Guest Article by Peni Jo Renner: Researching How They Did Things in History

How did they do it? The Best Thing about Writing Historical Fiction

by Peni Jo Renner, author of The Puritan Chronicles Series

Ever since I was a child, I always loved history, and what intrigued me most was discovering how people did everyday things before modern conveniences. How did they start fires before matches were invented in 1805? How did they preserve food? What did they do for entertainment?

Growing up, I used to beg my parents for an encyclopedia set that was printed in my lifetime (the only encyclopedia set in the house was printed during the Eisenhower administration), but I never got it. L It became too much of a pain to try to research things (I have a very short attention span) by books alone, and so my love of writing (and thus dream of writing historical fiction) lay dormant for over 20 years.

And then—wonder of wonders!— along comes THE INTERNET!  If it had existed in the 1970’s, I would have NEVER stopped writing! Even if I am not working on a story, I love to fire up Google and type in some random question like, “When were saltines invented?” and like magic, article after article will come up for my perusal.  Because heaven forbid, I can’t have a character eating a soda cracker before they were invented yet, can I ?(FYI; according to Wikipedia, saltines were invented in 1876).

Another reason I enjoy learning how things were done “in the olden days” is that I like to try them myself. For example, I took up yarn spinning a few years ago. I started out using a simple spindle, one of the oldest tools known to man (dates back to the Stone Age, in fact!). I like to think that on some molecular level, when I spin yarn, I am connecting with generations deep into my own past.

There’s lots of different kinds of writing, but my favorite genre of course is historical fiction. My family’s past in particular intrigues me, and I encourage anyone with a desire to write historical fiction to look within the branches of their own family tree. You’ll learn and discover some fantastic things!


Letters to Kezia, Synopsis~

Publication Date: January 14, 2015
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 208

Series: Book Two, The Puritan Chronicles
Genre: Historical Fiction

It is 1693 in Hereford, Connecticut, when Mary Case, the spinster daughter of a Puritan minister, finds herself hopelessly smitten by the roguish thief, Daniel Eames. Betrothed to a man she does not like or love, she is soon compelled to help Daniel escape from jail. Suddenly, she finds herself on the run, not only accused of being Daniel’s accomplice, but also of murder.

The fugitive pair soon finds solace-and a mutual attraction-among the escapee’s Algonquin friends until two men from Daniel’s dark past hunt them down. After Mary is captured and returned home to await trial, a tragedy takes the life of her younger sister, revealing a dark secret Mary’s father has kept for months. But just as Mary learns she is pregnant, she makes a horrifying discovery about Daniel that changes everything and prompts her to develop an unlikely bond with his mother, Rebecca, who soon saves Mary from a shocking fate. It is not until years later that her daughter, Kezia, finally learns the truth about her biological father and family.

Letters to Kezia shares a courageous woman’s journey through a Puritan life and beyond as she struggles with adversity and betrayal, and discovers that loyalty can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

Praise for Letters to Kezia~

“In the tradition of author Peni Jo Renner’s gripping debut novel, Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames, Letters to Kezia recounts the tale of courageous, compassionate, and relatable Mary, whose connection to Rebecca and her family is unforeseen and profound. The reader is captivated at the very first page, as Letters to Kezia is a story of forbidden love, deep family secrets, intrigue, murder, and atonement. Another beautifully written triumph for this author, whose immense gift for story-telling transports the reader into each scene so deftly, one can almost smell the wood smoke and hear the crackling of the fire in the hearth.” – Kelly Z. Conrad, award-winning author of Shaman

“Peni Jo Renner enthralled readers with Puritan Witch, the ordeal of Rebecca Eames, who was condemned to hang from Salem’s gallows as a witch. Now the Eames saga continues as Peni uses her special brand of witchery to bring Mary Case and Daniel Eames to vivid life, and shows us just how much a young woman will risk for love. Letters to Kezia is a poignant, true-life tale from colonial New England’s heartland which will captivate you, and keep you guessing until the end.” -JoAnn Butler, author of Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

03_Author Peni Jo RennerPENI JO RENNER is the author of the IPPY award-winning novel, Puritan Witch: the Redemption of Rebecca Eames.

Originally from North Dakota, Peni now lives with her husband in Maryland where she is currently researching for the third book in the Puritan Chronicles series.

For more information please visit the Puritan Witch Website and Facebook Page. You can also follow Peni Jo Renner on Twitter.

Tour Schedule:

Hashtags: #LetterstoKeziaBlogTour #Historical

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @PeniJoRenner

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