Kristina McMorris on Surprises

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Everyone's Talking About…Surprises!


Kristina McMorris

Surprises can be wonderful…or not-so-wonderful. They're the unexpected elements of life that come in various shapes and sizes.

Surprise! You've won the lottery. A good thing.

Surprise! You forgot to pack underwear for a weeklong trip. Not such a good thing.

Unless, of course, that's your usual style. But that's a topic for a completely different post.

For me, my literary journey emerged as a complete surprise—and all stemming from what was intended as a surprise gift for my grandmother. Several years ago, with her help, I had compiled hundreds of recipes she had created and gathered over decades. I'd agreed to type them out and zip off some copies, which I was to place in three-ring binders as Christmas presents for the family. Before these were complete, however, another idea bloomed.

Since I had worked in marketing and PR for many years, I reached out to some contacts in the printing field, and as a Thanksgiving dinner surprise, I presented Grandma Jean with a box of fancy self-published copies in book form. But that's not all. You see, our little project had been gaining momentum.

And so, I used that very moment to inform her that "Grandma Jean's Rainy Day Recipes" cookbook was going to be sold in several stores, including a local Borders. Since the net proceeds would benefit her favorite charity, the Food Bank, my grandmother and I were invited to do numerous regional newspaper interviews, as well as on-air cooking segments and interviews for network-affiliated stations. (Thankfully, Grandma had a healthy enough heart to withstand everything I tossed her way!)

The gift, as it turned out, kept right on giving; though little did I know how much it was about to change my life.

While gathering information from my grandma about her youth, for the biographical section of the cookbook, I discovered details about her courtship with my late grandfather. Stunned by the fact that they had dated only twice during WWII before getting married, I watched in awe as she revealed a collection of his letters from the war. Their love story ultimately sparked the premise of my first novel, Letters From Home, guiding me on a path I would have never foreseen.

Indeed, surprises can arrive when you least expect them—especially when you thought they were meant for someone else.


Kristina McMorris's debut novel, Letters from Home, was released on March 1, 2011 by Kensington Publishing. Her essay above is a part of a very special event on The Muffin--Everybody's Talking About Surprises. Visit the blogs participating in this event and you can enter to win a grand prize with a World War II theme (just like Kristina's novel).

Prior to her literary career, Kristina acted in numerous independent films and major motion pictures. She began hosting an 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 resume, McMorris is a professional emcee, literary workshop presenter, and former over of a wedding/event planning business. Her previous writing background includes being a contributing writer for Portland Bride & Groom magazines and ten years of directing public relations for an international conglomerate. A portion of Kristina's sales proceeds from Letters from Home will benefit United Through Reading, a nonprofit organization that video records deployed U.S. military personnel reading bedtime stories for their children. She is currently working on her next novel.

Find out more info about Kristina by visiting her website: You can also view an interview at


Lisa said...

Kristina, When I read your entry, I was surprised. I had wanted to collaborate with my grandmother years ago: interview her, collect her recipes, especially regarding leftovers. Apparently, she wasn't very good at cooking first recipes but the leftover recipes she put together were great!

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to do that due to her health, and my work schedule at the time 25+ years ago. I believe I also didn't live in the same state & the Internet didn't exist then!

I'm so glad you had the opportunity to do so, and as a result, shared some wonderful experiences with your grandmother and acquired valuable writing experience as well as a topic for a novel! :) Congratulations! ~ Lisa

Kristina McMorris said...

Lisa, thanks so much for your note. What a coincidence about your grandmother! Somehow those grandmothers gained a special cooking skill that few can replicate -- even when it comes to leftovers. :)

Thanks for your warm wishes!

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