Guest Author Thursday: Joan Hall with House of Sorrow #newrelease #mystery #psychologicalfiction @JoanHallWrites

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in script

It’s my pleasure to welcome good friend and Story Empire colleague, Joan Hall, to my blog today. Joan is here to share her new release House of Sorrow, the introduction to her Legends of Madeira series. You can find my five star review for this fantastic novella that blends history and suspense HERE.

As someone who has an extensive set of books about Robert F. Kennedy, I’m particularly fond the post she’s sharing today. Take it away, Joan!

House of Sorrow: June 1968 & Bobby Kennedy

Mae, thank you for hosting me today. It’s a pleasure to visit today. I’m excited 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.

I included some historical events in the book, as well as some personal memories. Most of the scenes occur in the late 1960s. One event is the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.


“Senator Kennedy has been shot.” 

I still recall waking up to my mother’s words. Mom often had “premonitions” something bad was about to happen. It happened the day of JFK’s assassination and again with Bobby. She’d been unable to sleep that June night, so she turned on the television to hear the sad news. 

In the days following Bobby’s death, I saw his funeral train on television and remember how crowds lined the tracks between New York City and Washington, DC. I was only ten, but it made a profound impact on me.

Robert F. Kennedy at podium, standing in profile, crowd gathered around him
Bobby Kennedy in Los Angeles shortly before his assassination (public domain photo)

Only two months earlier, I had been the one to first learn of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I hurried into the other room to tell my parents. It’s safe to say 1968 was a volatile year in America.

A few years ago, my husband and I visited DC and Arlington National Cemetery. Seeing the simple marker and single white cross on Bobby’s grave touched me more than the eternal flame at JFK’s.

Single white cross and headstone on field of green lawn, gravesite of Robert F. Kennedy
Photo by Joan Hall

Some may think this is weird, but when I looked at the surrounding hillside, the last line of the song, “Abraham, Martin, and John” came to mind. I could almost picture the four men strolling together on the hill, and it brought tears to my eyes.

In this passage, Ruth has just moved to Madeira and met her neighbor, Sam. It’s only a few days after RFK died. 


Sam sat in silence for a few minutes. “Damn shame about Bobby Kennedy.”

“Yes, it was. I watched the funeral on television. So sad for Ethel, especially with her being pregnant. That poor child will never know his or her father.”

“Guess it wasn’t surprising at the number of people who lined the tracks as the train made its way to Washington. Not to mention those at the funeral. President and Mrs. Johnson. Even Nixon was there.”

“Coretta Scott King. You know it had to be hard on her, having lost her husband only two months ago. And Jackie, of course.” Ruth had long been an admirer of the former first lady. She’d watched JFK’s funeral on television and was impressed with Jackie’s poise and elegance in such difficult times. She managed to look classy in her black mourning clothes, her brother-in-law at her side.

“First Jack, now his brother. Not to mention Joe Jr. and their sister. I believe that family is cursed. What do you think?”

“I really don’t believe in curses.”

Sam scoffed. “Curses are real.”

“You think so?”

“I do.” He made a sweeping motion with his hand. “Take some of the people who have lived in this—” Sam shook his head. “Never mind.”

“Lived where? Madeira?”

“It’s not important. Besides, I take it you’re not superstitious.”

“I’m not. This may sound callous, but both President Kennedy and Bobby were politicians and public figures. They were bound to have enemies.”

“That’s true, but what about the other Kennedy children?”

“The oldest brother was killed during World War II. Kathleen’s death was simply a tragic accident.”

“You may be right. On the other hand, Jack’s and Bobby’s assassinations could be part of a conspiracy. They got rid of both brothers. Murdered Martin Luther King. With that war over there, this world is a mess.”


Promo graphic with book cover for House of Sorrow shows porch swing on covered front porch

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. 

Purchase Link

Connect with Joan:

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

Bio box for author, Joan Hall

I was six when Bobby Kennedy died. I only have a grainy memory of a newscast. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I became fascinated with him, devouring books on his life, and collecting DVDs—both documentaries and TV movies. One of the things I loved best about House of Sorrow is how Joan spins back the clock to bring so many events of the 1960s and early 1970s to life in her story. It’s an entertaining novella which acts as lead in for what promises to be a most excellent series. I recommend heading to Amazon to ONE CLICK and snatch up your copy today!

84 thoughts on “Guest Author Thursday: Joan Hall with House of Sorrow #newrelease #mystery #psychologicalfiction @JoanHallWrites

  1. I was nine years old when King and Kennedy were assassinated. I didn’t understand the significance at the time. It was hard for a nine-year-old (even today as an adult) to understand how there could be such hate in the world.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you for hosting, Mae. I loved House of Sorrow and look forward to reading the whole series. Excellent excerpt and testimony, Joan. I, too, remember Bobby’s and MLK’s murders. I can only imagine how powerful it must have been to visit Bobby’s grave. 🌹

    Liked by 3 people

    • It was a touching experience, Gwen. There’s so much history in DC, and I’m so glad we were able to make that trip.

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading House of Sorrow, and I appreciate your support.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you enjoyed House of Sorrow too, Gwen.
      I remember reading that when MLK was assassinated, Bobby was due to give an inner city speech attended mostly by African Americans. While riots were breaking out elsewhere at the news, Bobby delivered it to that group in a manner that kept it peaceful, respectful, and honoring MLK without violence of any kind.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What news to wake up to. In my lifetime it seems comparable to waking up while camping and winding up the radio and hearing about Princess Diana’s death.
    I loved House of Sorrow and look forward to the next book in the series. Best of luck, Joan 🙂
    Mae, thanks for hosting Joan today 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I just missed the 60s, so I can’t relate to those specific events. But I remember Reagan getting shot. And the Pope. The space shuttles exploding. 9/11, of course. Some things alter history and you never forget them.

    I love how you used history in your story, Joan. Heck, I love the story, period. Best wishes with it. Thanks for hosting, Mae.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t read much nonfiction, but I read a biography of the Kennedys several years ago and remember telling my husband it seemed as if the family was cursed. They’ve experienced so many tragedies.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is such a great short story! I enjoyed every word of it; the characters, the events, the historical accuracy, and descriptions. Joan did such a great job and I look forward to more in this series. Thank you for hosting today, Mae! Best wishes, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m catching up, yay! Joan, another great excerpt, but a very painful memory. Three days before JFK was assassinated, he visited Tampa, Florida, and at the end of the parade, drove down the narrow street where I worked. Everyone in the office was standing on the curb, single file, as he passed by, smiling at each of us. He looked me right in the eyes from a distance of about 10 feet and waved at me. I was 19 years old and went home floating on a cloud! The President of the United States had WAVED at me!

    There are no words to describe the shock and horror of what followed mere days later. Your story truly is bringing back memories, both good and bad, of my younger life. I cannot WAIT to read this!!

    Thanks for hosting Joan today, Mae, and Joan–I hope this one and the book to follow each sell at least a MILLION copies for you!!! 🤗❤

    Liked by 3 people

      • It was a day I can still see in perfect clarity, nearly 58 years later, Joan! You don’t forget something like that, especially after the events that followed.

        Yep. A million copies. Why not aim high? 😀

        Liked by 2 people

    • That is such an amazing memory, Marcia. I also can’t imagine the high you went from to the wretched low three days later when JFK was assassinated. It had to be mind boggling to wrap your head around his death given you had just seen him.

      I know you will love House of Sorrow. It’s a fantastic story and a great set-up for Joan’s upcoming series. I wish you happy reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. A touching description of your visit to Bobby’s grave. I am always overcome when I visit Arlington. My grandfather is buried there and I always have a feeling of loss. Not just for him but for those that surround him as well. To his left is a young man who died in Vietnam which seems even more tragic given the span of years between the wars that separate them. I can’t wait to get to the book, Joan, and look forward to hosting you as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I can imagine how powerful it was to stand at that grave, Joan. There was a lot of loss in a small amount of time and you brought that well into a great story.

    Thanks, for hosting, Mae:)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you for hosting, Mae. I enjoyed reading House of Sorrow and Joan’s personal memories of Arlington National Cemetery. Having grown up in the suburbs of Washington, I attended many funerals there. It’s a beautiful resting place for our veterans.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I haven’t visited since I was a child, Jill. I would love to return as an adult when I can so appreciate the sacrifice more.

      I’m so glad you dropped by to share your thoughts on this post and Joan’s wonderful book, House of Sorrow. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I was nine in 1968, but I do remember the terrible things that happened that year.

    I enjoyed House of Sorrow and can’t wait until the rest of the series comes out. I’m currently reading Unclear Purposes because I had read the first two in this series, and Mae’s review on House of Sorrow and my purchase of that reminded me of this series.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed House of Sorrow. And how perfect that you’re reading Unclear Purposes. I’ve heard rumors some of those characters carry over into Joan’s first book in the Madeira series. I can’t wait! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I started House of Sorrow yesterday and am enjoying it. So many memories from that era that are sad and tragic. I was 5 months pregnant with my first child when President Kennedy was assassinated and I thought the world was coming to an end.
    I am anxious to finish the book and write a review. Congratulations, Joan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying the story. It’s a marvelous book. I was too young (only a year old) to remember anything about President Kennedy’s assassination, but I remember my mom talking about when I was older. Where she was and what she was doing–how that moment stayed with her forever.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a thought-provoking post. It brings up so many memories. I was four when JFK was shot and have only a brief memory of his funeral on our black and white television. I remember wanting to watch cartoons and being told “no.” In hindsight, those were tumultuous years for the country. Thanks to Joan for sharing her emotional visit to Arlington. And many congrats on the prequel! Thanks for sharing, Mae. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for stopping by, Diana. I barely remember JFK’s funeral, but I do remember my Dad telling me about it and my mom’s tears.

    The visit to Arlington was special. It’s such a reverent place and I’m so glad we were able to see it (and pay tribute) to the many who’ve served our country.

    Liked by 1 person

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