Leigh Goff

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Zing Goes the Heart Strings

by Catherine Castle

You may not know this about me, but I’m a fan of the television shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

I’m not crazy about all the drama and some of the physical stuff that goes on, but I do like to watch and root for the stars looking for that one and only soul mate with whom they hope to spend the rest of their lives. Granted, most of them haven’t found that true love, but I still root for them. At the end of every show, most bachelors or bachelorettes ask their potential spouses, or hopefully by that time their fiancées, “Will you accept this rose?” This means they see promise in the relationship and believe they have found their special person.

No matter the season, the bachelor or bachelorette, IMHO, are looking in the wrong places for that true love. There’s always one guy or girl who is a troublemaker and for some inexplicable reason the bachelor or bachelorette keeps giving the rabble-rouser a rose. Go figure.

I’m a firm believer in true love. Zing goes the heart strings and all that stuff. But sometimes what the heart wants isn’t the best thing for either party involved. Besides love, there’s a practical side to choosing a life mate. A life-long relationship requires more than sex appeal and hormonal attraction. Love and hot passion lasts for a while, but the day-to-day stuff is what makes the living loveable.

For those looking for love, here are a few hints to help find that perfect man. These suggestions may seem tongue-in-cheek to you, but trust me, they are important. I know!

MAKE SURE YOUR INITIALS WORK.
You don’t want to make the mistake my mother almost did when naming one of her children. Thankfully, she discovered the initials of the name my father had chosen for their child spelled A.S.S. Not something you’d want monogramed on the towels in the guest bathroom. So, line up the first initial of the last name of your beloved with your first and middle initials. If it spells something embarrassing, you’d better change one of those names. His. Or yours, if you just can’t live without him.

MAKE SURE YOUR INTERESTS ALIGN.
You’ve heard about the golf widow or the football widow. I’m here to tell you there’s a widow for every interest out there. If you don’t know what your potential spouse is really fascinated by you could end up a widow long before he is six feet under.

My husband was an athlete who loved to run. Every night after work, he’d come home, put on his running shoes, and head out the door. He even ran a couple of mini marathons. For years he tried to get me to run with him. I’d lace up my running shoes and lope off with him, but every time I did I ended up face down on the sidewalk. Heck, I can’t even walk without tripping, so I don’t know why he thought I would be able to run. Finally, he gave up on me being a running partner. We found other things we could do together because we had a lot of common interests like singing, ballroom dancing (which I could do because he was holding me up), acting, and playwriting. So, pay attention to the hobbies and interests of your potential spouse. If he has nothing in common with your interests, or what he loves isn’t something you can work around, think twice before hitching your wagon to that person. Remember, the passion may fade, but most likely, the hobbies will remain.

LOOK FOR SOMEONE WHO FINISHES THE JOBS THEY START.
I loved my dad and so did my mother, but he had a bad habit of starting a job and not finishing it. Mom wanted a bathroom in the basement, so Dad obliged and put in a toilet. For years the lone fixture sat in the middle of the basement—no walls, no privacy, and no users. It wasn’t until they went to sell the house that Dad finished the project. Too late and too little. If you can live with that, fine, but otherwise, check out your future spouse’s follow-through abilities.

MAKE SURE YOU SEE EYE TO EYE ON FOOD.
There’s nothing worse than cooking two meals for dinner. One for her and one for him. Or leaving your favorite ingredient out of every meal because he or she, depending on who is the cook, won’t eat it.

Even worse, is the scenario I discovered upon my mother’s death when Dad began giving away all the home-canned green beans in the cupboard. Thinking he was reacting out of grief, just getting rid of things that reminded him of her, I said, “Dad, we aren’t going to take the food from your table.”

He replied, “I hate green beans. Always have.”

“But Mom served them every night. Why did you eat them if you hated them?” I asked.

“Because she served them,” he replied.

I was aghast and awed that he’d eaten a hated food every day for thirty-seven years without a single complaint. I immediately told my husband to let me know if I ever served something he hated. He has. And I’m okay with that.

So, if you must marry and you don’t see eye to eye on food, at least tell your beloved you do or don’t like a food before they die. Preferably, early on.

BE HONEST ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT SPORTS.
My Dad managed the church softball team, and he recruited my athletic spouse, who was my boyfriend at the time, to play on the team. Naturally, I went along to watch, cheering like mad whenever my boyfriend came up to bat. I even learned how to keep score so I could sit in the dugout near my honey. We dated for a number of years, and I was always there in the bleachers, even after we married and had a child.

After he quit playing softball and wanted to watch the professional games on TV, I wasn’t interested.

“I thought you liked sports,” he said.

“I liked watching you play sports,” I replied. “There’s a big difference.”

He didn’t get it. Imagine that.

MAKE SURE YOUR LIFE PHILOSOPHIES ALIGN.
There are a number of hot topics that can unhinge a relationship quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson.” Four of the hottest are religion, politics, money, and childrearing. If you don’t know where your beloved stands on these issues, find out. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time the person you marry will still be the same person when he hits retirement. His political standing will most likely remain either conservative or liberal. An atheist usually remains an atheist, and a religious person usually remains religious. The holes in a spendthrift’s pockets get bigger, not smaller. A tightwad’s fist gets tighter. And fighting over how to raise the kids benefits no one, especially the children. Discovering his life philosophy after you’re married is too late, because you can’t change the other person to fit what you need. Many women have tried and failed. So, find out before you marry. Life will be so much easier when you’re in sync with your partner.

DON’T CHOOSE THE BAD BOY.
The troubled soul may be the hero fictional heroines long for. The big, strong, brooding sexy man who can deck anyone, win any fight, or conquer any mountain is a common romantic figure. But in the long run, a man with such a dark side is probably not the kind of guy you really want to take home to Mother.

I once dated a guy who had the dark, handsome, sexy looks that would make a girl who met him in the night tremble and swoon with fear and excitement. He was a bit of what we used to call “a hood.” He left town for a while, and when he came back I jumped at the chance to go out with him again. Our first date on his return was at the drive-in theater—what they used to call “a passion pit.” A movie on a giant screen, watched in a car, in the dark. A perfect recipe for disaster.

When he tried to get me in the back of his station wagon, fitted out with comfy blankets and pillows, I declined. “So and so (the name omitted to protect the un-innocent) would do it,” he said, in an effort to convince me to do what I knew was wrong.

“Then go get her,” I replied. I spent the rest of the night fending him off and didn’t get to see a bit of the movie.

We never had another date, and that was just fine with me. He was enough to cure me of the bad-boy longing. Now I advise young women to go for the nerds. Not only are they nicer, but they will make more legal money than their bad boy counterparts and stay out of jail.

And last but by no means least: LOOK FOR THE NICE GUYS.
Nice guys, contrary to the old saying, do not finish last. Everyone loves a nice guy: the one who is respectful, doesn’t boast, opens doors for ladies, and keeps his temper in check. I’m sure you know him. He’s the man who has respect for himself, for you, and for others. He’s considerate and loving. Every other word out of his mouth is not a curse. His speech is tempered with wisdom. He’s the kind of man your mother hopes you’ll bring home. The kind of man who will love you more than he loves himself.

When you find one, ask him, “Will you accept this rose?” If he says, “Yes” hang on to him. You won’t be sorry you did. I know I’m not.

If you’d like a romantic comedy, with a touch of drama, where the heroine is looking for a fiancé in all the wrong places, pick up the award-winning novel A Groom for Mama by Catherine Castle. Here’s a peek.

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

EXCERPT
With a sweep of his hand, Jack spread the photos out on the table in front of Allison and Beverly. “Here’s a few I just grabbed from the database. Any of them interesting?” He studied Allison’s reaction. She didn’t bat an eyelash as she scanned the men’s pictures. Then, without warning, she scooped them up and shoved them at him.

“I told Mama I wasn’t going to do this. It’s a stupid idea.”

“I’ll admit it’s not the ‘some enchanted evening, see a stranger across the room’ romantic way to find a husband, but it’s not totally unacceptable. Several of the couples my company has brought together have married.”

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

“It’s a new company, Allison. I don’t have the stats yet.” He pushed the photos across the table. “Just take a peek. What harm can it do?”

Beverly grabbed the photo of a particularly handsome man. “How about this one? His coloring complements yours. You’d have beautiful children.”

Mama!” Allison snatched the photo away. “We’re not going to discuss my possible, yet unlikely, progeny in front of Jack.”

A flash of Allison kissing this guy flew through his head. He grabbed the photo from her. “He’s not your type anyway.”

“And just how do you know?” she asked.

“I dated you, remember? You ditched me for some suave, corporate hotshot. At least it’s what you said.”
“Allison!” Beverly exclaimed. “You never told me that.”

Allison shot him a fierce scowl. “I’m not comfortable discussing my love life with you, Mama. Besides, what’s done and over with should be buried . . . in the past.” She picked up another photo. “What about him? Or him and him?” She pointed to two nerdy-looking fellows. “They seem corporate.”

Mama leaned over and checked out the pictures Allison had indicated. “Too ugly,” she said. “He’s got to be handsome. Like Jack. I want to know my grandbabies will be as beautiful as you two.”

He grinned. “Thanks for the compliment, but I know I’m not your daughter’s type.” He laid a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill this out. Then I can get a better idea of what you want in a husband.”

“I don’t want—”

“I know,” he interjected. “But, for your mom’s sake, just pretend you do.”

Amazon Buy Link

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.


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Sizzling Summer

from Sloane Taylor

Quick and easy and oh so good. This is a delicious meal for two and it’s terrific when friends or family come for dinner. Simply increase ingredient amounts proportionally and you’re good to go!

Serve with Pear Salad, Sautéed Broccoli, and White Wine – Riesling.

CHICKEN KABOBS
1 – 1½ lbs. (500 – 750g) chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1 med. onion, quartered
1 med. red pepper, seeded and ribs removed
1 med. yellow pepper, seeded and ribs removed
3 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped fine
¾ cup (180ml) olive oil
¾ cup (180ml) honey
1 tbsp. (15ml) soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 small can pineapple chunks, drained
10 – 16 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed
Vegetable oil for grill

Cut chicken into 1½ in. (3.8cm) pieces and then place into a plastic bag or bowl. Separate onion sections, add to chicken. Slice peppers into 1 in. (2.54cm) pieces add to chicken. Set aside.

Whisk garlic through pepper together in a small bowl. Add half, maybe a little more, this mixture to chicken. You need to hold back some marinade for basting while you grill. Cover and refrigerate 1 – 2 hours.

Coat grill lightly with olive oil. Set grill to medium-high.

Thread chicken and veggies onto skewers, e.g.: chicken, onion, mushroom, yellow pepper, chicken, pineapple, red pepper, and so on. Make sure all the pieces touch but aren’t jammed against one another. Discard remaining marinade.

Grill 12 – 15 minutes. Brush skewers with held back marinade and turn frequently so meat cooks evenly.

No skewers? No problem.

Drain chicken mixture in a colander. Heat a skillet on the grill or stove. Add reserved marinade, chicken and remaining ingredients. Sauté 12 – 15 minutes, stirring and turning frequently.

Chicken Kabobs, Pear Salad, and Sautéed Broccoli are just three of the easy and delicious recipes you will enjoy from my latest cookbook. Here’s a little more info for you.

Romance meets Outdoor Dining
Why not share a summer night with someone special?
What better than a sizzling romantic dinner, candles, wine and music?

Create 45 delicious and complete dinners for two that can be cooked on your grill or stove. No exotic or expensive ingredients needed. These 103 recipes use everyday products already in your kitchen cabinets. Increasing the dinners is a snap for those fun nights friends or family join you.

You’ll love Date Night Dinners Sizzling Summer, Book 2 in the Meals to Make Together series, because great food is the doorway to infinite possibilities.

Add a little romance to a starry evening with a delicious dinner perfect for two. Uncork the wine and enjoy!

Grab your copy today.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Learn more about Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire on Amazon.

Excerpts from her romance books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.


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Cover Reveal: Mirror’s Despair

Welcome to the cover reveal for 
Mirror’s Despair
Mirror Worlds, Book 4
Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

About Mirror’s Despair by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred:

Mirena’s back to claim what’s hers; this time, Tendro is ready for her. 

Following ten tense years of absence, Mirena Calanais suddenly resurfaces as the Avatar of the Destroyer. With Abraxas’ dark army at her back, she’s determined to reclaim what she feels is her due; control over the lands the Panarch’im once ruled.

His political career and his marriage both drying up, Tendro Seynor long suspected this day would come, but what he isn’t prepared for is Mirena’s return to his personal life. There’s more to Mirena than her persona as the Dark Avatar; she’s the mother of the son Tendro hasn’t seen since the day he was born. As her presence in his life grows, Mirena confides in Tendro that she’s being haunted by someone who should be dead. As this vengeful presence closes in on her and the Destroyer’s hand thouches the world once more, they begin to realize their son may be at the center of it all and his innocence hangs in the balance.

Can Tendro and Mirena put aside their rivalry for the sake of their families, or will the bad blood between them finally escalate to the point where it has the power to tear the entire world apart?

Book Details:

Page count: 242
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
Publish Date: October 17, 2020
ASIN : B08FF7M8MQ

Pre-Order Link: https://amzn.to/3jsJDcy

Meet the Authors:

Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of nine novels and counting, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally role-playing with her friends.

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is a new mom living in Windsor, Ontario, training to become a nurse.

Connect with:

Website: http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com

Author Pages: 

Justine’s Amazon Page: https://amzn.to/31FIrMC 


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You Can Call Me Jenna…

The mystery guest interview today is with Jenna Ashby, a self-described cool eco-warrior from Koush Hollow.

Unknown-10

What’s your full name?

Technically it’s Jennifer Ashby, but don’t call me Jennifer. Rayna, my mother, calls me that. I prefer Jenna (most of the time) and my middle name is Crossland, which is my mother’s maiden name, however, I have a feeling that’s not really what it’s supposed to be…

Tell us about your parents.

They divorced when I was little and I moved with my dad from Koush Hollow outside of New Orleans to Atlanta. I was fifteen when my dad died tragically last year, and I had to move back to live with Rayna. She’s rich, ambitious, and she pretty much has my whole life planned out for me, which is so not going to happen. One day she wants me to take over her exclusive social club, the Diamonds & Pearls, but I’m an eco-warrior at heart and have no intention of hanging out with those snobby women, attending balls, or wearing pearls. Needless to say, life with Rayna is going to be a challenge—mostly for her.

Do you have any distinguishing features?

Besides my cool short, blonde spikes of hair, I have these interesting red marks on my hands. They’re crescent moon-shaped and Dad always told me they mark me as special, but Rayna hates them. What’s strange is that since I’ve returned to Koush Hollow, they’ve been acting up. I think it has something to do with being near the bayou, but I’m not sure why.

diamonds-and-pearls-3-gina-sullivanWhat is your greatest regret?

Not spending more time with my dad before he died. I’ve really struggled to deal with him being gone, too. Rayna wants me to forget about him and focus on being perfect, but I’m not perfect. I’ve made bad choices. I keep making mistakes because of other traumatic events that keep sending me whirling. I regret the mistakes, but that’s what being sixteen is all about. It means making mistakes. No one’s perfect. We all have regrets and maybe others can learn from my mistakes.

Unknown-9Who is the most important person in your life?

My dad was the most important, but since I’ve arrived in Koush Hollow, I’ve met someone who makes me question what’s going on in the world that Rayna wants to paint as perfect. His name is Hayden and he’s more like me than any of the wretched Pearls. He irritates me most of the time, but he’s smart and cares about Lake Pontchartrain and the bayous around us, which aren’t as healthy as they used to be. He blames Rayna and the nuclear power plant where she works, but she’s a former marine biologist. There’s no way she would do anything to hurt the environment, right?

Who are your friends?

I had the coolest friends back in Atlanta. We would cosplay together and have the best times. I even had a long-distance boyfriend who I detest now. In Koush Hollow, I hang out with Lauren and Abigail. They’re Pearls and on Rayna’s approved list, but they are starting to grow on me. They want me to become a Pearl, too, so I can meet with the mysterious Marais sisters and have access to their stupid beauty treatments. What they don’t know is that I’ve already met them. Lauren keeps hinting at the price I’ll have to pay to be a Pearl. We’ll see what happens.

images-4What is your favorite food?

The one thing I love about being back in New Orleans is the food! It’s all freaking amazing. A perfect day would begin with beignets for breakfast, a Muffuletta for lunch, shrimp and grits for dinner, bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert, and Zapp’s Voodoo chips to snack on while I binge on Netflix shows.

Unknown-13Speaking of Voodoo, are the Marais sisters seriously Voodoo priestesses?

What I can tell you is that they’ve got all kinds of mystical stuff going on at their place on the bayou. I’ve seen them painted as skeletons, dancing, chanting, and tossing fish into a bonfire. There’s Mama Ismay, she’s the oldest, although they all look so young, it’s hard to tell. Lisette is sexy, Destine is into health food, and they all tell me I remind them of their late sister Chelsea. I don’t know how that’s possible, but they’re so beautiful beyond their appearance, I like the comparison.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.

Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky.

You can find more information at www.LeighGoff.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

unnamedBUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble


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Koush Hollow: A Witch Riding Nightmare

unnamedLeigh Goff’s newly released YA Southern Gothic novel is titled KOUSH HOLLOW, which is the fictional town outside New Orleans where the story takes place. The name was inspired by the word cauchemar and it’s Southern meaning.

Koush is a derivative of cauche, which means a terror that comes in the night. In French it means to press or trample. The word mare comes from Old English and means an incubus or night-goblin. In southwest Louisiana cauchemar has another meaning. It refers to a witch-riding, a supernatural attack while one sleeps.

Various cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas have different names for this phenomenon that has been experienced over the centuries. In seventeenth century North America, victims of accused Salem witches suffered from these witch-riding nightmares. The same kind of attacks are mentioned in present-day Southern folklore. The terrifying supernatural event occurs in the moments before waking up when one tries to move, but cannot. The paralysis is blamed on the supernatural and described as a feeling of pressure on one’s chest as if a demon were sitting on it or as if a witch were riding the person.

Unknown-1Some believe the evil creature sucks the breath out of its victim while slowly killing them. During this sleep paralysis, victims claim to be choked or prodded with the creature’s claws, and they are filled with panic until the creature disappears into thin air. Some believe there is no meaning to the event while others believe it is a warning to seek forgiveness for one’s sins. The painting by Johann Heinrich Fuseli aptly titled The Nightmare depicts a cauchemar with a demonic creature posed on a woman’s chest while the horse in the background stares wide-eyed with fear on its face.

As KOUSH HOLLOW is set outside of New Orleans in a place where bayou magic abounds, dreams are frightening, and beauty masks the real monsters, it’s a well-suited title.

BLURB
Beauty is a curse on the world for it keeps us from seeing who the real monsters are.”

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother. As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow: How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing? As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT

The excerpt below comes from Chapter 1 of Koush Hollow. The sixteen-year-old main character, Jenna, seems to have a waking nightmare where an interesting creature appears, but only to her. Is it real or is it a dream?

Tap, tap.
My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.
“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten café lattes.”
“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”
She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”
My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.
“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”
I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be.
“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.
I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”
We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.

Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky.

You can find more information at www.LeighGoff.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

BUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble


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Pollution Solutions: Time to Detox

garbage on body of water

Photo by Yogendra Singh on Pexels.com

“Sip a glass of cool, clear water as you read this, and you may think water pollution is a problem somewhere else. But while most Americans have access to safe drinking water, potentially harmful contaminants—from arsenic to copper to lead—have been found in the tap water of every single state in the nation.”[1] When we think about detoxing, we think about our health. However, our rivers, lakes, and oceans are in trouble just as the lake and bayou are in my upcoming novel, KOUSH HOLLOW, and none of us, including my fictional characters, can be healthy without clean water.

Water pollution comes from things like pesticides, farm waste, oil spills, and industrial and radioactive waste. Radioactive disasters like what happened at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan can send hundreds of tons of radioactive water into the sea before leaks can be contained. For marine life, radioactive pollution in general can kill fish, create strange mutations, and the radioactive poison can be passed along the food chain. According to the EPA, almost half of our rivers and more than one-third of our lakes are polluted, which means they’re not safe for swimming, fishing, or drinking.

nuclear power plant

Photo by Markus Distelrath on Pexels.com

In KOUSH HOLLOW the locals believe the town’s lake is polluted from sewage and wastewater, but the dirty secret is that the pollution is coming from a nefarious source. The effects are disastrous on life in and around the lake and bayou and on the people who live near them. The main character, Jenna is vigilant and curious. Her suspicions lead her to uncover the corruption at the local nuclear power plant and stave off the pollution. Then Jenna starts up the Green Eco Warriors who pick up trash around the lake and send in water samples for testing.

In the real world, we can all be vigilant and do our part, even if we don’t live near a lake. We can reduce our dependence on plastic. Properly dispose of toxic chemicals, petroleum products, and old batteries to keep those chemicals from seeping into the groundwater. If you’re not a vegetarian/vegan consider implementing a no-meat Monday to reduce meat consumption, which will reduce agricultural demand, and in turn reduce farm waste. When you’re ready to purchase a car, consider buying an electric car that doesn’t use oil, antifreeze, or gasoline.

“Nearly one million tons of oil makes its way into marine environments each year.”[2] If needed, use natural fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides in your yard and consider planting native species of plants that will soak up rain and prevent runoff. Our waterways touch all of our lives. Let’s keep them clean!

EXCERPT from KOUSH HOLLOW

“Dejection washed over me as they disappeared. In Atlanta, strange things had stopped happening and I blended with everyone else. Here? Not so much. The crescent marks were burning like fire ant venom and the fight to fit in was wearing on me. I hadn’t felt more awful than I did at that moment.

I dipped under the surface and swam around, needing a layer of silence between the drama and me. I brushed my fingers along fish scooting past, their silver scales shimmering like mercury in the fractured moonlight.

A rockfish swayed lazily back and forth. I reached for it, sending it into panic mode. He sped off so I pursued, curious where it was going. I kicked hard and caught up. It slowed and turned sideways, and I caught sight of its face. A puff of air bubbles escaped my mouth. Several bulbous tumors marred its appearance. Shocked, I popped above the surface and inhaled a deep breath. What in Fukushima was that?

In the distance, there was no sign of any of the boats. The silence broke a minute later with the rumble of a small engine. I spotted a gray Boston whaler heading in my direction. I hoped it was someone friendly with a dry towel and a bottle of vodka under the seat. I flung my arms up and waved them down. “Over here.”

A flash of light caught me and the whaler sputtered closer. The boat light shined in my eyes, preventing me from seeing who my rescuer was. Splash. An orange life jacket landed next to me.

“Don’t need a vest.” I grabbed hold of it and swam closer.

“I’ll save you,” the boy yelled. Splash.

I latched onto the side of the whaler. He swam up behind me and wrapped one arm around my waist. “I’ve got you.”

“Feeling Hayden’s warm body in the water next to mine, that’s when I realized I was only wearing underwear. Wet underwear. I closed my eyes. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Jenna?”

We bobbed up and down with the waves. “Hayden, we’ve got to stop meeting in the water like this.”

He slicked his dark, wet hair back. Water glistened on his lips and his whole face seemed to sparkle. “I thought you were a needy girl drowning.”

“Is this what drowning or needy looks like?”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.

Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky.

You can find more information at www.LeighGoff.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

unnamedBUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

 

 

[1] Denchak, Melissa. NRDC. (5-4-18). From https://www.nrdc.org/stories/water-pollution-everything-you-need-know#prevent  Retrieved on 2/11/20.

[2] Denchak, Melissa. NRDC. (5-4-18). From https://www.nrdc.org/stories/water-pollution-everything-you-need-know#prevent  Retrieved on 2/11/20.

 


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A Good Book & Comfort Food

from Sharon Ledwith

Picture this – savory, sautéed chicken cooked in a cheesy, creamy sauce with Roma tomatoes, served atop a bed of fettuccini pasta. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is. One of my go-to meals I order at a restaurant includes this classic pasta dish. So, I thought I’d bring this Italian favorite from the restaurant into your kitchen to enjoy with 8 of your family or friends wherever and whenever you choose to get-together.

With a prep time of 30 minutes, and a cook time of 30 minutes, you can divvy up the duties and make it a culinary collaboration. Wine, of course, is optional, but encouraged.

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Classic Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves, cut into cubes
6 tbsp. butter, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 lb. (454 g) fettuccini pasta
1 onion, diced
1 – 8 oz. (227 g) package sliced mushrooms
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground white pepper
3 cups milk
1 cup half-and-half
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 ozs. (227 g) shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
3 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
½ cup sour cream

In a large skillet set over medium heat combine chicken, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 cloves garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in the skillet. Sauté onion, remaining garlic, and mushrooms until onions are transparent. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Slowly add milk and half-and-half, stirring until smooth and creamy. Blend in Parmesan and Colby-Monterey Jack cheeses. Continue to stir until cheese is melted. Stir in chicken mixture, tomatoes, and sour cream. Serve over cooked fettuccini.

IF by any chance you have leftovers, the Alfredo mixture freezes well.

Has all this cooking made you ‘stir’ crazy? After your guests have departed, may I suggest settling in with a good book and a glass of wine? How about a visit to Fairy Falls, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a trip back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Whichever you choose, I guarantee either series will take you on a journey far away from dirty dishes and messy pots.

Here’s a glimpse into one of the books from Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, my teen psychic mystery series.

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.

Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.

 

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.


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The Brilliance of Bird Watching

from Janis Lane

Photo courtesy of Ks Kyung Unsplash

Nature and the Birds. Nature fascinates me, but I confess I lived in Alaska for four years and never once thought to use my binocs on a perching bird. We were all into whales, moose, goats, eagles and such like. The big stuff. I weep thinking how I missed puffins. Right away I want to recommend a book whether you are new to the hobby or an old hand, “The Crossley Guide of Eastern Birds.” (or go to the library.) You’ll need to look for a similar copy for your area, i.e. Western. The pictures are exquisite. For ordinary daily bird identification, I use an Audubon Society Guide to Field…whatever nature interest you. These books are terrific Christmas or Birthday presents for any age. I keep one in my car and another in the house.

Photo by Geran de Klerk Unsplash

We only feed backyard birds in the winter. Coons and other type creatures (rodents) are abundant in the summer months, plus the birds find plenty of food available. Occasionally the weather warms and we are visited by every gray (a few red) squirrels within a mile. Otherwise they are tucked away until spring. Last Christmas our daughter gave us a fool proof squirrel bird feeder. I swear it works. Has a small motor. When the When the squirrel climbs aboard, it triggers the motor which starts the perch twirling. We applauded one squirrel who managed to hang on by one paw for three revolutions although perhaps the poor fellow would need a bit of physical therapy afterwards.

After surgery when I was confined for a time, my hubby mounted small plastic feeders right to my window. It was fascinating to a shut-in like me. Highly recommend.

Lots of different selections of bird seed. Expensive and the best is black sunflower seed. We even had a young deer climb up on the deck to reach the spilled seed. Types of field glasses are many and varied. You’ll find the ones that you like best. Cornell Lab in Ithaca, NY has great birding information and sites. Do indulge.

SANDPIPER AFFAIR, the first of the Abby and Adam Adventures, was my love affair with nature. I only sort of wrote a story to go with it. There I have confessed. Actually, I created a nature photographer and a park ranger who allowed me to follow them around as they lived out their lives in Middle Florida. Who knew we could all have so much fun? It is a romance and a mystery as well. If I have tickled your curiosity regarding the environment, I am pleased. If you enjoy the story as well, I am ecstatic.

Abby Naycomb, wildlife photographer, found more than scintillating images of the birds of Central Florida. A handsome park ranger turns her world upside down even as a criminal stalker seeks to threaten her life.

Who knew trespassing in the restrictive area of a Florida State Park to get the perfect shot of the sand hill crane family would wind up with Abby Naycomb, wildlife photographer extraordinaire, meeting the most handsome park ranger in the world? Mating/nesting birds were the subject of her quest but finding those intense blue eyes in the lens of her camera was distracting and hormone inciting.

Adam Rawlings, millionaire park ranger, was as shocked as Abby when she accidentally discovered a murdered man buried in a shallow grave in the sand.

Face to face with an exciting relationship with Adam, the perfect man, leaves her no excuse for backing away from a growing intimacy. Vagabond Abby must consider relocating if she wants to continue an invaluable relationship with Adam, the original home town hero.

Abby struggles as she continues to work deep in the breathtaking wilds of Central Florida while trying to ignore the menace of a serious and threatening stalker. Her task was to reexamine long held premises and prejudices while admiring the southern flora and fauna through the lens of her camera. Bird and nature lovers alert.

SHORT TEASER
Busted in Bird land. Still…what a calendar he would make with that uniform, that smile, those shoulders. She stifled a sigh of pure visual pleasure.

You had better stop it, Miss Smarty. He has the authority to fine and kick you out of the park permanently if he so chooses. Holy Moly– love a uniformed hunk!

Stoppit!

She stifled a giggle which was riotously rolling around deep inside her, threatening to break out. He continued to loom, gazing thoughtfully while she fidgeted in her warm nest sheltered by the dune. Surrounding them, the sporadic wind blew the smell of something baking in the sun. With her face turned upward and her eyes half-closed against the glare, she awaited her fate. She offered a weak smile while trying to bring into focus his face which was back lit by the bright sunlight. It couldn’t hurt, she thought, and tried for puppy dog eyes pleading for mercy.

“Leave this area, and I’ll forget your lapse of good manners–this time. Don’t let me catch you trespassing on restricted lands again. This is a nature preserve. Visitors may not wander about– especially during nesting season,” he added giving her a stern look. “And that goes for well-meaning, good-looking, lady photographers as well.”

Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.


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What Do You Do With the Mad You Feel?

by Elliott Baker

A couple of days ago, Sally and I had the pleasure of watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster and directed by Marielle Heller. In the movie, Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers. I am incapable of writing spoilers so I can’t speak about the plot of the film. Go see it. It’s different from what you think. Sally and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Fortunately, all of my generation had the privilege of watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” if not through our own child eyes, then through those of our children.

The first broadcast of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” took place on the National Educational Television network on February 19, 1968. I was already a teenager, and I remember thinking that the pace of the show was slow. I also remember thinking, “That guy can’t be for real.” Why did I think that, but perhaps more importantly, what caused me to change my mind? In 1980 I saw Mister Rogers through my son’s eyes and that image has stayed with me all my life.

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was broadcast from February 19, 1968 to February 20, 1976, and again from August 20, 1979 to August 31, 2001. It was almost like he came back on the air for our three children. Our eldest was born in 1978. Two out of our three children watched the program and Sally and I loved the half hour we could use to do life other than children. Our daughter didn’t like The Neighborhood because she felt that Mister Rogers’ mother didn’t dress him properly if he had to change clothes every time he entered. Still, when I was home, the show would occasionally catch me and I’d sit with whichever little ones were glued to the set. My memory of those days was that Sally and I were both at a dead run juggling whatever momentous tasks that needed to be done. Why did I, a young adult, stop and watch Fred Rogers?

Most everything is new to the 2 to 5-year-olds which were the preschool ages Fred Rogers’ series was aimed at, even though it was labelled by PBS as “appropriate for all ages.” It might be said that children are unsophisticated about their choices of what to give their attention to. I don’t think that’s true, mainly because their choices followed a pattern and they often requested Mister Rogers. What they didn’t have was an unconscious experiential barrier to love, either giving or receiving. My first response to the show was “That guy can’t be real. He’s acting in order to catch an audience and maintain the success of the show in order to bring him more fame and money.” When I saw Mister Rogers through the eyes of my children and through their expressions, (I watched them watch him.) I saw the truth. Without the colors we add in through the bumps and mistakes of life, there’s just what is in front of us and we know it for what it is. The man in that sweater was exactly as my children saw him, a gentle soul teaching a child the benefits of kindness to oneself and others.

As children we lust after the power of the adults in our lives. We are hurt and the hurts scab over, but remain with us informing our lives and our search for acceptance. We learn what to do with mad from our heroes whether they’re heroic or not, whether we love them or hate them. Anger comes from fear and only from fear. We are never angry about the things we love. Anger is a signpost of an injury along the way. Acceptance leads to forgiveness which is the only true healing we can exchange.

That was Fred Rogers’ gift to us. His ability to surmount appearances and portray genuine acceptance. I wonder that the ability to accept others wasn’t the first and most powerful tool that allowed us to survive in a dangerous world. The only reason homo sapiens managed to survive a vicious primitive environment was their aggregation, not their aggression. Individually, tools notwithstanding, we were helpless. Together we were more powerful than the carnivorous fauna that surrounded us, more tenacious than the environmental disasters that beset us. Being accepted by the group implied the opportunity for survival, rejection was a guarantee of death. Those early motivations are still resident within each of us like old outdated programing, and in fear, we lash out at any attempt to challenge the group that has deigned to accept us. No matter the underlying motivation of the group originator. Even if the group’s destination is eventual destruction, we can’t seem to disobey that prime directive. Belong or die.

In his gentleness, Mister Rogers taught power, real power. There is such power in forgiveness and compassion. Forgiveness causes structural change, long lasting change whereas anger and its effects are always temporary. If compassion is forgiveness for the self you see in others, doesn’t its exercise release us from our own fears at the same time? Doesn’t it make our load lighter and the road easier to navigate? We all suffer from the belief that we are powerless no matter how many missiles we command. To an adolescent, adults have power in that they can compel behavior using the threat of bodily or psychological injury. And, as adolescents, we lust after that power. We use all kinds of behaviors to compel others to accept us. That strategy which often appears to work in the short term, always fails in the end because while we may have destroyed the self we see in others, that short lived victory has not given us the ability to accept ourselves. In fact, it reinforces our nonacceptance and without that self-acceptance, the world remains in ego colors of black and white, good and bad.

Fred Rogers was a shining light dispelling the darkness of that youthful inability. He wasn’t a saint. He was from our neighborhood. That we’re having difficulty accepting ourselves now does not mean that we can never do so. We do not live in a black and white world no matter how we choose to see it. Yet we all participate in thought conventions that use that limiting paradigm. Good or bad. My father-in-law, a man very much in the mold of Fred Rogers once told me a story about a young man in Russia at the turn of the century. I’ll shorten the story, but you’ll see the thread.

This is a universal story and my father-in-law set it on a Russian farm. One day, the farmer’s horse ran away. The neighbors commiserated with him saying, “Such bad luck.” “Who knows,” replied the farmer. The next day, the horse returned bringing three other wild horses with it. The neighbors came over. “Such good luck,” they said. “Who knows,” replied the farmer. The next day, while trying to rope one of the wild horses, the farmer’s son was kicked and his leg broken. “Such bad luck,” said the neighbors. “Who knows,” replied the farmer. The Russian army heard of the horses and came to collect them. While there they asked to see the farmer’s son who they intended to recruit. They needed more fodder for the front lines.

A world of color is so much more exciting. The complexity of our world is frightening because our personal knowable resources are shrinking against the total knowledge available. It is this fact that threatens our survival more than any carnivorous fauna could. It is also the reason why it’s imperative that we learn to accept each other in larger groups than our current tribes. No matter how it may look, the only way to accomplish this is one at a time until eventually the one becomes all.

There are many Mister Rogers among us. They don’t speak loudly. We have to quiet our egos and listen to hear them, but they all tell us the same message. What to do with the mad you feel. Thank you, Mister Rogers, for reminding me I can do better.

Buy Links

 

Award winning, international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy.

A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott’s Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.

 


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Power of the Witch: Curses, Spells, & Love

opened book

Photo by Joy Marino on Pexels.com

by Leigh Goff

The light of Protection, I carry it strong.

No ill wishes or trouble, can come along.

You cannot harm me, or weaken my soul.

My light is my weapon, and peace is my goal.

–Author Unknown

What is a witch, but a powerful woman? In my stories what makes her powerful is more than magic. It is the willingness to sacrifice herself for the ones she loves. It is the ability to face her fears with courage she didn’t know she had. It’s also having the heart to tap into her talents when needed, and if that includes spell casting and curse breaking at any cost, so be it.

Because of interest in the witches’ spells in my books, I compiled a few from Disenchanted and Bewitching Hannah to share. In my upcoming novel, KOUSH HOLLOW, the magic comes from the women of the bayou–it embodies the mysticism of the Deep South and is no less powerful.

DISENCHANTED

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Credit-Onirography.com

Sixteen-year-old Sophie Goodchild from the wickedly wonderful town of Wethersfield, Connecticut struggles with her magic as she finds forbidden love along with a centuries-old true love curse. Here are a few spells, some spoken in Latin, from Disenchanted.

“Expedio” and “Sejungo.” Sophie casts these Latin words early in the story when she’s struggling to make her magic work.

“Illuminaire.” As Sophie tries to muster a flash of brilliant light, she fumbles with her spell, so it only stirs fireflies to flash their tiny lights.

“Ictus.” Sophie hopes for a windstorm when she encounters a boy who should be her family enemy, but she’s love struck and only flower petals rain down on her and Alexavier.

“Flos.” Trying to craft an herbal potion for aging, she wishes for the necessary seed to sprout, but she must will it with everything in her along with speaking this Latin word to summon its growth.

“Verum.” Sophie casts this spell on the boy she thinks she must hate, but instead of him speaking the truth, a heart shape appears in the bark of a mulberry tree trunk behind him. The tree is significant in this story as it is in Pyramus and Thisbe. They are the ill-fated couple, like Romeo and Juliet, and they planned to meet under a mulberry tree.

“Summon spirits in flames from hell. Sacred trees and blood dispel. From my heart I chant the spell, to bid thy true love curse farewell.” As Sophie strengthens her skills she must face the final challenge of breaking her family’s curse, cast by her wicked Wethersfield ancestor three hundred years ago.

Semper memoriam tui delebo Diamond”- She commands Judge Mather to forget about the rare red diamond used as a blood charm that has caused so much trouble.

“Relego.”-After ingesting wolfsbane, a deadly poison, Sophie struggles to bring her true love back from the brink of death, knowing she herself cannot live without him.

BEWITCHING HANNAH

When an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful Chesapeake witch and the impending death of another, sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald realizes she can no longer repress the magic that has taken away so much. There’s also the Grey witch’s Arundell Curse plaguing Hannah and her mysterious love interest, W.

“By the power of fire, I do summon and churn, and call thee forth to blaze and burn.” Hannah casts this spell, needing heat from her hands to burn through a seatbelt when she’s trapped in a fiery wreck.

Her frenemy, Arora, demonstrates her dark magic when she captures an insect and kills it with this spell, “By my command and desire, your pesky little death I require.”

“Something black and spry, multiply and then you die.” The dark-hearted Arora casts a different spell on a black widow spider and as the original dies, she says, “There’s always a price to pay.”

The nefarious Emme using magic to fight with Hannah says, “For the trouble you have inflicted on me, double shall I inflict on you.” She snaps Hannah’s icy doppleganger statue in half and Hannah doubles over in agony.

Arora clasps her fingers around a small gray rock and says, “Solide à slither est mon désir, un changement de forme, je ne demande.” She drops the rock and it turns into a hissing snake as it hits the ground.

KOUSH HOLLOW

As Jenna Ashby, the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior, is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive New Orleans social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow. She’s also cursed with her cold, narcissistic mother, Rayna, who’s ambitions are limitless.

In the excerpt below, Jenna is drawn to the local Voodoo priestess, Mama Ismay. She watches her craft a mystical potion using bayou magic, but Jenna is left with more questions than answers when she sees what’s in the mysterious aquarium.

KOUSH HOLLOW EXCERPT

Mama Ismay reached for another bottle. The blue-green liquid within shimmered. “From da horseshoe crab.” She dripped the blood into the malevolent liquid. From a bowl, she scooped silver-colored flakes and tossed them into the flames followed by a fistful of fine blue crystals.

I had to know. “Copper chloride?”

Feu bleu. Blue fire.” Orange flames flashed to a cerulean blue and burned hot enough to heat my face from a distance. She sprinkled a fine pink powder onto a conch shell and held it over the fire for a few seconds while chanting.

“What are you saying?”

She raised the shell over her head. “I am summonin’ da magic of my ancestor spirits who came before me.” She dropped the whole shell into the pot and turned to me.

I lifted my eyebrows with surprise. Did she really believe she could summon magic from dead people?

“How did you find us?” A crease appeared between her brows. “I doubt our location was given readily.”

 I stared, mesmerized by the mystical concoction, steam rising from its gurgling depths as it reduced over the crackling, blue fire. “I, um, did my research.”

“Dat’s what scientists do, no?”

I wasn’t sure about her so-called magic, but she was using quite a bit of science herself with that potion. Her expression left me wondering. “I know we don’t know each other that well, but you look like there’s something troubling you.”

“You shouldn’t have come here.” She covered the pot with a grassy cloth and headed to a another room. I followed.

“Why not? I had a lot of questions and I felt you were the only one to answer them.”

Next to a chair covered in oyster shells was an antique aquarium with beautiful, brass seahorse legs and brass oyster-shaped lights that illuminated the water. Within the water delicate, glass spheres the size of golf balls in varied pastel hues floated up and down in a slow, rhythmic pattern, never reaching the surface. I stood over it for a better look. An unexpected wave of heat rose up and warmed my cheeks.

“What is this?”

She snatched a dried, green strip from the table next to her and snapped off a mouthful. “Sea grass jerky. Want a piece?”

“No thanks.” My gaze returned to the mysterious floating balls. “I mean, why are there balls in a fish tank and what’s in them?”

“What do you think is in dem?”

“Don’t know. Balls filled with air would follow Archimedes’ principle—they would float because buoyant force caused by water pressure is stronger than the force of gravity pulling down on the balls. However, those are going up and down without reaching the surface.”

She turned her focus on the aquarium. “Da balls contain somethin’ more precious dan air.”

My gaze shifted to hers. “Rare fish species’ eggs?” Was the aquarium an incubator?

“No,” she said, sounding anxious. She stepped closer and hovered her hands over the water and when she turned back to me, her cheeks were flushed with color.

Purchase Links

KOUSH HOLLOW

The Parliament House

Amazon

DISENCHANTED Purchase Links:

Amazon

B&N

Mirror World

BEWITCHING HANNAH Purchase Links:

Amazon

B&N

Mirror World