Writing Advice From The Pros With Award-Winning Guest Author Catherine Castle – Don’t Repeat Yourself

I Have a New Castle!

by Catherine Castle

Have you heard the story about the goldfish? She was swimming in her bowl and passed the front entrance of the castle that decorated the small aquarium.

“Oh, I have a new castle!” she exclaimed. Then she went around the bowl again and spied the fortress once more.

“Oh, I have a new castle!” she exclaimed.

She went around again, and not remembering what’d she just seen she exclaimed once more, “Oh, I have a new castle!”

And again, “Oh, I have a new castle!”

And again, and again.

The moral of this story, beside the fact that goldfish have memories that only last for three seconds, is that you, the author, may forget you’ve written a particular piece, or pieces, of information in your story and repeat yourself. While you might not remember dispensing the information, you can bet, that like those of us who are laughing at this funny story, your reader will remember those words, phrases, and information that you’ve inadvertently added more than once.

Don’t get bent out of shape if you discover this in your work. It’s a natural result of writing a book over a long period of time. Most authors only write a few thousand words in any given day, and unless you’re writing a short story, blog post, or essay, it will probably take weeks, or months, before you’ve finished your project. With all the stuff that happens in between your times at the computer, it’s only normal you’d forget something you’ve already written, especially if you get in the zone and your muse or characters take over.


SO WHAT’S A WRITER TO DO?



Here are a few tips to help you catch those repetitions.

FOR REPETITIVE WORDS AND PHRASES:
• If you know you’re fond of certain words or phrases, and you use them a lot, make a list and do a search for them at the end of each day’s writing. A quick way to search is by using the find function of Microsoft Word. Type in the word, ask the computer to highlight all forms, and see how often you’ve fallen victim to repetition.

• Eliminate repetitive words and phrases as you go. By doing this you will make the chore less bothersome at the end of the book. A daily reminder of your trouble words will also help prime yourself to catch them as you work.

• Reread the previous day’s work (or even a couple of days work if you’ve been away for a long time) when you sit down to write. By keeping what you’ve written fresh in your mind, you will be less likely to repeat yourself.

FOR REPETITIVE INFORMATION:
• Keep a list of the important points/information you want to be sure to include in your story. When you’ve made that point, notate it, indicating where in the book you placed the information.

• Double check how many times your characters repeat a story or information. If the event or information they are revealing to another character has already been shown to the reader, if may not be necessary to repeat the whole story again. The author of Downton Abbey was a master at this technique. When something was being related to other characters that had happened in an earlier episode, he often had a one sentence referral to the incident. Enough to trigger the viewer’s memory, but not enough to bore one to death. For the written word, a simple She told him what happened at the skating rink and the character’s reaction to the story may be enough to get the point across without rehashing the information a second or third time.

• Consider becoming a plotter. When you draft your book’s scenes in outline form, chapter synopsis, or whatever works best for you (and follow them), the tendency to repeat oneself is reduced. Yes, you may still have to double check that you’ve eliminated those pesky repetitions, but you will find they are fewer and, hopefully, farther in between.

What tips do you have for eliminating repetition in your work?

Here’s a brief intro to my inspirational romantic suspense. I hope yo enjoy it.

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicably attracted to him, he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them by making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion, and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

Amazon Buy Link

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Thanks for reading,

Gina

Recommended Book Review – Newsletter Ninja: How To Become An Author Mailing List Expert By Tammi Labrecque (2018)

This book is required reading if you’re trying to build a newsletter.

Newsletter Ninja was recommended to me by Amy Tasukada, maven of Japanese-Influenced Gay Fiction. Amy knows her stuff, and she’s so nice you’d never guess how much she enjoys thinking of gritty gangster plots for her Yakuza Path series. *Shrugs.* That’s writers for you. Click on this link to see an example of what Amy learned and uses to grow her newsletter.

What makes Newsletter Ninja valuable is how entertaining it is, while being packed full of actionable information. Since I started following Labreque’s advice, I have gained more readers and sold more books. That’s what it’s all about.

I’ve been blogging, publishing, and had a newsletter for years, and it is this book and Amy Tasukada’s presentation that are why I’m seeing growth. No matter what stage you are in, this book will help you get to the next one.

I took 17 pages of notes when I read the book. I’ve reread those notes before sending out a newsletter because the passion Labreque describes comes through in her writing. She’s a heck of a writer.

Check out her Newsletter Ninja website for a taste and to see what she’s got going on there.

Here’s an insider tip of my own that helps me think about what to write in each newsletter – what am I talking to my family, friends, students, and colleagues about? How am I talking about it? That’s golden for me. Get conversational with your newsletter subs and let them get to know you, so they will want you to get to know them.

Speaking of newsletters…

*This post is not sponsored.

Writing Advice From The Pros: What To Keep & What To Let Go – Guest Post By Sharon Ledwith

Wow, that decade zoomed by! I honestly don’t know where those ten years went, but what I do know for sure (quoting Oprah) is that a lot has happened to me personally and professionally since 2010. I’ve lost some people (and pets) by death, and by choice (toxic relationships), worked with two publishing companies and one literary agency, had my hopes dashed only to realize that it was for my highest best anyway, and transitioned from living in cottage country to surviving in the suburbs of sultry, southern Ontario. I’ve had a total of five books published (Woohoo), done book readings without breaking out in a sweat or fainting, and though self-doubt creeps in from time to time, I’ve learned what self-love really means in this crazy, on demand world we are presently living in. Rather than go on and on, I thought I’d share my decade experiences by breaking it down for you in three categories:


What have I accomplished in the last 10 years? So much! I started my blogging journey May 4th, 2011 before I even had a publishing deal—which BTW—I received in August of that same year with a new publishing company called Musa Publishing. This is where I earned my author chops, so to speak. What was expected of an author—which was pretty much everything from promoting to marketing to creating a social media presence to writing my next book, and what a publisher did for their authors. I went from zero experience on the internet to feeling quite comfortable navigating through cyber-space. I received a grant to help build a website to house my first book: The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis and the ones that followed, and celebrated the best book launch ever on May 19th, 2012 surrounded by friends and family who knew how hard I’d worked trying to get published for over fifteen years. I wrote the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series, and received another contract with Musa Publishing. Then…everything changed.

We moved from our house on the lake to a house in the suburbs in the summer of 2014. What I couldn’t have foreseen was Musa Publishing would close their doors in February 2015, leaving over 300 authors stranded, without contracts or support. Thankfully, I had attended a book expo in November 2014, and there I met my future publisher, Mirror World Publishing. In the last five years, we’ve worked together to bring two young adult book series out into the world, The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series, and Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls teen psychic mystery series. And since then, I haven’t looked back.


Now that the fruits of my labors are realized, I know I need to continue on my path to write, promote, market, engage, and connect with people who are looking to escape into my fictional worlds. So, it is my hope to write books that will entertain, educate, and inspire both young and young-at-heart readers for generations to come.

 A few Mirror World Publishing Authors


What are the lessons I learned in those years?Being an author isn’t for the faint of heart. I’m so not kidding. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that no one is going to care more about your book than YOU do. Period. So do the tough stuff. Get your hands dirty. Experiment. Beg for book reviews. Share helpful content. Be kind to others going through the same thing. Always add value. Go the extra mile. Think of all these acts as your karma bank account, and it will compound by leaps and bounds.


Make a business plan. Remember, writing is a business. So treat it this way. I began writing my ‘Master Business and Life Plan’ on March 9, 2011, when I was researching how to start up a blog. This plan has evolved and grown throughout the last nine years, and will continue to do so. I’ll admit, not everything gets crossed off the plan, but it does give me an overview on where to adjust for the future, and where I’d like to be at the end of the year.


Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. At the beginning of this decade, the thought of standing up in front of an audience to read an excerpt or visit a school to share my writing journey with students made my teeth itch and want to hide among the shadows. But, I authored up. I faced my fears, and pushed myself enough to get over whatever it was that made me feel this way. Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem be damned. I learned to love who I’d become, what I’d accomplished, and where I’m heading these past ten years. And from where I stand, the future looks so bright, I’m gonna need shades!

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series (so far…)

What do I need to let go of, drop or release that doesn’t serve me? This is a BIG one: Stop comparing myself to other successful authors. By all means, I should learn from them because success leaves clues, but my journey is not the same as their journey or experiences, so there’s really no comparison. I must drop this, put on a pair of blinders, and focus on MY path.


This is a HARD one: Approval from others. Since we were children, all we wanted was attention —first from our parents, then friends, later co-workers and bosses, and loved ones. We’re hard-wired for this. The truth is that the only person whose approval really matters is our own. That’s it. We need to have our own backs. Trust ourselves enough to stand in our truth. This will definitely be a work in progress for me.


This is an HONEST one: Releasing expectations. When I was a girl, I had a plaque hanging on my bedroom wall that said, ‘Blessed are those who do not expect, for they won’t be disappointed.’ Now that’s some sage advice! So, going back in time, as I love to do when writing my books, I realize having expectations gets in the way of what the Universe has planned for me. Adopting the mindset, ‘Everything happens for me, not to me’ has helped tremendously, and I know that by releasing expectations, I make room for more positive energy to come into my life.

Released in 2017 and 2019: Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls (so far…)

As this decade closes out, I encourage you to ask these three questions, and see how far you’ve come. You just might realize that ‘you’ve come a long way, baby’! Please share your findings if you feel obliged. Would love to read your comments. Cheers, and thank you for reading. Happy New Year, and wishing you and your loved ones, health, happiness, wealth, and all the best in the next ten years ahead!

That was amazing! Thank you, Sharon. I always enjoy when you share your wisdom with us.

Villainous Writing Advice From Chris Pavesic (Unquiet Dead)- Writing Advice From The Pros

Villainous Writing Advice

I like reading advice on writing from other authors. Many times I find really great ideas that help improve my own writing abilities. For example, in On Writing, Stephen King (2001) recommends listening to music to help a writer block out the world and focus on the work at hand. I have multiple dedicated writing playlists for just this purpose. Certain advice, though, does not resonate with me. For example—certain writers suggest modeling villains after people in your own life that you dislike. I would find that difficult advice to implement in my writing.

First—there is the time factor. Writing a novel generally takes time. Even if a writer aims for a thousand words a day of good, solid prose, the writing stretches into months. Imagine this time actively thinking about people you do not like. This would not be an enjoyable activity in my perspective.

As a writer, I want to like my villains. Not everything that they do—many of their activities to me would be morally objectionable. But I need to understand them—to know why they are doing certain activities so that I can put this down on the page. I need to sympathize with their motivations and to realize that, in most instances, the villains do not see themselves as evil. These characters need the same depth as the heroes or, in my opinion, they will never be more than a caricature.

In Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett (1991, p. 185) has the villain of the story, Lilith, makes the following comparison: “She wondered whether there was such a thing as the opposite of a fairy godmother. Most things had their opposite, after all. If so, she wouldn’t be a bad fairy godmother, because that’s just a good fairy godmother seen from a different viewpoint.” Later in the story, readers learn that Lilith firmly believes she is the good fairy godmother and is not the villain. It’s a matter of perspective, and in her viewpoint, those working against her are evil. She’s trying to improve people’s lives, and those working against her are trying to impede progress.

This is not the only type of villain in literature, but it is the type that I tend to find the most interesting. It is why I can sympathize with Khan in Star Trek (both in Into Darkness and in Space Seed) and Loki in The Avengers while at the same time being morally appalled by many of their actions.

There are obvious exceptions to this—Sauron in The Lord of the Rings trilogy does not generate sympathy for many readers, (although Tolkien does give him a fascinating history in The Silmarillion that explains his fall into darkness) but the Nazguls always had a touch of sympathy to their story for me because they were tricked by Sauron into becoming the Ring Wraiths. The detail and care that Tolkien invests into the story keeps these characters from being caricatures.

Amazon

Audible

Smashwords

Thank you, Chris, for sharing your writing wisdom with us!

Should You Publish Under A Pen Name?

You’ll face many decisions in your author career, including which name to write under. Four experienced authors have teamed up to share their perspectives and offer you the opportunity to ask questions. We write in various genres, so hopefully you’ll see yours represented.

Read at your own pace. We’ve given you time to look through without rushing.

Here are bio’s and links for each of our authors.

Gina Briganti

Connect with Gina on her website, www.ginabriganti.comFacebook, Amazon Author Page, YouTube channel, Instagram ,Twitter, and Goodreads. There are exclusives and announcements that are shared only in her newsletter, which you can sign up for right here

Gina Briganti writes fantasy and sci-fi romance in north Texas. Real -life should be fantastic, too, which is why she also writes holistic health non-fiction.

Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

Sharon Ledwith

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM, and GOODREADS. BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE.

HL Carpenter

HL Carpenter is a mother/daughter duo who write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit Carpenter Country at hlcarpenter.com.

Tina Griffith

I was born in Germany, a little more than 60 years ago. My family came to Canada when I was of school age, and I’ve been here ever since. When my kids were little, I wrote 27 children’s books, worked in television and radio, and worked as a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. After my husband of 25 years passed away, I began to write romance novels as a way to keep the love inside of my heart. I now have 11 romance novels for sale in the amazon bookstore, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they have different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and my sister’s scary biography. ‘The Elusive Mr. Velucci’ is nothing short of a very romance love story, where nobody dies, but it will bring a lump to your throat as you continue to wish that Enrico and Sadie find each other again.

See Tina Griffith’s Amazon author page here.

See Tina Nykulak Ruiz’s amazon author page here:

Thanks for watching! We wish you all the best in your author career.

What “Killing Your Darlings” Means to Authors

EDITS – The Ugly Truth

by Carol Browne

I met with a new proofreading client recently and looked at his manuscript. It needed a lot of work. In fact, he needed an editor not a proofreader. He had no idea what the difference was any more than he knew what an editor does. As I tried to explain it all to him, it took me back to my own beginnings as a newbie author and I remembered what a shock the editing process had been. I had no idea what was involved; writing the book turned out to have been the easy part! So, aspiring writers, here is a brief description of what lies in store for you.

Let’s assume that you were able to construct a fairly presentable manuscript and submit it to a publisher with strict adherence to their submission requirements and that said publisher has agreed to publish the work. Let’s also assume that you have thrown your hat in the air, danced on the table, bought a round of drinks for everyone in the pub, day dreamed about fame, fortune and winning the Booker Prize and now await the next step. Once the excitement has worn off, the real work begins.

This is what happened to me: I was told who my editor was, that they were editing my manuscript and it would then be emailed to me so I could address the editor’s changes and suggestions. I had done a fair bit of proofreading by then but proofreading is to editing what a string quartet is to the London Symphony Orchestra. Straightaway, I was shocked when I saw that most of Chapter One had been removed (“You can condense it into a small paragraph somewhere if you really must.”) and great chunks of the narrative had been torn out. Thousands of words were scattered to the four winds, never to be seen again. Thousands! The book I had given years of my life to was purged and purified. And this is what you call a structural edit.

And guess what … I ended up with a much better book. Did I manage to condense the pruned pages into one small paragraph? You bet I did! It was the sort of exercise that tones up the writing muscle. I learnt how to write more succinctly and move the narrative along without unnecessary clutter. Editors I’ve had since have not been so ruthless, but it’s probably because I have become a more competent writer.

Once the structural editing is done, it’s time for line editing. This is exactly what it sounds like: going through the narrative line by line, addressing punctuation, spelling, typos, syntax and word choice. The editor will often suggest the author uses a better word or adds some description or makes the dialogue more natural. There will be all kinds of errors or inconsistencies in continuity. Have you used the same word three times in quick succession? Perhaps a character does something incongruous and you never noticed? Did you just mention someone, having forgotten you killed them two chapters ago?

You can imagine how long and involved a process this can be, particularly if you have a book as long as mine was. (‘Was’ being the operative word!) But your editor is trying to make your book the best it can be. You may have to lose your favourite metaphor, pluck out padding you enjoyed reading, delete swathes of dialogue that made you laugh but did nothing to further the plot or develop the characters. In the end it is all worth it.

Hopefully it is at this point that your publisher will give their blessing to the final edits of the manuscript.

But that’s not the end of the process, because it‘s then that a proofreader takes over and that proofreader is very often YOU. Having worked your way through your manuscript umpteen times already until you could happily throw it at the wall and walk away forever, it is up to you to read through ALL of it carefully and look for any errors that have been missed.

Yes, the editing of a manuscript is a lot of work: Weeks of daily toil; long hours at the keyboard; chewed finger nails; bloodshot eyes; gallons of coffee. And finally, if you are lucky, your book emerges, all sparkly and beautiful, like a polished jewel!

One more thing – and this is extremely important advice for aspiring writers – you need to familiarise yourselves with the Track Changes function of Word, because you are gonna need that knowledge! I was lucky in that I had a proofreading course under my belt before I started, so Track Changes didn’t come as a complete surprise to me. This is a function that allows many people to edit and proofread a document without the changes they make to that document being lost – hence the changes are tracked, very much like sending a parcel – but Word also remembers the original document so nothing is lost (we can’t always say the same about the mail service!). Delete a paragraph, say, and it will be held in the margin in a sort of bubble. Only when the author accepts that deletion will that paragraph be completely removed from the document.

Well, this isn’t an article about Track Changes! Suffice it to say, as with many things, there are tutorials on You Tube if you really feel this is beyond you. Trust me, it isn’t. If I can manage to use this function, anyone with a modicum of computer skills will have no problem.

So, budding authors, prepare yourselves for the editing process; but don’t worry about it because it’s not all hard work and learning the craft, it can also be a lot of fun.

Godwin’s adventures in Elvendom left him a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world.

In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. Who—or what—is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm?

And what has become of Elgiva?

Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help.
Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?

EXCERPT

His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sparking a Writer’s Creativity From Guest Author Leigh Goff (Bewitching Hannah)

Many thanks to Leigh Goff for sharing her insight with us today on Writing Advice From the Pros!

 

Sparking a Writer’s Creativity

from Leigh Goff

If I struggle with writing a descriptive scene, I know it’s time to step outside my present environment (the sofa, a hot cup of coffee, and a fluffy dog at my feet) and explore the world around me—really explore it. There’s something about traveling and sightseeing that stimulates my senses and creativity and it might be just what other writers need, too.

Photo courtesy of Cody Board Unsplash

When I was little, I loved traveling to visit my grandparents every summer. I remember counting down the days and planning what to pack in my blue and red-striped suitcase. I remember the excitement of my first airplane ride and my first trip to Disney World. Disney was like nothing else I’d ever experienced. It went something like this—the Florida sun blazed hot against my skin while the magical kingdom around me smelled of caramel apples and mouth-watering vanilla waffles. And, oh, the stomach-whirling water rides and fantasy-filled adventures that swept me away while I was there. When I arrived home after that first visit, I wrote all about it in my diary, every scrumptious detail. I didn’t want to forget where I’d been and what it felt like to be there because if I didn’t go back ever again, I would be able to revisit that dream-like place in my diary.

I’m an adult now, however, I still need to explore different worlds in order to get my writer’s creativity flowing. Whether my travels include walking in the woods, trekking through London, or taking a ghost tour of the historic buildings and cemeteries in my hometown, every trip is filled with descriptive possibilities. I don’t know if a future main character will end up lost in a city café ordering escargots and later singing along to a street musician’s rendition of ‘Chevaliers de la Table Ronde,’ but I’ll be able to describe it with accuracy because I’ve done it.

One memorable sightseeing trip was to Paris, which included a stop at the Louvre. Breathtaking. I’m talking about the artworks—every single one I saw, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The masterpiece was smaller than I’d imagined, but she was a rock star. Crowds lined up outside the salon for a glimpse of her. Finally, it was my turn. She was beautiful, mysterious, wise, and timeless.

As I stood there before her, I thought about the Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown. I found myself recalling his vivid descriptions of the museum including its parquet floors, vaulted archways, glass pyramid, and the paintings’ gilded frames. Being there in person was amazing, but if I hadn’t had that experience, Dan Brown’s descriptions of the Louvre and a few of its precious contents were the next best thing to being there.

Writers create or recreate worlds with words and traveling experiences can be the spark for those words. As author Larry Brooks once said, “Writers experience the world…in a unique way. We look for meaning. We see it when we are not paying attention…We are scribes to the ticking of the days, and we have a job to do.” We just need to get out there and experience it for ourselves.

Here is a little from my latest novel 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?”

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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.