My masterpiece: Apprentice of the Rain. Took 15 years from start to finish but was worth every second.
I wrote this short story in 2013 for a contest from Innsmouth Free Press. The premise was "swords and sorcery plus HP Lovecraft." The story was not accepted but I'm proud of it anyway.
Patrick Rothfuss is one of my favorite authors. His sheer storytelling is nothing short of magical.
Brandon Sanderson is another favorite. I've only just started this series but its already near the top of my list.
Sanderson's laws on hard and soft magic are required reading for any fantasy/sci-fi writer.
China Mieville has the best descriptions I've ever read, bar none. He uses adjectives lesser writers (such as myself) would never even consider. My friend described his imagination as "creative blunt force trauma."
Suzanne Collins has amazing pacing in this series. Its dense, quick, efficient, never using three words when two will do, yet still expressing deep complex ideas.
Doug Anderson came to Springfield College and read a poem called "Blues" aloud. It was shocking, depressing, agonizing, mezmerizing, and overwhelmingly haunting.
Brian Jacques was one of my first fantasy authors. I read all 6 of his Redwall books as a child and they were hugely influential.
Sean Sweeney just joined my family (by marriage) and has been an endless source of advice and encouragment. Not to mention a mind-bogglingly prolific author.