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The Dew Series

READ THE SERIES TODAY!

The Gilded Age saga of the tumultuous Crenshaw and Weldon families continues!

Unwed and pregnant, Thankful Crenshaw comes home and makes a tragic and life-changing decision. She misses the close relationship she once had with her newly religious brother, Buck, who spends his days in the Arizona desert converting drunks and Indians. One drunk, William Weldon, is Buck’s special case and Thankful’s true love.

Little does Thankful know that Buck’s religious fervor is fading. A violent encounter in the sandy wilderness brings her brother and William back to Englewood, New Jersey to mourn their lost innocence and lack of personal integrity in the third book of The Tenafly Road Series.

The Tenafly Road Series

“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”

What Is Love?

smiling father and child

Worldly Love …

I’m not going to lie. I hate rejection and am far too fond of the world’s approval. When a person doesn’t like something about me I’m often too thin-skinned. I’m in awe of people who let things  roll off their backs.

Lately I’ve been realizing that my definition of love — what I really believe it to be deep down — is something related to people telling me I’m great in exchange for me telling them they’re great. So basically take-take relationships have been my thing.

Selfless Love …

I do occasionally have  true moments of unselfishness but I have to admit they are moments when I am kind to animals or people who won’t tax me too much. Animals, in particular, aren’t able to write negative reviews of the home-cooked meals I make for them but then they don’t mind eating trash and roadkill either so …

The other night I decided to look at the  book reviews that had just been posted on Amazon. A few weren’t as wonderful as I always want them to be. Here I will also admit that people who leave one star reviews on free books are very taxing to me (hey, I’m human).

I whined to my husband. He always brings me to the heart of the matter. “You want to put yourself out there, so you have to be able to take the heat. Do you think Trump spends time worrying about reviews?”

Yeah. Let’s not talk politics, but my husband of course was right. People write negative reviews on everything from pavement sealer to the Bible. Why should I expect to be liked all the time? Some of you remember that I don’t leave negative reviews online but that hasn’t stopped me from trashing movies, books, politicians and so on to friends and neighbors. I’ve also fallen out of love with people.

Anyway, since I’m reflecting on life’s purpose these days I’m reconsidering my definition of love as that happy feeling when everyone likes me and I like them. It turns out, that in general, I’m not even marginally good at selfless love.

 

I basically love the following reader who left this review of THE HOUSE ON TENAFLY ROAD:
“This is a love story from the first. So much love between two people. The story is wonderful. I want to read the whole series.”
Yet I find it harder to love this reader:
“I have never read anything so dreary, sad, depressing, and frustrating in all my life!! It took me forever, I had to force myself to finish it.”

Yet these two opposing views made me consider love even more. I get the desire for uncomplicated feel-good stories about love, but I’m incapable of writing them. I’ve never found love easy. Surface romance is fun but it ends so quickly. It ends because romance is always about drawing attention to oneself until that point when you can no longer keep up the facade of being a truly marvelous soul.

Romantic Love vs. Biblical Love …

On that day or soon after both partners have to decide if it’s better to run or stay. Staying means you have to enter into the Biblical meaning of love which can be not only difficult but also horrible in many ways. Yes, you begin to discover that your partner is so damned selfish and too hard on the kids. He’s quite possibly insane (or so you think when he disagrees with you). When this person isn’t spending all of his time reflecting you back to yourself in a positive way and begins to question your sanity, well then, it’s no rom-com.

Possibly because I have such trouble sacrificing my desires in acts of love (and also find that my passions are fleeting and that my eyes wander), I’ve always been interested in the after stories of the happily-ever-after stories. You know, when things get real.

Tortured Love …

But getting real means you have to be strong enough to deal with people who won’t like what you have to say. On second thought I have compassion for the reviewer  who just couldn’t like my story about a love that endures great hardship. I couldn’t  endure a similar relationship in real life and I really, really loved the guy (or thought I did).

Now that I’m older I see the promise in sacrificial love. I’ve done it once or twice and wonder in those moments why I don’t do it more often. Laying down every expectation comes with a weird peace that goes against my controlling tendencies. It usually brings about better outcomes (in the long run). For me I can only do it with God’s help in the form of daily digging into Scripture. My worldly self sees no reason to give myself to anything that doesn’t reflect back on me glowingly.

The Creator’s Love …

The gift that God has given me in writing  novels is an insight as to how God loves us despite our miserable behavior and hardened hearts. I tell the truth about my characters because I’m  compelled to do so in search of  greater truth. This may sound pretentious but why do we tell ourselves stories anyway? I told the Tenafly Road story because one day I was asked to let surrender my romantic ideas about love and let a different kind of love flow in — a love that believes that the lowliest sinner is offered a place in the kingdom.

Redeeming Love …

I write about these lowly people because I know where I come from (and it’s pretty low). I write because I know that deep love is hard and miserable sometimes. I’d always had a hard time imagining a God who really loved people until He showed me a creator’s love for the created. God in His wisdom and with His sense of humor got my attention when I first set out to write against Christianity years ago. No matter how I tried to get around it, I kept bumping into my own desire to redeem John Weldon and the rest.

And so after a few days reflection I’m ready to admit that I still have a lot to do when it comes to loving people who leave negative reviews or critique my cooking. Deep love brings with it risks, but I want to take God at His word that loving deeply is worth it.

Finally I got this review and it kind of sums up my feelings about life which  makes sense since I wrote the book. 🙂

“Not sure what I think of this book on its whole. A list of dysfunctional characters all so full with faults. But so well written I had to keep reading. Characters so frustrating one wants to slap them but so human one keeps hoping for the best for them.”

I want to know what you all think LOVE means in the comments. Have any of you survived a tortured love story? Do you like reading them?

The Tenafly Road Series

“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”

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Weary of running series

Captivating saga of betrayal, revenge and redemption in Gilded Age America!

Cadet Buck Crenshaw’s integrity is tested when West Point Military Academy opens its doors to black cadets. Will Buck keep his place in the yearling pecking order or throw it away taking a stand for Cadet Milford Streeter?

Escaping west to Fort Grant, Arizona, Buck confronts his demons while witnessing the downward spiral of his sister Thankful’s romance with a dashing army lieutenant.

Weary of Running, the second book in The Tenafly Road Series, highlights the dangers of moral ambivalence and the redeeming power of love and friendship in an imperfect world of mixed emotions and foolish decisions.

Fall in love with the members of the Crenshaw and Weldon families and buy The Tenafly Road Series today!

Books in the historical family saga:

The House on Tenafly Road

Weary of Running

The Dew That Goes Early Away

Forget Me Not

The One My Heart Loves

The Grand Union

 

The Tenafly Road Series

“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”

Veteran in a New Field: Interview With Author W.H. Payne

Today starts an occasional series featuring writers who use history as their muse (aside from me). 🙂

When I discovered that W.H. Payne shared a love for Winslow Homer’s Civil War era paintings,  I knew I had to feature his books here. W.H. is a Vietnam veteran and life long history enthusiast. He also plays in a band!

W. H. graciously took the time to pick from this great list of questions: 50 Good Questions to Ask an Author to talk about his writing process. He has published three works of historical fiction:

The Veteran in a New Field, The Sharpshooter on Picket Duty, and Prisoners from the Front.

  1. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Civil War 2015 Bill Payne(1)

My first novel; The Veteran in a New Field is set at The Catskill Mountain House in 1866. The then world -famous resort was built in 1823 and over the years hosted Hudson Valley artists including Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Jasper Cropsey, and other luminaries including James Fenimore Cooper, Oscar Wilde, US Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. By the 1960s however it had become an abandoned wreck. My first pilgrimages were to hike the trails, as a teenager, and explore the ruins of the great hotel. On January 25, 1963, the state Conservation Department burned the remains of the Mountain House, and I witnessed the conflagration as a sixteen year-old high school student from the valley below. I have hiked around the site many times since and it inspired my writing. I have made many trips to Ireland and to Civil War sites and battlefields researching my novels as well as a non-fiction book that I am currently writing.

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Energizes.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have drawn inspiration and enhanced my research from the works of these friends who are authors writing in the field of Civil War studies:

Joseph Thatcher; Confederate Coal Torpedo,  Chuck Veit; A Dog Before a Soldier and Raising Missouri, and Jamie Malanowski; Commander Will Cushing; Dare Devil Hero of the Civil War.

In conversations we have explored both the compilation and evaluation aspects of research as well as the style of language and thought in the Civil War/mid-nineteenth century era.

  1. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Both. Since my books each contain mysteries for my hero to solve, I write them to be complete stories within each book; i.e. to stand alone. But, as my characters move through history, their adventures are carried on in the subsequent books. This apparently works as I desired as I have heard from two of my readers one in Saratoga, NY and one in Florida, that they had each read the middle book; The Sharpshooter on Picket Duty, not knowing that it was preceded by the first. They each reported that the book gave them an enjoyable reading experience and they went on to the other books in the series.

5. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Not too surprisingly, my favorite under-appreciated ‘novel’ is actually a trilogy by Thomas Flanagan;

The Year of the French, The Tenants of Time, and The End of the Hunt. Together the stories span the struggles for the freedom of Ireland from English rule, from the Rising of 1798, to the Fenian Rising of 1866 to the War of Irish Independence 1916-1923 .

6. What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Truth. Some of my characters are drawn from people I have known; an officer I served with in the New York Guard, a woman I worked with as a parole officer for example. I owe it to them to portray them, although I have fictionalized their personas and put them back in time, with respect and appreciation for their real struggles and accomplishments.

7. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

As I noted above, I am currently working on a non-fiction book; A Stone of the Heart about my great-uncle Patrick Delaney who served in the Irish Republican Army in the War of Irish Independence.

8. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

My research includes visits to libraries (most recently for the second time, to The National Library in Dublin Ireland) as well as museums, historic sites and time on the internet. Once I have gotten a reasonably good idea of the basics of the time and place I am telling about, I get underway with the writing. I continue with the research as the work continues up to and after the book is done. I review and add or subtract as new research indicates prior to publication. My current work, on my great-uncle, includes those research methods as well as my family’s recollections gathered both in the past and the present, in the US, Ireland, England and New Zealand.

9. How do you select the names for your characters?

I used my maternal grandmother’s maiden name for my hero in the first book; Seamus Delaney. I will use other appropriate names particularly with regard to ethnic preferences in names. Many mid-nineteenth century names in the English speaking world had Biblical, historical, classical and even Shakespearean inspiration. I try to name my characters with inferences to the traits of the figures they may have been named for.

10. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes.

***Adrienne is smiling and wondering what those secrets are!

Thank you so much for sharing your body of work with us and for serving our country. Come back some time and tell us more about your music as well!

You can contact Mr. Payne at:

wpayne@hvc.rr.com or his website: www.whpayne.com.

Get the books on Lulu here.

Get the books on Amazon here.

Get the books on Apple’s iBooks store here.

20180602_133723

veteran_new_field_cover_rev10 The Veteran in a New Field:

“In the summer of 1866, young Seamus Delaney, a former colonel in the Irish Brigade and a Union veteran of the Civil War, checks into the Catskill Mountain House, a grand hotel perched on a summit overlooking the Hudson Valley. Seamus is still employed, in a clandestine capacity, by the government, but has been ordered by his superior, the shadowy Secretary, to take a rest. On the morning of his arrival, his path crosses that of the lovely, ethereal Emily, and later in the day he rescues her when her horse accidentally stampedes and her buckboard nearly plummets over the Kaaterskill Falls. What first appears to be an accident soon seems to Seamus to be attempted murder. Early the following day, a murder is committed, and the victim is not Emily, but a man shot from behind while attending a prayer service on the piazza of the hotel.

Luther Van Bronc, a black man who, like Seamus, is a veteran of the Civil War, is accused of firing the fatal shot. At the request of Luther’s employer, the owner of the hotel, the wealthy Mr. Beecher, it falls to Seamus to clear the accused before a lynch mob renders its own justice.”

 BIO BILL PAYNE

      Bill served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from October 1968 to  July 1970. He served in Vietnam from July 1969 to July 1970. He was Honorably Discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1974 with the rank of Sergeant. He was commissioned a Captain in the New York Guard in 1992, was activated for the terrorist attack on 9/11/01 and retired as a Major in 2015.

He began his career in December of 1970 as a Probation Officer in Dutchess County, NY and was later promoted to Senior Probation Officer serving in various positions including Juvenile and Adult Officer and in all courts.

In 2011, he received the Middle Atlantic States Correctional Association (MASCA) Founders Award. He has been a member of the MASCA Board and Policy and Procedure Chair. He remains a member of the Corrections and Youth Services Association of New York State and on October 27, 2016 was presented with their Executive Board Rutherford B. Hayes Award.

Bill devotes much of his time as a volunteer in veterans’ services. He is Past Commander of Lamouree-Hackett Post #72, American Legion, Saugerties, NY and is Past Commander of the Ulster County American Legion. He is a life member of the Marine Corps League, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans. On May 22, 2012, his efforts for veterans and the community were recognized by NY State Senator John Bonacic who sponsored his induction into the NYS Senate Veterans Hall of Fame.

He is co-curator of the Post #72 Veterans History Museum and in 2018 assisted in writing a successful grant application for the US WWI Centennial Commission and The Pritzker Military Museum100 Cities Memorials initiative. The Post #72 museum was one of only 100 locations that was awarded the grant.

Bill writes historical fiction and has published three novels set at the time of the Civil War. He also belongs to the Veterans in a New Field; a musical group that performs and records songs of the Union Irish Brigade. He reenacts a Union Marine of the Civil War with the United States Naval Landing Party. He presents to groups on historical topics.

Further Reading:

WINSLOW HOMER’S DARK UNDERTONES: THE VETERAN IN A NEW FIELD

 

 

 

 

Let Them Read Books Guest Post

Hi everyone~

Today my family is getting prepared for a big day tomorrow. After three years we are adopting that foster girl I mentioned once or twice 😉

But I wanted to share an interview the generous book lover Jenny Q over at LET THEM READ BOOKS did with me. I really enjoyed her questions so have a look if you feel so inclined (she loves comments — hint, hint).

INTERVIEW HERE

In the meantime it’s back to cleaning my house for visitors.

What Do You Do When You Finish a Series?

We’ve all been there as readers, writers and viewers. We spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over worlds created by other humans and then suddenly the series is over.

It’s over and you’ve lost your best friends. A wave of sadness envelops you as you walk the dog. You realize it’s because you’ve finished that damned series.

Talk of possibly more books or a revival on Netflix give you only momentary relief because you just know the new stuff just won’t be the same …

I seriously hate endings no matter how happy. It’s especially true when it’s YOUR own characters you have to say farewell to.

I suppose all creators feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of things — but with such a mix of sadness too!

I’m happy to release the final book of THE TENAFLY ROAD SERIES so readers get to see how Buck, William, Thankful and Lucy finally work things out, but forgive me the tiny bit of depression I feel at leaving them all behind.

Empty nest syndrome for writers is kind of awful (yet a weird privilege).

So … how do you deal with getting to the end of a series? Let me know in the comments!

And remember to check out THE GRAND UNION today!

Here’s a sample.

(Buck has foolishly taken his new wife to Saratoga Springs, New York for a honeymoon/business trip):

“We keep having to worry about everyone’s opinions, but why, Buck? We have each other.”

“Everything is so simple for you. But I have to make sure everyone’s boats stay afloat.”

“Boats float on water, not on you,” Lucy said with a little laugh.

He didn’t laugh, though her smile was so damned cute. “The water boy Corny or whatever his name is—he looks to be about your age—about my brother Nathan’s age. Thankful said you should have married Nathan. Did you like him better? I’d understand. He can be amusing at times.”

“Can he? I never noticed,” she said. “I don’t know why I ever thought you were mature, Buck, because you’re worse than the boys when I was ten.”

“How many were there?”

“Buck!”

He could never sit still for long, his nervous energy prompting him to stand and sit and then feel uncomfortable sitting on the steps. “All day today Preston let his eyes wander,” he said, waiting for her reaction. “I don’t believe in wandering eyes, Lucy … at least I mean that once I’m set on someone—I mean you—well, this isn’t the same thing as Alma, whom I never liked—or loved. You do understand that she was more of an insurance, just in case.”

Lucy stared in astonishment at the way Buck’s mind worked.

“I’m no romantic, but I liked to picture Preston and Lottie and you and me successfully working and recreating together,” Buck said with his usual stiffness.

Lucy laughed. “You don’t know how to recreate!”

He laughed a little too.

“So where is Preston, tonight?”

He stood again, running his hand along the banister. “With a poet girl—an awful feathery, flighty socialite who forces everyone to endure her poems about acorns,” he said. “The Trasks seem sincere about everything. I don’t trust that. They’re far too fond of beauty for beauty’s sake and symbolism and—emotional in their affections for everyone. It makes my skin crawl a little, but I guess all of that flattery and the lovey-dovey manner they have with each other—I guess it’s nice in a way. It’s better than how I’ve been treating you.”

Lucy looked into his guarded eyes. “What do you want me to say?”

He looked away. His little confession of admiration for things lovey-dovey embarrassed him.

Lucy played with the torn lace on her skirt. “But I’ll say this for myself. I don’t believe in divorce.”

Buck turned back to face her with the eagerness of his younger brother Nathan. “Never, under any circumstances?”

“Except if you ever keep a girl for insurance again, or even make eyes with a girl. If you aren’t interested in just me, then we can quietly divorce, and I’ll move to New London.”

Buck regretted giving her so much time to think of moving to New London and was surprised at her strength. “I’m interested in you. Very much so. And you really mean to stay even through the worst mishaps?”

“Buck, if I ever find that you speak to this Alma or befriend another girl or lady … I won’t have it.”

Buck sat close now and took Lucy’s hand in his. “Lucy, I’ve been such a fool. I’ve spoiled our time. I promise not even once did Alma hold a flame compared to you.”

“I should like it if we never mention her name again.”

“Yes, yes, I understand, and from now on I won’t even talk to another lady unless it’s my mother or one of my sisters.”

“This must include Lottie—who you’ve apparently told all of your secrets to.”

Buck looked off again, much like a young colt bristling a little after a long bit of training. “Yes, I did do that. She made me feel like one of them, and I’m not much of a drinker—I don’t know—she easily got things out of me.”

Lucy smiled, shaking her head. “You may be embarrassed of me being so young and all, but Buck, I want to be the one who takes care to know every detail about you. I never want to find out things through another.”

The Tenafly Road Series

“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”

 

BUY THE SERIES TODAY!

What Do You Do In Your Spare Time?

We all live busy lives. I was a little too busy to write anything lately so instead you get a visual sneak peek into my last few days!

On Sunday I broke out my old Civil War Reenacting gear for a book fair. The dress was a real hit — it’s what gave me the courage to participate in two panel discussions on history and fiction! It also landed me  gigs at possibly three different venues in the area in 2019! The main thing though was that it was really fun!

 

On Monday it was back to living my real life of flannels, boots and mud with my favorite lamb escaping yet again  from our electric fencing. I seriously have no idea how she does it. I tried letting the other sheep out so she’d join the herd, but they all decided (now that we have a new neighbor) to escape onto the neighbor’s front lawn. I spent the next hour chasing Natasha (with Prince Andrei in tow) around the perimeter of the electric fence. I couldn’t stay mad at her because she knew what she was doing and it was funny. She’d let me get right up behind her before bouncing off in the playful ways lambs do.

Finally I caught her:

A Note: Little Natasha is safe and sound and, aside from her wounded pride, she was perfectly fine once I got her back with the other sheep. 🙂

So … readers and writers, what do you do in your spare time? Do you like dressing up? Let me know in the comments!

An Encouraging Note to Mistake Makers

“Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.” ― Oscar Wilde

Some people come to the table with all of their research done. They’ve outlined every subplot of their future novel, they’ve studied the market, they’ve researched every aspect of publishing, and they’ve networked the hell out of their blogs.

I love those people. I’m impressed by them … but I’m not one of them. Even when I really, really try.

Instead I seem to learn best by making mistakes and having adventures.

Some mistakes I’ve made in life: marrying with doubts, wasting my time at NYU and

not having my book professionally edited.

Yes, most people are forgiven (and sometimes celebrated) for marrying and divorcing multiple times. Many of us think little of wasted nights at university, but everyone despises those writers who don’t pay to have their books professionally edited.

For a while (until I could afford to have my growing library of book titles edited) I kind of despised myself now and then.

But this is where the encouragement comes in:

Publishing mistakes can be fixed and sometimes in the fixing we learn a lot.

I consider myself lucky that I wrote my first book before I knew anything about publishing or else I wouldn’t have started. If I was told that I’d have to figure out how to blog or format documents I would have curled up in a ball despising myself all the more.

I published when a trusted friend dared me.

I published so that my children would have something to remember me by (they think I’m ridiculous for thinking of death all the time, but it’s in my blood).

A Historical Novel Society Surprise

When I started getting random good reviews I was pretty shocked (though I loved my book). When I got a really good review from the HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY I hoped and prayed that my self-editing had been enough —  yet knew deep down that no one catches every typo or weird writing habit for themselves. I gave it a good try — and with each re-edit I learned a lot about editing.

The First Negative Review!

When the first negative review came in and mentioned that I randomly always used the verb “pat” when I meant “patted” the worries flooded in. This was just a weird glitch in my brain, but how many other glitches were hidden from me???

Honestly, I was thrilled that my self-edited early versions of THE HOUSE ON TENAFLY ROAD still managed to get mostly good reviews yet I knew I was selling myself  and my readers short and leaving myself open for the occasional vicious review about little typos and the word pat. I even felt some satisfaction when I found typos in traditionally published books. 🙂

Every writer comes to the point were they have to decide how devoted they are to their stories. After writing a six book series I knew — I  really, enthusiastically believed in my work (that’s fifteen years of my life right there!).

Having my series polished up by the great KEVIN BRENNAN at INDIE-SCRIBABLE EDITORIAL SERVICES this past year has been such an amazing experience and one that I’m not sure I would have appreciated as much had I handed over the books earlier because I was too insecure back then. Kevin is great at getting a feel for a writer’s work and stepped in with wonderful suggestions, comments and encouragement.

I won’t lie, I was incredibly relieved each time I opened one of his emails and read that he was enjoying the series and that the typos and occasional wonky wording were just that — occasional. On a professional level, the fixes were super important to me because I wanted all of my hard work to shine and flow. Fifteen years ago I didn’t even think I could write a short story and certainly didn’t believe  in myself enough to hire a REAL editor.

The point is, all those years ago I didn’t have the money, but more importantly I didn’t have the guts to consider myself a professional at anything. I did everything exactly how you’re not supposed to do it, but I’m still here. I’m more a writer now than ever. I’m more willing to defend my work and my life than ever.

I feel like things are working out just as they are supposed to.

I wrote a book.

I edited it myself and designed the first cover (more to come on that disaster).

My sister told me that writers had to blog. I didn’t even know what that was.

Through blogging I met Kevin and never even thought about his editing services — until the right time and then I knew without hesitation that it had to be him. It was all meant to be, in my humble opinion.  The thrill of sharing the series with a writer I admire who happens to be an excellent editor has been one of the highlights of my life.

How often are you afraid to begin things?

I get it. I really do. How often have you turned back after making painful mistakes? I get that too. But if you have a dream, don’t give up on yourself too early (and it’s probably always too early to give up). Your path is your path. Winding roads aren’t always a bad thing.

Just the other day I got the following review for THE HOUSE ON TENAFLY ROAD:

“I saw that this book was close to 600 pages. That didn’t daunt me, but I wondered if I would be engaged in such a long book? I was. For 3 full days. I really enjoyed The House on Tenafly Road. It is an interesting story with well written characters I came to care about. The Civil War history is well researched and accurate. There were many eye opening and fascinating facets of the Civil War, and the military in general, that I found interesting. I liked how the character of Katherine became a major one, and following her domestic life as a military wife in a then-remote outpost (Arizona) was excellent. I commiserated with her in the awful heat; pregnant, lonely and struggling in a barely livable hut. The all too real issues of war crimes, Native American relations, pain, family stress and addiction were woven seamlessly throughout this enjoyable read. One thing I will say; unlike almost all Kindle books I have read, this one had hardly ANY typos. There are some books that are so badly transcribed that they are almost unreadable…thoroughly frustrating and annoying. Not this book. Flawless and that made reading it truly enjoyable.”

So it took a while but I did it and you can too. No matter how off track you get. No matter what you don’t know yet. Just love what you do. Love yourself too –even when you make mistakes. They are often hidden gifts.

P.S. I obviously HIGHLY recommend INDIE-SCRIBABLE EDITORIAL SERVICES

 

Adrienne Morris is the author of

The Tenafly Road Series

The Tenafly Road Series

“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”

Top 5 Favorite Romantic Partners in Classic Literature

Hi everyone! After spending quite some time pondering the suffering of soldiers wounded at Gettysburg I thought I needed a quick pick-me-up. 🙂 Maybe you do too.

I feel we need some love right now so I’m calling all readers to share the ladies and gentlemen they adore. I mean, who doesn’t like romance done right? Even tragic romance has it’s place.

So here are my romantic favorites:

1.Prince Andrei Bolkonsky and Natasha Rostova in War and Peace

When your husband avoids coming into the bedroom because he hears you sobbing (and he knows he hasn’t done anything wrong), the book must be good. And War and Peace is THAT good. As some of you know I’m weirdly obsessed with military matters and men in uniform (even though I hate war). I’ll admit that a few times I was so caught up in the romances that I took little peeks ahead while the men talked strategy — but for the most part this book had the perfect mix. Prince Andrei and Natasha live on in my life through my two favorite pet sheep. Honestly I could have picked a few of the other couples — even the bad ones because they were great characters, but they didn’t make me cry — for days.

 2. Dorothea and Edward Casaubon in Middlemarch

I was just reading about this doomed couple. It seems some men feel that George Eliot was too hard on Casaubon, the sour, old intellectual  Dorothea foolishly marries.

“What did the world lose, when Dorothea destroyed Casaubon? The novel gives only slanted, derisive glimpses. But we know that the provisional title of his book was The Key to All Mythologies. He intended to show ‘that all the mythical systems or erratic mythical fragments in the world were corruptions of a tradition originally revealed’.” A Great Intellect Destroyed

I’m going to have to disagree. Casaubon was awful. I loved seeing how the two crippled each other in the mismatch but was obviously glad when Casaubon died (that sounds horrible, doesn’t it?). Don’t get me wrong. I felt sympathy for Casaubon because he lived so long in his head that he became worthless in relationships, but … maybe I just wouldn’t want to be in relationship with a genius. Super-driven, self-involved men may do great things, but they’re not  much fun to be around and frankly Casaubon’s ego and insecurity were more unattractive than Eliot’s description of his looks. Part of me may have disliked him because I see tendencies in myself of obsession and crankiness but I won’t tell my husband that!

church-window-201786_960_720

3. Susan Burling Ward and Oliver Ward in Angle of Repose

I’m sensing a pattern here. Not the happy list I was hoping for. Wallace Stegner wrote such great stories about marriage and this one is particularly bittersweet. What happens when a bright and hardworking engineer marries a cultured Eastern girl and they move West to further his career in the late nineteenth century? There are so many poignant scenes of these two people who truly want what’s best for the other yet are unable to bridge their differences.

I personally felt more sympathy for Oliver who worries throughout about making enough money and a name for himself so that his lonely wife will be able to have the cultured life she misses. When I read it I was younger and didn’t see that so often I expected men to think like women. I also tended to think men who weren’t into reading Jane Austen were primitive apes. Yep. I was dumb.

This book opened my mind to the ways men express love and concern. Susan realized a tad too late. Sigh.

The White Cockade by Edward Martin

The White Cockade by Edward Martin

 

4. Fred and Mary in Middlemarch

Okay, so two romantic couples from the same book. Oh, well. It’s my list and finally I have a happy couple to talk about. This romance was adorable. Am I right? Fred is just your average, silly, young guy. He gets into horse and gambling troubles and makes a hash of most things but he’s sweet and in love with Mary, a girl who’s plain and poor. She’s also a moral giant but strangely likeable (even though I tend to dislike giant moral people).

Middlemarch is a pretty big book so we get plenty of time to see how this little story progresses and how Mary holds her ground against Fred’s flirtations only to be rewarded in the end. If only all romances could end this way.

5. Laura and Almanzo Wilder in The Little House Series

Please don’t roll your eyes if you think the little house books are only for children. You need to read the last few books of the series again so you can feel the wistful memories Laura is sharing about her family seep into your soul. What I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about Almanzo  is that he only appears for moments in a few of the books but we know his appearances foreshadow a real-life marriage that lasted for years and years. In one of the books Laura is lost and spots Almanzo and his brother Royal. Laura notes the sparkle in Almanzo’s eyes as he looks at her. In another place Almanzo and Royal feed Pa when he’s starving during a winter of shortage and blizzard.

Whenever Almanzo is written about he is brave and good and quiet and pretty much perfect. Through these fictionalized accounts of Laura’s life we get to feel her deep love for her husband. Knowing that she couldn’t actually finish her final book after Almanzo died gives the written and published portion such power. Laura’s writing is deceptively simple and pulls on every heart-string for me — so much so that in writing my own novels I tucked in little bits of Laura here and there — like adding Morgan horses (Almanzo’s favorite breed) and marrying off an ill-fated character to a man named Royal Wilder). 🙂

So now it’s your turn. Who do you love and why? Tells us in the comments below.

 

Adrienne Morris is the author of

The Tenafly Road Series

“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”

***Do you love reading the classics? Join the club! THE CLASSICS CLUB

A Strange and Blighted Land

Gettysburg: The Aftermath of a Battle

In aftermaths of life even the best ideas on paper can leave a trail of human misery or a path to new life. Many times aftermaths are a mixture of both.

In A STRANGE AND BLIGHTED LAND Gettysburg: The Aftermath of a Battle we travel more on the first path of misery. It didn’t surprise me when halfway through this book its author, Gregory A. Coco, mentioned that he was an atheist. Coco was a  Vietnam combat veteran himself. This had a profound effect on how he viewed battle (and possibly God). As a Gettysburg guide he became frustrated and saddened by visitors who arrived with stars in their eyes and romanticized notions about glorious causes and heroic charges.

This is not to say that there weren’t heroic men — those who fought, suffered and died (or raced to the next battle) and those who raced toward the suffering to help as best they could in what became a twenty-five square mile “sea of misery.”

The numbers, no matter how often I see them, are so difficult to comprehend:

“Nearly one-third of the total forces engaged at Gettysburg became casualties. George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac lost 28 percent of the men involved; Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia suffered over 37 percent.

Of these casualties, 7,058 were fatalities (3,155 Union, 3,903 Confederate). Another 33,264 had been wounded (14,529 Union, 18,735 Confederate) and 10,790 were missing (5,365 Union, 5,425 Confederate).” HISTORYNET.COM

Forty thousand people (just the dead and severely wounded) would look something like this:

people-20000

My next book(s) are going to be fictionalized stories about my ancestors, some of them having served on the Union side in the war. A few did not come home and they haunt me — especially since I’ve discovered their pictures and letters.

While Gregory Coco describes in gruesome and troubling detail the suffering left in Gettysburg’s wake, he only briefly discusses the reasons men and boys went to fight. For whatever reasons, there are people who cling to the idea of a glorious Southern cause. And there are other people who cling to the idea that most Northern soldiers fought for every other reason but the abolition of slavery.

Losers often romanticize the past to, in some way,  make peace with the loss of so many young men. But what bothers me is the segment of modern society bent on burying, along with my young relatives physical forms, the reasons they fought.

I think part of this may come from a prejudice among intellectuals who can’t imagine that nineteenth century  farm boys from Upstate New York could understand and fight for equal rights under God for all people. It’s gratifying and upsetting when I discover a letter or book written in the 1860’s proving this point yet knowing that now these men and their compassion for the victims of slavery don’t receive proper honor for their sacrifices.

Judge a person by the content of their character not the color of their skin …

We do such a great injustice when we paint entire races of people as villains to our children. When we say, “Oh,yes, those young white men died but they were still very racist,” we miss the point that most freed slaves got. Read about how freed slaves stayed in Charleston to set up a cemetery for the white (and black) union soldiers who fought their cause:

“While the city may have been deserted by most of the white folks, there were over 10,000 freed slaves who gathered to greet the Union Army. The story goes that these freedmen and women dug up a mass grave containing the bodies of 257 dead Union soldiers, only to rebury them on May 1, 1865 in a cleaned up and landscaped burial ground.

They built an archway with a placard that said “Martyrs of the Race-Course,” and buried the bodies with a ritualized remembrance celebration, attended by thousands of people, white and black. The ceremony was covered by the New York Tribune and other national newspapers of that day.” FREED SLAVES OBSERVE 1st MEMORIAL DAY

Take a look at those stadiums again. 18,000 or so Union soldiers died or were severely wounded (many dying later) and another 5,000 or so missing. Just think of the missing ones. Those dying under bushes near streams that flooded and drowned them. Others waiting days on wet ground for treatment that never arrived because their bones were only found months and years later. Missing sometimes meant that these boys were buried in mass graves before dog tags were common.

Dead men at least were immune to the barbarity of  Gettysburg’s aftermath.

In Coco’s book we read of maimed Southern soldiers  crowded into unsanitary barns only to have to endure watching the “operators” saw limbs from friends in the middle of the room. Imagine knowing that it was your turn next.

Imagine the baby-faced soldiers (like one of my cousins who enlisted at 16) asking the doctors if he’d make it and being told no.

The Declaration of Independence as Mission Statement:

The founding fathers wrestled with the issue of slavery not because they were prejudiced (of course all people have their terrible prejudices) but because they feared what would happen to a very young nation that hardly considered itself as such. Yes, they were as flawed as we all are — we ALL are — their decision to put off dealing with slavery haunted every political, economic and social debate for years until finally it came to a head in war.

Wouldn’t it have been great to have settled things peacefully? But that didn’t happen. I refuse to make light of the sacrifices of those in my family line. They seriously didn’t have to enlist in the first few months after Fort Sumter. But they did. They fought the good fight in a war that none of us can truly imagine. Many lived with horrible wounds for years. Many lost wives who could not stand the sight of their husbands with disfigured faces. Many families lost children in their prime.

The more I read about the brutality of war the more I abhor it. Yet it boggles my mind that some men — men I am coming to know in personal ways — put their lives in danger battle after horrifying battle.

This country wasn’t built on racism exactly. Conquest by brute force and tribalism was the way of the entire world — no WWII soldiers giving out Hershey bars for the most part. Countries aren’t built on only one thing. That’s too damned simplistic. The country was built on a flawed set of people with one very unique mission statement:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Mission statements suggest that we are also works in progress and that we have not yet fully attained the noble sentiments we hold dear. Some farmer boys enlisted, were injured and re-enlisted only to die. They’re in my gene pool. Reading letters and books from the period leave little room for modern revisionism. They were proud of the part they were playing to make the mission statement a reality. I’m proud of them too.

Gregory Coco’s book is divided into five sections:

The Battlefield in the Aftermath “No tongue can depict the carnage”

The Burial of the Dead “A long black shadow”

The Care of the Wounded “A great rushing river of agony”

Prisoners of War, Stragglers, and Deserters “The woods are full of them”

From Battlefield to Hallowed Ground “The sacred sod”

Each section highlights a profoundly moving element of the battle’s aftermath. We tend to remember battles and their dates, maybe even enjoy perusing books on strategy and famous generals. It’s hard to linger in the shadow of suffering and loss. It may even be healthier not to linger too long, but for the people who fought and didn’t die the battle was there forever. In amputations by the thousands, in disfigurement of body and soul (even if outwardly healed).

A battlefield is sacred, Coco points out, not for the later generations but for the families of the men who died — so many of them buried as unknown but known to mother and father deeply — and the ones who escaped death but lived with a lifetime of pain. For those people wondering if it was their son’s bones being unearthed by plows and curiosity seekers the battlefield was something so much more than we can truly understand. Thank God.

 

Further reading:

AMERICAN BATTLEFIELD TRUST

BATTLE-SCARRED: CARING FOR THE SICK AND WOUNDED OF THE CIVIL WAR

CARING FOR WOUNDED HORSES OF THE CIVIL WAR

Adrienne Morris is the author of

The Tenafly Road Series

The Tenafly Road Series

“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”