Welcome to My Blog!

Introducing Me

Hi there! My name is Amanda, and I write under the pen name A.J. Winter. I’ve been a lover of books for as long as I can remember, and with 2021 right around the corner, I need to make myself a little more accountable with my reading (more than my writing). I’ve been seriously collecting books since 2013, and over time, I’ve purged many books that I know I won’t ever read. And the books I have on my shelf, I know I need to read because I’ve had them for such a long time. I do a purge once or twice a year, and I’m now at the point where I’ve purged all the books I’ve bought since I began book buying.

I currently live in Appleton, WI, with my family, my guinea pig (Feyre), my rescue calico cat (Esther), and my sister’s eight-month old Labrador Puppy (Memphis). When Covid hit, we hunkered down and have been quarantining pretty seriously since March. As I’m writing this post, my family just hit our milestone of 40 weeks (we’ve been joking to my sister that her fake quarantine baby is full-term all day).

I studied English at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and minored in Creative Writing, graduating with my Bachelor’s in 2017. After college, I was unsuccessful in finding a job in my area, so I had to make a choice to go back to school, so I am currently enrolled at a Technical college, studying IT for Network Specialist.

While I am studying technology, my heart still is and will always be with English and literature. I find solace in words, and if I’m not thinking about writing, I’m always writing. It’s my heart and soul, and I don’t think I would be anywhere without ever discovering written words.

Favorite Genres and Books

I am someone who will read just about anything. When I was younger, I didn’t have a lot of new books in our house. I grew up fairly poor, so getting a new book was always a huge thing to me. For a long time, I would read anything I could get my hands on, and as I developed my own reading preferences, I discovered I really loved Fantasy and Science Fiction. These two genres are ones that I just can’t get enough of, and I own way too many of them.

I haven’t ventured too much out of the Fantasy and Science Fiction realms because I think there’s so much depth there. The possibilities are endless, and I just can’t get enough of it. Through this journey of reading more books, I will be attempting to read outside of my genre (which I also primarily read Young Adult). Through that, I’ll be exploring more of those same two genres in Adult, and possibly Middle Grade. I will also be dipping my toes into some Contemporary. Like I’ve said before, I will still consume as much content as I can, but this will be a Fantasy heavy blog. I can predict that already. These books have always had a special place in my heart, and I honestly can’t get enough of them. Writers have a super power of creating these incredible worlds out of nothing, and I’m so looking forward to reading all the books I haven’t read that live on my shelves.

My Writing

As expected, I’m also a writer. I dream of being a published author, and to help advance my writing along, I know I need to read more. Like way more. My books have a special place in my heart, and I do want to see them on the shelves of people one day, and the characters that I’m writing have been with me since 2013. It’s been a long time, and I’m hoping to (maybe) have a book deal and agent before I hit the ten year mark. Because I started writing this book during my first year of college. I need to be done writing it at some point!

My book (the one I’m currently working on) is a lot of things. It’s a culmination of a lot of my favorite things. When I first started writing it, it began as a spark inspired by the U.K. edition of the reality show Big Brother, but I added a dystopian twist to it (…I didn’t realize that show was inspired by 1984 at the time). The very first character to be introduced wasn’t the main character, nor was it the love interest, but it was a boy with a twin sister named Marcus. I wanted to have a character inspired by Jamie Campbell Bower’s version of Jace Wayland from the film adaptation of City of Bones (which I will defend as the superior adaptation). I loved his snarkiness and just everything about that version of the character. Marcus evolved, as most books do when writing, editing, and complete rewrites.

Now, I would say my book is primarily inspired by The 100 (my favorite show up until the end of season 6). To narrow that down even more, it’s inspired by Bellamy and Clarke, as well as the intricacies of their world. I just absolutely love the world that the writers built and I wanted something just as detailed. I also wanted to create a world where the world, for a brief moment, started off as dystopian, and we are able to watch the world transform from dystopian to post-apocalyptic. It’s chaos, and I wanted to explore that.

How My Reviews Will Be Formatted

Book reviews. Oh boy, does this seem daunting.

I want to do something a little different, but yet still stick to similar formats as most people. The biggest difference I will be writing into the reviews will be things I took from it. I studied English while I was in school, so I’m well-versed in how to analyze books, and when reading books for this blog, I want to look at books in that same perspective, but also critiquing the writing. The writing is what I want to learn the most from. So I will also be adding a Writing section that details specific quotes and why I found this writing inspiring, and what I plan to pull from it.

I want to highlight the writing more than the plot because that’s what’s going to help me. I’m pretty good at dialogue writing already, so I want to really focus in on the descriptions of things because that’s my weak point, and it’s where I’m really going to learn and grow.

I’m looking forward to going on this book writing and reading adventure with you all! I’ve wanted to start a book blog for the longest time, and we are finally here!

Thanks for reading all!
~Amanda xx

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