#GuestDayTuesday – House of Sorrow by Joan Hall

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Today, please welcome Joan Hall to The Write Stuff. Joan is going to tell us a bit about her short story, House of Sorrow,  and she also has a wonderful excerpt to share, as well. I’ve read this story, and I can attest to it being a perfect lead-in to her next series, and a great stand-alone short story of its own, even with the lingering mystery at the end. I’m very happy to have Joan here, especially since she’s talking about an era I remember all too well. Joan, the floor is all yours!


House of Sorrow: Vietnam

Thank you for hosting me today, Marcia. I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit with your readers and to 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.

Most of the scenes occur in the late 1960s, so I included historical events into the story as well as a few personal memories. One of the biggest stories about that period is the Vietnam War.

As a child, I remember Dad turned on the NBC Nightly News with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. Every. Single. Night. Naturally, there were always stories about the war.

Vietnam wasn’t a popular war (not that any of them are) but the men who fought in Southeast Asia didn’t receive a hero’s welcome when they came home.

They were told to keep a low profile. I know of at least one veteran who was advised not to wear his uniform upon arriving in the states. It’s sad because those who fought didn’t have a choice. I had two cousins who served there, one in the Army, the other in the Navy. One carried the scars of that war until he died.

Vietnam Memorial Photo by Joan Hall

Today, the Vietnam Memorial and Wall is one of the most popular tourist attractions in DC. The Wall lists the names of over 58 thousand who died or declared missing in action.

In the early seventies, MIA and POW bracelets became popular items. Between 1970 and 1976 approximately 5 million bracelets were sold. Those who wore them vowed to keep them on until the soldier named on the bracelet, or their remains, were returned to America.

In House of Sorrow, Ruth’s brother was listed as missing in action after his plane was shot down. Ruth wears a commemorative bracelet.


“Is that a new piece of jewelry?” Margaret asked as Ruth entered the room.

She extended her arm. “Yes. It’s an MIA bracelet.”

“I’ve heard a lot of people are wearing them. It’s a wonderful way to remember those who are missing. Shows their families that others care.”

“This one is pretty special to me.”

Margaret read the inscription.

Lt. Col. Michael Morgan, USAF, 12 April 1967, Laos.

“Any particular reason, dear?”

“Michael Morgan is my brother.”

“Oh, my. I had no idea.”

“I don’t talk about it a lot. So many people are against the war. You never know how some will react.”

“Honey, you can tell me anything. I’m not judgmental. As far as the war, it doesn’t matter if a person is for or against it. The men who are fighting aren’t there by choice. It’s foolish to blame them.”

“I agree. It’s hard enough not knowing Mike’s whereabouts. We don’t even know if he’s still alive.”

Margaret patted Ruth’s arm. “Not knowing can be worse.”



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.

Buy House of Sorrow HERE

Connect with Joan:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |   Bookbub  |  Goodreads  |  Instagram





51 thoughts on “#GuestDayTuesday – House of Sorrow by Joan Hall

      • Joan’s right, Olga. You saw them everywhere you went. And I’m married to a VietNam vet, so I know from him just what it was like when he returned home to such an unpleasant welcome. Truly a sad time. But this story touches on many other things I remember from the era. It was a trip down Memory Lane for me, and very well done! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Nice excerpt! I hadn’t come across MIA bracelets, either. Back in the UK, the Vietnam War was a horror that only really touched us on the news. I went on a French exchange visit and did some babysitting for some US personnel out there and that brought home to me the impact it was having elsewhere. I do have a soft spot for books featuring the 60s.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The MIA bracelets were everywhere for a long time, Trish. Joan captured the feeling of the entire era VERY well in this story, and I most definitely remember how badly the returning vets were treated. I ddin’t meet Mark until the 80s, but he’s told me how it was when he came back, too. Such a terrible way to treat our military men! But the 60s overall were an experience most of us will never forget, and for the most part, a fun one.

      Liked by 2 people

    • So happy to have you, Joan, and especially with this story, which was truly a trip down Memory Lane for me. Being married to a VietNam vet, I understand (and remember) exactly how poorly they were treated when they returned home. Those who DID return, that is. And I very clearly remember the MIA bracelets everywhere. I’m glad you chose to share this excerpt here today, though the story is full of other wonderful (and sad) moments from the era.

      Folks, I highly recommend this wonderful story, and suspect that most who read it will be eagerly awaiting the series it leads into: Legends of Madeira. I can’t wait!

      Thanks, Joan! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: House of Sorrow: Last Stop with Marcia Meara – Joan Hall

    • I thought so, too, Priscilla. I remember so much of that era very clearly. (I was the unstoned person at every party, though I did drink some “cheap, go-blind wine” now and then at a few parties. This story was a real Memory Lane affair for me, and I loved it! Can’t wait for the series! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Wonderful showcase, Marcia. 💗 Congratulations, Joan. I loved your novelette and can’t wait to read the evolving series. The excerpt is powerful. My husband and my brother both served in the Vietnam War. My brother was on a sub that carried SEALs into the horror. My husband was in the air. I’ve been to the Wall twice, and it always brings me to tears. So many passed, including some of my friends. Excellent share, Joan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My husband was too young and my brother didn’t get drafted but I remember those times all too well. I recall when one of my cousins came home from there. He was a little “lost” to say the least. I have a great respect for those men and all who serve in our military.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad your husband and brother came home, Gwen. Far too many didn’t. I’ve never been to the Wall, but I’d love to visit it, and I know I’d cry. I only knew one person who died there (to my knowledge), but just the sight of all those names is staggering, even in photos. I think it’s one of the most powerful of any Memorials we have, for that reason. It brings it home. Glad you enjoyed Joan’s share today. I thought it was perfectly done. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember hearing about those bracelets but I never knew anyone who had one. It’s sad what the guys who served during that war went through.

    A very thought provoking and sobering post, Joan. I loved the excerpt and the book. Congratulations on a wonderful tour.

    Marcia, thanks for hosting Joan today!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Another wonderful post about “House of Sorrow.” I loved the real historical events included in this short story. It made it all seem so real. Congrats to Joan and thank you for sharing, Marcia!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I thoroughly enjoyed having Joan here today, Jan, especially sharing this particular excerpt, since I remember it all too well. And I agree about her story seeming very real! Thanks so much for stopping by today! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad I included those things, Jan. The original story didn’t have anything like that, but because Cold Dark Night involves a legend surrounding the moon, I got the idea to write about the Apollo 11 landing. From there, it took off with other memories relevant to that era. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. A terrific excerpt, Joan. I have always been appalled at how anti-war radicals treated the Vietnam vets. The sad thing was even the government tried to keep them hidden. Thanks to Marcia for helping with your launch.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m old enough to remember Huntley and Brinkley being on in our home every night. That was the era when broadcasters reported the news—not tried to spin it to whatever agenda they already hold.

    Liked by 2 people

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