Ciao, amici! You know how much I love to host authors (especially good friends). Well, we kicked off a string of wonderful guests yesterday, and today, we’re still going strong.
I’d like to welcome Joan Hall back to the blog. I’m sure many of you recognize her from her guest posts here as well as from Story Empire, where we’re both contributors. Joan and I “met” online years ago in a writing group and formed a fast friendship that’s only grown stronger over the years. We bonded over story (she writes romantic suspense with a heavy focus on legends and lore, so you know that spoke to me) as well as over many shared similarities. We frequently joke that we share a brain (and I SO pity her for that). We’ve worked together on many projects, and I’m honored to have had a sneak peek at Menagerie before she released it. (And I can’t say enough good things about it—see my review below.) Now, I’m delighted to share it with you. Please help me welcome Joan today as she talks about her latest release.
Staci, thanks for hosting me today. I’m excited to tell you and your readers about my newest release, Menagerie. It’s a mixed-genre compilation of thirteen short stories.
“Friends” is romantic suspense, which is one of my favorite genres to write. Today, I’d like to share how the story came about.
Ideas come in all sorts of ways. Several years ago, WordPress offered a daily word prompt where bloggers could write a story and share the link on a common site. One Saturday morning, I decided to take part. The word that day was “illusion.”
The original blog post was around five hundred words. It was my first time to write anything in first person, but that’s where the muse took me. I later added four additional scenes using WP word prompts.
I’m a panster, so I had no idea where I was going with the story, but the basic concept was two former law enforcement partners meet again after two years. The female partner was out to dinner with a group of coworkers when she has the distinct feeling she’s being watched. She’s right. It’s no illusion. Her former partner shows up in the small town where she now lives.
Eventually, I put the story aside, but I always wanted to finish it. Last year, I dusted off those old scenes, changed them from first person to third person, and ended up writing a 10K word story. There was one problem. I hated it.
When I began editing the first draft, I ended up doing a complete rewrite. I eliminated several characters, changed a few more, and added at least one. Painful as it was, I killed a few darlings, including one flashback scene. I had a few lines that I wanted to use elsewhere, but there really wasn’t a place for them. My first writing instructor advised me to never throw away a piece of writing. I have those scenes saved and it’s possible I’ll use them one day in a future story.
After completing the rewrite and edits, “Friends” became one of my favorites in this collection.
Thomas slid a thick folder across the desk.
A surge of excitement swept over Cassie. Months had passed since she’d been involved in a “real” investigation. Such was life in Angel Falls.
“This case has been hanging over our heads for a long time. The state sent someone to assist. You’ll be working with him. Matter of fact, he mentioned you. Said he was familiar with your reputation with the Woodville Police.”
“What’s his name?”
“Ah, he’s here. Lieutenant, I believe you know Detective Van Zandt.”
Cassie turned. A tall man with dark brown hair stood at the door.
“Hello, Cassie. It’s been a while.”
Two years, one month, and thirteen days. But who’s counting?
“Looks like we’re working together again.”
King’s. The Tower of London. Glass. What do these have in common?
Each is a famous menagerie.
While this Menagerie doesn’t focus on exotic animals, it does contain a collection of stories that explore various trials people face and how their reactions shape their worlds.
Survivors of a haunted bridge. Women who wait while their husbands fight a war. Former partners reuniting to solve a cold-case murder.
These are just three of the thirteen stories in this compendium, encompassing past and present, natural and supernatural, legend and reality. The genres and timelines are varied, but there’s a little something for everyone who enjoys reading about simpler times and small-town life.
About the Author
Social Media Links
How to Pick a Favorite When They’re All So Good?
I like short story collections because I can read an entire tale in one sitting even when I don’t have a lot of time. In the case of Menagerie, I made the time to read more than one at once. In fact, I read the entire collection in one sitting.
Hall has the skill to suck me in from her opening words and hold my attention throughout. She taps into her characters’ emotions so that I feel them, and I experience their worlds as though I was there. Menagerie offers thirteen stories that explore war, death, love, reunion, mystery, and lore. It’s impossible to say which was my favorite, as there is something in each that speaks to my soul, but I do want to call out a few stories for various reasons.
- Summerwood and Stony Creek, both of which speak to my desire for a proper work/life balance.
- Lone Wolf for its hopeful message.
- Mystery Woman and Storm Rider for the goose bumps.
- The Homecoming because the topic is dear to my heart and SO important.
I enjoyed this entire collection and devoured every word. There are various genres represented, so there’s something for everyone. But as for this reader? I loved them all. I highly recommend Menagerie without reservation.
I’m so glad Joan gave me her “Friends” post, because she is a dear friend. And I’m so glad she came to the site today to talk a little bit about this story and her new release. I hope you’ll join me in sharing Joan’s announcement and in offering her congratulations by leaving a comment below. Before you leave, I invite you to click on some of the links, most especially the purchase link for Menagerie.