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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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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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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 – 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.!!

 

 

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!