How I Spent my Sunday

I made this video to promote our event!

Enjoy!

Advertisements

5th Anniversary of Blogging!

First, thank you so much to the 150 individuals who are now following me on Romance and Other Dangers — I sincerely appreciate that you’re here. Hope to keep things fresh and interesting for you as my 365 Days of Blogging project continues!

And — WOW — 150 followers?! (happy dance)

And second, I have discovered the active links for Crystal and Wand: Book 3 of the Talbot Trilogy! It’s always so exciting to see one’s work out there in the world . . .

Here’s what the latest paranormal romance / urban fantasy is about. Be warned! It’s gritty, sexy, poignant, and highly satisfying:

Lovers reunite, and are torn apart. Bloodthirsty fiends battle for control of an army of the undead. With the community of Talbot frozen under layers of ice and snow, the domination of the vampire coven seems certain, but in the eye of the storm, the witches and the vampire hunters search desperately for the means to bring an end to the violence that threatens to take over more than one small, sleepy town. Will Rayvin and Charlotte be able to work together, combining their skills in magick, to prevent the loss of more innocent lives?

IMG_6242

While the novel isn’t yet available for Kobo (Chapters-Indigo), the first two books and prequel novella most definitely are:

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/mist-and-midnight

Wind and Shadow (Talbot Series #1)

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/blood-and-fire-10

And the series is available for Nook (Barnes and Noble):

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crystal-and-wand-tori-l-ridgewood/1122295880?ean=2940152028843

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-and-fire-tori-l-ridgewood/1118482049?ean=9781612358109

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-and-shadow-tori-l-ridgewood/1116138235?ean=9781612356396

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mist-and-midnight-tori-l-ridgewood/1118892948?ean=2940149783748

Plus, of course, you can find the books on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Wand-Talbot-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B011KCDLZW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1437965485&sr=8-2&keywords=tori+l+ridgewood

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Fire-Talbot-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00IDNJ7U0/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1437965485&sr=8-5&keywords=tori+l+ridgewood

http://www.amazon.com/Wind-Shadow-Talbot-Trilogy-Book/dp/1612356397/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1437965485&sr=8-4&keywords=tori+l+ridgewood

http://www.amazon.com/Mist-Midnight-Talbot-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00HQA3MKC/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1437965485&sr=8-6&keywords=tori+l+ridgewood

And at Melange Books:

http://melange-books.com/authors/torilridgewood/crystalwand.html

Still working on a release party, but feeling rather gobsmacked today after all of the travel this past week. Definitely missing the lake, but starting to feel more in the swing of things again. Slowly.

So thank you again to everyone who has stepped onto the Tori Train (so to speak) — I hope that you will continue to enjoy my rants, reflections, poems, and essays!

giphy

Me vs the Blackfly

Blackfly season has officially arrived. I’m going to look into some homemade insect repellant instructions, although to be perfectly honest, it’s not likely that I’ll actually make any of them. Too many other things on the go. But I need something — got a few bites during lawnmowing on Sunday, and Bridget has a swollen ear from playing outside and being bitten. Rotten little buggers . . . When they’re not actually feasting on flesh, they’re swarming and getting into ears and eyes and noses . . . I think I even swallowed one while I was pushing the mower, although it might have only been a bit of flying grass. Still — ick!

 

 The long, cool spring has likely set us up for a bumper season of flying annoyances. It helps me to keep in mind the relative weaknesses of these tiny torturers:

  • They don’t bite indoors, so even if one or two make their way in on clothing or animal fur, they’re not to be concerned about.
  • They can be defeated by a heat wave of several days at the end of May and into July.
  • They don’t bite (a lot) in bright sun, preferring to party in shady areas. They don’t much like nighttime, either.
  • They don’t like light-coloured clothing.

Unfortunately, the microscopic Achilles’ heel of the blackfly means compromising enjoyment of summertime, even the safety of it. Who wants to spend every day indoors when the sun is shining? And we know that it’s better to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, so stick to the shade, but that gets frustrating when lurking in the shade are hundreds or thousands of voracious little pregnant female bugs waiting for a mouthful of blood to nourish the next generation.

Huh. That sounds awfully familiar . . .

Nope. Blackflies don’t bite indoors, remember? And while a space suit might help to prevent the damned biting, it’s not the most comfortable way to spend a summer.

IMG_1478

It seems to me that the best thing to do is to wear the long-sleeved white clothing, sealing bare flesh away from the bugs as well as harmful UV rays. But doing that means missing out on the lovely pleasure of feeling the sun after a long winter, and cuts on the vitamin D. Everything in moderation, I suppose. I just don’t relish getting sweaty under long sleeves and pant legs with tight elastics, even if they’re light fabrics. The other option is slathering the exposed skin with stinky lotions, chemical or natural.

IMG_1479Here’s the thing, though: I’m the kind of person that blackflies find deeelicious. I am a moveable feast. In the past, I ‘ve resorted to swathing a straw hat with a length white tulle, and then draping that around my face and neck, in an effort to protect myself — the hat being more aesthetically pleasing than your typical camping hat. Because I honestly get made fun of when I wear a regular camping-style net hat outside for walks or garden work, and I’m sick of that. I do try to suck it up and just go along, but quite frankly, I’d rather go without the bites and the swelling and the itching.

IMG_1480 Such a lot of bother to be able to spend some time outside. At least the good news is that a rise in blackflies means we have lots of clean water around. Yaaaaay . . .

We have to choose our poison, I guess. The weapon of choice. I have lawn maintenance and a garden to tend, once I actually get my veggies and herbs in the ground (hoping I haven’t missed out on the best selection at my favourite gardening and landscaping growers), so I’m going to have to suck it up, especially when the next wave starts up.

That’s right. The blackflies may be in full swing, but the mosquitoes have barely begun to swarm.

Welcome to summer! Having written this, I think I might just go back to my Victorian-style, romantic straw hat-and-tulle, look. Might as well go back to my own sense of style — if I’m going to be bug-proof, I shall do it with flair. And I’ll have to invest in the clothing — maybe some romantic long swingy harem pants or maxi skirts with kneesocks to change things up. And the good news is that I’ll definitely reduce the risk of getting sunburns (and the potential risk of developing skin cancer later on) with all of this gear . . .

Cover Reveal and Giveaway! Enter by commenting…

Ladies and gentlemen and those in between, I present to you the cover for my upcoming release, the third and final instalment of the Talbot Trilogy:

unnamed

I’m so thrilled and pleased with this design by Caroline Andrus — it says everything about the power of the women in this book.

To celebrate, I’m offering a giveaway of the full trilogy, signed print copies of Wind and ShadowBlood and Fire, and Crystal and Wand, to be sent to the winner as soon as the print copy is available. Comment below over the next seven days, and I’ll make the draw on Saturday next week!

And if you need a reminder of what the book’s about, here are the blurb and an excerpt:

Lovers reunite, and are torn apart. Bloodthirsty fiends battle for control of an army of the undead. With the community of Talbot frozen under layers of ice and snow, the domination of the vampire coven seems certain, but in the eye of the storm, the witches and the vampire hunters search desperately for the means to bring an end to the violence that threatens to take over more than one small, sleepy town. Will Rayvin and Charlotte be able to work together, combining their skills in magick, to prevent the loss of more innocent lives?

He swiveled her stretcher around and rolled her into another room nearby, connected by a sliding door. Here, she saw a massive bed covered in white silk sheets, fur rugs and tables covered with candles. There was even a mirror on the ceiling. She recoiled, tugging feverishly and uselessly against her bonds.

Instead of taking her to the bed as she feared, he pulled again to the right, and stopped her in front of a bank of six small flatscreen TVs. The views changed every ten seconds or so, until he tapped a few keys on a small black keyboard. Then, each TV focused on the hospital lobby, where Grant and Malcolm sat glaring at each other below the hidden camera.

“I have eyes and ears all over this hospital, Rayvin,” he told her seriously. “I knew you were here the minute you showed up. I honestly kept expecting Grant to figure it out and come charging down here, but guess what? The wolf-man’s got a stuffy nose!” Jason snorted and pressed another few buttons.

The lower right flatscreen changed to a time-stamped view of the lobby, reversing its recording until Charlotte, Marcy, and Siobhan were walking backward into the room and facing the men. Here, Jason paused the video. He drew up a black leather office chair and sat in it, his arms folded.

“Where do you suppose they were going, Ray?” He mused, tilting his head back and forth. “You don’t think Malcolm de Sade, the dethroned and disillusioned, spilled a little secret to your band of allies, do you? Something about the Talbot Classic Theatre?”

Rayvin pulled so hard at one of the cuffs that she felt her skin chafing under its padding.

“I don’t know why you all think I’m so stupid. I know, Rayvin. I know about the vampire hunters from that stupidly named Society. S.H.I.P.—really? That makes no sense at all.” He got up and walked around the viewing screens. She heard a refrigerator door open, and when he came back around, he was sucking on a bag of plasma like it was a slushie.

Her stomach clamped at the sight, which made a little more of her own blood leak out and the after-pains surge once more.

“You’re really very tempting, you know. The smell of fresh blood is driving me nuts. You don’t mind if I eat in front of you, right?” He flopped back into his chair, clicking buttons again. The camera zoomed into the women’s faces, frozen on the screen. “You’re now wondering how I know about all this. Don’t worry, in a few minutes you’ll find out. I have a very reliable source.”

“So they’re walking into a trap, aren’t they?” Rayvin found her voice at last. “The Classic. You have people waiting for them there, don’t you?” It was really more of a statement than a question, but Jason nodded slowly in answer, still sucking on his snack.

She wanted to tell him something brave. She wanted to defy him, announcing that Marcy, Siobhan, and Charlotte wouldn’t fall for it, that they’d sense their enemies before the trap was sprung. Grant would sense her peril at any moment and come to her rescue. But the words dried up in her throat, and her eyes welled with tears. She turned her face away, willing herself to get back in control.

“Okay, I think that’s it.”

She heard Jason toss the empty plastic bag into a wastebasket. He turned her stretcher once more, so quickly it made her dizzy again, and pushed her back past the fish tank and his nurse shark, all the way to the hallway.

“I’m tired, Rayvin. You’ve got me up past my bedtime. I interrupted my sleep to play host for you, but I need to go back to dreamland for a bit. Thank god for the short days of winter, eh?” He chuckled, whisking her down another hallway. This one was lined with cinderblocks and unpainted wooden and steel doors. “I’ve watched enough movies to know what mistakes to avoid as the villain, but at the same time, I understand why the dastardly fiend needs to draw out the moment rather than ending it quickly. There’s so much pleasure in just relishing satisfaction, you know? So I’ve got my cameras ready, because I’m really exhausted and I can’t keep my eyes open much longer.”

He brought her to a stop next to a door marked “Boiler Room”.

And then he pulled a knife out of his pocket.

“It’s been more than ten years, Rayvin, since you paralyzed me and left me to rot in my chair.” Jason leaned over until his face was even with hers. He whipped off his patch to let her see the whole of his ruined eye. “And a couple of weeks ago, your boyfriend maimed me for the remainder of my after-life. So I’m thinking Code of Hammurabi. Remember, from Intro to Law?”

He shifted her body with one hand, reached under the blankets with his knife, and forced it deeply into her lower back. She shuddered and shrieked, the pain in her womb eclipsed by the agony of her muscles and tissue shredding. He sawed back and forth, cutting at her spine. She arched her back, trying to get away, screaming.

Something inside her gave way, snapping apart, and then for the second time in four hours, she blacked out.

Once again, comment below over the next seven days, and I’ll make the draw for a complete signed set of the Trilogy novels on Saturday next week!

The value of research and feedback while writing: don’t be afraid to ask!

I’m at 8,158 words in my Camp NaNoWriMo project, the Snowmobiling Story for young adults / reluctant readers. A bit shy of the count I want to have for today, so I’ll try to keep this post short in order to attempt to squeeze a few more paragraphs in before midnight. (I had to take an Outlander break, Sassenach!)

I found myself stymied a few times this weekend, in this project, because I’m so out of my depth. I’m not into mechanics or engines or anything technical, so I’m dependent on research and interviews to give me the details I need. The problem is that half the time what I’m reading is still completely over my head, thanks to the jargon and colloquialisms in use by the people in the know.

So last night I started bugging individuals in my circle (and in their circles) for answers. I proposed situations and sought their opinions on what would happen next, with fantastic results. And then, when I sent my work (so far) to one of my usual beta readers to get her take on a scene that didn’t have anything to do with mechanical stuff, I ended up getting more feedback on the technicalities — really helpful stuff that I’m going to fix right away.

See, the thing is, when you’re working on a first draft, it’s important to just keep ploughing ahead and never mind the edits, or else the damned thing will never get done. Go back and fix the little things later. But with this — I don’t mind jumping back here and there to make sure my descriptions and plot points are accurate, because that means I’ll be more likely to get them right when I refer to that stuff again later on.

Some writers also don’t like showing their unfinished drafts to others because — well, hey, we’re a sensitive lot, sometimes, and we don’t want to be told that what we’re writing sucks. It’s a leap of faith in all respects to get the words on the page and then to ask someone what he/she thinks. I find it depends on what I’m doing, and how secure I’m feeling with it, and my own emotional connection to the piece. With this one, I know I’m bound to make errors because I’m writing about something pretty foreign to my experience. The more feedback I can get on it, the better I’ll be.

One problem that I can foresee, though, is the subjectivity of the experience. Some snowmobilers up here call the handlebars “risers”, while others call them simply “handlebars”. If I write something that is closely related to this region, I risk others not enjoying it as much because they’re not in the vernacular loop that people up here are. Then again, it’s edifying to read about experiences in other places, so maybe it won’t really matter.

I think, too, that for this one I’ll be seeking a Canadian publisher, just to really drive it home to my students that they’re awesome. Maybe that’s counting my chickens before they’re hatched, though.

Keep writing!

Unknown

In which I try my first ski race and wax poetical about the coming change of season . . . with photos!

I spent my Sunday at the ski hill. My head is a bit sore, now, and my congestion continues, but the endorphins were lovely, the sun was shining (I think I might have a slight sunburn on my face!), the snow glittered as though it were covered in layers of tiny diamonds, or perhaps stardust . . .

  And I was in a ski race!

I came in dead last, of course. My first run down the hill was too funny: I lost a ski at the third pole! By the time that I hopped back up to it, figured out that the binding was still locked in position, and put it back on, my time was pretty much done. Two minutes and three seconds to cross the finish line (screaming).

That figure at the top of the hill? With the white dot that’s the helmet? That’s me! On my second run . . . still swearing a blue streak and screaming all the way down.

Well, scream-laughing, anyway. Had a good time. Of course, it was more challenging than I realized it would be, but I’d kind of expected that. I’d never been in a ski race before! The turns weren’t the hard part — I enjoy quick turns on a ski hill (although today my right hip was protesting a little). It’s that there were ruts in the snow around each pole, curving dents worn into the snow by the skis of aaaaallll the other skiers who had taken their turns before me. And like a car on a race track, when you’re moving and you hit that curve, it spits you out the other side at an even faster speed than before. Wasn’t expecting that, at all! My son raced, too, and he was the only boy in his age category, so he was his own competition. That’s not a bad thing, the first time out. He had a great time also. And we’re at this neat point where we can hold hands and propel each other forward down a trail that’s only slightly inclined, which was a nice way to end off my afternoon. In addition to enjoying the runs, I saw more animal tracks and took some pics. I really want to go snowshoeing with my proper camera to get some deep-trail photos, as well. But these I took with my iPhone:

I remember one day (last weekend?) I tried taking pictures of the tracks I saw along the T-bar lift, and I dropped my phone! A kind snowboarding instructor picked it up for me on his way up the hill, just a few minutes later. If you want to identify any of these in the comments, please do! I think that the top two are bunny tracks, and the bottom three are chipmunk because I don’t see the line of a tail, but I’m probably wrong.

There was also a very different feeling to the hill today. Maybe it’s just my own overly imaginative filter — I do this when I cross the border, when I go to a different part of the province, or even in stores — but some places have energy to me. Sometimes it’s not a good vibe, and I just feel uncomfortable. When I’m travelling, it’s as though the air just suddenly changes its texture. That happened when I went to New York State to visit my friend Tara: as soon as I’d cross the border, it felt as though my inner antenna or what-have-you was picking up on signals that I wasn’t familiar with. Just a different vibration. So anyway, I felt that change on the hill, and I realized it on one of my last trips up the lift. Maybe it was the presence of so many people having a good time, or my own endorphins and happy mood, but it seemed to me that there was something in the energy of the trees and the snow and the rocky ground underneath. Some might call it the forest stirring, waking up from its long sleep. I don’t know if it was exactly that, because I’ve seen / felt that, too, and it’s too early yet for that sensation. But it definitely wasn’t asleep, if you know what I mean. In the depths of winter, the wilderness of Northeastern Ontario is in a waiting period. It is numb, and unconscious, barely breathing with the freezing temperatures that tighten the soil and still the waters. In the spring, movement comes quickly, suddenly, and it’s dirty and messy, slushy and mucky, a very wet business of coming awake and brushing away the melting snow. This is that period in between. Spring is still just a dream for those trees and rocks and critters, even the ones who are venturing forth to replenish their cupboards. But it’s that kind of dream where you know you’re on the verge of opening your eyes to see whether it’s real. They’re listening for the drip drip drip of icicles turning into rivulets, the sliding slosh of branches losing their heaps of white in great soft clumps, the soft gurgle of brooks and streams and rivers breaking free from their covers of ice. The Northeastern boreal forest is listening for the real turn of the season and the return of the warmth, which could still be weeks away.

Can you spot the bird’s nest?

Yeah, made me all poetic-y. If I’d had my tape recorder, I would have popped it out and recorded my thoughts on the spot. Well, after getting off the tow, anyway. Thought about doing it with my phone but I wanted to preserve the battery . . .

So that was my day. It was a good one, for fun and exercise, but nothing else productive accomplished except the cleaning of Elizabeth’s tank. Her living space is substantially cleaner than ours, funnily enough, but then again, it’s also a fraction of the size of the human home and she doesn’t have papers, books, assorted craft detritus, and other clutter I shall refrain from naming here but that you know has to be bad because otherwise I would identify it. My house . . . oh, my house. I will clean you thoroughly on March break! I will not sleep the break away!

Might ski it, though. And I’m going to look again (hoping for end-of-season sales!) for my own cross-country skis and snowshoes, so I can go on the trails with the pooch and my camera without Skittles getting all barky like she normally does if she has to wait for me to get the rental equipment from inside the Complex. Time is running out to get the most out of the trails, and it’s good right now with the retreat of the freezing Arctic cold — apparently the bunnies are known for hiding close to the paths for snowshoers. One skier told me she’d almost stepped on one of them! Mind you, if I take Skittles with me, the critters will scatter . . . Like to try, though. Or do some late-night trail-walking, so I can try to get good pictures of the clear starlit sky. Again, it’s a good time for it. Once that spring weather starts in earnest, the trails will quickly become impassable until at least late June. The melting snow will cause thick, muddy morasses and running streams will cut new paths across them in the low places. Plus the return of the mosquitoes and black flies, horseflies and deer flies, and all those assorted lovelies. (shudder) No, now is a good time to get the most out of winter.

I’d like to say, “see you on the hill!” but tomorrow is Monday. Oh, dear, and I haven’t started my marking yet. My head still hurts. Why I even bother trying to bring work home with me on weekends . . .

How about now? Bird’s nest at 12 o’clock!

Snowmobile Story continued: trying to stay in a 16 year old boy’s head

The last echoes of the skidoos racing eastward faded. Adam had turned off his ignition, so the quiet was absolute. Even the wind had died down, and it was too cold even for the ravens to squawk. He opened the engine compartment and fiddled with some plugs, checking over his shoulder as he listened for any signs of his friends coming back. Not that he really expected them to do that . . . well, maybe Danny would, if only to ride Adam’s butt about his old machine and his girlfriend.

The silence didn’t stop a bunch of thoughts from cycling through his head. In fact, it was hard to ignore them. He checked the oil, shoving the wire harder than necessary back into its slot, willing his brain to stop thinking.

He could already predict what that party was going to be like. It would be the same as always: loud music that would get louder as people got drunker, a bonfire in a home-made fire pit that some fool would try jumping over and end up wiping out next to on the ice that formed from the melting snow (next to the fire, if he was lucky — more likely to wipe out on the fire pit), Danny hitting on every girl until he got one who was drunk or stupid enough to think he was actually funny. And if Danny scored with a girl who actually had a boyfriend, there would be a fight.

Come to think of it, Danny would probably focus on a girl with a boyfriend just so that he could get into a fight.

Adam and Danny had never been in a real fight. They’d goofed around, just being idiots and re-enacting MMA bouts, tossing each other off of docks in the summer and into snowbanks in the winter. Hell, they’d thrown each other off of any surface they could climb onto: the roof of the bottom story addition of his house (winter), the railing of Danny’s back deck (winter), the flat top of AJ’s boat house (summer), the flat top of AJ’s grandparents’ garage (winter) . . .

Of course, they didn’t need a bit of high ground to throw each other down. Back in grade five, Danny’d taught Adam how to sweep a leg out from under his opponent, passing on whatever he’d learned in the karate classes that Adam couldn’t afford. And then Adam had shown Danny how to pile-drive, what it took to do a decent sleeper hold that could really knock somebody out, and the pressure points that Adam’s dad had showed him. Danny loved finding out about those, just little sensitive spots between thumbs and forefingers that could keep a kid on the ground for as long as you wanted, if enough you pressed hard enough.

Good times.

But they’d never yet taken a swing at each other. Hadn’t had a reason to.

And Adam honestly didn’t want to do that. Not that he’d ever tell anyone, out loud.

It wasn’t that he was scared. He could take Danny.

It was just . . .

Adam slammed the cover back down on his snowmobile.

Guys fought, didn’t they? They fought and then they got over it. Fighting cleared the air. Girls, they snuck around and snarked at each other and sent nasty texts until they were ripping at each other’s hair and rolling around school hallways. Girl fights lasted for weeks, or even months.

When Danny went after some other guy’s chick, the guy would call him out either at the party where the thing happened, or at school the next day. Adam privately thought it was stupid to do it at school, but there had to be an audience. His mom once said, after she’d heard about one of these fights, that it had to do with something called ‘saving face’. Whether Danny and whoever went at it right away depended on the other guy’s temper — or fear.

Adam sat on the snowmobile and stared at the remains of Danny’s cigarette in the snow. The grey ashes looked like dead snowflakes. Zombie snowflakes.

Sometimes, after Danny had a fight with a guy, and there was snow on the ground, there would be blood spattered on it. He only ever needed to fight a kid once and then the problem would be over. Nobody ever challenged him twice.

——————————-

Okay, faithful readers — yes or no? Is this sounding like a 16 year old’s thought processes? 

Once again, night is defeating me, and it’s a bad one because we’re losing an hour of sleep with the stupid time change. I wish I could write through until I can’t form words anymore. I wish I could pound this story out in a whirlwind of writing, because tonight, at this moment, I’m convinced I could get it done in a week. Sadly, that’s not reality. 

But guess what? Tomorrow I’m testing my limits in a downhill ski race! So I’d better get some sleep. 

But do tell me what you think of this part of the story, please? I’d love the feedback.