Instead of a random list of resolutions for the year, I am going to share my goals in each of the important areas of my life, my WRAMPS, if you will 😉
Finish the Owens Chronicles Trilogy.
Book One is already published, so I would like to write books 2 and 3, then edit them without a deadline looming so I can take the time to make them the absolute best that they can be.
Market and Promote my Books
I dabbled a bit with facebook and amazon ads last year, but I would like to actually look into a course or something so I can figure out how to market and promote my books in a way that makes strangers want to buy them. I appreciate my family and friends more than they could possibly know, but I would love to not have to rely on people loving me to get book sales.
Establish Writing Habits/ a Writing Routine.
Lately, I have been spending 80% of my time writing when I have a deadline, then writing sporadically once the deadline is done. I want to have a long and healthy writing career, so I want to establish a routine where I can write every day, consistently. It would also be wonderful to have a more dedicated and organized place to write, rather than the corner of our living room.
Don’t take them for granted.
It’s easy to think, “My relationships are good, so I’ll focus on everything else that needs work”. I want to be present and there for the people I care about. This means putting the phone and the laptop down sometimes. Driving to Montreal at least once a month. Date nights. The good stuff.
I still haven’t found my Toronto acting class, but I miss having a weekly gym to exercise my acting muscles and live the lives of interesting characters. I need to try different places, find one that I love and go there on a weekly basis.
I have yet to audition for and book a union role, so this is a goal I would love to accomplish. It entails creating a killer package to get an amazing agent, going on auditions (or sending out self-tapes with the awesome setup I will build) and winning the room.
Ideally, this would be as a direct result of my previous resolution, but I am also very happy to be a part of friends’ projects, or to create my own. Or to simply get-together with a bunch of friends and film stuff.
Spend less than I make
That’s the goal, first and foremost. Then, I want to use whatever extra I have for savings, so that I can afford the things I want. That includes big things in the future, as well as trips and spoiling the people I love today.
Love You Better.
Or, if inspiration strikes, another project that is Bechdel approved, that I wrote, that means something to me.
Submit get-together to festivals
And hopefully enjoy the festival circuit.
BE IN SHAPE
This is a goal in and of itself. It is meant to encompass all physical and health goals, so I would love to get to a point where I feel strong and confident in my body and what it can accomplish. To get there, I plan on working up a sweat everyday, achieving my step count and drinking lots of water. I also want to continue my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey and take advantage of the Black Belt World and Monkey Vault passes I have been holding on to. Basically, I want to get back to deserving the #allthethings I used to put on all of my Instagram posts.
And, not so much fitness goals, but still health-related, I want to limit my carbon footprint and be better at keeping the apartment clean.
Are you working on any goals? If you have any tips to stay on track, please share them in the comments.
“Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is to look back on all of the awesome things I got up to over the past 365 days. I tend to not get anywhere near accomplishing all of my goals and resolutions, but instead of focusing on that, I celebrate all of the progress I made. And all of the things I didn’t even know I wanted on my list.
This one is incredibly exciting, because I accomplished something that has been a dream and a resolution for as long as I can remember. In August, I published my first book, Shards of Glass, which has sold over 100 copies. Half of them were free ebook sales, but that is still over a hundred people who own a copy of a book that I wrote. It boggles my mind and is so surreal.
In November, I published my second novel, Prophecy, in a different genre. Marketing and brand-wise, this was not the best idea, but I have big plans. And I’m in this for the long haul. I am currently working on the sequel to Prophecy, which is part of a trilogy, and am loving it! Goals for next year would be to win all the nanowrimos, write more and publish some stories 🙂
It was an awesome year for the Wyngaert clan. Not only did my cousin get married, she and her sister both had babies! I am the proud auntie of two absolutely adorable little boys who 100% have my heart.
In December, Arsen and I vacationed in Hawai’i. We visited Kauai, Maui and Oahu and it was fabulous! I’ll post a bit on each island, but the trip itself had us hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming in waterfalls, eating spam and having a wonderful time.
I tried to get back to Montreal at least once a month to spend time with my family, and also spent almost every Sunday with my Toronto family. I am one lucky gal who is spoiled beyond belief.
It has been a long time coming, with a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but I am now a full ACTRA member. My three credits were get-together, Touched and Little Bird, and I treasure each of them. I also filmed some MIPs, a short scene and gave an interview, which were all pretty cool. While most of my days on set were as background, a chunk of them were as a special skills extra, where I got to mingle with stunt coordinators and handle weapons. I even got to photo double a couple of times. This year was a blast!
I continued my involvement with TAWC this year. In addition to being on the Nell Shipman Gala committee, I spearheaded the content development sessions. I wasn’t able to attend all of them, (which sucks but I am so happy to be working consistently) but the ones I saw were phenomenal wealths of information, by some kickass women in the industry.
I brought my mom as my date to the Quebec city premiere of Deep Web. It was fun to reconnect with everyone. I’ll be in Toronto, but there is another showing on January 5th at Cinema le Clap, if anyone is interested J
I also took an acting class, which was interesting, and makes me want to get back to my training. I can’t drive to Montreal every week to train with Suzanna, so a goal for the new year is to find a class I love and train consistently.
I am someone who budgets like crazy and saved from a young age, which is how I afforded to live in Toronto for a year while making so little money that the government gave me money to thank me for not going on welfare (where I could have earned more money than actually working). This year, however, I did a lot of background work (as an ACTRA member), published some books, was a brand ambassador (at auto shows, conventions, in costumes), and continued being a standardized patient. Not to mention working for family nearly every time I went back to Montreal. All this to say that I earned enough this year to have to pay taxes. And get an HST number.
This was one of my goals; to make so much money that I would have to pay taxes…I know, be careful what you wish for. But it’s nice to make more money than you spend and get back to saving a little (instead of living off your savings).
I had plans to produce and star in a short I wrote, titled Love You Better. I wrote the script, rewrote it a million times, saw it performed at Toronto Cold Reads, started finding a crew, made my dream cast list…I was terrified, but also excited to share something so personal, about an experience I went through rather than simply imagined. Then I got a call from a friend who had questions about producing a TIP. After answering Hubert as best I could, I offered my help in whichever capacity he needed. This turned into revising the script, writing myself a role and producing Touched with him. It was a great experience where I got to work with the best people and learn so much. I can’t wait until we send it to festivals and I get to share it with everyone.
We spent the summer working on more projects we were going to produce together, but we ran out of nice weather, and had a few setbacks, so we will reconvene on that in the new year.
I would have gone back to Love You Better, only the fierce and determined co-chairs of TAWC were producing a powerful short and wanted me to be a part of it. Little Bird was full of firsts for me. I was production manager and minors coordinator, working on a script I didn’t write. I worked with talented actresses I was honored to be in the same room with. It was incredible how generously the TAWC committee members rallied to help us make the film. My scene was cut from the final version, but I am still so proud of the story and the acting and how it all came together. It has already been submitted to a festival, and I am pretty sure this one will go far.
For next year, I hope to finally make Love You Better, to produce projects I care about, with people who make me excited to create, and to send Get-Together off to all the festivals!
Being in Shape
My goal for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was to get my blue belt, but that didn’t happen. I trained and taught kids classes and summer camps, but I also had a weird fainting episode and worked a lot, which meant I wasn’t able to train consistently. Hopefully all goes well in the new year and I get some short days at work.
I did get to compete in two BJJ tournaments, which were definitely learning experiences. I got bronze medals at both, but didn’t win a single match, so I am determined to someday go back and actually deserve a medal.
-I’m very slowly working on my Armenian, but am nowhere near carrying a conversation.
-I don’t think I even attempted to edit something in 2019. I’m not as disappointed by that as the fact that I didn’t get together with friends to film things that I would have to edit.
-As mentioned, I am still working towards the blue belt.
-I published 2 books, sold more copies than I could have imagined and got reviews I am still blushing about.
-We decided to hold off on putting get-together into the festival circuit because we wanted it to be the best that it could be. Waiting a few months to get Sarah Vanderzon’s NYC recording of For You was more than worth it. The movie is now completely done and ready to be submitted, which I am incredibly excited about. And Sarah is amazing. You should definitely check out her music and fall in love with it like we did.
-I am working on replacing my credits with union ones that I am proud of. My acting career definitely took a back seat to my writing in the last 6 months, so 2020 will be an attempt to find a better balance and keep the momentum going!
-I believe I am half a credit closer to becoming a full UDA member than I was last year, so I will have to be more of a go-getter in the future.
-I am now a full ACTRA member!
What about you? How was your 2019?
“If you are at home, and you’re sitting on your couch and you’re watching this right now, all I have to say is that this is hard work. I’ve worked hard for a long time, and it’s not about, you know…it’s not about winning. But what it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion. And it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.”
The boyfriend was able to finish work early, so we left mid-afternoon for the 6-hour drive to Montreal, grateful we weren’t a part of the car crashes that delayed us, stopping a few times for gas and at The Big Apple for supper. Even though I told him a million times how delicious their apple bread grilled cheese with bacon is, he still chose some smoked pork sandwich and must have regretted it the whole time we were eating.
On Saturday we had a First Aid Class at my grandparents’, so we would all know what to do in case something happens. The boyfriend was awesome and stayed for the whole course, even though he had no interest in it.
Saturday night we had pizza and played games at home, which is always a lot of fun.
Sunday morning we went to Jiu-Jitsu at Lee Villeneuve’s. Instead of curriculum, Lee taught us a bunch of moves, then we rolled for 7-minute rounds. We were dead by the end of it, but promised to be back at Christmas.
After a lunch of homemade apple bread grilled cheeses with bacon, we went on a hike with my mom. Someone was under the impression that walking and hiking are only exercise for really old people, so it was nice to show them that while it isn’t the most intense workout, it also isn’t as easy as a walk in the park. And it is so beautiful up there.
We had Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s with my honorary uncle, then the boyfriend and I drove back to Toronto. We had originally planned to leave on Monday, but I got asked to work on set and you gotta hustle.
I did manage to get some writing in on set, then had another Thanksgiving dinner with the boyfriend’s family last night. I ate so much delicious food this weekend that you would think I didn’t have to eat for years, but that is not the case. Smoothies for breakfast it is 😉
“Love doesn’t make the world go ‘round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”
Most of this week has been spent wearing my writer and producer hats. We had 3 production meetings for Little Bird (which goes to camera next week!), and I am pushing through a new draft for Prophecy (which comes out next month!). I also made time for a tiny but momentous acting task…
Getting my FULL ACTRA MEMBERSHIP!!! For the non-actors out there, ACTRA is the Canadian actors’ union (on the English side). There are multiple ways to join (background work, theater school, a role) as an apprentice, but then you need 3 credits to be a Full Member (unless you get in through a reciprocal agreement with SAG or Equity). I applied for my final permit yesterday, then filled out the application and officially became a Full Member with a new number and everything. I’m a bit of an eager beaver so I’ve already done the online training stuffs, but I have a very busy week ahead of me once we go to camera.
I rounded off my week with some Jiu Jitsu classes and visits to the dentist, then I’m ending it tonight by going home for Thanksgiving. With a shipment of Gata from my boyfriend’s mom because she is the best. Hopefully there’ll be some left by the time we get there 😉
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Even though I was in Montreal last week, I still spent 3 days on set (okay, 2 days on set and 1 in holding). One of them (the day in holding) let me get so much writing done, while another transformed me into a cartoon. I have no idea how this will work or what I will look like, but I am excited to find out. After working for my uncle and spending the evening with my parents and brother, I spent my last day on set as an actor. I didn’t have any lines, but I got to catch up with friends, hang out with actors and act! I also attempted to ride a very vintage bike, but I’m not sure how successful I was in that department.
After my acting gig, I drove to Toronto for steak night, which was fun and made me really excited for class tonight. On one hand, I’m sad I keep missing class, but on the other, it’s really nice to be busy and working.
On Saturday we had brunch with my brother and cousin who were in town for a wedding, and I got to write a bit more before heading to work in Hamilton for a few hours. When I got back, I made chicken parmesan and attempted to make pumpkin pie. I have a very sweet boyfriend who lies to me about how good it was, but I either don’t like pumpkin pie that much, or didn’t do the recipe justice.
On Sunday I worked all day at a job where we can’t have cell phone, so I got a lot of planning and figuring out done. I hopefully have my writing and launches planned until my next birthday, and even have a list of all the stories I want to someday write, so I can procrastinate better in the future 😉
We had supper at the boyfriend’s parents’, bringing home some delicious leftovers.
Some pretty cool news I’ve been waiting to share is that I was cast in Little Bird, a beautiful short film that goes to camera in less than 2 weeks. This is a passion-project spearheaded by the TAWC co-chairs and featuring some incredible storytelling and amazing actresses. I will also be production managing it, which is a little scary, but honestly, I would be doing anything to be a part of this story.
Here’s a little blurb on it:
“Written and directed by Tee Schneider, produced by Joanna Swan, Little Bird is a film about tenacity- having it, keeping it and finding it again when it gets lost. It’s a film about empathy and connection, compassion and sacrifice. It’s a film about women who care enough to make the hard choices. It’s a film about women who brush themselves off and put one foot in front of the other even when the world around them is completely out of control. It’s most certainly about the resilience of girls. Little Bird explores invisible illness, the long-term fallout of unmanaged depression and the unimaginable horror of interrupted adoption. In the end, it’s a film about the choices we all have, big or small, at any age, in any circumstance- even the ones we can’t control.”
Last week I had the honor of being one of the female Air Force pilots in Boundless, a short film set in the 1940s. They are hoping to turn it into a miniseries, which I really hope happens, because these stories deserve to be told and I would love to be a part of telling them. I also spent another 4 days on set, meeting all kinds of cool people and having really interesting, deep conversations. There is something about movie sets that sometimes makes strangers feel like trusted friends. My guess is it has something to do with early mornings and exhaustion, but I’m one of the weird ones who loves every aspect of it. One of the days I got to be SSE (Special Skills Extra), hired by the stunt coordinator, which really makes me want to get back to the badass I was becoming last year.
TAWC, the Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee, had its first meeting of the 2019/2020 year. It is always so awesome and inspiring to meet with these women, make plans and hear what they are up to. I will be in charge of the Content Development Sessions again, hopefully with help, and volunteered for some extra tasks that have me majorly excited. I’ve been focusing a lot on my writing lately, and this meeting (as well as the ACTRA conference) are reminding me how much I love stepping into someone else’s shoes and creating.
When we wrapped on set Saturday evening I drove to Montreal, then spent Sunday morning with my family. That evening, I attended the Yes Let’s Make a Movie film festival. I was at the door, greeting people and checking names off a list, so I got to interact with nearly all of the guests. A lot were new faces, but so many were the talented and hard-working Montreal actors I know and love so much. I love a lot of things about Toronto and all of its opportunities, but I definitely miss the Montreal acting community. They are so filled with dedication, determination and support that I am convinced we can do absolutely anything we put our minds to.
The screening itself was nearly 3 hours, and kicked off with clips from interviews Danny did to promote the festival. I should backtrack here and explain that Danny Malin is the one who puts this festival together. It used to involve creating teams for a film race and screening the films on the Sunday, but has evolved into an international film festival where he watches all the submissions, curates the selections, hands out awards and swag and door prizes. The festival itself is an amazing accomplishment on his part, but he is also out there writing scripts, shooting and producing shorts and features, acting and auditioning, filling the background on Montreal-filmed content…he is a jack of all trades and a master of all. I am so lucky that he is also my friend.
Back to the screening, the clips from the interviews featured friends of mine, but they also had a few snippets of advice from me. Who am I to give advice to aspiring actors, right? But at the same time, the girl on the screen knew what she was talking about. And the girl in the audience had forgotten some of it. I am working a lot more in Toronto, and creating my own content, but I was involved in a lot more projects when I was in Montreal, hustling more to get agents and headshots and roles. I love being on set, even for background, so it’s easy to feel like I am accomplishing something when I’m on set at least once a week, but I also want to have speaking days on set, which I sort of gave up on lately.
The shorts that we screened were funny and touching and horrifying. I saw beautiful performances and was haunted by some. A lot of them were written by, produced by and starring my friends. I am so incredibly proud of all of them and hope I get to someday work with them.
So far this week I went on an early morning hike with my mom, worked on the next draft of Prophecy and spent an afternoon hanging out with my cousin, which was a highlight of my week.
They say if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. If I can spend all of my days like this, I will never need a vacation. Except from the cold. Or to see places. But I’ll be excited to get back to my job once it’s over.
After finishing a new first draft of Prophecy as the first book in a trilogy, I spent last Monday reading it with a notebook to keep track of things. I find it really useful to write down any important information I reveal about characters (eye color, likes and dislikes, dates, etc.) or the story, so that I don’t contradict myself. It is especially useful when you are writing more than one book in the same universe. In addition to facts, I make myself a list of things that need to be changed or added. This can be for mistakes (if I wrote that she was 12 a decade ago, then say she is 26, I have some math that needs fixing), creative decisions (removing a character, changing their name) or missing information (not enough background on a character, they come out of nowhere, she suddenly has a car that wasn’t there in the last scene…). I do this chapter by chapter, then add notes in previous or later chapters (mention x before they meet her, bring up y so we know she hasn’t forgotten him). Sometimes I’ll just write questions, like “Did she know this?”, “Who is Spencer?”, “Why did he do that?”, so I know I need to figure that out before I write the next draft.
Once I have answered all of the questions and figured out where everything goes, that is when I’ll start the next draft. Right now I am also waiting on my Alpha Reader (my mom), to let me know what she thinks about the story and the characters, so I know if everything is coming across like I want it to, and if the story is interesting for people who are not me. In the meantime, I am working on the novellas, character backstories and some compulsive planning, because that’s how I roll.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday I did background, each of them an awesome experience. I was referred to as ‘our hero’ on one set, booked as SSE and learnt a whole lot on the next one, and wrapped within 2 hours on Friday.
I only went to Jiu-Jitsu twice, which sucks, but was also the smarter thing to do. On Thursday I did some Brand Ambassador work on a van, which was a lot of fun, but I sort of fell through the cracks in the early morning. I was praised for my acrobatic abilities in catching myself and preventing what could have been a lot more damage, but I still ended up very bruised with a slice of skin missing (a very thin, small one, don’t worry). I probably still would have gone, but my foot was swollen and gently brushing three-quarters of my legs brought pain, so I decided to wait until the swelling went down to go back to class.
On Saturday I attended the Fall Member’s Conference with ACTRA, which is an awesome opportunity to learn valuable information while mingling with old friends and new acquaintances who share your interests. The day started off with a screening of some TiP projects, which are low-budget, ACTRA-approved films like Get-together and Touched. These are both in post-production stages and waiting to go through the festival circuit, but I would absolutely love to have them screen at ACTRA once they’ve made their way around. It was really inspiring to see what you can accomplish when you get a bunch of actors together.
Next I went to the TAWC (Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee) Page-to-Pitch Session, where we had industry leaders share how they got their projects off the ground before 3 brave souls went up and pitched us their ideas. It was really interesting to hear these new ideas and then get the feedback that the experts provided, which was sometimes a question I was asking myself, but other times something I completely missed because I don’t get pitched to all the time and just heard the awesomeness of the ideas.
Next, we had lunch, where I caught up with some friends and slightly kidnapped a baby. I had the mother’s permission, but I also claimed her for the next 20 minutes or so, as she tried to devour my hair and my shoulder. It is moments like this (and when the childcare workers bring a baby to the door of our classroom so a mother can breastfeed and not miss anything) that make me realize how incredible and badass mothers are. They get it all done. Everything that I have to do, plus a million other things because they have tiny humans that depend on them for everything. They’re superheroes.
After lunch we attended the plenary session to find out what’s going with ACTRA this year, then I went for round 2 of Page-to-Pitch. This time, 10 ‘presenters’ went to another room with the executives and they pitched in private (with the knowledge and comments from this morning) while we got a presentation on being an entrepreneur, an often overlooked facet of our industry, and figuring out how to analyze your idea and build on it, how to network, etc. Very interesting.
At the end, both groups merged and we got comments and a Q & A session with the executives who went off to hear the pitches.
I learned a lot from these sessions, including the fact that I don’t think I want to be a showrunner. Or write a TV series. At least not for now. I loved the ideas and information and tried to transfer it for books, but I am no Mindy Kaling. Even when I produce a short film, I need to no longer be in charge while I do the acting part. Ideally, I would like to write a book series while acting in a TV series. And producing films with amazing people. Wouldn’t that be perfect?
There was a wine and cheese thing to finish off the conference, so I met a few new friends and said goodbye to my people before heading home for date night. After supper, we watched Murder Mystery, which was filmed in Montreal so I got to see some of my Montreal friends. I enjoyed it, but possible spoiler alert, I went in knowing Gemma Arterton is not 4 years younger than me.
On Sunday I did a few hours of ultrasounds then went to a Barbecue. There was delicious food, excellent company, we watched some of the Emmys, and I got a beautiful notebook from Venice to write some stories in.
“Treat your family like friends, and your friends like family.”
Monday morning my mom and I went for a very early morning hike, then I went home and wrote for a bit before we tried a new Body Pump class with my aunt. I did not like the class, at all, but I must have gotten a good workout because my thighs hated me (and stairs) for days afterwards.
I spent the afternoon cooking and doing a bit of writing before going to hang out with my grandparents. After supper I hung out with one of my new favorite people for an hour or so, definitely overstaying my welcome, but it made my day/week/year/life.
When I got home I watched American Ninja Warrior with my parents. This show is so inspiring and really reminds me that I need to up my game and start training again.
On Tuesday I did background in a spa, where I spent half the day reading a magazine in a lounge chair and the other half writing books on the floor in the hallway. I don’t need much to be entertained, but I do need to see the words I am writing.
That night we watched Otherhood when I got home and I really enjoyed it. It’s the kind of movie you should watch with your mom on mother’s day if you’re lucky enough to have her. After you’ve remembered to call her and bring something to let her know how much you love and appreciate her of course.
On Wednesday the weather did not cooperate with our hike, so I stayed home and wrote before a little family outing. I spent more time with some of my favorite people, then had lunch with mostly the same group, plus or minus a few people.
Wednesday evening my brother and his fiancée had me and my dad over for supper while my mother went out. It is always good times with them, but I also learned a lot about my father that I did not know. I had bits and pieces, and knew things that would imply others, but never put it all together. I basically discovered that he is amazing, and I am beyond lucky to have him as my dad. To have two parents who love me unconditionally and support me in all of my endeavors…I don’t think I always deserve it but I am eternally grateful.
On Thursday my mom, my aunt, my cousin and I hiked Mont-Tremblant. It took us a little over two hours and I tried to keep up with my cousin who is taller and in way better shape than me, but it was hard. The views were incredible and the company was top-notch, but I think I need to do it more often. It’s a beautiful and fun way to get a workout in 🙂
Once the hike was done, we went to Mucho Burrito for supper. I only mention this because you might be thinking, like me, that they have burritos and rice and refried beans and a bunch of heavy, TexMex food. I didn’t explore the entire menu, though I’m sure they have all that, but they also have delicious bowls. I had half-rice, half-quinoa with beans, chicken, fresh corn, pumpkin seeds, fresh peach salsa…it was fresh and yummy and I would definitely recommend.
I took the train back to Toronto, meeting a man from Poland and getting some writing done, even if I accidentally got a rear-facing seat and slightly got carsick. I have yet to take the bus for my back and forths, but the train was a wonderful way to spend nearly six hours writing instead of listening to podcasts and singing along to the radio.
On Friday I got to have breakfast with the boyfriend after being away forever, then got a bunch of writing and admin stuff done before going to set for 2:30. It was at a studio and a really nice set to be on, but a short DAY shoot turned into working past 2 am. It just goes to show that you never know what to expect. I made new friends, caught up with some old ones, got some writing in and even did some knitting. A very productive day, if I do say so myself.
On Saturday I mostly did writing until a fitting. It’s for background on a short film about Female Air Force Pilots and I am so psyched to be a part of it, in any capacity. We went to open mat at 4 points afterward, where the boyfriend helped me go through all of the moves I was worried I had forgotten during my absence.
We spent the evening with Ali and Gözde from the gym, which is always a wonderful time. We tried Monga Fried Chicken, which was very yummy, with mochi ice cream for dessert. I was first introduced to this delicacy back in August and I definitely approve. The black sesame had a pretty strong taste, but it was very good, and you can never go wrong with vanilla. We were going to watch a movie, but got carried away with the talking, which I’m pretty sure is a good thing.
On Sunday I finished a new First Draft of Prophecy, taking into account all of the changes I have been making to the story. I also did some Brand Ambassador work and had supper with the boyfriend’s family, which I love to do.
Another awesome thing that happened this week and I almost forgot is the options for my cover! I received 3 possible covers for Prophecy and am currently going through them to figure out which version, or combination of them I want to use for my book. I know the expression is “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but we’re also aware that it’s how most people decide if they want to read a book, or at least the back of it. Here’s to more books with awesome covers!
“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”
Monday marked my first month as a published author, so I thought I would share my experience with self-publishing 🙂
My writing process for Shards of Glass was not typical. I came up with my characters back in 2003. I know the year since I originally made Rachel 13, my age at the time. I started with random snippets of her life, such as conversations with her siblings and an essay that reads like a diary entry.
I discovered Nanowrimo in November 2014, so I decided to make a book out of Rachel’s stories in July 2015. The campnanos don’t have a word limit, so I set mine at 75000 and surpassed it. I started editing it that year, but as soon as I sent it to my mother, I discovered that she is actually a very objective and unbiased alpha reader. She didn’t give me a lot of notes, but their implications were substantial. Like removing a bunch of characters. I am really not a fan of Killing Your Darlings. That’s probably why I spent the next few years casually editing it, but never getting to a point that I felt ready to publish it.
Finally, after years of putting “Publish a Book” on my list of resolutions, in 2019 I took it seriously. I spent way more time than I should have on creating a publishing schedule and planning insignificant things. I reread my latest version, made notes on what needed to be fixed, and gave myself the arbitrary deadline of August 11th.
There was a point where I wanted to publish the book anonymously because I didn’t think I would ever be confident enough to publish it under my name. I met with a friend, J.F., who is a published author, and suggested I instead focus my energy on making the book the best it can be, so that I can publish under my own name and be proud of it.
I eventually bit the bullet and set up a pre-order for Shards of Glass on amazon, with a publication date of August 9th because I felt confident that I had a final version that just needed some proofreading. I sent it to my mother, thinking she would give me some final notes to fix it, and then I would send it to an editor and it would be wonderful. Instead, my mom told me it was great, but there were too many characters and it got confusing and I basically had to rewrite the whole thing. She didn’t tell me that last part, but it was the only way I could fix her notes.
Usually, when I am writing a new draft, I copy and paste a lot of the original one. To avoid that (especially with the character removals), I wrote a new draft in a notebook, made a list of everything I needed to fix, then typed it up for a final draft.
I did the editing myself, then my mom and I spent a week reading it out loud to fix any mistakes we didn’t see.
For the formatting, I used some that looked like the ebooks from a decade ago. The Reedsy one was very nice, but there was something about having it say that it was formatted by reedsy.com that made me feel like it looked self-published. After lots of research and debating (meaning I asked my mom to tell me what to do) I decided to invest in my career (and myself) and purchased vellum. It’s over 300$, but it was very easy to use, the inside of my book looks like a real book and the ebook is beautiful. Plus, I plan to write a lot of books, so it will eventually pay itself off.
A lot of marketing programs will tell you to have somewhere to send your readers so you don’t lose them, so I put my next book up on pre-order and put a link at the end of Shards of Glass. It’s intimidating and terrifying, but I work a lot better with a deadline than if I am left to my own devices.
The last piece was the cover, which my friend JF did for me. I made a placeholder version for amazon, but had absolutely no idea how to do anything more than that. JF literally had to send me about a dozen files before I figured out the bleed and the spine and all that suff. You live and you learn, right?
Publishing and sales
My goal was to sell the ebook exclusively through amazon’s kindle unlimited for the first 90 days to see if that was a good fit. KU is a program where your ebook is sold exclusively through amazon, but you get the run promotions and make a higher royalty rate. For the paperback, I wanted to use amazon and ingramspark. I decided not to go exclusive with amazon because I felt like bookstores would rather order books from someone other than their main competitor.
Since it was a pre-order, I had to have everything uploaded by August 5th. I made the paperback available immediately so that the pages could link and the book could launch with reviews, but that didn’t happen. It nearly took 2 weeks for the ebook and paperback to be linked on amazon, and my first review was from someone I don’t know who got her ebook on launch day. She read it in less than 24 hours and gave me 5 stars, so she is now one of my favorite people.
The ebook went live on Friday, August 9th and that is when I started posting about it. I made my author page on goodreads and filled out my Author Central profiles for Amazon in Japan, Germany, France and the UK in addition to the U.S. site. I posted about it on Facebook and Instagram, made a blog post and sent out a newsletter. I was shocked and amazed by the response I got. SO many people shared the post or commented congratulations and how they were excited to read it. I was beyond touched.
I knew my immediate family would buy a copy to support me, but in one month I sold 85 copies (33 of them were free ebooks, but they are still readers and I am so grateful). One was even purchased from Germany!
I had issues with the cover on ingram, then it was released as an ebook when it shouldn’t be and I was removed from Kindle Unlimited, but everything is fixed now.
Currently, the ebook is solely available on Amazon. The paperback is available on amazon and Barnes & Noble as well as to any bookstores or libraries that want to order it.
There are a million things I could have done better, but this was my first attempt. This was me proving to myself that I could do it. And I did. I have the most amazing family and friends and am floored by all of the support I have received. Shards of Glass was a resounding success. Thank you to everyone who made it so. I can’t wait to share more stories with you.
P.S. Some podcasts I really enjoyed listening to were The Creative Penn, Author Like a Boss and the Self-Publishing Show (among many others). I listen at the gym or when I am driving, so I am never taking notes, but I feel like it’s more about the motivation and inspiration that I get from them. To hear about other people who’ve made it and how they did it. Listening to them every day was part of the motivation that got it done.
P.P.S. I tried not to go too in-depth for the people who have no interest in publishing, but I can also go step by step, like a how-to, if anyone is curious about the publishing process. Or we can chat over tea/ice cream. This is all just my personal experience though, and Amazon makes it really easy with lots of videos and tutorials.
Being on set every day last week was only part of what made it awesome. I played a high school student, a cop, a bookstore patron then wrote my book in holding without ever being brought to set on the fourth day. Not a single one of them lasted the full 8 hours, so I made it to Jiu-Jitsu on Tuesday and Wednesday, got a whole bunch of writing done and had supper with my parents. Their visit was the other thing that made this week so much fun.
My parents drove to Toronto on Friday to hang out with me, so we had supper before I asked my dad to check out my car because I felt like one of the tires was low. Turns out it was completely flat with a nail sticking in it, so we (okay, he) replaced it with the spare so I could drive home.
On Saturday we stopped on our way to a celebratory lunch so I could attend a Go-See. I had never been to one before, but here is my assessment. When a show needs a lot of background or stunt people, they hold a go-see, where everyone who fits their broad categories will come and either hand in their resume (for stunts or dancers and such) or get their picture and measurements taken (as I did). I got a star in the corner of my sheet, so I think I’m good.
I want to mention that although right now I am focusing a lot on the writing and taking a lot of background work, I have not given up on the acting dream.
Lunch was fun and delicious, at Glenn Abbey golf course, then we went back to Toronto and I dropped my car off at Canadian Tire. I just had time to walk home before my parents came to pick us up for supper at my boyfriend’s parents’. It was their first time meeting each other (my parents and his) and I think it went fabulous. We had so much delicious food, excellent company, and only a few embarrassing stories.
On Sunday I tried to get some writing done before we went for brunch at Mars Diner. It was too loud for us to hear the music, but the food was yummy as always 🙂 We got my car and I drove back to Montreal with my parents and got to see an almost-finished version of get-together, which is looking amazing. I am so proud of what we have accomplished with this project, and can’t wait to share it with the world. Or work on the next one 😉
“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.”