The first review of Crystal and Wand is in! 

And I couldn’t be more pleased. 

From Pure Jonel, on Goodreads: 

Ridgewood returns to her Talbot Trilogy with the same flash and flair that we’ve come to know from the series. Her action packed and larger than life scenes came to life before my eyes. The intricate narrative creates a unique and one of a kind feel while the plot kept me on my toes. At the same time, Ridgewood does a fantastic job of jogging your memory with respect to past events, but never rehashing past novels.

I loved coming back to these characters that I`m getting to know so well. I love some and have a love/hate relationship with others. The unique dynamics combined with everyone’s one of a kind, in your face personalities creates a cast that readers won’t soon forget.

This exciting conclusion to Ridgewood’s trilogy definitely kept me hooked. I love how she wrapped everything up nicely, without presenting readers with a pretty little bow. The sense of continuity was great. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you so, so much for the positive feedback, Jonel! I sincerely appreciate it, and I’m extremely happy you enjoyed my book. 

You can find out what all the fuss is for by visiting my publisher, Melange Books, or finding the Talbot Trilogy on Amazon, in Chapters, B&N, Smashwords, or Lulu. 

  

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?

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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!

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Road trip! 

  
 Months after first introducing the teenager to the idea of space camp at the Cosmodôme in Montreal, we have completed the first leg of the journey! 

  
Tonight we are staying at my parents’ house, an hour and a half south of home, and tomorrow morning he and I will set off early for the 8 hour drive. Meanwhile, his little sister will stay with her Poppa and Grandma for the week while he’s at camp, and I get to visit my dear friend Tara only four hous away from the city!

  
So I’m going to be across the border hanging out in the world of Latham’s Landing for the release of Crystal and Wand next week, which means I’ll put the online release party together the week after.

I’m wondering whether it might be possible to write a whole new novel over the course of my five days (four plus a bit) of away-vacation. I know that some people can do it in 72 hours (there’s actually a contest every September for that!), so theoretically it’s possible. But I also need to use some time to start contacting reviewers who previously read Wind and Shadow (and Blood and Fire, some of them) to inquire if they would like to see how the story of Ravyn and Charlotte ends. That’s going to require coordinating and comparing my past emails with the records of the reviews on Goodreads and blogs, a job that would be much easier if I had my laptop (little tear) . . . Still, a journey is like a journey is like a project — each begins one step at a time. Or, in my case, one email at a time, in the company of a friend (and within the limits of my data plan).

So for those of you who have read the first book(s) of The Talbot Trilogy and given me a review, I thank you so, so much for your patience! I hope to be in contact with each of you lovely reviewers within the next few weeks. It’s time for the cliffhangers to end, the answers to be revealed, and the final battles won! 

  

Crystal and Wand: July 23!!!

I’m seriously close to (happy) tears — just got the word that my third novel, the final installment of The Talbot Trilogy, is going live on July 23

Nine years since the initial concept. 

Gonna have to plan some awesome parties for this, folks! 

  
 

The Final Proof: General Advice for Writers

The last thing writers do before their work is released into the world is reviewing the proof copy for the publisher, making sure all the little details are right. Going over it with a fine-toothed comb. Comparing it with the list of items that needed to be fixed in the PDF. (I suspect proofing was easier in the time before e-copies, before transferring files from program to program caused glitches and don’t size changes and all those little annoyances.)

Proofreading: it’s both necessary, and it can be pretty tiring. I find it helps to read/review the book both as the author, knowing what to look for, and as a first-time reader. Yup — I pretend I haven’t read it before, as best I can, to approach the proof with fresh eyes. Helps if there aren’t any distractions around, too.

Plus — I am usually also fueled by nervous energy and excitement by this stage, so I have to exercise patience in the extreme.

Pardon me while I get it out . . .

SQUEEE! My book is here! The trilogy is complete! I’ve got the set! Yay!



(Ahem) Resuming dignity in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

As I was saying, patience. It’s no good rushing out and shouting to the world that the book is ready if there are errors hiding sneakily in plain sight — I know, because I was overly enthused and didn’t look carefully enough for them in books one and two, and unfortunately, reviewers were the ones who caught them for me.

So, fellow writers (aspiring or repeat offenders), remember when you are proofing to do the following things:

  1. Take your time.
  2. Use the form and structure required by your publisher to communicate any blips that need correcting. It’s more efficient.
  3. Don’t rush.
  4. Keep all your notes on previous proof reviewing sad reference.
  5. Read your book as though it’s for the first time.
  6. Remember why you wrote it in the first place!
  7. Smile. You made a thing and it’s beautiful. Proofing ensures that it is as perfect as humanly possible.

And thank you to my editor and publisher at Melange Books for her unerring patience with me throughout this whole process. You are amazing, Nancy!

The Trouble with the Playlists

So remember waaaay back in March when Elizabeth Reptile, my awesome bearded dragon, pooped on my condom-less computer keyboard?

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Yeah. I’m still waiting to get my hard drive back from the technician, although it should be any day now… The last we spoke about my options, I could pay upwards of $700-$800 to replace a key part (motherboard? Leaderboard?) and the keyboard, OR I could pay for the hard drive to be extracted and encased and sent back to me.

Some people wreck cars regularly. I do this to computers, evidently — this is not the first time I’ve had to ask for the brains of my computer to be removed and sent to me. I honestly don’t even know where I’ve put the first hard drive — I know it’s somewhere in my house! That was an incident involving my young daughter and a cup of tea and a wildly swinging chubby little leg. Again, can’t emphasize enough — the keyboard condom would have saved me, folks. Type safely! Be responsible!

Anyway, he’d said he was sending me the hard drive ASAP and I could pay him when I got paid next. Except I’ve lost his email, and when I upgraded my phone, I waited too long to bring over my messages from the back-up and I’ve lost the messages that tell me where to send the money. I’m sure he’s sick of hearing from me by now, but dammit . . . I’ve been without my files for nearly four months!

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One of the things I need from my hard drive is the play list I was building in my iTunes for Crystal and Wand, and I don’t believe that I ever finished the one I was making for Blood and Fire, either. Life got in the way. Worse, once I actually get the hard drive back and connect it to this desktop, I may still lose the playlist because I’ve noticed that they don’t always stick around after an update.

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The good news is that I’ve heard new songs — MANY new songs — since I started those, and I think there are some changes I’d want to make anyway. Plus, I recall at one point hitting a button on the iTunes thingy that rearranged the order of the songs alphabetically — quelle nightmare!

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Still, I shall move forward. Go through my music, start again, include some of the new tracks I’ve been listening to that remind me of events and characters in Crystal and Wand, then go back and do the same in Blood and Fire. Eventually, the playlists will make it here.

And as soon as I know the release date for the final book in the Talbot Trilogy, you’ll know — I promise!

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Crystal and Wand: Malcolm de Sade’s Backstory

One of the most difficult things a writer must do is accept that not every piece of the draft will make it to the final product. Something has to be cut, or multiple somethings, unless there is a very good reason for that section of dialogue or narrative to be kept. In Crystal and Wand, at my editor’s excellent suggestion, I plucked out a longish bit on the life history of my malicious and cunning Big Bad, the centuries-old vampire Malcolm de Sade. And it was difficult, because (without giving anything away) I know that part of that backstory gives some answers as to why he is capable of certain things that he does. But the tale of the most significant relationship of his un-life didn’t really serve the novel, in the end. Much like film editors must take away that which detracts from the movement and flow of a film, writers have to delete scenes, too.

I really think, though, that watching the deleted scenes (and the bloopers) are as enjoyable as looking at the final product.

So, dear readers, I thought I’d give you a peek into my head vampire’s secret past right here, by sharing with you this particular deleted scene. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into Malcolm’s world in advance of the release of the final installment of the Talbot Trilogy — the release date will be announced soon!

First, my inspiration for the character of Malcolm de Sade, the remarkable, handsome, and sexy Goran Visnjic:

And now, the story . . .

After a near-miss with destruction and losing track of his witches, Malcolm has returned to the home he has taken as his own from Andrea Renaud, the first member of his ill-fated coven. He takes stock of his situation, contemplating some of the choices he has made both in the past and the present. 

He had felt the pressing isolation of his kind profoundly, more than once. After Seingalt was staked, of course, as they had been turned together and had been brothers of a sort. And again, fifty-odd years later, when he’d encountered a talented young artist with the power to move his black heart as it had not been moved since his human days.

Malcolm rolled onto his side, losing himself in the memory so deeply that he almost returned to his day-sleep.

Aleksander Sokolov had been a student in St. Petersburg, on his way to becoming a brilliant painter. They had met at a midnight salon where de Sade had introduced himself as Sergei Davydov. While still a pupil, he had been commissioned for a portrait of a moderate official, an opportunity that opened doors and set him on a path that many of his peers envied as much as they did his looks. With a shock of soft, curling black hair falling over his smooth fair skin, features rounded almost like a woman’s, he was as fetching to regard as his oils on the canvas. Conversation had revealed that his background was similar to Seingalt’s—Aleksander had been sent to boarding school at age six, expected to join the clergy or obtain a degree in law, but had found himself pulled into the world of composition and beauty and accepted at the Imperial Academy of Arts.

A walk in the fresh air had revealed that his predilection was not for women.

Their passionate friendship had filled de Sade’s evenings through the long Russian winter, and he liked to think he had inspired some of his lover’s finest work. Sokolov had a way of using light, shadow, line, and colour to reveal his subjects’ deepest emotions and earnest desires. A young man’s arrogance and flair in one portrait would be followed by a matron’s steely gaze and knowing smirk in another. He could make an ugly princess into a delicate flower, and reduce a generous merchant to a scurrilous miser, all with seemingly careless strokes of his brush. He embodied the spirit of the Romantic Movement, and while it saddened Malcolm that he could only ever watch his artist work in the very early hours or the very late, he could not bring himself to grant the lad a gift that would steal from him the very sunlight that fed Aleksander’s soul.

It was a bitter sunrise that shone on Sokolov’s face the morning after he died of consumption, a scant eight months after their relationship had begun.

Would his art have been any less without his humanity? Or would the world have been granted a magnificent boon, had Malcolm changed him at that last moment? For hours, every breath had seemed to be his last. Held by his beloved Sergei—those were the very words he had used to describe his lover—he had wept a little to leave the world without having painted everything he’d wanted. So much beauty, so many faces, and he’d not even made the time to commit Davydov to a canvas.

“What work you have done, be assured I will never see it discarded, nor burnt, nor torn,” Malcolm promised him.

“In another lifetime, your portrait should have been the highest example of my efforts,” Aleksander whispered. He fingered the ruffles on de Sade’s sleeve. “Sergei, I am a little afraid to die.”

Malcolm sighed. “And if you could live, would you want to live for always? To never age? To never sicken, waste away, or perish?” He felt his mouth tingle and hoped that his lover’s answer would be yes. “We are not meant to last forever. That is why we paint.” Even with the shadow of death hovering about his eyes and mouth, Aleksander Sokolov had the strength and audacity to reprimand his elder. “You might as well ask me to give up my hands, my eyes, or my capacity to feel, if I lost the fragility that lets me portray life in…”

In what, Malcolm never knew. That was the moment his artist’s heart finally chose to end its struggle.

Before Aleksander, his purpose had been in acquiring knowledge he could use against others, both for pleasure and in manipulation of the soul. He had buried his loneliness, refusing to admit that it even existed, focusing on his games. And then into his world of darkness, this young man had exploded like a dying star. His very being was so pure, Malcolm had never even told him of his true self. His lover went to his grave without knowing that Sergei Davydov would never join him in eternal sleep.

He had believed himself inured to this kind of loss, immune to emotional pain, entirely free from the failings of humanity. Alek proved all of that wrong, but until this evening’s pairing with Damon Sabre it had not been clear to him just how much he remained vulnerable, or how deeply he had buried himself.

Not that Malcolm was some sorrowful shadow, or had ever been. After losing his artist, he neither lost himself in misery nor indulged in long fits of melancholy, bemoaning his situation. Instead, he carried on as he expected to, always: moving to a new place, finding someone to bed and on whom to feed, leaving the past behind. What was the point of mourning? Death was simply part of a mortal’s existence. If anything, Aleksander Sokolov had been luckier than most of his era, leaving his work behind as evidence that he had once walked the earth. When Malcolm felt the need to remind himself that their encounter had been more than a dream, he only needed to return to St. Petersburg, later Petrograd, and view the paintings on display.

Perhaps paintings on display were what had drawn him to Damon in the first place.

Malcolm turned onto his other side in Andrea’s soft flannel sheets, disturbed at the turn of his thoughts. Damon was so similar to Aleksander, in so many ways. They were of the same age, though Damon was taller than Alek had been, and in this time, the former was still considered by some to be a babe of the world—though the country’s government conferred on him most of the rights of adulthood—while Alek had been considered fully a man. There was that reservation in his manner, retiring in unfamiliar company, but unrestrainedly humourous among friends. True, the lad had not been completely honest with him about his sexuality when Malcolm had first broached the subject, that night at the hunters’ cabin, but it was to be expected in this era when it was growing nigh impossible to keep one’s secrets out of others’ hands. De Sade had seen this for himself, exploring the Internet, reading personal conversations posted for all to see and judgment cast upon those who challenged the perceived status quo.

Another reminder why the flawed human race needed creatures with greater perspective and experience to rule them.

Even though he himself enjoyed wringing secrets out of people, it was not his business to spread them. He collected their confessions and recorded them in journals, sometimes using code, to cherish as his own private treasure. After all, if there was anything he’d learned from Seingalt’s experience, advertising himself was dangerous. It was far better to avoid conflict and confrontation by staying hidden, even if that meant falling further and further from the comforts of society.

He frowned. Of course, eventually that had brought him to feeding on the homeless and indigent of society, living in filth no better than a rat. But that pattern had so swiftly come to an end. And it hadn’t been because of a handsome young man catching his eye—it had been the sight of an attractive witch, both powerful and fertile. Charlotte Fanning, now Mahonen, cursed be that name, had changed the course of his existence. It should not matter how much potential Damon Sabre could express with brush and paint. He had not seen the young man indulge his talent in many weeks, though; not since before he had become part of Malcolm’s coven. Perhaps that gift had already vanished, drained away with his life’s blood, replaced with cynicism and thirst. After all, an artist had to have a beating heart, able to feel both love and pain, and a soul that yearned for beauty in order to return it to the world. It was impossible for a vampire, the living dead sustained by carnage and ugliness, to come close to creating anything aesthetic that was also original. Witness Seingalt, who collected precious artwork and hired decorators to surround him with beauty, but made none of his own. And Malcolm himself had taken possession of this comfortable home but could claim none of it as his own design.

Whatever Damon Sabre had been, as his human self, it was gone, and there was no retrieving it. This was the reason Malcolm had given him a new, last, name. But if all this were true, why was he so determined to make a baby? To combine his seed and spirit with that of a witch? Many humans called infants beautiful, and each were original creatures, unique unto themselves.

Restless, he rose from the bed and paced the length of the bedroom. This was why he no longer enjoyed time alone. His thoughts took him to uncomfortable places, questioning reality in unacceptable ways.

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SOON TO BE RELEASED! Read the Prequel: Mist and Midnight, Book One: Wind and Shadow, and Book Two: Blood and Fire, available through Melange Books.

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:

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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!

Journey with me in Placing Literature!

Journey with me in Placing Literature!

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PlacingLiterature.com enables readers to map the locations of books set in real towns, cities, parks, etc. This month, my work has been included in their spotlight! 

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The setting of the Talbot Trilogy is based on the real town of Cobalt, Ontario. Clicking on the bookmarks in the map will take you to the locations that inspired key events, characters, and places in the series. I write about places I love, so it’s a real privilege to make these places visible to you as well. 

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Throughout the month, I’ll be adding to my virtual tour of the places used in Wind and Shadow, its prequel novella Mist and Midnight, and the locations coming up in Book Two: Blood and Fire (coming February 12) and the final instalment, Book Three: Crystal and Wand (coming summer 2014). I’m looking forward to your comments along the way!

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