Leigh Goff

Writing Enchanting Ever-Afters ♥


Leave a comment

The Power of Read Local

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

7bc97-572ba2bannapolis2bmaryland2bphoto2bcourtesy2bof2bdeltatoast2bpixabay-1695972_640

Photo courtesy of
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: 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!


BUY LINKS

 

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.


Leave a comment

Eat Local ~ Read Local Book Festival at Cascades Library!

40920940_10156553007295688_5879110148554752000_n

Get a taste of homegrown writers and food sources at Cascades Library‘s Eat Local, Read Local Book Sale & Festival. The FREE third annual event features food trucks, live music, story times, raffles and more than 70 local authors selling and signing books. Bring the whole family and support the writers, businesses and artists in our community. Over 70 authors, including Leigh Goff will be on hand for the third annual celebration of local writers and food vendors. For a list of other participating authors visit https://bit.ly/2wMnNe5.

Enjoy live music from Laurie Blue and McKenzie Mees, and let the littles get decked out with Let’s Make a Face – Face Painting and Temporary Tattoos.

Food truck vendors include Blue City Food, Flavour, Jambalaya Bros. and PokeMan Truck.


1 Comment

Exciting New Release from Chris Pavesic!

Chris Pavesic, the Queen of Steampunk,just released the first book in a new mystery series. The twists and turns are pure Pavesic. Unquiet Dead is destined to be a best seller for this fine author. See for yourself.

When the Temples north of Chiaroscuro are burned and followers of the Sun Goddess are murdered, Catherine, a bard of the Ealdoth Temple, sets out to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. With only the help of a traveling group of minstrels and a retired fae investigator, Catherine must solve the mystery before more people are killed.

So saddle up your clockwork mount, buckle on your electro-dagger, and join Catherine as she finds herself pitted against members of her own Temple, rogue members of the Seelie Court, and a seemingly unstoppable army of undead.

In Chiaroscuro it’s important to keep the faith.

EXCERPT
Services were scheduled to commence in an hour, and Ernest needed to be ready. He struck a match and lit the first gaslight, watching the flame take hold and flare up. The light pushed back the shadows so parishioners were able to find their way to the pews without stumbling. He would extinguish the artificial lights right before the service so the effect of the sunlight illuminating the darkness hit with maximum impact as it flooded through the skylights.

The parishioners would marvel at how the Temple filled with the Goddess’s Holy Light just in time for the service. Ernest would marvel at the fact that none of them were smart enough to realize he flipped a switch on back of the altar to swing open mechanical shutters.

There was a religious stirring in Grand Marsh more powerful than anything Ernest had experienced in his ten years as a Sacerd. The services at dawn, noon, and sundown were packed. Few of the farmers went out to the fields. They worked in town on community projects or sat drinking at the tavern. Their wives remained in the town square, full of chatter, instead of staying on their farmsteads. Their thin voices filled the air. The youngest children were kept close while the teens clustered in protective packs far enough away to keep their discussions out of reach of their parents’ ears. But close enough to be in sight at all times. None of them wandered off.

Three times a day they filled the Temple, ready to hear his words. Faces tilted up to him. Man and woman, young and old. And none of his parishioners would confess why they were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they were neglecting their farms. They were afraid of speaking blasphemy. But he knew the reason, and it caused a lift in his heart that was not due to religious inspiration. They were scared, plain and simple, and it gave him hope.

Since being assigned to the far parish almost five years ago, a posting he saw as an end to the upward progress of his career in the Temple, he struggled daily to swallow his disappointment. It wouldn’t leave, and it was bitter. Bitter.

In this remote village, far from the bustle and industry of Chiaroscuro, the quality of his life, the texture of his life, changed. He longed for life in the city. The world seemed to have shifted into two zones. The pace of life for the city dwellers increased while people living in the countryside were being left behind.

Time’s arrow struck fastest through the densest populations. Sacerds assigned to any of the major cities made more connections and accumulated more power in a single week than he did in a year. Exerting influence was impossible when the spheres of power were spinning outside of his reach, moving too fast for him to see, let alone have an impact.

The wound to his pride stung the most. The elders had hurt his feelings. To be dismissed so easily, passed along so casually—it was like the swatting of an annoying insect. The Temple elders did not treat him as if he mattered, as if his family ties were consequential. True he was a third son, but of a noble line. And they assigned him to a rustic Temple to attend to common folk far below his station.

Very little was required of him here. Or, more precisely, very little of what he did here interested him. He burned to return to the central Temple and to be part of the intrigues and power shifts. This attracted him more than caring for the simple souls of farmers and shopkeepers. Power was why he joined the Temple, and what he was now denied.

But not for long. The thought clanged in his mind with undeniable rightness. Not righteousness. It was an important distinction. Would the Goddess sanction his actions? Probably not, but he was past caring about her approval. During all of the ceremonies, all of the prayer and introspection, he had never felt any divine presence. He had never witnessed any miracles, and doubted their existence.

But power, oh he had seen the existence of power. Political. Social. Religious. Whatever you called it really didn’t matter. Get enough people to follow you. Enough people to believe in what you were selling. This was the belief that could move the world.

There was only one woman in his life he needed to please now, and she held no divinity. Merci had offered him a way out of this rural purgatory, and he had accepted. Truth be told, he had grabbed at it like a castaway might grab at a line from a passing airship. If the price were the damnation of his soul, so be it.

He glanced out the window at the transport coming down the lane. A high quality clockwork carriage with the Temple’s Crest stamped on the doors rattled over the boards strewn across the irrigation ditch and stopped, parking in the speckled light cast by the ornament trees planted along the lane. The carriage blocked traffic, but the driver did not seem to care. Elder members of the clergy, Hlytere, and above, felt they had the right of way. Others had to go around.

A pale, dark-haired woman emerged and stood for a moment looking around. She pulled the hood of her dark cloak over her hair and walked through the yard toward the Temple. Ernest’s gaze followed her, trying to imagine who this stranger was.

Her footsteps sounded in the aisle and, when he turned from window, she was almost upon him. Her speed startled him. When he saw her face to face he realized she was younger than he had supposed. Too young to be a Hlytere, but her use of the carriage meant she was favored by the Temple elders. The seed of jealousy radiated through him. He felt it in his chest and the pit of his stomach. He struggled to keep the emotion off his face.

“Greetings.” He shook her hand with a firm grasp. Her hands were small and smooth and white. “Will you come in for a moment?” He led her to the small reception room off the main area that contained a round table and several wooden chairs. He lit a cheroot, offered her one, which she declined, and they sat down.

“Please forgive me for calling on you so close to mid-day Services, Sacerd Ernest.” She paused. “You are Sacerd Ernest, correct? It’s not like me to presume.”

“Of course. I’m glad you came. I watched you drive up, you know, and I wondered who you were. We don’t get many visitors from the Temple here.”

“I’m surprised you don’t recognize me, cousin. Of course, I didn’t recognize you. So perhaps it’s not so surprising.”

“I’m sorry. I …”

“I’m from the cadet line of our family tree. My father is the elder son of the younger son of our line.”

His brow creased in thought. “Grace?”

“Yes,” she said with a smile, reaching out to touch his hand. Her fingers rested there for a moment too long. Lingered. And then she leaned back in the chair and crossed her legs, which were slim and bare beneath her robe.

Sacerd Ernest regarded his guest, wondering that her physical presence should suddenly dawn upon him so. She was more beautiful than he had thought at first. Her skin was clear and lovely, and her eyes and mouth were made up carefully and well.

What’s her game? He licked at the perspiration that appeared upon his upper lip.

“I would like your help in a small matter. And of course I wanted to meet you.”

“You did?”

“Our sponsor has spoken of you with such affection.”

“Our superior?” He used the wrong word to see if she would correct him.
“Technically, I suppose, she may be yours. I’ve never thought much of the rules of hierarchy in the Temple.” She cocked her head, listening to noises from the other room. Some of his parishioners had started to file in for the service. “It’s such a mercy, isn’t it?’

Ah, code words.

She must think she’s being clever, although he had no idea who could possibly overhear their conversation. It was only just dawning on him why she must be here. In his town. In his Temple. But he didn’t care. All he wanted to do was get out of Grand Marsh. Get back to Chiaroscuro. It didn’t bother him that people, his parishioners, may die, or suffer a fate worse than death. He just wanted to get out.

It’s not my fault if I’m following orders.

But that was a poor excuse, wasn’t it? Guilt flared, hot and strong.

Do you want to stay in Grand Marsh forever? Ministering to the townsfolk? Do you?

No … but he didn’t want to hurt people. Those conflicting thoughts pulled at him. There was the question of right and wrong. What was right for him might go wrong for others. But that was the way it had to be.

Thus he banished the guilt. When something inside of him tried to protest again, tried to tell him to think before he did this, he smothered it.

“When?” He didn’t have any time for nonsense. The quicker it occurred, the quicker he resumed his rightful place.

“In two days. I have some items in my transport that need to be set up in the Temple, but kept out of view.” She smiled and spoke a little louder so that the earliest arrivals overheard her. “I wish I could stay to help with the Mass, but I am needed back in Chiaroscuro.” She lowered her voice. “Officially I never left the city.”

“Of course.” He guessed that she had no desire to partake in the service. “I will help you with whatever you need.” Whatever may come of it, he had gone too far to stop now.

Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.


Leave a comment

Bewitching Hannah–Fun Release Week Giveaway!

WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN!
Thank you for participating.
ADBHbookmark
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.


5 Comments

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 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).

great_hallHannah 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.

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.

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.

Unknown-10Charles 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.

51l+xEpRjJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_BUY LINK

If you’d like to follow in Hannah’s footsteps, please 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?”


2 Comments

Leigh Goff–Writing & Thriving With Type 1 Diabetes


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 a Medtronic 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.

img_3157The 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! By the way, reading is just as important to your writing as writing is.

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

bhcoverartbevel-2Bewitching 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.

Boom.

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.


Leave a comment

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

Unknown-4

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.