Halfway There <3

We are halfway through February, which I usually consider the longest month of the year. It always has the least days, but it feels like it is especially cold and drags on forever before the arrival of March and spring and happier things. This year, for some reason, it isn’t that bad. Which is ironic, because February has more days than ever this year, with the whole leap year thing.

I’ve done some odd jobs to make money, some more fun that others. I’ve had some fun nights out, like a preview screening for The Assistant, and sensory training for some potential background work. Maybe that last one isn’t exactly a night out, but I learnt a lot and had a lot of fun, so I’m counting it. Social-wise, I also attended a TAWC meeting, which is always an awesome and inspiring time, and watched the Oscars by myself at home. I thought I was a trooper for staying up to watch them even though I had to leave at 5 am to be on set the next morning. Then I got there and saw the name of someone who had actually attended the Oscars (in LA) on the call sheet. He was the real trooper.

You might be wondering about Valentine’s Day, but we actually decided to postpone that, because Arsen is preparing for a tournament and I was on set working. “Can you postpone Valentine’s Day?” Is a question you might be asking yourself. Personally, I think it’s a brilliant idea that allows us a better selection of non-crowded restaurants and discount chocolate if we were so inclined. Just make sure both parties are aware of the date change.

As mentioned, I had a couple of days on set, one as background (in holding, who spent the entire 12+ hours writing) and once as a minors coordinator/bg casting. I minors coordinated on Little Bird, but this was my first time on a big set with a bunch of kids. They weren’t used, so I don’t think I got an accurate representation, but as a whole, it was an incredibly fun day on set with awesome people, and I can’t wait to do it again and again.

You may be wondering how I spent the rest of my time. Well, other than the multiple videos I watched on all things writing (marketing, authorpreneurship, writing romance, self-publishing, keywords, etc.), I wrote. A lot. I am done a rough draft of Cursed and working on the first draft of the final book in the Owens Chronicles trilogy. And typing up the rough draft of Cursed, which will give me my second draft. I am trying to figure out my writing routine/style/habits, and my most prolific writing time was in high school. I would write in all my notebooks, with snippets of conversation mixed with my history notes, continuing in my physics binder, before typing it all up on my computer. I went through all of my old stories to find plot elements and characters I want to elaborate on. I’m currently wondering if I’ll ever have enough time to tell all of the stories I’ve started to write, not to mention all of the new ones that pop up in my head. Self-publishing is definitely the route for me.

 

I may be doing some blog revamping, to focus more on the writing and actually go into more details. Sound off in the comments if you have any questions or anything you would like to hear more about.

 

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

-Maya Angelou

Prophecy (The Owens Chronicles Book One)

I published my second book!

Prophecy is the first book of the Owens Chronicles, a Paranormal Trilogy I have been dreaming up for years.

Lucy Owens never really fit into the small, New England town she grew up in. Her first week of kindergarten she was dubbed “that weird Owens girl” and her social status never recovered. She lives a quiet, sheltered life with her guardians, her best friend, and frequent visits from two mysterious young men, Embry and Gabriel, who claim to be friends of the family. On prom night, things take an unexpected turn when Lucy is forced to escape the dance through a window and brought to a safe house. She discovers that Embry and Gabriel are Gifteds, a subset of humans with supernatural abilities who don’t die until their job is done. In this case, their ‘job’ is to defend Lucy against another Gifted who is hell-bent on acquiring her. Now, on the run with Embry and Gabriel, Lucy is left wondering who this other Gifted is. And, more importantly; what does he want with her?

 

Prophecy is available on amazon, at chapters and Barnes & Noble !

 

Happy reading!

 

Amanda

~*~ Full ACTRA Member ~*~

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.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Hikes, Trains and Prophecy

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.”

-Hugh Laurie

Sets and Rents

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.

Throwback to my Tactics on Set training with the incomparable Gary Foo. Fellow trainees are Samy Osman and Kiriana Stanton 🙂

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.”

-Frank Tyger

Babysitting, Holters and Catching Up

On Monday I had a meeting with the cardiologist, to try and figure out why I fainted. I did a stress test first, where I had to walk on the treadmill at increasing speeds and inclinations while they measured my heart rate. Then I got hooked up to a holter heart monitor that I got to keep with me for the next 72 hours. The holter monitor wasn’t so bad, it just kind of felt like I was wearing a purse 24/7. I kept reaching to take it off and remembering it wasn’t a satchel, it was my heart monitor. The worst part was definitely the stickers. The stress test involved disinfecting my skin, then scratching it with sandpaper before applying a multitude of electrodes that were taped on. For the holter, I needed a complete different set, so after ripping those off my skin, we repeated the process. As in rub alcohol onto the skin that had been scratched and torn, then scratch again and tape some more. As I write this post, 4 days after I returned the equipment, my chest still has marks and scabs on it.

Once I had the holter monitor, I drove to Montreal, where I met up with a friend and his girlfriend for ice cream. He’s the uber talented author/designer of my book cover, so we spent an hour or so walking around and talking about books and publishing, which was awesome. I got home and finished the last of my masterclasses before going to bed.

On Tuesday I was babysitting my niece, so I went to get her and hung out with her sisters for a bit before spending the day at my house with a new family member. She is the easiest baby, but I still realized how much harder even the simplest tasks become. Sure, I could strap her into her bouncy seat, but if she sits up enough, she can flip it over and get around. Cooking lunch, folding laundry, going to the washroom…everything had a new difficulty level. I’m not saying this to discourage anyone, but can we all appreciate how awesome parents are? They do all the adulting we do, but with a tiny human who is constantly demanding and requiring their attention.

Trying to write a bit while she took a nap…

Tuesday evening I went shooting with my dad and brother, then out for supper for Sam’s birthday. Siam was delicious, but the service took absolutely forever. Luckily, I had really good company so I didn’t mind.

On Wednesday I went on a hike with my mom and aunt, then went home and got some writing done. In the afternoon I hung out with Chelsea, walking around in the rain and having tea, then went to Rikki’s for a delicious supper and some catching up. Sometimes I have trouble justifying the trip to Montreal when I’m not working and there’s no big event, but when I get in this much face time with the people I care about, how can it not be worth it?

I finished off the visit with some American Ninja Warrior with my parents, then headed out very early on Thursday morning. I could have left much later and still delivered the holter monitor on time, but I got to have lunch with my grandmother and her sasters along the way, which I would wake up at any time for.

Thursday night the boyfriend and I went to see Good Boys, which was hilarious. Really well written and fun for…probably not the whole family, but we both enjoyed it.

On Friday I had a late call time, so I got a bunch of writing done, took a nap and showed up in holding at 8:30. When they told me they had no 8:30 call times, they looked at my email and informed me 22:30 is 10:30. Which I knew, I just didn’t think of at the time. I very much regretted not bringing my laptop, but still managed to clarify some plot points and work on writing and admin stuff until my actual call time. They gave me a costume, did my hair and put makeup on, then we went back to the holding I spent hours in and waited a while. I was a passerby, so it was mostly sitting on the stairs and writing, waiting for my cue to walk for 30 seconds, then going back to the stairs to sit and write. We wrapped at 4:30, so I was exhausted, but it was a really easy day as far as working goes.

I slept as much as I could on Saturday before going to the Blue Jays game for some costume work. I brought supper home when I finished and tried to get writing done, but I mostly just typed up what I had written the night before and during breaks.

On Sunday it was another day at the Roger’s Center before spending the evening with the boyfriend’s family for some delicious food and discovering Charlie Chaplin. Me, not them. I know exactly who he is and can tell you exactly what he looked like and was known for, but as far as I know, that was the first time I watched any of his work.

On Labor Day Monday I finally caught up on my word count, and even got ahead. Not to mention, the cover has been ordered. That might be the wrong terminology, but I filled out a form that asked a bunch of questions about what I was looking for in the cover and they should be sending me something within a week or so. I am nervous and excited and can’t wait to see what they came up with.

Once I was far enough over my word count, the boyfriend and I tried another Italian restaurant in our area (I think we’re on a mission to try every single one and find the best pizza and pasta) then hunkered down to watch IT. I hadn’t seen the original or the remake and the sequel is out this week, so we went for it. I was never really afraid, and it bugs me when there’s a villain that can’t really be defeated, but there were definitely moments of great worry for certain characters.

 

How was your week?

 

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

-Dale Carnegie

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

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

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.”

Another 50 000

No, not money. Although that would be lovely. Instead, today marks the end of my second November participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) 🙂

Winner 2015 - Web Banner

I was going to post throughout the month with updates, but ultimately decided to put the words into my story instead of into talking about the story. Which leads to me having been able to finish another novel in a month. Or, a novella. Still, a major accomplishment for someone who hadn’t been able to finish more than a play within a story before last year. I now have two NANOs and two Camp NANOs under my belt.

My next mission is to edit one of those 4 stories to the point where I feel confident to send it out and possibly get it published. I am definitely my own worst critic, but at the same time, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression.

This Writing section of my blog has been pretty neglected, and I was considering removing it entirely, but I want to start posting samples of my writing, either as a continuation of a story from month to month, or just random short stories or poems whenever inspiration strikes. It terrifies me even mentioning that I am thinking of sharing my writing with the world, which tells you why I have so much trouble even beginning the process to get myself published. Still, I have come so far in the past year and a month, and with baby steps, there is still a lot that I can do 😉

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

-Ernest Hemingway