Cheer and shout! Sing and dance!  
Long days of darkness, doubt, dejection are gone and past. 
Dawn has come with celebration in the birth of a book, 
Written for all who never doubted the light would come. 
Now to celebrate, let us make merry. Rejoice! 
Cheer and shout! Sing and dance! 
Hairt Before Dawn is here at last.

After all these years of seeking an agent, a publisher, reviewers, and so on, Hairt Before Dawn a novel of perseverance is now available online as an ebook and as a paperback from Amazon, maybe from a bookstore near you, and as a signed copy from me.

The cover, created by Alison Lyne, shows Harriette Lindstrom, a blind girl called dumb Hairt, with her beloved coonhound Mutt. The subtitle, a novel of perseverance, is for me and my persistence in getting this story in print as much as it is for Hairt in her struggle to prove her worth.

You’re probably thinking as most readers do, “What’s the book about?” Here’s a bit of the back cover text to answer that.

Nothing—not blindness, shunning, or fire demons, not even the evil Mr. Dayton—can stop Hairt when she follows the spirit of Maybelle, her birth mother, and sets out to prove her worth.

Middle Tennessee, 1904.  The Black Patch is torn apart in a violent struggle between tobacco farmers and against big business. Fifteen-year-old Harriette Lindstrom, dumb Hairt, is caught up in the conflict. Totally blind and determined to prove she can do more than milk cows and work tobacco, she leaves the farm, her adopted family and her dear coonhound Mutt. At the Tennessee School for the Blind, she has friends, learns her singing is exceptional, and meets the boy with a special voice. Best of all, cataract surgery restores some of her vision, and Hairt lives her dreams of love and acceptance until those dreams turn into nightmares of persecution and fear. Then the dreaded Night Riders appear.

I am very thankful for all the dear people who’ve had faith in me and my writing, and I want them to know this is their book, the one they asked for. I’ll say more about the process of writing and publishing of Hairt Before Dawn in future blogs.

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. Psalm 98 NIV


  • Nancy Thompson

    Congratulations, Grace! I have just finished reading “Hairt Before Dawn,” and I am so proud of you! I love the story of Hairt’s varying experiences and her perseverance. I’d love to know her. And now I have so many questions: to what extent is Hairt like your grandmother, beyond her blindness and attendance at the TN School for the Blind? Did your grandmother and her family have to move from Middle TN to West TN like the Lindstroms? And did Hairt return to the school for the next year? Did she maintain a relationship with the Barringtons as well as the Lindstroms? Inquiring minds want to know – and I guess that’s one of the hallmarks of a good story.

    I hope your book will find its way into middle school libraries around the city. I can easily imagine middle schoolers being mesmerized by the gripping story.

    Very best wishes and congratulations on this great accomplishment!

  • GraceEHowell37

    Thank you, Nancy, for your cherished comment. I hope you’ll forgive me for taking sooo long to answer you. In spite of being shot and shot and shot again and again, the dreaded Civid 19 put me out of commission for some time. I just saw your comment and appreciate it very much. Now I’ll attempt to answer your questions. Like Hairt Lindstrom in the book, Hairt Schmittou, my grandmother, loved blind school and regained some of her vision while there, as well as a great deal of self- confidence. However, Grandma was not adopted as Hairt Lindstrom was, but was the third child in a family of twelve children, eleven of whom lived to ripe old ages, so the Barringtons exist only in my imagination. The Schmittou family moved to Memphis during Grandma’s last year at the blind school.
    That’s the thing with historical fiction. Fact and fiction are so intertwined that even the author finds it hard to separate the two. I tried to write from Grandma’s point of view and depicted Hairt’s experiences as close to the real thing as I could. Now I’m working on a sequel from Esther’s point of view in which Hairt does return to blind school, the family lives on a mule farm, and Merle is an active suffragette.
    Nancy, you expressed perfectly my hopes for HAIRT BEFORE DAWN. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

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