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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Author Leigh Goff who shares with us about a witch’s supernatural spirit companion.

A witch’s familiar is her lucky charm. What is a familiar or a familiar spirit? A familiar is a witch’s mascot; her supernatural spirit companion that takes the form of an animal, but an animal with its own magical powers. This special creature is a guardian and protector, lending support to its witch when needed and, if she is young, guiding her as she comes into her powers.

In witch lore, the creature is usually represented by the oh-so-clever black cat, but the familiar takes a form that best represents the individual nature of the witch. Dogs, birds, and mice are also popular familiars. A familiar can be as small as a butterfly or as big as an elephant. Horses make excellent familiars, too. As an author who writes about witches, I am partial to ravens and crows. They are protective, intelligent birds known for being excellent messengers.

Famous familiars include…Thackery Binx cat of Hocus Pocus, Salem Saberhagen from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Perdu the magical raven in The Witches of New York. I feature Hannah’s beautiful white raven familiar on the cover of Bewitching Hannah. He is her brave messenger, Siris; a name that is a magical palindrome like Hannah.

Today, many witches and Wiccan practitioners have adopted the idea of having a supernatural servant spirit and guardian. Familiars serve as faithful protectors of a witch and her powers. Most importantly, they are loyal to the end.

Speaking of lucky charms, if you’re looking for a sweet treat to pair with one of my bewitching novels, I am including a super simple recipe from Delish.com below.

Enjoy!

Best Lucky Charms Treats

½ cup (1 stick) butter, plus more for pan

1 (12-oz.) bag mini marshmallows

½ tsp. kosher salt

6 cup Lucky Charms

Grease a 9″-x-9″ baking dish with butter. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add marshmallows and salt and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in Lucky Charms.

Pour into pan and smooth top, being careful not to pack cereal too tightly into prepared dish. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Here is a little from my paranormal fantasy for your reading pleasure.

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.

EXCERPT
The imposing entrance segued into the main part of the old family chapel. Shadows flickered across the white walls as candlelight streamed down from an ornate iron chandelier cradling clear-colored hurricanes. Angelic sculptures hung between the arched windows and beneath the cloud-painted ceiling that Michelangelo himself would have envied, four wooden pews graced each side of the aisle.

I tiptoed farther in and spotted another black-lined white envelope on the altar. I was definitely in the right place.

My fingers trembled as I traced the letters that formed my name. This was way beyond ordinary, but why and—more importantly—who?

“W?”

A hint of the Shadow’s amber and woods scent mixed with the faint candle smoke of the chapel. “No. Way.” I spun around ready to stomp right out of there.

In that moment, a heavy gaze fell on me and the air felt charged with electricity. I searched right and left, seeing no one. “W? Whoever you are, show yourself.”

“This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.” His potent voice reverberated off the walls and seemed to come from everywhere, including the inside of my head.

I locked my wandering gaze on the loft above the entrance where I spotted his silhouette. “Was leaving me in a burning wreck the hardest thing you ever had to do? Was it?” I raised my volume. “Who are you? Why did you leave me for dead?”

His intake of breath was audible. “I would never. I mean. I didn’t want to do that. I don’t.”

“Oh, lucky me.” I stuck my hands on my hips and tapped an impatient foot on the floor. “If you don’t want to finish me off, then you lured me here to do what, exactly?”

“To help you. I want to help you.”

“Ha!” The sarcastic laugh burst out before I could stop it. “You’ve done a bang up job inspiring my confidence and trust in that department.”

He simmered in silence for a moment. “What do I have to do to inspire you to follow my directions?”

Following someone else’s directions was definitely not my strength. I grimaced, but curiosity got the better of me. “What do you want?”

“You read the note.”

His desire to remain in the shadows was increasingly irritating. “I consider myself a very smart girl, so when a guy who left me in a burning car tells me he wants to help me take on a different deadly problem, I have to wonder if he’s not setting me up to fend for myself again. What’s your motive?”

I dropped my eyes to the envelope, turning it to and fro.

“Emme Blackstone is a mutual enemy and means us both harm.” A tinge of anger laced his tone.

The anger, I understood. After all, we were talking about Emme, but there was also a hint of sadness that intrigued me further. “Why do you think Emme means you harm?”
“It’s inevitable—because of what I am.”

What was he besides completely contemptible?

“It’s in her blood and I believe it’s in her destiny to wreak havoc, especially against someone who can challenge her in talent like you can.”

I dropped my hands to my sides, still clasping the enveloping. “Whoa. Like me? You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. How could you? I’ve been gone for the last year.”

A chortle caught in his throat. “What’s a year when you come from a bloodline with hundreds of years of history? A history that’s written down and available to certain people with the right—pedigree.”

Confused, I creased my brow as I continued to stare at his silhouette. “Have you been cyber-stalking me on Ancestry.com or something?”

“Hardly.” There was disdain in his voice as if he considered cyber-stalking to be worse than leaving a girl to die.

“Look, whatever you think you know about my family, I’m not like them. I’m not talented, and I don’t want to challenge Emme. I just want to live a normal life. Normal.” My voice escalated. “Do you hear me all the way up there?”

He huffed. “Normal? You don’t get to pretend to be normal when you’re not. It doesn’t work like that. Not in Annapolis. Someone always knows. Someone always unravels your secrets.”

I thought of the Witch’s Grave. I pictured the women’s slender figures dangling from sturdy, gnarled branches. Their tragic endings proved what I already knew. Magic only brought suffering and death. “You make it sound like I don’t have a choice. I’m telling you I do, and I won’t be a part of this.” I stomped my foot hard on the floor.

He shifted from the shadows into a dim ray of light, seething. “You read the note and you know Emme won’t stop. You need my help.”

I glared, trying desperately to make out the details of his face. “I don’t need anything from you.”

“You don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are a part of this. You know you are or you wouldn’t have come here. However, if that’s how you feel then you should leave.” The cold in his voice crystallized.

My pulse escalated. “Yup. That’s how I feel. And I’m only leaving because that’s what I want to do, not because you suggested it. Bye.” I marched to the door and wrapped my hand around the knob. I yanked it open. From the moment I’d first laid eyes on him, he’d been nothing but trouble. Horrible, awful trouble. However, as much as I hated to think it, he knew about me and the other witches in town. He was full of answers—answers I needed. I shut the door and turned back around. “How do you know all this about Emme and me?”

AMAZON BUY LINKS


Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Living with Type 1 Diabetes and The Cheesiest Spinach Casserole

by

Leight Goff

I am a young adult author with type 1 diabetes. Why is that little fact important? Maybe it isn’t, but it has shaped me as a writer, a mother, and a person, whether I wanted it to or not. I didn’t by the way. I have never shared this publicly as I am a very private person. However, this is important because I’m not the only person dealing with type 1. You see, my younger brother had been diagnosed at the age of fifteen with the same disease. I watched how it ravaged his body over a short period of time. I saw firsthand how it attacks—one tiny blood vessel at a time until there’s nothing you can do to reverse the damage. I also remember quite clearly my mother being afraid to help him. He was on his own and terrified.

Eight years after his passing, I was thirty-one, active, slender and continuing to lose weight even though my weekly running had slowed. I had developed an unquenchable, burning thirst, my fairly good vision was growing blurry, and my strong legs were cramping in the middle of the night. I knew in my heart what it was. I’d seen the symptoms in my brother a decade earlier. After three months of denial, I went to the hospital where I was diagnosed with what the doctors’ thought was type 2 diabetes. They explained I was too old to have type 1.

However, I was running twenty miles a week. I kept asking myself, “How could it be type 2?” My husband told me he could see how thin I’d gotten and was concerned the doctors were wrong. They insisted and put me on an oral medication that clearly wasn’t going to work. It didn’t. The antibody test came back positive and the fact was, my immune system had turned on me. The insulin producing cells in my pancreas were destroyed and would never return.

It was a death sentence as far as I knew. I, too, was terrified. I had a husband and two young children. I had a life I wanted to live for as long as I could. I knew the chronic disease would kill me, if I let it. If I let it. So, I committed to not let it destroy me like it had with my brother. I’m not kidding. I was scared to death, but the disease that had taken him wasn’t going to take me.

I went to my medical appointments, feeling so desperately alone. I also went to support meetings at my local hospital, which were actually the opposite of support. There I met with fellow type 1 patients who had refused to accept the disease and its mighty power and that scared the hell out of me. They hadn’t seen what the monster could do. After two meetings, I never went back. They seemed to be in denial and denial was not an option for me. If I encountered another type 1 at a social event, I latched onto them like they were a life raft, but none of them seemed to be on the same path as myself. I acknowledge that everyone with the disease has to come to terms with it on their own and figure out their own plan.

My plan was to respect the monster, and in return my diligence would keep the monster at bay so as to allow me to live as normally as possible. Day by day. Some days great. Some not so great. But good health was and continues to be my goal.

I started my healthcare regimen with old-fashioned syringes and vials, moved on to insulin pens, and finally graduated to wearing top-notch medical equipment in the form of an insulin pump and a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) in one of arms (I switch it to the other arm every ten days). After almost twenty years, the last ten with tubes and gadgets attached to me, I’m pleased to say I have no blood vessel damage to my eyes or kidneys. This is my life. For the rest of my life, but I’m thankful to have the technology to maintain my good health and I’m most thankful for the years my brother didn’t have.

Am I scared? Every single day I wake up summoning courage to face the day. Type 1 is truly a monster that never quits. I’ve dealt with other beasts in my life, some of them in my own family, but this monster is a killer waiting to snatch another victim. However, like in a fairytale the point of a monster is that it is meant to instill fear and test the hero. Will the hero face her fear and defeat the it? In my own story, I have faced my fear, my greatest fear, but until they find a cure for type 1 diabetes, I won’t be able to defeat it. In the meantime, I will continue to battle it every single day with strength and steadfastness.

As far as writing, I’d love to craft a story that features a character with type 1. In the meantime, I am inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates. Although I’m terrible at casting any magic of my own, I am descended from an 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. That’s pretty cool, right?

I am currently taking a charcoal drawing class and golf lessons to bring some new experiences to my writing. We’ll see how that goes! I have three published young adult novels, I am a member of SCBWI, and I graduated from the University of Maryland.

At present, I am working on a manuscript about a teen witch, Abigail, fighting for her right to practice witchcraft in a conservative southern town with a history of burning witches. As she finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of the Silver Moon Witch, trouble begins to find Abigail who’s discovering the witch’s story has dangerous parallels to her own life, especially when someone is watching, waiting to toss a match.

THE CHEESIEST SPINACH CASSEROLE

This is a healthy, low carb casserole that I enjoy making and it doesn’t raise my blood sugar levels!

20 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

4 oz. cream cheese, cut into small cubes

1½ cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

4 large eggs, beaten

¼ cup butter, melted

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine.

Spread mixture into an 8×8 baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the edges are golden and the center is set.

Serve immediately.

Recipe from THAT LOW CARB LIFE

Here’s a little from my latest novel to peak your interest.

Koush Hollow
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.

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

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.

BUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.

Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky.

You can find more information at www.LeighGoff.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Witch-Riding Nightmares

by

Leigh Goff

My YA Southern Gothic novel, Koush Hollow, is set in a fictional town outside New Orleans. The title was inspired by the word cauchemar and its Southern meaning.

Koush is a derivative of cauche, which means a terror that comes in the night. The French translation is to press or trample. 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.

The Nightmare, 1781 Johann Heinrich Fusilli

Some 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. Others 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 Fusilli 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. Here’s a little to intrigue you.

Koush Hollow:
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.

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
This excerpt is 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.

 

Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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