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, B&N, IndieBound, Books-a-Million, 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 Chausse
WOW: 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 (say that 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. http://www.cathychall.blogspot.com/
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!
Super excited about this book, the author, and the giveaway!! :) Count me in please!ReplyDelete
Sounds great! Will certainly look for it. And the next one, too.ReplyDelete
I loved 'Guernsey..' and can't wait to read your book. Kristina, did you develop your characters and their POV as you went along, or did you have them pretty much set before you began writing?ReplyDelete
It sounds like an interesting, engaging book. Put my name in the hat, please.ReplyDelete
Great interview! Can't wait for the March 16 Party! I love surprises!ReplyDelete
What a great interview - so down to earth and insightful. This book sounds simply wonderful - can't wait to read it!ReplyDelete
Enjoyed both the video and the interview.ReplyDelete
Please enter me in the giveaway - it sounds like a book I would absolutely love. :)
I love novels and murder mysteries set during WWII. What made you choose this time to set your first novel?ReplyDelete
This book sounds wonderful! It has been my 16 year old son's interest in WWII that has sparked a newfound interest in this period of time.ReplyDelete
I have learned so much and would love to get a chance at reading this book.
I can't wait to read this book. I love stories set in the past.ReplyDelete
Definitely enter me in the drawing - this book sounds fabulous!ReplyDelete
How wonderful to read all your generous comments! Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone, and good luck in the drawing.ReplyDelete
I hope you'll swing by a few more stops on the tour, where I tried my best to sound like I actually know what I'm talking about, lol.
Cindy (#2) - Initially, the story focused almost entirely on two points of view, with only one or two chapters in another character's POV. Once I developed the secondary characters, though, they started taking over the book a bit. And when I was done, I realized that I loved the female protag's best friends much more than her. Not a great thing.ReplyDelete
I eventually went back to the draft and gave my main character a stronger personality, one I could truly root for. So, although I'm a big plotter, the personalities evolved quite a bit from the beginning. :)
Thanks so much for the question!
Linda and Melissa Ann - I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview. WOW had some fabulous questions that really made me think!ReplyDelete
I love surprises too. Hope to see you at the "party!"
I have heard that there are some recipes from that era at the back of the book. Are they from your family?ReplyDelete
I would love to read the book, it sounds so good.
Brenda - I'm glad you enjoy reading about the era too! Aside from my fascination with the time period, the reason I chose to write a WWII novel was due to the story being inspired by my grandparents' love letters.ReplyDelete
An agent once asked me, "Why World War Two? Why can't the story be contemporary?"
My answer: "Because email and texting aren't the same."
Something is being lost today when it comes to personal communication, and I'm hoping my story will help remind people of the value of the written word between loved ones.
Thanks for the question!
Debbie - Yep! There are indeed '40s recipes in the back of the book; each of them relates to a character in the story. They aren't my grandmother's originals, but they were based on recipes from a 1940s cookbook she's saved all these years.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the kind words!
Loved your description of researching the novel (using colored post-its to juggle timelines, checking the historical record to avoid anachronisms) and the evolution through rewrites to multiple POVs. For a novice writer like myself, it's interesting to hear about the writing process. My daughter lives near the Powell's on Hawthorne. Have you scheduled any local author events or book signings, Kristina?ReplyDelete
Hi Kristina, I really enjoyed your interview. :) Thank you for sharing your publishing journey. I think that's something a lot of us can definitely relate to! We've all had that rude awakening at one point. It's such an ever-evolving learning experience.ReplyDelete
I agree with you about something being lost today when it comes to personal communication. And technology has certainly made it tough for fiction writers! My hubby rented "The Town" the other night, which I really enjoyed, but the whole time I couldn't help but think that it was unrealistic because they outrun the police in car chases several times. How do outrun a radio? LOL.
But I think there are probably more challenges in writing a story set in the past. I admire you for taking on the challenge. And I think it's so cool that you have your grandparents' love letters! That's such a treasure.
I can tell this is going to be a fun tour!
Kathryn - Oooh, I love Powell's. Such a great store!ReplyDelete
Yep, I'm actually doing an official book launch party at the Clackamas Barnes & Noble (a heavenly place; two huge floors of shiny books). It's this coming Friday, the 25th, at 7pm. My grandmother, who inspired the book, will be there to meet people and even sign some copies, I'm sure; we'll be doing a WWII trivia contest for prizes; and I'll be reading excerpts from my grandfather's letters.
Please tell your daughter I'd love to see her there!
Angela - Thanks for taking the time to leave such thoughtful comments.ReplyDelete
As writers, it's a blessing and a curse to be able to analyze books -- and movies -- even when we're supposed to be enjoying them. When it comes to rom-coms in film, the unrealistic endings usually drive me up a wall, lol.
And I agree; I definitely consider my grandma's letter collection a treasured gift. :)
I cannot wait to read this book! The WWII war years are my absolute favorite time period to study (my grandparents also met and fell in love during the war). If I don't win, I will most certainly be purchasing this book!ReplyDelete
Many, many congrats, Kristina!!! So excited for you!ReplyDelete
This is such a perfect setting for a story in the war-time era.!ReplyDelete
What an inspiring story. I would love to win a copy of the book!ReplyDelete
Congrats on your new book! Can't wait to read "Letters from Home" and your children's book when it comes out! Thanks for entering me! Sincerely, Cindy EckhartReplyDelete
Congratulations! How exciting! I'm impressed with the amount of research you put into the book and wanting to stay 'real' to the time period. I look forward to reading it!ReplyDelete
Thank you to all the commenters who just posted! I truly appreciate your enthusiasm. :)ReplyDelete
Sunny - Thanks for sharing about your own grandparents' courtship. That's wonderful.
Conni - I certainly did my best, anyhow. The fact that I got to ride in a B-17 bomber in the name of "research" was definitely a highlight.
Count me in. I've been reading about this book on other blogsites and it sounds really good!ReplyDelete
This book sounds captivating. I love the way you spoke about it in your trailer.ReplyDelete
Sounds fascinating, love war stories.ReplyDelete
Looks like a good book.ReplyDelete
I am a fan of stories set during the world wars, especially when romance is woven into them.ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, most of such books are written from a male perspective. How heartwarming it is to have a book written by a woman, about women and for the enjoyment of all, but especially women.
I would LOVE to read this!ReplyDelete
iid like to win this book email@example.comReplyDelete
I am eager to read your book. I am also fascinatied by the World War II ear. My father was a soldier from the Midwest, who fell in love with a girl from Connecticut.ReplyDelete
And I am working on a novel that is set partly in Britain during that era.
Much success with your book!
the book sounds amazing -- I always true stories!ReplyDelete
I love books written in the letter form. I recently read Guernsey and it was so well done. I can't wait to read yours. All the best, MadelineReplyDelete
This looks like a great book to curl up with on a cold winter's night.cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)comReplyDelete
Congrats! Sounds like a must-read; I love historical fiction. Do you have any advice for novice writers? I've decided to self-publish my book about the hilarity and heartbreak of being single. My goal is to publish by June of this year.
Can't wait to read your book!
Wow, I would love to win this book. The Midwest is great inspiration for WWII stories. The farm boys of the era stood tall and measured up in many ways, but the men and women of the times built hangers, runways, and planes where only corn and wheat had grown. Those planes helped win the war. Can you tell I love the Wichita, Air Capital story?ReplyDelete
What a wonderful plot. This must have been difficult to write.ReplyDelete
I would love the chance to read this
This sounds like a great book, would love to read it.ReplyDelete
I'm adding this title to my to-read list. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
I really enjoy historical fiction. Sounds like a great read!ReplyDelete
Hi, everyone! Since yesterday was launch day, I'm afraid I've been too swamped to keep up replies. But I'm grateful for all your generous comments, and I hope you enjoy the read!ReplyDelete
Paula - My advice to any writer is...be true to your voice, the way you see the world. You can improve upon everything else, but don't let anyone edit out what is uniquely yours. Best of luck to you!
My father died when I was 14 and some of my favorite memories are of him telling me about the good things he saw while fighing with the Railsplitters (84th Infantry.)ReplyDelete
So, I am super excited to read a book of historical fiction set during World War II.
I look forward to reading it (and I'd love to win it in the giveaway!)
I can't wait to read this book. I love historical fiction that somehow transcends time. We get to learn about another time period while still relating to the story and characters. As an aspiring writer, this is an inspiration.ReplyDelete
I would love to read this work!ReplyDelete
Mary Ann - My goodness, I'm so moved by your post. Thank you for sharing those memories!ReplyDelete
Regina - That's precisely why I love historical fiction too. I've learned so much from others' novels while enjoying the flow of their stories. Thanks for stopping by!
I can't wait to read this!ReplyDelete
Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveawayReplyDelete
bmweida at yahoo dot com
Enjoyed the reviewReplyDelete
Sounds like a wonderful book, thanks!ReplyDelete
I don't usually like diary/memoirs but this lokks like an exceptional story, well authored in this format. Thank You for the chance to win!!ReplyDelete
This is a book that I want to read. It sounds very interesting. Thanks. firstname.lastname@example.orgReplyDelete
Thank you for all your comments!
We held a random drawing via random.org and the winner is... Ginia! :)
Ginia, you've won a signed copy of Kristina's novel Letters from Home. I didn't see an e-mail address on your profile to e-mail you directly, so please send an e-mail to email@example.com with your mailing address included.
Readers, there are still many more chances to win on this tour. ;) Check the blog stops listed in the post and follow the links for more book giveaways and fantastic advice from Kristina.
Happy writing and reading!