FINDING MR. RIGHT from Leigh Goff How do you know he’s the one? I’m a firm believer in one’s intuition. It’s the hidden sense that isn’t based on logic, but comes to us in rare moments of need. Call it a gut-feeling that many of us have had. It’s an understanding that comes from within and there’s no need to question it. I’m speaking from experience so when your inner voice says he’s a good guy, it might be worth listening. In my latest novel, Koush Hollow, Jenna falls for the local bad boy, but he isn’t so bad once she gets to see him more clearly. He’s passionate about the bayou, he cares about Jenna because he see beyond her troubling environment, and he’s honest in how he speaks. Ultimately, he makes Jenna want to be a better person and to strive to be more than a Pearl in her mom’s superficial social club. Here are my top five signs that he’s the one for you, and if these signs aren’t obvious and your intuition isn’t talking, I’ll explain. 1- He’s interested. He makes romantic gestures to let you know he’s into you. He sends you a bouquet of your favorite flowers. He leaves notes on your car windshield to cheer you up. He holds your hand when he senses you’re nervous. This means he isn’t afraid to show you that he wants more time with you. 2- He makes you laugh. Laughter is one of life’s simple pleasures. It could be a funny comment he makes when you wake up, or a silly joke he tells your friends over pizza. He’s a funny guy and he looks at life with a great sense of humor. He makes you want to spend time with him. It’s another sign that he’s interested in you. What’s not to like about that? 3- He remembers what you like. This is a gimme. You mentioned your favorite flavor of ice cream months ago at a Christmas party, surrounded by friends and loud music. You didn’t even know he heard you. Then, when you least expect it and you’re hiding at home with a terrible sore throat, he shows up with a pint of blueberry cheesecake gelato and you know this guy is something special. 4- He’s a good communicator. He makes good eye contact, he listens, and he asks questions. He doesn’t let you walk away from an argument without resolution. He knows it’s healthy to have different opinions, but it’s really healthy to talk them through and meet somewhere in the middle, and if that’s not possible, he’s okay to agree to disagree. Life gets tough and you need someone with good communication skills. 5- He makes you want to be a better person. You watch how he interacts with children, animals, and waiters and his kindness inspires you to be a bit more patient, smile more, or give a bigger tip, if you can afford it. He makes the world a better place to live in and you want to be by his side doing the same thing. Here is my Hope Chest Recipe just so you're ready when the right he walks into your life. Mr. Right’s Chicken Dinner 1 Whole chicken plus 2 chicken breasts 1 Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing 1 stick of butter 1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken 1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom 2 cans of chicken broth Preheat oven to 350° F. Boil chicken and breasts for 20-30 minutes. Shred meat from the bone. Melt butter in a pot, then add stuffing mix. In a separate pot, add soups and broth and heat. Use a 9 x 13 dish to layer half the stuffing on bottom, shredded chicken, soup and finally the remaining stuffing. Cover dish with foil and then bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes. Here's a little from my book to peak your interest.Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters...is deadly.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.EXCERPT Hayden shook his head. “I shouldn’t expect someone like you to care.” “Like me? I’m not so different from you.” He cocked his hands on his hips and stared into my eyes. He concentrated, searching for something. “Jenna, what if that were true? How would that fly with your Pearl friends?” “What are saying?” “The night of the beach party—you stayed under the water for minutes. I thought you were drowning.” His gaze lowered to my mouth, sending a warm flutter of butterflies inside me. “Maybe you’re more like me than you ever thought possible.” Surprised, I pressed a hand to my stomach. I glanced back at the yacht club. “I-I have to go.” I stumbled into a walk. My mind raced. What was that look he gave me? He followed after and grabbed onto my hand. Lightning flickered from his touch and ignited my nerves. The shiver ran the length of my arm and down to my toes. My heart raced. I turned and looked at him. I wanted to feel his eyes on my mouth again. He held me fixed in his gaze. “Promise me if you decide to become a pearl girl, you’ll do it as an informed person.” His tone was deadly serious. Right there, I felt the weight of his concern. I dropped my gaze. “Hayden, I’m too smart to be a part of something that is ethically bankrupt and environmentally dangerous, if that’s what you’re worried about.” “Don’t let them change you into one of them.” I touched my hand to his cheek and traced the line of his jaw. “Do you think my mother and her friends are really part of a pollution conspiracy and a murder cover-up?” I asked referring to his childhood recollection. “Do you think I’d ever want to be a part of that?” He considered my argument for a brief second. “This is bigger than you, Jenna. It will suck you in, if you let it.” Mama appeared behind me, interrupting the discussion. “Everything okay here?” “Fine.” I breathed in and out as quietly as I could, waiting for my racing heart to settle down. “Hayden, this is my mother, Dr. Crossland. Mama, this is Hayden Black. We’re classmates and we were discussing a history assignment.” She dissected him with her eyes and everything about her expression told me she did not approve.
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.
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The mystery guest interview today is with Jenna Ashby, a self-described cool eco-warrior from Koush Hollow.
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.
What 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.
Who 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.
What 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.
Speaking 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.