Leigh Goff

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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.

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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.

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Parliament House Press

Amazon

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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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The Power of Read Local

There is a social trend of ‘local first’ movements spreading around our nation that

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deltatoast Pixabay

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/

bhcoverartbevel-2There 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: MD DE WV Read Local.

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!


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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.

Stay connected with me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.