Hey Y'all!

It took me awhile to get here, but alas I'm finally joining the blogosphere of bloviation. It took a rant floating around in my head to send me toward this journey, but so be it. We'll have some fun here too. I promise. Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to leave me a comment or two. ~ diane


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Trip of a Lifetime - Part 1


Taking off for Heathrow!
Never in my wildest imaginings did I ever come close to how incredibly amazing our trip to England would be. Even sacked with massive jet lag and a grueling wait through customs at Heathrow, Dad and I were thrilled to find Hannah waving at us as we finally emerged through the gate. Oh, what a heavenly hug to finally wrap my arms around our beautiful daughter who’s been traveling Europe all summer! With her, at long last we met Aaron Bradshaw, her back-packing buddy, and … Steve Kirk! Steve, along with his wife Lydia and their three kids, would be our hosts in Parham for the next four days.

I must confess to more than a few goose bumps as Steve turned into their property which housed the 390th some seventy years ago. Spotting that control tower – the same one Dad flew over on so many missions – was positively surreal, like stepping back in time. I could hardly wait to visit the museum which it now houses.

Just so you know, writing may now be my profession, but I’ll never find the adequate words to express how unforgettable our visit was with Lydia and Steve and their three adorable children – Fliss, Tommy, and Betsy. They’d decorated their home both inside and out with American flags and “welcome” banners to boot! Shortly after we arrived, Lydia served us a traditional “Sunday Roast” with all the trimmings - including Yorkshire pudding. SO good. We were astounded to each have our own room in their lovely home. Can you imagine having that many guest rooms?

 
 
Lydia had planned a wonderful itinerary for our visit, including plenty of time at the Parham Airfield Museum located there in that historic control tower. Earlier this summer, they celebrated a grand re-opening after a large addition was built to showcase more of the 390th memorabilia. It’s a fascinating museum, and the passion of the docents who volunteer their time is contagious from the moment you enter.


Just as I’d expected, Dad was quite the rock star once he set foot in that historic building. Visitors clung to him like Velcro, asking questions, wanting his autograph, and having pictures taken with him. Meeting Lydia’s father Peter Kindred (below), who oversees the running of the museum, was such a treat. Peter is a walking, talking historian who loves sharing his knowledge about the 390th and those who served on so many acres of the family’s farmland.

(Standing) Peter Kindred, President of the Parham Airfield Museum, with Dad and a museum visitor
Later, a reporter from the Suffolk BBC interviewed both of us, and we got to hear portions played on the radio the next day. What a joy to be able to stand back and experience all this with my father!

 
And if that wasn’t enough, they threw a belated, surprise 91st birthday party for him! Check out that cake with his picture on it! 

 
 
The next day we visited Framlingham Castle, the iconic 11th-century structure that was such a welcoming sight for the crews of the B-17s as they returned from missions. On a side note, Dad’s brother, my Uncle Ralph, researched our family’s genealogy several years ago and traced us back to Sir Roger Bigod, the Earl of Norfolk, who built the castle. Small world, eh? 
 
Other stops on our itinerary included a delicious lunch at a pub called the White Horse Inn. The cozy ambience was exactly as I’d envisioned the pub where “Danny” and his friends visited in my book. It was also where we had our first taste of Sticky Toffee Pudding. Yum!

 
Tuesday evening we ate fish and chips in the quaint village on the North Sea called Aldeburgh (which, pronounced to our Yankee ears sounded just like Oprah, keeping us confused to say the least.) Afterward Steve and Lydia took us to see The Late Edwina Black, a “whodunit” at Aldeburgh’s summer theater.
 
 
 

On Wednesday, we stopped by the Framlingham Church where in 1995, on a trip here to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE Day, Mom and Dad attended services. (No, the building isn't leaning ... apparently the photographer was!)


  

We fell in love with Framlingham!
 
 
 Later, Peter took Dad and me to the building which housed the 390th's chapel/movie theater. Talk about stepping back in time …
 
 
Lydia had also arranged a phone interview with a reporter from the local newspaper on our last full day there. A photographer met us at the museum for a photo shoot, and later, we had a lengthy chat with the reporter.


 
Then, on our last evening, Lydia had arranged a dinner river cruise on the Lady Florence. The weather was perfect, the captain’s running commentary was fascinating, the meal in the boat’s dining room was lots of fun, and the sunset … the perfect ending to a day of memories.
 
Aaron Bradshaw, Hannah Moody, Peter Kindred, Lydia and Steve Kirk
Dad, signing Peter's copy of The Story of the 390th Bombardment Group
 (also known as "The Blue Book")
Before we left on Thursday morning, Lydia prepared a traditional English breakfast – including baked beans alongside eggs, bacon, and sausage. Fliss thought it quite odd we'd never had beans with our eggs!


Shortly afterward we had to say our goodbyes.
Tommy, Steve, Fliss, Betsy, and Lydia
Even as I’m writing this, my eyes have filled with tears of joy. Who could have imagined that two years ago I would write a novel based on Dad’s experiences during the war which would one day connect us to this family whose roots are planted in the soil that once hosted American allies who’d come to do their part in WWII. I’m so thankful that Lydia read my book and wrote to me, forever bonding our families together. Now, it's their turn to come to America, amen?!

Later that morning, we made sure Dad was taken care of for his flight back home. Afterward, Hannah, Aaron, and I checked in at a beautiful rental home in London where we stayed for three more days to see the sights. More on that next time.

Of course, I’ve only skimmed the surface here, sharing highlights of our visit, but thanks for letting me share them. I had a feeling this would be “the trip of a lifetime” – and oh my goodness, was it ever!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Off we go into the wild blue yonder!


Tomorrow, my 91-year-old father and I will board a flight to England on what I believe will be the trip of a lifetime for both of us. The back story on how this trip came about is so amazing, I just had to share it with you.
As most of you know, a couple of years ago I wrote Of Windmills & War, an historical novel very loosely based on some of my father’s experiences in World War II. (You can read more about that HERE.) Ultimately, the book was a vehicle to tell the story of Operation Chowhound – the massive food drops into Occupied Holland in the final days of that war. It’s been such a blast, especially for Dad, to read all the reviews and email from readers around the world, most commenting they’d never heard of Operation Chowhound. We consider that mission accomplished!
Several months ago, I received an email from a reader in England who’d just finished reading my book. She told me that her grandfather was the young farmer whose land was requisitioned by the government to build an airfield for the 390th Bomb Group in the early days of WWII – the same base where my father was stationed in 1944-1945, and the same base where my fictionalized "Danny" was based. What are the chances?!
But it gets even better. Lydia and her family still live on that farm land! Out her windows, she can see the control tower which now houses the 390th Bomb Group Museum which her parents oversee. Included in her note was an invitation to come for a visit and be guests in her home.
I must tell you, the first time I read her email, I got goose bumps! I couldn’t wait to call Dad, and as you can imagine, he was even more thrilled than I was. We immediately accepted Lydia’s invitation and started making our plans. She’s put together a full schedule of activities for us, and we can hardly wait to get there.
To ice the proverbial cake, when we land at Heathrow on Sunday morning, my daughter Hannah will join us! Hannah has been traveling all over Europe for 3 months now, so we were thrilled she could work it out to join us. After our visit in Framlingham, we’ll head back to Heathrow and put Dad on a plane back to the states. Since he’s already seen London, he opted to head home while we stay a few days to see the sights.
As I’ve said over and over, writing Of Windmills & War was truly a labor of love for me on so many levels. But never did I dream it would one day lead us back to the base where Dad served almost 70 years ago, to visit the family whose land served such an important role in that war. It is indeed a small, small world!

And talk about perfect timing ... when I return from our trip, I'll begin research for the sequel to Windmills. I'm thinking I'll come home mighty inspired to catch up with Danny and Anya, don't you?

Until next time,
Diane

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Special Offer on My New Book!

At long last, I'm so pleased to announce the release of my new book, The Demise. What's it about? I'm glad you asked. Here's the official blurb:

Tiny Braxton, Tennessee, is a quiet, tight-knit community wrapped around an old town square just a stone’s throw from Nashville. But when the town’s most prominent citizen is found dead at the base of its water tower, news of Peter Lanham’s apparent suicide roars through town like a massive tsunami.

Peter, the handsome, beloved CEO of Lanham’s Fine Foods, had taken a small, family-owned grocery store and grew it into a successful national chain. With most of Braxton’s residents employed by Lanham’s corporate headquarters, word of Peter’s death left them searching for answers. What could possibly have made him take a swan dive off that tower?

Julie Parker is convinced he didn’t. As receptionist at Lanham's executive office suite, she's determined to find out what really happened to her boss. An aspiring actor who also stars as “the Lanham Girl” in the company's TV commercials, Julie prides herself on her perceptive observations and people-skills. Who better to find out what happened to Peter up on that water tower?

Matt Bryson, on assignment as a rookie Special Agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, isn't about to let the attractive receptionist intrude on his first case. She may be a hometown insider, but he’s got perfectly capable of solving the case without “Miss Marple” screwing up his investigation.

A perfect setting, a cast of oddball characters, and just enough drama to raise lots of suspicion. The stage is set.

Since this is my first book release this year, we decided to celebrate by offering free copies today and tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, August 14-15. FREE! What have you got to lose? Grab a copy and let me know how you like the story, deal? And if you'd like to write a review? Even better!

Click HERE for the link.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Elmo's Back! Book 4 in the Elmo Jenkins Series


Once again, I find myself so proud of my husband, I can hardly stand it! Three years ago, Ken decided to try his hand at writing a book based on his experiences from fifteen years in church ministry. Those efforts produced Ordained Irreverence, the first book which chronicled the adventures of Elmo Jenkins, a soon-to-graduate seminary student interning at a large metropolitan church. Since then, readers have followed Elmo's journey through Some Things Never Change, and The Old Man and the Tea. To date, all three books have received a combined total of close to a thousand four- and five-star reviews on Amazon.

Today, OBT Bookz has released A Tale of Two Elmos, Book 4 of the series, written under the pen name of McMillian Moody. Here's the official blurb:

Elmo Jenkins is celebrating his fifth anniversary as a staff member of First Church. Much has changed at the historic downtown church, with new Senior Pastor Billy Pike Jameson and his humorless wingman Lord Hatchet keeping Elmo more than busy. In the midst of helping the church navigate the precarious waters of starting a contemporary worship service, Elmo is asked to lead a mission trip to Papua New Guinea. As always, Elmo keeps his sense of humor and his faith in God’s higher purpose.

On the home front, Elmo’s feisty mother-in-law is relentlessly pressuring him to produce a grandchild. Elmo’s friend Erlene has moved into an Assisted Living Facility where she’s stirring up some serious trouble. To make matters worse, someone is systematically burglarizing the homes of the First Church membership. Could there be an inside connection?
 

Thurm, Harry, and Father Ted are still on board along with new friends Pearly Gates, The Radio Guy, and Stumpy the Squirrel.

The readers say it best: "Not since Mitford has the day-to-day life of a minister been so much fun.”


Ken has had a blast receiving reader mail, and always enjoys the "laugh out loud" comments they share. In The Old Man and the Tea, Elmo launched "Knees on the Ground," a forty day prayer vigil for some big changes at First Church. Imagine Ken's surprise when someone sent him a church blog post announcing a similar prayer vigil called "Knees on the Ground," and crediting his book for the concept. He loved that!

Ken - er, McMillian - has finally launched his own website. Be sure to hop over to McMillianMoody.com to get to know the real voice behind Elmo Jenkins.

You can pick up a copy of A Tale of Two Elmos on Amazon.com HERE.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Just in Time for the Holidays!


I'm so thrilled to tell you about my new book! A Christmas Peril is Book #5 in my Teacup Novella series and features a "story within a story" with a new twist. Here's the official blurb:

Lucy Alexander’s Teacup Novellas were inspired by a collection of vintage teacups her Aunt Lucille bequeathed to her. She’s excited about writing the next book in the series, a Christmas tale loosely based on her aunt and uncle’s love story set in the 1940s. But when a hostage situation lands Lucy’s boyfriend in the hospital, she sets her work aside to keep a bedside vigil with Mark. As the long hours of waiting stretch on, Lucy starts to read her beloved aunt’s handwritten diary. Shocked to discover a frightening story so eerily similar to the one she’s living, Lucy longs to find hope and encouragement in the pages of Lucille’s diary.

December 1944  - “The most wonderful things seem to happen when you least expect them,” writes Lucille Alexander after a serendipitous meeting with Gary Reynolds, a handsome lieutenant home on leave from the war in Europe. The two are inseparable in the five precious days he has left before heading back overseas just weeks before Christmas. On their last morning together, Lucille accompanies Gary to the train station, already dreading the long separation ahead. But that would be the least of her worries after her brave lieutenant rushes to help an elderly woman in distress.  

Lucy finds a strange and unexpected solace in her namesake’s ink-stained journal. Though seventy years have passed between them, would their stories have the same ending?
 
If you've read any of the other novellas in this series, you may or may not know that I wrote these books as a tribute to my own Aunt Lucille. In real life, Lucille was married to Harold Hale, my father's older brother. That's Lucille and Harold on the bottom section of my book cover (above). Aren't they the cutest?! And that's Lucille in the picture to the left. She always, always wore a bow in her hair made to match whatever she was wearing. I loved those bows. Signature Lucille. As is her beautiful smile!

Now, just so you know . . . A Christmas Peril truly is a work of fiction. That's why I named Lucille's handsome lieutenant "Gary" instead of Harold, because their stories are really nothing alike. So even though I've borrowed a few characteristics and personality traits, and set their story in the early 1940s, the plot line is pure fiction. Good. Glad we've got that settled.

And the pretty brunette on the cover above? That's Lucy! Imagine my surprise to find this stock photograph of someone who's almost the exact, spitting image of the girl who's been in my mind through all these novellas! So tell me. Is this how you pictured Lucy?

Last but not least, we are so excited about the release of The Teacup Novellas Collection - all five novellas in one volume! The Kindle version should be available in just a couple of days . . . BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

For all those who've asked for these stories in paperback, we'll be releasing the hard copy version of The Teacup Novellas Collection in time for Christmas! Drop me a line and I'll notify you when they're available. And check out the beautiful cover my daughter Hannah designed while we were in New York a couple weeks ago.

*** Special Christmas offer from OBT Books ... If you've got some book lovers on your Christmas list, we'd be more than happy to send you signed copies of our paperbacks. For more information, email me at the address below.

In the meantime, I wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!

Blessings,
Diane
Email:  dianemoody@comcast.net
Website:  www.dianemoody.net


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Elmo's Back!

I'm so happy to announce that Ken (a.k.a. McMillian Moody) has just released Book Three in his Elmo Jenkins series. The Old Man and the Tea takes us on another ride with our favorite reverend and his oddball cast of characters. Here's the blurb:

Elmo Jenkins is back for another fun-filled adventure at First Church. Tag along as his cadre of quirky friends continue to amaze, stupefy, and entertain Reverend Elmo. Be there when Erlene gets thrown in the slammer for conking a policeman with her dentures. Discover how Eddie Hughes breaks both his nose and his big toe. And suffer with Elmo as Bonnie puts him on a health food regimen.

Thurm, Julianne, Father Ted and the rest of the gang are back along with new friends Sergio, the limo driver, and the mysterious Elijah Enoch. Through it all Elmo discovers some life-changing spiritual truths, and chances are, you will too.

It's another hilarious ride through the halls of First Church you won't want to miss. - OBT Bookz


Ken dedicated The Old Man and The Tea to "the elderly saints who take the time and the energy to mentor younger believers." In this day and age when everything has to be cutting edge, it's nice to stop and recognize that we'd never be where we are today without the contributions and sacrifices of those who've gone before us. Elmo's latest adventure portrays the importance of those relationships.

Of course, Elmo wouldn't be Elmo without some humorous predicaments along the way. Some of those situations have been lifted right off the pages of Ken's years in the ministry. But far be it from me to say which ...

The Old Man and the Tea is now available HERE on Kindle. If you haven't read the first two books in the series, you should! Ordained Irreverence, Book One; and Some Things Never Change, Book Two.

Treat yourself to a fun read today!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tea Time Again!

If you're like me, life has a way of rearranging your schedule and taking all your best laid plans and tossing them into the blender. I used to get really frustrated whenever I'd fall behind on my writing agenda (not to mention my lack of blog postings!) But what's more important - staying on schedule or doing life with those you love?

And so it is, at long last, we're ready to release At Legend's End, Book 4 of my Teacup Novella series. If you know me at all, you know I am NOT a hot-weather girl. Nashville has all four seasons, but I'm always wishing for snow when summer rolls around. Which is why I enjoyed writing this story set in a small fictional town on the coast of Maine. We visited Maine while celebrating our 30th anniversary a couple of years ago and fell in love with Kennebunkport. I couldn't wait to "set" one of my books in a town like it.

If you've read my other Teacup Novellas, you know they are "stories within a story" written by Lucy Alexander, an author who suffered horrendous writer's block until she inherited a collection of vintage teacups from the estate of her beloved aunt. In At Legend's End Lucy introduces us to Olivia Thomas, a never-married 40-something who's weary of the rut she's in ...

When her best friend prayed for God to “blow your socks off,” Olivia Thomas had no idea that prayer would be answered only a few hours later. Stunned by such an unexpected gift from someone she’d helped years ago, Olivia suddenly finds herself with unlimited possibilities. She packs her bags and heads to Caden Cove, a tiny coastal town in Maine, where she hopes to figure out what to do with the rest of her life. Little does she know her reservation at the Captain MacVicar Inn has put her in the path of a historic legend.

Trevor Bass owns Caden Cove’s only bookstore and dabbles in real estate. All the locals know the grouchy bookseller is an avowed bachelor, which explains their utter shock when he invites a “tourist” to visit their book club. The mere hint of romance sends the town into a frenzy wondering if the object of Trevor’s affections could be the next victim of the legend’s curse. Will history repeat itself once more in Caden Cove?
Part of the fun of writing these stories is  researching the history of these teacups. In this story, I enjoyed learning about Josiah Spode who was the first potter to commercially produce underglaze blue-printed earthenware. You'll just have to read my story to find out the significance of this particular teacup's role in the history of Caden Cove. How's that for a teaser?

For a limited time, At Legend's End will be available on Kindle at Amazon.com for 99 cents! Click HERE to check that out. I hope you enjoy your trip to Maine with Olivia as much as I did!

Oh, and one more thing ...
Look for Teacup #5 later this fall, in time for Christmas. I don't know about you, but I think it's time to see what's going on with Lucy and her UPS guy ... and that's all I'm gonna say about that!

Happy reading!
Diane