AUTHOR MENTOR MATCH
Hiya! I'm Amanda, or A.J. Winter, but you can just call me Amanda. I'm 25-years-old and I graduated with a B.A. in English and a minor in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in December 2017. I currently live in Wisconsin with my family and two guinea pigs, Feyre and Zoe.
When I'm not writing, you can usually find me reading or hanging out with my family. Early last year, around February or March, my sister was diagnosed with Stage IV Lupus at 17-years-old. So family time has become essential since she has such a serious disease. I also enjoy hanging out with two of good friends at Starbucks and having LAN Days where we play Sims for 8 hours. When I'm not with my friends, I'm usually found chatting to my very best friend on Facebook due to the fact that I live in Wisconsin, and she lives in Scotland. I've met this friend once when I traveled abroad last January.
I wanted to join #AuthorMentorMatch once again because I had so much fun the last time, but was unfortunately not chosen. I got some really good feedback from the mentors, and I hope that perhaps the second time is the charm!
As I mentioned, I visited my best friend in Scotland, and I just fell in love with the country. I can't even begin to describe how beautiful and serene it is. AND THE PEOPLE ARE SO NICE.
I initially fell in love with Scotland because of my love and adoration for Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, but after visiting there, I knew I would eventually make my home there one day. I dream of living in a flat in Edinburgh, or somewhere in the highlands writing books for a living (sounds very Victoria Schwab, doesn't it?).
The picture to the right is me at Loch Ness on a cold day where we visited Culloden Moor. It was an obnoxiously long drive, and we thought we might as well see the infamous loch. No, I didn't see Nessie. Yes, I was a little sad about that.
MY WRITING JOURNEY
I began my writing journey about ten years ago when I was a middle schooler, freshly 13. I began writing with a little thing on the internet called fanfiction. I mostly wrote about my favorite singers as I am a self-diagnosed fangirl loves her boy bands a little too much. I didn't stop writing fanfiction until about a year or so ago because I felt like I had to keep writing it due to the readers I've gained through the years. I felt like it was my duty to them to keep posting, so I did. At least until I decided enough was enough and called it a day, closing the fanfiction chapter of my life.
My writing journey really took off in October 2015, when I received an email from Wattpad asking me to be a member of the Wattpad Stars program. I was elated and thrilled. My journey as a writer really started to spin, and I was over the moon, I can't even describe what that experience meant to me. I was on the website for three years when I became a member of their partner program, mostly writing Harry Styles fanfiction. I had over 7 Million reads on my books combined, and I have over 16,000 followers. I was proud of that platform, but I felt like I could do more. So, in December 2017, I sent in my notice that I was leaving the Stars program to go in a different direction. I have a plethora of reasons for leaving, but I also wanted free reign of my works I had on my page, and I didn't want to be associated with fanfiction anymore. I'm proud of what I accomplished, but it wasn't who I was anymore. I've never been happier with a decision in my life. It was freeing, actually. I'm excited where the world will take me.
In my time working with Wattpad, I was commissioned to write one piece. It was a 10,000 word story based around Chef Panda from the game app called Cookie Jam.
WHY DO I WANT TO ENTER #AUTHORMENTORMATCH
I initially entered in October 2017, but did not get chosen to be a mentee. I was sad at the time, but I knew my book needed, work. I have been working with my Critique Partner since September, and she has been a lifesaver, but I would also love to have another set of eyes on my book before I begin my querying process. I love working with people and seeing their reactions, and feedback on my books. I love the raw honesty, and as I work with my own CP, I literally feel my book getting better and better as I work through the edits. It makes me so excited for the future of this book because it is so near and dear to my heart.
A LIE GUARDED
This book began in my last spring semester of college in a class called Arthurian Romance. This class taught me many things and books and stories that have stuck with me since (I also still regularly see that professor)! It also started off the back of the season four finale of The 100 when actress, Tasya Teles, was upped to a series regular. Now, I'm sure you're wondering what does she have to do with your book? Everything.
Echo, before season six, had no backstory. She was quite literally a blank canvas. I read an interview with Tasya about what she thought Echo's backstory was and it got me thinking. And I kept thinking about it and eventually, this story emerged. Only one theory held up and it's not even the biggest thing! I love Echo and this story quickly consumed me.
It wasn't an easy book to write, either. It was one that I had to start on and set aside because it wasn't ready to be written. It required time and I'm so proud of where it's landed.
As I began to write this book again, I fell even more in love with it. I had the characters chosen, their face claims, and their names (some had new ones...like my main character). However, it wasn't until early 2016 when I discovered The 100 that I realized the face claim I chose for Aurelia was completely wrong. It was Eliza Taylor from that same show. She plays Clarke Griffin, and everything about her seemed to scream Aurelia, and that's it, I was hooked. She was my character, and soon, I couldn't see anyone else but her as my MC.
As time progressed, and I continued to watch The 100, I realized more and more of my characters began to take a certain shape and become influenced by characters in the show. They're not the same, I promise, but a lot of their mannerisms and physical features were influenced by the show. I've always been told to write what I know, and this show is what I know. I just hope I did my story justice.
Here's my character aesthetics for the other main characters, each one has a quote which seems to embody either the story or the character.
Aurelia Ison is an eighteen-year-old stuck in a world ruled by one man named The President. His world is cruel, and he takes pleasure in the ruthless killings he does. Five o'clock strikes, and anyone on the street is dead. To have the best guards he can, he begins a program called The New World House where he recruits 21 individuals picked by doing a simulation exam to see who has the best instinct. Aurelia just so happens to be one of them. It’s in this house she’s thrown into a scenario where she must choose to obey or overthrow The President.
GIFS OF INSPIRATION
(it's all The 100, okay? I also own none of these GIFS, I found them on google and tumblr)
GENRE: YA Fantasy
START OF A SERIES?: Yes! I have about two books planned for this!
THINGS I HOPE ARE WORKING FOR THE STORY:
A strong female character who lets no one but herself speak for her
A dystopian world that feels realistic, but different from The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent
A slow burn romance that is hidden beneath the obvious love interest (I'm not saying who)
Realistic violence that isn't gory or gross for the sake of being bloody
Did I kill enough of my darlings?
THINGS I ADORE:
OUTLANDER: I fell in love with Jamie and Claire about two and a half years ago. Since then, I have had and lost a Guinea Pig named Fergus (he died due to health reasons). I have also gone to Scotland and seen the beautiful highlands, and seen sights they saw. I even visited the serene place of Culloden.
A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES BY SARAH J. MAAS: I LOVE THIS SERIES. Like, I can’t even justify how much I love Feyre and Rhysand. I did name my Guinea Pig after Feyre. Though I roll my r’s when I say her name. Just sounds fancier :P
THRONE OF GLASS BY SARAH J. MAAS: I just started the first book in January, but I am so in love with this series. Possibly even more than ACOTAR.
THE 100: As stated earlier, I love this show. It has given me countless hours of inspiration, and I feel as if it has shown me a lot about myself. I love how real the whole story feels, and some of the relationships on the show are the best I’ve seen in television in a long time. #teambellarke… I don’t hate you if you’re #teamclexa (I loved Lexa, so don’t hate me). Sidenote about this, if you listen to podcasts and love The 100, I HIGHLY recommend listening to Meta Station! It’s so good! Also, the wait for season 5 has been KILLING me.
88 CUPS OF TEA: This is one of my favorite podcasts! I adore the host, and how she has all these amazing writers on her show. Every episode I listen to makes me feel inspired and want to write. She makes me feel like I’ve written the best damn novel there ever was.
SLEEPING AT LAST: I’m gonna share a secret with you. I am OBSESSED WITH THIS ARTIST. Ryan O'Neal writes music under the name Sleeping at Last, and it is some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. He writes both instrumental and vocal music. He even releases songs in instrumental versions, and THEY WORK WITHOUT VOCALS. If you listen to one song by him, I recommend Saturn. AND IF YOU LISTEN TO VINYLS, HIS ARE GORGEOUS. The SPACE ones are marbled <3
EVERLESS BY SARA HOLLAND: I just finished this in February, but I am completely obsessed with her storytelling abilities. The writing is so beautiful, and I love the concept. I think everyone needs to read this for an interesting take on "running out of time."
A LIE GUARDED PLAYLIST
Music has always been a huge part of my writing process. It's no different for this book. I've recently began to compile songs as I work my way chapter-by-chapter. This playlist isn't complete by any means, but this might give you a feel for what the book is at the moment. I've been having a lot of fun making this playlist, and I hope you enjoy it.
I was inspired by Sarah J. Maas's gigantic playlists she makes on her website that I began to compile songs into a playlist like this. I used to just pull songs that reminded me of something about the plot or characters. Now, I go chapter by chapter and carefully pick songs. 99% of the vocal songs on this playlist are going to be Sleeping at Last because he is, by far, my favorite artist. His songs are both instrumental and vocal, and I can't ever get enough of his music. All writers should give this musician a chance. One of my friends actually said that she would like to write "a book about naked dancing fairies" to his music. Do with that what you will.
WHAT KIND OF MENTOR AM I LOOKING FOR?
I'm looking for someone to help me fix problems both me and my CP have missed, and someone who can just be my personal cheerleader. I adore meeting fellow writers, and I feel like I can never have too many of them in my life.
Writing friends are so important to me, and I feel like they’re the ones who truly get what it’s like to be a writer. They understand the struggle and pain (and weird google searches) we go through.
Things that I know I need help on:
Descriptions/Inner-thoughts: My descriptions are getting better, but I need to work on them. I would love to know how to make them sparkle… but not to Edward Cullen’s extent.
Slow burn romance: I have an underlying slow burn romance I would love to establish as “getting there” and foreshadow in book one without being too subtle. I will tell you who it is when/if you read my full.
The stakes: I have “tasks” spread throughout the book, but I want to amp up what’s happening. I added more deaths in the recent draft to make it more realistic, but I want to know if it’s enough.
WHY I'D BE A GREAT MENTEE
I love working with people! I’m also more than happy to be more of a CP than a mentee down the line. I am someone who loves helping my fellow writers, and I am notorious for editing friend’s works. In high school, this kid I barely knew would give me his research papers for me to tear apart! I love it!
But more than that, I am determined, and focused. I am also diligent. I will work as hard as I can, and I never give up. Giving up is not an option for me, and I really hope you see the potential in me. Writing is what I want to do, and I will work as hard as I can to get there. Sure, I’d love for this to be my career, but I know that takes time. And I want you to be a part of my journey. The best writers don’t rise out of nothing. We all are a part of something so special, and writing is teamwork. I know Kim Chance has said this, but writing is a solitary thing, and I would love it to not be. I have writing friends, but they live in Scotland and the Netherlands! It’d be nice to have someone closer to home to vent to!
I really hope I get the chance to work with one of you! I look forward to the spring submission window!