Pure Grit: How American Military Nurses Survived War in the Pacific and Japanese Prison Camp
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My cousin wrote a paper for nursing school about these Army and Navy nurse POWs in WWII. She e-mailed me her paper and as soon as I read it I knew I had to write a book about these brave women.
What genre does your book fall under?
Pure Grit is non-fiction for teens.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Pure Gritis the story of 79 U.S. nurses captured POW by the Japanese after the American surrender of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Pure Grit is represented by Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency and will be published by Abrams Books for Young People.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote the first draft in a little over two months, but this was after I had written in-depth proposal which also took at least two months, before which I had been researching this story off and on for several years.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Pure Grit is sort of a combination of Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tonya Lee Stone and The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I have been deeply inspired by the Army and Navy nurses I wrote about in Pure Grit. These women learned combat nursing under fire when the Japanese attacked the Philippines shortly after bombing Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. They treated thousands of wounded and dying soldiers in jerry-rigged jungle hospitals. When forced to surrender they stuck together and continued to nurse the sick and dying. The courage and strength of these women kept them alive through three years’ isolation, disease, and starvation. They are true American heroines and I’m so proud to be able to tell their story.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Romance! Though Pure Grit is a story of war and prison camp, it is also a story of the triumph of the human spirit and the power of love.
Today I’m helping celebrate the new book Frederick Douglass For Kids by Nancy I. Sanders. Join the launch party at Nancy’s blog where she’s giving away prizes, including a free critique of your manuscript’s first page. As the bestselling, award-winning author of over 80 books for kids, I’m pretty sure she knows how to hook a reader with that first page .
Back to Frederick Douglass. He’s one of those people- -you want a spark from his fire.
Born on a plantation, Douglass escaped slavery and helped others to freedom via the Underground Railroad. He became a bestselling author, an outspoken newspaper editor, a brilliant orator, a tireless abolitionist, and a brave civil rights leader. He was famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the years leading up to the Civil War, and when war broke out, Abraham Lincoln invited him to the White House for counsel and advice. Whew!
I wanted to know if Nancy learned anything surprising during her research on this important American leader.
I had mistakenly thought that the Civil War was just a white-man’s war, says Nancy. I thought that it was mainly fought to reunite the Union and that the issue of slavery was just kind of added on toward the end.
When war broke out between the South and the North, Frederick Douglass hurried to his newspaper office and published articles urging the nation to free the slaves forever and to enlist black troops to fight. He knew the war was about ending slavery and would not be successfully won unless both these conditions were met.
I also learned that it wasn’t until black troops were allowed to fight for the Union that the North finally began to experience victory. Black troops were very, very influential in bringing an end to the fighting. In my book, Frederick Douglass for Kids, highlight the achievements and influence black leaders and black troops had on our nation during these crucial years.
Frederick Douglass For Kids: His Life And Times With 21 Activities is great for teachers to use in the classroom. Besides the wide range of subject matter, timeline and resources for further study, the author offers ideas for bringing history alive. Kids can learn how to form a debating club, cook a meal similar to the one Douglass shared with John Brown, make a civil war haversack and experience the power of microlending.
But most importantly, kids reading this book can follow the footsteps of this American hero and see how to turn adversity into courage.
Remember to drop by Nancy's blog for a chance to win a prize during her Book Launch Party. Tell her I sent you.
Today I am guest posting over at Tracy Barrett's blog Goodbye Day Job! Tracy is the author of nineteen books for young readers and her blog chronicles her last year in her day job teaching Italian at Vanderbilt University. My experience is not about quitting my day job, but about withstanding the pressure to get one. It’s about going for years between book contracts, making no money and still believing in myself. Hop on over to Goodbye Day Job! to read more, and leave a comment to let Tracy know you visited.
Welcome Author Karen Fisher-Alaniz today in remembrance of all those who served in the War in the Pacific 1941-1945.
I heard my father’s WWII stories all my life. I knew he’d been stationed at Pearl Harbor a few years after its bombing. But I wouldn’t have known the details of his service, if it hadn’t been for two notebooks full of letters that sat on a shelf, in my parent’s home, for more than 50-years.
On his 81st birthday, he put them on my lap. I didn’t know what it meant. I went home that night and cried. I cried for all the times I didn’t give him time to talk, all the times I didn’t listen. And although my father told me I could do what I wanted with the letters; I could throw them away or burn them, those letters were the beginning of a journey that neither of us had intended to take. I was a baby boomer and he was aging. More importantly, he’d begun to have symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. My sweet, gentle father had slowly become depressed, angry and haunted by nightmares and flashbacks. And all I wanted to do was to help him. So I started asking questions – once a week – at a local diner.
Sometimes he had answers for me; often he did not. But we kept meeting, week after week, month after month. Slowly, a story was emerging. It was one I couldn’t fathom. My father hadn’t sat behind a desk during the war as he’d told me many times. My father was a top secret code breaker. He’d served on submarines and ships off of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He’d experienced a traumatic loss on one of these missions. It took nine years for the whole and true story to come to the surface.
I can’t help but think about how many veterans’ stories are sitting on someone’s shelf or kept locked deep inside the veteran him/herself. Boxes, scrapbooks, photo albums, that haven’t been cracked open in years. They hold a story waiting to be told. The veteran waits for someone to ask. What if each of us chose one person in our life and simply began asking questions? What if we opened those boxes and listened to the stories that tumbled out?
Veterans of all wars deserve our very best, and sometimes that’s as simple as chatting over breakfast once a week.
Listen to Interview about Karen's book on NPR's Weekend Edition. Karen Fisher-Alaniz is the author of Breaking the Code – a Father’s Secret, a Daughter’s Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything (Sourcebooks, 2011). She can be contacted through her website at http://www.storymatters2.com.
Author Libba Bray could easily have a second career as a comedian. At the recent SCBWI Summer Conference in LA, she had me and most of the other 1350 people in the audience laughing our heads off. But for me, the most memorable thing she said was down right serious. When reading a book that doesn’t grab her, Libba says she feels like it didn’t cost the writer anything to write [it]. To write with honesty, it’s got to cost you something.
Libba Bray's books
Each story demands something different. Often the demand is to realize you have preconceived notions and be open to learning about yourself as well as your topic.
Patsi Tollinger worked for nearly ten years on her picture book biography of jockey Isaac Murphy.
It was a sense of injustice for Isaac that motivated me in the beginning. Later, after I started digging into the research, Isaac turned into my teacher and wouldn’t turn loose of me until his story was done. I thought I knew a lot about the complexities of southern history. Isaac convinced me otherwise.
Isaac Murphy, the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbies, had nearly disappeared into history. With the help of Illustrator Jerome Lagarrigue, Patsi brings him to life beautifully in PERFECT TIMING.
Do you agree that good writing must cost the author something? I’d love to hear other writers thoughts about this. Please comment and share your personal experience.
Patsi Tollinger speaks to students at Fallon School about Jockey Isaac Murphy.
History can turn on a moment of perfect timing. Such is the story of Isaac Murphy, one of the greatest jockeys in the history of American horse racing. Isaac’s record—winning three major stakes races in a single week—still stands one-hundred and fifty years later.
It’s the kind of story I love. A boy born into slavery grows up confronting the odds of grinding labor and poverty, until one day he sees his chance and takes it. The world of horse racing changes forever.
But I’d never heard of Murphy before I happened upon his biography by Kentucky author Patsi B. Trollinger. PERFECT TIMING is written in lively fashion for young people and illustrated with arresting earth-tone paintings by Jerome Lagarrigue.
The author lives not far from the first track where Isaac Murphy raced. Come back next week to hear how she discovered this amazing story.
At a recent gathering of writers from around the country, I talked to more than a few bemoaning the difficulty in selling non-fiction on historical topics. One reported being told by an editor, "Well, we have Russell Freedman." Another editorial comment, "It's so labor intensive. We just can't take on very many projects." Biographer Brandon Marie Miller believes we're in a golden age of history books for kids. She says, "Books are more inclusive of peoples and cultures. They have lovely illustrations, photographs and prints. Many have maps, sidebars and helpful back matter—time lines, glossaries, places to visit, bibliographies and source notes."
Brandon writes for Chicago Review Press. "I’ve proposed my own ideas for all my books—although I’ve had an “in” with editors I’ve already worked with and I was able to bounce ideas off of them before submitting a written proposal or outline for the selection process." I'd be interested in hearing from others writing history for kids. How do you see the market? What factors most influence the whether an book proposal on a historical subject will sell?
I woke up to snow falling again this morning. I like snow, but not this slushy stuff. I also like the tried and true strategy, if you can't beat it, join it. So--off to the arctic with Polar Explorer Matthew Henson.
Two men made history in 1909, the first men ever to stand on the North Pole. Admiral Robert Peary is the one you’ve probably heard about. Matthew Henson? Maybe not. Twice on the polar ice cap, Henson saved Peary’s life. The two men faced “sudden storms, frozen peaks and ridges and shifting iceberg castles,” on their perilous journey. Patches of open water and faulty instruments made more trouble before they reached the Pole. The achievement had been both men’s life ambition. But when they returned home some dismissed their accomplishment because Henson was a black man, and Peary downplayed Henson’s contribution to the expedition.
Adults and kids will enjoy this biography of Henson by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Eric Velasquez. I love everything about the illustrations in this biography. The colors, the shapes, the varied scenes. The emotional resonance and the beauty of the art makes this a powerful and stunning book. The text is unique. You will have to read it for yourself to see how this author shows Henson’s determination and strength of purpose through the sentence structure she chose. Fabulous book!
When I saw Doraine Bennett's new book, Readers Theater for Global Explorers, the first thing I wanted to know--what possessed those people? While most of us sit at home in front of the fire, explorers go off to the jungle, the wilderness, the desert, the moon! Doraine was sweet enough to let me be part of her blog tour to introduce this wonderful resource for teachers, so I asked her, did you discover common traits among these explorers? Did she ever!
"Many were ruthless, many were arrogant, most wanted fame, despite any stated noble reasons for their activities. All had the ability to endure hardship beyond anything most of us could imagine. The determination to press through almost any difficulty, no matter how distressing the extremes of climate and circumstance."
Do you have a favorite person in the book?
"I really liked Sir Ernest Shackleton because he was a decent, kind man. He gave his mittens to one of his crewmen who had lost his in the ocean. Shackleton suffered frostbite as a result. He was capable, daring, and a good leader, as well."
I guess it's no surprise most of these explorers were men. But Doraine did a great job of finding a range of women to include, like Mary Kinglsey, a writer!
Oh. A writer that left her home in England to explore Africa.
"After living a very sheltered life, she set off alone for Africa. She went to the villages of the Fang (fong) people who were known to be cannibals. Most European explorers considered the Africans to be unintelligent beings who needed civilizing. Mary respected the Africans and did much to change European thinking about them."
Social studies will never be boring with this book. Inside everybody is sure to find at least one explorer that will catch his or her imagination.
I am an author of books for young people, and an occasional journalist. I blog about dealing with demons and other dark holes of the writing life, also about literature, history, food, gardening, nature, stuff I like.