Leigh Goff

Young Adult Author


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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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Photo courtesy of
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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: 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!


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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.


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Maryland’s Royal Bloodlines Inspire YA Novel Set in Annapolis

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“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.

The Greys

images-8In 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.

The Fitzgeralds

Unknown-3In 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[1]. The troubled heroine in Bewitching Hannah, Hannah Fitzgerald, is fictionally descended from this bloodline and the earl’s magic courses powerfully through her veins.

Family Tree

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.

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More about Bewitching Hannah

51l+xEpRjJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_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.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Grey,_4th_(7th)_Baron_Grey_of_Codnor#cite_note-13


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Bewitching Hannah–Fun Release Week Giveaway!

WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN!
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I’m feeling particularly excited because my new YA novel, BEWITCHING HANNAH, which is set in Annapolis, released yesterday!
 
To celebrate the launch, I’m hosting a Book Selfie Contest! I will be giving away a bewitching mug filled with chocolate treats, a bookmark, and a $20 Amazon gift card along with a signed paperback copy of BEWITCHING HANNAH to two lucky winners. (If the copy you use for the selfie is yours then you can give this copy to your book club buddy, teacher, fave librarian, or niece.)
 
Starting this week through October 7th, anyone including you, who posts a BEWITCHING HANNAH book selfie (paperback or e-reader) on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram along with #BewitchingHannah is entered to win. The prizes go to readers in the U. S. or Canada with the best/most creative/unique book selfies.
 
Here’s a suggested tweet/post (you can also come up with your own, and don’t forget to attach your book selfie!):
 
Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 9.04.39 AMI’m celebrating the release of BEWITCHING HANNAH! Share your Bewitching Hannah book selfie to win. #BewitchingHannah #Giveaway
 
I’m hoping you’ll participate, and if you think of anyone who might like to join in, feel free to share this post. (If you’re selfie shy, snap a photo of BEWITCHING HANNAH with your fave pet, friend, or pumpkin latte.)
 
If you haven’t already ordered your copy, you can click here. Don’t worry–there’s still time! The winners will be chosen October 8th.


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A Bewitching Literary Tour of Annapolis

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 lettered locations on the map are listed below and I’ve included a few others in the book that are not on the map.

Sixteen-year-old Hannah makes a lot of stops along Main Street, so why not pop into the Historic Annapolis Museum Store at 77 Main Street (A on the map) to learn more about historic downtown Annapolis. Then head to McGarvey’s Saloon & Oyster Bar (B). McGarvey’s, a dockside restaurant, is where Hannah orders an Annapolis favorite–crab dip pretzel (click this link for the recipe).

The next stop is close by. Every Annapolitan knows that Ego Alley (C) is 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.

Next stop, the beautiful James Brice House (D) on East Street. The house was built in 1766 and 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. Fortunately, this wicked witch is replaced by the affable Mr. Robert Clark who actually heads Historic Annapolis today. Hannah makes a few stops here to deal with her nemesis and even peers into the gardens at William Paca House (E).

great_hallHannah and her quirky aunt attend a Chesapeake witches meeting at McDowell Hall (F) 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?

St. Anne’s Episcopal Church (G) 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.

Unknown-10Charles Carroll House (H), 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.

Hannah visits 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.

Unknown-1There is one stop outside of Annapolis that is worthy of a shoutout in Bewitching HannahBaltimore 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.

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.

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.

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If you’d like to follow in Hannah’s footsteps, you can purchase a copy of Bewitching Hannah at Amazon.com and visit downtown Annapolis. For more information on the historic sights, click here.

Exclusive Excerpt:

“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?”


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Hey MD/VA/DC Libraries, Bookstores, & Schools–Join the Read Local Challenge!

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The Read Local Challenge, presented by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), is a reading incentive program featuring traditionally-published books by authors and illustrators who live in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Schools, classes, book clubs, and even individuals can win autographed books and free Skype visits from authors by reading picture books, middle grade, or young adult books by local authors between October 2018-May 2019.

This October and November, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is also offering schools the opportunity to host a FREE Read Local kickoff party with one or more of the authors, including myself, featured in the challenge. For more information and a full list of the challenge books, please visit SCBWI Read Local Challenge or email mddewvpal@gmail.com.

*Bewitching Hannah is included in the 2018-2019 challenge, as well! To purchase a copy please click here.

 

 

 

 


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BEWITCHING HANNAH–Unleashing the Magic in Annapolis

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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.


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Powers of the Witches Rise: The Chesapeake Witches

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.

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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