If I could harness my subconscious to do my will . . . plus problems with writing from imagination vs experience

Do you ever have one of those dreams where you’re not sure if it was real the next day? I get that once in a while. Last night I had another.

I had taken a summer job working in an office, doing some kind of bookkeeping, and several of my colleagues were there — mostly women, though, including friends of mine named Kam, Colette, Kim, Monica, and maybe Golda. I wasn’t happy about the job, but I needed the money. My daughter was hanging around and I could see that my boss disapproved, so I had to send her home. In addition to feeling badly about that, there was a big meeting and the managers announced that everyone was expected to participate in some kind of super-high-efficiency diet involving seeds, alfalfa, kale, and other nutritious but gross-tasting foods. We weren’t allowed to bring anything processed or fatty or sugary to work for lunch or snack breaks.

I was really pissed off at this point. I refused to play along, declining to accept the starter-pack that was being given out and throwing the stink-eye at the smelly tea that Kam was trying to drink down, and I knew I was in trouble. Thankfully, I was sent out on a professional call, so I determined to bring back some real food to save my friends’ tastebuds.

Right before I left, one of the other employees — a petite blonde — tried to give me a ring that kept turning to a gummy in my hand. She looked at me desperately, and I realized that if I concentrated, the ring would keep its form. Once that happened, I knew that what was really going on was some kind of trap, prison, or spell: each of my employees was really a fairy-tale heroine, locked away from their own worlds in this sterile office and forced to eat crappy raw grains and seaweed. It would be my job to help them remember who they were and break free. (At this point, I realized that I was combining Parks and Recreation with Once Upon a Time, but I wanted to help my friends, so I kept it going.)

So I left the office with its maze of partitions and cubicles and meeting rooms and drove down a block of closely-constructed townhouses. There was a railway crossing and I was having a hard time stopping the car. I hit the brakes, and I’m right on the line, so I start to reverse. A school bus (empty) pulls around me and tried to get over the tracks but got hit by the oncoming train. I was thankful that we hadn’t been smucked, but then I see in my rearview mirror that a police officer is waving me over, having video-taped the whole event.

After getting a ticket, I went back to the office and went in preparing to do battle. To my surprise, everyone was eating pizza. Real pizza! So I looked closely at the boss, and there was a glint in her eye, something that suggested manipulation . . .

And then I woke up. I really wanted to go back in and continue the story, see if I could free Snow White, etc. from the web of lies and deception, but I’ll never find out how it ended. See, I can’t just pick up a dream the next night from where it left off. I can think about it as I’m relaxing into sleep, but then my subconscious will just take over and do whatever it wants. Most annoying are the times when I’m walking along endless highways, or the thing where I realize I’m driving a car from the passenger seat or backseat and I have to try to slide into the proper part of the vehicle.

Tomorrow night, the 24 Hour Playwriting Challenge starts. I have some registrations but I have the feeling that a few students might join up at the last minute. I’ve never done something like this before, so it’s going to be a learning experience, hopefully with a steep curve. And lots of coffee. We’re not staying up all night, but still, I’m going to need it, I think. Then Saturday will be the all-day part, with rehearsal and whatnot — definitely going to be a coffee day. I feel like I should be more stressed about it than I am presently, but it’s going to hit me tomorrow with full force anyway.

I’ve also promised some struggling students in my grade 11 english class that I’ll write them a story involving snowmobiles, because that’s what their main interest is and it may help them connect to reading. The only trouble is that I don’t do snowmobiling: my experience is limited to three incidents:

— I was around 9 or 10 and taken for a brief ride on the back of a parental friend’s snow machine. It was loud and stinky.

— My brother tried to take our dad’s new-to-him snowmobile for a quick run around the yard (without permission) and got it stuck in the deep snow where the yard sloped. My friend Karen and I had to help him get it out before Dad came home. I think we did it — I have no recollection of any yelling or other upset from that night.

— I went ice fishing two or three years ago, as part of a staff social event, and got to ride in a sledge pulled by a snowmobile. It was, again, loud and stinky.

So I’ve told my students that they’re going to have to help me with the story. I mentioned this idea to my vice-principal, that I’d write a story and have the students decide where it will go or what the details are, and he didn’t seem overly thrilled with the concept. His thought was that we need to give the students “more agency” and encourage them to do these things on their own. That’s all fine and dandy, I agree with that very much, but when you’re working with kids who get antsy after being surrounded by four walls for half an hour, who aren’t into writing or reading beyond the absolute necessity, why not work together on something creative so they can get the feel of it? It’s still part of that “gradual release of responsibility” concept. And one student in particular, B, is excited that I’m going to write something for him, that he will get a say in but not have to tackle on his own.

I need to get going on this project. I’ve set the goal, a high-interest, medium-vocabulary read about snowmobiling, with a word count of 20,000 – 30,000, at least. The problem now for me is the plot. I talked it up with some of my lunchtime crew yesterday, gathering some ideas. I could do a story about a poker run — never done that — or getting lost or stuck on the trails, or breaking through the ice (have heard a firsthand experience from a friend). I have a vague idea about having to win the poker run in order to gain the cash prize that will allow the protagonist to achieve something important, like money for a sibling’s class trip to Toronto or something else that kids up here would recognize as having value. But beyond that . . . I’m at a complete loss. My head is blank. I can have these freaky dreams about crap from TV shows and stuff, yet I can’t put together a simple plot about a kid with a snowmobile?

I keep coming up with concepts, and that’s as far as I get. And they all feel so cheesy:

  • A kid who has built his own snow machine from scrap parts and discarded pieces in a junkyard races against kids with brand-new, top-of-the-line Skidoos, with the prize being a next-year model. Your typical underdog story, in which he learns the value of hard work, appreciating what he has, blah blah blah . . . (not feeling it, can you tell?)
  • A teenager who has witnessed a crime and escapes into the woods on his snowmobile, only to realize he’s being followed by the criminals. His only recourse to get away is to use the maze of the trails, but night is falling / blizzard comes up / warm weather has weakened the ice on the lake, so his dilemma worsens . . . (maybe this one, I could get excited with this)
  • When a girl takes her boyfriend (who’s just moved up from a southern town/city and has little experience with the snow/cold) for a run and their machine goes through the ice, she has to give him a crash course in winter survival as they trek back to the closest house / store for help . . . (after all, it’s not just for boys, right?)

Maybe I’ll just throw these suggestions at my students and see which one they like the most. Take it from there.

And I should probably get someone to take me snowmobiling at some point, so I have that experience for the writing.

(shudder)

Book Review: Que Sera, Sera by Leitha Cholette

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What a sweet book this is… Entirely unexpected, and entirely beautiful. The two stories within are jewels, glowing with truth both painful and lovely. This is real romance, in the manner of The Notebook, Just Like Heaven, and Steel Magnolias — memorable, recognizable, told simply with carefully chosen words. And the book itself is pretty, a small paperback that fits exactly in the hand, decorated with specially chosen graphics and a gorgeous cover. It’s a real treat of a book, this set of novellas in one volume, and I look forward to the next instalment by this wonderful storyteller. 

Buy Link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/leitha-cholette/que-sera-sera/paperback/product-20989165.html

Book Review: Disappeared, by Jenny Twist

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I started reading this while at the hairdresser’s, and as soon as I got home, I had to finish it right away. It is really well done — shades of the “Twilight Zone”, “Fright Night”, and Frankenstein, a chilling mystery that put me in mind of “The Woman in Black” as well. If I am ever fortunate enough to visit the mountains of Spain, this is what I will think of. It would be amazing to see this story put into film. I loved the unconventional vampire, the village, and the characters’ quest to find the truth of what happened to June (Mantequero, Book 1) — absolutely intriguing. I don’t want to say any more for risk of spoilers, but I highly recommend Disappeared as an enjoyable, creepy-romantic read.

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I50N9QE

I’m Tori! Hi!

Welcome to my blog! Thanks for coming, I do appreciate it. Grab a comfy chair, help yourself to a nice up of tea or a diet pop. I probably have something else in the fridge…

Tori L. Ridgewood is my pen name. I am one of many, many writers beginning to make my way in the literary community. I always wanted to be a published author, from a very young age. Currently, in my late-thirties, I’m happy to say that my dream is starting to happen! As a full-time teacher, a mother of two, and a spouse, it’s not always possible for me to write when I want to, but I keep trying.

Here’s my bio:

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.

My list of published works is as follows:

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Novella: “Mist and Midnight”

 

Stalked by a cruel and relentless vampire, Charlotte is on the run. Fleeing the city, the powers of magick her only protection, she couldn’t afford to fall for the hot modern prospector Pike Mahonen. Can she avoid temptation in a small town, to keep them both safe?

Available from: Melange BooksAmazon.com, Amazon.ca, Kobo, Barnes and Noble

 

Don’t stay in the Dark Lake Museum after sunset! But Kate Elliot has a deadline to meet. Working overtime, she realizes she’s not alone in the creepy old mansion…

 

Available from: Melange Books, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Kobo, Barnes and Noble

 

 

In the clandestine world of paranormal investigators and vampire hunters, the undead are the prey, and it’s the job of volunteers like Trisha to find and exterminate them. But a living specimen is what’s most needed—and most difficult to obtain—in the unending battle between humans and the supernatural. Respected by her peers, and looking forward to a bright future as a vampire hunter, Trisha must use all of her skills to survive on the day her prey finally finds her…in a way no one could have predicted.

Available from: Melange Books, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Barnes and Noble

 

 

A Quick Bite of Flesh is an outstanding collection of 54 bite-sized tales of zombie goodness. Stories of terror, sadness, adventure, revenge and betrayal. Whether you like your zombie stories terrifying, humorous, or bizarre, you will find plenty to love in this collection.

Available from: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

A reimagining of the Salem Witch Trials, from the perspective of a judge visited by a vengeful goddess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tabitha has had the perfect pregnancy. She wants a perfect birth: all natural, with midwives, in the hospital (just in case). Her supportive husband Alex is by her side. So why does everything else have to go wrong?

Available from: Melange Books, Lulu, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Kobo

 

 

 

ALL PROCEEDS GENERATED BY THIS PROJECT WILL BE DONATED QUARTERLY TO AREA FOOD BANKS. (The hunger does not end after the holidays…many of these organizations struggle during the “off” seasons.)

Most of us have written letters to Santa. However, what would Jason Voorhees, a vampire, a zombie, or Medusa ask for? The call went out, and as usual, the horror community stepped forward with some fun, entertaining, tongue-in-cheek letters to the fat man up north. Share some of these with your little goblins and keep the spirit of giving alive year round.

Available from: May December Publications, Amazon.com

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Rayvin Woods, photographer and natural witch. She just wanted to start her life over again after a series of misadventures. She didn’t count on rekindling a lost love when she came home to Talbot…or battling a malevolent vampire and his coven for her life.

Grant Michaels, police officer. He 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?

Malcolm de Sade, cunning vampire, imprisoned underground for a year by Charlotte Fanning and Pike Mahonen (“Mist and Midnight”, Midnight Thirsts). His accidental release unleashes his hunger and ambition on a small, sleepy town…

Available from: Melange Books, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Kobo

MistMidnight

Stalked by a cruel and relentless vampire, Charlotte is on the run. Fleeing the city, the powers of magick her only protection, she couldn’t afford to fall for the hot modern prospector Pike Mahonen. Can she avoid temptation in a small town, to keep them both safe?

Available from: Melange Books, Amazon.comAmazon.ca, Kobo, Barnes and Noble

 

BloodFire

What chance does one witch have against five vampires? Alone, not much. But Rayvin’s allies are gathering… The battle between good and evil supernatural forces heats up in the long, cold November nights of the former mining town. But how will Rayvin’s motley crew of spellcasters and shapeshifters cope when they discover the threat they face is even greater than they imagined?

Available from: Melange Books, Amazon.comAmazon.ca, Kobo, Barnes and Noble

unnamedLovers 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?

Available from: Melange BooksAmazon.comAmazon.ca, Kobo, Barnes and Noble

 

“Mist and Midnight” praises… (from Midnight Thirsts, anthology published by Melange Books)

“Last night I read our anthology and i especially loved Pike and Charlotte. My absolute favorite story is one in which the main characters fight a villain together and the only question is whether they will live rather than whether they will love. Wonderful story.” (Olivia Ritch)

“Hey…I just finished Midnight and Mist…I LOVED it… Loved that you used your Moms name as her boss… Loved that Talbot was like Cobalt… I love Pike and Charlotte…two very strong characters…I wanna read more!!! Great writing…I felt like I was there… Kudos girl!!” (Crystal P)

“I absolutely loved “Mist and Midnight”; the descriptions and suspense were beautifully written, the heroine Charlotte was strong and intriguing, and Pike in one word was “Yum!”:) I look forward to reading more of your work.”
(Megan Hussey)

Just finished a short novel for Hallowe’en anthology!

In the middle of continuing the novel which follows Mist and Midnight (Midnight Thirsts Anthology, Melange Books), I took some time out last week to work on something completely different. I was beginning to experience some writer’s block and I have heard and read that many writers have more than one project on the go, so when a block happens they keep momentum. It works, at least for me. And now I have something to submit to my publisher for consideration in August, (after editing, of course), which is incredibly encouraging.

I also started going back through this full-length novel to revise, in order to avoid head-hopping. I am terribly guilty of this. But I remind myself that the first draft is to complete the story, get the ideas down, and then I can flesh it out. Well, I’m kind of combining things because as I revise, getting rid of the hopping, I am also fleshing, but it’s a great review of what I’ve already written. Getting my head back in the game, as it were. I wrote a brief action scene last week and I know where it’s going to go from there, but then I got stuck…wrote the Hallowe’en romance…started revising… See, I think revision might be my Achilles’ heel, I may have to mark the place where I left off and just keep moving forward, or I will never get it done! I have a four friends who are reading it as I go, helping me with feedback, and they are frustrated because I’ve left them hanging. Having readers is helpful, I think, because it pushes me to have that momentum. Jen, Kate, Sandi, Crystal, thank you so much!

One more quick note: I held my first printed paperback copy yesterday, which was awesome! Such a huge lift. I showed it to a few people (carefully, because it’s going to my friend Sandi with a message and signature), and that was amazing, so much fun! I may end up having a signing at a new local store, which has offered to carry some copies on their shelves. I am so pleased, it’s all so worthwhile.

And the Hallowe’en romance scared my mom when she read…that’s kind of fun, too. Love you, Mom.