There is a social trend of ‘local first’ movements spreading around our nation that
focuses on improving local economies and supporting communities from within. Supporting local, whether it be farms, shops, authors, or restaurants is a great way for groups of committed people to affect change in their neighborhoods. One of these ‘local first’ movements is called Read Local.
Read Local benefits the community and makes communities unique. An example of this is Maryland author Nora Roberts who has her own foundation that supports literacy, and she also donates to programs with local organizations being a priority.
When I wrote my second YA novel, Bewitching Hannah, historic downtown Annapolis inspired me. With my published novel, I wanted to highlight what makes my town unique with the hope of making it more of a destination than it already is. I included popular sights and historic houses as the settings where much of the action takes place. The feedback I received from local readers was that they wanted to visit or revisit the places they’d read about in my book so I created a literary tour for them that included all the sights I used in my novel. Here’s a link to the self-guided tour: https://leighgoff.com/2017/08/31/a-bewitching-tour-around-historic-annapolis/
There are many libraries that recognize the significance of this movement. Cascades Library in Potomac Falls, Virginia is one of them and they are hosting their third annual Eat Local/Read Local event this September 29th from 10am to 1pm. I’ll be there selling, signing, and donating books.
The Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) created a Read Local Challenge that I participate in, as well. This particular local challenge begins every September and lasts through the school year. It gives local authors a chance to do book signings, Q & As and presentations at participating schools, libraries, homeschool groups, book clubs, and scout troops. Participants that read the most books on the list become eligible to win prizes including a prize pack of signed books. If you’re a teacher, librarian, or a book club leader click here for more information: https://mddewv.scbwi.org/files/2016/09/Read-Local-2018-19-Book-List.pdf.
Literary artists need their community and the community needs its artists. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Let’s READ LOCAL!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I love writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what I like to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, I now live in Maryland where I enjoy the area’s great history and culture.
I am a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I am also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. My debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. My second novel, Bewitching Hannah, is a young adult fantasy set in historic Annapolis.
“Till so for ways of witchery,
And arts of darkness famed
In all the land, that he at last,
‘The Wizard Earl’ was named.”
—The Wizard Earl-A Legend of Kilkea Castle
Anyone familiar with Maryland’s history will recognize the surnames Calvert and Arundel, after all numerous parks, historic sights, and streets bear the names, especially in Annapolis. However, not many people realize these historic Maryland families are connected to a centuries-old legacy of royalty, witchcraft, and alchemy.
In the 1400s, Henry de Grey, 4th Baron Grey of Codnor, and the fountainhead of the Grey family, was an avid alchemist, going so far as to garner the King’s permission to transmute mercury into precious metals. In 1478, the king appointed Henry de Grey as the Lord Deputy of Ireland. He was also a distant blood relation to Queen Jane Grey.
Elizabeth Woodville, an infamous witch whose first husband was John Grey of Groby, produced a son from that marriage–Thomas Grey, the 1st Marquess of Dorset and two daughters, one of whom was Lady Eleanor Grey who married Sir John Arundell. They are the royal ancestors to Maryland’s Arundel and Calvert families and the fictional ancestors to the enchanting trio, the Queen Js and the mysteriously scarred William Calvert in Bewitching Hannah.
Elizabeth Woodville went on to marry King Edward IV and became the Queen consort of England. The TV series, The White Queen, is based on her life. Their daughter, Elizabeth of York, became the Queen consort of England and the mother of King Henry VIII.
In 1530, Henry de Grey’s descendant, Lady Elizabeth Grey, the granddaughter of the witch Elizabeth Woodville, married the 9th Earl of Kildare, who was rumored to be a warlock. They produced a son, Gerald FitzGerald, the 11th Earl of Kildare, who is referenced in the poem above. He was commonly called the Wizard Earl for his fascination with alchemy, metallurgy, and ancient magic. He was also known to have magical powers, which allowed him to transform himself into a blackbird. The FitzGerald bloodline claims the magic from Áine, the Irish goddess of summer. She is associated with the Fitzgeralds through marriage to the 3rd Earl of Kildare. The troubled heroine in Bewitching Hannah, Hannah Fitzgerald, is fictionally descended from this bloodline and the earl’s magic courses powerfully through her veins.
The magic and royal connections of Maryland’s Calvert and Arundel families have left lasting marks on the state’s history and inspired the creation of characters in Bewitching Hannah, which is set in present-day Annapolis. Attached is the family tree that shows the relationships of these historic figures to the book’s fictional main characters.
More about Bewitching Hannah
Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a royal legacy of dark magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead.
Engaged in a deadly game and not knowing whom her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she will survive, and if she loses, she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.
If you’d like to purchase a copy, please click here.
In my second novel, Bewitching Hannah, the reader can follow in my main character’s footsteps and relive her bewitching drama as it unfolds in present-day downtown Annapolis.
The first sight Hannah, a reluctant sixteen-year-old witch, encounters on her return to Annapolis is Witch’s Grave in Truxton Park. According to local lore, the crooked tree marks the burial site of three witches who were hung and buried there. She’s reminded that being a witch, even if she doesn’t want to be one, is a dangerous business with deadly outcomes–a lesson she learned from her parents’ fates.
The next stop is Main Street and McGarvey’s Saloon & Oyster Bar in downtown Annapolis. Hannah makes lots of stops along Main Street, including McGarvey’s, a dockside restaurant where she orders an Annapolis favorite–crab dip pretzel (click this link for the recipe).
Hannah and her quirky aunt then attend a Chesapeake witches meeting at McDowell Hall on St. John’s College campus. The exquisitely restored interior of McDowell Hall resembles a colonial meetinghouse, which creates an enchanting atmosphere for a coven gathering, wouldn’t you agree?
Hannah’s best friend, Mateo, is a boy of tribal Indian descent who is in touch with nature. He invites Hannah to join him at Quiet Waters Park to search for his animal spirit guide. During their adventure, she happens to find her witch’s familiar, a white raven. Ravens are known as messengers and this one symbolizes the fulfillment of a prophecy. Fun fact–the cover art for the book depicts this scene.
Beautiful Brice House on East Street, built in 1766, is featured in the novel because the head of the coven, Mallory Blackstone, is the fictional president of Historic Annapolis and those offices are located at Brice House. Hannah makes a few stops here to deal with her nemesis and even peers into the gardens at Paca House.
If you’ve ever driven over the Severn River Bridge from Annapolis you may have noticed the cliffs on your right. The Severn River cliffs and Winchester Pond are the backdrops for a tribal endurance test and a ferocious wolf attack. *Spoiler Alert–Hannah mysteriously survives the wolf attack with help from a mysteriously scarred Calvert descendant, but this only leads to more questions about the dark secret he’s hiding.
There is one stop outside of Annapolis that is worthy of a shoutout in Bewitching Hannah—Baltimore House at Riverdale Park. The reason this place is special is not because of the house, but rather the grounds. Several Calvert descendants are interred in the cemetery there and a few fictional witches from Annapolis take it upon themselves to unearth a Calvert family secret during their fiendish field trip. Click here for visitor information.
St. Anne’s Episcopal Church is the setting for a scene where a mysterious clue leads Hannah to William Bladen’s sarcophagus in the cemetery. FYI-William Bladen was the Attorney General who oversaw the last Maryland witch trial in 1712. Let’s just say all kinds of magic ensues.
Every Annapolitan knows that Ego Alley is the harbor downtown where seagulls flock above visitors’ boats and tourists follow the scent of Old Bay seasoning in search of steamed blue crabs. It’s also the perfect spot for Hannah’s two love interests to face off.
Charles Carroll House, situated behind St. Mary’s Church off Spa Creek, is the setting for the final climactic scene that begins with a celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Annapolis Tea Party. (Has anyone seen the The Burning of the Peggy Stewart on display at the State House? Yup–that tea party.) The coven prophecy calls for one young witch’s death…will it be Hannah’s? Under a spectacular blood moon lunar eclipse, Hannah discovers who her true enemy is at Charles Carroll House. She has to summon all her inner strength and magic, but she isn’t sure that will be enough to save herself and the ones she loves from her nefarious rival.
“Good. Now, I need you to deliver that.” My aunt gestured toward a pretty, white gift bag on the main counter.
“Sure. Rusty’s in the back, right?” The moped wore a coat of red flaky dust, but was a ton of fun to ride.
“You can walk. It’s not that far.”
“Where to?” I grabbed a broom from the back and swept up bits of snipped greenery and fallen petals. She reached in the pocket of her bell-bottom pants and handed me the name and business address.
“Mallory Grey Blackstone, Historic Annapolis offices at Brice House on Forty-Two East Street,” I said, reading the information out loud. “Her daughter’s Emme, right?”
“You met her?”
“At school today.”
“Her mother heads the historic foundation, among other things.”
I guessed that was how she knew so much about everyone that mattered, although I still didn’t know how we ended up on her VIP list. “Wait. Her middle name is Grey?”
“Yes, it’s her maiden name. Why?” Her tone implied unnecessary suspicion.
“Doesn’t her family have something to do with the urban legend of the Arundell Curse Mom told me about when I was little?”
She hesitated. “It’s historic lore more than urban legend.”
My eyes widened. “So you know it?”
A spark of knowledge glimmered in her brown eyes. “Yes, I know it. The night of October nineteenth, seventeen seventy-four, the Peggy Stewart ship laden with British tea was docked in Annapolis Harbor and set ablaze. During the tea party, a local patriot was injured. His love—a beautiful Fitzgerald witch, who happened to be your seventh great aunt—attended him. The head of the coven foresaw the offense and quickly discovered the young witch and her forbidden mate. She had broken a serious coven rule so the Grey witch cast the Arundell Curse upon the forbidden ordinary. The curse ensured that if the two stayed together their progeny would forever bear the horrendous scars of her transgression. The irony is that the Grey witch didn’t realize that by imparting the spell with such blackness in her heart she also cursed her own descendants. You see, the Arundells born bearing the curse feel terrible pain when they’re near a Grey. The only way to quell that pain is to remove the source of it…permanently.”
I shuddered. “I still have strange dreams about that story.”
She tilted her head. “You do?” There was a hint of nervousness in her voice.
Just last night, I thought. “Yeah. I never understood why Mom liked that one so much.”
“Maybe it’s because stories like that impart valuable lessons.” She frowned in grim silence. “Speaking of the Peggy Stewart, did you know the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Annapolis Tea Party is in a few weeks?”
I’m a wife, a mother, and a young adult writer with type 1 diabetes. I was diagnosed as an adult in 2001. My first novel was published in 2015, and my second novel, Bewitching Hannah, which is set in Annapolis, just released. I’m in the middle of a busy fall season full of book signing events that will challenge me to get out there and do my writer thing while keeping my blood sugar levels balanced and staying healthy.
On a daily basis, I’m home writing, which should be easy, but the challenge is staying vigilant when I get sucked into the writing zone because I lose track of not only time, but also my type 1 routine. Fortunately, my writing companion, a sweet golden retriever, lets me know when she’d like a walk, which is often—thank goodness! I also use an insulin pump and a Dexcom CGM (continuous glucose monitor). The insulin pump has been a godsend, especially when I have to travel long distances for book events, and although I’m fairly new to the Dexcom CGM, it has already had a fabulous impact on my life and my blood sugar.
The bigger challenge as a writer with type 1 is when I attend these amazing book fairs or author events where I’m gleefully busy for hours at a time interacting with readers and other authors. I have to remind myself to check in on how I’m feeling, which is difficult when you’re gushing with fans over your favorite authors and books, right?! At events like this, if I start to feel low or my CGM alerts me, I’ll take a break for a few minutes to take care of myself. I also bring bottled fruit juice with me, just in case.
In the past I’ve been asked to give advice to teens with type 1 who are interested in becoming writers. Here it is–most importantly, take care of yourself because a healthy writer’s mind requires a healthy body. Exercise in between writing sessions, make healthy food choices (as much as you can!), count carbs, and utilize technology to stay fit. The world needs all types of writers, especially you! Dream big and start writing about what you love. Take classes to hone your writing. There are lots of free writing tutorials online that you can take advantage of if you can’t afford a writing class. And finally, join a community of teen writers or join/create a teen book club (local libraries are a great source for this). Then you can read a book by an author with type 1 and invite them to Skype into your book club! Type 1 has never slowed me down or stopped me from doing what I love to do, and it doesn’t have to stop you, either.
The next big thing I have planned, besides completing my third young adult novel, is getting my next A1C results. Since I’ve only had the Dexcom CGM for a short time, for the first time in sixteen years, I can’t wait to see what a difference it has made.
To learn more about me and my writing adventures, click here. For a peek into my new book, read on!
Bewitching Hannah by Leigh Goff
Bewitching Hannah, which released September 17th, is a story about a sixteen-year-old girl named Hannah Fitzgerald who discovers an ancient prophecy that reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another. She soon realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that surrounds her in the historic town of Annapolis.
If you’re interested in ordering a copy of Bewitching Hannah, here’s the link.
Enjoy the exclusive excerpt…
A breeze swept through her cracked window, tousling runaway strands of chestnut brown hair across her prominent cheekbones.
“Yes, everything will be wonderful,” she said with certainty in her voice, but I wasn’t so absa-freaking-lutely sure.
Lightning flashed, followed by a rumble of thunder, jolting me alert. A tempest churned over the Chesapeake Bay and was rolling toward town. I stared at the clouds, ready to calculate how much time we had before the rain hit. Another bright flash of white-hot lightning forked across the purplish-black sky. One, two…twenty.
The storm was at least four miles away. I pressed a hand over my chest feeling the thumping slow.
I glanced at Aunt J, who was no longer bopping her head to the bad music. Instead, she blinked over and over, and rubbed her eyes with one hand.
“If you’re tired, I can drive.” Who needed a license when I’d already mastered a moped along with the Green Briar golf carts?
Her slender fingers searched for me as if I were a ghost she could only hear. She grasped my arm tightly.
“Hannah?” Panic drenched her voice.
My eyes widened. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t see. I mean, I see something, but it’s not the road. What’s wrong with me?”
I peered out the windshield. A distant telephone pole grew bigger as her foot stuck to the accelerator.
A frightening swell of adrenaline flooded my veins, sending my heart into a frenzy. “Stop!” I yelled, but she was frozen with fright. I grabbed the steering wheel and threw my leg over to jam on the brake pedal.
It was too late. Absolute silence fell over us in the grim second before we plowed into the pole. My lower body slammed into the dashboard while the seatbelt squeezed hard against my ribs. Metal groaned. White bubbles deployed. Glass shattered with a scream. Or maybe the scream was mine. The car groaned to a halt with a hiss and clank.
Stillness settled over us. My head was reeling as I checked myself for injuries. Bursts of pain sparked from my chest and leg.
“Hannah?” Aunt J’s quivering voice reached out.
I pried my eyes open. She had escaped her seatbelt. Her lips and hands were trembling, but I saw no blood or broken skin. Inwardly, I sighed with relief.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
I sucked in a shallow breath. “Me? Fine,” I managed, not wanting to stress her out, but I struggled to breathe and my left leg was wedged under the intruding dashboard.
She reached over, wiping her hands across my cheeks and forehead, dusting away crumbs of glass. She touched her trembling fingers to the seatbelt release and pressed on it, over and over. “Come on, dammit. Let go.”
I pushed her hand away, restraining a whimper. “It’s okay. Go get help.”
She nodded and with a hard push, shoved her door open. “I’ll be right back.”
A heavy silence fell over the car’s interior until a hiss sounded from the engine. Within seconds, the smell of burning oil seeped in through the vents.
One toxic breath went deeper than I meant it to. “Ow!” I coughed and writhed beneath the unyielding seatbelt like a five-year-old having a tantrum. Panic swept over me as I struggled for freedom.
Stress vibrated deep in my gut. Self-soothe, self-soothe, I reminded myself. The air grew thicker with burning oil and a starburst of pain wracked my body. I was going to die. Unless…
No. How could I even think it? There had to be another way because what if I couldn’t send it back? What if it took me to the same terrible place it had taken them?
I peered out the windows, searching. There was no one. I turned my focus on the glove box. Maybe Aunt J kept a knife in there or a pair of floral scissors. I pushed the button hard, again and again. Jammed. My heart raced.
A burst of smoke puffed into the car’s interior. I coughed and closed my eyes. The pressure on my leg intensified and the sickening fumes filled me with dread. Eff it. I balled my hands into fists.
I recalled the spell I’d overheard my dad utter once. I recited it in my head before casting, making sure I had it right.
My next enchanting novel, BEWITCHING HANNAH, is on its way from Mirror World Publishing! Mirror World has a reputation for publishing fantastic fiction, and I’m thrilled to be working with them again.
The young adult fantasy, set in present-day Annapolis, Maryland (lots of scenes are set at the historic sites in my hometown), focuses on Hannah Fitzgerald, a sixteen-year-old Chesapeake witch. And even if being a witch sounds super cool, it’s the last thing she wants.
Hannah, the thirteenth great-granddaughter of the Wizard Earl Fitzgerald, has always known she was descended from a royal legacy of dark magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W, a Calvert descendant, who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead.
Enemies will hurt her. Loved ones will make her vulnerable. And the impending prophecy that drives her to unleash her magic will cause her to unearth the sins of the past and doubt any promise of a future. Without knowing whom her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she’ll survive, and if she loses, she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.
The book is available now on Amazon. If you haven’t had a chance to read my first novel, DISENCHANTED, you can find it on Amazon, BN.com, and Mirror World Publishing.
The Chesapeake region is known for blue crabs, sailing, and the U.S. Naval Academy. However, Maryland’s past is cloaked in a dark secret–an intriguing and rarely mentioned history of witches.
In 1635, the state adopted the Witchcraft Act of 1604 that declared witchcraft a felony, punishable by death. Rebecca Fowler suffered the worst fate due to this law. She was accused by a fellow indentured servant of hexing him prior to an injury. She was arrested, tried by a jury, and hung at the gallows. Hannah Edwards faced similar charges, but luckily escaped the noose.
In 1665, Elizabeth Bennett (not that Elizabeth Bennet!) was caught making charms, casting enchantments, and delving into general sorcery. Philip Calvert, the fifth Governor of Maryland and the son of the first Lord Baltimore, charged her with witchcraft, but her neck was spared from the gallows by an acquittal. What’s ironic is that the Calverts were descended from the royal Grey bloodline (Queen Jane Grey’s family) who were known for delving into magic and alchemy. Also, another famous Maryland family, the Arundells (Anne Arundell married into the Calverts) were related to the Irish Wizard Earl, Gerald Fitzgerald, a famous magician and alchemist.
Around 1697, the Chesapeake witch, Moll Dyer of Leonardtown, was driven from her home when locals set it on fire. She raced into the winter’s night and died from exposure with her hand frozen to a boulder. According to witchlore, her handprint remains frozen in time and can be seen on the boulder as a reminder of darker days. The land where she lived is known to be cursed and reports of a woman’s ghost haunting the area abound.
In 1712, Virtue Violl starred in the very last state trial for practicing her craft. William Bladen, Maryland’s first Attorney General, oversaw the trial where she was charged with harming an elderly neighbor by striking her tongue lame, however, a lack of proof forced the jury to acquit her. Interesting fact–William Bladen is buried at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis on Church Circle. Sounds like a cool setting for a scene in a witch novel…hint, hint.
Ever heard of Witch’s Grave? Not many Annapolitans even know the place or the legend. A gnarled, slanted tree overhanging the bank of Spa Creek marks Witch’s Grave. At the base of the tree lies a crypt where three unnamed witches were buried. Local lore has it that two of them were hung and one was burned. Their tortured ghosts are known to haunt the area and anyone who summons them from their final resting place.
The Chesapeake area’s dark witch history inspires questions. Were these women deeply connected to nature or was there magic in their blood? Does Moll Dyer’s tortured spirit still search for the men who chased her out of her home? And is it possible the Chesapeake witches’ descendants quietly carry on the practice of their ancestors’ craft today, including the casting of spells and the breaking of curses? What I can tell you is this–I’m descended from a seventeenth century Chesapeake witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, and I love the idea of casting these kinds of powerful females into my enchanting ever-afters.
My upcoming novel, Bewitching Hannah (Fall 2017), is set in present-day Annapolis and will answer some of these unsettling questions.
Witch’s Grave, Annapolis, Maryland
Image of Annapolis from: http://www.tourist-destinations.com/2015/03/annapolis-md.html
Image of Witch Moll Dyer from: https://historywitch.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/moll3.jpg
Pictures of Witch’s Grave from: http://tobaccoland.blogspot.com/2011/03/witchs-grave-in-truxton-park-annapolis.html