We have an expression around the South that dates back to when writing letters was commonplace. Let’s say you tried a recipe that didn’t go over too well. You might say, “It was nothing to write home about.” Even back when we wrote letters, we acknowledged that taking the time to “write home” about something was special.
And today, I’ve got something special to share with my home readers. It’s a lovely book called Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris who’s on a WOW! Blog tour this month.
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. Prior to her literary career, she was the owner of a wedding/event planning business and public relations director of an international conglomerate.
Here’s a brief synopsis of this charming story:
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 writing to isn’t the one replying. Woven around this tenuous thread are three female friends whose journeys toward independence take unexpected turns as a result of romance, tragedy, and deception, their repercussions heightened by an era of the unknown. “Ambitious and compelling…[a] sweeping debut” (Publishers Weekly), 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.
I love the concept of this book, of the letters from home. And I worry that we’ll lose the art of letter-writing what with technology zipping along faster than the U.S. Mail. I asked Kristina to share a few thoughts with us about letters, and the writing thereof. Here’s what she had to say:
“Throughout history, forms of communication have evolved. Telegrams have become phone calls. Mailed documents have become faxes. Letters, even to express adoration, have generally become quick, convenient electronic messages.
For example, here’s a possible note of endearment via email:
Hey, hon! At work, thinking about ya. 😉
The photo you sent was fab…might have to blow it up life-size, LOL.
I’ll call later, k?
In text messaging, an exchange between lovebirds might look like:
“Howz ur day?”
And, on Facebook you could even luck out by getting “poked.” (Although I’m still not entirely clear what that means.)
The benefit of speediness in today’s correspondence is inarguable. But have we lost something meaningful in the process? No matter how heartwarming the message might be, how many times do you reread an email? Or a text? A tweet?
Until a few years ago, I had no idea my grandparents had met only twice during WWII before getting married. Upon revealing this astounding tidbit, my grandmother retrieved from her closet a secret collection of the wartime letters responsible for initially forging their bond.
In contrast to the modern-day exchanges above, here is an actual excerpt from one of my grandpa’s letters:
“Every night I dream of you and those nights and days we have spent together. There shall never be another for me but you, Darling. Every part of me is true blue to the one I love…..Gee, Darling, how happy I would be to let you sleep on my arm tonight and every night from now on. I love you! Just 62 more days! Bushels and bushels of kisses, Hon.
Your loving husband,
Indeed, that is the type of letter worthy of repeated readings. In fact, this was the very stack of letters that inspired me to write my first novel, LETTERS FROM HOME, thereby changing the course of my life.
So yes, life is busy, and time always seems in short supply. But every once in a while, take a few minutes to express how you much you care—through a device that doesn’t have an on-button, that is. You never know how deeply your message might reach, or who else you could inspire even decades down the road.”
That is so true, Kristina! In fact, I’m inspired right now. I’m giving away a copy of Letters From Home to one lucky commenter. I’d love to know about the last time you sat down to “write a letter home.”
I think for me, it was the summer I spent in Europe. But I have a feeling I left out all the good stuff in that letter!
P.S. You know every letter has to have a P.S. Here’s yours: For more about Kristina and her book, Letters from Home, check out her website at kristinamcmorris.com.
P.P.S. Oooh! Remember the P.P.S.? I forgot to tell you that the giveaway runs through Monday. I want to give all my readers plenty of time to write home to Cathy C’s Hall of Fame for a chance to win!
I love handwritten letters. I have kept mine over the years. Every so often I take them out to read, savoring the tender thoughts, the flashes of enlightenment and the meaty selections of everyday descriptions.Letters for Home is just what we all need to remind us of the beauty of the written word on paper.
This looks like my sort of book. My husband and I did many of those countdowns while he was in the Navy. Many of them were via email, but I also have a fondness for mailed cards (I kept the local Hallmark in business!). We both kept everything, which should make for an interesting legacy someday.
Does anyone remember pen pals? I used to have a ton of them when I was a kid, from all over the world. Seeing those air mail envelopes in the mail when I got home from school was so thrilling. :)I tried to win this book over at The Muffin – maybe the second time's the charm. 🙂
Oh, I get a little goosebumpy, thinking about handwritten letters. Remember how excited we'd be if a letter came in the mail?I've been excited by a few emails, too, I guess. But it's not the same as reading crazy handwriting, seeing the scratch-outs, or all the misspelled words. Letters have so much personality!Good luck, y'all! Wish I had a book for each of you!
Sounds like a wonderful book! I LOVE, LOVE the cover.The year my husband was in Vietnam, I wrote him every day. Our daughter was six weeks old when he left, so I sent photos of her every week. I still remember how excited I was when the mailman pulled up to my parents' mailbox (I moved back home for the year my husband was in Vietnam) and delivered an onion skin envelope with Air Mail on it and the word Free in the spot where the postage should've been. Servicemen didn't have to pay for postage for letters sent home. Some times I wouldn't get a letter for weeks then I'd get several on one day. Thanks for stiring up good memories.Donna V.http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com
I still have all the letters and cards my husband sent me when he was in boot camp. And one of my most treasured possessions is a letter from my now-deceased grandfather, the only one he ever penned to one of his grandchildren. I look forward to reading Kristina's book, whether won or purchased. Though I'm hoping for won…! kt
I have tons of love letters from my husband throughout our 32 years together. Some are scribbled on torn pieces of paper. I plan to put them in a scrapbook one day for my great-great-great grandchildren. Or for me.Hope I win Letters From Home!! I need to read that book.
I loved getting Grandma's letters. In her later years she told history of how it was to go to church by horse and buggy and if the preacher got long-winded and went much past lunch time, the mules would start their "Hee-haws" and the preacher would end the service.One of Lee Smith's books was based on letters among family as a family aged. I always wanted to write one to my mother after she died, but never knew where to send it.Missed you today. Love, Lucile
I'm seriously choking up a bit, hearing about your letters. Letters from soldiers, grandparents, long-time loves…you should ALL write a book.Lucile, I missed y'all, too. I got behind with the conference and haven't caught up yet. Lord willing, I'll be there next time!
I was recently cleaning out the attic and found a box of letters from my husband's deployment to the Gulf War. Among my mundane descriptions of daily happenings (I did not want my husband to miss a single moment of our children's lives) were precious artifacts from my daughters–lipstick kisses, drawings, pictures, and words of love to their father.It was like stepping back in time! A treasure, pure and simple.
I couldn't have said it better myself, Veronica. How wonderful to find that treasure trove of memories!Thanks for sharing here, and dropping by.
I used to write letters to my old college friends all the time and still miss getting letters in the mail. This story sounds right up my alley and I requested it at the library as soon as I read your blog. Thanks, Cath — keep the great titles coming.
Ooooooh. Maybe you'll win it, Anita!I'll put your name in the pot. Or hat. Or the randomizer thingie at random.org. 🙂
Cathy – Thank you for allowing me to visit as a guest! My deep apologies not being able to comment sooner. Life this week has been beyond hectic, though in a good way.I, too, am getting teary from reading everyone's remarks here.From the letters exchanged with deployed husbands to notes written or not yet written for loved ones, I'm so touched by what you've all shared, and am happy to know that a mention of my story has helped stir fond memories for others. Warm wishes, Kristina
Cathy,Letters are the only real connection I have with my best friend who has dementia and is unable to respond. I could send the same letter every week, and she'd never know the difference, but I don't. It makes her day to receive a letter. It's my weekly offering of kindness.
I'm so glad you had a chance to stop by, Kristina! I hope you drop in again before the drawing to read more comments like Linda's.Linda, you are a special person. My heart is smiling.
Cathy, hop over to my blog, surprise for you!
Interesting and true. In some cases, texting has not just taken the place of writing letters, but of telephone calls, too. My teenager went months texting her boyfriend…they rarely actually spoke on the phone. How bizarre is that? With both of my parents gone, there is no longer that home to write to. I do have letters they wrote to me right after I married and moved away. I'll keep them forever and, yes, read them over and over again. Just seeing their script on the paper is a comfort.
Linda, am hopping right now!And Lisa, isn't it wonderful that you have those letters? And I have a feeling you write notes and such to your kidders. (Who probably reply with a text!)
Linda O. – It's so wonderful that you continue to write to your friend. I imagine that's often a highlight of her day. Lisa – Stranger yet, I've heard of teenagers texting each other while in the same room. Huh?! Thank goodness you still have your parents' letters, which undoubtedly provide greater comfort than any electronic message. 🙂