Hi gang, gather ’round. Joan Hall is here with her latest release. Joan is one of my Story Empire partners, and a great author. This one is smart, because it’s a prequel short story. I like the idea of something to whet appetites for the main event.
Make sure she feels welcome, check out her book, and use those sharing buttons before you leave. We all thrive on comments, so don’t be shy. I’ll let Joan take it from here.
House of Sorrow: April 1970
Thank you for hosting me today, Craig. I appreciate the opportunity to tell your readers 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.
Most of the scenes occur in the late 1960s/early 1970s, so I included historical events into the story along with a few personal memories. Today is the fifty-first anniversary of one such event.
In April 1970, John Wayne won his first Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. Midnight Cowboy received the award for Best Picture.
But not all was rosy that month. Paul McCartney announced the break-up of the Beatles on April 10, leaving thousands of fans in mourning. The following day their song, “Let it Be” reached number one on the charts, where it stayed for two weeks. A rather bittersweet farewell.
On April 13, an explosion crippled the Apollo 13 spacecraft carrying astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert. The next four days were tense as NASA worked diligently to bring them home alive. With the command module virtually useless, the lunar module became a lifeboat.
Many people believe the number thirteen brings bad luck, including Ruth’s neighbor, Sam. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon who doesn’t believe men should be “Messing around in the heavens.” Sam tries to convince Ruth the Apollo 13 accident was inevitable.
Like many Americans, Ruth had grown accustomed to moon launches. When Apollo 13 blasted off on April 11, she didn’t give it a second thought. Even Lee had grown disinterested, which was a good thing since none of the major television networks carried the astronaut’s live broadcast on the evening of April 13.
The following morning, Ruth sat in the porch swing, enjoying the cool spring breeze.
The Marsh girls waved to her from next door as they left for school.
“I’ll have cookies when you get home from school.”
“If that’s what you want. How about you, Tina?”
The older girl shrugged. “Whatever.”
“Is something wrong?”
Tina shrugged again.
“She’s in mourning,” Amanda said.
Ruth cocked an eyebrow. “Mourning? Why?
“Because the Beatles broke up.”
Ruth suppressed a smile. She’d been a teenager and knew what it was like when inconsequential things seemed like the end of the world. She watched until the sisters were out of sight.
Sam waved to her from his yard. It was Millie’s day to volunteer at the nursing home.
“Did you hear about Apollo 13?” he shouted.
“No. I haven’t turned on the television.”
He hurried across the street. Sat in his usual chair. “There was an explosion.”
“Explosion? How horrible. Are the astronauts okay?”
“Had to move them into them lunar module, hoping to keep them alive. NASA is working to bring them home.”
“Let’s pray they do.”
Sam shook a finger. “What did I tell you about messing around with the moon? Somebody’s trying to tell us something.”
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 convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.
Connect with Joan: