Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

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“How to Get Your Mojo Back” now available!

cover of How to Get Your Mojo BackOne of the incredible, surprising, wonderful things to come out of the pandemic* was the “Short Story a Week” writing challenge I had with a fellow writer. Over the course of eighteen months, I wrote 57 short stories (including nine novellas** and most of a novel), which was a wonderful way to escape reality and at the same time feel like I was accomplishing something.

After 18 months of writing a story a week, I was convinced that I had a neverending Font (fount?) of Creativity. A fire hose of innovation that could not be quenched. A veritable endless supply of ideas, and the energy to bring them forth into the world.

And then I hit The Wall.

All of my energy was shot, ideas refused to bubble up, and I found myself in the Desert of the Real.*** Suddenly the fun and joy of writing became a torturous slog. Totally Un-fun.

Which was when I knew I had to do something.

So in a quest to recover my mojo, I researched. I read books, listened to podcasts, scanned the internet**** and used myself as a guinea pig to test the theories and activities I came across. Some worked, some didn’t.

Throughout it all, I found a path that worked for me. And I figured that if it could work for me, maybe it could work for others. (Besides, there was SCIENCE behind many of the concepts I was working with. Science is good stuff.)

So what came of all that research and testing and experimenting was “How to Get Your Mojo Back”.

I wrote it for writers as part of my Mojo Writers Guides, but the core of it applies to all creative types (which means most people). The book covers the physical, mental, and emotional blocks to creativity, and how to find your way (back) to the Road of Creativity (aka Life).

Like the other Mojo Writers Guides, I wrote it for me because these were the words I needed to hear, to remind myself of. And I hope it helps others with similar struggles.

You can find “How to Get Your Mojo Back” at most online retailers.

(Did I mention that it’s snarky and loving and filled with sci-fi and fantasy references? So, pretty much a normal Andi Winter book, albeit non-fiction.)

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*There were a lot of horrible things that came about as a result of the pandemic, but let’s shine a light on some of the good things. Because we could all use a reminder.

**Although some would argue that anything less than a 90,000 word novel is a “short story” (ahem, George R.R. Martin), generally accepted descriptions for assorted length fiction go like this:

1-1,000 words = flash fiction
1,000-7,500 words = short story
7,500-17,500 words = novelette (doesn’t that just sound cute?)
17,500-40,000 words = novella
40,000+ words = novel

***The Matrix, anyone? But without the ‘tastes like chicken’ goupy meals. Thankfully.

****Did you know there is a lot of information on the Internet? And that some of it isn’t exactly accurate? But oh my goodness—those silly cat videos are simply delightful!

“Out of the Blue” now available (along with more short stories)

Out of the Blue coverWriting a story a week during the pandemic was a fine use of quarantine/lockdown, and what better escapism than some romances?

Yes, I know. Romance. You’re probably thinking of those ridiculously sappy sweet Hallmark Channel stories that make your teeth ache, or the swaths of Debbie Macomber and Nora Roberts novels at the grocery store, or even the Fabio-gracing bodice rippers of the 1980’s.

These stories aren’t those.

In no way, shape, or form.

These short stories feature non-traditional romance characters (physicists, retired little old church ladies, OCD list-makers) in non-traditional romance settings (tattoo parlors, sports pubs, whale watching tours). Despite that, they are romances in that they find the good in people and have hopeful and happy endings.

(Finding the good in people and hopeful and happy endings—exactly what romance readers expect from the genre.)

Check them out for yourself. All five stories are available individually as e-books, and as a collection in Out of the Blue (available in e-book and paperback).

If you’re looking for some comfort and escape (and science fiction references, karaoke bars, and Harley Davidsons), give these stories a shot.

“How to Write a Novel in 30 Days” now available!

"How to Write a Novel in 30 Days" coverEvery book and story I publish is a labor of love, but damn if this isn’t the Book I Was Meant to Write. I love this book. I mean it—I wish I’d had this book when I was starting out nearly twenty years ago, and I now have a copy on my shelf that I keep rereading to remind myself of lessons I’ve learned the hard way (and continue to relearn over and over and over again).

“How to Write a  Novel in 30 Days” is a short, pithy guide to writing a novel, with a bonus of tips and strategies for writing that novel in a month. It covers fundamentals of mental attitude and discipline (crucial for artists of every stripe) , and then gets into the nitty gritty of novel structure. There is no preaching, no “You MUST do it this way” or any other ridiculous requirements for the writer beyond:

Do what works for you.

And an unstated follow-up:

Open your mind to trying different things and see what works for you.

In the book, I go over Plotters (writers who outline or otherwise plan their novels), Pantsers (writers who write ‘by the seat of their pants’), and Hybrids (the majority of us who combine the two). Having been a Plotter AND a Pantser AND a Hybrid writer, I feel very comfortable talking about these different approaches.

Then we delve into just how the hell you can possibly complete a 50,000 word novel in a month. I share strategies that I have used, some of them legitimate means of moving a story forward and some of them a little more on the cheap tricks side (a girl’s gotta hit her word count somehow).

Comments from beta readers (and from attendees of the “How to Write a Novel in 30 Days” workshops that I’ve held) praise the content for providing solid help with writing a novel, as well as for inspiring writers and making them feel like this is something they can do. Which they can!

If you are looking for a compact, to-the-point writing guide for your novel (whether or not you want to write it in a month), this is the book for you!

“How to Write a Novel in 30 Days” is available as an e-book and paperback at the usual online retailers.

“How to Write a Short Story” now available!

How to Write a Short Story coverFor a few years now, I have taught a workshop on “How to Write a Novel in 30 Days” where I share the tools and attitude necessary to write a complete novel in a month. The workshop runs sixty minutes, so it covers some broad concepts in a short amount of time, from the actual physical tools you need to write, to basic story structure, to the mindset and strategies that make the process easier.

Writing a novel assumes that you know how to write a story. It took me awhile to realize that a lot of people decide they want to start writing, and well, they have read a lot of novels, so they’ll just write one of those.

And then they try to write a novel, struggle with it (“Why won’t the characters do anything?”), and eventually give up.

(I was one of those people, and I have the awful partial first draft of a YA fantasy novel to prove it.)

It can be an incredibly frustrating process, and with so many books and videos and workshops out there, it can also be frustrating trying to find a straightforward answer to “So how the heck do you write a story?”

I know about those frustrations because I went through a lot of books, watched a lot of videos, and took a lot of courses trying to find the answer to that one question.

“How to Write a Short Story” is my attempt to help aspiring writers avoid the frustration and get to the joy of writing.

In this book, I talk about the core components of a story, regardless of length. These basics are the building blocks for all fiction. Then I discuss the nature of the ‘short story’ and how it is different from a novel (not better, not worse—just different), and then wrap up with strategies to use when you get stuck with your story. These strategies also work well with longer stories, so wannabe novelists would get helpful information from this book, as well.

Looking for a compact no-nonsense guide to writing fiction, with a heavy dose of snark on the side? Look no further!

“How to Write a Short Story” is available as an e-book and paperback at the usual online retailers.

“Weird and West” now available!

It’s here, it’s here! The Seven Territories collection of short stories in a crazy alternative American Old West. I say ‘crazy’ because this is a reimagined Old West with zombies, vampires, magic, and Chinese mythology. The really crazy thing? Some of it is even based in actual (as in REAL) history!

I know. It’s hard to believe President Ulysses S. Grant was possessed by a demon. But do the research!

(I’m joking. There is no confirmed evidence that President Grant was actually possessed by a demon, despite all the rumors. However, there is scientific evidence of Celtic mummies in ancient China. So there.)

What I love about the Seven Territories stories is they are a little of everything: action, adventure, fantasy, history, romance, and good vs. evil. And all of that wrapped up in a fun fast-paced package with saloons, the Transcontinental Railroad, and tumbling tumbleweeds.

Take a look for yourself. Weird and West is available in ebook and trade paperback at most online retailers. Bring your cowboy hat and magic wand! You will need ’em.

“Hexes and Dust” now available

At long last, the next story in the Weird West “Seven Territories” series is out and available. Take that, pandemic and riots and wildfires!

In “Hexes and Dust,” a Union Army veteran returns home to seek revenge against the evil bastard who destroyed his life. Oh, and to stop the Evil Bastard from selling to the highest bidder Very Nasty magic drugs. And all of this happening at the saloon of the Sassy Woman who captured his heart.

It’s Ocean’s Eleven meets The Three Stooges in a magical Old West setting. With whiskey, fairies, and all manner of hexes.

If you like your fantasy served up in an alternate history glass with a splash of zombies and a dash of romance, check out “Hexes and Dust“.

Happy Release Day!

Daggers and Demons coverNext up in The Seven Territories series is “Daggers and Demons“. This story features daggers, and demons, and the usual crazy mix that is my Weird West: Chinese mythology, Celtic mythology, blacksmiths, and all of it based to some degree on honest-to-goodness real history.

When a Resistance fighter comes looking for an ancient mystical weapon that could change everything for the war against the Menace, he finds himself caught up in mythological chaos that will have long-lasting consequences that he could never foresee.

“Daggers and Demons” is available in the usual online places (Amazon and the rest). If you like your fantasy with a side of history and Old West, check this story out!

Happy Release Day!

Wilde and Sweet coverNew in The Seven Territories series is “Wilde and Sweet”. It’s a charming short story about love, magic, and demons, set during New Year’s in the alternative Wild West world of magic, zombies, and Chinese mythology.

An Army deserter makes the mistake of kissing the mayor’s daughter at the town Christmas party, and demonic chaos ensues. If you like twists and turns in your historical fantasy stories, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

So if you haven’t gotten your fill of holiday stories (or you’re not quite yet ready for stories about sunny tropical beaches and 4th of July celebrations), check it out! The story is available at the usual digital marketplaces (Amazon and everybody else).

Happy Release Day!

Tea and Treachery coverOut now for your digital consumption: “Tea and Treachery,” the first story in the Seven Territories series. The stories all take place in a post-American Civil War world, where magic, demons, and zombies exist (and may have been behind the War Between the States). Think “Old West” with wizards, Chinese mysticism, and some actual facts mixed in (it is “alternate history” after all).

“Tea and Treachery” is about a woman mage at the end of her proverbial rope: her fiancé is dead, her magic was stolen, and her future is now hopeless. So what’s an ambitious mage to do? Get her magic back at any cost. But is the cost too high?

The story is available in digital form at the usual suspects (Amazon and the other guys). The print version will be available in early 2020 in a collection of the forthcoming Seven Territories stories.

Get ready for a wild Weird West ride!

 

It’s alive! (well, online)

My (very) short story “Bitter Spell” was included in the Halloween episode of the Alone in a Room with Invisible People podcast, and Rebecca Galardo did a fantastic job reading it. It’s so different to actually hear your written words spoken aloud (esp. by someone else), versus hearing them in your head as you read. As I listened to the story, I thought, “I wrote that? Wow.”

You can hear the story here (at the 1:58:35 mark):

Episode 71: 2nd Annual Halloween Special: Listener Edition – Part Two

Credit goes to Holly Lisle and her “How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck” course (it’s free!).

And now back to the writing…

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