They slogged up Gallows Hill, forming a somber and silent queue as they took their places beneath the shade of the great oak tree. Dounton and his men lashed the two ladders together while the spectators assembled at the base of the hill. The hem of Rebecca’s mud-coated shift clung to her legs. Even without the chains, her feet felt as though they were leaden. These are my very last footfalls, she thought glumly. Ascending this cursed hill. Lord, let not my last thoughts be those of hatred and vengeance. The militia assembled, sticks poised above their snare drums as Ned dropped the ropes into a careless heap at the base of the tree. Then he clambered up the ladder and straddled the sturdy limb. Reverend Noyes again officiated, his voice resonating in the crisp autumn air. He invoked the name of God and then signaled the waiting militia to begin the execution call.
Martha Corey stepped forward with as much dignity as possible. She mumbled prayers as Dounton, puffing casually on his pipe, secured her arms and legs. Flinging her over his shoulder, he ascended the ladder and placed the noose around her neck. As she stood upon the wrung and Noyes asked for last words, she locked eyes with Rebecca. “God be with you, Martha Corey!” Rebecca cried, and Martha smiled sadly. The condemned woman proclaimed her innocence a last time before she was turned off the ladder.
So goes one of the darker scenes in Puritan Witch; The Redemption of Rebecca Eames, my debut novel! Not only is it my first published book, but it is a true labor of love. Rebecca Blake Eames, my ninth great-grandmother, was one of over 140 people accused and imprisoned during the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692. We are fortunate that several documents of the times survived 2 fires and are still in existence. But unless one happens across Rebecca Eames in a genealogy search, her name is not as well-known as some involved during that horrific episode in American history.
It was during a genealogical search that I myself stumbled upon Rebecca and her story. Through www.Ancestry.com, I got in contact with a third cousin. We began emailing and immediately became close. She was the one to tell me about Rebecca Eames’ involvement with the Salem Witch Trials, a subject that always intrigued me. I told my cousin how I “used to write,” and I said, “It’s a shame I don’t write anymore; that would make a great novel!”
“So write one,” she said (or words to that effect.) And just like that, my love of writing, which had been dormant for nearly 25 years, was reawakened!
Puritan Witch has gotten several good reviews on www.amazon.com, www.bn.com and www.goodreads.com. I wrote it for those of us who have a rather short attention span; its 242 pages, less than 60,000 words and can be read in an afternoon. I’m really hoping others discover Puritan Witch and I hope they enjoy it. Like I said before, it was a labor of love to write, and a tribute to a beloved ancestress whose real-life ordeal was more horrific than I can ever imagine.
Peni Renner is the author of “Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames”, an award-winning historical novel based on the true-life account of Peni’s 9th great grandmother. The book is Renner’s first published work, and follows Eames’ life and struggles in 1692 Massachusetts during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.
Writing historical fiction has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I was discouraged for many years after receiving multiple rejection slips, and turned to other creative outlets like crocheting, quilting and cross-stitch for many years. Then I met a 3rd cousin of mine online who is also into genealogy and history. She told me we shared a common ancestor who was involved in the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692, and her story had never been told. My love of writing was rekindled and I began to research this ancestor, Rebecca Blake Eames. In August of 2012 I had the privilege of visiting her grave in Boxford, Massachusetts.
After months and months of research, writing, rewriting and revising, Puritan Witch came into being, featuring a lovely sketch done by my sister-in-law, Jane Sisk.
I have several other story ideas I am working on at the moment, all pertaining to interesting ancestors my 3rd cousin has introduced me to.
Virtual Tour & Book Blast Schedule
Wednesday, April 30 Review & Giveaway at Closed the Cover
Thursday, May 1 Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession
Friday, May 2 Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Saturday, May 3 Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Sunday, May 4 Book Blast at I’d Rather Be Reading
Monday, May 5 Book Blast at Kincavel Korner
Tuesday, May 6 Review at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, May 8 Book Blast at Curling Up with a Good Book
Wednesday, May 14 Book Blast at Historical Tapestry
Friday, May 16 Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, May 19 Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, May 21 Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, May 22 Guest Post at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Saturday, May 24 Book Blast at Book Nerd
Monday, May 26 Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Wednesday, May 28 Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, May 30 Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict