Fiction: Thankful Crenshaw Misses a Step

“William, I’m so ashamed of myself—truly—you must forgive me. I’m just so annoyed over Miss Peckham.”

“Why? Because you need to be the center of the universe at all times? Come to your senses,” William said as he pulled a bottle of whiskey from under the tablecloth and filled a large glass to the rim. “You’re a pretty girl, but not the prettiest or smartest or anything. And no, I don’t have to forgive you—and I don’t. Look, the dance is over; better be off to your fiancé before you’re upstaged by Miss Peckham.”

“I hate you, William.”

“It’s Bill,” he muttered, gulped back his drink and poured another.

Miss Peckham raced up, yanked the bottle from his hand and said, “Mr. Weldon, I need you for a dance.”

“I don’t dance.”

Miss Peckham grabbed his hands. “Come on! I know you’d like to. I can see it in your eyes!”

“That’s the drink, I’m afraid,” William joked.

“Don’t be afraid, Mr. Weldon. . . .”

“I’m not!”

“Mr. Weldon, aside from Lieutenant Fahy and me, there’s no talented dancers. It’s just following steps.”

William laughed. Miss Peckham pulled him out, even as he protested, to a circle of dancers with a spot reserved for them by Lieutenant Fahy. The officer had a smug look on his face. William knew he had been set up—yet again—for humiliation. Thankful saw what Fahy was up to and stood stiff and angry with both men. Mrs. Markham and the aged quartermaster sergeant made the third pair and two other second lieutenants rounded out the circle.

“Mr. Weldon, by gosh, take a breath—I’ll get you through this with flying colors!” Miss Peckham whispered.

William nodded staring at his feet, and the music began.

“Three steps forward and back—and again, Mr. Weldon,” Miss Peckham coached.

William concentrated on his teacher. He found that he could follow and not too awkwardly. Turning the opposite partner went all right, but the small sashay got sticky.

Miss Peckham dragged him along as if she were made for the job. When the final twirl of the opposite partner came up, William found himself left hanging in the center, but it was Fahy and Thankful who had missed a step and Thankful belatedly trotted out. “Sorry, my mistake,” she said icily to William.

“So, Mr. Weldon, you seemed to enjoy yourself,” Miss Peckham said as they drank punch between dances.

He laughed. “Thanks.”

“No need to thank me, sir. You could have done it all by yourself.”

“But I wouldn’t have,” William said.

Miss Peckham shook her head. “Well, that’s a sad state of affairs–to wait for others before doing for yourself.”

William took a long drink and said nothing.

The hops lasted until the last dancers went to bed and tonight Miss Peckham and William were amongst the group that kept the musicians awake. Thankful went home early with a headache. Fahy grew tired of watching Bill Weldon make a fool of himself. When Miss Peckham stopped at the front gate of the Markham quarters to say good night to William, Thankful hid by the window to listen. “Call me Gertie, Bill; all of my best chums do,” Miss Peckham whispered.

Thankful’s blood boiled, but she got into bed. Mrs. Markham had put down cool cotton bedding and a nice feather pillow on a cot next to Thankful’s bed, but Thankful pulled an itchy wool blanket out and spread it over the cot after hiding the cotton under her pillow and tucking the feather pillow beneath her bed. She listened as Miss Peckham entered the dark room with a sigh and got into bed. “I hope you’re comfortable, Miss Peckham.”

“Oh, Miss Crenshaw, you’re awake. Thank you for asking. Truth is I could sleep on broken glass and it wouldn’t bother me. I’m so bone tired.”

PREVIOUS EPISODE: WEARY of RUNNING

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw, his sister Thankful and William Weldon’s  misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

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What are Your Favorite Film Adaptations of Books?

pierce brosnan courtesy AMC
Pierce Brosnan courtesy of AMC (I love this pic!)

You know mine will be period pieces set in 19th century America, right?

THE SON

Okay, so I haven’t watched this one yet but I will. Pierce Brosnan in a western family saga? What’s not to like?

GLORY

One of the few movies that captures the nuances of race relations during the American Civil War. The cinematography and music are beautiful.

“The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on the personal letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the book One Gallant Rush by Peter Burchard (reissued in 1990 after the movie), and Lay This Laurel (1973), Lincoln Kirstein‘s compilation of photos of the monument to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry on Boston Common.” Wikipedia

THE OLDEST LIVING CONFEDERATE WIDOW TELLS ALL

Alan Gurganus tells how he came up with the idea to write this epic saga about a crusty old Civil War veteran who married a very young girl which I devoured when it came out.

Back in the day television networks actually called people at home to complete surveys about miniseries ideas. I answered the phone and they asked me if I’d like to see this book made into a miniseries! They granted my wishes!

What are some of your favorite books made into movies?

How to Write a Big House Novel: Learn from the Irish

courtesy Sisters of Science
Lillian Bland

Here’s a belated bit of Irish:

CASTLE RACKRENT, a short novel by Maria Edgeworth published in 1800, is often regarded as the first historical novel, the first regional novel in English, the first Anglo-Irish novel, the first Big House novel and the first saga novel.

POWER AND PRIVILEGE IN THE BIG HOUSES OF IRELAND (Fantastic pictures of landed gentry in Ireland).

LILLIAN BLAND: Anglo-Irish journalist and aviator who, in 1910–11, became one of the first women in the world to design, build, and fly an aircraft.

How to Write Historical Fiction That Will Not Disappoint

desk 4Did you know claiming to be a historical fiction writer is controversial? I didn’t. It seems there is some debate about exactly what historical fiction actually is. What do you think?

Defining the Genre: What are the rules for historical fiction?

Seven Rules for Writing Historical Fiction

What is Historical Fiction?

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Fiction: Where Are The Gallant Men?

William Weldon is not the man Thankful once knew.

Thankful scooped up the map pieces on the floor. “Such a gift you have and you throw it away on depraved women.”

“Jesus hung around with them.”

Thankful looked up at him with a severe stare. “So now you compare yourself to our Lord? You have changed.” She adjusted her hat with one hand while clutching the map in the other.

The faint odor of perspiration under Thankful’s perfume flustered William.

Thankful stood. “I shall have to go back to the army on my own for assistance. I don’t trust anyone here and you won’t keep me the night.”

“Of course I won’t. The hotel is terrible rough though.” William tapped his fingers against his temple. “I guess it won’t be safe to go now. It’ll be almost candle lighting by the time you get there.”

He tried to ignore the small vermin creeping from under things.

“If you take me right now to the barracks, I’ll make my way home in the morning, and I won’t say a word about your state of affairs,” Thankful said bravely, but William detected a quiver in her voice. “This was a mistake.”

“It does seem ridiculous that you’ve come,” William said. “And I don’t care what folks at home think.”

“It seems MORE ridiculous that you’re corned and living in nothing better than an outhouse!” Thankful replied.

“I’m not drunk!”

“The William I know would do what’s right and bring me to the army where men have manners and are gallant and . . .”

“Enough! I’ll bring you. I hope you don’t mind horseback and it’s a dangerous thing out here.”

“I wasn’t born in the woods to be scared by an owl—when will we leave?”

William grinned. “Thankful Crenshaw, you’re a caution. The doctor must be in a conniption fit over you leaving home. I wish you hadn’t done it to him. Send the doctor a telegram to be fair.”

“I’d like to go soon if you don’t mind. Please stop talking about my father,” Thankful said, the guilt that plagued her on the train returning.

William found an old cap and sniffed it before smoothing his hair with a pungent tonic and tossing it on.

“Are you done with your toilet, Willy? I didn’t know  boys prepared themselves so much for a visit to the post.”

William ignored Thankful and sifted through piles of sketchbooks, clothing and bottles, finding his gun.

“Oh, my, that old thing is yours?” Thankful asked with an amused giggle. “It looks mighty heavy. How do you lug it? Do you know how to use it even? I hope you have no intention of bringing it along. My father told lots of stories about cavalrymen shooting their feet and other things off.”

“Well, those people must have been fools. I’m not so weak that I can’t carry an old carbine!” William said.

“Now I’ll be a nervous Nelly all the way out, worrying I’ll be shot up.”

“It wouldn’t be an accident if I shot you, Thankful,” William joked.

LAST WEEK’S EPISODE: HERE

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”