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.

unnamedBUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble


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Koush Hollow: A Witch Riding Nightmare

unnamedLeigh Goff’s newly released YA Southern Gothic novel is titled KOUSH HOLLOW, which is the fictional town outside New Orleans where the story takes place. The name was inspired by the word cauchemar and it’s Southern meaning.

Koush is a derivative of cauche, which means a terror that comes in the night. In French it means to press or trample. The word mare comes from Old English and means an incubus or night-goblin. In southwest Louisiana cauchemar has another meaning. It refers to a witch-riding, a supernatural attack while one sleeps.

Various cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas have different names for this phenomenon that has been experienced over the centuries. In seventeenth century North America, victims of accused Salem witches suffered from these witch-riding nightmares. The same kind of attacks are mentioned in present-day Southern folklore. The terrifying supernatural event occurs in the moments before waking up when one tries to move, but cannot. The paralysis is blamed on the supernatural and described as a feeling of pressure on one’s chest as if a demon were sitting on it or as if a witch were riding the person.

Unknown-1Some believe the evil creature sucks the breath out of its victim while slowly killing them. During this sleep paralysis, victims claim to be choked or prodded with the creature’s claws, and they are filled with panic until the creature disappears into thin air. Some believe there is no meaning to the event while others believe it is a warning to seek forgiveness for one’s sins. The painting by Johann Heinrich Fuseli aptly titled The Nightmare depicts a cauchemar with a demonic creature posed on a woman’s chest while the horse in the background stares wide-eyed with fear on its face.

As KOUSH HOLLOW is set outside of New Orleans in a place where bayou magic abounds, dreams are frightening, and beauty masks the real monsters, it’s a well-suited title.

BLURB
Beauty is a curse on the world for it keeps us from seeing who the real monsters are.”

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. 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.

EXCERPT

The excerpt below comes from Chapter 1 of Koush Hollow. The sixteen-year-old main character, Jenna, seems to have a waking nightmare where an interesting creature appears, but only to her. Is it real or is it a dream?

Tap, tap.
My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.
“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten café lattes.”
“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”
She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”
My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.
“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”
I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be.
“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.
I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”
We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.

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.

BUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble


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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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Heads Up YA Bloggers & Reviewers!

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The Parliament House is seeking bloggers and reviewers to review KOUSH HOLLOW, a YA Southern Gothic, before the August 25th release date!

If you’re interested, you can also join the official reviewing and release team. You’ll be taking on the books they publish, reading, reviewing, and publishing your opinions on your source of blogs. They ask that you please post to your Goodreads accounts, Amazon account, and then to where ever you personally blog/post; whether that is Instagram, Youtube, or your own written blog. Reviews are a key part in independent authors gaining readers and having their books land in the furthest places around the world.

KOUSH HOLLOW

“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. 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. “
If you’re interested please sign up! Parliament House Sign Up Link


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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: 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.


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Bewitching Hannah–Fun Release Week Giveaway!

WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN!
Thank you for participating.
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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.

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

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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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 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.

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! 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

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.


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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. Purchase link: Amazon

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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