Author Joan Hall Returns With New Release! #ShortStories

It is my great pleasure and honor to welcome friend and author Joan Hall to The Indie Spot today!

Without a Trace

Thanks for sharing your blog today, Beem. I’m excited to be here and to talk about my newest release, Menagerie. It’s a mixed-genre compilation of thirteen short stories. Each tour stop features a different story and I tell how it came about. Today’s story is Without a Trace. It’s set in 1987 and falls into the mystery/suspense category.

Several years ago, I envisioned an old, abandoned house. The home’s original owner died in a freak accident, and some speculated his ghost haunted the place. Other than that, I wasn’t sure what I would do with it. The only thing I knew was the name of the street, so the working title was The House on Baker Street. That name came about not because of Sherlock Holmes, but from a popular tune from the late 1970s by Gerry Rafferty.

As I pondered what to do with the idea, I recalled an incident that happened when I was in my late teens. A new neighbor stopped by one day to ask us about a nearby abandoned farmhouse. Mom and I knew of the home—the owner died about ten years earlier, and her family left the house unoccupied and in a state of disrepair.

Our neighbor had stopped there to dig some bulbs that grew near the road. The door was open, and she went inside. Some of the woman’s clothing still hung in closets. I accompanied Mrs. B. another time. An old prescription medicine bottle sat on the kitchen counter. A spoon still rested on the stove. A few food items were still in the cabinet. Needless to say, it was bizarre.

That’s when I decided to write a story where a family disappeared during the night with not much more than their clothes came to mind.

In Without a Trace, a television reporter, Tricia Strickland, moves to a new town and wonders why an old home was left abandoned. When she learns about the family’s mysterious disappearance, she decides to investigate and gets permission from the station manager to do a special report.

After getting permission from the house’s new owner, Trisha and her cameraman film inside the house. But will she learn the truth of what happened to the family? Below is an excerpt.


Trisha stepped into the foyer then followed the new owner throughout the first floor. Layers of dust coated the furnished interior. Magazines lay on the coffee table. The kitchen still had appliances. Dishes were in the cabinet. An open pantry door revealed rusting cans of food. Trisha didn’t want to think about what they left in the refrigerator.

The second floor was more of the same. Furniture was still in place, and children’s toys were on the floors. A few clothes hung in closets.

It wasn’t hard to determine which room belonged to the daughter. It contained a white canopied bed—a style popular during the late sixties and early seventies. Cracked and fading posters of David Cassidy adorned one wall.

The second bedroom was all boy—bunk beds, model cars on shelves, a baseball glove, and a single sports trophy. Trisha ventured near to read the engraving. It was a first-place little league team award belonging to Rick Keller.

“Hey, Jeff. Get a close-up shot of this. What kind of family would leave behind items that meant something to their children? They must have fled for their lives.”

“I guess you could say that.”


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.

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39 thoughts on “Author Joan Hall Returns With New Release! #ShortStories

  1. Pingback: Menagerie Book Tour: Day Nine with Beem Weeks – Joan Hall

  2. D.L. Finn, Author

    Another great post, Joan. It is so strange when houses are left to sit like time capsules from when the people were there. It was a great take on that.

    Thanks for hosting, Beem!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Beem Weeks Post author

      The pleasure is all mine, Joan. I love the excerpt. I have been subscribed to dozens of Urban Explorer channels on YouTube for many years. They explore abandoned houses all over the world. It’s amazing to see these time capsules. I often pay attention to items in the background, such as an envelope with a name. I’ll do a Google search and come up with the story behind the family or person who lived there. Often, the surviving family can’t be bothered with what is left behind. Sad. I’ve seen lives tossed aside as if meaningless. But we’ll all leave this world one day, and what we’ve accumulated will be left behind. We truly cannot take it with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mae Clair

    What a cool story behind the story, Joan. I can seem why those memories hung around all that time. What an impression they must have made.

    We had an old abandoned farmhouse not far from where I grew up as a kid. I went poking around the outside one day with a friend. We found some gourds growing in the remnants of a garden, and I remember an old rocking chair I could see through a side window. The rest was just empty rooms with plank floors. I still remember that old farmhouse, though today there is a parking lot in it’s place.

    Without a Trace was an excellent story, but I loved each and every one of your tales in Menagerie. Wishing you much success with it.

    Thanks for hosting today, Beem!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Joan Hall

      I can still picture this house in my mind. It was bulldozed and burned years ago and someone built a new home on the same site.

      Thanks for your comments about Menagerie. I’m so glad you enjoyed the stories.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Joan Hall

      In the case of this one, I couldn’t understand. The deceased lady’s family lived nearby. Walking in the house almost a decade after she passed away was an unusual experience. In the case of my story, the reasons are totally different. I hope you like the story, Liz.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Menagerie Book Tour: Day Thirteen With Teri Polen – Joan Hall

  5. Pingback: It’s No Mystery! – Joan Hall

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