Undercurrents has launched

That’s right. The eBook version of Undercurrents is now available. The paperback will be available by the end of May.



The dead body of a full-grown female infant was found in the basin, at the foot of Harrison street, on Saturday morning, by some men who went early to the beach to secure a boat they had left there the night previous. Coroner James, upon learning the fact, summoned a jury, and a verdict was rendered of “death by some means to the jury unknown.”


The Press and Tribune, Chicago, Monday, June 25, 1860


I stared out the train window, my mind spinning with defeat. I had failed to keep my promise to find a missing child and put her back in her mother’s arms. That combined with the newspaper article I had just read about the infant found dead near the river had me seeing through a haze of repressed tears. I was so lost in contemplation I could barely make out the images in the train station. Then a rustle of silk and the thump of a body joining me on the bench seat brought me back to the unpleasant present.

“Sorry,” a woman said, but her voice didn’t sound like she meant it. She squirmed this way and that, bumping my leg in her effort to get settled, actions that spoke louder than the one-word apology she had uttered. I pressed against the side of the car, seeking to escape her bulk.

She was a short, stout woman with voluminous petticoats, perhaps in her forties, a bit older than I. After plunking a satchel down between her foot and mine, she picked up the newspaper I had dropped and turned to me with a huge smile on her round face. “Is this yours?”

I shook my head, not wanting to read any more depressing news, and not speaking because I was in no mood for company.

However, my less than friendly demeanor did not discourage my seatmate. She offered her hand and introduced herself. “Amy Bright.”

Reluctantly, I briefly touched her sweaty palm. “Hannah True.”

Her eyebrows drew together. “It’s true that your name is Hannah?”

I sighed. “It is,” I admitted, forgoing the explanation of my last name.

To read more, go to Amazon and click on read a sample or buy the book.

To celebrate the launch of Undercurrents, the eBook version of Uprooted, book 1 in the series, is 99 cents today through May 6, 2023.

Life with the Aunts: Part 8

Previously, the spirit of Jennie’s brother appeared to her with advice: Don’t let anyone know you’ve seen me when you are awake. Meanwhile, Ella struggles to be a good big sister and protect Jennie from their uncle’s wrath. In this post, Lucy comes to visit.


It had been a week since I last attempted to visit Jennie and Ella. This morning, Aunt Hilda was conducting a ladies’ meeting at the church, and Aunt May was attending. With my uncles at their respective work places, church and bank, it was the perfect time to see my sisters.

Upon my arrival at Aunt Hilda’s, I knocked at the door, but there was no answer. I walked around the parsonage and found them on their knees, working in the vegetable garden. I rushed toward them, calling out their names as I crossed the yard between the back of the house and the garden. .

They stood, smiled, waved, and ran toward me.

Ella’s breath came in puffs as she reached my side. “Lucy, it’s been so long.”

“Forever,” Jennie agreed, and both girls threw their arms around me.

I hugged them close. Jennie sobbed and her shoulders shook. “What is it?” I asked, alarmed by her obvious distress.

Ella stood back, and her sad eyes gazed into mine. “The usual thing. Her dreams about our brother and bad things that might happen. I’ve told her not to say anything, but she doesn’t always listen.”

“How can I stay quiet if someone is in danger and I know it,” Jennie said. “What good is knowing if I can’t help?”

Ella scrunched her face. “Do you think Aunt Hannah will come for us? We could write her and tell her how bad it is.”

I shook my head. “We can’t. She has no money or work to make any. She would feel so bad if we told her how bad life is here, so we must promise not to tell her in a letter or if she comes to visit. She will make a home for us as soon as she can. Until then, we must make her believe our lives are pleasant.” I looked steadily into their eyes. “Promise.”

They met my gaze. “Promise,” they said in unison.

What’s next for this blog?

This is the final post in the “Life with Aunts” series. Since Undercurrents will go live on Amazon on April 30, I may post a brief scene from the book next week. Coming attractions for this blog will include information on Book 3 in the series, which has a working title of Overcoming. I’ll be posting character bios and historical research into places and events in the new novel. If you like what you see here, please click the follow button.

Undercurrents is on preorder now. Order a copy here.

Life with the Aunts: Part 7

Both Ella and Jennie have gone to bed. Ella, now ten years old, reflects on their life with Aunt May and Uncle Russell.


I lay in the dark beside Jennie and listened to her sniffling, knowing she was crying, not knowing what to do. Lucy can’t help us. No one can. Uncle Graham and Aunt Hilda were convinced a demon possessed my little sister, and they were punishing her.

The first dream I could remember her having was about Mark. She didn’t say anything about it until after he died—months after the border ruffians had attacked Pa. She had seen that in a dream too but thought it was just a nightmare. She knew when Ma was dying. But we all knew that even though we didn’t admit it to each other.

When we came to live with Aunt Hannah at the hotel, Jennie finally told us about her dreams. Aunt Hannah was nice about it although I could see she wasn’t sure Jennie’s dreams were really prophecies of what was to come. And why did a dream have to be caused by a demon? Joseph in the Old Testament had dreams. Uncle Graham didn’t say Joseph was possessed.

Aunt Hannah was gone, and Lucy was with Aunt May, and we were stuck here with Uncle Graham and Aunt Hilda. Lucy was wearing nice clothes and getting ready to go to parties and have beaus while Jennie and I were just servants to Uncle Graham and his church.

Beside me, Jennie’s sniffling stopped and her breathing deepened. She was sleeping. I gripped the blanket around my shoulders and wondered when sleep would come for me. There were chores to do tomorrow: beds to make, floors to scrub, meals to cook. School was two months away. For the first time, I longed to go there, anything to get out of this house for a few hours a day. An awful thought worked its way into my thoughts: What if Uncle Graham wouldn’t let us go to school. He didn’t think girls needed an education. He’d always griped about Aunt Hannah wasting time educating us. In spite of all my dark thoughts, sometime in the night, I fell asleep. 

Jennie’s flapping arms and shouts woke me.

“No! No!” she cried out.

I rolled out of the way of her flailing fists and pulled the blanket tight around her so she couldn’t hit me. “Wake up, Jennie. You’re dreaming.”

After a short struggle, her body quieted, but she was still crying.

“What is it, Jennie.” My face was close to hers. A sliver of moonlight allowed me to see her eyes. She seemed to be looking past me.

“I won’t,” she said.

“Won’t what?” I asked, letting go of the blanket because she’d stopped fighting me.

The door to our room flew open, and Aunt Hilda stood illuminated by the lamp Uncle Graham, standing behind her, held. Both were in their nightclothes.

“What’s going on in here?” Aunt Hilda demanded.

Jennie sat up. “My stomach hurts.” She pressed her hands to her belly and gagged.

“Don’t make a mess on the bed,” Aunt Hilda said. “Go on.”

Jennie sprang from the bed, ran past them, and headed down the stairs and out the door. “She didn’t have anything to eat since this morning,” I said. Well, not that they knew of. I had given her the biscuit and meat. I hoped no one checked for crumbs. I prayed God would forgive me for lying. I remembered the first lies I ever told were about food. Mrs. Collins had brought us something when Ma was sick, and we ate it before Pa got home. There were lots of things we learned it was best not to tell Pa. The same was true here. I didn’t believe Jennie’s upset stomach had anything to do with food, but I wasn’t going to say so.

Come back next week for the last episode in this blog series and an update on the Adventures of Hannah True.

Life with the Aunts: Part 6

In the previous post, Jennie’s dead brother appears to her. When she worries he might be a demon, he asks why he can’t be an angel.

Jennie continues her story:

He was right. And he’d been a baby when he died, so what could a baby have done to make him go to Hell instead of Heaven? But that was just it. Mark died when he was a week old. This boy was a lot older. Younger than me, but no baby, for sure.

“How old are you?” I asked.

“Five, the same age I’d be if I were still alive.”

“What am I going to tell Uncle Graham and Aunt Hilda?” I slid off my knees and sat cross-legged on the floor.

“That’s why I’m here. To warn you. Don’t tell them anything about your dreams or me. They won’t understand. Don’t even tell Ella or Lucy. They might not believe you, or they might tell by accident.”

I sighed. “Ella and Lucy already know about my dreams.”

“But they don’t know about me, so don’t say anything.”

“If you are Mark, you’re their brother too. Are you going to talk to them?”

“No. I’m here because Ma says you need me.”

“Ma sent you! Can she come too?”

“No, she’s busy with other work, and she thought you needed a brother now. Since Ambrose is grown up and married and living in New York City, she said I should come.”

Footsteps sounded in the hallway. I turned toward the door.

It opened.

We were caught. I looked at the bed. Mark was gone.

Aunt Hilda stood staring at me, her arms crossed. “Who were you talking to?”

I crossed my fingers and closed my fists as best I could to hide them. “To God. Uncle Graham told me to pray, so I was praying out loud. I thought He’d hear me better.”

“If you’re praying, why aren’t you on your knees?”

“They hurt.” At least that much was true.

“It’s time to help Ella with the dishes.”

My stomach growled then. I hadn’t been allowed supper. It was part of my punishment. I rose from the floor and followed Aunt Hilda to the kitchen. The smell of roast beef lingered in the air. I looked toward the pan with leftover biscuits. Ella was covering them with a towel to keep them fresh. I wanted one so bad, but I didn’t dare say anything.

Aunt Hilda left us alone.

Ella looked at me, her eyes sad. “Are you okay?”

“Yes,” I said. I wanted to tell her about Mark and how Ma had sent him to me from heaven, but I remembered how he told me to keep it a secret.

Ella washed dishes while I dried them and set them on the table. Then she put them away because she was ten and taller than I was. “Let’s go upstairs,” she said.

When we got to our room, she closed the door and pulled a package from her pocket. It was wrapped in a cloth. “Here.”

I opened it. It was a biscuit with a piece of beef tucked in the middle. “Thank you.” I felt like crying, I was so grateful.


Undercurrents, The Adventures of Hannah True, Book 2 is on preorder and will be published April 30.

Life with the Aunts: Part 5

We’ve had a look at what is happening with Lucy. Now what about Ella and Jennie? You may remember that Jennie is being punished for predicting the future. Here she is in her own words.


My knees ached from kneeling on the hard floor. I clasped my hands in prayer because Uncle Graham said I’m possessed by a demon in me, and I have to pray him out.

Am I possessed? Is that why I know things, bad things, that are going to happen? How did I get a demon in me? Please, God, take him out. I didn’t mean anything bad. I just wanted to keep Uncle Graham and his horse safe. That’s why I told him about my dream of a rattlesnake biting his horse. But he said snakes are demons. It was a snake that tempted Eve in the garden. Eve was responsible for all the sin in the world.

I’m sorry, God. Forgive me. Help me. I don’t know how to make the dreams stop. Sometimes I think they’re gone. I don’t have one for a long time, and then they come again. The last one was about Grandmother True. I knew before anyone else when she died. I got up in the night and went to Aunt Hannah and told her. She knew I had dreams, but she never told me I was bad. She did say I should never tell anyone else.

But, of course, I told Ella and Lucy. And they said, “Never tell the other aunts or anyone because they won’t understand.”

I promised I wouldn’t, and today I broke the promise because I didn’t want Uncle Graham to get hurt.

Now I’m the one hurting.

Why do I have these dreams when they don’t help anyone? The first one came when Mark died. I didn’t know he was dead. I just dreamed he was cold, so I climbed in the cradle with him and tried to make him warm. If I had told Ma he was cold, could she have saved him?

“Don’t feel bad.” A boy’s voice came from the bed.

Shocked, I sat back and looked up. He was lying on the bed, propped on his elbows with his fists under his chin.

“How did you get in my room?” I asked. “Who are you? Are you a demon?”

“Shhh! Not so loud. No, I’m not a demon. I’m Mark, your brother. I came to tell you it’s not your fault I died.” He sat up and dangled his legs over the edge of the mattress.

“If you’re dead, you must be a demon. I have to call Uncle Graham.”

His face scrunched. “And get another whipping?” He rubbed his nose. “Why do I have to be a demon? There are angels in the world too.”

Part 6 of “Life with the Aunts” will be available next week.

Undercurrents is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be published on April 30.

Life with the Aunts: Part 2

What’s happened so far:

In Part 1, Lucy finds Jennie has been banished to her room for predicting the future, something her minister uncle considers possible demon possession.

Lucy continues with what happened next:

Ella was right. I sat hugging her and wishing I could hug Jennie too. Both needed comfort, and none was available in this house. If only we could have gone with Aunt Hannah, but that wasn’t possible.

For the hour allotted to me for visiting, I sat quietly with Ella. We said little, just huddled together, our arms around each other, watching sunlight filtering through lace curtains blowing in the wind.

On my way back to Aunt May’s, I stopped at the hotel and went around to the stable. Jake was there, pitching hay. He smiled as I entered, but his face became somber as I grew closer.

“What’s happened?” he asked.

I rubbed my cheeks. “What makes you think something has?”

He set the pitchfork aside and came to stand in front of me. He touched my face. “You’ve been crying.”

I didn’t want to tell him about Jennie’s plight, so I told half the truth. “I miss Aunt Hannah and being with my sisters here at the hotel. Visiting isn’t the same as being a family together.”

“I guess not.”

I remembered then that Jake’s parents were dead. His father had hoped to get rich in the gold fields near Denver. His mother died on the way there, and when his father didn’t strike gold and ended up busted, they headed back east, only for his father to die on the trail. Jake had almost died too when he wandered away from the train and a man who was supposed to be his father’s partner left him in the sun without water. Delia and her friends had found him and brought him with them to Westport where Aunt Hannah had given him a job. He was an orphan, just like me and my sisters.

Well, not just like. Pa was still alive, but all he cared about was his new wife and the children he was having with her. Our brother Ambrose had told us how Pa accepted her saying we had bad morals because we inherited a weakness from Ma and Aunt Hannah had taught us to be suffragists and no man would want to marry any of us. It served Pa right that his newest child, my half-sister, was a girl.

“What is going on here?” Aunt May’s shrill voice broke the stillness.

Jake’s hand fell to his side, and I swirled around to face her. “Nothing,” I said, glad for the dim light which hid the flush that warmed my cheeks.

“Nothing? You sneak off to see this boy when you are supposed to be visiting your sisters. That won’t be happening again. Come along, now!”

“I did go to see them, but Jennie is being punished and isn’t allowed visitors. Ella was so sad we couldn’t even talk. We just sat.”

“I hope you prayed while you were sitting. If you didn’t, I’ll give you ample opportunity when I get you home. Come along.”

She spoke to me like I was a child instead of almost a woman. Why was it that you were a child when people wanted to make you do what they wanted, but you were an adult when they wanted you to work or wanted to marry you off and get you out of their way?

Next Week:

I hope you are enjoying the “Life with Aunts” blog series. I’ll be posting Part 3 next week. In the meantime,

Register by March 23 for a chance to win an eBook copy of Uprooted

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Uprooted by Hazel Hart


by Hazel Hart

Giveaway ends March 23, 2023.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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Life with the Aunts: Part 1

What’s happening with the Pierce girls?

It is June 2, 1860, two days since Hannah left Westport in search of her future. With no means of support, she had to leave her nieces with their other aunts. In this seven part blog series, you’ll see what life is like for Lucy, 14; Ella 10; and Jennie, 8, as they adjust to their new circumstances.


It had been two days since my sisters and I said goodbye to Aunt Hannah. Jennie and Ella had gone to live with Aunt Hilda while I had gone with Aunt May. Life with her and Uncle Edmond was not what I had imagined. It wasn’t quite the nonstop drudgery I’d had with Pa when I’d gone to live with him all starry-eyed, thinking he loved me and that’s why he wanted me home. What he’d really wanted was for me to do the woman’s work until he found me a suitable husband, someone with money and influence. If I married well, he’d be proud of me. Until then, there were meals to be cooked and clothes to be washed. I’d been only thirteen. I was fourteen now, and I wasn’t any more ready for marriage than I had been last summer. That wasn’t stopping Aunt May though. She was ticking through her social list looking for a suitable match for me. I wasn’t ready, but she wasn’t listening.

Aunt Hannah would have listened. Yes, she was, according to Aunt May, an old maid. She didn’t look old. She didn’t act old either. She had spent years running the family’s hotel and taking care of Grandma True, and all she got was a few dollars when Pa and my uncles sold the hotel.

I was on my way to see Ella and Jennie, and the way to the parsonage ran by the hotel. I stopped and looked at the front entrance, remembering how I sometimes helped Wesley, our old desk clerk, check in guests.

“Lucy, hello.”

Startled, I turned to see Jake Owens grinning at me. I couldn’t stop smiling, it was so good to see him. “Hey, Jake.”

“Homesick for the old place?”

“The hotel? Not really. Aunt Hannah? Yes.”

“They’re converting your old room to a guest room. I found something when I was cleaning it out. I have it in the stable. Do you want to wait while I get it for you?”

“Can I get it on my way home? I’m late to see my sisters, and Aunt Hilda has a strict schedule at her house.”

“Sure. I’ll be in the stable later, so you’ll find me there.”

“What did I leave?”

“A comb. It has broken teeth, but I figured it might be a keepsake.”

Ma’s comb. How could I have left it? “You’re right. It was my mother’s. Thank you for saving it for me. I’ll be back in an hour or so.”

“I’ll be in the stable.”


I went on to Aunt Hilda’s. When I got there, Ella was alone in the parlor.

“Where’s Jennie?” I asked.

Ella looked up from her Bible. Her eyes were red from crying. She wiped a tear from her cheek. “In her room. She can’t come out until tomorrow.”


“She had a dream about Uncle Graham’s horse getting hurt, and she told him not to ride yesterday, and he did. A rattlesnake bit his horse.”

“Oh, my. That’s awful. But why is Jennie banished to her room?”

“Because Uncle Graham said an evil spirit had possessed her. That’s the only way she could have known. He whipped her with a belt something terrible.” Ella buried her face in her hands. Her shoulders shook as she sobbed.

I wrapped an arm around her shoulder and drew her to me. “We warned her not to tell her dreams to anyone.”

“But she says if she doesn’t and something bad happens, it will be her fault.”

“I’m going to see her.”

“You really shouldn’t. If Uncle Graham finds out, it’ll just be worse.”

Free Prequel: The Courtship of Hannah True is still available.

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The Monster Tornado of 1860

From The Press and Tribune, Chicago, June 5, 1860

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.

The Adventures of Hannah True

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.