It’s a Good Thing

I am loving the pictures everyone is sending me as you receive your copies of Shards of Glass. It really means a lot to me. You guys are the bomb!

I spent any free time this week plotting out my trilogy, writing it, and doing research. People on set think I’m weird, but every time they’re setting up a shot I take out my notebook and write a character description or figure out some backstory.

Whenever I’m in the car, I listen to self-publishing podcasts. While some are informative, most are inspirational. One of them discussed the one thing that sets successful authors/book launches apart. It wasn’t having a huge list, an amazing book, the best cover or any of the things you would think. You could find an exception to every one of those. According to Tim Grahl, “In a successful launch, the author believes that buying their book is actually a good thing for people to do.” Basically, you need to believe that your book is worth buying. It sounds simple, but I recognized myself when he said that some authors see someone buying a copy of their book as doing them a favor. I am so grateful for every one of you who has purchased a copy of my book. Who downloaded a free copy. Who shared my post. Who commented to congratulate me. Who liked it. It’s not that I don’t think my book is good. I poured my heart and soul into it. I just couldn’t imagine people spending their money to read what I wrote. And how can I expect anyone to do that when I treat my book like something they buy for me rather than for themselves?

It goes back to my self-confidence/self-worth issues that I work so hard to get past. I guess this was my first writing venture, so I had to overcome it in this aspect of my life as well. I’m not saying I’m cured, but being aware of it makes a huge difference. And you feel less sales-pitchy when your mindset is “I wrote this awesome book I’m really proud of and I think you would like it” instead of “please do me a favor and buy this book I wrote so other people can know it’s out there”. My marketing was based on people’s relationship to me rather than what the book is about, which is definitely not the way to go.

What does this mean for you? Hopefully less annoying posts from me 😉 I really, truly appreciate every single person who is encouraging me. More than you could possibly know. But I don’t want you to feel like you have to read my book because I wrote it. If it sounds interesting or you want to check it out, please do. It means the world to me. But if fiction or young adult novels are not your thing, there are a million other ways to support indie authors: Like and comment on my posts. Share them with the people you think would actually enjoy the book. Tell people about it.

Acting-wise, one project we were working on has been pushed to the spring, but I’ve been on a few sets for background. One of them was really small and I got to have conversations with the director, who was awesome. He treated everyone with respect, whether you were background or the main actors, and wasn’t above standing in for his actors or spraying wheels with WD-40 so they would stop squeaking. It was also for a Christmas Movie, which is up there on my Bucket List.

“The fundamental difference between someone you trust and someone you don’t is your belief in whether or not they are looking out for your best interest above their own.”

-Tim Grahl

First Week as a Published Author

Shards of Glass has been out for a week! I couldn’t be more touched and amazed by all of the wonderful comments and support I have been receiving. I was terrified to put the book out there because only my mom had read it before I decided to go on this publishing journey. Now I have sold way more than the 5 copies I was expecting, and people are actually reading it.

That was the part that scared me the most, because I knew I had family who would get my first book to support me, but I wanted them to like it. I wanted people I didn’t know to get the book and enjoy it, not because I wrote it, but because it’s a good book. I have teared up several times this past week over the beautiful reader responses. Thank you so much to everyone who has reviewed it on amazon and goodreads!

I drove back to Toronto from Montreal and was on set doing background the following days. I also worked on my next book, the first in The Owens Chronicles. It’s a paranormal/fantasy series, and Emily is a few years older than Rachel, but I’m sure you’ll love her too. Research and plotting has been so much fun, but I am excited to be in the actual writing part now, as well as getting cover ideas whenever I need to procrastinate.

 

That pretty much covers my week. What about yours?

 

If you have a copy of Shards of Glass, post a picture of yourself with the book or your tablet. I would love to share them. It’s incredible to think that this book started out as an idea in my head. Now it’s something tangible that you can hold…Crazy!

 

“Follow your dreams. If you have a goal, and you want to achieve it, then work hard and do everything you can to get there, and one day it will come true.”

-Lindsey Vonn

Launching, Outlining and Perma-smiles

Shards of Glass launched on Friday and I am amazed at the outpouring of love and support that I have received since then. People I have never met bought the book, my cousin downloaded the kindle app just so he could get my ebook while he waited for the paperback to arrive, a stranger left me the most beautiful 5 star review on amazon…not to mention all of the family, friends and acquaintances (like people who went to school with my parents) who have liked the posts, shared them and actually purchased my book. My face is a constant smile and I don’t see it going away. Ever. I am astounded by the wonderful people that surround me.

The launch was definitely the biggest part of my week, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t keep busy. On Friday and Saturday I got loads of excitement at the WWE’s Summer Slam Meet and Greet, before driving to Montreal. On Sunday I helped out at the launch of Wyngaert Wealth Essentials, which included tables of delicious food, being serenaded by Matt Mardini, crooner extraordinaire, and hanging out with some of my favorite people.

On Monday morning we went on a hike and had lunch before I drove back to Toronto for an early morning call time. Every spare moment was either spent responding to all of the messages of encouragement I have been receiving, or outlining my upcoming trilogy. I put the first book up for pre-order so I could give myself a deadline to clean up my first draft and get it edited, but I want to have my series planned out as much as I can before then so I don’t get to the last book and wish I had done things differently. I also signed up for Cancon in October, which I am really excited about.

Before I go, Shards of Glass will be free to download for one last day (August 13th), so if you wanted to get a copy, or try out a new author, this is your chance to do it at absolutely no cost to you. I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear what you think!

Have an amazing day!

Amanda

I PUBLISHED A BOOK!!!

I Published a Book!

At long last, after first having the idea back in 2003, Shards of Glass is available in paperback as well as ebook. I am so excited to share it with you!

I would love it if you could get a copy, read it and let me know what you think. If you liked it, leave a review on amazon, goodreads or both 😉 If you didn’t, feel free to leave the review as well, but also reach out to me. This is my first novel and I would love to know what I can work on to be better.

 

Thank you so much for all of your support. It constantly warms my heart and reminds me just how lucky I am. I hope you enjoy the book 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Reading!

Amanda

xoxo

July 2019

I took the month of July off from Jiu-JItsu because of the whole vasovagal syncope thing. I still got to practice a bit with the 4Points Summer Camps. We did Jiu-Jitsu and Obstacle Courses in the morning, then spent the afternoons acting. Every week of camp, the kids got together to come up with a story idea, write a script, then put it all on camera. Dave is editing the videos and I can’t wait to see how it all turned out.

 

I spent a few days in Montreal for my cousin Steve’s birthday party and a Baby Shower for my two nephews. Chelsea and Rikki will either be grateful or super annoyed by my semi-constant presence. Hopefully their babies will love me for it.

While I was in town, I also went to a shooting range with famjam, and met with JF for cover designs. Let’s just say I was beyond excited.

Speaking of covers, Johnny finalized the poster for our short, get-together, and it is amazing!

We celebrated the boyfriend’s father’s birthday, but I had to wait a few days to see my dad for his. We were supposed to film the Encounters, but setbacks piled up until we had no choice but to postpone. Luckily, Hubert and I met and got the first steps ready for our next project. He is all about building momentum and I am all for it.

I also had a doctor’s appointment, where we still don’t know what caused the fainting, but she is still looking into it, which is reassuring for me.

I finished the month in Montreal, where I celebrated my niece’s birthday, went hiking, worked for my Uncle, finished my July CampNanowrimo project and researched a trip to Hawai’i!

As for August, I have been fully immersed in preparing for something HUGE that happens tomorrow. Except for the 2 days I spent in the heat dressed as a turtle, but such is the hustle. I am so nervous and excited to share it with you all!

 

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

-Amelia Earhart

Hike. Write. Repeat.

I started writing this post with the intention of publishing it a few weeks ago, but something happened on the morning I was going to finish it that made me reluctant to post it at all. Writing it the way it was planned felt like I was being dishonest, while editing it to include my new circumstance felt like I was looking for attention. But this is where I share my story and get held accountable, so here it goes.

June was a very fun and productive month. I got booked through a stunt coordinator for 2 days of SSE (Special Skills Extra) on a movie. I got to wear a really cool costume while making sure the stunt performer didn’t land on anyone in the crowd. Definitely something I would love to do again.

A problem I was pretty excited to have was that I booked so much work that I had to cut my trip to Montreal short. I spent a day in Quebec with my mom for the Premiere of Deep Web on the 9th, had a fake Father’s Day on the 10th, then drove back to Toronto after little more than 24 hours.

What was supposed to be a couple of days turned into a full week of background work as a high school student. It was long days with a lot of downtime, since they were mostly filming by section, but I was in heaven. I brought my laptop with me and got to finish my 5th Draft of Shards of Glass while we were in holding. There was an entire day where I was only used for 30 minutes, so I was basically paid to write. Whenever we were called to set, I brought some loose pages with me and plotted out a 17 book series. I am so excited for all of the things I will someday get to write! This was probably my most productive week ever.

On the 15th, we had a production meeting for Touched, where we got to explore our filming location. We were incredibly lucky that Hubert’s friend had his house for sale, so we got to film in a multi-million dollar home. Once the Touched meeting was done, I had a coffee date with Steph, our 1st AD. She was also the 1st AD for get-together, but this was my first time sitting down and actually getting to know her. All I can say is that I wish I had done it so much sooner, and can’t wait to spend a lot more time with her.

The 16th was the boyfriend’s birthday, so we did whatever he wanted to do, which included open mat. Not sure if I’ve explained this before, but Open Mat is where a bunch of people practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from different gyms come together and roll with each other. You get to try out your technique on people who weren’t trained exactly like you, learn new things and in my case, roll with people my own size.

On the 17th we met with our business rep at ACTRA and I applied for my permit, which gives me my 2nd of the 3 credits I need to be a full ACTRA member. I spent the next 3 days working as a Brand Ambassador, which was stressful with all of the pre-production stuff going on with Touched. In the future, I would try my best to not book work up to the day before we go to camera on something I am acting in and producing.

I’ll make a separate post all about our 2 days of Touched, but suffice it to say it was an awesome experience that I hope to be repeating soon, and often.

The day after Touched was a day of rest, and to celebrate a year with the boyfriend <3

I did my last day of background on a show I was doing continuity on, had our last TAWC meeting before the summer break, then drove to Montreal.

Once there, I established a routine of Hike, Write, Repeat. I would wake up around 6 in the morning, go for a hike on Mont St-Hilaire with my mom, then spend the day writing/reading my latest draft out loud with my mom to make sure it all sounded good. I can’t thank her enough for the countless hours she spent helping me edit Shards of Glass.

Of course, I also did things like hang out with my grandparents, have a book meeting with JF and watch my niece play soccer, but Hike, Write, Repeat was the routine. I was all set to continue this routine on Friday. I brushed my teeth, got dressed, sort of slipped/mostly caught myself going down the stairs, walked it off, then woke up with my mom trying to shake me awake while crying on the phone with 911.

This wasn’t my first time fainting. It happened like that in May 2012, and I passed out one of my first days as a reader, but that time I woke up as soon as I hit the floor. This time, I had no recollection of crossing the room to where I passed out against the couch, then apparently flung myself backward, slamming the back of my head against the side of a table before convulsing on the ground. Which is how I woke up. All I knew was that I did not like seeing my mom cry like that, so I sat up as best I could, ignored the pain in my head and tried to assure her I was fine and she didn’t have to worry. She ignored me and called an ambulance, who brought me to the hospital. They drew lots of blood, monitored my heart and I totally bombed the neuro exam, but they didn’t seem concerned. Whereas last time this happened, I wasn’t allowed to drive for 2 months while they made sure I wasn’t epileptic, this time I was given the okay to drive 6 hours to Toronto the following day. Not because I was fine, but because they couldn’t figure out a cause. They labeled it a vasovagal syncope, with no actual trigger. They told me it could happen more often now, or never again, they had no idea, but they could mostly guarantee it wouldn’t happen while I was driving. Let’s just say I wasn’t reassured.

My mom would re-enact my episode a lot over the next few days, partially as a distraction from the heartbreaking funeral we were a part of on Saturday, but also to convince herself it wasn’t that big of a deal. Still, she would occasionally look at me and start crying, and she avoided being alone with me again.       

On Sunday I convinced her and my dad to go on a hike with me, because I knew that if I didn’t go, they would be nervous and maybe never let me go again. We got caught in a torrential downpour as soon as we reached the top, which I felt really bad for, but it also shows that I have the best parents in the world.

I drove back to Toronto, with a friend who did most of the driving, and had a game plan in case I fainted during the tiny bit at the beginning where I was the driver. So overall, a pretty awesome month, but not all of the excitement was welcome.

I could have made this post and left out the fainting episode, but it happened. I have been taking it easy and am seeing a doctor in Toronto to try and get to the root of the problem, so no one should worry, I am fine. If anything, now you know that random fainting episodes do happen, not just in the movies, and please, if ever something happens to you or someone you love, don’t just put it off or assume you’re fine. Listen to your body. Take care of yourself. You need to stand up for yourself like you would your best friend or little sibling. As L’Oreal says, You’re Worth it.

 

“Don’t like someone. Love someone. Don’t stand up for yourself. Fight for yourself. Don’t be strong. Be indestructible.”

WRAMPS

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of work opportunities, family and writing. There were ups and downs, but overall I am so excited for what I hope is to come.

I have a list of priorities, that I tried to find an acronym for. I eventually ended up with WRAMPS, so that is how I am going to break down this Blog Post.

Writing

As you may have read in my last post, I’m in the thick of the 4th draft of a book I started in 2003. I realized it was partially written by a 13-year-old and I was trying too hard to stay true to that story. So I decided to rewrite it. Instead of starting with a blank word document (which I would have copied and pasted most of the original draft into), I started with a blank notebook. This way I have to rewrite everything and think about my words instead of settling for what was there. I am on my second notebook, and I think the story is definitely getting better as I go along. And I am catching so many bad writing habits that I have, words I like to use way too often.

I am hoping to publish in August, which is possibly overly ambitious (my friend was very convincing when he suggested 6 months, but I’m a little hard-headed). Either way, please sign up for my newsletter. I am aiming to put out one a month or so, and I’ll try to make them interesting 😉

Writing isn’t first because it’s my top priority, this is just how the letters scrambled into a word. However, I make lists and goals and schedule things all the time, and I’m always excited at the possibilities. This is the first time that one of these plans, my writing plan, has given me purpose, and felt 100% achievable.

Relationships

This includes the romantic variety (like date nights, hand-holding and John Wick watching), but also family, which means a busy trip back to Montreal. I went hiking with my mom, hung out with my parents, spent some time with my grandparents, ran around with my nieces, had brunch with my cousin and got a ton of writing & publishing advice for my friend, who happens to be a published author.

 

Acting

This is where I had most of the ups and downs. Basically one down and a lot of ups.

My agent removed me from her roster. I can defend myself against some of her reasons, but it was a valid decision. She raised some good points about my priorities and efforts lately. I have been doing a lot of things to try and move my career forward…but they weren’t the things that my agent needed me to be doing. I submitted a self-tape knowing it wasn’t my best work. Not how I would want a casting director to remember me. I told myself I wouldn’t get the part anyway, so I sent something okay, but nowhere near what I could have done.

The whole thing made me take a good hard look at my priorities and what I am working for. Right now I am so busy in writing and pre-production mode that I wouldn’t be good on a new roster. So I am going to clear my plate, do some research and build up my team.

The ups for acting are obviously a lot more fun. I went to some TAWC meetings. I’m figuring out which amazing writer to bring in for our workshop this month. We had our Nell Shipman Award Gala, which was wonderful and inspiring and magical and everything I hoped it would be. Sherry White is amazing and should give Ted Talks. I tip my hat to my fellow TAWC members, who are so dedicated and supportive and inspiring. They are go-getters who don’t sit around and wait for things to come to them, they make things happen. I am so proud to be one of them.

Monies

Right now, I make my money from Background, Standardized Patient and Brand Ambassador work. I enjoy all 3, for many different reasons. One gives me the opportunity to be on set, one lets me hone my acting skills and all 3 give me the flexibility to be available for big opportunities.  Lately, I really enjoy getting paid to write. There’s a lot of downtime with these jobs, and I have been using it wisely. Being paid to write usually means a book advance or someone paying you to write something, but I still think this qualifies.

Producing

I hope to produce a project at the end of August, but for now, my Producer-brain’s focused on TOUCHED. We went to our meeting with ACTRA, have most of our crew and are missing one location. We even held auditions to cast our leads, which was so interesting. Not because our actresses screamed bloody murder and aroused the attention of the receptionist. Actors need to see what it’s like on the other side of the casting table. The decisions are hard. So many actors brought it and a lot of them made me cry. So many factors make a person right for a part. Most of it is out of the actor’s control. It’s even out of my control, and I was sort of the casting director. I am happy with our choices, and can’t wait to see how it all comes together in a few weeks.

 

(Being in) Shape

This one is mostly jiu-jitsu, which I have been missing out on lately because of work. I can’t complain, but I hope to get back into the groove and work on my moves 🙂

 

“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.”

-Barbara Hall

I’m Writing a Book!

I actually started writing the book in 2003. At first, it was a bunch of characters brought together by a traumatic event. Then I fleshed it out and used it for Camp Nanowrimo in July 2015. I finished it that month and have been slowly self-editing it for years, adding and removing chapters and characters, struggling to make it the best book it can be. And I think we’re getting close.

I am currently on my fourth draft and am sharing this with you because once I am done editing (with help, so much help), I am going to publish it. This is huge for me because my mom is usually the only one who reads most of the books I write. Luckily for me, my mom is an honest, knowledgeable and very helpful Alpha Reader. She believes in me and isn’t letting me release something that is beneath what she knows I can do. I should also thank the friend who told me that instead of publishing a terrible book anonymously, I should make the book awesome and then publish it as myself.

So far it has been quite an experience, with a whole lot of research and figuring things out. Telling you is my favorite way of keeping myself accountable because I will inevitably run into someone who read this and will ask me about it. Please do. I would love to tell you all about how far I have come. And to find out about you. Do you have any goals you are striving to reach? Have you self-published and have a list of steps I should take? Or avoid? I would love to pick your brain if you do.

I am also starting a newsletter you can subscribe to. I’ll share chapters from the book, let you vote on the different cover designs, and let you into my hustle. It takes a village, so I would love to have you in mine and to hear all about your hustle.

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

-Octavia E. Butler

An Exciting Month

We’re secure! By that, I mean that there is a little lock icon beside the website url because I fixed the security issue and people should be able to find the blog again. Amanda 1, Technology 0, right?

This past month has been pretty consistent as far as working for the gym and doing Jiu-Jitsu classes, doing background as a high school student and living a multitude of lives as a standardized patient. There’s also some new/exciting things happening.

For starters, I turned 29 and celebrated and had a wonderful time. Then I realized I only have one year left to accomplish my 30 by 30, and slightly panicked. But I’m okay with hustling.

I filmed a little short with a friend of mine, where I got to be sassy and get yelled at. You can see the full clip here.

I took an acting class at Armstrong Acting Studios. It has been ages since I was in a consistent acting class and it makes me miss Suzanna‘s so much. I loved continuously having scripts to work on, characters to live and friends to see!

I competed in the Ontario Open. I fought hard and was proud of myself, but tapped out to an armbar I probably should have fought harder against. Still, I left with a Bronze medal, that makes me want to work harder to deserve it next time.

We had our monthly TAWC meeting, a meeting to prep for the Gala next week, and we had the Post-Production and Film Festival Strategy Content Development Session that I put together. There weren’t that many people this time, but everyone there was really interested and asked good questions. I definitely learnt a whole lot. Filmmaking is a million tiny pieces coming together, and although it sometimes seems so daunting and scary, it is also so exciting and I can’t wait to do more of it.

I celebrated Easter with my boyfriend’s family, which included egg fights. Not in the sense that you throw eggs at each other, like I misunderstood, but in a very civil manner, you have a one on one egg smashing competition. It’s nice to have that family vibe here in Toronto when mine is all in Montreal.

I did some Brand Ambassador work at the Blue Jay’s Games, though you wouldn’t recognize me if you saw me. I’ve been a giraffe and a turtle so far, with an amazing view of the games during my breaks.

I went to Montreal for less than 24 hours to celebrate my badass cousin, Rikki, getting her MBA. I also managed to hang out with my nieces and spend time with my family, so the visit was 100% worth it.

The two most exciting things on my docket right now are Touched and Shards of Glass. Touched is a short film I am co-producing and acting in, which we will be filming in late June. For now, there are all kinds of production meetings and research and paperwork and getting it all together so we can start preparing for the next one. It’s the kind of project I am so excited to be a part of that I keep thinking it can’t really be happening. But so far it is 🙂

Shards of Glass is a book that I started writing in 2003. Then I chose it for Camp Nanowrimo in July 2015. Since then I have been half-heartedly editing it, cutting my darlings, building up the courage to eventually share it with someone who isn’t my mother…and now it will be the first book that I will publish. August 15th if all goes well. I will definitely keep you all posted 🙂

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

-Nelson Mandela

Nano, BJJ and Being Social

I had a pretty standard week, work-wise, to start off April. I worked at the gym, did some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes, hopefully made some progress…mostly the usual, with the addition of camp nano, where I am trying to write a book within a month. I have it all plotted out, so I thought it would go super smoothly, but I decided to try my hand at time travel, which means there’s a lot more research and figuring out to do.

Socially, I was more productive 😉 My parents came to town on Tuesday, so we went out for supper, then for lunch on Wednesday. On Thursday I met up with my Toronto Ninjas and remembered how much I miss hanging out in the SP room at McGill between scenarios, just talking about acting and careers and plays and auditions and everything that comes with a life in the arts. Someone said we should do a meeting like that every month, and I will do my best to hold us to it!

On Friday I did some background work, which is a perfect combination of socializing, acting lessons and catching up on work I’ve fallen behind on. It also sometimes gives me way too much time to contemplate where I’m going and what I’m doing, which is good when it leads to concrete actions, not so great when it’s just a realization. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to finish up all the figuring out I was doing 😉

Saturday I was slightly exhausted thanks to an overnight shoot, but I made it through the kids classes and the end of takedowns. Then I went home and napped before going to a birthday party.

On Sunday I did a little lifting, spent the day with my boyfriend’s family and the night with my BJJ sisters. We obviously talked a whole lot about Jiu-Jitsu, indulged in homemade acai bowls and Turkish tea (there may have been some pizza and peanut chips and other delicious treats involved), and discovered the 80s classic, “No Retreat, No Surrender”. Some things age better than others, but we had a wonderful night and got a bit of an ab workout from all the laughing.

Now that the competition is less than a month away, it’s time to get back on track with healthy eating, consistent training and all the essential elements of an 80s training montage…

“Winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit.”