Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

Everybody's Talking About Surprises

I really, really, really don’t like surprises.  I guess I’m too much of a control freak to accept the fact that there really are things in this world I can’t plan for or anticipate.
Today is WOW! (Women On Writing) blogging day about surprises, so welcome to all who are visiting from the tour!
When it comes to our friends dying, honestly, how is that something you can accept?  Plan for?  Anticipate?
Several days after 9/11, I waited in front of Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago for my husband to join me for the inter-faith service.  I called home for messages and was stunned to hear a friend’s voice, sobbing.  I’d known her since 1966 and could not remember her ever crying, but she was; in fact, it took a while for me to recognize her voice.  She was calling to say that one of our classmates from high school was in the South Tower, and was missing.  By then we all knew what “missing” meant.
When I was working for an AIDS service organization in 1989, we had a coffee-table book on the Names Project, otherwise known as the AIDS quilt.  On the cover were several panels.  One of the panels was for a guy I’d gone to college with.  That’s how I found out he was dead.
So when I say I don’t like surprises, these are the kinds of surprises.  Nothing can prepare you for the email with the subject line “sad news about…”, or the phone call with the tone of voice that means “someone died”. 
We expect our parents to die. 
We expect older people to die.
We never expect our friends to die, because every one of them is a part of us.
So if you haven’t heard from one of your friends for a while, give them a call, drop them a note, shoot them an email. 
That’s the kind of surprise they’ll appreciate.
I wrote today's post as part of the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for
Letter from Home by Kristina McMorris ( This debut
novel is the story of three young women during World War II and the identity
misunderstandings they and the men in their lives have. Ask yourself: Can a
soldier fall in love with a woman through letters? and What happens if the
woman writing the letters is different from the woman he met the might
before he shipped out, the woman he thought was writing the letters? Is it
still love or just a lie?

  Like many authors, Kristina has had a wild selection of "real jobs"
everything from wedding planner to actress to publicist. She finally added
novelist to the list after  Kristina got a peek at the letters her
grandfather wrote to his sweetheart(a.k.a. Grandma Jean)while he was serving
in the Navy during World War II. That got her wondering how much two people
could truly know each other just from letter writing and became the nugget
of her novel.

  In honor of her grandparents, and all the other families kept apart by
military service, Kristina is donating a portion of her book's profits to
United Through Reading, a nonprofit organization that video records deployed
U.S. military personnel reading bedtime stories to their children. You can
learn more about the program at

  If you comment on today's post on this blog or any of the others
particpating in Everybody's Talking About Surprises, you'll be entered to
win a special surprise prize! It includes an personalized copy of Letters
from Home, a Big Band CD, Victory Garden seeds, and more.  To read
Kristina's post about surprises and a list of other blogs participating in
Everybody's Talking about Surprises visit The Muffin.