My historical novels Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife, Herodias (Long) Hicks Gardner Porter, colonial New England, travels, and whatever else seizes my fancy...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Thanks for Downloading Rebel Puritan!

Rebel Puritan
On July 14th and 15th Rebel Puritan was free as an ebook download from Amazon.  I was delighted and totally stunned when 962 readers jumped on the opportunity!

I truly hope that all of you love Rebel Puritan as much as I enjoyed writing about Herodias Long.  I'm hard at work on The Reputed Wife, my sequel to Rebel Puritan.  The manuscript is in my proofreaders' hands, and I'll start working on the cover next week.  The Reputed Wife will be available this autumn (gods willing and if the creek don't rise).

If you enjoy Rebel Puritan, why not rate it, or even write a review?  Reviews and ratings for the book are available at both Goodreads and Amazon.

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You will need to create a login ID to make a post, but the process is easy and the site won't spam you if you don't check the box for notifications.

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If you have purchased a book on Amazon, you can write a review or enter a rating of Rebel Puritan, and it couldn't be easier!

Once more, thank you all for downloading Rebel Puritan.  Even if you don't write a review, I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment!

Happy reading, Jo Ann Butler

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Queen of Hell - my review of "The Heretic's Daughter"

Salem witch examination
Horrific events happened during New England’s seventeenth century.  Five Quakers were hanged by the Puritan government of Massachusetts.  Their crimes were – simply stated – demanding freedom of religion and speech.  The Wampanoag, Narragansett, and Pequot tribes were largely wiped out by Puritan and Separatist armies after the Indians rose to preserve their homelands.  New diseases introduced by Europeans sent the Massachusetts tribe into extinction.  A Puritan struggle over religion and the governorship ejected many of their own – the rebels founded Rhode Island.

Hanging a witch at Salem
These acts were eclipsed by the witchcraft trials at Salem Village.   Today we regard the hangings of 19 women and men, and the pressing to death of Giles Corey with revulsion, and deem the episode to be mass hysteria and temporary insanity.

In 1692 the Puritan government and clergy knew with certainty that they were battling against Satan.   He had bewitched the accused, who sent their specters to torment the ‘afflicted girls’ in an attempt to force them to become witches too.  Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live, saith the King James Bible.  New England’s Puritans would stop at nothing to drive evil influences from their people, so they obeyed that biblical command.  They also followed European law, where ‘witches’ had died by the thousands.

In Salem Village, it began with a children’s game – looking for your future husband’s face in the white of an egg.  Hysteria spread, and families watched their mothers and grandmothers dragged away to prison, and then to the gallows.  Driven by long-standing feuds, the accusations spread until more than 150 people were jailed.  Nobody was safe, not even your innocent daughter.

The Heretic's Daughter
Kathleen Kent’s superb historical novel, The Heretic’s Daughter, is set against this seething backdrop.  Martha Carrier, whom Cotton Mather called 'The Queen of Hell,' was an older woman who had antagonized her neighbors with her outspoken ways.  She realized that her arrest was coming, so Martha bound her daughter Sarah to a promise.  Before long, eleven-year old Sarah was also on trial for her life.  There was only one way for the girl to survive – obey that promise.

Martha Carrier's grave
Ms. Kent is a direct descendant of Martha Carrier, and has brought her family and those tragic events to vivid life.  The Heretic’s Daughter explores the web of tension which spread accusations from one neighbor to the next.  It also probes the complex, heartbreaking bond between Martha and Sarah.

The Heretic’s Daughter is also a lyrical and agonizing tale of survival.  If you ever wondered what it was like to be chained in prison, wondering whether you would soon be executed, read the ordeals of Sarah and her brothers.   I was asked recently to recommend a great novel set in New England.   You won’t go wrong with The Heretic’s Daughter.  And now I can’t wait to read Kent’s next book in the Carrier family saga: The Traitor’s Wife.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pirates: Bloodthirsty Killers, or merely Bad Boys?

Pirate Flag

We have seen all sorts of names changed in recent years to remove offensive racial stereotypes.  Rightly so, because there were some wildly inappropriate and offensive names out there.  Many still exist, of course, but that is not is not the point I want to make.

Fulton's Red Raiders' logo
My high school athletic team members are ‘Red Raiders.’  Their mascot was an Indian in my day.  Now it is a neutral symbol.  However, the Atlanta Braves are not the only team to cling to their Native American-based name and ‘tomahawk chop,’ despite protests that they are racist.

St. Patrick's Day - offensive stereotype?

Long-tailed/Oldsquaw duck
An elementary school in Wilbraham Massachusetts changed their St. Patrick’s Day celebration to O’Green Day.  Firefighters and mail carriers have replaced the more gender-specific firemen and mailmen.  People are no longer blind or deaf – they have visual and hearing impairment.  Little people are ‘vertically challenged.’  Geographical locations are receiving makeovers everywhere.  Even the long-tailed duck has had its name changed from ‘oldsquaw’ because its calls were said to resemble wailing Indian women. 

So, if all these groups are getting facelifts, what about Pirates?

Roman trireme
Piracy is a very long-standing problem.  The earliest documented pirates were the Sea People, who terrorized the Aegean Sea in the 14th century BC.  We all remember the phrase, Ramming Speed!  It comes from the movie Ben Hur, when Roman galley slaves are lashed into extra speed to attack Macedonian pirates.  Saint Patrick, mentioned earlier in this post, was captured from Roman Britannia and enslaved by Irish pirates.

12th c Danish seamen
China, India, Malaysia – all regions adjoining the sea were troubled by pirates.  Vikings are among the best known.  For five centuries ships loaded with Norse warriors terrorized European coasts from the far north to Sicily.  Coastal and river villages lived in dread, but Vikings raided far inland.  They probed deeply into Russia, as remembered in Alexander Nevsky’s defeat of the Swedes in 1240.  Barbary pirates took New Englanders captive in the 1600s.

Somali pirates and their booty
Being taken by pirates was no fun.  We hear talk of a ‘pirate’s code,’ sparing those who gave up their ship without a fight, but I doubt that all pirates followed it to the letter.  Perhaps they were out to rob, not to kill, but it happened.  Those captured who said they could pay were held for ransom, just has been done in Somalia recently.  Women without means or protection probably faced a very hard time.

Edward Teach/Blackbeard
Acts of piracy in the Caribbean may have existed before Europeans arrived, but it certainly followed Columbus to the New World.  In 1523, Jean Fleury, a French naval officer and privateer, seized two Spanish galleons carrying Aztec gold from Mexico to Spain.  Piracy continued in the Caribbean region, but also all along the Atlantic coast until America’s navy grew strong enough to contain it.

Protest against Cleveland Indians mascot
Of course, headlines demonstrate that piracy continues today.  Somalian pirates are only the most well-known.  Why have those real pirates not demanded their own image makeover?  Why are there no demands  for the Pittsburgh Pirates to change their name?  I think a major reason is because pirates are not a single ethnic group or nationality.  They aren't born that way.  Pirates are men - and a few women - who follow their hearts.  How can you protest that? 

Disney's Captain Hook
You know, pirates are getting a facelift.  In 1911, Peter Pan’s Captain Hook wanted to kill Peter because the boy had humiliated him.  The bloodthirsty Hook was evil and ‘cadaverous,’ but he had the manners of an Eton gentleman.  Disney’s 1953 cartoon makes him into a comic fop.  The 1954 musical, later a movie, with Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard (which I adored!) continues in that line.

Pirates of the Caribbean ride
Bans have been set on flying skull-and-crossbones flags as being ‘unneighborly.’  Playground boats are purged of cannons and planks to be walked.  Disney sanitized their ride, removing most of the sex and violence.  A hearty pirate stud is left chasing a turkey leg instead of a woman.

Jack Sparrow *swoon*
Maybe that makeover is why we can now find pirates so attractive.  Boomers were taught that once-frightening marauders are clowns, as much a danger to themselves as to us.  These tamed men learned to express their feelings in a more civilized manner, while remaining tough and adventurous.  We love our Bad Boys, and now we have Johnny Depp and Keith Richards to sigh after.  Helen Hollick’s Jesamaiah Acorne is a charming, handsome rogue.  He’ll get what he can out of a woman, but he respects her – most of the time.

If you feel a need to be politically correct, you can call pirates  “Vocationally Challenged Undocumented Sea Re-allocators.”  You can look down your nose at someone flying a pirate flag because that person is likely to be unbearable in one or more ways.  I’d like to mention here that I would enjoy flying the skull-and-crossbones on my canoe for the whimsy of it.  However, painting eyes on my craft appeals to me more.

Wall Street - another type of raider
For those of you who yearn for adventure on the bounding main, we STILL have pirates.  Need I mention the ‘Somali Navy’ again?  And as far as I am concerned, anyone who commits a larcenous act for personal gain is a pirate, whether on sea or land.  There are a lot of very minor pirates.  There are big-time ones, too.   They just go by different names, and wear better clothes.

Info and photo Sources:

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