AWWWW YISSSSSS.

Okay, so not as much fun as Pharell and Daft Punk, but! Still FUN

I’m stepping up – and staying up – to defeat mental illness!

The CAMH One Brave Night for Mental Health(TM) challenge is a Canada-wide challenge to inspire hope for Canadians living with mental illness.

I took the #OneBraveNight challenge because I want to inspire hope for people living with mental illness now – and to defeat mental illness. By making a donation to my One Brave Night, you are helping CAMH improve access to care, conduct research to find better treatments, and build more spaces for healing. 

If ever there was a challenge made for us night owls, this is it!

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS STAY UP! or go to bed and pledge for me to stay up! I PROMISE I CAN DO THIS!!!! YOU GUYS, THIS CHALLENGE WAS MADE FOR ME.

 

The Problem is, I’m not Winston Churchill

So, in an effort to be more open and honest about my struggle with mental illness, I try to give myself pep talks. I’m like, hey, Winston Churchill had depression. His reference to the ‘black dog’ of depression that haunted him is well known. Then we have a number of well known artists that struggled with mental illness. Today, there are a lot of celebrities that speak about it as well, owning their mental illnesses.

The problem is, I’m not Winston Churchill. I didn’t save the free world from tyranny. I’m also not a well known and prolific artist, whose works are known throughout the first world (and making a gagillion dollars). I don’t have a hit record, a blockbuster movie or a pithy, New York Times Best Selling book about myself and my illness.

I’m just… me. I have a full time job. I get to work on time. I try to make it to the gym. I write books in my spare time and self publish them. I have good friends. There’s a screw loose (no pun intended) in my car on the driver’s side and I think it’s the reason the right side speakers don’t work. I could get it fixed, but it’s $250 just to have the dealership take it apart and LOOK AT IT. And so… I can live with it being broken.  I spilled hummus on my shirt the other day and had to keep on working with a big ol’ hummus oil stain on my shirt. I pay my bills and I try to be good to my friends and family.

So, what do you do if you struggle with depression and you’re not a celebrity or posthumously recounting how you dealt with your troubles while being simultaneously instrumental in saving the free world?

It’s like… it’s allowable to have a mental illness if you’re famous or a celebrity or a creative FORCE OF NATURE. You can be JK Rowling, AFTER Harry Potter is a HUGE hit and tell the world that you struggled with mental illness. (FYI, for the record, JK is the QUEEN OF TWITTER FOR EVER]

You can do all that AFTER you’re already a success. Then it’s just an added complexity and heart-wrenching fact about who you are.  LOOK WHAT YOU ACCOMPLISHED WHILE YOU WERE STRUGGLING. *pats you on back*  A ROUND OF CHAMPAGNE FOR THE PERSON WHO DID ALL THIS GREAT STUFF WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.

But what if you’re just YOU? What if your biggest accomplishment is making it to your job every day on time? Or making it to the gym ONCE A WEEK, ONCE A MONTH, OR EVER? Or heck, making it TO THE SHOWER once a day, once a week or once a month? Then it’s a different ball game, my friend. Those other depressed, mentally ill people, they are in the BIG LEAGUES. They had their struggles and WOW LOOK AT THEM NOW.

What about everyone else that struggled and DIDN’T write a best selling book or save the free world? What if you’re only managing to keep yourself alive and pay your bills?

I feel like no one wants to hear that. It’s not romantic enough. It’s not dramatic enough. It’s not enough that you made it through the day without actively OR PASSIVELY killing yourself. You’re still on the farm team and no one gives a shit about how hard you struggle.

If you feel like you’re in that category – the farm team – I see you. I KNOW YOU’RE THERE. You’re working hard and it sucks and it’s shitty. But your struggle is real and if I had a lottery to make you the winner of, I would. You’re doing it. You’re still here.

 

#farmteamunite, #depressionfarmteam #iplayyourgameanddon’twinbutsurvive

A Personal Post

Internets. I’ve always struggled with how much personal ‘life’ to share. On the one hand, I like blogging and I like putting stuff out there. On the other hand, I’m well aware that in our digital age, we are judged on our online content, and that’s often a tough pill to swallow.

Many times I’ve drafted posts about my struggle with depression and mostly all of those times, I’ve ended up deleting what I’ve written, too scared to hit the publish button. I feel there’s a stigma attached to mental illness. Not as much as there used to be, but it’s there nonetheless. It’s in causal jokes and conversation and as an undercurrent to society. Perhaps I’m more sensitive to it because I struggle with it.

Perhaps not.

At any rate, I’ve made a personal commitment to talk more about mental health. I’m in a really good place right now and that wasn’t always the case. And if this post, or perhaps my subsequent posts on it [as I hope to blog more about this in future] help or reach even one person, then it will be worth it. I worry, though. I worry I’ll put this out there and somehow, sometime, it will come back and bite me in the ass. You know? It’s okay to JOKE about being crazy, but to actually say you struggle is still inviting criticism, scorn and misunderstanding

I’ve been on the same medication for sixteen years and recently, I had to face the facts – it wasn’t working anymore. I was terrified of changing and terrified of not changing. I got lucky. I changed my meds and the new one my doctor put me on is… WOW. IS THIS HOW THE REST OF THE WORLD FEELS? To quote hyperbole-and-a-half, “Maybe everything isn’t hopeless bullshit!” [and if you’ve never read her blog post on depression  and you’ve suffered from depression or know someone that has/is, I highly recommend it.]

I can DO THINGS now. THINGS AND STUFF. STUFF AND THINGS. I don’t have to make a list or have a two hour pep talk. I’m writing book 5 and it’s ACTUALLY PROGRESSING. Book 4 was written in the midst of a depressive spell and every 250 words was like.pulling.teeth. But that book taught me you CAN write something 250 words at a time. The process WILL SUCK. But it’s possible.

But now, I have to write 1000 words a day if I want to meet my personal target for book 5 AND THIS IS HAPPENING!! I can’t tell you the last time I was able to write 1000 words a day FOR A SUSTAINED PERIOD OF TIME. WHAT??? I KNOW!!! no one is more excited than me! [because I always write for me first. Sorry, not sorry. It’s true. I write because I like to tell stories and I like to see them written out. If the internet cancelled indie-publishing tomorrow, I’d still be writing].

I hope to talk more about this in the future. I actually want to write a book about being creative and trying to honor that while also struggling with mental illness. But for now, I’m very happy to be back writing Covencraft and poking at the multitude of ideas that strike my fancy!

So yeah. If you’re the one person in the world that reads this and takes something from it…. Hi. I’m Margarita. I have a major depressive disorder. And I’m living my life and making it work.