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The only thing to fear is fear itself?

So, with my depression and anxiety, I have done a lot of reading and therapy and what not and part of the stuff I’ve learned is that you have to know what you’re feeling and then try to figure out why.

And that doesn’t make the feelings go away, but sometimes you get insight or figure out what to work on.

And, as previously mentioned, I’m trying to regularly work on Book 6 and as I was doing so, I found I was just…. IDK, dreading sitting at the keyboard. After a few days of dread (where I did manage to write), I decided it was time to try and ‘sit’ with this feeling. Mostly, I dread a thing and then do the thing and then PEACE OUT BITCHES and that gets me nowhere. You actually have to feel the feels and think about them.

Which can be yucky. I don’t mean to make light of it or make it sound like I’m dismissing it. I genuinely find it yucky and I don’t like to do it. But figuring the feels out does work.

So, why so much dread? why the sick feeling in my tummy when I think about going to write?

After looking at the handy emotion wheel, (which I highly recommend), I started to suspect it was fear I was feeling/dreading.

Emotion Wheel

But I wasn’t sure WHAT I was afraid of. So I sat with that for a while and then I finally figured out that I was afraid I would sit down and the words wouldn’t come. I was afraid even though I’m trying to write book 6, that book 6 is unwriteable and I will sit there and slowly watch myself fail at this task.

And…. that was scary and I don’t like feeling it, but okay, now at least I know what I’m working with.

I’ve been trying to sit with the thought that…. THAT MIGHT BE TRUE. I might sit down and the words may not come and it may all be a big, slow, slog to dismal failure.

And that will not kill me. *takes a deep breath*. It will SUCK and I will not like it if that happens, but it will not kill me.

And of course, on the other end of the spectrum is I keep working at it and I DO FINISH Book 6! So…. there’s that out there too.

Now, for those of you that do this kind of review of your feels, you know the drill – this doesn’t make them magically go away. I’m not suddenly UNAFRAID OF THE FAILURE. but now I can name it and recognize it and DO THE WORK ANYWAY. Whereas before I would just…. IDK, classically avoid those feelings by avoiding the writing.

So, I’m still going with the writing, and it’s slow. But it’s going!

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Weekly Check-in Thingy

I’m back for my weekly-ish check-in. Still hanging in there and getting my writing done 6 out of 7 days this week, which I feel pretty good about. I’m done editing what I had already written and now working on new stuff for Book 6. Some days, my word count doesn’t appear like it’s made my 250 goal, but that’s because I’m deleting stuff that wasn’t working as I go. I may end up writing 500 words, but deleting 300 of what I previously had. So, my actual NET word count is below the 250 goal, but I’m still happy with my progress.

Current total word count for book 6 is about 49,000 ish words. I solved one problem I was having with the ‘vibe’ of the book by changing a thing, but then that introduced another problem (isn’t that always the way), but I think I’ve got that sorted out too!

Vague writer is vague. I like to talk about it, but don’t want to risk spoilers.

Haven’t worked on my fanfic project this week although I think I’ll tackle that a bit tonight. I’ve got book 6’s words done for the day on my lunch break from day-job, so I can potentially look at my fanfic project tonight. There are no goals on that fanfic (no fest/posting date set) so it doesn’t matter if it never gets done.

And that’s the tea for this week.

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Working away….

Again, trying to post more regularly to keep the momentum going. I’ve been working on book 6 as discussed and it’s slow going, but it’s at least going. I have a very small and modest goal of 250 words a day and I managed that 6/7 days this week, so I’m happy with that! I’m editing my way through what I’ve already written and was mostly making minor changes, but now I’ve reached the last two scenes and have to clean some stuff up so that I can go forward.

MILD SPOILER ALERTS – Jump to the ******** to avoid

So, I had Lily going away in this book but then SOMETHING HAPPENED And she had to come back and that felt really… annoying? IDK what the word is. It’s like, why set her up to go away if she’s just going to turn around and come back, so she’s not going away, she’s at the Coven now, except I wrote two scenes with her NOT THERE, and I have to update/change that because she very much WOULD BE THERE for Jade.

****** End of mild spoiler.

Non-spoiler random chit chat – I always want to keep the Lily-Jade relationship close. I feel like women have relationships, close ones, with their family, their friends and sometimes in books I don’t see that. I see a lead female character that has no close female friends and it bothers me. I have a lot of great friends (SHOUT OUT TO THE SQUEE GANG and my other PEEPS) and we lean on each other and while it may not always be an exciting scene or a page-turner when you go to your friends/family for comfort, it’s REAL.

And if you don’t have that, I think you still might like to see it happen to know it’s out there, and maybe live vicariously off that comfort.

I don’t mean to be unnecessarily ‘gendered’ about that either – PEOPLE have non-romantic relationships that are very important in their life, and I want to see that in books/fiction. It’s just that to me it’s also special that it’s a close relationship between two women.

So, yeah, that’s how it’s going. I’m going to keep plugging away to meet (or exceed) my daily word count goal. This week, I’ll be wrapping up the editing on what I’ve already written and plunging into new writing.

To help me have projects to rotate, I’m also picking away at a fanfic (I think I’ve mentioned before that I have written and still do write it – and no you can’t have my fandom name ;)). Fanfic is just fun. I can re-write the same story over and over and over again making only minor variations. ALL THE TROPES!! ALL THE CLICHES!!

I have a fandom fanfic bingo card, where you have a bunch of tropes and you try to write for each square to get a bingo and my brain is like BUT WHAT IF I PUT THEM ALL INTO ONE STORY??? lol, can you imagine?

That’s it for now!

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Book 6 – more detailed update

In an effort to maintain accountability, I thought I’d pop in and put up some notes on where Book 6 is and what’s happening.

So, way back in, like, 2018? 2017? IDEK anymore, I had written a large chunk and book 6 was sitting at about 48000 words. And then, I didn’t know where it was going or how to get where I wanted it to go. I had my high-level plot point, but didn’t quite know how to get there.

As an example, for book 5, I knew there would be a forest fire and Jade would battle it and SOMETHING would happen where she would be in over her head and she’d have to have THIS MOMENT OF TRUST AND SURRENDER with Paris.

And that’s usually how deep into WHAT WILL HAPPEN that I know for my books. I usually have a high-level idea of what I want to have happen, and then how I get there (or rather, how Jade gets there) is as much of a mystery to me as anyone!

so, I had my beginning clearly written – 48000 words, which isn’t anything to sneeze at.

But then… like my brain gets in the way sometimes. Do you have those moments? where things are okay but then your brain is like OH HEY, LET ME HELP YOU and you’re like no, no Brain, I got this, no help needed, and Brain is like NO REALLY LET ME HELP. I AM A GOOD HELPER. But then Brain busts in and is not, in fact, a good helper. At all.

What do I mean by this? Well, I have always read books/articles/whatever on writing as I do want to grow as a writer, and I feel like I started paying too much attention to them. There’s all this advice out there about how by the time you are ‘this far’ into your story, you should have done all these things and have all these plot points set up. Or “Here is the list of all the plot points that must happen in your story.”

And I was like, oh shit, I’m at 48000 words and THE BIG THING I need to have happen (to kick off all the ‘stuff’) has JUST HAPPENED and if that’s supposed to happen in the first quarter of the book, then is this book going to be 200,000 words long? WHAT THE FUCK? I can’t write that. And if I go by this list of the 10 plot points I need to have, I don’t have plot point 2 and 4! THIS IS DISASTROUS.

Then depression and anxiety and yadda yadda – we had a whole post on that so I won’t go into it again. Then more depression, more anxiety. ETC.

So, where does that leave me now for Book 6? Well, now that I’m back writing, I’ve started by going back over what I’ve written and editing/re-viewing. It’s how I get back into the vibe I had for a book, or figure out if I even have a vibe yet.

And there’s stuff I can cut. I had an entire sub plot thing happening with Lily getting her own familiar that is NOT RELEVANT and not necessary so I cut that out. SORRY, LILY – maybe you and your familiar will get a short story.

I also realized I had a thing I needed to change. Hopefully this isn’t spolier-y, but there’s a moment in book 6 where a THING HAPPENS and rest of the Coven supports Jade and I realized…. Sorry, Jade, that doesn’t get to happen for you. You feel like an outsider and you still kind of are one, so #sorrynotsorry, your warm fuzzy moment has to go and they still won’t like you.

I feel a lot better about how that vibe is going to play out in the book.

As for the plotty mc-plotterson stuff I was discussing above – after long consideration, I decided I don’t, or rather I can‘t, care about general writing advice for how far along I need to be in my plot, or the order in which things have to happen, or even what a word count should be. I love the fact that people like my books, but I also write them for me. So, if I like the story I’m writing, then I’m happy. That may mean it’s not well-structured or wouldn’t get me a passing grade in a class on writing, lol. But I’ll be happy.

With that self-imposed pressure ‘released into the ether’ I’m just going to focus on writing the story I want to write and I hope that people like it when it’s done.

All right, internets! Take care and stay safe out there!

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Getting back into the gym

Okay, so yesterday was my first morning spin class in a LOOOOOOONG time.

Good test of my READY FOR THE GYM system. Too bad the system failed. Although I was able to make it through!

  1. I forgot my towel – but, luckily the gym had one I could use. And the ladies at Hot Shop are all GEMS and so nice, that I don’t get scared to ask.
  2. I forgot work socks – but luckily had an extra pair of gym socks that I could wear to work and then change into a pair of shoes I keep at work that need NO SOCKS to wear indoors.
  3. Was missing face cream – again, a bummer, but not a deal breaker
  4. Was missing makeup brushes – used my fingers, still looked okay
  5. No time to dry hair – but managed something work-able [no pun intended]

So this weekend’s ‘goal’ is to CORRECTLY pack gym bag! and to actually have two separate ones. One for workouts BEFORE work and one for workouts AFTER. Workouts after work need clothes. Maybe spin shoes. Workouts before work need an entire trolley of products and items to get me into ‘ready for work’ state that must be finely managed.

Both need a waterbottle.

Easy goal for the weekend and it will make me happier with myself!

Side note – it’s been so long since spin classes, that I’ve lost my ‘butt callus’ – my butt is killing me from the seat after one class. Guess I have to build that up again!

 

 

 

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Status Update – Dry Spells – unedited copy distributed between June 7-14

As noted on my FB page, I’ve confirmed that the wrong file was distributed to anyone that pre-ordered Dry Spells or ordered between June 7 and June 15. The right copy is being distributed now for NET NEW orders. For those that already have a copy, Amazon has to review the corrected version vs. the incorrect version and they get to determine if the changes are significant enough to warrant pushing out a new copy to people’s devices. That review is expected to be complete June 24.

The changes are significant.

The version that went out was my FIRST finished draft with no edits done by me or my editor. It’s NOT the version I approved to go out. Amazon thinks this is due to some kind of conversion error.

All I know is, if you have already read the book or are reading it now, I’m so sorry. That is not the book I hoped you’d enjoy.

Thank you to everyone that contacted me about the typos/errors. Without your help, I never would have known it was incorrect.

If you’d like a new version from me, please email me at mgakis@hotmail.com with your email addy.

M

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Rape Culture, Sexual Assault Survivors and Covencraft

Boys will be boys.

She was drunk and and at a party. What did she expect?

She didn’t say no, so meant yes.

He’s got such a bright future ahead of him, it would be a shame if he suffered for this.

Jesus, I’m so sick of rape culture. I’m sick of a society that STILL questions victims. A society in which EVERY OTHER CRIME the defendant is the one on trial, but with rape, the victim bears the burden.

If you take the things said about rape victims and say them about gun-shot victims, you can no longer ignore how ridiculous they are.

Did you wear that outfit on the off chance you might get shot? Didn’t you know that it’s legal to carry firearms in the USA so you could be shot at any time and by leaving your house, you were agreeing to potentially be shot? Did you tell the gunman, explicitly and several times, NOT to shoot you? Too bad. Your silence was taken as a yes.

When I hear that, I want to walk up to these people and ask them if they want to be punched, and then, before they can say ‘no’, punch them in the neck and let them know  I took their silence as consent.

Or how about flipping it around to mugging – by wearing that nice watch, weren’t you in fact asking to be mugged? Don’t you think that’s a message to all the muggers out there that you had a watch and if they wanted it, they could mug you because you were advertising it?

What about car accidents?

Car accident? Didn’t you agree  an accident could happen when you got behind the wheel? Isn’t driving on the freeway like saying you don’t care if you’re sideswiped? In fact, you’re open to it? Since you didn’t have a sign explicitly stating you didn’t want to be crashed into, isn’t it likely that you DID??

If you’re telling me that men cannot control themselves around women because of what women wear, then I say in return, why am I not locking PEOPLE UP BECAUSE THEY ARE UNCONTROLLABLE?? You know what we do to uncontrollable creatures? Creatures with no will power, with no higher reasoning, with no morals to discern what’s right and wrong? WE INCARCERATE THEM IN ZOOS AND JAILS. For they are animals and cannot abide by our society’s rules.

Rape culture is abhorrent to us all, or at least, it should be. Women should not live in a society where this is considered unavoidable behavior and men should not tolerate the notion that some members of society believe their sex is so animalistic, immoral and uncontrollable that they cannot be responsible for their own actions.

I was so incredibly moved to write this post by the recent letter of a rape victim to her rapist, which has since gone viral. Her words were raw, evocative, eloquent and haunting. While I found the entirety of her letter moving, the part that stuck with me the most was when she wrote if her rapist had acknowledged what he’d done, admitted guilt and remorse, she would have considered a lighter sentence. I have never read such grace and mercy on earth. She wanted the acknowledgement of what he’d done, and for him to admit it was wrong. She would listen to it. She would acknowledge it. And she could not even get that.

I’ve said before that people are often uncomfortable when I discuss rape culture. They should be. I am. It’s wrong. We should all be uncomfortable about rape it until it is erased.

In my Covencraft novels, my lead character, Jade, is a sexual assault survivor. Book 4 deals with her assault a lot more than any other book. I didn’t want to focus on the actual act of the assault or the violence of it, because I find that often happens in modern media. It’s only for the shock value. The immediacy of the violence. Instead, I hope I’ve conveyed what we don’t usually see in media – the aftermath. The media shows us the trial [if there was one],  the articles and the outrage, and the shock and horror. But there is still life afterward and each person approaches it differently (note, my book deals with a female protag, but I do not mean to exclude male victims of rape). My character Jade has an intimately related character, Lily, and while they both experienced the same thing, they process/deal with it differently. Each day afterward, each week, each month, each year, are individual experiences and no one is more real or authentic than the other.

I’m tired of seeing stories in entertainment media about rape that have no aftermath. I’m tired of reading about campus rapes, date rapes, other rapes where the media drops the story after the trial as if that were the end of it. I’m tired of seeing rape used as a plot device for a character, but most especially as motivation for a male character [as in, my significant other was raped, I must now go forth on my quest of vengeance and justice and nevermind MY SIGNIFICANT OTHER because I am the wronged party here!]. There are stories to be told in the aftermath. Survival stories, struggling stories, heartfelt stories of distrust, disillusionment and recovery. Or maybe not. Maybe there is no recovery. Maybe there is a victim that never feels like a survivor.  Someone who does not or cannot live with their assault. That story is worthy of being told as well. That story has value and merit; it is real and to never tell it, is to dishonor it.

Rape happens. Until we significantly shift and change our society, it will continue to happen. I don’t want it to be the end-all be-all of the narrative. I want to know what happens after. I want to know the victim as MORE THAN A VICTIM. I want to know her story. I want us to keep talking about it. We cannot fix what we will not talk about.

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Hope Floats – or maybe that’s just fat, IDK

My sisters and I tried Float therapy today! You go into a pod type thing that is filled with heavily salted water and… float. you can have music or lights, or nothing. It’s supposed to be meditative, introspective, contemplative and a bunch of other ‘-ives.’

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Results – Ann and I liked it, Jennifer was sort of ‘meh’ about it. I was in a pod with no music and I opted for no lights as well. I was really looking for a meditative experience. What happened was I had a swim cap on and it was slowly letting water in and air out. There was a ‘puh-puh-puh’ sound, followed by an air bubble sneaking up the inside of my neck and escaping out the cap. I thought this was annoying at first, but then decided to use it as a kind of focus – I paid attention to the sound and the sensations and found it relaxing. I think if I go again, I’ll have it one degree warmer. I left a slight crack in the pod open to facilitate air circulation but whenever my toes drifted too close to the end of the pod, they were cold.

I thought I would find 90 minutes too long, but it felt okay. I’ve had meditation practice before and I’ve also worked on my mindfulness and my ability to ‘just be’ so I really looked at this as an opportunity to practice both those things.

It was warm. It was cozy. It was hard to ‘relax’ but that’s just our culture, I suspect.

It was SALTY. I think they said that there are 24 big bags of Epsom salts in each pod. But it sure does make you float-y. there is just no chance of you sinking. It’s very cushioned.

I definitely think I’ll go again. I found it relaxing and enjoyed it. But next time, I think I’ll bring my own shampoo and really wash my hair well after. I only did a quick wash today and I still feel kind of salty.

 

 

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Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo!

Hi all!
The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo was this past weekend and, as per usual, I attended with my bro-in-law and my nephews [and a friend of my bro-in-law].
I’m getting so old. I was exhausted after only 5 hrs, lol.
My nephew and I decided to try for costumes this year! While I think they definitely need some work, I’m quite proud of our first attempts! My nephew went as a Warlock from the video game Destiny and I went as the Winter Soldier [BECAUSE EVEN WHEN STEVE HAD NOTHING, HE HAD BUCKY and also, Sebastian Stan].

As usual, I picked up some arty type stuff –  some pins this year and some Funkos.

IMG_4838 IMG_4810 I have a lot of art around my house from previous comic expos. If you want AMAZING ART that OTHER PEOPLE WON’T HAVE, then GET THEE TO A COMIC EXPO. the artists there are SO talented. It’s STUNNING.

I was super proud of my city! there were signs all around that Costumes did NOT equal CONSENT and that disrespectful behaviour would not be tolerated. AND! they had gender neutral bathrooms for those that would prefer that. I gave my nephews a big speech on why this was important. I don’t know if they ‘got it,’ but they are polite enough to listen and nod.

Also, because life wasn’t busy enough, my sister got two foster puppies from AARCS and we’ve had them for about three weeks. Normally puppies have a week turnaround time [before being adopted] but these guys had to wait a week before being fixed [due to them being  young] and now we’re waiting for some results and some paperwork to be processed. So it’s been busy at home. BUT SO FLUFFY and cute. I step in dog pee about 3 times a day, but then PUPPY SNUGGLES.

I’m almost done my edit of Dry Spells, and then it goes off to Donna for SPAG and another editor. FINGERS CROSSED.

 

 

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Losing Weight and Letting Go

In March of 2014, I had weight loss surgery. I had a procedure done known as a VSG – Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. Going through my decision to have that surgery, the prep and the aftermath is a whole other post. One I may or may not make, I don’t know (although feel free to email and/or comment with questions if you’re curious – I’m happy to share my experience for those who may be considering the same surgery).

Since my pre-op, I’ve lost about 70 lbs and I’m at a stable weight now – one I can maintain with my current diet and exercise, provided there aren’t too many trips to Palm Springs with Key Lime Martinis!

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But, as the weight started coming off me physically, I really tried to focus on where I could also lose weight emotionally and mentally. I have a lot of STUFF. I keep a lot of STUFF. I’ve come to realize that in some ways, I think  these material things help my memory, in that, if I didn’t have them, I would forget things from my past. I also have this notion that these things validate my experiences, validate ME – If I get rid of them, somehow the memories and experiences that are attached to these things are no longer valid.

My first big ‘break’ came when my mom sold her house after my dad died. I had this fear that I could never go home again, and that somehow my memories of my father would fade without the concrete and tactile presence of that house. Of course, you can’t go home again. Our experiences are what they are when we are there, in the moment, and despite the fact that traveling forward in time is no different than back in time from a physics point of view, you cannot go back. If you were to go back, you are who you are now, and the experience wouldn’t be the same. If you were not who you were now, then you would be who you were then and you wouldn’t be able to grasp the reason why you wanted to travel back in time to begin with.

wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey-stuff-o
This was a hard thing for me to come to grips with and something I still work on. But, as it relates to my parents’ house, I think I got there. However, I’m still trying to incorporate the global scale of that idea into my entire paradigm. Translation – I keep a lot of shit. A LOT.

After I lost weight, I had to get rid of a lot of clothes because they didn’t fit, but I also was coming across things I’d not worn in YEARS and wondering “do I wear this now? It fits again?” – and these were tough decisions! After reading a book on the subject, I knew I had to ‘lose some weight’ in my life, but I wasn’t prepared to do the BIG DUMP the author mentioned. But, I found that holding each piece of clothing I was reluctant to part with in my hand and thanking  garment for the memories and reiterating that I was donating the garment, not throwing away the memories or feelings associated with said garment helped.

I’m still slowly working my way through things. Tonight was a BIG moment for me. I finally got rid of my class notes from my last year of university. How long ago was that? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA-cough-cough-cries-a-little-sniffle. A while. I always had this notion that maybe I would go get my masters and I would need those notes. But this week, the thoughts I ‘SAT WITH’ were this: I like writing. I want to keep writing. With my day job, writing takes up all my spare time. If I were to get my masters, I’d have to give up writing. And, at this point, it’s been MANY A YEAR since my classes – I’d have to retake a SLEW of those courses to refresh my brain so I could keep up.

So, that was one reason I was keeping those notes. What were the others? Well, that last year or so was a tough but proud one for me. I’d had to take a year off school for illness and going back was a struggle. I’d changed faculties so many times that I’d been in university for 5 years and still had no degree. I’d finally managed to pick a major and I had a plan to complete it. It meant I’d have to do Fall Semester, Winter Semester, Sprint Semester, Summer Semester, Fall semester and Winter Semester. and my final semester would be 5 400-level math classes. It wasn’t going to be easy. But I DID it. and I GRADUATED and HOLY SHIT, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??

I felt like a lot of my soul and being were infused into those notebooks – this had been a major milestone/event in my life and if I got rid of those things, was I throwing all that away?

Obviously, no. I still have that degree [FINALLY FRAMED AND ON MY WALL, YO. I got it framed JUST THIS YEAR, lol!]

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So tonight, I fortified myself with two glasses of wine and then some puppy snuggles and went through those notebooks, taking the time to hold each one, feel gratitude and validate my experience with them and then, say goodbye. I know to some people that sounds hokey or like woo-woo, but it was definitely a necessary step for me and one that made the entire process viable.

Deep breath. Time to keep losing weight. I need to make room for all the good things yet to come.

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