House of Sorrow: Summers, Children, and Baseball by Joan Hall @JoanHallWrites

Hi everyone, it gives me great pleasure to have friend and author, and fellow Story Empire contritutor, Joan Hall over to visit today. Help yourselves to refreshments and get ready to be entertained 🙂 >>>


Thank you for hosting me today, Harmony. 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 the 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.

Many of the scenes occur in the late 1960s/early 1970s. I grew up during that time, so I had a blast reliving the era. I included historical events in the story as well as a few personal memories. Let’s hear a couple of them.

There’s something special about summer. School is out, the days are longer, and outside activities abound. Back in the sixties, kids spent most of their time outdoors. I grew up in the country, but I spent one summer in Alabama and was able to get a taste of living in town.

My friends and I played all day long. No staying inside to watch television. We had active imaginations and there was always plenty to do—riding bicycles, exploring, waiting for the ice cream truck. Our parents didn’t fear for our safety.

Some kids played little league ball or would get group together for a friendly neighborhood game. A few dreamed of playing in the major leagues one day.

Hank_Aaron_1974 public domain
Hank_Aaron_1974 public domain

As a side note, I was privileged to see Hank play in the mid-seventies after he’d broken Babe Ruth’s home run record. Unfortunately, he didn’t hit a single home run during that game!

In House of Sorrow Ruth’s nephew comes to visit. He lives and breathes baseball and idolizes, you guessed it, Hank Aaron. Before she became a recluse, Ruth often entertained neighborhood children.



Ruth and Sam were sitting on the porch one July afternoon when her energetic nephew bounded up the steps with two dark-haired boys in tow. They were followed closely by the Marsh girls who lived next door.

Tim had arrived a few days earlier for a month-long visit. Ruth hoped it would be the first of many.

“We’re thirsty, Aunt Ruth. Can we get something to drink?”

Tim was tall for his age, with brown hair and a sprinkling of freckles across his nose. His good looks would steal a girl’s heart someday. One look at Tina Marsh told Ruth they already had. But members of the opposite sex were the last thing on his mind. He lived and breathed baseball, vowing he would one day play in the majors like his hero, Hank Aaron.

“How about some lemonade? I have some in the fridge.”

“Yeah,” the children exclaimed in unison.

One small voice came later than the others. “Yes, please.”

Amanda Marsh, Tina’s younger sister. She was a shy, polite child.

“Okay, everyone wait here with Mr. Sam. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” As she neared the door, a thought occurred to her. She turned to Amanda. “Would you like to help?”

The child’s eyes brightened. “Yes ma’am.”

A few minutes later, Ruth and the little girl returned with a pitcher and plastic cups. “Would you care for some, Sam?”

“Sounds good. But take care of the kids first.”

Once the children drank their fill, they hurried off in search of their next adventure. Amanda stopped at the end of the sidewalk, turned, then waved before following the others.

“She’s a sweet child,” Ruth said.

“Takes after her mother. Looks like your nephew is enjoying his time here.”

“He is. Tim has always been friendly and outgoing. His second day here, he made friends with the Ramirez twins. Doubt I’ll see him before dinner.”

“Eh, I wouldn’t worry too much. This is a safe neighborhood. The Ramirez brothers are good kids.”

Tim and his friends started showing up daily for something cold to drink. Ruth made sure she always had plenty of lemonade or another cold beverage. One day, she decided to bake cookies.

“This is better than the ice cream truck,” Enrique Ramirez said, his mouth full of a chocolate chip confection.

Tina Marsh nodded. “Yeah. It only comes around once a week. Miss Ruth is here all the time.”



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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Here’s my 5 Star review for House of Sorrow:

40 Comments on “House of Sorrow: Summers, Children, and Baseball by Joan Hall @JoanHallWrites

  1. Fun excerpt, Joan! I’m looking forward to reading this one. I wasn’t a child in the ’60s since I graduated high school in ’62, but I have many, many memories of the era, and know I’m going to enjoy this story.

    Thanks for having Joan, Harmony. Great post, you two, and congratulations, Joan. Hope you have huge success with this story and the novel to come! 🙂

    • I wouldn’t trade for having grown up in the ’60s. Lots of great memories. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Marcia!

    • I missed the 60s completely, born in ’72, but it sounds like a great time. Thanks, Marcia 🙂

  2. What a great post, Joan. Children today grow up in such a different world than I remember. I just finished reading House of Sorrow last night and my review is going up shortly. It is a great teaser for the novel and I can’t wait to read more Legends of Madeira! Thank you for hosting, Harmony!

  3. I loved what you said about childhood, Joan. It’s the same kind of childhood I remember. Just reading this post makes me feel nostalgic. House of Sorrow was filled with so many great passages and references to the 1960s and early 1970s. It’s a fantastic novella, and I hope many new readers discover it!

    Thanks for hosting Joan today, Harmony!

  4. Read and loved House of Sorrow. Can’t wait for the novel to follow. Loved all the history woven into the story. Shame about no home runs at the game, Joan. Wishing you all the best with this release.

    Thanks for hosting, Harmony.

    • I’ll tell you one better. Before the game there was a home run hitting contest. Each player had ten “hittable” pitches to knock the ball out of the park. Hank didn’t hit one single pitch. The crowd kept cheering for the pitcher to throw more. I think it was probably pitch 14 or 15 before he hit a home run.

      Not sure if he did it on purpose, he was smiling, the crowd cheered, and everyone had a great time.

  5. Great excerpt. Our childhoods were nothing like kids have today. I might be biased, but I prefer how we grew up.

  6. The blurb has me intrigued. I have it on my Kindle so hope to start reading it soon. Congratulations, Joan.

  7. Congratulations, Joan! I’m looking forward to reading the entire series. I’ve finished the House of Sorrow. Loved it! I’ll be posting a review today. 😊

    • It’s always fun to have you visit! Best of luck with this series, Joan 🙂

  8. I’ve had the opportunity to read House of Sorrow. It’s a good story. I like Ruth, and I can picture her in that big, old house! Pretty cool about Joan seeing Hank Aaron play!

    • This was a fabulous read and I can’t wait for the first book! I miss the days of ice cream trucks and playing outside all day.

      Thanks for hosting, Harmony!

    • Thanks for your comments about the book. And yes, it was cool to see Hank play. Even though he was on the opposing team, the crowd was cheering him on.

    • Priscilla, I posted a reply, to you, but somehow it ended up in a separate thread. Thanks for the support and I’m glad you enjoyed the book.