War brides: the untold story

War brides. They were out there, often alone in a world of white, figuring out how to fit in. In my Japanese mother’s case, she was in the midst of Midwestern cornfields raising children who were the only non-white bread in their school system. In the last few years of putting together her life story, I realized that almost no one in the US knew much about civilian life in Japan during WWII and few knew much about the Japanese women who married Occupation-era soldiers and immigrated to new and very foreign lands. I did know that wrong and unpleasant ideas about them existed. This is when I decided to formally publish Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, which happened in 2005. Two years later (and after I had learned a thing or two more about writing and publishing), I published a more polished second edition to include more information and photos. Cherry Blossoms can be found in the libraries of some major US universities and even one in the UK, I’m sure not because my writing is so awesome,* but because the story is so rare.

I was happy to see a big article recently in the Washington Post on Japanese war brides. Quite a few people sent me the link. The article publicizes the newly released short documentary Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight featuring the “largely untold story” of Japanese war brides, or at least three of them; their stories, however, are familiar to me and likely to many children of war brides. These women are in their eighties now, so it’s taken all these years since the end of WWII in 1945 for their stories to come to light to the general public. Some war brides have never told their stories to their own families.

More than Japanese war brides are out there in the world. Some of my mother’s friends included a British war bride and a Vietnamese war bride. I wonder if their children know their mothers’ stories of surviving a war that devastated their country, marrying a foreign man and starting a completely new life far away. If your mother or grandmother is a war bride, ask the questions that will start your own family memoir.

Cherry Blossoms Twilight

*It is more important when writing other peoples’stories from their first-person perspective to be true to their words and stories rather than polishing them up so much that their family and friends don’t recognize them speaking. If you’ve read Cherry Blossoms or any of my other books, please leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads as they are valuable to us little publishers. Well, terrible reviews aren’t, but 3-stars or better we appreciate – thanks!



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What the Nanny Saw – a memoir

Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, we loved those shows, but what goes on behind the scenes with nannies? Sandra Gumbrell, who lives in the UK, spills the secrets in her book, What the Nanny Saw:  A memoir of an English nanny.

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How many years were you a nanny, and about how many clients did you have?

I have been a nanny for thirty years and had over twenty-five clients. I lived in with two families, the other positions were working as a daily nanny

Why did you decide to write the book?

The book shows you what really goes on behind closed doors. Some parts are funny especially with the children, but some parts are very sad, leaving the children and I in a very difficult situation.

How did you handle the privacy issue to avoid any problems with clients who recognize themselves?

I had to be very careful, like changing names for everyone, also the descriptions of the houses, etc., so nobody would recognize themselves if they were ever to read my book.

I like your opening line, which manages a tingle of foreboding to hook in readers. Do you have any background in writing?

I have written for magazines before, but this was my very first experience of writing a book. I really enjoyed it.

What was the most difficult part of writing?

The most difficult part in writing the memoir was trying to remember everything, also being careful to change names. But, I enjoyed trying to remember everything that happened through the years. When I sat down in a quiet room I would imagine my time with the families and it all came flooding back to me.

As the book is pretty short, you went straight to e-book. What was your e-publishing journey like?

E-publishing wasn’t too difficult. My book appeared on Amazon within a few hours. I had an editor for my book. She was lovely and very helpful. She changed my wording on the odd occasion, but the story stayed as I wanted it. She also formatted my book for Kindle.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the book or about writing and publishing?

This is my first book, but I have recently finished writing another book, this time fiction. I enjoyed exploring my mind. My second book is called Silchester Manor and it’s on Amazon already and selling. I really didn’t think it would be possible for me to do anything like this. I absolutely love writing now—I’m addicted!

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Sandra Gumbrell lives in Southampton, UK, with her husband and Maine Coon cat. She has two grown children who live nearby and she loves spending time with them and her new granddaughter. What the Nanny Saw is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Her second e-book, Silchester Manor, is a novelette—about the adventures of a nanny, of course! If you read either of Sandra’s books, please write an Amazon review. Reviews are important to new authors and often hard to come by.










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Remembering the fallen: Flags of Valor

Today, 9/11, I saw an astonishing sight of remembrance–the Flags of Valor. At the St. Louis Art Museum the broad, steep slope before it was covered with American flags. While we will always think of the 3,000+ lives lost in the 9/11 acts of terrorism, we do not easily remember the military men and women who have lost their lives since then in the war against terror. The 7,000+ flags on Art Hill represent these fallen, increasing in number each year because evil lives quite well in the hearts of too many men. As with military cemeteries, I was heartbroken to see a visual of so much talent and potential cut short. Each flag carried a photo and dog tags. Each flag was a life story. And each time the wind blew, it stirred a song of tragedy played by the clinking tags.





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