Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Adoption by Adrienne Morris


Welcome to the third post from the archives of Adrienne Morris. This week Adrienne shares an encounter that demonstrates how we are all the same under the skin and that sometimes, the people we might least expect to understand that, are those who have endured hardship and alienation themselves, young though they might be.

Adoption by Adrienne Morris

“The old time blacks,” wrote James Thomas, “never used to take much stock in the ‘Yaller’ Nigger. They called him ‘No Nation,’ ‘a Mule,’ ‘yaller hammer.’” *

Mulattoes under slavery were in a tight spot. Often times a master’s half-white children were brought in as house slaves. Some were educated and some were eventually given their freedom. Andrew Ward suggests in his book  Dark Midnight When I Rise that some women slaves submitted to their masters for the very reason that their children might be seen differently and treated better—but by whom? Their skin betrayed to all that tribal lines had been crossed.

Darker slaves saw themselves as superior blacks with pure blood.

They even admired their masters for keeping the races pure. We can only imagine what white mistresses thought about their husbands’ liaisons (or what fathers thought when their daughters eloped with black slaves). Yet even light blacks expressed certain stereotypes.

Some folks say that when a ‘Nigger’ is so black he just naturally mean.”*

Ward tells of a Jubilee Singer’s lineage, one so full of halves and fulls, of slaves and whites, we are met with again the notion that race, color and stereotypes are never simple things.

We do judge books by their covers. We all do. I do.

This summer my (soon to be adopted) “low-functioning” daughter and I sat waiting at the station with my two “normal” teenagers who were taking a bus south (to New Jersey). A young man about twenty interrupted our good-natured bickering about money for snacks for the bus.

You know that feeling of slight annoyance when someone asks for change and they seem to be pouring on the gratitude a bit thick?

In truth we were looking for change for the vending machine and the young man in wrinkled clothes was looking for a dollar bill. We did an even exchange and after profusely thanking us he walked off.

The bus was late.

Saratoga Springs Station is a quiet place. I like eavesdropping and people watching. I’d made up my mind that the rough-around-the-edges young man now grubbing a cigarette from the obviously university educated man about the same age was the type to find trouble. I cringed at the way the university guy gave over a cigarette with faint disgust.

Yet something about the young smoker cursing up a storm now and pacing as he spoke on an old phone to a family member in Pittsburgh mesmerized me.

From what I could catch the young man was dead broke. He had a 24 hour layover somewhere west, and he looked rake thin. Maybe because I felt a tad guilty for judging him, after we saw my teenagers off, I slipped the smoker some money (I say this not to brag of my generosity for I’d just spent a good thirty minutes eavesdropping and judging). Now when this sort of thing happens my tendency is to never make eye contact. I’m shy and don’t like intimate encounters, but for some reason our eyes met and the young man cried.

I mumbled something about God loving him or something (I NEVER do this) but felt even though I was in a hurry to move on that he needed some basic inspiration and this is what popped into my head.

My girl and I walked to the car. We sat in the car mulling things over. The good thing about “low functioning” people is sometimes they just cut to the chase. My girl said, “You feel it too, don’t you? We should go back.”

I turned the key in the ignition. “No. What would we say? No, we did what we could.” We drove around the parking lot three times. I kept hoping the kid would be gone but there he sat, now with his head in his hands, shoulders shaking.

“God wants us to go back!” my kid kept saying with urgency.

I will admit that by now after having met the young man’s eyes my entire perception of him changed. As we lingered at the exit before a stop sign I was compelled to turn around, park and with pounding heart and red face walk up to the man who I now noted had a bruised face.

My girl looked up to me for words. I stumbled around a bit but finally said, “Okay, so you may think we’re freaks but something . . .” I looked at my girl. “Well, you see, we think God wants us to sit with you for a while.”

I waited for him to tell us to back off. He didn’t. He told us his life story. He told us his mother abandoned him to foster care where he spent days locked up in a room without food. My kid told him she’d experienced the very same thing.

Imagine a little girl and a full grown man crying over past hurts.

It was obvious from the man’s story that he’d made some mistakes in life with so little guidance and so little love. He’d moved from his grandfather’s house a while back for a good job in construction. After a falling out with his boss and a night spend drinking his unemployment news away, someone mugged him. Only moments ago he’d called his sister begging for her to meet him somewhere only to be told his grandfather had just died but they’d had no way of contacting him. The phone he had called her from had been borrowed.

Okay so some of you reading this may be thinking the guy was just a storyteller. But to me it was this incredible God moment. We prayed together (again, I’m pretty private about my prayer life but there was this compulsion—something beyond myself, beyond my girl, too).

The man mentioned he read the Bible hardly ever (I mean, who really does?).

My girl, only a year from the mental ward where we were told she had no hope and that she’d spend her life a zombie, ran back to the car.

I had told her to bring a book to read in the car because sometimes she just talks and talks and talks. I get peevish when this happens. She ran up to us breathlessly and handed the man named William her raggedly little Children’s Bible someone had given her long before I knew her.

This man William (I hope he’s doing well) was tanned from outdoor work. My girl was pale white from the hospital and group home and I was freckled. But for a brief moment we were all the same.

Quotes from DARK MIDNIGHT WHEN I RISE
Related:WHAT IT REALLY COSTS TO FOLLOW JESUS
ADOPTING FROM FOSTER CARE

©Adrienne Morris

Books in The Tenafly Road Series

The most recent review for The House on Tenafly Road

Wonderful family saga! Writer makes one feel you are actually there in all physical descriptions of the land, events. You can almost feel the characters emotions and see them like watching a movie. I could hardly put the book down to rest. Highly recommend it.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Adrienne-Morris/e/B00CDO9CU0

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adrienne-Morris/e/B00CDO9CU0

Read more reviews and follow Adrienne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8266592.Adrienne_Morris

About Adrienne Morris

Adrienne Morris is author of the novel The House on Tenafly Road (selected as an Editors’ Choice Book by The Historical Novel Society and a Notable Indie Book of the Year) and The Tenafly Road Series, the continuing family saga of the Weldon and Crenshaw families of Gilded Age Englewood, New Jersey.

“I write family sagas because I love people. I love their flaws. I love their dreams and deceptions. Historical fiction allows me to reckon with thoughts and feelings I’d rather not address in the here and now. There’s a certain safety and freedom in placing personal revelations one hundred years behind you.”

Musty old libraries, abandoned houses and corsets bring to life the many characters crowding Adrienne’s imagination, but it’s the discovery that people, no matter the century they live in, share the same struggles, hopes and desires (the greatest desire being love) that keeps her up at night writing. Adrienne’s novels are love letters to those of us who feel less than perfect. They are an invitation to love ourselves and others despite our many imperfections.

Adrienne also milks goats, chases chickens and sometimes keeps her dogs off the table.

Connect to Adrienne

Website/Blog: https://middlemaybooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiddlemayFarm
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/middlemay_farm/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/morris_adrienne/

If you would like to share some of your festive archive posts for December from when you began blogging, then please send one or two links to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

 

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – How to Handle Criticism by Adrienne Morris


Welcome to the series where you can share posts from the early days of your blogging journey. Today the second post from Adrienne Morris is on the subject of toxic criticism and how to handle it.

How to Handle Criticism by Adrienne Morris.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.Benjamin Franklin

The other day my husband and I were discussing who we were going to hire to put in an asphalt driveway after two different companies sent their men with estimates.

One of the men who came by wasn’t a very good speller but had been laying asphalt for 20 years. The other came with his wife and laptop, fancy postcards and a brand new truck. My husband was undecided since the estimates came in almost the same. He took to his own laptop and started reading local reviews. The bad speller’s company had a perfect 5 star rating. The fancier guy’s company had one bad review.

The wife of fancy guy responded to the bad review. Not good. She passive aggressively pushed the blame for the customer complaints onto the customer. She then described the death of a family member and various other personal issues that may have prevented her in 2014 from returning the disappointed customer’s phone calls. She pointed out that her company was a family run business and one bad review could really hurt its reputation.

At church the other day an artsy acquaintance and I were talking about swapping my book for her music CD. “What if we hate each other’s work?” she asked, jokingly.

Critics have been around since Satan grumbled about his place in heaven, yet pondering the asphalt situation (my husband chose the bad speller) left me thinking that maybe being a critic wasn’t the best way to pursue a happy life. There is a savage thrill in expressing a heavy-handed opinion with a superior toss of the head during a movie about super heroes.

But is it really fun for those people around you?

On the rare occasion when I actually leave the house to go to a movie I ask my husband what the reviews are for the film. He usually responds, “Who cares? I want to make up my own mind.”

My husband takes a bad movie in stride. He’ll admit to a movie being less than he hoped but does not get worked up about it. He also never sits down to write bad reviews. I never do either. I may rant about something for a few days, or complain to my husband about a dumb book that’s really popular, but I have no desire to put pen to paper if in my mind the book or film or asphalt company deserves less than 4 stars.

Some people seem to think they’re doing the world a great service warning a buyer against a book, movie or driveway but sometimes silence is just as appropriate as words. A book with no reviews leaves just enough doubt in a reader’s mind without having the author’s reputation tarnished forever (or until an EMP STRIKE takes down all electronics).

Only once did I check out a reviewer’s other reviews when she left a bizarrely personal and vicious attack/review. It was very eye-opening. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to live in her world of miserable negativity. I’m not sure I believe in karma exactly but wonder if in this age of YELP and Amazon we are not turning into the crows I see on my property who peck baby birds to death for fun

 

When I used to teach 5th graders, the rule was that the kids had to think of three nice things to say about a fledgling writer’s efforts before the pecking began. My eleven-year-old students very easily learned this skill and the young writers flourished. Adults sometimes seem to think it would take too much time for such civility.

Critical thinking and perceptive critiques certainly have their place and it is almost never worth it to respond to criticism with whining or defensiveness, but I wonder if my mother’s advice, “if you have nothing good to say . . .” isn’t something we all should consider now and again. Maybe we should even consider what our true motives are at times. I can usually tell when I’m just in the mood to be a bitch (so can everyone else).

Once someone close to me said, “Well, it’s not like you’re the best writer who ever lived.”

REALLY? Who knew? The person is someone I know loves me and her words came out wrong (or did they?) but they still annoy me . . . a little.

In the old myths the gods pecked at and destroyed each other in battles of ego, jealousy or stupidity. What kid didn’t love reading about such battles? But none of us are gods. We play them in critique groups or in dark movie theaters and basically just annoy and rob joy from others (again, I do realize that sometimes criticism is good and appropriate).

There may be some people who produce junk on purpose, but most artists and asphalt layers are just trying to do their best in life. Silence is golden in many (most cases).

My singer acquaintance at church and I decided that if we didn’t like each other’s work we’d say nothing. That way we could each pretend that maybe the other person hadn’t yet found time to read or listen to the works that bared our souls.

What about you? What’s your favorite example of toxic criticism? What has been someone’s most helpful criticism in your life?

©Adrienne Morris

Thanks to Adrienne on the subject of criticism and I am sure she would love to read your feedback..

Books in The Tenafly Road Series

The most recent review for Forget Me Not.

At this point, I have kind of grown up with this series and it is interesting how it has somewhat mirrored my life. You always think the next phase is going to provide answers and while it does often do that, it then brings a whole new set of catastrophes to worry about. I love that this series has a subtle humor to it, similar to that of a private joke you have with yourself. I’ve cared for each character almost equally, kind of the the way I would love those in my family. They each provide a different perspective that I can find myself relating to in some way, even if I completely disagree. Definitely my favorite in the series so far.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Adrienne-Morris/e/B00CDO9CU

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adrienne-Morris/e/B00CDO9CU0

Read more reviews and follow Adrienne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8266592.Adrienne_Morris

About Adrienne Morris

Adrienne Morris is author of the novel The House on Tenafly Road (selected as an Editors’ Choice Book by The Historical Novel Society and a Notable Indie Book of the Year) and The Tenafly Road Series, the continuing family saga of the Weldon and Crenshaw families of Gilded Age Englewood, New Jersey.

“I write family sagas because I love people. I love their flaws. I love their dreams and deceptions. Historical fiction allows me to reckon with thoughts and feelings I’d rather not address in the here and now. There’s a certain safety and freedom in placing personal revelations one hundred years behind you.”

Musty old libraries, abandoned houses and corsets bring to life the many characters crowding Adrienne’s imagination, but it’s the discovery that people, no matter the century they live in, share the same struggles, hopes and desires (the greatest desire being love) that keeps her up at night writing. Adrienne’s novels are love letters to those of us who feel less than perfect. They are an invitation to love ourselves and others despite our many imperfections.

Adrienne also milks goats, chases chickens and sometimes keeps her dogs off the table.

Connect to Adrienne

Website/Blog: https://middlemaybooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiddlemayFarm
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/middlemay_farm/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/morris_adrienne/

If you would like to share some of your festive archive posts for December from when you began blogging, then please send one or two links to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – The Seven Deadly Sins and How to Use Them in Your Writing Life by Adrienne Morris


Delighted to welcome Adrienne Morris to the series with her posts from the archives. In her first post she uses the equates our writing to the Seven Deadly Sins…

The Seven Deadly Sins and How to Use Them in Your Writing Life by Adrienne Morris.

The number seven symbolizes perfection. Yet in writing it’s far better to dabble in the deadly seven.

Those cardinal sins we relish observing in others from our lofty, virtuous towers are the stuff of conflict and story.

Historical fiction writers have a host of real-life historical villains, but while sins are seen as relative these days, the following list is still quite helpful for the stuck writer.

Lust – to have an intense desire or need.

Some of us lust after five star reviews, don’t we? But let’s talk character. A morphine addict’s addiction is only one extreme example of the many lusts mortals grapple with or go for. John Weldon hides his addiction for over 700 pages. Some don’t like such long books. They lust after other things, but I need to dig deep into my characters. It’s why I write.

Gluttony – excess in eating and drinking.

Gluttony is one I rarely see used in fiction. Yes, we have the drunks who are often (but not always) seen as comic or tragic and unable to help themselves. How does gluttony move a story forward? If someone overeats aren’t they only hurting themselves? Do stolen cookies and late-night binges affect other family members? I wonder if acceptance and tolerance help the person in the grips of gluttony. For a brief period of time my character Katherine becomes a glutton. Some might say she was a glutton for punishment. What turns a person toward gluttony?

Greed – excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness.

There’s a pattern here, isn’t there? Humanity is quite full of selfishness. This sin is one of my lesser frailties (I have enormous heaps of some of the others) but oh how fun it is to write about Buck Crenshaw’s greedy brother. Greed can be hidden in characters, too. Buck is greedy for control. He thinks he’s generous, and he is, but he’s often fooled by his lust for acceptance and desire for emotional safety.Laziness – disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous.

Laziness is often a sign of deep fear and fatalism.

Why bother starting something when it’s going to fail anyway? Lazy characters rarely become main characters because they don’t do much. Yet their passivity can lead to exciting tragedy, failed marriages and melancholy regrets.Wrath – strong vengeful anger or indignation.

Wrath is the stuff of writing!

We all love a good fight and the clever and biting remark that tears the seams from a book. We decry war in real life, but a book without war, even a war raging in our character’s heart, often doesn’t get to the heart of life. Families in conflict. That’s my thing. It’s what I love. Writing historical family saga novels makes me want to get up in the morning.Envy–painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.

In writing family saga fiction envious siblings are gold. The Crenshaw family in The Tenafly Road Series would not exist without parents who motivate their children by setting them upon each other. The painful part is loving a friend or family member yet envying their success. Brutal–and great for writing.

Pride – quality or state of being proud – inordinate self esteem.

And here we get to the bottom of it. PRIDE. This one word is at the heart of great fiction and our sorry little lives as humans. I say this lovingly because as a writer I relish misplaced pride. We think of characters with pride as the braggarts, but they come in the mousy little men and women too who spend far too much time thinking of how inadequate they are.

The seven deadly sins are really just different versions of self-obsession. Self-obsession is what novels are all about. We read to see how we (as in humans) do and see and feel things. We are obsessed with our species. I am. It’s a big love/hate fest living with and writing about people. The sins (and the virtues) keep life interesting and writers writing.
©Adrienne Morris and image.

My thanks to Adrienne for sharing her post and her interesting perspective on our drive to write and create stories.

Books in The Tenafly Road Series

The most recent review for Forget Me Not.

At this point, I have kind of grown up with this series and it is interesting how it has somewhat mirrored my life. You always think the next phase is going to provide answers and while it does often do that, it then brings a whole new set of catastrophes to worry about. I love that this series has a subtle humor to it, similar to that of a private joke you have with yourself. I’ve cared for each character almost equally, kind of the the way I would love those in my family. They each provide a different perspective that I can find myself relating to in some way, even if I completely disagree. Definitely my favorite in the series so far.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Adrienne-Morris/e/B00CDO9CU

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adrienne-Morris/e/B00CDO9CU0

Read more reviews and follow Adrienne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8266592.Adrienne_Morris

About Adrienne Morris

Adrienne Morris is author of the novel The House on Tenafly Road (selected as an Editors’ Choice Book by The Historical Novel Society and a Notable Indie Book of the Year) and The Tenafly Road Series, the continuing family saga of the Weldon and Crenshaw families of Gilded Age Englewood, New Jersey.

“I write family sagas because I love people. I love their flaws. I love their dreams and deceptions. Historical fiction allows me to reckon with thoughts and feelings I’d rather not address in the here and now. There’s a certain safety and freedom in placing personal revelations one hundred years behind you.”

Musty old libraries, abandoned houses and corsets bring to life the many characters crowding Adrienne’s imagination, but it’s the discovery that people, no matter the century they live in, share the same struggles, hopes and desires (the greatest desire being love) that keeps her up at night writing. Adrienne’s novels are love letters to those of us who feel less than perfect. They are an invitation to love ourselves and others despite our many imperfections.

Adrienne also milks goats, chases chickens and sometimes keeps her dogs off the table.

Connect to Adrienne

Website/Blog: https://middlemaybooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiddlemayFarm
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/middlemay_farm/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/morris_adrienne/

If you would like to share some of your festive archive posts for December from when you began blogging, then please send one or two links to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Forget Me Not: The Tenafly Road Series by Adrienne Morris


Delighted to welcome Adrienne Morris to the Cafe and Bookstore with her books and today I am featuring her most recent release Forget Me Not: The Tenafly Road Series Book Four

About Forget Me Not.

After Lieutenant Fred Crenshaw’s young wife dies in childbirth, secrets are exposed. At the funeral, the Crenshaw and Weldon families confront mortality but also find hope in young love and news of a child brought back into the Crenshaw fold.

In the third book of The Tenafly Road Series, Buck Crenshaw and William Weldon call an uneasy truce. Thankful Crenshaw wrestles with guilt and lack of direction. Lucy McCullough becomes Doctor and Mrs. Crenshaw’s pet and captures Buck’s attention.

The shocking illness of a parent forces members of both families to reveal their hidden desires and to consider what it would take to forgive themselves and others.

A review for the book

At this point, I have kind of grown up with this series and it is interesting how it has somewhat mirrored my life. You always think the next phase is going to provide answers and while it does often do that, it then brings a whole new set of catastrophes to worry about. I love that this series has a subtle humor to it, similar to that of a private joke you have with yourself. I’ve cared for each character almost equally, kind of the the way I would love those in my family. They each provide a different perspective that I can find myself relating to in some way, even if I completely disagree. Definitely my favorite in the series so far.

Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Forget-Me-Not-Novel-Tenafly-ebook/dp/B074V8129K

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forget-Me-Not-Novel-Tenafly-ebook/dp/B074V8129K

Other books in The Tenafly Road Series

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Adrienne-Morris/e/B00CDO9CU

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adrienne-Morris/e/B00CDO9CU0

Read more reviews and follow Adrienne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8266592.Adrienne_Morris

About Adrienne Morris

Adrienne Morris is author of the novel The House on Tenafly Road (selected as an Editors’ Choice Book by The Historical Novel Society and a Notable Indie Book of the Year) and The Tenafly Road Series, the continuing family saga of the Weldon and Crenshaw families of Gilded Age Englewood, New Jersey.

“I write family sagas because I love people. I love their flaws. I love their dreams and deceptions. Historical fiction allows me to reckon with thoughts and feelings I’d rather not address in the here and now. There’s a certain safety and freedom in placing personal revelations one hundred years behind you.”

Musty old libraries, abandoned houses and corsets bring to life the many characters crowding Adrienne’s imagination, but it’s the discovery that people, no matter the century they live in, share the same struggles, hopes and desires (the greatest desire being love) that keeps her up at night writing. Adrienne’s novels are love letters to those of us who feel less than perfect. They are an invitation to love ourselves and others despite our many imperfections.

Adrienne also milks goats, chases chickens and sometimes keeps her dogs off the table.

Connect to Adrienne

Website/Blog: https://middlemaybooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiddlemayFarm
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/middlemay_farm/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/morris_adrienne/

I hope you will head over and check Adrienne’s books out and if you would like to join the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore please let me know.

Thank you for dropping in.. Sally