A Creative Treat by Author Leigh Goff

Please welcome Leigh Goff, a talented Young Adult author who blends fantasy and romance into her remarkable stories. Her latest book Disenchanted releases through Mirror World Publishing in print and eBook on June 1. The kitchen is all yours, Leigh!

These cookies are just what a white witch like sixteen-year-old Sophie Greensmith from my debut YA fantasy, Disenchanted, would bake after a long day of concocting potions with exotic flowers from her aunt’s enchanted garden.

Disenchanted takes place in Wethersfield, Connecticut, the home of the first American witch trials (not Salem!). As descendants of the original witches, Sophie and her aunt practice white magic and work in a little shop called Scents and Scentsabilities. Their organic bath and body products like Tulips to Kiss Stick to lushify lips and Forever First Love Lip Balm to lock in that true love are crafted to benefit the ordinaries in town. However, not all of the ordinaries approve and when danger catches up to Sophie, she’s left with an impossible choice—turning to black magic, a forever choice, to save the life of her forbidden first love. Will her true love still want her when her heart is touched by darkness?

This yummy recipe from the Foothill House B&B in California includes ginger to soothe the stomach, cinnamon to reduce puffiness, and walnuts to help you deal with stress.

Foothill House Sweet Dreams Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter

1½ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups unbleached flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. salt

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Cream butter and mix in brown sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt and blend into butter mixture.

Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts (Sometimes I leave these out or substitute pecans.).

Refrigerate until dough is firm.

Lightly grease baking sheets.

Break off small pieces of dough and roll into 1″ rounds. Dredge in powdered sugar.

Arrange on prepared baking sheets at least 2″ apart.

Bake 10 minutes.

Cool 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring to racks to cool completely.

Store in airtight container.

Yields 6 dozen cookies

Here is a brief intro to my novel that appeals to people of all ages. I hope you like it, too.

Disenchanted

A forbidden love. A dark curse. An impossible choice…

Descended from a powerful Wethersfield witch, sixteen-year-old Sophie is struggling to hide her awkwardly emerging magic, but that’s the least of her worries. When a dangerous thief tries to steal her mysterious heirloom necklace, she is rescued by the one person she’s forbidden to fall for, a descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang. He carries a dark secret that could destroy them both unless Sophie learns how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm. She will have to uncover dark secrets from both of their families’ wicked pasts and risk everything, including her soul to save them from a witch’s true love curse, but it will take much more than that.

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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 Musa Publishing in December 2014. 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  FacebookInstagramPinterest, and  Goodreads.

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The Bar is Open – Guest Blog by Author Viki Lyn

Redemption is my latest book written with Vina Grey, a m/m fantasy featuring angels and demons. In our world, angels have a difficult time handling human alcohol. They have their own liquor of choice = ambrosia which gives them a slight buzz. So when we wrote a scene where Uriel visits a gay bar in San Francisco, we had to come up with an appropriate drink – one that a besotted bartender would make for the beautiful angel.

To my surprise, we found the perfect cocktail – Angel Face! (Although jealous Izar muttered that Hot Devilish daiquiri would have been more appropriate!)

Angel Face Cocktail

1/3 Dry Gin

1/3 Apricot Brandy

1/3 Calvados

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Stir well and strain into cocktail glass.

Enjoy!

Viki and Vina

An introvert and artist with a healthy dose of skepticism about life and love =Viki. An extrovert and academic and a die-hard romantic = Vina. It was so not a match made in heaven. But Viki and Vina discovered a mutual love of traveling around the world, the paranormal, good coffee, and a healthy admiration for their respective creativity. Sitting in a coffee shop one day, they started brainstorming about story plots and Vince and John and the car crash in the bakery. A story was born. Vina writes the sappy romance and Viki tempers it. Between them, they managed to find their boys a ‘happily ever after’.

Thou shall not kill.

An angel who sins may never find love again.

Archangel Raziel had no choice. He would break the Infinite’s commandment again to save his lover, Uriel, from a demon’s talons. Yet even the Infinite’s most trusted archangel cannot avoid punishment. Forced to go through the Cleansing, Raziel loses his memories and is renamed Izar, a Protector sworn to kill for the angels.

Years later, Izar is summoned to work alongside Uriel to capture a killer. Izar is shocked when his bloodlust spikes hot for the archangel. But a relationship between Protectors and angels is forbidden. As they rush to find the killer, their passion plays into the demon’s plan. Izar will have to choose between life and death if he is to save Uriel again.

BUY LINK

Multi-published and award winner, Viki Lyn is a successful writer of gay paranormal and contemporary romance. After reading and collecting whatever she could get her hands on, she wrote her first male/male romance. And that was ‘it’ for her. She never looked back. Viki travels the world in search of inspiration. She considers herself blessed to have traveled to many of the mystical sites she had dreamed about as a child. Her travel experiences have been influential in creating her paranormal worlds. When she needs to relax, she calls a friend to meet at their favorite coffee house. When the chattering in her head goes off the charts, she plays one of her favorite RPGs on her PS4 and immerses herself in the world of dragons and magic.

Learn more about Viki Lyn on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.
Vina Grey has lived in eight different states and if her family hadn’t grounded her, she’d be on the move again. So, instead she writes, living out her adventure-lust in her books. She made up stories in her head from the time she could register thoughts, so yes, there are many more books to come. Coffee, chocolate, Scotch, Kindle books, and traveling to far away lands are among her…ahem…very few vices. Actually they can be lands close by, too. But at the end of the day, to write a love story that makes a reader sigh with satisfaction–that’s what it’s all about. Vina Grey loves writing about romance. Two people finding each other, the two-step before they get together and the happily ever after — really is the best story ever. Throw in some paranormal elements and she’s in heaven. Vampires and cops, anyone? Her other love is traveling. From the deserts of the Middle East to the temples in Japan to the rice fields in Bali, she finds inspiration for her stories in every country she visits.

Vina loves to jabber away with anyone about books, so drop her a line. Stay connected on Facebookand Twitter.

Learn more about Viki Lyn and Vina Grey on their Author Facebook Page.

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Hemingway

I love reading Hemingway. He never strays. He never babbles. Every word is relevant – precise and concise writing. His prose is eloquent with a natural progression that makes the reader feel the story inside the book they hold could have been their own journey in a different lifetime. He lures his reader this/close to his stories.

I can’t write everything I feel about Hemingway in one blog. I can zero in on one or two aspects of his writing, or his life, that inspires me, but not all at once.

I just finished reading At First Light, a fictional memoir based on Hemingway’s time spent in Africa in a safari camp, with his fourth, and last wife, Mary. She is obsessed with hunting a very elusive and intelligent lion. Everyone in camp is aware how badly she wants to kill this lion. She tells her husband she loves the lion and that’s why she has to kill him.

Hemingway and his wife talk about never wanting to leave Africa because they have both fallen in love with the culture and the hunting. Being one of the greatest writers that ever lived had afforded Hemingway the luxury of living whatever lifestyle he chose. Hemingway refers to himself as a rich man and he was. He could travel anywhere he wanted.

At one part of the story, towards the end, Mary talks about all the places she still wants to see, despite having already seen all of Tanganyika and the Bohoro flats and the Great Ruaha. She’d been to Mbeya and the Souhthern Highland. She lived everywhere from the hills, to the foot of a mountain, and in the bottom of the Rift Valley.

Yet, Mary asks her husband if he knows what she wants for Christmas.

“I wish I did.”

“I don’t know whether I should tell you. Maybe it’s too expensive.”

“Not if we have the money.”

“I want to go and really see something of Africa. We’ll be going home and we haven’t seen anything. I want to see the Belgian Congo.”

“I don’t.”

“You have no ambition. You’d just as soon stay in one place.”

“Have you ever been to a better place?”

“No. But there’s everything we haven’t seen.”

“I’d rather live in a place and have an actual part in the life of it than just see new strange things.”

The last line stopped me and I reflected on its simple truth. In a quest to see everything, sometimes we see nothing. I do want to travel, but my traveling doesn’t include beaches, resorts, selfies in front historical landmarks, or the rush to visit eighteen countries in thirty days.

I was about twenty-three years old and on a first date when I was asked, “What is the one thing you really want to do?”

I told my date, with some reservation, that I want to go to all the small, run-down, dinky towns in the middle of nowhere, and stay there for a while and get to know the people, and their lives, because I was (and still am) sure there are big stories in those little towns, and probably a lot of secrets, too.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Just Try

I’ve been practicing yoga consistently for two years and each pose gets a little easier after months of repetition. Standing forward-bends used to strain my back, and even with my knees bent, my fingertips barely brushed the ground.

But after years of practice, standing forward-bends are one my favorite asanas. I can lay the palms of my hands flat against the floor, with straight legs, and the sensation that runs through my body is no longer straining, but rather soothing and relaxing.

It took time to get here, and even after two years of practice, six to seven days a week, I still have to do the modified version of many of the poses. I’m not yet strong enough to carry the weight of my entire body on my hands — but I will be — with more practice.

Aside from practicing yoga daily, I also meditate, and study and learn from books how I can deepen the spiritual impact yoga has had on my body and mind. I have altered my eating habits to fit a more compassionate diet because plant-based foods complement yoga better than any other diet.

Yoga has become such an integral part of my life, I was not surprised when I woke up this morning having dreamed of doing yoga.

In my dream, I was sitting on the floor with my legs spread apart. A man, who I assume was my teacher, sat across from me.

“Fold your body over your leg,” he said.

I lowered my body over my leg until my forehead rested effortlessly against my thigh, and my arms stretched forward and my hands bound evenly around my foot.

“I didn’t know I could do that,” I said to my teacher.

“That’s because you never tried.”

I opened my eyes this morning to the most powerful dream I have ever dreamed.

Just Try.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

“Leave the Light On”

“One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” – Margaret Mead.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to write for my next post (this post) and I got stuck. I don’t know what to write. My intention was to blog two days a week. Sounded simple. But it isn’t because I want to write meaningful posts, not fillers, (like this one?) just to take up space, or to pat myself on the back for being one post closer to my weekly goal.

My blog isn’t overrun with hundreds of daily visitors. But still, even if only one person reads my blog, from here or some other country, I wonder about who that person is, and how the words I wrote made them feel during, and after, they read them (if they felt anything at all). To write with the intention of someone taking the time to read your words is the kind of tough pressure you put on yourself when you don’t want to let someone down.

As a writer of books, and now blogs, I don’t want to disappoint my readers (as few as they may be), and I feel a great deal of anxiety (and guilt) when I feel I cannot write, because it’s what I (I’m supposed to) do.

I rely on inspiration to write, and then my imagination usually takes over. Someday maybe my imagination will jump-start itself, but till then, I need help. I turn to music, movies, and other writers to inspire me.

I came across the above quote while watching a performance on Youtube of a brilliant musician. Her name is Beth Hart, and I wish I could write the way this woman sings. I remembered her from the late nineties because she had a hit song about L.A., but I’d forgotten her over a decade, until I stumbled across one of her performances on the Internet, and now I am sure I will never forget her again.

She is that amazing, and I know she will inspire a story out of me because her lyrics capture every raw emotion that runs through a person’s veins. The above quote will inspire me, too, because the words grabbed me and stayed with me. Anything I read that stays with me, will always have some bearing on me.

The performance Ms. Hart mesmerized me with was a song titled, “Leave the Light On,” and here are a few of the lyrics she sings with so much pain you swear she’s bleeding.

* “Cuz I want to love, I want to live.

I don’t know much about it, I never did.

I don’t know what to do, can the damage be undone?

I swore to God I’d never be, what I’ve become.”

Beth Hart inspires me. Who inspires you?

*These are copyrighted lyrics. I don’t own them.

A (Not-So) Tiny Sacrifice

I had IVIG treatment today. For the next couple days I will feel fuzzy and foggy — a small sacrifice to endure for a treatment that has given me my life back (and will continue to for years to come because I’ve been doing this for fours years, every four weeks, and there is no foreseeable end). Four hours of lying in a bed with an IV stuck in my arm is a tiny sacrifice to endure to live again.

How did it come to be known that IVIG (Intravenous Immunoglobulin) would help immune deficient patients battle whatever disease is attacking their body? This therapy has taken the body that has fallen off a couch, too weak to lift itself up off the floor, the body that has fallen down stairs, legs not strong enough to reach the top, and has transformed that body into one that can walk, do yoga, and swallow with no fear of choking.

I’m so grateful, but today, I lay in that hospital bed and wondered about the animals, chimpanzees, in particular.

I volunteer at an animal shelter. I feel empathy for neglected, abandoned, and abused animals. I want to take them all home with me and show them what love feels like. I want them to know hands that comfort, and not hurt. I want the dog who has lived its life tied to a tree to know the feeling of the warmth of a bed with soft blankets. I want the dog who almost died from thirst to know there’s a bowl of fresh water, in the same place, anytime he wants it.

I want all these things because I hate suffering. I participate in protests against puppy mills, and those pet stores who by from those horrible places (which is most pet stores) because I hate suffering. I changed my eating habits to a (mostly) compassionate diet because I hate suffering. I research companies who test on animals and buy a different brand because I hate suffering. I do all of this because I hate the idea of contributing to the suffering of another living being, and yet, I don’t know if the treatment I go for every month has been tested on animals.

A chimpanzee has a 98% genetic similarity to humans. If the therapy I get was tested on an animal to see if it would benefit patients with my disease, (I haven’t yet checked because I don’t want to know. I’m not ready to know. I’m a coward like that) it most likely would have been a chimpanzee. Ironically, my most beloved animal growing up. Stuffed monkeys crowded my room as a kid. My favorite was one where the hands velcroed together so you can sling the arms around your neck and pretend like the monkey was clinging to you. I carried this chimp around my hip all the time.

So how fitting would it be if the suffering of a chimpanzee is the reason I feel better?

Not fitting at all because the only way a company could test if IVIG would work for my disease (and any disease) is to take a species with a similar functioning healthy immune system and make it sick. Yes, make a healthy and vibrant animal sick for the benefit of a human life — my life — possibly.

I don’t believe that animals are here for humans to do with them what they will. Maybe the Bible states Man’s dominion over animals, but I don’t believe everything in the Bible anyway, so I’m comfortable disagreeing. They are not our trophies in a one-player sport, or our entertainment performing a display of tricks while enduring cruel treatment, and, some argue, they aren’t even here to be our food.

They are living creatures who know pain and fear, and experience joy and sadness.

I’ve heard the heart-wrenching screams of a mother cow as she watches her calf being dragged away only seconds after birth. I’ve watched terror take over a pig when it knows it’s about to be killed in a brutal way — thumping — the industry calls it. I’ve seen cows and Beagles, who have spent their entire lives in cages inside factories, without ever once feeling the sun on their skin, frolic joyfully in the grass for the first time. And when given an option to lay on the floor or a bed piled with pillows, my dog will always choose the bed. Why? Because it’s more comfortable, and animals, even farm animals, recognize comfort over discomfort.

Which one do you think they prefer?

Today, I lay in a comfortable hospital bed while receiving the fluid that will help my body function as normally as it can, but what conditions were the chimpanzees living in when they were (are) experimented on? I imagine they were forced into small cages, in a bland and cold room, locked up like a prisoner, frightened and sick, not knowing why they are there because they’ve done nothing wrong — except to have the unfortunate luck in sharing enough DNA similarity to perhaps the greediest, self-entitled, and morally inept race alive today.

And cowardly, too. That’s my race. That’s me. And maybe some day I’ll be brave enough to know how much suffering (sacrifice) a living being endured so I can have my life back.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Looking for Someone Other Than My Wife.

On March 26, Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. There was no secret that this bill was being voted on in the Republican-controlled Indiana House of Representatives. The only question was whether Gov. Pence would sign it.

And the answer is, “Yes. Yes, he would.” And he did. And then the $hit hit the fan.

Pence attempted to extinguish the outpouring screams of bigotry by stating that this was the same bill President Bill Clinton passed in 1993. No, Gov. Pence. It is not. Under the law Clinton signed, a “person” doesn’t include a business or a corporation, whose rights of religious freedom are protected from being oppressed and thus, can use the law to protect itself while denying service to a customer based on religious beliefs.

The intent of the RFRA Clinton signed was clearly to protect REAL people, the ones with a pulse, from being religiously burdened by the government. This act specifically targeted “Native American religions that are burdened by increasing expansion of government projects onto sacred land. In Native American religion, the land they worship on is very important.” (Wikipedia)

Only in Indiana did the law state a business is a person.

Most people saw this law for what it really was — a legal way to discriminate against the LGBT community. I need to point out that in all states that have passed a RFRA, all of them offer legal protections to gays and lesbians. Indiana does not, and Pence stated only days before he signed this bill that adding legal protection to the LGBT community was “not on his agenda.” So he signed a bill into law that would leave a group of people vulnerable to discrimination. And when the public, including CEO’s of major corporations, let him know how they felt about it, he promptly called for revisions to the law. He remarked that he was surprised the law created such an outrage, but what I believe he really meant is that he was surprised so many people cared about the rights of gays and lesbians — people Pence clearly has no concern for.

The revised law now denies businesses the right to refuse service to anyone based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but the act of discriminating against the LGBT community in other areas like Housing is still legal in Indiana, which is both sad and scary.

During this debacle, one of the owners of a pizzeria in Indiana called, Memories Pizza, announced she wouldn’t deliver pizzas to a gay wedding. The publish backlash was so bad, the company had to temporarily shut its doors. A fund was started by those empathetic to the establishment, and collected over 800,000 dollars in donations.

Obviously, there are many strong opinions on this subject from both sides.

I wasn’t going to write a blog about this law, despite how much it infuriated me. If I had intended to, I would have written one weeks ago when the subject was headline news. But a few nights ago, I was at a friend’s house and a commercial came on. A bunch of really happy guys were singing a song with overly, creepy smiles on their faces. My friend (who is married) sighed and commented how much she hated this commercial.

“What’s it for?” I asked.

“Ashley Madison,” she responded.

“What’s that?” I innocently asked.

“You’ve never heard of it? It’s a website for men to cheat on their wives.”

No, I hadn’t heard of it and the line these men were gaily singing was “Looking for someone other than my wife.” I couldn’t make out the second line, but I don’t think it really matters. It’s $hit like this that really pisses me off. Websites for cheating spouses, casual marriages (Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian), and shows like “How to Marry a Millionaire” take a big dump on the sanctity of marriage, yet, I don’t hear the outcries from people, concerned about preserving the purity and holiness of marriage, screaming about this as loud as they do when the words “gay marriage” are uttered.

The entire fiasco of the Indiana law really came down to businesses not wanting to be forced to provide services for gay weddings. Whether that be in the form of catering, providing flowers, baking a wedding cake, or designing a dress. Businesses wanted to be able to use religion and the Bible to turn these “sinners” away. How do these self-righteous companies feel about serving adulterers? I don’t know because I haven’t heard a peep about it. Crickets.

I have yet to read a passage in the bible that states clearly the way God viewed gays, but I sure know how he felt about adultery. THAT was pretty darn clear. The act made it into the list of Ten Commandments of what “thou shalt not do.” Nothing about being gay made it onto that Biblical list, yet, it seems people are willing to push this aside because NOT committing adultery doesn’t fit today’s lifestyle (for some people).

Times have changed, I guess. When the Bible was written, there were a lot less people in the world. There weren’t as many options as there are now. Men today are tempted in a way Adam never was. An apple? That’s child’s play.

Maybe God will understand the dilemma today’s man finds himself in. Women don’t look the way they did in Biblical times. They wear make-up, short skirts, stiletto heels. They get boob-jobs and tummy-tucks, liposuction and lip injections. All of this, to look sexy and appealing to men.

Come on, God. Change the rules for these guys, will ya? It’s tough out there for a married fella. Serpents are everywhere!

I’m being sarcastic, of course, but for whatever reason, committing adultery doesn’t come with the same stigma it once did. But I don’t see how one sin that was clearly written as a sin gets a pass, when a sexual orientation that was never clearly deemed a sin, creates so much hate that people have killed over this bigotry, and others have killed themselves because of this bigotry.

Today, the company Ashley Madison announced it wants to go public.The company declared it has over 34 million members worldwide. I’ll buy that stock and probably make a lot of money because it’s obvious straight people aren’t so perfect after all, no matter how much they (some of them) love to judge others.

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P.S I know women cheat, too, but men were the only people used in this commercial. Also, I know that not all people in marriages cheat. This post was not meant to generalize one group of people.

Photo Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net