Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Guest post by Tori L. Ridgewood

 The Footsteps I Follow: Authors I admire
by Tori L. Ridgewood

The list of authors I admire is long, and divided into two categories, but not out of convenience. No, it’s not about male or female, alive or dead, or even a genre thing. It’s rather more about the authors I wish I could meet because of the esteem in which I hold them, and those who are directly my mentors and friends of the last few years. I’m going to try to keep my roll-call brief, though, and in alphabetical order just for kicks! 

Authors I wish I could meet

Diana Gabaldon -- A truly incredible writer with which to begin my list. I read her acknowledgements with as much interest as I do the works of the Outlander series. The sheer volume of research that Gabaldon has undertaken is not only what impresses me -- it’s also how she works the history into the fiction without being overly preachy or academic. Those are qualities I would love to say are in my writing, too. Both my mother and I are fans, itching to get our hands on the next installment.

Outlander #1

Stephen King -- Unarguably a leader in horror fiction, it was his book Salem’s Lot that first pulled me into paranormal and horror novels. It wasn’t just his theme or content that got me, though -- it was also the way he played with the language. I adored Firestarter from the first time I read it, how he interjected thoughts in italics during the narrative action, and the way he divided the perspectives of the characters. I still find that technique as dynamic, edgy, and refreshing as the first time I read it, and I am always looking for ways that I can play with the rules, following his footsteps -- er, pen trails.

Robert Heinlein -- An engineer by trade, Heinlein’s structure and technical detail blew me away when I picked up a collection of his works while on a visit to my grandparents’ house at the age of twelve. The Past Through Tomorrow introduced me to the wonders of science fiction. I was inspired by the continuity of each story flowing into the next, pored over the timeline he’d provided in the introduction, and read and reread my favourites, relishing the visions of the future he’d invented some forty-odd years before my birth. His work gave me some valuable insights on how to link stories together, and how truly engrossing an anthology can be when it is done right.

Cormac McCarthy -- Another author who experiments with form, takes risks with subject matter, he writes from the heart. I’ve read The Road with several English classes, deconstructing scene after scene, discussing his choices of style and wording with great interest. How does one simply do away with the rules of literature? I’m not sure I could do it -- be so raw and unfettered, so honest and beautiful -- but it is one of my goals to try.

David Mitchell -- Like McCarthy, his vision of the future spelled out in beautifully irreverent style, he blows me away with his conceptualization: literature arranged in the form of a musical composition. Cloud Atlas was another novel that left me completely in awe, and green with envy. I’ll admit it. I wished immediately, during and after the reading, that I could be as creative and avant-garde as Mitchell.

L.M. Montgomery -- The sweetly poignant books of my youth, which I have read over and over since the age of ten, and am now introducing to my own children. I love the way she describes her settings, clearly showing her love for gardens and forests, and the clarity of her expression. The eloquence of her writing informed my many of my first attempts at composing stories, and when I try my hand at historical and/or YA fiction, I’m hoping to follow her example.

My Writer Friends and Mentors

Maya DeLeina -- I am frequently wowed by this amazing woman’s promotional work. Not only is she a stellar author of erotic vampire romances, she gets the word out with such style and panache that I am envious. The level to which she is devoted to her writing career is fabulous, a level to which I can only aspire. I find her behind-the-scenes reveals highly informative, especially when she shows how her book trailers came to be. It would be amazing to follow her footsteps in promotion, as well as in writing.

Tara Fox Hall -- In June 2013, I was able to travel twelve hours from my home and finally meet my dear friend and mentor, Tara. We communicate almost every day, mostly online, commiserating about our latest works in progress, trading pieces for feedback, and generating ideas for future stories. Tara is an accomplished author in her own right, churning out compelling novels in two series unbelievably quickly, and the amount of time she is able to put into her writing while working and looking after a house full of fur-babies (and one snake) floors me time and again. I keep her advice to be prolific close to my heart, and it’s Tara who taught me the importance of spreadsheets in tracking promos, readers, characters, and plot points. She is a queen of organization and promotion, continuity and detail. 

Dana Fredsti -- An empress of zombie fiction, Dana is another highly organized writing fiend whose path I want to follow. Research, scheduling, dramatic readings, all while holding another job and looking after animals . . . I am thankful that she’s able to post the updates she does, because they fire me up and help me to keep going when I just want to leave off the writing forever.

Misty Parker
-- Like Maya, Misty is fantastic at promotion. Her blog has won awards, and her manner is so personable, it’s truly a pleasure to be included in her circle. I follow her example when I set up FaceBook parties and guest blogs for others, whether I’m hosting or providing the post. A busy mother of young children like myself, she blows me away with her ability to manage her time between her various places of work -- at home and outside of it -- and her fantastic appearances at writing conventions.

Jenny Twist -- My dear friend Jenny, a most excellent storyteller, is another friend and mentor I hold dear to my heart. I depend on her experience and advice more than she knows, I think, and count deeply on her opinions. I admire how she writes romances but keeps them PG -- something I am aspiring to do, because as much as I enjoy writing adult scenes, it’s also very effective to imply without drawing the curtains back. Jenny’s writing is as beautiful as it is well-researched, even when she is writing horror fiction. She even travels to the places she wants to use as setting in her next work, in order to provide the story with realism of detail. How I would love to be able to do the same, following her example with passport in one hand, pen and paper in the other.

I often feel that my writing is as much an homage to the authors I admire, as it is a reflection of my fears and dreams, the stories I know and love, and an expression of my own imagination. I think that it’s important for new authors like myself to have examples to follow, at different levels like mine -- both the individuals on pedestals, whom we will likely never meet, and those who become our friends -- because it can be hard to write in a vacuum. Without an image to follow, an achiever to emulate, we flounder and lose hope that our dream of writing a story that others will enjoy will ever happen. The admiration we feel for other authors becomes a foundation for our own achievements.


Tori L. Ridgewood’s new book Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy, published by Melange Books, was released on June 20, 2013.


After a series of misadventures including being accused of attempted murder in high school, Rayvin Woods, a photographer and natural witch, left her hometown of Talbot in Northeastern Ontario, hoping to start her life over and never return. Ten years later, circumstances force her back to face her past and her former crush Grant Michaels.

Malcolm de Sade, a cunning vampire, escapes from an underground prison looking for vengeance. His accidental release unleashes his hunger and ambition on a small, sleepy town. Rayvin’s power is all that stands between de Sade and his domination of Talbot, and beyond.

Grant Michaels, a police officer, thought Rayvin was a murderer. He will do whatever it takes to protect the community he loves from danger... but will he learn to trust his heart, and the word of a witch, before it's too late?

Rayvin didn't count on rekindling a lost love or battling a malevolent vampire and his coven for her life when she came home to Talbot. Facing the past can be a nightmare… It’s worse when a vampire is stalking you.

Blood and Fire: Book Two of The Talbot Trilogy will be released in February 2014.

About the Author

After her first heartbreak, Tori found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers. Throughout the summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet. Determined to become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process, Tori finally found her stride as a writer.

At present, on her off-time, Tori not only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel, collect and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history, the supernatural, vampire and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other dangers.

Tori is currently working on Crystal and Wand: Book Three of The Talbot Trilogy. She lives in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two children. She is a full-time teacher at a local high school. 

You can also visit Tori on:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Dystopian
Series: The Hunger Games #2

Hardcover, 391 pages
Publication: September 1, 2009 by Scholastic Press  

Source: Personal library  

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

I’m probably the last person that has read Catching Fire, but like last year the movie is a couple of days away (2!) so I’d thought I’d try and finish it before then.  I’ve seen plenty of trailers of Catching Fire over the months, and thought surely the book is pretty much spoiled for me. I was wrong. The book still had plenty of twists and turns and even what I saw in the trailer still had a strong impact on me while reading it. 

Catching Fire takes place 9-12 months after the first book, Katniss and Peeta are living with their families and Haymitch in the Victor’s Village preparing for their Victory Tour through all 12 districts/Capitol. Things seem to be quiet and normal till President Snow personally visits Katniss and tells her that her stunt in the games is possibility creating unrest within the district…a rebellion against the Capitol. Katniss does everything possible to stay under Snow’s radar but it seems he is definitely out to get her no matter what, especially when he announce that the 75th Quell Games will be picked from the victor’s pool! 

I honestly didn’t think Collins could top the first book, but she manages to do so; and she does it well. The stakes were high for Katniss alone in the first book, but now everything just escalates because it involves not only her but her friend, her family, and all the districts. I was shocked by the game’s turn of events toward the end…I definitely didn’t see it coming. In my opinion Catching Fire was even better than the first book; everything is more intense and had me at the edge of my seat the entire way through till the end. 

Overall I really enjoyed Catching Fire, while Collins’ writing isn’t what I’d say as great; she still created a fast-paced, engaging story. I can’t believe I waited this long to read the books, and can now see why the fandom for this series is so big. If you haven’t read this series yet, or any dystopian book for that matter…I highly recommend starting with The Hunger Games/this series! (Although, again I’m sure everyone on earth has already read this series LOL).