Today I’d like to welcome author Kristina McMorris as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress as she makes a stop on her virtual book tour with WOW! Women on Writing.
Kristina’s latest release is LETTERS FROM HOME, which was inspired by her grandparents’ courtship during World War II. At the end of the post there will be information on a giveaway from Kristina. Here’s a brief synopsis of LETTERS FROM HOME: “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.”
Kristina joins us today to talk about a “message in a cake” dealing with rationing during World War II.
The recipe on the page read "Flourless Sugarless Chocolate Cake." My first thought, while perusing my grandmother's cookbook from the '40s, was that the publisher had left out an essential word. Surely the more accurate name would be "Flourless Sugarless Tasteless Chocolate Cake." (In some baking circles, this is also known as "cardboard"; to the average child, "punishment.")
Once my initial sense of disgust passed, however, I began to view the dessert in a different light. For beneath its reflection of rationing from World War II lay a reminder of greater significance.
The nation, after all, was being gripped by tragedy and fear and uncertainty. Freedom hung in the balance, a wager determined by battles on distant shores. Yet on the home front, it was a woman's role to forge on with diligence and grace.
She planted Victory gardens and attended bond rallies; she donated scraps for metal drives and mended clothes to extend their wear; she listened to casualty reports on the radio, praying not to hear a familiar name, and, limited by ration coupons, she nourished her family with home-cooked meals.
So where did this sad excuse of a cake fit into the equation? One could easily criticize the dish, a wasteful indulgence during a time of conservation. What justifiable purpose could it have served?
The answer is simple: a source of hope. Whether for a birthday or graduation, perhaps for an Army son visiting on leave, a dessert of the like offered a semblance of normalcy. A reminder of happier times, a promise of how life would be once again. A spark of joy and peace in even the most tumultuous of times.
I suppose letters, in many ways, were no different. The treasured letters my grandmother saved from my late grandfather, all sent during his WWII Naval service, had provided similar hope and joy. His touching messages, in fact, inspired me to pen my first novel—sixty years after he poured his heart out onto those pages.
When tomorrow held no guarantees, people appreciated what they had: the roof over their heads, the freedoms afforded by others, and the loved ones who might never come home.
No doubt, there remains much to be learned from those who sacrificed for us all, a powerful reminder displayed in a flourless sugarless cake.
Kristina, thank you for such a powerful reminder. Sometimes it’s not so much what we do, but just the fact of doing something for others. Thanks for sharing this story with us.
Let me give you a bit of background on Kristina. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Her foray into fiction began in the fall of 2006 as a result of interviewing her grandmother for the biographical section of a self-published cookbook intended as a holiday gift for the family. Inspired by her grandparents' wartime courtship, Kristina penned her first novel, a WWII love story titled LETTERS FROM HOME.
This award-winning debut is scheduled for release in trade paperback from Kensington Books today (Feb. 22) in the U.S. and from Avon/HarperCollins (May 5) in the UK. 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.
Kristina's book is 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.
For more on Kristina, check out her website at http://www.kristinamcmorris.com/
As a part of her book tour, Kristina is offering a copy of her book to one lucky visitors (U.S or Canadian residents only) who comments on her post between now and 8 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, March 1. Be sure to include your e-mail address with your comment if it’s not included in your profile. So what are your thoughts? Any questions for Kristina?
Here’s a video of Kristina talking about writing and LETTERS FROM HOME. Enjoy.