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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End of the Year Thoughts

It’s been interesting as 2016 comes to a close, the kinds of posts I’ve been seeing on social media. Most of them are of the kind, SEE YOU 2016 DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOUR ASS ON THE WAY OUT.

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I don’t particularly ‘get’ the new year. I mean, I get the idea of the calendar and keeping time, but there’s really no inherent difference between Dec 31 2016 and Jan 1 2017.

But I can definitely see the lure and appeal of STARTING FRESH – I loved school supply shopping as a kid and loved new binders and pens, pencil cases and erasers! so pristine in their newness and the way they had promise as yet untapped hidden inside them. [if you’re Canadian, you’ll recognize these pencil crayons!!]

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But, there’s also something to be said for an old favorite pen topper, or a busted up refillable pencil – well used and well loved, or maybe just the fact that it’s BEEN THERE.

I think a lot of people feel/felt let down by 2016, as if it were somehow the fault of the year, and as soon as that calendar flips, we will all be new people living in a new world. But I learned a long time ago that where ever I go, there I am. What I mean is, we will all be the same people in 2017, living in the same world, so if we want to see change, then we have to change ourselves. I have goals and resolutions like the next person – although cosmically, there’s no real shift in anything when January starts, I’m not immune to the promise of something NEW or DIFFERENT. What I hope is that my changes will be successful because I’m willing to change –  I’m putting new inputs into my system and expecting different outputs.

BE THE CHANGE WITH ME.

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I wish everyone the best in 2017, and hope that if 2016 was painful for you, you can rest easier now that it’s done.

 

 

 

 

The Post-Squee blues

oh, internets.

I mentioned in my last post that I have a yearly get-together with some friends. We sit. We talk. We laugh. We bond.

And then, we have to leave. And we get the post squee blues.

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Oh, How I miss my squee people!

i’m so lucky to have such people in my life that understand me and are creative and ‘get’ how my brain works. Squee weekend is a time I get to hang out with those people 24-7, have fun and feel safe and understood. To go from that to the real world…. LOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGG SIIIIIIGHHHHHHHH

I’m  lucky to have these people in the first place. At times, I feel selfish and self-centered to want them year round!

other times, I’m angry and mad that having my squee crew on the regular is not the norm! HOW DARE THE WORLD FUNCTION THIS WAY!!???

Mostly, though, I just wish I were back in the conference room, at the  Grenville residence Inn, drinking coffee and sitting with my people, wondering if someone should make a run to the Bi-Low for wine or chips to get us through the night.

*flops on the floor dramatically*

*SIGHS*

 

 

 

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.

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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!

 

 

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

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.

Status Update – Covencraft, Historical romances

Hi all!

To keep the momentum of my writing, I decided to jump right into the next Covencraft story as soon as I finished book 4, Dry Spells. The next ‘story’ is Uncontrollable Burn and it deals with Jade’s feelings for Paris and a wildfire burning out of control.

OH THE SYMBOLISM

Le problem is I don’t know if Uncontrollable Burn will be a full length novel [80-110,000 words] or novella length [45-75000 words]. I thought it would be a novella, but as I work through the beginning, maybe it will be long, IDK.

Le struggles.

It will be done, no matter what the length. I just don’t now if it’s a novel or a novella. You’ll find out as I do!

That also means, I don’t know when I am returning to Margaux Gillis realm of historical romances. The next story will either be a sequel to Ravenwood, featuring Charlotte, or a new story – either a ghost story or a Jekyll and Hyde bit. STAY TUNED.!!

 

 

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.

 

 

Dry Spells [Covencraft #4] releases June 7!

Dry Spells will be released June 7! It’s up for pre-order at the moment and will be ready to download on June 7th! I’m very excited [as always!]

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I struggle with each book in its own way and then when I get to the end I’m like, ‘huh. Why was that so hard?’ I didn’t know the ’emotional heart’ of this book for a long time, and then when I did figure it out, it was SO OBVIOUS I wondered if I had purposely been blind to it for some ‘as yet still unknown to me’ reason.

I’m always proud of my work. *pats self on back*.  Maybe it’s egotistical or narcissistic, but I work hard at my writing and hope I get better with each book. I’m always grateful I have the opportunity to write and that I finished another story – getting it out of my head and into the computer. The transition from brain to fingers to keyboard to actual-readable-book is a tumultuous one, but I find it rewarding.

I’m already working on the next installment of Covencraft, Uncontrollable Burn. I just don’t know yet if it will be a novella or a full length book. We’ll see how Jade and Paris [and Lily and Bruce and everyone else!] feels about it!