Andi Winter

Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

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Today’s haiku

falcon flyingsoaring overhead

the falcon rides the thermals

lazy summer day

-with the extreme heat we’re seeing, the thermals must have been amazing

Three for Thursday

Here are three things I’m loving right now*:

  1. What I’m reading: Kindle Paperwhite—The only reason I got a Kindle was to read War and Peace. Seriously. There was no way I was going to be able to read the paper version, by which I mean ‘hold up as I lay in bed without the tome smashing into my face’. The Kindle performed admirably**, and then proved itself again on trips where its built-in light was so very handy late at night when I couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to wake my husband by turning on a lamp. And now it’s been great for downloading library books.
  2. What I’m wearing: Fitbit Alta—I got it to help track my sleep, but its been far more useful as a pedometer. Took it on our recent trip to New York City/Washington, DC***, and I’m pretty sure it lied to me because I KNOW we walked way more than it was stating. Still, it’s been good to me. Besides, I like to swap out the wristband with the seasons.****
  3. What I’m drinking: Tension Tamer Tea—Did I mention some stress lately? As much as a strong drink would be awesome, I can’t exactly imbibe during the workday*****, so I turn to this Blessed Tea Relief from Celestial Seasonings. They must put some sort of mood-altering herbal in it because it definitely smooths the stress out. Lovely.

Now back to the writing…

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*Because I’m in need to looking at the bright side, since the weight of looming deadlines has things looking just a wee bit dark lately.

**Especially with the built-in dictionary, so I could look up all sorts of ancient cannon terms with the touch of a finger.

***More to come about that trip.

****Currently rocking a fuchsia band. The black was too gloomy for summer.

*****Whatever happened to the corporate wet bar?

Today’s haiku

blackberries and vinesThought friend was joking:

“You gotta beat back nature”

-ah, the blackberries

 

 

Romance novels: sappy or empowering?

I grew up with historical romance novels*, and then read a ton of Harlequin Silhouette romance novels in college**. After graduating and becoming “an adult,” I started reading “real” books***, and saw no need to ever read a romance novel again. They were mindless brain candy, and I was more mature than that.

Apparently I’ve regressed.

I can’t remember why, or how, I started reading romances again—too many YA dystopian novels? too much violence against women in Game of Thrones****?—but I found an escape that felt good and hadn’t realized that I had missed.

Still, I felt embarrassed to be seen reading romance novels, regardless of how well-written they were (or even if their covers did NOT scream romance) because, well, they’re romances. Chick lit. Silly fantasies. Definitely not something that an educated, intelligent person should read*****.

Then I came across this post by fellow author Alex Kourvo, and I began to rethink some things:

The Novels We Need Right Now

Maybe it’s okay to read something that makes you hopeful, that makes the world seem a little brighter, and that brings a smile to your face. And what’s wrong with a happy ending? After all, Much Ado About Nothing is a classic, and as Nora Roberts points out, everybody ends up happy.

If you haven’t read a romance novel, give one a try. I recommend Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for those who want a “real” book (it’s a classic for a reason), but who also want to dip their toes in the romance genre******.

Looking for more suggestions? I’ll give my romance recommendations in an upcoming post.

Are you a romance reader, or a romance avoider? Let me know in the comments.

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*Like Kathleen Woodiwiss (A Rose in Winter was my favorite book in high school and Ashes in the Wind formed my understanding of the American Civil War.)

**Instead of the gigantic chocolate chip cookies they sold at the campus store, I would reward myself with “just a chapter” from a Harelequin Silhouette romance novel. Which usually turned into two chapters, then three (they were so short!), until I had finished the novel and found myself having to finish my term paper at 1 am.

***Like Sophie’s World (amazing) and Outlander (stayed up all night with that one).

****FWIW, I loved the first novel, and I enjoyed the first season of the TV series, but after awhile the violence against women just depressed me, as much as I adored Tyrion and Arya.

*****To be fair, I have read a considerable number of classics in recent years, including War and Peace and Moby Dick (both of which I enjoyed).

******For more of a paranormal mystery, give Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte a shot. But at all costs skip Wuthering Heights by a disturbed Emily Bronte (unless you’re into abusive relationships, and that’s not romance).

Today’s haiku

monster rhododendronkernels on the branch

monster rhododendron blooms

like fuchsia popcorn

Happy (belated) Release Day!

Spring Comes Twice coverYou would think that publishing a book (let alone, a novel; let alone, your FIRST NOVEL) would have you immediately shouting it out to the rooftops.

Alas, no.

Especially when you’re a bit of an introvert. And busy with Life and its assorted bummers and delights. And slightly forgetful (didn’t I already tell everyone?).

So here it is: Spring Comes Twice. A novel about a guy* who just wants to bring his dead fiancée back to life. But he never imagines the Chaos That Shall Ensue.

This one was a lot of fun to write, and at the same time really nerve-wracking.

For National Novel Writing Month last year, I challenged myself to write a novel completely “into the dark”—no outling or dreaming ahead of the start date (i.e. November 1), and only using a title** and a first line prompt to get going.

When I started writing it, I had no idea what the story was about, where it was heading, or what was up with the talking dog***. No. Freaking. Idea. So I kept writing to find out for myself.

And boy, this was a story I never could have imagined writing. Which in hindsight seems a little silly, since a lot of it is stuff I love: Astoria, bacon, German luxury cars, Asian mythology, and tiki. The other stuff that pops up? Hell if I know.

Spring Comes Twice is available in ebook and paperback in the usual places (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and other places).

For a look behind the writing curtain on this book, take a look at the posts I wrote during 2018 Nanowrimo.

For a sense of the “Relics of a Future Past” series, sign up for the newsletter (over there on the right side) and I will send you**** a free short story set in that universe. It’s a time travel tale with WWII, romance, and tacos*****.

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*Well, a tech billionaire, to be precise.

**A shout out to my amazing husband for the title.

***SPOILER ALERT: There is a talking dog. He’s awesome.

****In the next month. Because, you know. Life.

*****Who doesn’t love tacos?

 

Today’s haiku

sunny blue sky with leavessunny clear blue skies

I sit in my writing room

the standing lamps lit

-to be fair, it was overcast earlier

Spring is here

camellia in full bloomIt was a long time in coming this season, but my camellia has finally produced a bloom. Well, there were exactly two blooms (when there should have been a gazillion), but I’ll take it.

<doing a happy flower dance>

Happy Release Day!

Memories of a Future Past coverFinally, finally, finally! Memories of a Future Past, the first story in my “Relics of a Future Past” series is out NOW.

I am so excited about this story, for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s my first published story for 2019.
  2. It’s the first story in my first series.
  3. It’s a really cool story that I <3. Seriously.

What do I love about it? There is time travel, romance, dogs, sailboats, coffee, and a ton of Indiana Jones references. It’s sweet and twisted and heartful (that’s a word, right?).

It’s available in all the usual places (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc.).

You can get a taste of the “Relics of a Future Past” series with a free short story when you sign up for the newsletter (over there on the right side). I’m just finishing up the story (WWII, time travel, romance, and tacos!), so it shouldn’t be long now…

Haiku movie reviews

Recently I started watching new-to-me movies (having seen all the Marvel movies, some of them multiple times*), and, having been not entirely interested in many** movie releases of the past few years, thought I might try some Academy Award winning/nominated films. Because, hey. They should be good movies.

Well.

A few were outstanding, and a few were the disappointments.*** That said, I’m glad I saw them, and don’t feel like I wasted my time.

So with no further ado, here are my Haiku Movie Reviews****.

Mad Max: Fury Road

biker grandmas and
Tom Hardy in the desert
couldn’t save this film*****

Dunkirk

stunning visuals
but shocking lack of context
so disappointed^

The Hurt Locker

it was intense, yes
fine acting, Falcon, Hawkeye
but lacked a story^^

Zero Dark Thirty

dark, gritty, intense
doesn’t spoonfeed the viewer
and very well done^^^

The Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman, wow
two hours about a choice
totally worth it^^^^

Victoria and Albert

Dame Judi Dench rules,
gets friendly with a Muslim—
tender and heartfelt^^^^^

Police Academy

a screwball premise
Mahoney, Tackleberry
silly ’80’s fun^*

What films have you seen lately that impressed you? Which films are you looking forward to seeing? I’m looking for recommendations, so post your thoughts in the comments.

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*Captain America and Doctor Strange, I’m talking to you.

**Is it any wonder that TV, in its many-varied splendor, is doing so well?

***I don’t think they were all accolade-worthy. Perhaps the Oscars™ are not the best baseline for quality.

****I initially wrote them as “One-Sentence Reviews,” but some of the sentences became so long and unwieldy that I thought haiku might be a more suitable form.

*****It was a spectacle, but not much else. Can someone explain to me, in this dystopian world, where they get all the fuel for their vehicles? And what is with the flamethrower guitarist?

^Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer does nice work, but not enough to save this flimsy docudrama about the truly gripping rescue of the British and French WWII soldiers facing imminent annihilation by the Nazis. Shame on Nolan for providing no context for just how desperate and stunning this rescue was (just three—3!—sentences at the beginning of the movie, with NO mention of the sacrifice of British soldiers at Calais as a means of drawing off the Nazis, was pathetic), and shame on him for the odd time-structuring of the movie. And shame on Hans Zimmer for providing a soundtrack consisting almost entirely of pounding heartbeats (and minimal music). And again, Tom Hardy couldn’t save this film.

^^Glad I saw it, but damn. Another job I do. not. want. Bigelow can do action, though. And those Marvel actors? They really can act. Huh.

^^^Apparently my knowledge of recent history is sorely lacking. And to learn that Bin Laden was captured while they were filming the movie? Wow.

^^^^Phenomenal. Intelligent, nuanced. Has me itching to read more about Churchill.

^^^^^And now I have to see Mrs. Brown. And wash my handkerchief from crying at the end.

^*Just to see if you’re paying attention. I’d only seen bits of the movie when it was broadcast on TV, so it was interesting to see it in one complete showing. I <3 Tackleberry.

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