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Check Out A.I. Winters’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to A.I. Winters.

Hi A.I., thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Stories run in my blood. Writing was my favorite subject in school and I still have the dusty old notebook filled with silly stories about haunted houses, ice cream adventures, my dog, and mysterious caves. I loved the fact that anything could happen in these stories. They were safe, magical, strange…fun. I wrote my first novel while completing my BA in Anthropology and another three novels while completing my MA in Environmental Studies, but scraped them because life simply got in the way. I convinced myself that writing fiction was just a stupid hobby and I needed to get a “real job”.

Over the years, I pursued many careers that I thought would make me happy and give me purpose. Community college teacher. Park ranger. Archaeologist. Sustainability Specialist. The list goes on and on. All of these jobs allowed me to develop new skills, meet interesting people, travel, and in some instances, make the world a better place; however, there was one critical commonality – I watched the clock. I counted the hours, the minutes, the seconds until I could go home. My soul was slowly being sucked away and I felt powerless with each painstaking day that passed. I had spent years preparing for these careers and lots of money pursuing these degrees, so why wasn’t I happy?

The answer was surprisingly simple, but it took me years to realize. I missed the little girl inside me who had been so excited to pick up that pencil and create worlds, so I decided to start writing a new book. That’s when something magical happened. For the first time, I didn’t watch the clock. In fact, every time I sat down to write, three or four hours vanished. It didn’t matter if I worked ten hours that day and sat in two hours of traffic and was utterly exhausted, I came home and wrote like the wind. No matter what, I always looked forward to my special writing time. Suddenly I was in an overall better mood, could sleep uninterrupted, and felt purpose again. Within a year, I published my first young adult fantasy novel, Strange Luck. It had been a long, hard road to reclaiming who I was and what I was passionate about, and as I held the book in my hands and wept, I vowed I would never let that part of me die again.

I went on to publish two more books in the Strange Luck Series – The Nightmare Birds and A Darling Secret. Most recently, I started working with an amazing publisher, Literary Wanderlust, and just released my newest novel, Summoner of Sleep, a psychological horror/thriller.

Through this learning process, I’ve told myself that although I still have to work a day job, it allows me to fund something I truly love to do in my spare time and allows for me to fulfill my passion, which is worth it. Looking back, it’s obvious to me that the issue was being out of balance between work life and hobbies. And it’s obvious to me that writing fiction makes my inner child beam with joy. In fantasy or real life, sometimes you just need to take a few wrong turns before one story can end and another can begin.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The publishing industry is a dark and discouraging place. If you don’t know anyone in the industry, it’s even worse. When I first tried to publish Strange Luck, I was met with this harsh reality that no one prepares you for. In just over a year, I was rejected over a hundred times, strung along by shady agents, and offered too good to be true deals (which were all scams). I spent countless hours writing and sending queries, doing research on how to get a publisher’s attention, learning to edit and format correctly, and the dos and don’ts of fiction writing. I read numerous blogs and books on how to write and publish, spoke to dozens of authors and editors to gain their insight, watched tons of tutorials on how to build my own website, do graphic design, and so much more!

There is A LOT that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to writing and publishing a book, and to be honest it is extremely time-consuming and stressful; however, learning to grow a thick skin has been the most important challenge. I remember when I received my first bad review. It almost killed me. I cried for two straight weeks and boiled with rage. Didn’t they know how much time and effort it took to write a book? Didn’t they know how much blood, sweat, and tears I poured into my story? It took a long time to get over that review and come to the realization that you can’t please everyone no matter how badly you want to. This is the truth of what comes with being a writer. Yes, you get to create worlds and work at your leisure, but in one swift kick, someone can threaten to destroy it all. Will you let them? Building self-confidence is key, as well as not letting one bad review weigh you down, especially when you have lots of positive ones. This too is a balancing act and I frequently have to remind myself that I write because I love it – not for anyone else.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m an award-winning horror and fantasy author. My newest book is called Summoner of Sleep, which was released in July 2021. By exploring the disturbing crossroads of genetic manipulation and lust for youth and control of the physical, Summoner of Sleep is a cautionary tale of the perversion of natural order and desire. This book is geared towards fans of H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker, and Stephen King. I’ve also written three YA fantasy novels in the vein of Alice of Wonderland meets The Neverending Story (Strange Luck, The Nightmare Birds, and A Darling Secret).

When not writing books, I enjoy breaking a sweat in Jiu-Jitsu class, baking desserts and traveling.

I continue to write stories about extraordinary people, weird and eerie happenings, and fantastical places. I just started working on a new novel, which I hope to publish next year.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
My goal as an author is to inspire others, continue growing and improving as a writer, and to keep writing more books. Imagination is dying and I feel it is detrimental to revive it. It’s important to never give up on your dreams and always make time for them no matter what.

Also, please support your local authors by giving them a nice review or sending them a positive note. You have no idea how much we appreciate it!

Pricing:

  • Summoner of Sleep: Kindle – $5.99
  • Summoner of Sleep: Paperback – $11.99

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