We're thrilled to introduce Kristina McMorris, an amazing author and new friend. Inspired by the true story of her own grandparents' courtship during World War II, Kristina captures the heartache and sacrifice of love and war in Letters from Home
, an award-winning debut novel that is timeless, tender and unforgettably moving.
It's the must-read novel of the season!
Kristina has such a fantastic video for her book that we wanted to share this with you first so you can get to know her a little better. [If you're reading this via Feedburner e-mail and can't see the video below please visit www.tinyurl.com/McMorris or click on blog title link.]Book Giveaway Contest: If you'd like to win a copy of Letters from Home,
please leave a comment at the end of this post to be entered in random drawing. The giveaway contest closes this Thursday, February 24th at 11:59 PM, PST
. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post the following day, Friday February 25th. Good luck!----- More about the book:In the midst of World War II, a Midwestern infantryman falls deeply in love through a yearlong letter exchange, unaware that the girl he's been writing to is not the one replying...Chicago, 1944.
Liz Stephens has little interest in attending a USO club dance with her friends Betty and Julia. She doesn't need a flirtation with a lonely serviceman when she's set to marry her childhood sweetheart. Yet something happens the moment Liz glimpses Morgan McClain. They share only a brief conversation--cut short by the soldier's evident interest in Betty--but Liz can't forget him. Thus, when Betty asks her to ghostwrite a letter to Morgan, stationed overseas, Liz reluctantly agrees.
Thousands of miles away, Morgan struggles to adjust to the brutality of war. His letters from "Betty" are a comfort, their soul-baring correspondence a revelation to them both. While Liz is torn by her feelings for a man who doesn't know her true identity, Betty and Julia each become immersed in their own romantic entanglements. And as the war draws to a close, all three will face heart-wrenching choices, painful losses, and the bittersweet joy of new beginnings.
Beautifully rendered and deeply touching, Letters from Home
is a story of hope and connection, of sacrifices made in love and war--and the chance encounters that change us forever.Letters from Home
is scheduled for release in trade paperback from Kensington Books (2-22-11; U.S.) and Avon/HarperCollins (5-5-11; U.K.). Various book club rights have been sold to Reader's Digest and Doubleday, and the film rights are represented by the prestigious Creative Artists Agency of Los Angeles.
It's available for purchase at Amazon
, and at bookstores nationwide. A portion of the proceeds will benefit United Through Reading®
, a nonprofit organization that video records deployed U.S. military personnel reading bedtime stories for their children.Click here
to read the first chapter of Letters from Home
.----- About the author:
Kristina McMorris lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. She has garnered more than twenty national literary awards since writing her first novel, Letters from Home
. A graduate of Pepperdine University, she spent twelve years hosting weekly television shows, including an Emmy® Award-winning television show at age nine, and most recently served as the six-year host of the WB's weekly program Weddings Portland Style
. Adding to her diverse résumé, McMorris is a professional emcee, literary workshop presenter, and former owner of a wedding/event planning business. Her previous writing background includes being a contributing writer for Portland Bride & Groom
magazine and ten years of directing public relations for an international conglomerate. She has been named one of Portland's "Forty Under Forty" by The Business Journal
. She is currently working on her next novel.
Find out more about Kristina by visiting her website: www.KristinaMcMorris.com
.----- Interview by Robyn ChausseWOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Kristina! Letters from Home follows the experiences of several characters from July of 1944 through October of 1945, during WWII. Those are a lot of timelines to juggle--the historical timeline of the war and the individual timelines of the characters--how did you keep it all straight?Kristina:
All I have to say is, thank goodness for multi-colored Post-its! Since I was alternating four points of view while interweaving several storylines, all set in very different geographical locations, I used not only posterboard covered sticky notes but also a timeline sheet and chapter breakdown summary to help me remain consistent. And I definitely referred to all three on a regular basis.WOW: What made you decide to cover the time from July through October?Kristina:
I knew I wanted the story to conclude soon after the war ended, and due to the deceptive nature of the letter exchanges between two of the characters, I didn't feel comfortable allowing the correspondence to span much longer than a year. The reason I chose to start the story on July 4th, quite honestly, was because I loved the visual idea of fireworks exploding over the city. Only after I completed the book did common sense set in regarding the lack of gunpowder due to the war effort. I therefore had to adjust the opening paragraph, and instead had my female character reflect on the absence of such vibrant displays, along with happier times.WOW: Very clever! So tell us about your research process with Letters from Home. Did you have a plan or get lost in a sea of reference material?Kristina:
I often tell people that I wouldn't advise first-time novelists to tackle a book set during World War II. Aside from the potential criticism you face, given the sheer number of WWII enthusiasts out there, the time period requires an incredible amount of research to bring authenticity to the story. Keeping my timeline to a window of roughly a year certainly helped focus my efforts. But that didn't stop me from obsessively researching until the wee hours of the morning everything from the origin of fountain pens to Christmas tree lights (which is fascinating, by the way). Fortunately, I discovered that most inventions I wanted to reference were patented in the 1930s. It's a wonderful thing when history conveniently fits with a writer's vision!WOW: The story went through several "reads" before the contract was offered. What were the concerns?Kristina:
I believe the primary concern was the story's World War II backdrop. At the time, popular women's fiction novels set during this era were fairly uncommon. Over the two years since, of course, there have been several such novels that have enjoyed widespread readership, The Postmistress
and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
one ten times fast!) to name a few. The fact that both of these examples also revolve around a premise of letter exchanges gives me even more hope that my own novel will find a welcoming audience.WOW: How many rewrites did you go through and in what ways is the final story different from the original?Kristina:
How many rewrites? Oh, goodness, how high can you count?! I can't say I've ever kept track, but I do fondly refer to this book as my first and
twelfth novel. The Cyrano de Bergerac-twist of the story has remained consistent since the very first draft. Aside from a good amount of trimming and improved writing in general (at least I hope so!), the most significant change has been increased complexity through higher stakes, additional conflict, and multiple storylines. When I first wrote the book, it was basically a sweet tale spotlighting a single war-torn couple. But as my craft developed so did the secondary characters, until it became clear that this was really a novel about the journeys of three close yet diverse girlfriends, whose lives change drastically as a result of the war. Apparently all three women had something to say; it just took me a while to listen. ;)WOW: Your writing has been mainly in the non-fiction arena with Letters from Home being your first work of fiction. In fact, I read that at the time you began writing this novel you did not even read much fiction! In what ways were you surprised with the process of writing and publishing a novel?Kristina:
I hate to admit it, but yes, it's true; at the time, I hardly read any books, let alone fiction. As a movie buff, I actually saw my story play out as a film in my head, and decided (who knows why I thought I could?) to write it as a book. After all, how hard could getting published be? Uh, yeah. I received my answer in a stream of form rejections from just about every major literary agent in town. Yet at that point, it was too late to turn back; I'd already written an entire manuscript. So instead of giving up, I became more determined than ever to reach my goal of publication, and to do that meant learning, listening, networking, and doing lots of rewrites.
The greatest surprise, of course, was just how challenging the business can be for all authors, no matter how green or seasoned. When I began, I knew nothing of the process--from acquisition meetings to copy editing to an author's role in marketing. My non-author friends are always shocked when I explain the true basis of the New York Times
bestsellers list, or how book covers are stripped for store refunds. No doubt, with how rapidly the industry seems to be changing, I'll continue to have much to learn as time goes on.WOW: Thank you for sharing your journey. We are in a tough business, for sure. What else are you working on? I read that you were working on some children's books and another novel--do tell!Kristina:
Given that my kids are young and still huge fans of picture books, I decided to try my hand at writing one myself during a small gap between publishing deadlines. I've since put it on the back burner, as my second novel took priority, and really, that's where my passion lies. I'm happy to share that I just turned in my second novel to my editor a few weeks ago, and I can't tell you how proud I am of this next book.
BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES is about a Caucasian violinist who secretly elopes with her Japanese-American boyfriend--against families' wishes and societal molds--the night before Pearl Harbor is bombed.
Once again, there are interwoven storylines, alternating points of view, and a whole lot of conflict! I'm very eager to share this one with the readers, as it features some shocking aspects of history that most people have never heard about, as well as heroes that are too often passed over. Also, being half Japanese, I was able to infuse a unique perspective of living between worlds.WOW: Ooh, I can hardly wait! Kristina, what words of inspiration or advice would you like to share with your readers and fellow writers?Kristina:
Don't give up. Believe in your voice, hold onto it, and learn how to improve the rest. When someone offers a literary critique, whether solicited or not, listen with open ears. Consider the suggestions. Then, like a cafeteria line, pick and choose what works for you
.----- Blog Tour Dates:
Join Kristina on her tour!
Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE
.February 22, Tuesday:
Have fun learning about cooking amid rationing during WWII from Kristina McMorris. Also, enter to win a copy of her debut novel, Letters from Home
. http://www.masoncanyon.blogspot.com/ February 23, Wednesday:
Connect to your family's past with the help of Kristina McMorris, who was inspired to write a novel by the romance of her own family history. You can also enter to win a copy of her novel! http://www.amomentwithmystee.com/February 24, Thursday:
Don't miss Dana's audio interview with debut novelist Kristina McMorris. She'll also be giving away a copy of Letters from Home
. http://www.niapromotionspodcast.com/February 25, Friday:
Today Kristina tells us about the bliss of literary ignorance...if writers knew about the journey to publication they might never write that first word! Happily, Kristina traveled that bumpy road and is giving away a copy of her debut novel Letters from Home
. http://thebooktree.blogspot.com/February 28, Monday:
Kristina will be posting about the challenges of writing historical fiction. She's also giving away a copy of Letters from Home
and hopes no one finds any glaring historical inaccuracies! http://www.jhsiess.com/March 1, Tuesday:
Kristina tells readers about the long and bumpy road to publication. She's also giving away a copy of her book! http://blog.juliealindsey.com/March 2, Wednesday:
Ever wonder about the person behind the book? Kathy uncovers the woman behind the novel Letters from Home. We learn Kristina McMorris's favorite candy, superhero, song, guilty pleasure...and a few things about her writing life! Share something about your life for a chance to win Kristina's novel. http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/March 3, Thursday:
Valentine's Day may be over but it's never too late to pen a great love letter. Get some tips on letter writing from novelist Kristina McMorris and a chance to win her debut novel Letters from Home
March 4, Friday:
Don't miss the opportunity to learn where novel ideas come from in an interview with Kristina McMorris. You can also enter to win her novel! http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com/March 7, Monday:
Kristina tells us how to laugh if our books are labeled a "tough sell" and plan to succeed anyway. She's also giving away a copy of her book! http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/March 8, Tuesday:
Moms? Daughters? Come by to learn why Letters from Home is a great book for moms and daughters to share during an interview with author Kristina McMorris. You can also win a copy to share with your daughter! http://motherdaughterbookclub.com/March 9, Wednesday:
The publishing industry is full of ominous proclamations such as "Your book will be a tough sell." Kristina tells us what a "tough sell" is and gives readers the opportunity to win her WWII era novel! http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/March 10, Thursday:
Stop by to learn what novelist Kristina McMorris has to say about the challenges of writing historical fiction when the "history" is recent enough that folks are alive to say, "Hey, you got it wrong!" She'll also be giving away an e-book of her debut novel Letters from Home
. http://www.bookpage.com/the-book-case/March 11, Friday:
Stop by for a review of Letters from Home and a fun 5Ws interview with author Kristina McMorris. http://jodiwebb.com/March 14, Monday:
To paraphrase Bette Davis, "Fasten your seat belts, publication is going to be a bumpy ride." Debut author Kristina McMorris tells us how she survived it and is giving away a copy of her debut novel. http://writingisablessing.blogspot.com/March 15, Tuesday:
Crazy for Books reviews Kristina McMorris's debut novel Letters from Home
today. You can also win a copy. Do you feel lucky? http://www.crazy-for-books.com/March 16, Wednesday: Mass Blogging Event: Everyone's Talking About...Surprises!
Celebrate the grand finale of Kristina McMorris's WOW!
Blog Tour with a mass blogging event called "Everyone's Talking About...Surprises." Stop by The Muffin for Kristina's surprise and a list of all her blogging buddies today. Visit her blogging buddies to enter to win a copy of Letters from Home. There's also a Surprise Grand Prize for those who buy her book today. [If you have a blog and would like to join in on the fun, please e-mail Jodi: firstname.lastname@example.org]Book Giveaway Contest: Remember, if you'd like to win a copy of Letters from Home, please leave a comment below
, or ask Kristina a question, to be entered in random drawing (via random.org). The giveaway contest closes this Thursday, February 24th at 11:59 PM, PST
. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post the following day, Friday February 25th. Good luck!