Me versus History

Disclaimer: this information may be obvious to most.

I admit history was not my favorite subject in school. I’m not even sure we covered the Korean War in high school. (Before you smartasses say something snarky about the Korean War was a current event to me back then, I graduated in 1985. I’m old—not that old.)

It wasn’t until I married an enthusiast who liked to spout historical facts that I started to pay any attention. He talked about the people in history rather than the dates, which was more interesting. That’s one of the reasons I found this project challenging. I had to match dates with battles from Dad’s letters. I was taking tests in high school again.

One of the things that confused me at the beginning of my research was the M.A.S.H. unit. My only reference to the Korean War as a kid was TV’s M*A*S*H. Our whole family watched it. Well, Dad didn’t. Mom said he was a corpsman at one. It didn’t seem so bad with all the jokes and hijinks. Dad hated that show. Now, I understand why.

However, as I read Dad’s letters, he referred to Able Med as the place he spent much of his time during the war. My husband’s knowledge of random historical facts didn’t help in this instance. It wasn’t until a week into my fact checking that I understood M.A.S.H. units were for the Army and Med Stations (like Able Med and Easy Med) were for the Marines.

Navy Corpsmen worked with the Marines. The Army equivalents were Medics. The light bulb above my head brightened. It all fell into place for me. Now, I could focus on creating characters who told me their story—my favorite part of writing.

I’ve since learned that Navy corpsmen aided the Marines in a variety of places in Korea: the Battalion Reserve hospital in the rear, Medical Evacuation hospitals close to the front, Forward Aid stations just behind the fighting, and the front lines patrolling with the Marines.

How about that? My husband learned something from me about history.

(Christina: 1; Kraig: 286) Thanks for stopping by.

 

Dearest Mother and Dad now available

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Corpsman Orrin Connor’s faithful letters with a touching twist shield his parents from the horrors of war. His buddy Rawley Armstrong’s poignant letters give his sister the harrowing truths. Throughout their dangerous assignments during the Korean War, they debate the consequences of their choices. Orrin gains comfort in downplaying his experiences while Rawley feels a healing purge. As they get to know the Marines in their charge, the corpsmen gather a variety of opinions. Although Orrin and Rawley disagree, their friendship remains true until the bitter end.

“It all happened within minutes. For some, it would last a lifetime.”

Based on her father’s letters to his parents throughout the Forgotten War, author Christina Thompson has produced this work of historical fiction to pay tribute to Navy corpsmen by remembering their service to their brothers and their country. Imagining her father had guarded his parents from the carnage of war, Christina elaborates on what could have happened while staying true to the dates and experiences her father shared in his actual letters.

 

An Old Set of China

One of the most surreal moments I had while researching Dearest Mother and Dad was a specific letter my dad wrote to his parents during the Korean War. After his R & R in Kyoto, Japan, he had mentioned he had bought and sent his mother a set of china.

As my mom helped me decipher Dad’s chicken scratch handwriting, I asked her if she knew the set and if she could describe it so I could use it in the story.

“It’s the set of blue and white china with gold trim. You have it,” Mom said.

“Wait. What?”

“She gave it to me when Dad and I married. Then, I gave it to you.”

I had no idea about its history. How crazy is that? I may have to use it more often now.

Here’s a short except from the letter my main character Orrin Connor writes to his parents. (Many of the letters in the novel are my dad’s actual letters.)

 

15 August 1953

Dearest Mother and Dad,

The first thing I did in Japan was see about calling home. They were booked for two weeks ahead of time. I’m so sorry, Mother. I did buy you a set of china and it should reach you in a few weeks. I hope you will like it. Boy, Kyoto was a beautiful place. They had more shrines and temples than you could shake a stick at.

Well, Mother, today was the longest day we have had since I have been in Korea. We have to stay here thirteen months. That means I won’t be leaving until January, maybe longer. The drafts will be frozen over here even though the armistice was signed. Please don’t stop writing.

All the love a son can give,

Orrin

 

Pre-Order Dearest Mother and Dad for $1.99

Release Date: May 21st, 2020

AMAZON

BARNES & NOBLE

KOBO

APPLE BOOKS

Add Dearest Mother and Dad to your GOODREADS list

“One hundred and twenty Marines wounded. Eighteen dead. All for one lousy hill.”

 

Corpsman Orrin Connor’s faithful letters with a touching twist shield his parents from the horrors of war. His buddy Rawley Armstrong’s poignant letters give his sister the harrowing truths. Throughout their dangerous assignments during the Korean War, they debate the consequences of their choices. Orrin gains comfort in downplaying his experiences while Rawley feels a healing purge. As they get to know the Marines in their charge, the corpsmen gather a variety of opinions. Although Orrin and Rawley disagree, their friendship remains true until the bitter end.

 

“It all happened within minutes. For some, it would last a lifetime.”

 

Based on her father’s letters to his parents throughout the Forgotten War, author Christina Thompson has produced this work of historical fiction to pay tribute to Navy corpsmen by remembering their service to their brothers and their country. Imagining her father had guarded his parents from the carnage of war, Christina elaborates on what could have happened while staying true to the dates and experiences her father shared in his actual letters.

 

The WHAT-Ifs from Chemical Attraction

 

Years ago, I read an article by Carol Ekarius in Alternative Medicine called “Welcome to Nano World.” Carol wrote, “The very things that make nano particles so useful—also make them potentially dangerous.” I remember being fascinated and terrified. As a retired acupuncturist, I try to be mindful of what I put into my body.

For Chemical Attraction, I set out on a quest to answer the What Ifs. What would happen if these small particles invaded the body without our knowledge? What if someone could tap into our brain to control our actions? Who would have the courage to stop it?

My curiosity and imagination helped me combine the fascinating areas of the mind, body, and spirit as well as my characters’ love, laughter, and determination.

Grab your copy now and please consider leaving an honest review.

Chemical Attraction on Amazon

Q & A with Narrator Gary Bennett @TheActualGCB

I’m excited to share my interview with Narrator Gary Bennett. When talking to my husband, I’ve referred to Gary as “My Cousin Gary”. (My maiden name is Bennett.) Gary’s not really my cousin, but I felt a kinship with his creative mind. He’s a man of many talents. AND, I liked saying, “My Cousin Gary is narrating my novel” and “My Cousin Gary just sent me his awesome excerpt.” So thanks, “Cousin Gary”, for joining me today.

CHRISTINA: I love the results of your hard work on Chemical Attraction. Tell us a little about you and your professional background.

GARY: I spent the first half of my professional life as an Electrical Engineer and running my engineering firm. I’ve always had a creative side, though, from art (mostly pencil and pen drawing) to music (guitar, piano) and I always wanted to invest more time on those creative endeavors.

CHRISTINA: Why did you decide to begin narrating audiobooks?

GARY: In my engineering life I spent a lot of time traveling, and during those travels I fell in love with audiobooks. I eventually reached a point in my life where I wanted to explore my creative side more (and do engineering less) and I just happened to stumble upon an interview of one of my favorite audiobook narrators in which he described how he got started in the industry. And something in my soul clicked. I researched and invested in some studio equipment. I sought out training and coaching from industry professionals. And once I got behind the mic, I found myself transported into a whole new world. A gap in my life I didn’t even know existed was suddenly filled, and I finally figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up!

CHRISTINA: What do you look for in a book when choosing to audition for a project?

GARY: It has to be well written. That’s something that one can tell fairly quickly. If it isn’t written well, I’m not going to enjoy reading it, and then the narration becomes a job. Good story arcs and interesting characters also factor in to that decision.

CHRISTINA: What kind of preparation do you do before starting to record?

GARY: First, I always read the book. As I read it I take notes on the characters and build them up from what’s in the text and also what may only be implied. I research pronunciations. I highlight difficult or important passages. I prep the manuscript so that it’s more readable in the booth, changing the fonts, spacing, chapter divisions. And then I’m ready to get behind the mic and record.

CHRISTINA: How do you get a feel for the characters and the tone of the story?

GARY: The tone of the story comes from not only the action described in each scene but also the language of that narrative. The words that are actually used to describe the scenes determines the energy and the tone of the delivery.

Much of my character building comes from the text itself. How each character is described, how they behave, how they speak, how they interact with other characters. But there’s always subtext the drives each character as well. You have to open your imagination to find what motivates each character to do what they do, so that you can take the text and build a 3-D character, a real person that you can visualize, from what’s written.

CHRISTINA: How do you come up with different voices and keep them all straight?

GARY: The development of each voice often just comes naturally as I’m prepping the book, and I’ll often visualize a specific person I know in my life upon which I’ll base a character, maybe tweaking a trait here or there to bring shine uniqueness. Each time a new character voice is introduced, I copy the audio track of that voice to a separate file I maintain for every book and series, so that when that same character comes along later in the book (or in the next book of a series) I can refer to that original recording to ensure that their voice is consistent.

CHRISTINA: What is the greatest challenge in recording an audiobook?

GARY: Maintaining focus and staying engaged, in the moment. Each recording session lasts anywhere from two to eight hours depending on my schedule, and it’s my job to be–to really *live*–every character and be completely engaged in every scene. When the book is well written it’s very easy to slip into that mode but it still requires focus to stay there and not get distracted by fatigue, dry mouth, external noises, etc.

CHRISTINA: What made you choose Chemical Attraction? Do you have a favorite recorded scene?

GARY: I’ve always been drawn to thrillers and mysteries, and the added romantic element as well as the occasional humor really appealed to me. I think one of my favorite scenes was when Madeline impersonated the Homeland Security Agent at the rural sheriff’s office. Witnessing her stepping out of her norm and the growth she had throughout the course of the story was really fun. And of course the final standoff at the farm/lab was a lot of fun to record!

To learn more about Gary Bennett, visit these sites:

Narrator Gary Bennett’s Website

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

The Audiobook of Chemical Attraction is available on Audible

SEARCHING FOR HER: Did you know?

Some writers say they put bits of themselves into their stories. I, too, have incorporated parts of my life in my writing. I call it — Therapy. These are a few of my bits and pieces that sparked my series. (You may sense a Back in My Day theme as you read them.)

DID YOU KNOW I was compelled to write more of Joe’s backstory? He speaks for me. From an early age, Joe wanted to be an FBI agent and he wanted to find true love. Through hard work, he achieved the first. He’s struggling with the second and wonders if he’s worthy of love. I remember feeling that way, too.

DID YOU KNOW writing this is my acknowledgement to trust the Synchronicity of the Universe? I learned this from my friends Kass and Pam. I still prepare for the things I want to achieve in my life, but I’m less in a frenzy to make my “triangular” plan fit into a “round” Universe.

DID YOU KNOW throughout the eight-year span of this anthology I touch on Joe, Eva, and Taylor’s milestone events? A birth, a birthday, a graduation, and tragic deaths. These characters’ emotions will be a reflection of their motives later.

Searching for Her, an anthology of short stories about Joe Roberts from The Chemical Attraction Series, takes place after The Kindred Code leading into Chemical Attraction. During the eight-year span of these seven stories—as seen through the eyes of his family—Joe gradually loses faith that he’ll find his soulmate.

His sisters, Taylor and Eva, conspire to help him. Convinced Madeline Pierce is his perfect match, Eva and Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia push for a connection. Each time they try to force a meeting, it backfires.

Unbeknownst to Joe and his family, the Synchronicity of the Universe is at work. Can Joe decipher the subtle signs pointing him toward Destiny’s grand plan with Madeline? Many could die if he doesn’t.

 

THE KINDRED CODE: Did you know?

Some writers say they put bits of themselves into their stories. I, too, have incorporated parts of my life in my writing. I call it — Therapy. These are a few of my bits and pieces that sparked my series. (You may sense a Back in My Day theme as you read them.)

DID YOU KNOW I spoke with an Afghan war veteran about his experiences? He helped bring authenticity to Stuart’s PTSD flashback scene. I’ve known my son’s friend since they were in middle school together. He’s grown into a caring responsible young man. Caleb, thank you for your service. I’m proud of you.

DID YOU KNOW I modeled the tiny spunky nun in this story after Sister Maxine Magee from The Sisters of St. Joseph? I knew her through Nazareth College and our church. She sang “Ava Maria” at my wedding. She recently passed away. I’ll miss the little gal with a big voice and heart to match.

DID YOU KNOW I named Linda Lou’s bar, after my mom? She’s not fond of her middle name. Now, it’s out there in the book world. (Take that, Mom, for grounding me when I was fourteen.) In another book, I name a Great Lakes cruise ship after my dad. I though the USS Hershall Floyd has a certain ring to it. (I’m hilarious!)

 

MARK your calendars for the release of The Kindred Code on Wednesday, July 19th.

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THEIR RIGID RULES: Did you know?

Some writers say they put bits of themselves into their stories. I, too, have incorporated parts of my life in my writing. I call it — Therapy. These are a few of my bits and pieces that sparked my series. (You may sense a Back in My Day theme as you read them.)

DID YOU KNOW Taylor and Eva’s dorm room isn’t set up like the dorms at Western Michigan University? Instead, it’s akin to the dorms at Nazareth College in Kalamazoo where I attended college. At my small college, two buildings had four floors each. The men were on only one of the floors since the campus first became coed in 1971. Shout out! Go Moles! (Yes, that was our mascot.)

DID YOU KNOW Holly’s Bistro on Westnage Avenue in Kalamazoo was a real place? Stuart takes Taylor to Holly’s on their first official date. My now husband Kraig and I had dinner there often while dating. Sadly, the romantic restaurant isn’t there anymore.

DID YOU KNOW Matt Connor’s son, David, started out as such a minor role that I used my son David’s name? I wanted a strong name, and my son’s was right there. Now, David Connor has become an integral character in the Series. I don’t regret naming him after my son, however, my David may receive flack for it. (Sorry/Not sorry, Son.)

Mark your calendars for the re-release of Their Rigid Rules on Wednesday, July 19th.

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CHRISTINA’S NEWSLETTER 

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DID YOU KNOW: The Garden Collection

TGC event banner-001

Some writers say they put bits of themselves into their stories. I, too, have incorporated parts of my life into my writing. I call it—Therapy. These are a few of my bits and pieces that sparked this novel.

DID YOU KNOW my daughter, Andrea, drew the cover art? She captured the essence of the story as a touch of hope amid Brianna’s bleak reality.

DID YOU KNOW the Holiday proposal commercials for Kay’s Jewelry inspired Donovan’s Family business? Those sappy ads with the perfect hokey proposals make women weep and men cringe at the romance.

In the story, Lucy Donovan tells her brother, Robert, “We have the real romance with you and Brianna. How much better will our commercials be when we show the creators’ history behind the designs? Every couple has a unique story to their romance…”

DID YOU KNOW I modeled Robert’s father, Paul Donovan, after The Most Reverend Paul V. Donovan, Bishop Emeritus of Kalamazoo? As a teenager, I met him a couple of times and thought he was the kindest man I had ever known. I still think that about him. Larger than life, he had a serene demeanor. Everyone was important to him. Using those same traits, my fictional Paul Donovan is highly respected by his peers for his patience and compassion.

DID YOU KNOW I dedicated the novel to my daughter and to the fifth-grade boy from my class who stood up to a bully for me? After all these years, I still hold his sweet gesture close to my heart. He made a difference.

The Garden Collection Blurb

A few words of encouragement can stay with you for a lifetime. Robert and Brianna’s childhood friendship grew into respect for each other and their ideas. Robert gave her the confidence to stand up for herself. Brianna helped him see his artistic potential and encouraged him to travel for his inspiration. He found it in the letters she wrote.

Now struggling to care for her six-year-old half-sister, Chloe, after their mother abandoned them, Brianna Carlson receives news that her abusive stepfather will be released from prison. Still limping from a once broken leg, she’s terrified he’ll come back to hurt Chloe this time. She decides to leave town.

While traveling for his family’s jewelry business, Robert Donovan designed The Garden Collection, his newest line of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Returning home, he discovers Brianna had lied in every letter she sent. She never received any of his. Before he can demand answers, she disappears without Chloe. As Robert learns about Brianna’s life during his absence, he sets out to find her and convince her to trust him again.

For a copy of The Garden Collection, click HERE.