Category Archives: Coming of Age

Donaldson’s Novel, Hearts of Mercy, Explores The Misogyny That Brutalized Women Of The Great Smokies

Nineteen-year-old Viney Walker introduces progressive ideas to Wear’s Valley and outwits the 19th century vigilantes who beat women for defy the clan’s standards.

“Shocking, intriguing and poignant. Joan captures a moment in time few are aware of. Beautifully written and researched.” –Viola Shipman, International Best-Selling Author of The Recipe Box

Fleeing heartbreak, Viney Walker reluctantly follows her father to his new home deep into the Great Smoky Mountains, where she encounters the wrath of a vigilante group. The White Caps terrorize the women of Wear’s Valley as they impose their sharia law that demands purity. Viney chafes over the rules, as vicious as those endured by contemporary women in the Middle East or the double standards woven into other cultures.

When Viney falls in love with her cousin, James, she ignores the White Cap’s warning even though she secretly witnesses the clan whipping a girl. Instead of silent obedience, Viney feeds her rage by drawing strength from the equality she experienced while living in Rugby, a Utopian Community, and where her sister, Lizzie remains. And from the grit displayed by her cousins, the Walker Sisters whose high mountain top home protects them from the fury of the White Caps. Like the women of today who raised their voices against abuse, Viney determines to undermine the White Caps’ rule and bring freedom to the valley.

As Viney’s love for James and for her father unfolds, she plots with a counter vigilante group, The Blue Bills to destroy the White Cap’s reign. She only reveals her plan to Lizzie, who fears for her sister’s life. Blinded by love, Viney stumbles into the White Caps’ trap. With her hands tied to a porch post, Viney begs for mercy and receives it from the man who rejected her. Through the first person, Viney’s voice will draw readers into the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains as she explores a dark time in Tennessee’s history. Hearts of Mercy shows the power of a sister’s protection, the might of a father’s sacrifice, and the distance that a man will travel to claim the heart of his beloved.

About the Author: Joan Donaldson is the author of four books for young people. Her novel, On Viney’s Mountain won the 2010 Friends of American Writers Award, appeared on the Bank Street List of Best Books of 2010, and represented the State of Tennessee at the 2010 National Book Festival sponsored by the Library of Congress. She earned a MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Spalding University, Louisville, KY, and has published personal essays in The Christian Science Monitor and other magazines. With her husband, John, she raises organic blueberries. She loves to garden, play her Celtic harp, and make quilts with the help of her corgi, Merlin and orange cat, Fergi. She is represented by AKA Literary Management and may be contacted at: or on Facebook or Twitter.

I Imagined I Was the Woman in the Photo

I Imagined I Was the Woman in the Photo

A reblog from Uvi Poznansky’s Blog The summer before my senior year of high school, the first where I’d be alone, getting through each day became my secondary objective, my primary still hoping to work at the magazine someday. Part of making it a reality was giving the goal credence by sharing my hopes outside… Continue Reading

Would it Last Till Winter?

From Uvi’s Blog   I wondered if we would still be walking together in the snow.   “I wanted to be the first to get to you, before the wolves started to circle,” he said. Not familiar with that reference, it sounded ominous and negative. We walked down Outer Drive toward my house, me silent,… Continue Reading

Memory of the Color Yellow Science Fiction

Memory of the Color Yellow Science Fiction

Coming soon in the Boxed Set, Rogue Skies  My childhood officially ended the day I heard the word Tiresias while playing tag with my friends on a sultry August afternoon. As daylight waned, neighborhood kids ran rampant over manicured lawns screaming, “You’re it!” and “Tag, I gotcha!” We were twelve year olds; ranging in the… Continue Reading