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

 

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Release Date: May 21st, 2020

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“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.

 

History of a Weirdo

Many refer to me as a weirdo, a dork, and a nerd. After years of introspection, I’ve learned to embrace it and take it as a compliment on my creativity.

The History of a Weirdo:

In second grade, I wrote the short story, “Miss Pat’s Salad.” When Pat makes a salad then accidentally drops it on the floor, her family reacts in different ways. This start to my writing career won the coveted place on the center of our refrigerator door.

After three weeks, my younger sister Tricia’s Chartreuse and Tangerine drawing of a cow knocked my story out of the spotlight. Seriously, who could compete with that? A few weeks later, I upended the Crayola cow with my short story, “The Card Family” about the King and Queen of Clubs, who introduce the newest addition to their family.

It was on. Trish won many more times. Deservedly so. She had colored between the lines. My younger brothers, James and Jefrey, added their kiddy crafts of Thanksgiving hand turkeys and macaroni art to the mix; and the competition became fierce.

With a few fridge awards under my belt, I expanded my genius to writing, directing, and producing our basement plays with my siblings. The most talked about play in the neighborhood was The Bionic Family starring our shaggy mutt, Arfie, as the bionic dog. If YouTube was around back then, we would have been a sensation … or mortified beyond belief.

As a tall, gangly, band geek, my creativity took a backseat in junior high and high school. Fitting in and avoiding embarrassment took precedence. Neither worked out, but it gave me cringe-worthy material for later stories.

In college, I met my now husband, Kraig, who inspired my world. He encouraged my writing even if it was research term papers. Later, I dabbled with fiction and focused on our children. With them grown, I took on the creative writing challenge once more.

And Ta-Da! Here I am!

Again I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new.  My newest WIP is  a historical fiction story based on my father’s letters during the Korean War.

I’ll keep you posted. Thanks again for stopping by.

History with a Twist

Griswold Auditorium side view

It’s no secret that The Chemical Attraction Series is based on Allegan, Michigan. That’s three books and a fourth to be published later this year. Although my husband and I have only lived here for four years, I’ve worked here for over twenty and claim it as my hometown.

So when the city manager with ten years of notes on the history of Allegan asked if I’d write a story using it, I was thrilled … and honored. Then I thought, holy moly, how was I going to do that? Where do I start? Well, Google has become my new best friend.

I found a great article by Dave Hood about creative nonfiction history, which “presents facts and cause and effects but also adds narrative including storytelling, dialogue, setting, and character development.”

At first, I thought the genre I’d write in would be creative historical nonfiction, but now I think it’s still fiction, specifically historical fiction. This genre, in which the story is made up, is set in the past and borrows characteristics of the time period, basically fictional characters in documented situations and/or fictional characters in fictional situations but in the context of a real historical period. BINGO!

In my Series, I’ve used real places in Allegan (aka Allenton) and fictional people. In this next story, main characters will still be fiction even though I’m using the real history of Allegan.

My plan is to create people to observe and participate on the periphery of the town’s history but still have lives and adventures of their own. How boring would this story be if they didn’t? I love the idea of connecting this story with my series, so I’m going to use Matt Connor’s family tree since his family has lived in the town since it became a town. (Okay, I just made up that last part, but see, I’ve already gotten the creative juices flowing.)

With the basic ideas set, my next step is to outline Allegan’s history focusing on major events peppering in a few minor ones. I’ve gotten off to a great start with notes from the city manager, Allegan: Images of America by Nancy J Ingalsbee and Carol B. Garofalo, and Allegan’s History by Joe Armstrong and John Pahl.

Then, I’ll outline my people and plot. I have a feeling I’ll be camping out at the Allegan District Library for the summer. What do you think? Is this the best way to take on this huge undertaking? Please, comments are appreciated. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Inset picture is the Griswold Auditorium (aka the Hartford Auditorium from the Series)