Characters in Motion: Naamah Carter

Today I am talking with Alfred Woollacott III about his character, “Naamah Carter.” Alfred retired from KPMG after a career spanning 34 years, choosing to reside full time at his summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard. Being “45 minutes from America” and with a 50 – 60 hour per week void to fill, he began dabbling into his family history. His dabbling grew into an obsession, and he published several genealogical summaries of his ancestors. But certain ones absorbed him such that he could not leave them. So, he researched their lives and times further while evolving his writing skills from “just the facts ma’am” to a fascinating narrative style. Thus, with imagination, anchored in fact and tempered with plausibility, a remote ancestor can achieve a robust life as envisioned by a writer with a few drops of his ancestor’s blood in his veins.

Alfred, why did you choose to write about Naamah?

Naamah_Carter_Young

Naamah continues the planned trilogy, albeit chronologically out of order since her story had to be told. She and her four-greats grandfather John Law the first novel’s protagonist faced similar challenges. Both held shunned Christian beliefs, were forced from their homeland, endured tragic losses, and persevered against prejudice and hostility. In “The Believers in the Crucible Nauvoo” Naamah symbolized the pioneering women of the early LDS church, just as John Law exemplified the Scottish Prisoners of Wars struggles in the Puritan Theocracy of Colonial America. Carol Cornwell Madsen’s book “In Their Own Words” enriched my knowledge about Nauvoo’s women, a story that had to be told.

Delving further, I found some of Joseph Smith’s discourses not dissimilar to my Episcopalian beliefs and broadened my Christian foundation. However, the plural wives principle was an anathema that I had dismissed as justification to institutionalize man’s polygamous tendencies. Yet I continued wondering about Naamah’s perspective. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s book “A House Full of Females” provided further insight. Each relationship was unique and multi-faceted as was Naamah’s with Brigham.

What is the mood or tone Naamah portrays and how does this affect the story?

Naamah is a strong, resilient woman of deep faith. She is six-years-old when we first meet her placing flowers on her father’s gravesite in remembrance of his birthday. Her unique name honors her aunt, Naamah Kendall Jenkins, who had died three weeks before her birth. Early in life, Naamah connected to family residing in heaven. Her mother’s death several years later tightened those heavenly bonds. In a larger sense, the Calvinist doctrine of the First Awakening had formed her Christian beliefs and had grown stale. Something was lacking. Joseph Smith’s teachings offered refreshment and a romanticized view of principles she held dear. The Second Awakening gave an offer of hope, salvation, and glory to those who had believed their lives were pre-determined to be ‘sinners in the hand of an angry God. Many still clung to past and persecuted those who followed the teachings of these ‘false prophets’.

What are Naamah’s role in her family and some emotions triggered by it?

Naamah lost her father early and her mother several years later. Being the eldest of three sisters, she assumed a surrogate mother role for her ‘baby sister’ Susan, protecting her from the acid-tongued, narrow-minded, middle sister Betsey. Susan’s relationship with Naamah changed as she matured while Naamah’s did not. Her baby Susan still needed care; she had to stay in Peterborough and not leave with the Saints for Nauvoo. Eventually, she realized that Susan had become her crutch, which caused her to doubt the depth of her faith.

Soon after arriving in Nauvoo, she marries, only to lose her husband a few months later. A month later her beloved Aunt Susan dies and compounds her sense of loss. Now virtually alone and feeling isolated, she longed to return to Peterborough. Her emotions overwhelmed and paralyzed her until two Sisters rekindled her belief in eternal life giving her a path out of her nadir.

What is one of her beliefs as a Christian and how does this affect her life?

Naamah believed in eternal life, and Joseph’s teachings enhanced her understanding of it. He prophesized that we reside in heaven like Jesus did until we are sent to the earthly kingdom. While there, those who believed in Joseph’s prophecy and lived the gospel daily will return to the heavenly kingdom.

Naamah accepted that God spoke through the prophets and came to believe that Joseph was his latest. She dreamed to hear directly from Joseph. She first witnessed Joseph through Brigham as he preached to the faithful in Peterborough. After Joseph’s death, she rationalized that the closest she would come to him while on earth was through Brigham. In Nauvoo, She worked daily with Brigham at the temple doing the Lord’s work. She is torn when he proposed marriage to her. She had been sealed for eternity to another who awaited her in heaven. Brigham was married, and becoming his plural wife ran violated what she held sacred. Yet, through marriage, she would be closer to him, and thus, to God.

How is she influenced by her setting?

A tight-knit Peterborough began unraveling as Joseph Smith obtained a following. Erstwhile friends and family turned from Naamah and her rapidly-growing community of Saints. Many Saints left for Nauvoo while Naamah dawdled. But as Peterborough’s animosity increased, she left, too. Tenfold larger than Peterborough and unified in a belief, Naamah saw Nauvoo as Joseph Smith had promised — God’s earthly kingdom, But over time, Nauvoo grew more hostile and threatening than Peterborough ever had been.

Did she ever have doubts about Joseph Smith’s testaments? 

As her beloved Aunt Susan oft said, “Even Jesus had doubts while in the garden of Gethsemane.” Family ridiculed her, former friends turned from her, the death of loved ones caused her to grieve, hostile surroundings threatened her peace, and the offer of a plural marriage challenged a sacred belief. With each, doubts arose that she eventually overcame when she realized God would be with her . . . always.

Please talk about the courage and strength of Naamah and possibly the isolation?

On her wedding day, Naamah felt as though she was atop an alabaster column that extended to the heavens. As the newlyweds neared Nauvoo’s temple, she said, “Once the temple is completed, we must have our marriage endowed in it.” To which her husband replied, “Once it’s completed, we’ll leave Nauvoo.” “Leave Nauvoo?” She said. “I’ve just arrived here. Why? Why?”

Chip, chip, and cracks appeared in the alabaster. Chip, chip; increasing enmity surrounded Nauvoo, her husband died, and Aunt Susan died, and within months of her marriage, Naamah lay amid the rubble of alabaster. She wallowed in her nadir until uplifted by doing the Lord’s work alongside Brigham made her realize again that God would be with her always.

What are some similarities that a modern-day woman would have with Naamah?

Naamah with sisters wives editted

Naamah with Sisters Wives

Naamah’s challenges were not dissimilar to those women have faced for eternity. But she had fewer options than today’s women. A couple of centuries ago, it was more a ‘Man’s world’ than today. As such, we are less aware of the women’s perspective than we are now. Ulrich’s book “A House Full of Females” would have been near impossible to publish in the 1800s. Roles are less defined by gender than before, giving women more options and more reasons to question.  Of course, “Even Jesus had doubts while in the Garden of Gethsemane.”, and questions will eventually be answered.

Where can readers buy your book?

Alfred with book resized to 300

Available at Amazon, my website, or directly from me at mv4al@aol.com.

Interview with Alfred about his books HERE

Discovering Southern Poets and Their Poetry

I’ve been wanting to start a new series on Southern Poets and their poems. To honor their work and to openly discuss the meaning of their prose and the importance of Southern Poets. When I started researching poets, I noticed that Southern Poetry is still dominated by men. When I think of poems written by Southern Poets, my mind takes me to poems by William Faulkner, Sidney Lanier and so on. By no means am I trying to make a political or feminism statement with this project but I’ve decided to start a journey to explore Southern Female Poets. Not only that but to explore my own inner thoughts and feelings of southern life and to possibly write my own poetry. I say this all-the-while thinking to myself that all I need is another project to take on! Ha! I might let that sit a spell and just focus my energy on the former. There are many themes to discover in Southern Poetry which I find thrilling. Being Southern and living in the South is such a broad subject. History would be the first to come to my mind since I am a history geek but I might challenge myself and explore place. How do I do that without exploring time? Hmm…well now, southern traditions and way of life does evolve after all. Despite what people from other cultures or backgrounds might think. Having said that, many do cling to the their traditions, songs, stories and heritage from their for-bearers and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. For me, that keeps the history authentic, knowing all the while how many are trying their best to re-write it. I’ve got to watch myself! I’m starting to get political! This project really is going to be a challenge. Now, who will I choose as my first subject? Whose voice and style speak to my heart?

cities of flesh and the dead.I have discovered Diann Blakely of Brunswick, Georgia and a book she wrote called, “Cities of Flesh and The Dead.” Now I’m not entirely sure this book meets my needs but I aim to find out! If you know of any names of Southern Female Poets I might find interesting, please share!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Book Deal: Saint Maggie by Janet Stafford

Based on a historical event.

Saint MaggieMaggie Blaine, a widow with two teenage daughters, runs a rooming house smack dab on the town square. In 1860 this makes her a social outcast. Boarding houses are only semi-respectable and hers has a collection of eclectic boarders – a failed aging writer, an undertaker’s apprentice, a struggling young lawyer, and an old Irishman. In addition, she has a friendship with Emily and Nate, an African-American couple with whom she shares her home and chores. It is a good thing the town doesn’t know that Maggie, along with Nate, Emily, and Eli Smith (the free-thinking editor of the weekly newspaper) are involved in the Underground Railroad. When she is asked to house handsome, gifted Jeremiah Madison, the new Methodist minister, Maggie hopes that he will both revive the little church she attends and provide her boarding house with a bit of badly-needed respectability. But Jeremiah comes with some dark secrets that challenge Maggie’s resolve to love and respect all people. As the town’s people reel from a series of shocking events, the compassionate, faithful Maggie searches for truth and struggles to forgive and love.

Currently 99 cents on the Amazon Kindle!

My interview with the Author HERE

About the Author:

Janet Stafford with dog

Janet Stafford is a Jersey girl, book lover and lifelong scribbler. She readily confesses to being overly-educated, having received a B.A. in Asian Studies from Seton Hall University, as well as a Master of Divinity degree and a Ph.D. in North American Religion and Culture from Drew University. Having answered a call to vocational, but non-ordained ministry, Janet has served six United Methodist Churches, working in spiritual formation, communications, and ministries with children, youth, and families. She also was an adjunct professor for six years, teaching college classes in interdisciplinary studies and world history.

Writing, history, and religion came together for Janet when she authored Saint Maggie, an historical novel set in 1860-61 and based on a research paper written during her Ph.D. studies. She thought the book would be a single novel, but kept hearing readers ask, “What happens next?” In response, Janet created a series that follows the unconventional family from the first book through three other novels and three short stories, all set in the traumatic years of the American Civil War. Janet also ventured into the contemporary romance genre, going closer to home (the church) for her source material. Heart Soul & Rock ’n’ Roll tells the story of 40-year-old Lindsay Mitchell, who led a rock band in college but for the past fifteen years has worked as an assistant minister. Besieged by mid-life crisis, Lins wonders if perhaps she isn’t called to something new. But could that “something new” be a relationship with Neil, a man with a messy life and a bar band called the Grim Reapers?

Author Links:

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Amazon Profile Page  

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Twitter: @JanetRStafford

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Spotlight Reviews: Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare

1 + 2018 Sexuality in History Brits Stripped BareWould you swig a magic potion or plot to kill your husband in order to marry your lover? These are just two of the many romantic and sexual customs from British history that you will explore as eight authors take us through the centuries, revealing that truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to love. From bizarre trivia about courtly love, to techniques and prostitution, you’ll encounter memorable nuggets of provocative information that you’ll want to share.

It’s all here: ménage a trois, chastity belts, Tudor fallacies, royal love and infidelity, marriage contracts (which were more like business arrangements), brothels, kept women, and whorehouses. Take a peek at what really happened between the sheets. Each story provides you with shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history.

Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades—including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots—the Regency, and down to the ‘prudish’ Victorian Era. Thisscholarly yet accessible study brings to light the myriad varieties of British sexual mores.

Editorial Reviews:

“…a fascinating new book…” –Mail On Sunday and Daily Mail,U.K., April 8, 2018

“A balance of both entertaining and educationalreading in equal measure” -Dr. Roxanne O’Neill

Other Reviews:

Five Star Ratings

“This collection of eight historical essays, all written by women, gives great insight into how sexuality shaped history. , down to the influence of Victorian prostitution by Hunter S. Jones, .

This provocative book is one you can’t put down. Beginning with Emma Haddon-Wright’s essay on Lady Godiva, which adds a refreshing feminist vibe to an old story, you’ll be gripped by the very human true stories of sexuality and the cultural impact of each era. Following Ms Haddon-Wright essay, Annie Whitehead expertly shares the true story of an Anglo-Saxon menage that cost a King his crown. Jessica Cale gives insight into Courtly Love, Medieval thoughts on LGBTQ, and how their thinking was more progressive than I ever imagined.

Maryanne Coleman explains how complicated Tudor marriages were, and Judith Arnopp does not disappoint when she examines the probability of a tryst between Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas Wyatt. Gayle Hulme makes us see Mary, Queen of Scots as a very real, complicated woman.

Dr Beth Lynne unravels the mystery of the monarchy and succession of the British Crown. Hunter S. Jones ends the work with a compelling essay on the global impact of Victorian prostitution. She helps us understand the women and men who had careers in the world’s oldest profession. Her essay and the Godiva story bind seamlessly into bringing the stories full-circle.

I felt that the work is well written and researched. Each essay could be it’s own book, but this format gives us a better perspective of how British sexuality shaped women and gender roles into the 20th century. The biggest surprise was the story of Nashville in the Civil War. Well done, ladies.” -Review by ocmd on Amazon

 

***

“Sexuality and It’s Impact on History was a great peek into the history of some very powerful ladies who helped shape the female sexual role throughout British history.
Author Haddon’s accounts of Lady Godiva were an eye-opener along with other ladies playing high roles in the royal courts. I enjoyed this collection and will often go back for future reference. These women portrayed were not just sex objects but women of power in their own right.

As a writer of erotica, I found valuable information here on the roles in sexuality during those time periods.” -Review on Amazon by 2DreamReader

***

“Very intriguing read. I love how author Hunter S. Jones dealt with the subject of Victorian Prostitution without disparaging the ladies who often choose that lifestyle. Sizzling and entertaining. I read one story every night in bed and highly recommend.” -Review by LoveToRead on Amazon

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Find out more about the Authors of Sexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare HERE

Amazon Link of Book HERE

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Presidential Reading Challenge

Theodore Roosevelt and coffee

My friend and fellow book blogger at Flashlight Commentary started a Presidential Reading Challenge in January and as I have been following her progress, another friend and I became intrigued with her journey. I has spoken to her about her challenge earlier in the year and talked about doing a reading challenge of First Ladies in 2019, because I am backlogged on book reviews to get out. Alas, this wasn’t going to do. I am thrilled with her challenge and admire her for taking on a substantial project worthwhile.

I’m a bit late in the game but I have decided to join the challenge with another friend and I decided to start with Theodore Roosevelt because I wanted to read about him so bad! *laughing* Anyhow, silliness aside, I’ve decided after I finish this book, I will go back and start with Obama and work backwards. Since Trump is the current sitting President, I will wait. I would prefer not to read about Presidents while they are alive but since I am doing a challenge, it will have to do.

The lesser known presidents might present a bit of a challenge and most likely I will order them from Amazon and scouring thrift stories and independent bookstore’s. I’m also in the process of clearing the shelf you see behind me in the picture below to dedicate space for the presidents.

Me in March 2018

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Be sure to check out Flashlight Commentary’s post on this challenge. She has listed some wonderful titles. Also, I was looking for biographies on my Great, Great Uncle President Woodrow Wilson and stumbled upon it this amazing site: My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

I will be blogging about my presidential reading journey often and will be compiling material and notes to create a journal for this project.  History teachers should consider doing this with their students. I think it would be a great tool to learn and visuals really help.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Medieval Passion, Arthurian Obsession & Courtly Love with Jessica Cale

Today Author Jessica Cale talks with me about her collaboration on Sexuality and its Impact on British History, about her Medieval passion, Arthurian obsession and her fascination with courtly love. -Stephanie M. Hopkins

 ***********

When Hunter S. Jones asked me to be a contributor to Sexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare, I was thrilled. This was the kind of opportunity I always dreamt of when I was a kid. (Yes, I was a weird kid.) When everyone else wanted to be doctors, astronauts, and entertainers, I was at home watching History’s Mysteries and wanting to be Leonard Nimoy. Everyone else knew him as Spock, but to me he was the host of my favorite show on the History Channel.

corn palace

Behold, the Corn Palace

From there, things progressed as you might imagine. Medieval history was my passion, and I decided to go to school for it. Growing up in Minnesota, the closest castle was the Corn Palace, so I knew if I wanted to study the Middle Ages properly, I was going to have to get on a plane. Fortunately, I was accepted to my first choice school–Swansea University in Wales. As far as I’m concerned, there is no better place to study British medieval history than Wales. With more castles per square mile than anywhere else on earth, it was my idea of heaven.

My first degree went so by so fast I barely felt it. I was fortunate to have a lot of great teachers, in particular the late Ifor Rowlands, who supervised my undergraduate thesis. It was Ifor who suggested a way for me to combine my love of Arthurian literature with the history behind it: I would compare the stories with the Life of William Marshal.

coat of arms

William Marshal’s coat of arms as Earl of Pembroke. Look familiar?

Even during his lifetime, William Marshal was widely regarded as the greatest knight in the world. His life had a lot of interesting parallels to the Lancelot of legend, and in my thesis, I made the argument that the depictions of Lancelot coming out of Marie de Champagne’s court (most notably that from Chrétien de Troyes) were directly inspired by Marshal himself. He was a rock star of the High Middle Ages–handsome, noble, and his prowess was second to none. He was the tutor and companion to Henry the Young King, the eldest son of Henry II, and was rumored to have had an affair with Henry’s wife, Margaret of France. Whether or not he did, no one’s sure, but it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine the hottest gossip of the day popping up in the stories told around court.

Marie de Champagne’s court is best remembered as the unofficial birthplace of the idea of courtly love. At the very least, it is where Andreas Capellanus wrote De Amore, or The Art of Courtly Love, the entertaining, often bonkers, and nevertheless revealing treatise on the ideal and practice of courtly love in the Middle Ages.

In The Art of Courtly Love, Capellanus lays out a number of rules for being in love. Some of them are common practice, but other have changed some over the years. For example, Capellanus argues that jealousy is a good thing and that love cannot and should not exist within marriage.

real castle

A photo I took at Pembroke Castle, William Marshal’s residence as Earl of Pembroke

As an Arthurian obsessive and a Historical Romance author, I have always been fascinated by the idea of courtly love, so when Hunter asked if I would like to be involved with her book, I jumped at the chance to examine it further. One thing that struck me as particularly interesting was the discovery that in spite of common belief and even Capellanus’s recommendations, people did marry for love.

In fact, according to Gratian, you couldn’t be married without it. Three things were required to make a marriage: love, sex, and consent. That’s right–consent. Although forced medieval marriages is a popular trope in historical dramas, in practice, the Church viewed consent as a crucial component of any marriage. Yes, people could feel pressured to marry by parents or just circumstance, but that was the exception rather than the rule. The Church frowned on marriages made only for material gain. Procreation was not the only purpose of marriage, and people also married for love and companionship as they do today.

Love in the Middle Ages was not so very different than it is now, and is it any wonder? While the world changes, human nature does not, and we have a lot more in common with our medieval ancestors than you might guess. I cover a lot of ground in my chapter from common law marriages and annulments to sex, homosexuality, and contraception. Did you know that most of the medieval churches in London were built with the profits of prostitution? True story. It was tolerated and licensed by the Church. Surprise! Along with facts like that, I found recipes for herbal abortifacients, sex magic practices involving fish (what?), a gay king (it’s not the one you’re thinking of), and transgender individuals more or less accepted in society. The more you look into it, the more you find that the Middle Ages weren’t as “medieval” as we’ve been told.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading all about it with me in my chapter in Sexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare.

Jessica ColeJessica Cale is a historian, editor, and Historical Romance author. Originally from Minnesota, she earned her B.A. (Hons) in Medieval History and MFA in Creative Writing from Swansea University while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She is the editor of Dirty, Sexy History and you can visit her website .

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1 + 2018 Sexuality in History Brits Stripped BareSexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare

Would you swig a magic potion or plot to kill your husband in order to marry your lover? These are just two of the many romantic and sexual customs from British history that you will explore as seven authors take us through the centuries, revealing that truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to love. From bizarre trivia about courtly love, to techniques and prostitution, you’ll encounter memorable nuggets of provocative information that you’ll want to share.

It’s all here: ménage a trois, chastity belts, Tudor fallacies, royal love and infidelity, marriage contracts (which were more like business arrangements), brothels, kept women, and whorehouses. Take a peek at what really happened between the sheets. Each story provides you with shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history.

Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades—including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots—the Regency, and down to the ‘prudish’ Victorian Era. This scholarly yet accessible study brings to light the myriad varieties of British sexual mores.

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Book Spotlight: Sugar The World Corrupted: From Slavery to Obesity James Walvin

SugarSugar

The World Corrupted: From Slavery to Obesity James Walvin

The modern successor to Sweetness and Power, James Walvin’s Sugar is a rich and engaging work on a topic that continues to change our world.

How did a simple commodity, once the prized monopoly of kings and princes, become an essential ingredient in the lives of millions, before mutating yet again into the cause of a global health epidemic? Prior to 1600, sugar was a costly luxury, the domain of the rich. But with the rise of the sugar colonies in the New World over the following century, sugar became cheap, ubiquitous and an everyday necessity. Less than fifty years ago, few people suggested that sugar posed a global health problem.  And yet today, sugar is regularly denounced as a dangerous addiction, on a par with tobacco. While sugar consumption remains higher than ever—in some countries as high as 100lbs per head per year—some advertisements even proudly proclaim that their product contains no sugar. How did sugar grow from prize to pariah? Acclaimed historian James Walvin looks at the history of our collective sweet tooth, beginning with the sugar grown by enslaved people who had been uprooted and shipped vast distances to undertake the grueling labor on plantations.  The combination of sugar and slavery would transform the tastes of the Western world. Masterfully insightful and probing, James Walvin reveals the relationship between society and sweetness over the past two centuries—and how it explains our conflicted relationship with sugar today.

James Walvin is the author of several books on slavery and modern social history. including Crossings and A Jamaican Plantation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2008 he was awarded an OBE for services to scholarship. He lives in England.

I rate the cover five stars now if I can get my hands on a copy of this book! Everything about the premise interest me! -Stephanie M. Hopkins

Pegasus Books