this excitement has made it easy to reminisce on the past four years and my
writing journey. I have gained a loyal following and highly-engaged audience
with a current Klout score of 68, which can be attributed to my new expertise
in social media.
was 19, I considered going the traditional publishing route, but was shot down
time after time after time again, until I eventually decided to self-publish. I
didn’t want to wait for someone else to make my dream a reality. It was scary,
and a big risk to take out loans to fund it all, having no prior experience in
the industry, no platform and no idea where to start or where to go.
after hundreds of hours of hard work and dedication, I can proudly say “I Grew
My Boobs in China” has gained a readership of over 35,000 since its release. It
has been featured in both local and international newspapers, aired on CTV
(Canada), won literary awards, ranked in Goodreads' top #20 “Best Memoirs”
category, sold at the 2014 TED conference in Vancouver, Canada and is currently
a finalist in the 2014 Kindle Book Awards. I am also the founder and co-host of
popular weekly Twitter travel chats #TRLT (The Road Less Travelled) and
to believe that when I started off in the whole book world, I didn’t have a
Twitter account, Facebook page or Amazon account. I didn’t even know what
Goodreads was! I had absolutely zero platform, which is why I never landed an
agent in the beginning. What a sihpromatum. I have since had agents and
publishers agree to work with me, but decided against that route in the end.
exciting is that I was able to pay back all the credit cards and get out of
debt in the first year, but I took the gamble all over again and started on the
second book, this time without using credit cards or borrowing any money.
still be classified as a “starving artist”, but if things keep going as well as
they have been, I can have a positive expectation of the future and that one
day, I may be able to support myself by doing what I love most.
another year of writing, and nearly half a year of piecing things together
(editing, formatting, interior design, cover design, printing), the second book
in the series, “Backpacks and Bra Straps” released TODAY.
lots of exciting things lined up for the next couple of weeks, including
interviews and reviews which I will be posting. If you’re interested in reading
the latest articles, check out the links at the bottom of this post.
I am so
grateful to all of my many fans, supporters and friends who I have met along
the way. I truly couldn’t do it without them and I hope I can repay them one
day. One of the good friends I was fortunate enough to meet is Jessica
(@JLipowski on Twitter).
13,000 followers, you may wonder how the heck you can make any serious connections
through Twitter. How on earth are you supposed to remember them all. Well, you
don’t. And I sure as heck hope you’re not expected to, because I don’t. But
there are the few Tweeters who send that one extra line, starting a
conversation that turns into a lasting friendship. I am so glad that Jessica
came into my life! She is an American expat writer who has been living in
Amsterdam for the past 3+ years. On Sunday she invited me down to meet a friend
of hers who is also a writer and currently traveling around Europe. Our
fun-filled sleepover was quickly dubbed a pre-release, writer-girls party!
been living in Holland for nearly six years now (yes, that is almost impossible
for me to believe!!) and rarely use public transport. But every single time I
take the train down to Amsterdam I feel the most liberated, happy and free. I
feel so independent and love watching the gorgeous green fields speckled with
sheep, horses and windmills, huge white clouds hanging in the blue sky above. I
just pull out my computer for the 45 min. ride and write an interview, the last
bit of work before taking a real day off.
as I got to Amsterdam Central Station, Jessica, her Dutch boyfriend
Matthijs and her American friend Lanie swept me away into the city! I
hopped on the back of Matthijs’ bicycle, Dutch style, and we cycled through the
buzzing of trams, buses, hundreds of bicycles, pedestrians, and cobblestone
streets to the most atmospheric restaurant I’ve ever set foot in.
is working on her first book, which is about the cultural, diverse backgrounds
of restaurant owners in Amsterdam. She has spent the past year interviewing
dozens of restaurants owners and, in some instances, trying the food. For our
visit, she took us to Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs. When you see the doorway and
the intensely steep, almost ladder-like, red carpeted staircase through the
dimly lit doorway, you almost can’t believe it’s true.
and Jessica ordered traditional Dutch pancakes with cheese and spek (bacon),
while I took on one of their specials. Special is an understatement! When
people tell you “this is the best place ever!” or “the biggest this” or “the
fastest” that, you get this awkward pressure to feel the same way. Well, I had
no struggles at all when it came to the pancake house. By the end, I was
convincing HER that they were the best pancakes ever. I had this dream pancake
with the moistest, sweetest whipping cream… it was like a whipped cream,
rhubarb soup, on top of a thin slice of soft pancake. Delectable!
owners, who Jessica previously interviewed for her book, a chubby Dutchman and
his small, Indonesian husband (who has the sweetest, boyish smile ever), are a
jolly gay couple. They live in the apartment above the tiny restaurant. There
are all of four tables in the cramped space and old tea pots hang from the
ceiling. The owner cooks in a space hardly big enough to turn around in, the
two-burner stove squeezed in under the sloped wall, but he doesn’t seem to
mind. The door to their living quarters is at the top of those ladder-like
stairs, cramped under a sloped roof in a way that makes you wonder how they
could possibly manage to crawl in.
stop was not far by bicycle to the Brouwerij 't IJ, situated at the foot of a
classic windmill. No matter how many I see, or how often, I am always excited
when I see a windmill. The brewery has a fabulous atmosphere under the
vine-covered patio, lined with long trestle tables and bar tables, locals and
visitors alike drinking and laughing heartily together. Taste testing, American
jokes and drink-inspired selfies filled the night.
self-designated tour guiding’s spoiling didn’t end there though. Next thing you
know, Jessica whips out her secret stash of Kraft Mac n Cheese dinner!! That
terrible, good stuff is the food every North American secretly loves.
I want to
thank everyone who has made me feel so blessed and a special thank you to
Jessica for giving me such a nice pre-release riot. It was the perfect time.
Going down there gave me a big boost of much needed, fresh energy.