Hannah True, a popular character in the Pierce Family Saga novels, now has her own series, The Adventures of Hannah True. A romance that didn’t work out was hinted at in the Pierce books. In Uprooted, the first book in Hannah’s series, we learn that she was once engaged to be married, and that the man, Paul Simmons, has learned she will be back in New York sometime soon–and he wants to meet with her.
In Undercurrents, book 2, which is still in progress, Hannah makes it to her Aunt Gertrude’s in New York City and re-connects with Paul Simmons. This book, like Uprooted, has a mystery to be solved, so I didn’t want it to get bogged down with flashbacks to the past. Still, I thought some readers would like to know what happened back in 1848 when Hannah met Paul at the Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Therefore, I have written a prequel, The Courtship of Hannah True, which I will make available as soon as I figure out how to distribute it for free. My goal is to resolve the distribution question before Christmas. Until then, a sneak peek at the prequel appears below.
The Courtship of Hannah True
It was a normal winter day with a few snow flurries but nothing threatening until we finished our evening meal. Then Papa touched a napkin to his lips, sent a meaningful glance at Mama, and then they both turned their stern faces on me.
Papa cleared his throat. “Let’s retire to the parlor. Your mother and I have something to discuss with you.”
My nerves tightened as the determined glances they exchanged told me I wasn’t going to like what they had to say. I was a grown woman of twenty-six and earned my keep by working in the hotel, but me being unmarried gave Mama and Papa the illusion that they should direct my life toward a more desirable situation.
We rose from the dining table in unison. Papa stood back and motioned me forward, Mama followed me, and then he fell in behind. I felt as though I were being herded to my destiny.
It turned out, I was.
In the parlor, a fire crackled in the hearth, casting a warm glow on the room, but outside the wind howled, and a bit of cold seeped into the room around the window frames. Papa turned up the flame of a lamp on the table between his chair and Mama’s. I sat in the third chair that formed a semi-circle in front of the fireplace.
Again, a serious look passed between them that set my nerves on edge.
“What is it?” I asked. “Is someone ill?”
“Not exactly,” Mama said, “but we’re concerned about Aunt Gertrude.”
“Why?” My stomach knotted. Aunt Gertrude was Mama’s older sister, and though I hadn’t spent a great deal of time with her, she was dear to me, encouraging me in the many letters we had exchanged over the years.
“Because of Uncle Stanley’s passing,” Papa said.
My forehead furrowed as I tried to make sense of their reasoning. “That was last April, ten months ago. Why are you concerned now?”
“Well, of course, my sister is still in mourning,” Mama said. “She’s rattling around that big house all alone except for the servants. She really needs some companionship.”
“Why me? Why now?” I asked. But I was certain I knew. My parents were eager to have me marry, and I had just broken off a relationship with a possible suitor. In their eyes, I was an old maid and needed a husband to take care of me. In my eyes, I needed nothing of the sort.
Would you like to read more of this prequel?
Please click on Leave a Comment at the top of the post and give me a yes or no.
I came across this article in my drafts section. Because my struggle with getting the right word for the time continues, I thought you might be interested in the following statistics about the number of English words in existence and the number the average person actually uses.
The same issue of Godey’s that suggested Christmas gifts for 1864 contained a paragraph of information taken from the Literary Gazette claiming that the English language at that time had only 25,000 words. According to several internet sources, the English language currently has over 170,000 in current use, and the average person knows about 40,000 words but uses around 20,000 of them regularly. After my recent suffragist/suffragette experience, I have become hyperaware of when words came into existence, and from the above statistics, I have reason for my concern.
In the same paragraph stating the number of words in the English language in 1864 (I am supposing someone arrived at that statistic by counting the words in a dictionary ), additional word counts were given for specific works. According to the Literary Gazette, the Old Testament has 5,643 different words, Milton’s Paradise Lost has 8,000 different words, and all of Shakespeare’s plays and poems together, have 15,000 different words. What I wanted to know as I read the above is who in the age before computers made the count and why. Unfortunately, the brief paragraph did not disclose that information.
As you can see from the blog header, Uprooted, the first book in the Pierce family spinoff series, The Adventures of Hannah True, has been published. I am about halfway through the first draft of Undercurrents, the second book in the Hannah series. The time is July 1860. Hannah has left Chicago and has at last arrived at Aunt Gertrude’s in New York City.
A jump back in time
In Hiram’s Girls, I left the Pierce siblings during Christmas season, 1864. That means in Uprooted and Undercurrents, everyone is four years younger than they were at the end of Hiram’s Girls. Hopefully, that isn’t a problem for you, dear readers. In some ways, it is like reading a prequel. This is what happened that wasn’t in the other books. My plan is that by the fourth book in the Hannah series, the story will be in 1864 again, and we can see the events of the search for Ava through Hannah’s eyes.
The ending of Hiram’s Girls
In the Amazon comments, a few readers have voiced their dissatisfaction with what they considered a quick ending to Hiram’s Girls. I want to assure everyone that you have not seen the last of the siblings. They will be part of the new series, and they may even have more books of their own as the Civil War ends. Ambrose must decide where his family will live, Lucy will study to be a doctor, and Jennie will have to decide what to do with her psychic abilities. And then there is Cordelia. The first book in the series was hers. Should she have another?
Would you like another Pierce family book, and if you would, whose story would you like me to tell?
Please answer in the comments section.
Combining History and Fiction
Uprooted is set in Chicago in June 1860. As I searched for a way to describe the city, its newspaper, The Press and Tribune, seemed an excellent place to start. I didn’t expect to find an event that would become part of the novel, but being from Kansas and having lived in two towns that experienced tornadoes, the story of the tornado that wiped out Camanche, Iowa, and other towns in its path caught my eye and my heart.
It caught Hannah True’s heart too. Her life had been uprooted because her father’s will left her without a home or income, but when she read about the death and destruction caused by the monster tornado, she understood what true loss was.
Then as now, communities came together to help the survivors of this monster storm, originally reported to have traveled one hundred miles, but days later, the distance was corrected:
“…each day has added to the news of the disaster, each mail has brought us fresh accession to the horrors of a Sunday evening when a fiercer tornado than ever in the memory of man visited the tropics, passed over an extent of country, as it now seems from Western Iowa across Illinois, across the lake and thence into the heart of Michigan, a distance of upwards of four hundred miles.”
“The Great Tornado,” The Press and Tribune, Chicago, Monday, June 11, 1860
Woven into the novel are some of the efforts Chicagoans made to help the victims of this devastating event.
Better Late than Never
Back in September 2021 when I published Hiram’s Girls, I promised the first book of the spinoff series, Uprooted: The Adventures of Hannah True, would be out in November 2021. I had a complete draft and revisions, but life happened, and I didn’t make that deadline. In the meantime, I have been working hard to make the book even better, and it is now up for pre-order on Amazon.
An 1860 Start
Hannah’s story begins four years before the end of Hiram’s Girls, so Lucy, Ella, and Jennie are younger than they were when you previously saw them. Uprooted begins in 1860 when Hannah’s mother dies and her father’s will goes into full effect. Her father left the hotel to his daughters’ husbands–and Hannah has never married. The brothers-in-law sell the business, and Hannah is left at age 38 to make her own way in the world.
Her plan is to visit her aunt, Gertrude Oaks, in New York City, and reconnect with suffragists, thinking she might join the cause. On the way, she meets a man who offers an alternative. Will she take it? The novel will go live on February 28. You can pre-order an eBook copy here. I’m still working on the paperback. I promise there will be one, but it will probably be after the eBook is available.
Ever since publishing Hiram’s War in May, I’ve been searching for a working title for the next book in the series. Somehow a title helps me focus on the story. A few mornings ago, I had an “aha!” moment. I was so impressed with the idea that I headed over to Canva and made a temporary book cover. Emphasis is on “temporary” because maybe the title isn’t as good as I think.
The thought process that led me to Hiram’s Girls went like this. I wanted to focus on Jennie and Ella and their lives after moving in with their father. For several days, all that came to mind was Life with Pa. Ugh! Then I thought of the previous two titles in the series: Hiram’s Boy and Hiram’s War. So why not Hiram’s Girls?
Question: Does my “aha!” moment appeal to readers as much as it did to me? Should I keep searching? Do you have a suggestion for a title?
What? You need to know what Book 5 will be about before you suggest a title?
Here’s what I know: It is November 1864, and I’m thinking the book will extend to the end of the year, so Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays will be in the book as Jennie, 12, and Ella, 14, adjust to their lives in Hidden Springs with their three little sisters, ages 3 months to 2 years, and, of course, their father, Hiram Pierce. What could possibly go wrong? I’m making a list. Check back later for more developments.
Those who have read Hiram’s War have a common question: What’s next for the Pierce family? It’s a question I’m asking the five older siblings. Let’s see what they’re telling me.
Cordelia: I’ve spent the last four years as a traveling photographer for Mathew Brady. I’m not sure what I’ll do when the war is over.
Ambrose: I’m heading to New York City to get my wife, son, and stepbrother, then we’re heading for Kansas and a new life.
Lucy: I’m on my way to Cairo to resume nursing duties, but I want to do more, to know more, to save more lives. I want to be a doctor, but I’ll have to fight to make that happen. Women are usually barred from medical schools.
Ella: I’m looking for a husband and a permanent home for me and Jennie. My older siblings say I don’t know what marriage is all about and I’m asking for trouble, like being fourteen means I don’t know anything. We’ll see.
Jennie: I always wanted little sisters, and now I have three of them under three years old. Ella and I have split the responsibility: she takes care of the house and I take care of the little ones. It’s only been a week, and I already think I’m in over my head. Help!
Another Option: Aunt Hannah
Hannah True is sister to the Pierce siblings deceased mother. She took the girls in after their mother’s death and raised them until 1860. Then Hannah’s mother died and her brothers-in-law sold the hotel she ran and left her uprooted. At thirty-eight, she is on her own for the first time in her life. In 1848, she was a suffragette. Now, on her way to New York City and a new life, she meets a man who runs a detective agency and gives her an unexpected option. Will she take it?
So those are my choices. Which one appeals most to you and why?
Today is the official launch date of the eBook version Hiram’s War on Amazon. I had planned for the paperback to be available too, but due to cover creation difficulties, it will be another day or so before that happens. I should be receiving my proof copy today or tomorrow, and if all my corrections look like they’re supposed to, I should be making the paperback available by Monday.
Cordelia’s Journey eBook free on Amazon May 15-19, 2020
After their mother’s death in 1855, Ella and Jennie went to live with their Aunt Hannah, a single woman who ran the family’s hotel in Westport. When the hotel was sold in 1860 and Aunt Hannah left town, the two sisters went from her loving care to a cold, judgmental existence with Aunt Hilda and her husband, Reverend Graham Russell. Now it is 1864, and their world is falling apart as war rages around them.
What Jennie wants in her own words:
I’m twelve years old and the baby of the family, and that’s all my sisters and Ambrose see when they look at me: a child who needs protection. They all have advice about my dreams: mainly how I should keep quiet about them. I did that once, and my baby brother, Mark, died. And now I’m having dreams about Pa, and I know he’ll die if I don’t find him, so I have to make my siblings believe me. While I was trying to convince Ella, Uncle Graham and Aunt Hilda overheard us, and Uncle Graham beat me to get rid of the demons he said were working inside me.
Ambrose and my sisters rescued me, but now Ella and I have no home, and she feels responsible to get us one. I’ll have to think about that later because right now, the most important thing is to save my father’s life. I didn’t save my baby brother’s life. I was only three years old then. Pa thought I smothered him when I crawled into his cradle to get him warm, but he was already cold. He didn’t move. Ambrose says Mark was already dead. All I know is I didn’t tell anyone about my dream and Mark died. This time, I have to tell. I have to make people listen. I don’t want to be responsible for another family death.
What Ella wants in her own words:
I’m fourteen years old now. I remember when our family was all together, and Jennie and I were the little sisters. We lived in our cabin in Hidden Springs: Ma, Pa, Ambrose, Cordelia, Lucy, Jennie, and me. Those were good days. Then Mark, only one week old, died and Ma got in the family way again, and Delia ran away to get Aunt Hannah. Then Ma had to stay in bed and Lucy took over the cooking and cleaning and taking care of us. I was five and tried to help, but the best I could do was keep track of Jennie. That’s been my job ever since.
I love Jennie, but keeping her out of trouble hasn’t been easy, especially since Aunt Hannah left and we had to go live with Aunt Hilda and Uncle Graham. I’ve told her over and over that she can’t talk about her dreams, but sometimes she blurts them out—and they come true. Now we are homeless. I know Ambrose will find a place for us, maybe with Aunt Gertrude, but that would be only temporary. I want a permanent home. I want to get married, but with a war on, how will I find a husband.
Lucy complained that five years ago when she went to live with Pa, he wanted to find her a suitable husband, someone well-off and respected in the community. If we find Pa and he’s alive, I’m going to ask him to do that for me. I want a real home for me and Jennie.
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