Tag Archive | Family

Free Download! Forsaken by Love

During this ‘stay-at-home’ time, it’s nice to be able to virtually travel to another time and place.

I’m happy to say that today thru Wednesday, you can download “Forsaken by Love” for FREE from Amazon! I hope you’ll enjoy Vern’s journey. The book is based on a true story that one of my friends graciously shared with me. When she told it, I knew I had to write it! I’m thrilled she allowed me to tell it.

 

Appreciating the ‘Simple’ Things

I’ve lost count of how often I’ve said, “We’re living in crazy times.”

For anyone who has lost a loved one from this virus or is currently ill with Covid-19, I’m sure the words to describe it would be much harsher than ‘crazy.’

We’ve all experienced loss. As it is with this new virus, sometimes it’s unexpected and tragic, other times, it comes from a lengthy illness or simply because we’ve reached the age that our bodies shut down. But even when we have the chance to prepare ourselves emotionally for the moment we’ll have to let go of the person we love, we’re never ready. We don’t want to lose anyone we cherish.

Life never guarantees another day. That’s something else I’ve heard and said for as long as I can remember. The older I get, the more I appreciate the wisdom in being told to appreciate the simple things and enjoy every moment with the people I love.

Since there’s more than enough gloom and doom in the media, I don’t want this post to be about the negative aspects of what we’re facing. I want to express the good I see in being alive every day. In addition, I’d love to hear from you and know what you enjoy the most in your day-to-day living.

I love that first sip of coffee that’s waiting for me the instant I walk into my kitchen. I’m grateful for the electricity that continues to flow through my home, even when I’m sleeping, so that my automatic coffee maker comes on at the right time. And speaking of electricity–that alone is something to cheer from the rooftops!

I have hot water for my shower and to readily wash my hands umpteen times each day. Electricity powers my laptop, so I can continue to write, and it recharges my phone, so I can stay in touch with family and friends. It keeps my refrigerator cold, so my food doesn’t spoil, and it keeps the food in my freezer frozen for the long haul.

I have a sweet husband who’s happy to go out and do the grocery shopping and other necessary tasks like picking up the mail. As for me, I stay comfortably at home, writing. And what a blessing that is! I still get to escape with my characters to other times and places, and I’m graced with wonderful emails and messages from readers who thank me for taking their minds off the current issues. If that’s not a good reason to smile, I don’t know what is. Thank you, readers!

I have a loyal dog who gets me moving when I’ve been sitting too long. We may only go out into the yard, but at least I’m getting out of the house for a few minutes. He’s been overly happy lately, because I never leave him.

I bought the ‘Stay at Home Dog’ shirt months before this virus came to be. At the time, I thought it was simply cute, but now, it’s fitting. He loves being at home, and I’m thankful he’s here.

I have word games on my phone to entertain me when my brain needs a rest from writing, and jigsaw puzzles that I love to put together. The bigger the better. I even dug out some puzzles that I’ve had since I was a little girl. The photo at the bottom of this post is one of them. I try to challenge myself by not looking at the picture while I’m working them, but I still like to start by putting the border together. My son says I shouldn’t do that. He’s trying to get me to work them from the middle out, but I have yet to try that. With one exception… I found a border-less puzzle that not only didn’t have a border, it also had five additional pieces, just to throw me off! It was called an “Impossible” puzzle, but I’m happy to say that I mastered it. Such fun!

I’ve been taking the time to experiment with new recipes, and I’ve also cooked things that I hadn’t made in years. Like old-fashioned tapioca pudding. It’s so good when it’s hot off the stove! And if you want a wonderful treat, cook up some stove-top chocolate pudding and put it over vanilla ice cream. It’s delicious. Even better than hot fudge.

I’m grateful that I’ve not lost touch with my church friends. I sing in the church choir, and we’d been practicing for an Easter cantata, but of course, that didn’t happen. Still, we meet once a week on Zoom. We don’t sing, but we lift each other up in prayer and share how our lives are going. Eventually, when we can get back together again, we’ll sing the cantata. Easter should be lived every day of our lives, so even though the date might not be the ‘right’ one, the message always is. God is gracious and still in control, and though we might not understand why we’re going through these troubled times, He knows. His love never leaves us.

Maybe we all needed the opportunity to take a deep breath and slow down. Even so, I hate to see anyone suffer. I’d like everyone to be able to get back to work and doing what they love.

So, tell me what makes you smile, and what you love the most! We’ll get through this together and be stronger for it.

For the Love of a Chihuahua

I got my first furry pet when I was in elementary school. Second grade, I think. She was a solid black cat named Midnight, who I found on the school grounds and brought home. Originally, Mom insisted she stay outside, but when the first rainstorm rolled in and Midnight pawed at the back door, Mom’s heart melted and she brought her inside.

From that day on, we had cats. Lots of cats. We did what we could to come up with the most unusual names for them. After Midnight, we had Precious, (not so odd), Googey, Silmarillion, (my sister is a Tolkien fan!), Sarazar, Lithwaite, and Smokey. There were a few others, too, but these stood out the strongest in my memory.

Even after I left home, I continued to have cats. Luna was a big favorite. She was a beautiful Himalayan who went to live with my mom when I moved across the country. Upon arriving in the south, I had a cat adopt me. Spooky (another black cat) showed up on my doorstep on Halloween. Coincidental? Probably.

Spooky was a very cool cat, but three years after my arrival in Tennessee, I met my current husband. A man who is severely allergic to cats! Dog gone it! When we got married, Spooky went to live with a friend of mine. Sandy, my friend, had a pet hedgehog, and soon, Spooky and the hedgehog became best buddies.

Many years have passed since then, and for a long time, I was utterly petless. Then, my son left for college, and my husband and I became empty nesters. I never thought I would be affected by the quietness of our home with just the two of us in it, but it hit me hard. Because of my blues, my husband brought home Sophie, a sweet black Labrador. Eventually, Sophie had a litter of puppies, and we added Misty and Dusty to our home. They are the yellow Labs in this photo. Cute, huh?

I discovered I was a dog person, and I finally felt content giving up my love of having a cat in the house. My new big babies eventually weighed over 90 lbs. each, but that didn’t stop me from cuddling them. Labradors are incredibly lovable. They enriched our lives for over thirteen years, and when they died–all within a year of each other–my heart broke.

I decided I wasn’t going to go through that pain again.

BUT . . .

Odd how things change. A friend told me she was looking for a home for her Chihuahua. I never thought I’d like a little dog, after becoming so fond of the big ones, but Jax changed my mind and my heart. He has wormed his way in deep! This little guy has brought abundant joy and love into our home. He’s my companion when I write, and he does a great job of getting me off my rump every hour to take him outside. It’s easy to get caught up in my stories and lose track of time, and I used to set an alarm. Otherwise, I’d sit for so long, my legs would fall asleep!

Because of Jax, I’m moving a whole lot more, and I have no need for the alarm. He has his daily routine, which includes getting up at 5:30am. I don’t mind. He starts my day with joy, and in the evenings, when I’m relaxing and watching TV, he curls up on my lap and keeps me warm. His disposition is generally good, but he hates my telephone and gets jealous if I’m talking on it or playing games. (I love playing word games!) He wants the attention and whines when I give it to anyone or anything else. Maybe I’m spoiling him, but one thing’s for sure. I’m feeding off his unconditional love.

I still like cats, but since I can’t own one any longer, I’m grateful to have discovered the love of a Chihuahua. He’s about the size of cat, so maybe in that way, he’s a better substitution than the Labradors. He’s definitely easier to cuddle.

I heard that petting an animal can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress. I totally agree!

 

Free Download – Whispers from the Cove!

June 20th thru 24, “Whispers from the Cove” is available on Amazon for a free e-book download! If you have not yet had the opportunity to read it, what better time to grab it?

And if you have read it, loved it, and want to tell all your friends about it, please share this information.

Enjoy!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZYYY5WK

Whispers from the Cove

Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, Book 1

Lily Larsen has never been afraid of anything, yet the effects of the war are wearing her down.

Her beautiful home in Cades Cove, Tennessee, lies deep in the Smoky Mountains. For decades, her family has farmed and lived peacefully, until the soldiers came and made every day a struggle to survive.

Whether they wear gray or blue, the men in uniform arrive unexpectedly and take whatever they want. Not only do they steal food and livestock, but some believe they can help themselves to anything they desire. Lily now has something to fear.

Caleb Henry is running from his own battles, bleeding and broken. He seeks refuge in the cove and literally runs into Lily. Because he’s injured, she shows compassion and sneaks him into her cabin, trusting her folks to tend him.

But there’s more to Caleb than they see on the surface. His arrival changes their lives, and what happens going forward can never be undone.

 

 

 

Breaking the Rules

I love sharing the work of my talented friends, and today I want to tell you all about the newest release from Emma Leigh Reed, “Breaking the Rules.”

This is contemporary women’s fiction at its finest!

Isabelle’s home-life is troubled, to say the least, and she has definitely hit rock-bottom. But this inspiring story will have you cheering her on as she comes to grips with the truths about her life and allows herself happiness–something she believed she never deserved.

Here’s a little more about the book:

Isabelle LaFayette tries to end her own life. Her failed attempt haunts her, along with her other past regrets and the inability to forgive herself, for what her mother calls a selfish act.

Jack Riley comes into Isabelle’s life and makes her feel alive, but believing she doesn’t deserve to be happy, she pushes him away. She must find the inner strength to confront the true source of her pain, or she’ll never be released from the bondage she’s encased herself in.

Isabelle needs to give herself permission to heal and break the rules that have been imprisoning her. It is the only way for her to find ultimate freedom from the past and piece her heart back together again.

 

 

The Smoky Mountain Saga Continues!

You asked, I listened, and I’m so glad I did!

Thank you readers for all the emails asking me to continue my Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga. I had originally intended for the series to be just three books, but you changed my mind.

Yesterday, book four, “Rumors of the Renegade,” was released. It’s currently available in e-book only, but the paperbacks are coming soon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H7R7357

I had so much fun going back to Cades Cove. Not just in the written word, but actually visiting there. We took more than one trip to the mountains over the last six months, and every time I go into the cove, I feel like I’m stepping into a familiar world as well as into the past. It’s easy for me to envision the Larsen family sitting on their front porch sharing tales, or simply watching the fireflies dance.

There’s something serene about the cove that puts me at peace.

“Rumors of the Renegade” tells Lucas Larsen’s story, and also continues on with the lives of Lily and Caleb. I haven’t yet decided if there will be a book 5, but I’d love your input! You swayed me before, so you could very well sway me again.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for traveling these old roads with me. As long as my fingers can type, and my mind stays sharp, I intend to keep the journey going.

In the Footsteps of the Past, We, too, Shall Walk…

 

 

 

Getting to Know Lucas Larsen

If you’ve read my Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, you already know Lucas Larsen. And if you haven’t read any of the Cades Cove books, this is your opportunity to get to know a little about the obnoxious, red-haired brother who gives everyone in the family grief.

Born January 9, 1852, Lucas was Buck and Rose Larsen’s first son. When he came into the world squalling, his two older sisters didn’t know quite what to think of him, but they did all they could to learn how to love him. Lucas didn’t make it easy.

When he got old enough to understand the importance of working the farm, his pa had already been teaching Lucas’s oldest sister, Lily, how to run things. Violet, his other sister, paid no mind to working outside and spent her days doing women’s work alongside their ma.

Lucas became bitter, feeling no one paid him the attention he deserved. He wanted to be the one at his pa’s side, working the land, but it seemed there was no place for him. He grew to hate the farm and everything associated with it.

His ma birthed several more babies after him–some of which died–but eventually, he was given two little brothers, Horace and Isaac. Lucas enjoyed having someone younger to boss, and he took advantage of tormenting his brothers whenever he could. He teased them relentlessly, to the point they started to fear him. But, Lucas liked it that way.

He learned how to cuss at a young age and frequently got scolded for it. His family was active at the Baptist church, and his ma oftentimes quoted scripture. She claimed God didn’t like cussing, but Lucas had never heard Him complain, so he couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about.

When the war came between the North and the South, Lucas wanted to fight, but was too young. He believed soldiering would be a perfect fit for his aggressive ways, not to mention, get him off the farm. He was one of the few people in the country upset when the war ended. He’d never gotten his chance to fight.

Regardless, Lucas managed to cause other kinds of trouble. He carried out some despicable things, and hurt those closest to him. You can read his entire story in the three-book saga, starting with “Whispers from the Cove.” https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZYYY5WK

I appreciate the many readers who have asked me to continue this saga. And, truthfully, Lucas himself has been pestering me to tell the rest of his story!

His many inner demons continue to haunt him. His story continues in book four of the Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, “Rumors of the Renegade.” This book is still being written, and I hope to see it released in early August. So, stay tuned!

If you’d rather listen to “Whispers from the Cove,” it’s also available on audible.

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Whispers-from-the-Cove-Audiobook/B07B3GFRYP

Book two, “Hushed into Silence” is currently in production.

I’m thrilled to be able to share my love of Cades Cove with you all! I hope the Larsen family has worked their way into your hearts, just like they have mine.

And please, if there are others in this series who you’d like to hear more about, please tell me!

Happy reading!

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway! Whispers from the Cove

In celebration of my newest release, “Whispers from the Cove,” I’m giving away 5 signed copies through a Goodreads Giveaway! Now thru June 19th.

Whispers from the Cove

Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, Book 1

Lily Larsen has never been afraid of anything, yet the effects of the war are wearing her down.

Her beautiful home in Cades Cove, Tennessee, lies deep in the Smoky Mountains. For decades, her family has farmed and lived peacefully, until the soldiers came and made every day a struggle to survive.

Whether they wear gray or blue, the men in uniform arrive unexpectedly and take whatever they want. Not only do they steal food and livestock, but some believe they can help themselves to anything they desire. Lily now has something to fear.

Caleb Henry is running from his own battles, bleeding and broken. He seeks refuge in the cove and literally runs into Lily. Because he’s injured, she shows compassion and sneaks him into her cabin, trusting her folks to tend him.

But there’s more to Caleb than they see on the surface. His arrival changes their lives, and what happens going forward can never be undone.

You can enter, by clicking below. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Whispers from the Cove by Jeanne Hardt

Whispers from the Cove

by Jeanne Hardt

Giveaway ends June 19, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Getting to Know Lily Larsen

In less than a week, book one of my latest saga will be released! I’m so excited to bring this story into the hands of readers. It’s been in my heart for a great while. From the first time I traveled the loop road around Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains, the beautiful setting became a part of me. I do all I can to visit the Smokies at least once a year.

In anticipation of the release of “Whispers from the Cove,” I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to my heroine, Lily Larsen. Yes, she’s fictitious, but she represents the amazing people of the cove who worked hard and made a life for themselves in the mountains. Though Cades Cove is now part of a national park, when you travel there, you’ll step back in time and easily visualize what it must have been like to live in the beautiful, lush valley. Many of the cabins, churches, and other historical buildings remain. 

Lily Larsen was born February 23rd, 1847. The first child of many to Rose and Howard (Buck) Larsen. Labeled a ‘mountain girl’ from the time she took her first steps.

She followed her pa around their small farm and learned all she could from him and her ma. As she grew, and her siblings began to arrive, she understood the meaning of responsibility. Not only did she have an abundance of daily chores, she was also expected to help with the children.

Lily’s tough-as-nails demeanor made her perfect for mountain life. She feared nothing, including hard work.

The family farm thrived, thanks in part to Lily’s help. Her optimism kept her folks smiling and lifted the spirits of her brothers and sister. Her sister, Violet, became her dearest friend. Though their personalities differed, their bond couldn’t be stronger.

At the opening of “Whispers,” Lily is seventeen. Her hands aren’t soft, like those of pampered city girls. They’re callused, rough, and capable. She uses them to plow fields, skin wild game, and cuddle her youngest brother. Her heart is as big as her ambition, but she now has something to fear.

She’s become a beautiful young woman, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The war between North and South is raging, and soldiers wearing both blue and gray arrive in the cove to find refuge and take whatever they want. They feel entitled to it. Some see the mountain women as spoils of war, and one particular rebel soldier has his eyes on Lily. She’s not naive by any means and knows his intentions are far from those of matrimony.

Even before the soldiers arrived, the war created other problems for her family. Her pa went off to fight, but returned home maimed. Now her folks have lost hope, but Lily’s determined to keep her family’s spirit alive and the farm somehow thriving. She’ll never allow herself to be defeated. That quality is one of her greatest traits.

She longs for love and a family of her own, but the war has made it impossible. Every day, she prays the fighting will end and life will become as it once was. Though they’ve had to struggle to survive, Lily certainly won’t give up hope. It’s not in her character.

 

Getting to Know John Martin

One thing I always hear from readers of my Southern Secrets Saga is, “I hate John Martin!”

If you’ve not yet started on the series, don’t worry. I won’t post any spoilers here. What I will tell you is how John became the man everyone despises.

First, I want you to envision the most attractive man you’ve ever seen. The one with perfect features and a flawless well-kept body. He never has one hair out of place, and it’s the thick kind every woman wants to run her fingers through. His deep blue, bedroom eyes easily captivate their victims. His good looks embolden him. But his devilish behavior started when he was much younger than he was the first time he’s introduced in Consequences, Southern Secrets Saga Book 2.Consequences Cover

John was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. His parents died when he was only three, and he was raised by his uncle, Theodore.  The man was a well-respected businessman, who traveled a great deal.

Until John reached his teens, he was reared by a nanny and rarely saw his uncle. But when Theodore realized his nephew was himself becoming a man, he decided to begin teaching him the ways of the world. He took John with him on every business trip.

Theodore never married, nor had children. No longer a fussy, childish brat, John became the son he’d longed for. He looked to Theodore for guidance and showed him the utmost respect.

Theodore taught him the joy of having wealth and ways to attain it in business by bending the law. His deviousness excited John, and led him to study the law further, eventually pursuing a career as an attorney.

By the time John turned sixteen, Theodore decided he needed another lesson in life. One that brought even more gratification. On his birthday, he treated him to a fine dinner, including champagne. When they returned to their hotel room that night, John was surprised to be met by an attractive woman. Theodore excused himself for a ‘much-needed walk’ and left John alone with her. She took away all of his innocence and taught him what his body had been made for. The woman was skilled, able, and of course, very well-paid.

She boosted John’s ego by telling him what a handsome and desirable young man he was. The flattery stayed with him. From then on, he stood taller and walked with his shoulders back. Her compliments were affirmed when every woman he passed took a second look. After tasting one woman, he always wanted more. Desire never left him.

His uncle noticed the change and praised him for it. They frequented out-of-the-way bordellos, but Theodore cautioned him to be discreet. Eventually, they knew enough women at every business stop, so they were able to enlist bed partners without having to pay. Women willingly gave themselves, especially when the men insisted they were the only one.

At eighteen, John was a legal student working as an attorney’s aide in Mobile, Alabama. When the opportunity presented itself, Theodore left him there at a boarding house and went on his way doing his own business.

On a one-day excursion to the bay for some relaxation, John met Ruth Montgomery. Her southern charm captivated him, and she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She, too, was eighteen, but unlike him, unspoiled. Their youthful passion took hold and he bedded her. It took little on his part to entice her, but when she told her parents what they’d done, her father came after him with a shotgun and insisted he marry her.

John wasn’t ignorant. He’d learned that backwoods country folk would pull the trigger without a moment’s hesitation.

He moved with Ruth into a small house she’d inherited from the family, not far from Mobile Bay. Nine months later, their daughter, Claire, came into the world. Ruth was elated, but John was anything but that. He felt trapped. Not to mention, his studies had virtually gone by the wayside. He resented Ruth and eventually shunned her. She noticed the change and tried to make things better by showing overly affectionate behavior. It only angered him. The last thing he wanted was for her to conceive again.

He went to Mobile to take his law exams, in hopes of some kind of escape. While there, he met Elizabeth. A raven-haired beauty from the North, with the blackest eyes he’d ever seen. They shared political views and interest in the law. No trace of a southern drawl passed her ruby red lips. She was not only intelligent, but well-spoken. Everything about her made him realize what was lacking with Ruth.

When he discovered that Elizabeth came from a wealthy family in Connecticut, nothing kept him from pursuing her. She was his way north again. She had the money to fund his career, and the intelligence to keep his mind satisfied. Her beautiful body would satiate his other needs.

John led her to believe that there was nothing tying him to Alabama. He discreetly sent Ruth a certificate of divorce. Her family urged her to sign it. They despised him and knew she’d be better off without him.

For the ten years he and Elizabeth were married, he remained faithful to her. But when she died, he returned to his old ways, and never looked back. He took satisfaction from any woman he wanted. Of course, he still told each one that they were special. The only one for him.

His uncle had taught him well.

 

John has a tendency to pop up in some of my other books. He’s in my contemporary novel, A Golden Life, and he also has a brief cameo in, From the Ashes of Atlanta. I thought you might enjoy reading it. No matter where John goes, his devilish character is unmistakable.

*************************

Ashes of Atlanta CoverThe man approaching him was finely dressed, fitting in perfectly with the extravagant fixtures. Business suit, top hat, and looks that caused every woman he passed to turn her head. And, it was obvious he liked the attention. He smiled at each one in turn, regardless of whether or not they had a man accompanying them. But oddly enough, he appeared to be heading to the seat beside Jeb.

“May I?” the man asked, pointing to the empty seat.

Why not? Jeb wouldn’t be carrying on a conversation with the man, and he seemed harmless enough. So, he nodded, and the man sat.

“Thank you.” He leaned in and Jeb got a whiff of cologne. He smiled inwardly, thinking of Katherine’s ‘skunk.’ But it was nothing to smile about. Gwen would be marrying the skunk in less than six hours.

“I heard the conductor,” the man said. “I know you can’t speak, but it’s to my benefit. I tend to find myself sitting beside a woman who can’t keep her mouth shut. For the most part, I listen, and often times I’m rewarded for my attentions.” He wiggled his brows. “I’m certain you understand my meaning. But today, I need to watch myself. Not get carried away.” A sly grin curled the man’s lips. He removed his hat and placed it in his lap, then primped his hair. Never before had Jeb seen a man so concerned over his appearance.

He should have told him ‘no.’

Are all men from the north arrogant and rude in regards to women?

“My name’s Martin. John Martin. I’m an attorney.” He puffed out his chest and sat more upright.

An attorney. That explained the expensive suit. Jeb sighed. It wasn’t long ago that he answered to the name, ‘John.’

“My practice is in Bridgeport. So, if you’re ever there, or in need of legal help, look me up.”

The man’s arrogance oozed from every part of his body. One of the ladies, who had watched him pass by, turned to look at him. He acknowledged her with a slight lift of his head and one raised eyebrow. She covered her mouth, tittered, and then faced forward.

“That one shows promise,” he said through the side of his mouth, “but I dare not. I’m meeting a woman in Buffalo.” He cupped his hand over the side of his mouth. “For a tryst.”

Was this man always so bold? Talking to a complete stranger about his personal life? Maybe he thought he would be impressed, or did he simply find Jeb to be nonthreatening?

“You’re a handsome young man,” Mr. Martin said, rubbing his chin. “Even with your impairment. May I give you some advice?”

This could be interestin’….

“Circus women.”

What?

Jeb’s face must have shown his confusion, because Mr. Martin laughed aloud. An arrogant, sophisticated sort of laugh.

“I’m personal friends with Mr. P.T. Barnum. Phineas Taylor Barnum. I’m certain you’ve heard of him. Well…he knows all sorts of interesting people, and women with unique talents. Of course that mermaid was a hoax, but she brought him incredible wealth.”

Jeb nodded, intrigued by the man’s story. Not to mention that it took his mind off of Gwen and helped the time to pass.

Mr. Martin leaned in again. “He introduced me to a contortionist. I highly recommend that every man should give one a try. At least once. They can move their bodies in ways that you can’t even begin to imagine.”

Intriguing or not, Jeb couldn’t take another minute. He grabbed his cane and rose to his feet.

“Oh.” Mr. Martin looked up at him. “Do you need to use the facilities?”

Jeb scowled at the man, and stepped by him and into the aisle. Glancing toward the rear of the car, he spotted an empty seat, and made his way toward it. He pitied the woman in Buffalo and hoped she knew what kind of a man he was.