Tag Archive | Life

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!

 

 

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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

 

 

 

They Seem So Real!

I’m suffering from a chapped nose. No, I don’t have a cold. Yes, I sometimes have allergies, but that’s not the reason either.

I just finished writing a difficult chapter. I can usually knock out a chapter a day, but this one took three. Along with half a box of tissues.

I tell myself all the time that I’m not crazy. Maybe that in itself is a little nuts. Then, I’m reminded of one of my favorite movie scenes from “Romancing the Stone.” Author, Joan Wilder, is hunting for tissues. Sobbing over what she’s written.

When I first saw that film over thirty years ago, I wasn’t a writer. At least, not an author of novels. But now that I am, I get it! When my characters hurt, I hurt. Thus, the tears.

I’ll never forget the first time someone told me that my characters seemed real. Probably one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. They’re certainly real to me. Otherwise, why would I cry for them? Why would I care so much?

I recently had a great conversation with a reader who’s on Book 3 of my Southern Secrets Saga. She talked to me about things that were happening in the story and asked a few questions. But mostly, we talked about the characters and how much we love them. I felt like we were discussing long-time mutual friends. At one point, she apologized for going on so long about the books. Oh, my goodness! There definitely had been no need for that, and I told her so. It was fun! I doubt she realized how she’d made my day.

I’m glad the imaginary people I bring to life feel real. I’m afraid that if they weren’t relatable, the story would fall flat. A reader should be able to walk hand in hand with the characters and experience what they’re going through. Good and bad. Emotion is healthy. I just wish I could spare my nose!

Desires cover 850

More Cute Puppies?

Next month will mark the second anniversary of my first published novel, “Marked.” Since that time, I’ve released nine other novels. Yes, I’ve been typing like a manic fool!

I’m forever grateful to my editors, Cindy Brannam and Alicia Dean. They keep me on my toes and make certain my finished product is the best it can be. I also want to take this opportunity to thank my cover artist, Rae Monet, flat designer, Karen Duvall, and my amazing formatter, Jesse Gordon.

Of course, I wouldn’t be where I am today without readers! You all have blessed me with encouragement, kind words, and the ability to keep doing what I love. THANK YOU!

But what does this have to do with cute puppies? No, it wasn’t a teaser just to get you dog lovers reading my post!

Sometime ago, I wrote a blog called, “Who Wouldn’t Like a Cute Puppy?” Actually, the post was written in November of 2013 if you’d like to read it!

After all this time, and some reviews that could easily get me down, I felt it was time to revisit those thoughts.

Creative people have a terrible tendency of focusing on the negative. A singer might look at a room full of smiling faces during a performance as a bad experience. Why? Because the guy in the corner constantly frowned. The singer singles him out and tries as best she can to make him smile, but the more she sings, the deeper his scowl becomes. She takes it as a personal affront and ignores the rest of the crowd. They cheer and clap at the end of the song, but her heart is in her shoes, because she couldn’t make the stranger smile.

She doesn’t consider that perhaps his girlfriend just broke up with him and the song reminds him of her. Or maybe, someone close to him has passed away and nothing anyone could do would make him smile. There is also the possibility that he truly doesn’t like the way she sings. Hmm…

Bottom line. People have different tastes.

Whenever I stroll along in public and see someone carrying a puppy or walking a dog, I think of one of my dear friends. She views dogs, like I see snakes. If someone came toward me with a snake coiled around them, I’d run the opposite direction. I sometimes even squeal when I’m digging in my garden and a larger-than-normal worm flips up in the soil. Puppies and dogs, however, draw me in. I want to pet them, love on them, and take them home! My poor friend becomes physically ill around them, and she can’t understand why they’re allowed out in public places.

We all have different likes and dislikes. As a writer, it’s important that I write what moves me. But I have to be realistic and know that not everyone will be moved by it. Someone will think it’s the worst book they’ve ever read, while another person will deem it the best. And hopefully not just my mom! She’s a little biased.

Criticism is tough to take, but no matter what we do in life, it’s going to be there. It starts when we’re little–children can be awfully cruel to each other–and continues as we grow. What matters is how we deal with it.

I’m writing this to remind myself and hopefully help all of you! I was told more than once not to read my reviews, but it’s hard not to. So when I do, I decipher the validity of what’s been said. If something critical is pointed out consistently, then I know I need to dig deeper and see if it’s something that should be ‘fixed.’ As of yet, I’m glad to say that the negative comments have been few and far between. As for the validity, I believe the comments were valid for that individual. My books weren’t their taste. And that’s okay, because many other people loved them.

Exposing ourselves to the bare bone isn’t always easy. Putting creative work in front of the masses is scary to say the least! But, I get incredible joy sharing my stories with the world. I love bringing characters to life and making them feel real. When my readers discuss them with me as though they’re someone we both know personally, I want to do a happy dance. And I do. Internally. I don’t want them to think I’m nuttier than they already believe me to be!

Thank you for reading my post! If you’re a writer, WRITE ON, and always keep your chin up.

If you’re a reader, thank you from all of us authors! Without you, we’d shrivel.

Cute little puppy, or horrid beast?

Cute little puppy, or horrid beast?

 

Goodreads Giveaway! He’s In My Dreams

I’m excited to announce another upcoming Goodreads Giveaway! The giveaway starts on May 6th and runs through the 31st. Winners of the five, signed copies will be selected at random by Goodreads. Though listed as a young adult novel, I highly recommend it for readers age thirteen and up. I hope it will prompt some deep conversations. I put a big piece of my heart in this story. It’s set in one of my favorite places in the country, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Check out the details below!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

He's In My Dreams by Jeanne Hardt

He’s In My Dreams

by Jeanne Hardt

Giveaway ends May 31, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/185561