Fiction: Maps

Thankful and William travel uncharted territory at Fort Grant.

“You’ve got visitors, Captain Markham.” Lieutenant Fahy waved William and Thankful in.

Markham, an athletically built man with small eyes and wrinkled skin from too much desert, greeted William with a firm handshake and fatherly knock on the side of the head.

“Bill, how are you holding up in that God-forsaken town? We haven’t seen hide nor hair of you in weeks.”

He turned a surprised eye towards Thankful who curtsied.

“Captain Markham, my cousin Bill has been very busy at his drawings and such. I’m terribly pleased to meet you. My name is Thankful.”

She held out her hand again.

“What a pretty little thing you are, miss,” the captain said, holding her hand between his for a moment. “You say you’re Bill’s cousin? That’s very nice to come see the boy.”

“Well, sir, I’ve come to see his drawings, really. They’re quite superb and I’ve always felt he would go far with them if only they fell into the right hands. But he’s so foolishly modest.”

“Bourke told us that Bill had talent, but we’ve never been honored with a viewing,” Lieutenant Fahy said, giving William a disgusted glance. “I for one don’t believe that anything good can come from town.”

“Well, Mr. Fahy, I can prove you wrong and I don’t mind showing it,” Thankful laughed.

William stood in awed silence.

Fahy and Markham gave Thankful their indulgent attention glancing at each other in pleasure as she fished from her bag the pieces of William’s map.

William hadn’t noticed her taking them and the place names were wrong! He wanted to run, but where would he go? Thankful had no right!

Thankful pushed the captain’s things to the side of his desk, turned the lamp higher and spread the gloriously colored drawing like a carpet for the men to see. The men leaned into the intricate and accurate depiction of the territory they had traversed for years.

“Thankful, why did you save that?” William asked. His palms sweat.

Markham and Fahy looked up at William with new eyes.

“It’s magnificent work, isn’t it?” Thankful winked at William.

The men nodded in agreement.

“But. . .” William began, “the place names . . . I never get them right.”

The officers looked again. “Oh, those small settlements come and go. That doesn’t take away from the overall presentation of our little part of the world. It’s damned impressive, Bill,” Markham stated. “Bourke told me your uncle Captain McCullough was a good map maker.”

“Was he?” William asked, missing the uncle he hardly remembered. “He went to West Point.”

“William has so many fine drawings of the military, too—you should see them,” Thankful boasted. “Well, unfortunately they’re torn up.”

“May we keep this, Bill?” the captain asked.

“You want it? Sure, you can have it,” William said, relieved and looking like the boy Thankful so admired at home.

“Cousin Bill, remember that you promised it to Mr. Bourke.”

“Oh, well . . . we’ll just save it for him,” Markham said with a grin. “You beat all, Bill. Now why don’t you come back to us more often?”

Thankful pouted, swaying a little while twirling a curl. “My cousin wants me gone by tomorrow, so may I stay in camp? I’d feel safer with military men than the common sort in town.” She blushed at William. “I didn’t mean Willy–Bill of course. My cousin is a gentleman.”

Fahy raised his brow, but the captain gave him a stern look.

“We can keep you till morning, Miss Crenshaw,” Captain Markham said. “My wife will set a bed for you in our home.”

“That would be just bully, Captain Markham! You’re all so much as I’ve imagined. I knew the army would be full of nobility–not like everyone says back east.”

The men stood a little taller under Thankful’s gaze. William’s stomach turned again. He scratched his head with a sigh.

“So, good luck, cousin,” William said with an awkward grin. He touched his cap, playing at good spirits.

Thankful pecked him on the cheek. “William Weldon, be good,” she whispered.
The dash of alcohol in Thankful’s lemonade this afternoon lingered on her breath. She was beautiful.

“Bye, then, Thankful,” William said. “Good evening, Captain Markham and Mr. Fahy.”
In the cool night he stood for a moment on the porch, which smelled so much like the cigars his father always smoked in the army—the ones from the commissary. Men slept under their porches and a coyote yelped. Tomorrow would be the same as always.

William considered saying a prayer for his father’s tremors, but didn’t. His leg ached in the special boots he wore to hide the limp he’d gotten when he fell from the horse years ago. Captain Markham had purchased them for him. William unhitched his horse, said good-night to the guard and raced under a starry sky back to town.


Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw, William Weldon and Thankful Crenshaw’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.”

Fiction: Pretend We’re Cousins

William agrees to take Thankful to Fort Grant

027-frederic-remington-theredlist“Call me Bill at the post,” William coached. “Lieutenant Bourke is the only one to hold to my childhood name, and it gives too much a laugh to the others.”

“Maybe it’s not your name they’re laughing at,” Thankful said, poking his side with her thin, gloved finger.

“What are you saying?”

“I just mean that maybe they have their own concerns and aren’t as against you as you think.”

“I know well enough if I’m being played the fool,” William said, but his stomach pained him. He wasn’t sure of anyone’s motives.

At the stables, Thankful laughed at William’s pony. “The Friesians at home could swallow that little thing. Are you sure he’ll hold me too and with the carbine?”

William pat the horse’s rump. “You shouldn’t go making fun of Sophie. She’s a good girl.”

“Sophie? What a name for a horse.”

“I like it. Maybe I had a dog or something named Sophie. You’ll have to ride Indian style. I had to sell her saddle.”

“No one will see that I care about,” Thankful said with a blush as she straddled the horse exposing her striped pink stockings.

William steadied her and pretended not to notice her shapely legs. Thankful was tall like her mother and father and solidly built. The sunlight streaming through the stable window played up her deep blue eyes.

“Thankful, I have to drive her. You’ll have to hang off back if you don’t mind.”

“I can ride quite well, Mr. Bill Weldon!” Thankful said, but slid off to let William on first.

“Maybe so, but you’re your mother’s daughter.” William swung his leg over the horse with a shy smile.

Thankful followed and wrapped her arms around William’s middle. He felt flustered again. But this was crazy. She’d be gone tomorrow.

Although his parents tried to keep him from horses after his accident, William always found a way to ride. He enjoyed this one good thing about himself and liked showing off to Thankful.

They cantered out on the desert path and rode for hours.

“William, have you missed me?” Thankful asked in his ear.

“I . . . I guess I miss the folks at home sometimes—you being one of them—so yes . . . I guess so,” William said.

Thankful stayed quiet until the fort came into view at twilight. “I’m so excited!” she said.

The guard’s ears pricked at the sound of Thankful’s voice.

“Bill Weldon, who do you have there?” the guard asked.

Thankful slid from the horse. “I’m Bill’s cousin from home with no place to sleep tonight—will the army put me up? I’ll pay.” She held out her hand, confident in the effect her looks had on men.

The man sported a big yellow grin. “Bill, you’ve got cousins? How many?” he asked, looking Thankful over. “I don’t know for certain, young lady, but I think the officers could find you something. Your cousin’s got special privileges.” He smacked William’s back. “Nice to see you, young fellow. We’ve missed you.”

The guard led them to the sergeant of the guard who gawked with pleasure at the girl with high cheekbones.

“Miss Crenshaw, Bill will show you in—he knows the way,” the sergeant said and whispered to William, “I guess we owe you now—bringing in such a beaut—she’s not spoken for is she? Has she got sisters?”

“A twin,” William let slip.

The man’s eyes lit. “The officers get this one, I guess, but send for the other and give us non-commissioned men a chance at happiness.”


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.”

Fiction: Where Are The Gallant Men?

Author Adrienne Morris

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…

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Family Saga Newsletter/ Winter 2017

Cozy winter reading days are here, my friends!

Here at Middlemay Farm it’s all about writing (and reading) great family sagas.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  Spending time with family and friends gives me lots of story ideas (my mother always notices the references in my novels) and this year is no different.

051Here at the farm we’re adopting our foster daughter and enjoying the lull before goat and sheep babies this spring so I’m furiously writing about the characters I love (and hoping you adore them, too!). I can’t wait to share what happens next to our favorite lovably dysfunctional characters–Thankful, Buck and William! I’m dying to know who you all like best!

My adult daughter will be posing for Sam Hennessy (my cover designer) for Forget Me Not, the next book in The Tenafly Road Series (aren’t these hair inspirations fantastic?) so be looking for that in a month or so, but for now you can catch up with the Weldon and Crenshaw families in the first three books. 

For a limited time The House on Tenafly Road ebook is FREE for most devices. Download it TODAY and let me know if you enjoyed it with a good review 🙂 .

I’m also running a giveaway open only to my subscribers: a free ebook copy of the latest novel The Dew That Goes Early Away to the first person to EMAIL me back:

You don’t want to miss Buck’s visit to a 19th century free love, utopian society! And what happens to the star-crossed lovers William and Thankful? You’ll have to read the books to find out.

Here’s wishing you a cozy winter and many great stories!


Novel Inspiration (1):The Addict

Author Adrienne Morris

CHARACTER: Morphine addict Lieutenant John Weldon

INSPIRATION: Katherine McCullough needed a husband in the military. I was listening to a lot of Americana music and crushing on a young Robbie Robertson from The Band while collecting Civil War era prosthetic limbs and morphine kits. Having just recovered from a life threatening blood clot and feeling  wistful about the painkillers I was given in the hospital, I suddenly understood the draw of self-medicating.

A heroin addict friend told me a story about having to kill a bunch of puppies as a child living on a reservation.


“Doctor Dudley, you in?”

A sudden panic in the pit of Dudley’s stomach caused him to hesitate before opening the door to let Weldon in. They stood together uncomfortably in the center of the room.

Weldon scanned the room, searching for a place to rest his eyes. “Dudley…I have a problem…

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Novel Inspiration (2): The Enabler

Author Adrienne Morris

INSPIRATION: Years of the culture telling me men were monsters who would trample my timorous soul if I let them.

The character Katherine McCullough came from a dusty unfinished diary in a university library. While doing missionary work (which at the time I thought was savaging a culture) her young son died of lockjaw after stepping on a rusty nail on a barge while crossing the Mississippi to visit his mother. Served her right! I callously thought (btw Katherine’s son doesn’t die in the book).

The original intent of the novel was to trash missionaries and keep the myth of the noble savage alive and well. Then I did research. Turns out I had a lot to learn about human frailty on all sides.

My mother said the problem with me was that I didn’t respect my husband. I wondered what it would look like if I did respect a…

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Novel Inspiration (3): The Scapegoat

Author Adrienne Morris

INSPIRATION: Every addict needs a scapegoat.

Captain Simon McCullough’s motto: Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may die. This gets John Weldon’s goat. How unfair it is that Simon coasts through life suffering nary a scratch while drinking, womanizing and joking all the way?

Weldon fails to note the fatalism in Simon’s motto. He underestimates the friend he tries to hate.

There’s a type of 19th century military memoir tremendously fun to read. The accent is on the antics of  soldiers in downtime that almost trick one into believing war is quite a great time. I’ve always admired the way boys and men conduct friendship and briefly considered running away to be an intelligence officer in the Navy (to escape that first marriage and possibly  meet a naval officer–a weird twist of fate had me meet and marry a Navy man years later).

I often hear about…

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Novel Inspiration: A Deserted Girl

Author Adrienne Morris

What if you’re the favorite child and grow up beautiful in a house of secrets? You’re a smart girl and learn quite young how to skirt your parents’ anger with a smile and outward compliance. Your rebellion comes late and turns in upon itself. Your admirers see a blue dress and a seductive impetuosity. Your brothers think you’re a fool.

It’s hard to protect an impetuous girl. Emotions can’t be bottled in a dress. Needing love trumps sticking to a plan. When the man you love loves something else another man will do. This other man will convince the first that you, Thankful Crenshaw, have worth beyond your curls and flirtatious giggle. You assumed William Weldon already knew that. You assumed he’d leave his new found badness in town and rescue you from your foolishness. You thought you’d eventually tell him  things about Buck and Fred and all you’ve kept…

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Novel Inspiration: Free Love

Author Adrienne Morris

Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. Hosea 6:4

My daughter tells me a hook up is expected after three dates. A few years ago my son told me it was after three weeks and before that I’d heard three months.

Free love is more like free mating isn’t it? Like something that happens with my sheep. It’s mindless. It’s instinct (though sometimes I’ve seen my goat bucks treat their does with more tenderness than people do their hook ups).

In movies free love is the punchline of a joke or just something thrown in to titillate a constantly bored audience. Sex scenes are about as interesting to watch as watching rams mount their girls. I laugh when movies are advertised as “steamy.”

In the 19th century, experimental societies existed. Their aim: PERFECTION.

Perfection meant becoming so Christ-like, so filled with love, so…

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Fiction:Taking Chances on Lost Men (2)

Author Adrienne Morris

William Weldon sobers at the prospect of Thankful Crenshaw spending the night after her SURPRISE VISIT

“I’ll just wash my face at least,” Thankful said, moving toward the wash basin in William’s filthy room above the saloon.

“Let me go fetch fresh water.” William grabbed the basin before she could see the contents. He took a while to scrub it clean in the yard near the water barrel. The saloon keeper had pity on him so William brought back a lemonade drink, on credit, for Thankful and found her sifting through the drawings and maps he had hidden.

“Thankful, those are nothing. Please, take this drink.”

She glanced up at William with her big eyes but wasn’t listening. “Willy, when did you get so good at people?”

“Thankful, you’ve come all this way to snoop? Let me have those back. The colors are off. My paints aren’t very good.”


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