New Release! “House of Sorrow” by Joan Hall @JoanHallWrites #writingcommunity #IARTG #ASMSG #WhatToRead #NewRelease

Please give an extra warm welcome to Joan Hall and her latest story, “House of Sorrow! Here’s my review for this wonderful prequel:)

House of Sorrow: February 1980

Thank you for hosting me today, Denise. I’m delighted to be here, to visit with your readers, and talk about my newest release.

House of Sorrow is a short-story prequel to my upcoming novel Cold Dark Night, book one of my Legends of Madeira series. It’s the story of Ruth Hazelton, a reclusive older woman who lives in a two-story Victorian house in the fictional town of Madeira, New Mexico. Ruth reflects on her life, particularly when she and her husband Lee first moved to town.

This story began as a 350-word blog post years ago. From there it evolved to around 2,000 words. While planning Cold Dark Night, I decided Ruth’s story would be perfect for a prequel.

Most of the scenes occur in the late 1960s/early 1970s, so I used actual events in the story. I also drew on a few of my memories from that time. The part I’m sharing today takes place in February 1980.

Probably the biggest story of February 1980 was the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. I was recovering from a hospital stay and spent much of my time watching the games, saddened that Tai Babalonia and Randy Gardner wouldn’t be able to compete in pairs figure skating. I cheered Eric Heiden won five gold medals for speed skating and celebrated the “Miracle on Ice,” when the US Hockey team beat the Soviets for the gold.

 Public Domain photo of Lake Placid Olympic Medals

But while the rest of the US was celebrating, something was afoul in Madeira, New Mexico. Let’s hear more.


February 16, 1980

I wish Lee would confide in me more often. Something is bothering him. I can tell by the way he acts. He’s always been the quiet one. Never wanting to burden me with his problems.

After twenty years of marriage, doesn’t he realize we’re in this together? I want to help. He’s always been there for me, but I know better than to push him. If and when he’s ready, he’ll talk.

Maybe I’m reading too much into things. He turns fifty in a few days. Could be a mid-life crisis. I’ll probably be the same way when the time comes for me.

Ruth closed the journal then went into the kitchen to check on the pot of stew. It was one of Lee’s favorites—a hearty meal perfect for a cold winter night. She lowered the burner. Looked out the window toward the driveway. There was no sign of her husband.

The clock read six-thirty. He was already half an hour late. She debated on calling the station but decided against it. She’d never been one to phone him at work unless it was an emergency.

There was nothing more to do than wait, so she went back to the living room. This time she opted for the television.

An hour later, Lee still hadn’t shown up.

“Okay. It’s been long enough. I’m calling.” Ruth started to pick up the phone when the doorbell rang.

She opened the door to find Detective Juan Garcia and another police officer who she didn’t recognize.

“Hello, Juan. Lee isn’t home, but I’m expecting him any minute. In fact, he should have been here by now.”

“May we come in?” Juan’s voice was somber. His face expressionless.

“Of course. No reason for you to wait outside. The living room is nice and warm.”

The officers entered the foyer. Ruth closed the door against the bitter cold.

“Would you like something hot to drink?” she asked.

The younger officer shook his head then glanced toward the seasoned detective.

“Ruth, why don’t you sit down?” Juan spoke softly.

Her heart plummeted. For the first time, she noticed the wording on the second officer’s badge.

Nathan Turner, Chaplain.

She sank into a chair, her hands shaking, and her stomach in knots. A million scenarios raced through her mind, searching to find an explanation for Juan’s demeanor and the presence of a chaplain.

Other than the obvious.

But in her heart, she knew. They weren’t here to see Lee. They were here to tell her about Lee.


Dream home or damned home?

Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.

But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.

Until the unthinkable happens.

Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.

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54 thoughts on “New Release! “House of Sorrow” by Joan Hall @JoanHallWrites #writingcommunity #IARTG #ASMSG #WhatToRead #NewRelease”

    1. I’m not sure I would ever attempt that again. The initial post was all telling, as was most of the 2000 word short story. Then I decided I would weave in historical events and it went from there. I find it’s much easier to write long than to increase a story. But I had fun with this one.

      Thanks for stopping by, Robbie.

  1. I loved House of Sorrow and look forward to this series. Great that the story was born from a blog post, Joan. And the winter olympics is a fun bit of fact to go with it. Best of luck with everything! 🙂

    Denise, thanks for hosting Joan today 🙂

    1. As I told Robbie, I wouldn’t recommend doing that, but the original post had a purpose. It just took five years for me to expand the story!

      Thanks for stopping by, Robbie.

    2. I enjoyed the Winter Olympics bsckground too, Harmony:) I’m happy to have, Joan, here today!

    1. I’m happy to have you here today, Joan, and to share the review on your great prequel:) It’s fun learning all the background information on your tour!

  2. Thank you for sharing your wonderful review, Denise, and showcasing Joan’s latest. I very much enjoyed House of Sorrow and look forward to the series. Congratulations, Joan!

  3. My mother is a big figure skating fan. I do remember her talking about Babalonia and Gardner. The short story is a fun one, and Joan’s series is going to be great.

    1. I agree, Priscilla, this is going to be a great series and I can’t wait to read more. Thanks for dropping by and supporting, Joan:)

    2. I love figure skating and that year was out chance to beat the Russians. We got it back in Hockey. 🙂

      Thanks for your lovely comments.

  4. I loved hearing the origins of the story, Joan. And I really enjoyed House of Sorrow. Wishing you all the best with this release, and looking forward to the novel that follows.

    Thanks for hosting, Denise.

    1. I always love hearing the orgins of a story too, Staci:) I’m happy to have, Joan, here today to share her wonderful story.

    1. It’s fun learnimg some background on the stories, isn’t it, Jacqui 🙂 Thanks for dropping by and supporting Joan!

  5. How wonderful to see you and your new work here at Denise’s site, Joan. I love the excerpt you chose to share. This is such a great introduction to the new upcoming series! Congrats!

  6. I’ll just leave this little bit of Olympic trivia…my grandmother’s boyfriend worked the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics and the story goes that he put the flag under the ice and also escorted Sonja Henie onto the ice. (I used that family lore as inspiration for one of my short stories!) 🙂

    1. That’s great family lore and I can see it being inspiring, Willow. Thanks for dropping by and supporting, Joan:)

  7. I love learning the background of stories, Joan. My entire Point Pleasant series started as a blog post on the Mothman, so I can definitely relate.

    Reading your memories of the 1980’s Olympics resurrected my own fond memories and excitement that year.

    An excellent excerpt too, from a great book. I loved House of Sorrow and highly recommend it.

    Many thanks for hosting Joan today, Denise!

    1. I didn’t know that’s how you Point Pleasant series began. The 1980 Olympics were fun. It’s the first time I truly became interested in winter sports.

      Thanks for your support, Mae.

    2. I love learning the bsckground to stories too, Mae, including Point Pleasant:) The 1980 Olympics do hold special memories. I’m happy to spread the word on Joan’s wonderful story!

  8. Its always interesting reading how some novels start life and this one is no different…Congratulations on the new release, Joan…Thank you Denise for following CarolCooks2 🙂 x

  9. I always find it interesting how it all gets started too. Happy to be following 🙂

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