Thursday, October 30, 2008

More guest blogging

I'm happy to send people over to Shana's Literarily blog today, where I've posted about my ancestor Mary Bliss Parsons, who was accused of witchcraft in the mid 1650s in Springfield and Northampton, Massachusetts. I discuss how mundane squabbles over little things could easily lead to a witchcraft accusation, and often did. For instance, my ancestor scolded her neighbor about his whipping an ox too hard--and soon she was fighting for her life.

I'm also giving away a copy of my novel The Witch's Trinity through the Literarily blog--all you need to do is comment on her blog to enter.

I'm excited to announce that the Chicago Tribune and the San Jose Mercury News will be running slightly different op-eds of mine tomorrow, Halloween Day, about witchcraft. And in the city of my alma mater, Colby College, the Waterville Sentinel and the Kennebec Journal will run my op-ed too.

And please come back after visiting Literarily and/or the newspapers' online sites: I've posted a lot of information on witchcraft (both medieval and modern-day) and you can read older posts on that topic. I'm working on a witch--a real witch, a neopagan--to write about his experiences planning a local Samhain celebration. Samhain is the pagan holiday that gave rise to today's Halloween. Check back later for that.

Finally, if you'd like to visit my website, it's Thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What allows witches to fly?

I'd like to send readers over to C.W. Gortner's blog today---he invited me to guest blog on the topic of witchcraft, and I chose to write about what permits witches to fly.

Gortner is the author of the The Last Queen, a highly-regarded historical novel about Juana La Loca. I bought a copy this weekend at Book Group Expo, where he and I met. He's a charmer and completely friendly--and it's fabulous to meet another historical fiction writer. We also learned through chatting that we had some other writer friends in common.

Thanks so much, C.W.!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Witchcraft ancestry

It's been amazing to hear from readers who also share a link with an ancestor accused of witchcraft. Author John Putnam Demos tracked 139 cases of witchcraft in 17th century New England (excepting the Salem trials). Given the large families colonial settlers seemed to have, it makes sense that there are many descendants of accused witches today.

The earliest case was Jane Hawkins of Boston, accused in 1638; the last was an unnamed female in the 1680s, possibly in Salem. Demos tracked the 1600s only--the last witch trial in the U.S. took place in 1706, when Grace Sherwood underwent the dunking trial at what is today Virginia Beach.

Her thumbs were tied to her big toes, arching her back, and then she was tossed into the river. She floated...which meant she was guilty. But instead of being executed, Sherwood was imprisoned for eight years and then released. She was actually given a posthumous gubernatorial pardon two years ago!

Demos's book with a chart of all the trials is Entertaining Satan. He has a new one out this year that I am putting on my wish list.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Free copies of Witchs Trinity

Would you like to win a free copy of my novel? Please visit Literate Housewife... she and I are giving away two more copies.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Graveyard Shift

Please go over to Lee Lofland's blog Graveyard Shift to see my guest blog on how to interrogate a witch. Lee was really kind to permit me to post, and the comment trail has some interesting back-and-forth on witchcraft versus wicca. Tonight, visit at 5 p.m. Pacific Time (or 8 p.m. EST) for my radio interview with Ken Hudnall. He will be taking callers (and I think you can email questions, too, from that site), which I would fervently appreciate.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Okay to bring a witch to court in Zimbabwe

This is news already two years old, but I just ran across it while researching the issue.

In July 2006, the BBC reported that Zimbabwe lifted its more than a century old ban on witchcraft.

Back in 1899, Zimbabwe—then Southern Rhodesia—passed the Witchcraft Suppression Act, which despite its foreboding name was actually a positive thing. It made it illegal to accuse someone of witchcraft. Those early colonial settlers remembered the disastrous witch persecutions in Europe and wanted to avoid a similar situation.

But two years ago, the government amended the Act, positing that the supernatural—and witchcraft—exists. Now Zimbabweans can prosecute someone for witchcraft, so long as it’s the bad kind, meant to harm someone. Positive witchcraft, to protect property, for instance, is fine.

The Worldwide Religious News also reported the story, with a very different angle, that the Amendment furthered Zimbabwean culture. It included this quote:

"By rejecting the existence of witchcraft, whites managed to destroy one of the tenets of African traditional beliefs as a way of disenfranchising the blacks of their religious bedrock," said one analyst.

On the plus side, the Amendment does criminalize witch hunting, with a fine or jail time as punishment.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Upcoming events

Things are getting exciting... the paperback of Witch's Trinity launches next Tuesday, the 7th. Seven has been a lucky number for me (along with four, my favorite number), so that's auspicious. The book has a brand-new cover, the dramatic red and black silhouette of a forest that you see over to the right. From the 7th to the 20th, it will be on the New Paperbacks table at all Barnes and Noble stores... and hopefully most independents will have stocked it as well. Halloween isn't really a gift-giving holiday (other than individually-wrapped candy), but this might be a good present for someone interested in history, women's stories, and witches. See more about the book at my website.

Tomorrow, the 4th, I'll be appearing at Litquake, San Francisco's madhouse of a literary festival. I say madhouse because they pack approximately 50,000 events into one week. It's a ride. I'll be at the SF Main Library from noon to 1 p.m. as part of an afternoon's worth of readings. At 5 p.m. we all adjourn to Books Inc. in Opera Plaza for a wine and cheese reception and book signing.

Next Wednesday the 8th, two pretty exciting things are happening. I'll be guest blogging at Lee Lofland's blog The Graveyard Shift. Lee's an amazing writer, nominated for a Macavity award. Since his blog focuses on cops and robbers, my guest blog will address medieval inquisitors as the "cops" of their day--what methods they use, how they extract confessions, etc.

Then that night, I'll be interviewed on Ken Hudnall's radio show out of El Paso. He focuses on the paranormal. You can listen to it live-streaming here at 5-6 p.m. PST on Wed., Nov. 8.

As mentioned in the last post, I'll be guest blogging at Literate Housewife's site on Oct. 23. And then on Halloween day, she will post our upcoming interview.

The final news for October is that I'll be at Book Group Expo in San Jose on the 25th. From 1:45 to 3:00 I'll be on a panel called Which Witch is Which with Brunonia Barry, author of The Lace Reader, and Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter. This is the third year of the expo, and I've been every year, once as a reader and twice as an author. I love it. Instead of a series of writers reading excerpts, the focus is on discussion--so during each panel, the majority of time is spent fielding audience questions. Tickets are still available, and the expo continues on Sunday the 26th as well.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Literate Housewife

I'm thrilled beyond belief that Literate Housewife has chosen Witch's Trinity for the inaugural installation of her Spotlight month.

She's a great blogger, nominated for many blog awards. She reads like a maniac (11 books in September!) and posts thoughtful, incisive reviews.

Each Thursday throughout the month, she'll be posting new material relating to witchcraft. She and I will do an interview together and we talked about my doing a guest blog. Under her auspices, I'll be giving away three free copies of The Witch's Trinity--the new paperback version that will be released Oct. 7. That black and red cover you see over to the right is the book jacket, which I'm really happy about.

This Saturday the 4th, I'll be reading at San Francisco's riproaring Litquake Festival (so many readings, so little time! Or maybe that just refers to the infamous Pub Crawl night that is an annual tradition). I'll be at the San Francisco Main Library at Civic Center, at the Koret Auditorium, between noon and 1 p.m. I'll be reading with several other authors, and the readings continue all afternoon, culminating in a reception at Books Inc. in Opera Plaza at 5 p.m. Hope to see you there.

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