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About 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.”

“Rich and colorful page turners. Morris has a fine sense of time and place and brings her memorable characters to life. She also tells a captivating story. You won’t find it easy to put her books down, and her characters will stay with you when you do. We can only hope she keeps writing and gives us more episodes in this fascinating chronicle.”

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“A piece of art – a story that flows from one page to the next, one year to the next, with absolute beauty. It was painful at times, full of raw emotion, but so beautifully, wonderfully written.” Amazon Review

For the next 5 days both

The House on Tenafly Road

and

The Dew That Goes Early Away

will be FREE on Amazon!

Now’s the time to get caught up with THE TENAFLY ROAD SERIES before the final books are released in the coming months.

 

Fiction: Faith

The doctor led Thankful and Buck through the short, cool hallway to the adjacent room reserved for hopeless cases. There lay the lieutenant asleep.

“He’s not dead, is he?” Buck asked from the doorway, craning his neck to see.

“No, Buck,” the doctor replied and turned to Thankful. “You may want to say your last goodbyes—just in case.” The doctor left them alone.

Buck squeezed Thankful’s hand. “We must try to have faith.”

Thankful glanced his way. He brought her to the top of the bed and spotted a chair around the other side to sit in himself.

“He looks perfectly well, doesn’t he, Buck?” Thankful asked and ran her fingers along his face. “What shall we do?”

“I guess we could pray or something,” Buck suggested, his color rising.

Thankful looked up at him in surprise. He shrugged in embarrassment.

“You lead us. I’d feel, well, idiotic,” Buck said.

Thankful took his extended hands. “Buck Crenshaw, you begin to worry me,” she said, regarding him with skepticism.

They bowed their heads. Buck concentrated hard to keep his head from spinning.

Thankful began, “Dear Lord …”

“Jaysus! God almighty! What’s all this?” Fahy suddenly shouted.

The Crenshaws jumped and Thankful screamed. “Oh, dear! We thought you were sleeping! Oh, lieutenant, this is awful!” Thankful cried. “Don’t you dare go and die on me! I’m going to have your little baby. I was saving it as a surprise, my sweetheart!”

For a second, Fahy forgot himself and a flush of excitement coursed the lines of his weather-beaten face until the reality of his situation came back. “But, Thankful, you wanted lots of children …”

“No, dear, that was you. You’re all I need. We’ll be all right. How are you feeling?”

“I don’t feel a damned thing,” he said. “I’m fucked in a cocked hat.”

Thankful kissed his forehead. “I wish you would mind your language, Mr. Fahy. You’ll always be a hero to me—the hero who saved my brother!”

Buck spoke. “Well, Fahy was drunk when he did it, and really, we were fine.”

“Buck Crenshaw!” Thankful cried.

“What is he doing here? Haven’t you done enough damage?” Fahy shouted.

“Only as much as you’ve done yourself!”

“Buck, now’s not the time!” Thankful sobbed. “Poor Mr. Fahy—Willy and Buck have been immature and reckless. Please don’t judge them harshly. We must focus on getting you well.” Thankful took his hand in hers and kissed it.

“Thankful, where’s your ring?” Fahy asked.

“Oh, it’s not important.”

“Of course it is!”

“Where is it, sis?” Buck pressed.

“Lieutenant, the ring you gave me … well, it was stolen. Of course no one believes that you had anything to do with it. When the men from the 24th Infantry came into camp, an officer from Fort Sill recognized the ring as the very one taken from his wife only last year.”

Buck whispered, “Fahy, you scoundrel, you said it was all the way from Ireland!”

“Yes, yes! It was! That’s what I was told—when I bought it!” Fahy said. “Thankful, please, believe me.”

“Buck, you’re behaving shamefully! Of course I believe you, lieutenant. I don’t give a fig about expensive things.”

Fahy glared at Buck. “You bastard.”

“Seems the army knows about the fixed scales and such,” Buck said. “I’m sure nothing will come of it though.” He stalked off. His first venture out of bed brought him into struggle and strife.

Thankful turned to Fahy. “Oh, I had so hoped that Buck had changed. I’m sorry I ever let him come visit you. I suppose I thought he might be inspired by you—a real and true officer.”

“You’ve thought too much of me, lovey. And now look—I’m useless. They say I’ll never walk!” Fahy cried.

“Never?” Thankful gasped, but regained her composure. “My sweet, we’ll make do somehow. My father will help. We’ll go back home.”

“No! How can I meet your family this way? And you with child and starting to show! They’ll figure what we’ve done and they’ll blame me.”

“Buck knows, and he’s still speaking to me—after the initial shock …”

“You told Buck? When?”

“Before …”

“Does anyone else know?”

“Well, William—”

Bill Weldon knew before me?”

“Miss Peckham, I think, told him.”

Miss Peckham knew? For Christ’s sake! When were you going to tell me?”

“You were distracted by Miss Peckham and then your trip. I wanted it to be special—so I waited.”

“Well, now it’s goddamned special, isn’t it? I can’t support you or a child! Why did this have to happen to me? Why do I always get the short end of the stick?”

“Oh lieutenant, but I love you.”

“You don’t love me! You never have. If you could, you’d escape but for the baby.”

“Pierce Fahy, don’t dare say it! Don’t lie!” Thankful began sobbing.

“I have nothing to offer you now.”

“But surely the army will take care of you.”

“A lieutenant’s pay at half is nothing … and the scales—those bloody scales!”

“Scales? You make no sense,” Thankful said.

“Those damned savages had it in for me from the start! Now they accuse me of fixing the scales—it’s that missionary Kenyon’s doing. I know it!”

“Mr. Kenyon?”

“He’s dodgy, Thankful. Kenyon’s turned everyone against me. Sure, he’s admitted to all sorts of perversions and crimes. But he puts people like your William under his spell. I only tried to help Bill out the other night—to get him from under Kenyon, but in the end they were all against me.”

“Please, quiet down. You must stay peaceful. No one wants to hurt you—you’re just upset—rightly so. We must believe in miracles.” She wiped his brow “You’ll be healed.”

“And how many other spontaneous healings have you been witness to?” Fahy asked tenderly and wept.

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“Rich and colorful page turners. Morris has a fine sense of time and place and brings her memorable characters to life. She also tells a captivating story. You won’t find it easy to put her book down, and her characters will stay with you when you do. We can only hope she keeps writing and gives us more episodes in this fascinating chronicle.”

 

 

Featured Image: Edward Burne-Jones – The Beguiling of Merlin

Fiction: Parched

After standing around for most of the morning as the missionaries and soldiers packed their wagons, William got bored and wandered to the sutler shop at the edge of the fort to make a trade. He convinced himself he was getting candy for the Markham children.

Soldiers on leave played checkers in the corner as William stepped toward the counter and opened a finely crafted box full of squirrel and horsehair brushes. “What would you give me for of these?”

The sutler ran his wrinkled fingers over the box. “Hmm, nice case—I’ve no need for brushes, Bill. You still owe me, but I’d take the case and give you this bottle as an even exchange.”

“What is it?”

“It’s a real mind bender, from what I hear. An old man makes it just across the border.”

“Guess, I’ll give it a try,” William said, but then remembered. “Oh, I don’t suppose you’d take a brush for a little of that candy for Markham’s kids.”

“Bill, keep your brushes. Take some candy to them,” the sutler said, stuffing a brown bag full of cream candy and French kisses. “The young one’s not long for this life, I hear. What’s it malaria with her?”

“I don’t know, but this is a shit place to raise children.” William tucked the candy in his pocket. “Thanks,” he said and grabbed the loose brushes and the bottle, but as William turned around there stood Thankful. The commissary store was out of baking soda so she came to the sutler.

“Oh, Thankful. I . . .” William sputtered, but the look on Thankful’s face stopped him. “Are you all right?”

Thankful burst into tears and pulled the bottle from William. “You’d trade away your mother for this wouldn’t you?”

“No, not my mother, Thankful, I . . .”

“I can’t believe I ever cared for you! How dare you say a word about your father’s behavior!”

“I haven’t said a thing! Thankful! Please calm down. You’re making a scene.” William clutched her arm and pulled her outside.

“I don’t care what people think, William Weldon! Why are you ruining your life? Why?” Thankful sobbed.

“I’m not . . .” William began, but sighed and began again. “Look at you, Thankful. You fit in wherever you go. Everyone loves you from the start. Sakes alive, you met the love of your life on the first day out here. I’m not like you. I, I don’t know how to be with people. This,” he pointed to the bottle, “this helps me.”

“Willy, you’ve become a drunk. That’s it. You can’t really think I’m so stupid to listen to your poor excuse. You have a fine personality—at least you did at one time! How pitiful that you trade away such nice brushes—where did you get them?”

William’s shoulders slumped, but his eyes flashed defiance. “The missionaries. The brushes belonged to their beloved dead friend—he was killed or something—maybe I’ll meet the same fate!”

“No, not you, Bill. You’ll just disappoint them and ruin their trip. You’re too addicted to your self-pity to part with it.”

“Thankful, at one time I’d have taken your self-righteousness to heart. I would have even respected you for it, but now I know the truth about you—to think that you’d let Fahy poke you—it’s disgraceful!”

Thankful made to slap him but William blocked her and stole the bottle back.

Thankful hit him. “I can’t believe you’d be so cruel to someone from home!”

“When will you ever realize, I hated everything about home!” William shouted. “If I ever treated you well it had nothing to do with you being from Englewood! That was a stain against you!”

“You’ve always gone against me!” Thankful cried. “I can see that now! It was your way of getting back at my brothers—for all of their cruel pranks! I just thought you might not judge me with them!”

“What?” William’s temper had gotten the best of him and now he almost couldn’t remember what they were fighting over. He cursed to himself as she ran off. Behind a tool shed William emptied most of the new bottle of spirits into his flask and swallowed what remained in one jolting gulp, chucking the bottle behind some brush.

Kenyon was making a last arrangement with the soldier Joyce when William swayed up.

The missionary’s smile froze until the lieutenant walked off. “William Weldon, what do you want from me?”

“What do you mean? I don’t want anything and you can’t tell me what to do,” William replied.

“No one’s telling you what to do,” Kenyon said, the smile disappeared now. “You can drink all you like—but not with us. So please, it seems you’ve made your choice. Stay in Willcox, but not before returning our things.”

“Fine. Here are your lousy brushes.”

Kenyon took the brushes. “Where’s the box?”

“I don’t know. Who gives a damn? I don’t—piece of junk anyway.”

“That box was important to Ignatius. His nephew made it,” Kenyon informed him.

William rolled his eyes. “So why in damnation did you give me the box?”

“I imagined you’d like something nice of your own.”

“I’m not materialistic,” William said with his arms folded. “And you’re not my uncle and I’m coming for the money.”

Kenyon shook his head. “You contradict yourself. Seems you’d make a poor prospector.”

“What?”

“You don’t recognize gold when you see it,” Kenyon said.

“I don’t care about gold, sir.”

“William Weldon, you have a decision and you have about five minutes to make it. If you want to come along and do wonderful drawings then please hand over your flask and canteen.”

“No. You can’t force . . .”

“Then please get out of my sight,” the missionary said.

William didn’t move. Kenyon waved him off and returned to his work by the wagon.

“Sir,” William called and caught up with him. “Sometime I’ll see you again and get you the box back.”

“Son, don’t you see? Isn’t your life worth more than a box or bottle?” Kenyon asked.

“I never get what I want!” William said, licking his chapped lips as if the act might retrieve his humiliating words.

“And what do you want?”

William glanced toward the Markhams’ porch where Thankful stood embracing Fahy. “I don’t know.”

Kenyon hid his smile.

William spoke from inside. The alcohol made it easier. “Mr. Kenyon, I don’t think I can, you know, give it up. I don’t know if I can give you . . . I mean—I didn’t want this to happen. I kept losing things—I keep losing things. I’ve lost it all and I lose more and now . . . I don’t even want things anymore. And I’m afraid on my own—life is so damned unsteady.” He pointed to the barracks where a small group of men were smoking and laughing. “Look at the soldiers—I can never get so straight as them.”

“Where did you get the idea that life was a straight path for anyone, William? I won’t allow you to get lost if you come along with me, but it has to be your choice. I trust that you can do without the bottle and I believe you’re as steady as any of those soldiers if you’d only give yourself a fighting chance. You must quit the drinking.”

“What will you do if I fail?” William asked, looking at him sideways.

“What any friend would do—help you up again.”

“I’ve never had friends like that,” William said.

“Well, you do now.” Kenyon waited.

***Featured Image by Timothy O’Sullivan

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“Rich and colorful page turners. Morris has a fine sense of time and place and brings her memorable characters to life. She also tells a captivating story. You won’t find it easy to put her book down, and her characters will stay with you when you do. We can only hope she keeps writing and gives us more episodes in this fascinating chronicle.”

Fiction: Adventurous Thoughts

As Thankful hung the last diaper, she heard Fahy’s laughter in the front parlor. Forgetting how she looked, she ran inside, trailing suds and sand behind her. “Thankful, you look a caution!” Fahy said with a grin. He liked the way she looked.

Thankful nodded his way but addressed her enemy. “Miss Peckham, Mr. Weldon was here awaiting your orders, and he was very sore!”

“Do you mean physically? Because we met him on officers’ row and he was cheerful as a bird in summer. Don’t you agree, Mr. Fahy?” Miss Peckham turned to the officer with a smile.

Fahy nodded in agreement then met eyes with his fiancée. “Miss Crenshaw, I was hoping you might be done with your chores so we could take a ride. I nearly have to get back to work, but our horses are warmed up.”

“Warmed up?”

“Yes, I hope you don’t mind that I let Miss Peckham ride Durie.”

“That horse needs firmer discipline and less feed. If he were my horse, he’d receive a sound thrashing,” Miss Peckham bragged.

Fahy gave Thankful an exasperated look. Thankful dug her fingernails into the soft wood of the little dining table. “It’s very pathetic that you must prove your masculinity by mistreating animals, Miss Peckham. Mr. Fahy never should have been such a gentleman to take you out, but you probably strong armed him.”

“I will have you know, Miss Thankful Crenshaw, that I’ve won at many women’s riding events in New York!”

“Isn’t New York famous for its corruption? It’s the only way you could win a horse show–or a beauty contest,” Thankful said.

Fahy stood with his cigar hanging from his mouth. Miss Peckham tossed her gloves and hat on the sofa and ran up the stairs to Thankful’s room. Fahy and Thankful listened to her muffled cries.

“Damn it, Thankful, that was low of you. Peckham’s no great shakes, and she’s a pest, but really—you’re better than to be so—well—so vicious.”

“She abuses my horse and I’m low?” Thankful asked.

“Well, I took the whip from her pretty quick,” Fahy said.

“Thank God for small favors.”

“Mrs. Markham said that you threw a tantrum over an egg . . .”

“Land sakes! Not even an egg gets by people in the army! I just hate Miss Peckham. She told me last night she was only being nice to William for his family’s connections to the military.”

Fahy laughed. “So what? I’m so tired of Bill Weldon. I don’t care a fig, and you shouldn’t either.” He pulled her close. “I love that you care so much about your homefolk and all, but a different man than me might get jealous.”

Thankful looked at his sunburned and freckled face and his impressive sun-bleached mustache. “My sweet lieutenant, you are the most attentive, kind person I’ve ever met. I hope one day we’ll have adventures of our own.”

“Adventures? You amuse me. Sometimes you really act your age.”

Thankful pulled away. “What does that mean?”

“Well, nothing exactly—you’ve got very romantic and naïve ideas. It’s adorable.”

“Miss Peckham has all the adventure she wants and . . .” Thankful began.

Fahy tapped her nose. “And she will most likely spend her life alone.”

“She has such a full life and . . .”

Fahy grinned. “I thought you didn’t much admire Miss Peckham? Anyway, won’t your life be full enough taking care of me?”

“I plan to care for you, but is that all?” Thankful asked, feeling sweat trickle down her spine.

“No, of course not. There’ll be children and we can take trips if you like.” Fahy looked worried. “Won’t I satisfy you?”

“Oh, Mr. Fahy, you already do. But I never have any larks with you. We both work so hard. I want to play a little more than I do now—don’t you?”

“Life is about work, I’m afraid. Childhood is almost over for you, Thankful. There’s no point clinging to it. That just makes the adjustment more painful.”

Thankful sniveled. “But when we are married won’t we still dance and ride?”

“Of course, silly,” he said.

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

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“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

Fiction: Dirty Diapers

When was there a time when Thankful did not have to concern herself with diapers? Now as Thankful scrubbed shit far from her family, she wondered why she had traveled a great distance only to immerse her hands in dirty laundry water again. Her tantrum may have ruined a friendship with Mrs. Markham, who had been a kinder mother to her in a few months than Margaret had been in her entire lifetime. Either way—in Englewood or Arizona—she was pushing other folks’ strollers.

“Say! Anyone at home?” William called as he came around the back gate. “Oh, I wasn’t expecting to see you, Thankful.”

Thankful’s dress and her stylish apron hung sodden and dirty. “I live here don’t I? What do you want?”

“Um, well . . . are you all right?” William asked.

“I’m perfectly fine, William. You must be wrecked after the show you put on for the garrison last night,” she said, punching at the diapers in the basin and giving herself an uncomfortable splash in the eye.

“Funny thing; I’m right as rain,” William replied, tipping his hat back and leaning on the gate. “I always sleep well at army posts. My legs are sore, but . . .”

“Well, that serves you right—hopping around foolishly!”

“I can’t hop, Thankful, so I guess you’re wrong on that. As far as being a fool—well—I don’t mind if I was!” William laughed.

“Why are you here, William? I’m too busy for small talk.”

He didn’t seem to mind how angry and upset Thankful was.

“Well, yes, um, is Miss Peckham in?”

“No!” Thankful replied, huffing as she punched the wet diapers in the water. “She’s not in. She’s doing ‘research’ on the army species of man. She’s man enough—she needs no study.”

“Which way did she go? I wanted to know if she needed anything else from town before I head back.”

“Perfume and plenty of it!” Thankful said.

“What? Oh, your idea of a joke, I guess. Anyway, you don’t seem to know much so I’ll be on my way, Thankful.”

“Oh, yes, girls in trousers are much cleverer than the rest of us!” Thankful muttered as William closed the gate behind him, and was gone.

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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Fiction: Pillow Talk

“It’s too bad you suffered a headache,” Miss Peckham said as she slipped beneath the covers. “What do you suppose it was from, Thankful?”

“I guess with all the excitement today …”

Miss Peckham giggled. “You call today exciting? You really haven’t lived much have you?” Her back itched from the wool and she shifted around uncomfortably.

Thankful turned on her side. “It was foolish of you to force William to dance so much—he’ll be the laughingstock and be in pain when he sobers up.”

Miss Peckham laughed. “Is there a time when Mr. Weldon is sober? He chose for himself to dance.”

“To impress you. He doesn’t seem to have much luck with girls.”

“Well, if he kept his head out of the bottle and his, um, body out of whores, he’d present a better picture, but it’s his life. It’s not my problem,” Miss Peckham stated. “He’s a child.”

“That’s a very nice attitude.”

“Men are either children or brutes. Mr. Weldon has a few connections that will be helpful in my research. It’s in my best interest to remain on good terms with him—and truth be told, he’s not bad company for a drunk.”

“He’s more than that! Must I remind you he saved your life?” Thankful asked.

“Oh, I’m tired of hearing about that already. I gave him a thrill tonight on the dance floor so I say we’re even,” Miss Peckham replied and climbed out of bed again. “It’s so damned hot.” She pulled off the last of her clothes, the moonlight illuminating her. Thankful shut her eyes tight. “Miss Thankful, it’s curious how army women play a game of adopting all the men in camp. I don’t understand it yet, but it’s intriguing.”

“Everything you say seems so dirty and cynical,” Thankful grumbled.

“Well, Miss Thankful, I see through the false modesty and virtues of society. You just don’t enjoy feeling exposed.”

“No, I feel sorry that people like you exist,” Thankful said, turning away from her.

“The feeling is mutual,” Miss Peckham replied with a laugh.

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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Fiction: Wine With Supper

“Why is it you think women would improve politics?” Thankful asked. “I’d hate for a woman like you to speak for me—nothing personal, of course, Miss Peckham. I’m fond of men. I wouldn’t want them to change.”

“Miss Crenshaw, (you seem such a smart girl), was it God who planned slavery?”

“Well, no, I guess it was men, but . . .”

“Just like it’s men who keep women from the vote. I don’t for a minute expect women to be better voters. Most women are too stupid to realize how enslaved they are and would probably waste their votes on a handsome yet stupid candidate. But if the Negro, only up from complete and utter ignorance, should vote then why not a woman? Many slaves loved their masters—or at least the security they were given. They had a home and food and a place in the order of things—just like women. They all need to see the real way of things. I consider myself an educator. . .” Miss Peckham proclaimed.

“My father never offered my mother security, and she’s devoted just the same,” William said, never missing an opportunity to snipe at his father. There was an embarrassed silence. The trumpeter called for stable duty.

“My goodness, how do you all put up with that infernal racket?” Miss Peckham complained.

“I love it,” Thankful said with her arms folded in front of her.

“Me too,” William said with a small smile at Thankful.

She offered no such response, but said quietly, “It was low of you, William, to speak so unkindly of your father in front of a stranger and old military acquaintances.”

“Bill gets a scolding. How nice,” Miss Peckham laughed.

William fumed. “Miss Crenshaw, you have no right to judge me at all!”

“I’m your friend.”

“Really?” William asked.

“Why, yes! How can you question that?” Thankful replied on the verge of tears. “Why do you want to hurt me?”

Hurt you?” William was taken aback.

Mrs. Markham spoke uneasily, “Of course we’re all friends—Bill, don’t be so silly—we ALL miss you at the post. Now, I’ll set up a nice meal for us, and we’ll get along—as we must—till morning.”

William looked at Thankful with soft eyes before turning his attention to Miss Peckham. He cleared his throat. “Mrs. Markham always has nice meals.”

“It will be an excellent chance at research,” Miss Peckham said.

“You’re not visiting a foreign land,” Mrs. Markham said, with an annoyed laugh. “Our food is of the most ordinary sort.”

“I’ll be the judge of that!” Miss Peckham laughed too.

The matron glanced at the telegraph line as she set off for home, with the small party traipsing behind.

Thankful and William understood how frugal an army wife—even an officer’s wife–must be if she had any ideas for her children’s education, or a trip east for a wardrobe change every few years. What the captain’s wife offered that evening was more than she could afford.

William ate reluctantly, figuring the little ones seated in the kitchen might be going with less, but didn’t turn down the wine. Thankful ate like a bird—an unusual trait for a Crenshaw. Miss Peckham pushed the ordinary and bland food on her plate with her fork, unimpressed.

“Maybe someone might offer to take me to a real live Indian meal,” she said as she moved her plate away.

William whispered, slurring his words, “What were you expecting soldiers to eat—Indian testicles?”

Miss Peckham let out a big guffaw as Thankful and Mrs. Markham cleared the table for coffee and tea. Thankful, standing with a few stacked plates, watched William cling to his glass, pour another and get closer to Miss Peckham.  Mrs. Markham pulled Thankful’s sleeve.

“Some are just bent on their own ruin, poor boy.”

“He’s not poor in the least; just blind,” Thankful said, storming off with the dishes.

Miss Peckham teased and flirted with William. He couldn’t think of a way to quiet her, so he drank and enjoyed it, noting the annoyed glances of Thankful.

“Miss Peckham, you’re probably too worn out to come dancing,” Mrs. Markham said.

“My goodness, of course I’m not tired a lick—your strong army coffee is quite a restorative!”

“I would think that dancing might be against your beliefs since the men lead,” Thankful said with a triumphant grin.

The captain’s wife laughed, too.

Miss Peckham ignored Thankful. “Mr. Weldon, you’ll escort me, won’t you?”

“No, I’m afraid I’m no dancer and unwelcome anyhow,” William replied.

“Bill Weldon, that’s a great fiction you’ve invented,” Mrs. Markham said. “You’ll come as my guest.”

“Well, I’ll come to watch, maybe,” William said, pouring out the last of the wine.

“It’s a shame that dances aren’t held on horseback—then you wouldn’t be so awkward, Mr. Weldon,” Miss Peckham said.

The women did not appreciate it. William excused himself for a smoke on the porch.

“Miss Peckham, you are very insensitive!” Thankful scolded.

“Mr. Weldon is still bitter over the accident that kept him from a place at West Point,” Mrs. Markham added.

Thankful had related many of William’s trials and accomplishments to the garrison. The stories were so enmeshed with her own.

“How is it that Mr. Weldon is so well-known here?” Miss Peckham asked.

“Why Miss Crenshaw and Mr. Weldon are from the same town in New Jersey—their parents are friends, and Bill’s father served in the military years ago under General Crook,” Mrs. Markham said.

“Oh, General Crook, I’ve heard he has kind feelings toward the Indians. Anyway, I’m sure you’re all well-meaning. Bill seems to be a pet to you, but a man should never be overly pampered,” Miss Peckham stated. “My remark was said in jest—Bill is a good horseman.”

“William suffered awful torment and abuse at school, and pain, too. If you had been aware of that . . .” Thankful started.

“I’m aware that he’s crippled physically, but he’s fine company, and I’m sure has many other talents—I didn’t think he needed any coddling.”

There was a new voice on the porch. Thankful ran to the stairs. “Land sakes, Lieutenant Fahy is here, and I’m not ready!”

“Miss Peckham, you may freshen up . . .”

“I need no improvement, Mrs. Markham—besides, I don’t have any of my clothes.”

The captain’s wife sensed a small chink in the young lady’s confident demeanor. “Miss Peckham, you may look through my things, though I know they’re not as modern as you may be used to. We are about the same size.”

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.”

5 Easy Tips for Creating an Imaginary World

Building a paracosm is the scholarly way of referring to the act of building a fictional world. I imagined, before writing my novels set in a fictionalized version of Bergen County, New Jersey, that the task would be quite daunting, but it turns out I’d been preparing for this creative endeavor my whole life!

Chaos Theory:

chloe goatThe first and most important thing to do is to find the motivation to create this world. Some people are naturally motivated while others, like my foster daughter, want to escape  traumatic personal histories, but the quickest way to enhance your desire for escape is by inviting–no–seeking a certain level of chaos in your real world. This will build the desire to escape it.

Keep plenty of pets, date ne’er-do-well boyfriends and carry your money and credit cards loosely in your back pocket. What with pet bills, nights bailing out boyfriends at the county jail and creditors hounding you the desire to escape should follow.

Explore the Real World and Different Time Periods:

goat noraOne day you will wake up with a restless desire to see new things. Load your pets in the car and  drop them off at your mother’s house (along with any children you may have had with the ne’er-do-well)  before journeying to research different time periods and/or travel to different places.

Some of these adventures will end up being in books you write (only because my children and I spent a summer on a free-love, organic farm run sort of like a cult was I able to send BUCK CRENSHAW to a 19th century utopian society with such ease).

The need to escape the real life you’ve created will fuel the obsession to learn how others lived. Obscure libraries, old houses with dead people’s spirits and travel brochures will stir the part of your soul you’ve starved for so many years. You will no longer have time for those “friends” who really just loved helping make things chaotic.

It is now that you create your first adult, imaginary friend.

Mapping the World:

Soon after you must find a home for this imaginary friend. Luckily you’ve researched your own escape and the imaginary (let’s say, new friend) amicably agrees to be your muse. You begin to make maps. These may come in the form of outlines or just maps. You realize that you can shrink time and space with this new friend. Englewood, New Jersey doesn’t really have to be the exact Englewood you walked the streets of last week.

Dress the Part:

IMG_2152If you are truly lucky you do have one or two good friends or children who enjoy make-believe as much as you do. You all decide to dress funny for research. Something about this exercise really sets the imagination on fire. I can’t quite figure out why wearing a corset and hoop skirt and flirting with grown men in costume transformed how I think about women, but it did.

Be an Empath:

The other day I was told by a social worker that I was an empath. Maybe you are too:

“They are sensitive to the visible as well as the invisible and pick up on body language, tone of voice, body movements, the words people choose when they speak, the words they avoid, the logic they use; and the hidden things that only an empath can sense inside another person. It is not uncommon for an empath to “freak out” for no apparent reason, only to discover later that a friend or family member went through some sort of trauma at that exact moment. So essentially an empath is someone whose feeling sensory is extraordinarily heightened, meaning they receive the majority of their psychic input from what they feel.

Since they’re being assaulted constantly by emotions which do not originate internally, they can’t figure out why they feel the way that they do, and therefore can’t address the core issues. Since empathy isn’t something you can really ditch it’s sometimes difficult to sort out what the Empath truly feels in a given situation or what they are taking on from someone else. This can prove to be very confusing!

Emotional empaths are so sensitive that they can absorb the negative emotions of others in their body, and actually take it on. So when an empath is around somebody who is anxious, they can actually absorb that energy into their body, when it isn’t even their own anxiety.” Empathguide.com

Being able to communicate with spirits, trees and animals and to feel the various mood swings of the people around you can be exhausting, but also a gift. You are not limited by your own mind and heart. The lines between you and I are blurred, sometimes dangerously so, but still you can use this in creating a world full of people you are not–or are you?

A question for readers: What is your favorite fictional world?

A question for writers: What’s your favorite thing about creating fictional worlds? Your biggest challenge?

Related:

HOW TO BUILD FICTIONAL WORLDS by KATE MESSLER

FOUR WAYS TO BRING SETTINGS TO LIFE

WORLD BUILDING

COMING SOON: THE NEXT BOOK IN THE TENAFLY ROAD SERIES!

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Fiction: Sex and the Single Girl

All the way to his quarters Fahy fretted over Thankful’s lie about enjoying sex and was disappointed.

Maybe Thankful couldn’t be trusted. Fahy considered his own lame attempt at making the night special. He had hoped that she would enjoy the element of risk and find the woodpile area endearing, but had known as he brought her there that he had failed.

Fahy did want to please Thankful, but she was so stiff and restrained. Being with her forever suddenly felt like a frightening burden even as he loved Thankful very much. Now Fahy wished he hadn’t pressured her. Before, Thankful seemed to enjoy touching, but he’d been impatient and may have spoiled it all. Fahy took a slug of whiskey. He didn’t even like it. Why had he assumed Thankful might? Ugh. The night had been a disaster. Fahy turned around and went back to the Markhams’ home now.

“May I speak for a moment with Miss Crenshaw, Captain Markham?” he asked the sleepy older man.

Markham called up to Thankful, and she came to the door in her wrapper with her hair loose now. The oil lamps made her face glow. Markham left for the kitchen.

“Thankful, I’ve been a brute. I never should have asked you to do what you’ve done.”

“Well, it’s too late now,” said Thankful. “Are you here to break our engagement?”

Fahy laughed nervously. “No, why?”

“I just thought . . . well, you tried so hard tonight.”

“Thankful, you’re wrong. I didn’t try at all. I’m the selfish one. Forgive me. I want you to wear my ring.”

“Oh, thank goodness!” Thankful whispered. “You seemed terribly disappointed in me.”

“No, it wasn’t you. With practice, you’ll be fine. It’s just that I ruined it for the wedding—you were right about that.”

“Lieutenant Fahy, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” She pointed to the kitchen where Captain Markham rattled pans. “I’m just happy that you aren’t angry at me.” Thankful peered up at him and ran her small hand over his. “I must go to sleep now—but would you mind if from now on I call you Pierce?”

“No, call me whatever you like,” Fahy replied, but seemed uncomfortable with the idea.

It troubled Thankful when Fahy moved his hand away from hers. “Maybe I’ll stick with Lieutenant Fahy,” she said, trying to make light of it. “That’s what I’m used to.”

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Fahy asked, glancing behind him at the empty parade grounds.

Thankful pulled her wrapper tight. “Nothing. It’s not important. Good night.”

“Yes, good night. I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“You suppose?”

“Thankful, please, stop trying to catch me in my words.”

“I didn’t mean to . . .”

“I know. Damn. I’m just knackered. Things will seem better in the morning,” the lieutenant said.

“Why do things suddenly seem so bad?” Thankful asked.

Fahy shook his head. “Good night, miss.” He kissed her hand and left again.

PREVIOUS EPISODE: WEARY of RUNNING

***Featured image “Sadness” by Julia Margaret Cameron

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.”