Busy Squirrell

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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IT’S COMING UP ON SQUEE TIME!!

Since 2012, I’ve had the INCREDIBLE FORTUNE AND LUCK to be a part of SQUEE WEEKEND!!! [which is now a week long event].

It all started with my obsession with fanfic [at the time, Supernatural, and then branching out to Stargate Atlantis, and now Teen wolf and Marvel]. I happened upon a post on Live Journal talking about Squee Weekend – a time when anyone in the SGA [Stargate: Atlantis] fandom, could come and hangout with other fans. I hesitantly asked if anyone was welcome (I knew these people by their user names – reading their work online, but nothing else) and was HEARTWARMINGLY told YES – ALL ARE WELCOME.

all-are-welcome

Feeling really nervous, I booked my ticket.

BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE.

I had the BEST times at Squee! I’ve never felt so immediately at home, at peace with a group of people. I want to cry with happiness thinking about it. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to participate for the last 5 years. (okay, I think it’s 5? it may be 4, but no matter. LUCKY TO PARTICIPATE.]

These people are my people. My tribe. They GET me. And I hope they feel that I get them. Some are writers, some are readers, some are crafters; All are wonderful, genuine human beings. I LOVE squee weekend. Yes, we talk about writing. We talk about fanfic [a lot], we watch sci fi [STARGATE ATLANTIS – our one shared love that brought us all together – but also other things], and we eat and drink. And talk about more things. And go shopping at craft stores. And get overly excited about pens and ink and washi tape.  And sometimes you want a break, so you say to the group “Hey, I need some alone time. I’m going to go shower and nap.” and instead of what normally happens (WHAT? WHAT’s WRONG?? NO STAY, Are you okay??? NO, DON’T LEAVE, IT’S ALL GOOD – so you stay and feel weird and tired), the group says, OKAY SEE YOU WHEN YOU COME BACK, WE MIGHT EAT ALL THE CANDY WHILE YOU’RE GONE. There are no judgements or expectations. You just… leave. and have a shower and a nap. or go shopping by yourself and then have a coffee. and you come back and no one is sad or angry or mad you left. Only happy that they have your company again, but completely respectful of your time away AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

I legit get the post-squee blues when I come home. I MOPE. I SIGH. I stare longingly at my computer and think of my online friends and how I’m so so so lucky to know them and how I wish that every weekend was squee weekend.

 

*wipes away tears*

 

BUT NO TIME TO BE SAD RIGHT NOW FOR THE TIME OF SQUEE IS UPON US!!! I’m so ready for it! I’m ready all year long!! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

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Machu Picchu!

Internets. It’s been a while. I’ve been, ya know, around.

I finished book 4 and got that up, and then suffered when it turned out due to an update error, the copy I approved wasn’t the correct one [ps, if you got a copy riddled with typos EMAIL me – mgakis@hotmail.com and I’ll send you a clean copy]

Then, I had some real life stuff.

But then, I finally crossed something off my bucket list! MACHU PICCHU!!

I’ve had a dream to go to Peru for a while. I don’t even know when it started, only that it’s been years. I finally made that trip! I was fortunate enough to be able to go with my sisters. We get along well and know what buttons need to be left alone, and which ones can be PUSHED.

I MADE IT TO MACHU PICCHU!!

AND I HIKED UP TO THE SUN GATE. Which, wow! At that altitude [and I’m in okay-ish shape] it was QUITE the hike.

Because of reasons, my sisters and I ended up hiking it alone – we were all there the same day and the same time, but Ann wanted to see how fast she could go, and Jennifer was sight seeing as she went and pausing with another tour-member to take pics, and so we ended up each on our own journey.

As I hiked, I had time to think about the hike. AND THINK ABOUT THE HIKE. AND THINK ABOUT THE HIKE. it’s all uphill, and though it may look like a mild gradient, I’m no athlete. But as I hiked, I started feeling/thinking – wow, this is like a metaphor for life.

You’re on this journey. and when it starts out, you’re like, okay, so this looks fun and cool.

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And you’re having fun

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And then you realize, wait. All I’m seeing is dull grey shit. I have to keep my head down to know where I’m going, but this view kind of sucks.

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So you look up and you realize, I have no idea how far I’ve gone, or how much is left.

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But then! All of a sudden, YOU CAN SEE HOW FAR YOU WENT!! [although you still have no idea how much further it is]

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But it’s FUN AGAIN! and you take some time to appreciate it.   img_6104

But then you turn the corner and you’re tired and this is hard and suddenly up in front of you, you see something and you think ARE YOU FOR SERIOUS?? LIKE…. WHY WOULD YOU PUT THIS HERE. img_6105  But you’ve got no choice so you keep GOING UP. And the view is kind of the same, but also different. img_6101  THEN YOU MAKE IT [and your sister may or may not already be at the top waiting for you and you may or may not just chillax for your other sister – individual results may vary ;)]

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img_6133And in those moments at the top, it doesn’t seem like it was all that hard [BUT IT WAS]. But you did it!

 

 

But if Less is More, just Think How Much More ‘More’ will be!

Wow.

Internets, I’m a woman on fire.

My day job has been non stop for about 18 months and I swear to god, I keep thinking I can’t get any more busy, but I do. I am BLESSED WITH WORK. I don’t like to complain about it because there are a lot of people out there who don’t have work right now. So yes, blessed with work. And I do like being busy and feeling useful. and TBH, I think I’m KILLING IT. no really! I feel very productive and like I’m doing a good job! and I’m getting some super nice and appreciative feedback.

so yes, blessed with work.

But that also means it’s tough to come home at nights and write. I’ve been trying to push it lately because I’m just barely still on target for Book 4, (Dry Spells, Covencraft #4). If I lose any momentum, I’ll start falling behind. I’m already behind where I wanted to be, but I planned for an early finish so there is wiggle room in my goal.

All that to say, I’m running at top speed lately. It makes the days/weeks/ months go by fast and I realized this month is six months since Portia passed. Sigh. I can’t believe it. Half a year already. I still have her pick on my screen saver on my phone. It took it when she was at the puppy hospital. I miss her tons.

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It does help to be busy. I’m at 65000 ish words for Dry Spells, and I project about 95000 usually for a book. so 2/3rds done. I feel like I’ll be pretty close to that word count, but then I always say that and somehow end up going over. We’ll see what happens! I’ve been in touch with the Cover Artist and have him booked for about March so I’m excited to see some cover art and get that motivating me even more.

After Dry Spells, I have the next story idea, but I think it will be a novella length. So, Dry Spells will be a full novel, then Uncontrollable Burn will be novella length, and then the next book will be back to full length.

And that’s all the shrimp there is.

Dry Spells [Covencraft #4] – update

So, I complained to my sister a few months ago that book 4 of Covencraft (Dry Spells) was the hardest book I’d written.

SISTER: “you say that about all your books”

Me: I DO NOT

SISTER: Yep. You do.

Me: *thinks about it. grumbles because it might be true* “BUT THIS TIME I MEAN IT.”

The thing is, I do mean it every time. Each book has a clear plot to me and a clear emotional feel AFTER I’VE FINISHED IT. but before,  I’m kind of fumbling around in the dark. I thought I’d done enough pre-planning on book 4 that I knew what it was about. And I did, on the surface. But I hadn’t explored what it was underneath. I knew the plot points I wanted to hit, but I didn’t know or understand how I wanted it to emotionally resonate.

It may be that no one but me ever feels those deeper emotions in my books, but I NEED THAT connection to understand the plot. Book 1 was about belonging for Jade. Book 1 for Paris was about learning more about his Coven. Book 2 was about both Paris and Jade learning what belonging meant and how they both responded to that emotionally – how far will you go in response to a feeling of belonging? for Jade it meant she’d be willing to protect the Coven even if she didn’t’ feel she truly belonged.  Book 3 was about recognizing your past and trying to come to terms with it – both with Jade with respect to Lily and Paris with respect to the Coven and his mother. Book 4… I only recently realized book 4 is a continuation of that – recognizing your past and OWNING it. How do you come to terms with things you didn’t want to know? Or wished you didn’t know? or things you knew but wanted to ignore?

I thought I knew what book 4 was about but as I started working through it, it became clear I didn’t until recently. I finally feel I know where I want to go with Jade and Paris emotionally. That doesn’t mean that the reader will see it or that I’m even adept at conveying it or I know exactly what plot points I want to hit. But, I feel I know what I want Jade and Paris to FEEL when I work on this book. I feel like my ‘craft’ as a writer is uncovering these things and trying to convey it. I might not be successful. People might read books 1-4 and not see any of the deeper emotions I’m working toward. but…. I know they’re there and I’m trying.

Spending time with your Tribe

Ah! Squee weekend! That time of year I get together with my fandom friends [many of whom write, create art, do crafty things and/or are voracious readers].

And then we talk. We talk about a lot. The thing is, there are things that you need to talk about with your female friends – things you can’t find on the internet, or if you do, you don’t feel as comfortable discussing. I don’t mean naughty or salacious conversations [although we have those too!] but things that are important to us. Not only do we discuss, we problem solve. I love this group of people. We are committed to helping each other out. We’ve discussed feeling overextended at work, feeling overwhelmed by life, not knowing where this particular story is going, not knowing if this idea we have is better as a short story or a novel. We’ve also talked about dying our hair and finding a good mascara and bemoaning finding a good bra that fits correctly (this actually ended with a bra-buying trip to a department store).

It just makes me feel like I belong and that I’m safe with my friends. I know I can bring up a topic, ANY TOPIC, and it will be treated with reverence and seriousness. We’ll discuss, we’ll solve the issue or come up with some things to try and I’ll feel better. And then someone will utter a double entendre and we’ll laugh pass around more wine.

I just love spending time with my tribe!

The Sun is God’s Flashlight – and I have usually stayed up too late

I am not a morning person.

I will never be a morning person.

I have TRIED, internets. I HAVE TRIED. I have seen two GPs and a sleep doctor about it and the fact is, I am part of a small percentage of the population who’s internal clock cannot be reset. I am a night owl, through and through.

Mornings SUCK.

Oh, how I long for the days when I would stay up writing till 2 in the morning or watching tv until 4 am and then crawl into bed and roll out around 10 or 11 am.  Not anymore. Le Sigh.

Now, I get up at 5.15 am. I go to spin 2-3 times during the workweek, and the other days I just get up early so I can have some ‘SITTING AND GETTING SELF READY FOR THE DAY’ time. I don’t like working out early, but I like it when it’s done, so there you have it. Also, if I get to work by 8.15, then I can leave around 5 and that’s kind of nice, especially in the winter when it gets dark early. If I stay later I start to feel scared being out in the creepy creepy dark! Plus, my boss and an esteemed coworker get to work at 6:30 and 7 respectively. So. If I’m going to roll in about 8:15 ish, I feel better being able to say, “Yeah, I already hit the gym.”

But it’s tough. I know there are many of you who feel my pain.

There are people in my life who say, “Oh! How wonderful you get up so early, I am not a morning person. I couldn’t do that.”

MAKE NO MISTAKE – I AM NO MORNING PERSON EITHER. BUT I DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.

Most days, when I wake up, I feel so tired I think I could vomit from it.

This also means that when I’m just starting to perk up around 8 or 9pm, it’s time for me to be thinking about heading to bed for the next day. Even if I don’t sleep, I remind myself that lying in bed is restful and I will get some benefit from it. I think my iron is low lately because I’m barely making it to 9pm some nights. But, usually, around that time, I’m starting to think, HEY! LET’S COLOR ORGANIZE THE CLOSET! AND! LET’S START ALL NEW PROJECTS.

I once talked extensively about this with a sleep doctor. He said, “Well, your body just can’t be trained and some people are like that. You’ve tried. You should just get a night job.”

Like what? Bartending? I DON’T LIKE TALKING TO PEOPLE. I have a desk job. Desk job usually means DAY job. Day being the key word. I could go in later bu then I’m working later and that feels… sad? IDK. Even the way it is now, I stay till 5, 5:30 ish and the building staff is already coming out to start vacuuming and cleaning – they are expecting most people gone! The world is run by morning people.

So, what’s a night owl to do but try to conform? I do what I can during the week to be in bed by 10 and up at 5.15. I nap a lot on the weekends to ‘catch up’ on the sleep I miss (I go to bed at 10 but I don’t fall asleep. Yes, I have tried melatonin. Yes, I have moved all activities out of my room other than sleep, no, I don’t read backlit devices in bed, yes, I have tried a light book, working out earlier, working out later, eating earlier, eating later, no naps, more naps, no caffeine, more caffeine, overnight stay at the sleep clinic and I have excellent sleep hygiene. I HAVE TRIED, INTERNETS. THIS IS THE WAY IT IS).

BUT OH THE GLORY DAYS! when I was in school and then on a holiday and I could just… live by my clock. I remember staying up late reading and writing with the house silent and dark around me. SIGHS LONGINGLY.

Back in the days when homes had computer rooms, I remember waiting for the fam to be in bed and then looking around at 11pm and thinking, “Oh! time to go write!” and I would sit in that room, in the dark, with only the computer screen lit and I never noticed time passing. I would just write. Of course, I never finished anything at that time because I had no structured routine! But there was something… magical about being there, in that room, in the quiet and the dark, with nothing else but the click-clack of my keyboard.

Who put the morning people in charge of the world?

Double-Sided Witch (Covencraft #3) available for preorder on Amazon

GUESS WHAT??

*jumps up and down like a four-year old*

Book 3 of Covencraft, Double-Sided Witch is available for preorder on Amazon! I KNOW!!

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I’m very happy with the cover. I work with a great artists (and if you’re interested in his details, message me and I’ll pass them along or check out the inside cover of my other books. His name is there).

I hope you’re all as excited as I am! The release date is June 2. I’m working on getting it on all the other book sites.

SO EXCITED!!!!

Side note – writing update – I’m working on my werewolf historical romance right now, titled Ravenwood. That should be done by end of April and go into editing by May. I’m also plotting out book 4 for Covencraft (no title yet). Then, I start writing book 4 in June and I’m planning on having it done by November (with Nanowrimo being the big push to finish if I need it).

Editing Double Sided Witch!

 

That’s right gang, I’m in edits! I’ve always been a “Can we knock this out in one draft?’ kind of gal and editing is just…. ugh. It’s NECESSARY, but I dislike it intently. Interestingly enough, I’m editing a friend’s work at the same time and I don’t loathe editing her stuff the way I do my own! what’s that all about?

I got some books on editing to help me work through this intense dislike. If I want to be successful as an author, I’ve got to be good at editing. Simple spell check and a once over doesn’t cut it.

So, book 3 is currently at about 96000 words and I imagine I’ll add about 2000 through editing. I have to add at least one scene as the BFF has gotten back to me and said she felt like a part was missing. There may also be dribs and drabs as I go. it DOES end on a bit of a cliffhanger, so as soon as I’m done editing book 3, I’m moving onto book 4! The goal for 2015 is to write TWO books – book 4 in Covencraft and then finish my werewolf gothic romance. You know. That one I started in 2013. lol.

A new year?

I know it’s a downer, but I can’t help but think that the New Year is just an artificial construct that we have as a result of our kind of awkward Gregorian Calendar.

I know, bummer right? Don’t even get me started on how we should revamp our calendar to follow the lunar cycles, thus breaking up all months into 28 days [SO HANDY! SO EVENLY PROPORTIONED! SO GLORIOUSLY STRUCTURED AND REGULAR!!!!] and how we should celebrate more astronomical events like the equinoxes and solstices. THEY MAKE MORE SENSE PHYSICALLY AND MATHEMATICALLY, what??

Anyway, despite all this, I STILL find myself getting caught up in New Year frenzy – making plans and feeling … refreshed? Or maybe it’s just all the wine I’ve had over my vacation and now I’ve got delusions of grandeur. Still! I have GOALS, people. GOALS. And I’m putting them in writing.

1. This year, my mantra, motto, raison d’etre is “I release” – I go to a great yoga class taught by a fantastic yogi. I just love her. At the beginning of class, we are encouraged to set an intention. Last week, my intention started out as “JFC I wish my hips were more flexible” but this wasn’t yoga-y enough so I worked on it and it  morphed into “I let my hips release” and then just “I release.” I realized that I needed this in my life for more than my hips (and my hamstrings – it’s like I’m a cyborg sometimes, there’s no give). During the yoga practice, I thought about other areas in my life where I could release things – long held ideas that held me back, long held fears that limited me, expectations that were unrealistic or maybe, not ambitious enough.

As a side note, I lost a lot of weight this year and it’s had be thinking – where else can I ‘release weight’ from my life? Are there things I’m holding onto, physical and spiritual that I can let go of?

So this has all culminated in my 2015 mantra – I RELEASE

2. Get book 3 of Covencraft [Double Sided Witch] edited and out there. Get book 4 [untitled] started AND FINISHED. YES, FINISHED.

3. Get another book done in 2015 – be it my werewolf gothic romance or the shiny new idea I have now for a bionic/cybernetic cop, I’ve got to WRITE MORE. Writing is like playing the cello – I don’t get better thinking about it. I get better by DOING. So far, I’ve done a book a year and I feel like I can do more than that. I actually think 3 books a year would be a good fit for me, but I’m going to shoot for 2 this year and see how I do.
Although, if I go with my werewolf gothic romance, I’ve an idea to turn it into a trilogy with book 2 being a vampire gothic romance and book 3 being a ghostly gothic romance.

4. Stick with my Spin, Barre and Yoga. I am really enjoying spin and no one is more surprised than me. I HATE the stationary bike, but I really like spin! It’s probably because I like the ladies at my spin place so much.

Let’s do this.