Cover Reveal! Island in the Forest!

I promised to reveal the cover for my new medieval fantasy, and here it is! It’s going through the final editing stages, and I hope to see it released next month or early in March.

 

Olivia has lived her entire life behind the walls of Padrida, a kingdom unknown to the rest of the world. As the king and queen’s only heir, she’s destined to rule. She’s given everything she needs, but wants only one thing.

Freedom.

Boredom plagues Prince Sebastian of Basilia. The realms have been at peace for more than a century, and he has little to occupy his time. He journeys to Black Wood—a dense forest with an evil reputation—seeking adventure. What he finds is something else entirely.

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Happy New Year!

2018 already?

Where did 2017 go?

I noticed that my last blog post was in May of 2017. Ouch! Of course, I added pages to my website when my new books were released, but those don’t run in my blog.

I get so caught up writing my books, that I lose track of time and forget to post a blog. I’ve always enjoyed blogging, so I’ll do my best to post more of them this year. And please, if you have any particular things you’d like me to blog about, send me a message. I’d love to hear from you!

Currently, I’m delving into a new genre. Light Medieval Fantasy. I love the medieval time period, and as you know, I enjoy writing historical fiction. My new series, “Shrouded Thrones,” is set in medieval times, similar to King Arthur’s era. I say ‘similar’ because my story will not have actual history or real historical settings. The story takes place in fictitious kingdoms, and that is why it will be classified as fantasy.

It’s scary branching out into other genres. I hope those of you who enjoy my historical fiction will give this new series a try. “Island in the Forest,” book one of “Shrouded Thrones,” will be released in late February or March.

                               I love castles!

People often ask me what inspires my stories. This particular story’s inspiration is a tale in itself!

When my son was about five years old, I was tucking him into bed, and he asked for a bedtime story. I usually read to him, but that particular night, he wanted me to ‘tell’ him a story. I think I started recanting “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” He’d heard that one before, so he said, “No. A different story.”

I don’t recall what I attempted to tell him next, but it was something else he’d already heard. He made it very clear that he wanted something new. A story I made up just for him.

Way back then, writing books wasn’t part of my daily routine. His request was a tall order, but from somewhere deep in my mind, “Island in the Forest” came to life. Of course, since I was telling it to a child, I told it as a fairy tale. Simple and to the point. He loved it, and I felt like a pretty decent mom!

Night after night, I’d continue the story. Years later, I wrote it in book form, still a fairy tale. I attempted seeking a publisher at that time and got some very nice ‘passes.’ I didn’t understand the book industry back then, so I tucked the book away and forgot about it.

About 15 years ago, I was doing a lot of musical theater. Both acting and directing. I pulled “Island” from my file cabinet and did a major rewrite. I wrote 12 songs, as well as a complete script, and turned it into a musical. I hired someone to score the music, but something happened along the way, and the score was never finished.

My life took some major changes at that point, and I started writing novels. Once I got my first books published, my mind drifted back to that wonderful story that had already gone through many changes. I decided to do one more. “Island in the Forest” is no longer a fairy tale. It’s a grown-up novel. I’ve been able to dig deeper into the feelings and emotions of my characters and have made them real. Though it’s set in a fictitious world, I hope you’ll find them and their complex story completely believable.

Soon, I’ll be revealing the cover, so stay tuned!

And for those of you who are mourning the end of the Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, I plan to return to the cove later in 2018. (Yeah!)

I have no doubt this year will be exciting, and I can’t wait to see where it will take us!

Thank you for traveling with me on this fun adventure.

Write On!

 

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.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway! A Golden Life

In celebration of A Golden Life’s  beautiful new cover, I’m giving away five signed copies through a Goodreads Book Giveaway.

This contemporary novel is set in the gorgeous mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I received some wonderful feedback from the judge who scored my entry in the 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards!
Here’s what they said about “A Golden Life.”

Judge’s Commentary*:

A GOLDEN LIFE is a kind of Night Before Christmas tale, where celebrated romance writer Traci Oliver is having writer’s block while trying to write her fiftieth (golden) book in the aftermath of her husband’s death a year previous. She is late delivering this fiftieth book but is unable to start writing. On the one-year anniversary of his death she is visited, much like the ghosts of Christmas past present and future, by some of the characters in her books, who help her move on in her grief and think of something to write that will be perfect. The book is charming, and Traci has a wonderful voice, full of grief and delicacy, and her friendship with her agent is believable. The feeling you get from her is that she loved her husband very much and misses him greatly, and that that love was tied up deeply in her writing ability. The plot is somewhat predictable, but the characters from her books are endearing.

 

Enter to win one of five signed copies!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Golden Life by Jeanne Hardt

A Golden Life

by Jeanne Hardt

Giveaway ends February 19, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

 

 

 

A Toast to Modern Conveniences

Being a writer of historical fiction, I spend many hours researching fine details. I like to be sure all my facts are correct before submitting anything for publication. Yes, I write fiction, but I also intertwine real events and actual people.

The little things matter. It’s the small stuff that can make a reader feel like they’re really back in time, experiencing everything right along with my made-up characters.

I’ll never forget seeing a Civil War era movie and becoming frustrated when I noticed that the men on the screen were wearing belts. The kind held in place by belt loops on their trousers. Because of my extensive research, I knew men didn’t wear those types of belts in the 1860s. They held their pants up by using suspenders, referred to at that time as braces.

But, I’ve drifted off the subject I meant to highlight in this post. Every bit of research makes me appreciate all that we have at our fingertips today.

We flip a switch and have instant light. I can step into my shower in the morning and within seconds have hot water cascading over me. And speaking of bathrooms, how many of you would ever want to be forced to make do without a toilet? A little play on words. (grin)

As for communication, way back when, it took days or even weeks to get news about happenings around the country. The delay makes for great story plots and wonderful suspense. That’s part of the reason I enjoy writing pre-phone fiction. If I wrote contemporary, nearly each and every person would have a cell phone within reach. It takes away a lot of the mystery, but there are also wonderful benefits to today’s instantaneous communication.

Are we spoiled, or what?

My husband jokes about going off the grid. Honestly, there are times I think he’s serious, but he knows I couldn’t do it. Well, I could if I had to, but I’m not ready to give up modern conveniences. That being said, I think we all need to appreciate them more. Even now, not everyone has it so easy.

So, here it is, 2017, and I’d like to make a toast to the New Year and all the wonderful modern conveniences. I raise my glass high and hope you’ll lift yours to mine.

I’m grateful that I can send this to you electronically and not by Pony Express. I can type my words on a laptop computer and not make you struggle to read my poor penmanship.

I love living in the modern world and having the ability to step back in time and imagine what it would’ve been like in the good ol’ days. I can write stories from my heart and travel in the pages of a novel without having to work my fingers to the bone doing daily chores. The strength of our ancestors is truly admirable. I hold in high regard all the pioneers and those who struggled simply to find food and keep a roof over their heads.

There’s a deep romanticism in the past, and definitely something to be said for the slow pace and simplicity of life back then. But it was by no means rosy.

As I type, our washing machine is faithfully cleaning our clothes, my standing lamp is shedding light on my work, and my phone is close by, just in case someone calls. Like my husband, wondering if I’m ready to move to the remotest part of Alaska.

Nope.

cades-cove-cabin

 

 

 

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.