Damaris Cooke’s Journal Disclaimer

The other day, I put out a plea to my friends on Facebook for some suggestions as to my book title choice. 

What I wound up with as a title is:


An epic story of lost Native American and Colonial history.

My friends were very helpful with their suggestions, questions, and support. One surprise came from Lori Brown Patrick, who is my editor for the book. Her words after reading the first 19 chapters, blew me away. 

Whatever its title ends up being, I believe Lisbeth’s book will be an affirmation to Native American peoples, finally bringing a little-known but significant piece of their history to light, and a revelation to others who are not so familiar with that history. Based on actual historical documents, including the journal of an eyewitness, the book plants you firmly in the experience of both Natives and European settlers in what we now know as New England in the late 1600s. If you had asked me if this were possible, I would have been very skeptical, but Lisbeth has managed to pull it off.

Her story takes what has always been dry and frankly skimpy history, at least in the mainstream, public school history textbooks, and creates empathy through detailed layers of her characters’ thoughts and emotions. Until I read it, I had no idea that such close relationships and harmony existed between the Natives and the European immigrants–that towns had even been created based on the intent to foster harmony and peaceful, diverse community. I find that a source of great hope and encouragement, still deeply relevant to current culture and the history we are creating daily now.

Sadly, also like today, not everyone at that time was interested in cultivating peace and harmony between all peoples. Then, as now, corruption also flourished, and some people hungered more for money, land, and power than for peace. Deep prejudices, racial hatred, and hideous oppression led to unthinkable acts of cruelty, murder, and war. The best and the worst in humanity showed itself on all sides of the conflicts.

I highly encourage anyone to read Lisbeth’s book once it is published. You will learn more than you ever absorbed in history class. It will be more accessible, easier to identify with the participants from all sides, and more memorable–and affecting–than you can imagine. It will change you.

Hold on until Lisbeth is finished with it. It will be worth the wait.

I was so excited after reading Lori’s words about the first half of Praying Town, that I almost forgot to tell her about Damaris’s journal. Sadly, it was not found in a dusty old box shoved under the table for a hundred years in an antique store. It was not passed down from generation to generation and discovered. Damaris’s journal was written by me in order to bring Damaris to life. She seemed to want to tell her story herself and so I let her do that in her journal.  

Even though the history actually happened, I have had to take writer’s liberty with the people who lived through it. There is no way of knowing for sure who actually knew who and how they felt about each other. If the friendships are believable, I have succeeded in my goal of bringing these people’s stories to life.

There are shocking, startling, unbelievable moments in the story. Surprisingly, those are all from actual eyewitness accounts. My fiction fills in the day-to-day moments that have been lost to time.





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Author of PRAYING TOWNE Gawenase Johnson is of deep rooted Native and Colonial heritage.

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