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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My New WWII Historical Novel

At times, the process of writing and publishing books is not all that different from giving birth. And in the case of my newest novel, Of Windmills & War, I can tell you this was one big baby to deliver! But it truly was a "labor" of love and I am so pleased to tell you about it.

Most of you know my dad is a proud World War II veteran. He served as a B-17 co-pilot with the 390th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, stationed in Framlingham, England. Those experiences had a tremendous impact on my father, who was only 21 years old when he flew those missions.  
My dad, Glenn Hale,
U.S. Army Air Force, 1944

Mom and Dad attended the 390th Reunions every fall since 1984. After Mom died in 2007, my sister Morlee and I started attending these events with Dad. We've made so many good friends and always enjoy our weekends with these great men and their descendants.

I began to notice how often these veterans spoke of Operation Chowhound. I knew it was a food drop to the people of Holland at the end of the war, but I didn't know much else about it. What piqued my interest was the fact that every time the subject came up, the men who spoke of it would choke up. Every single one of them. Why? Because for the first time, these young men were delivering life and hope instead of death and destruction.

I tried to imagine what it was like for these young men to serve in the war back then. Many of them were still teenagers. Yet, day after day they flew those huge Flying Fortresses into skies swarming with enemy aircraft, dotted with deadly flak and constant anti-aircraft fire. Yet they did their jobs and through their efforts, Germany and Japan were defeated.

I also tried to imagine what it would be like growing up in a country like Holland during the German Occupation. Most of us know about the bombing and the cruelty of their occupiers, but what was it like to live in such constant fear? What was it like to be so consumed with hunger you could think of little else? And what was it like for the young men and women who committed themselves to fight for their country through the Dutch Resistance? 
With Dad and my sister Morlee
after taking a ride on the Liberty Belle (2009)

These are the questions that began to camp out in my soul as I started writing my story. Most people have never heard of Operation Chowhound, so I consider it a huge blessing to be able to tell the story of this amazing event woven through the lives of my characters. But please don't think this story is only about the hardships of war, because it's so much more. It's part "coming of age" in the late 30s/early 40s, and part love story against the colorful, historic background of that pivotal time in the history of our country. 

And check out the gorgeous cover our daughter Hannah designed! I'm absolutely in awe of how beautifully it conveys the ambiance of the story. Thanks, sweetie!

If you get a chance to read Of Windmills & War, I'd love to hear from you. And if you're looking for a great Christmas gift for someone special on your list, you can find it on Amazon HERE. The paperback version should be available in about a week or so. I would be honored to sign a gift copy for you or someone on your list!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Elmo Rides Again!

I am SO EXCITED to announce the release of Ken's new book! Some Things Never Change picks up right where Ordained Irreverence left off, following the further adventures of Elmo Jenkins, the newest full-time staff member at First Church.

In the first book, soon-to-be-seminary-graduate Elmo blundered his way through his internship at First Church, learning the ins and outs of working on staff at a mega-church. He met lots of fascinating, oddball characters in those crazy months and even found love along the way.

Ken (writing under the pseudonym of "McMillian Moody") has received so many wonderful emails and reviews on that first book and rightly so. Many of the situations and characters were based on experiences he encountered over 15 years in church ministry. There are many heartfelt scenes in Ordained Irreverence, but more than anything it's a light-hearted, hilarious rendering of daily life on a quirky church staff.

With even more of those memories for Elmo to explore, Ken has crafted a sequel that doesn't disappoint. I'm a tough critic when it comes to story lines, and even though I admit to being rather partial to this particular author, I LOVED this book! I laughed, I cried, and I was even shocked a couple of times.

If you never read Ordained Irreverence, I'd suggest reading it first so you'll understand the cast of characters. Then treat yourself with a second visit to First Church in Some Things Never Change. There, you'll go behind the scenes of a church trying to fight the controversial battle so many churches even now are facing - that of trying to remain relevant and genuine to a new generation of believers without abandoning those older men and women who've poured their hearts and lives into a church they love. Granted, that might not sound even remotely funny, but if anyone can find a spark of humor in such a serious situation, it's certainly Elmo Jenkins.

Here's an excerpt from the book's description:
The whole gang is back for the bumpy ride along with some colorful new characters. Be there when Elmo surprises Bonnie on their wedding day. Tag along when Dunston finally takes Elmo fishing. Feel the thrill of riding in a red Viper with a friar at the wheel. And help Elmo figure out that creepy little statue named Ferty . . . who's stalking him? It's another unforgettable visit to First Church you won't want to miss.

Congratulations, Ken! I'm so proud of you!

(P.S. There might or might not be a surprise cameo by a character from my book Blue Christmas. But I guess you'll just have to read the book to find out!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Will Somebody Please Slap Me?

I can't believe how long I've let the dust collect in this pitiful little blog! Almost 5 months!? I keep trying to talk myself into just shutting it down, but it almost feels like I'd be cutting off an arm or something. If that makes sense? Oh, how I wish I was disciplined enough to write something here every day. Instead, life gets in the way, and once again I find myself banging my head on my keyboard. Where or where did these past 5 months go?!

Okay, to be fair, life has been a bit crazy. After I finished BLUE LIKE ELVIS, I jumped into a cookbook project. I badgered our extended Hale family (my mother's side of the family) and collected a bunch of great family recipes and memories. Naturally, it took waaaay longer than I'd planned to compile it, but I was absolutely thrilled with the finished product. In the middle of it all, I threw my back out - which actually worked well since I had hours and hours of recipes to key in. Then, our dear friend Fred Weisbrodt saved the day by giving us a killer good deal on the production and printing, including tabs for the dividers. Didn't it come out nice? With 300 recipes, even if you don't know anyone in our family, these would make a great gift. If you'd like a copy, email me. We had plenty of extras printed. Just $15 which includes shipping!

In June, I loaded the cookbooks and my bags and flew to Amarillo with Dad and my sister Morlee for a Hale Family Reunion. It was so great seeing everyone again and so much fun to share the cookbook with those who'd contributed all those yummy recipes!

When I got home, I jumped back into my latest book project, a World War II novel based on an unforgettable mission which my father took part in. (More about that in a later blog.) I have LOVED working on the book with Dad! I just pray I can do the story justice.

We finally FINALLY got the house repairs completed following our tornado damage back in March. And finally FINALLY, the kitchen redo is done. Loving it! Now I'm looking forward to setting up my office in Ben's old room. That said, the older I get, the longer it takes to go from visualized idea to finished project.
In the meantime, I also made a trip to San Diego with our daughter Hannah, helping her relocate there. Such a beautiful city and I'm so glad I got to spend that week with her, getting her settled in her new home. God graciously gave her two new roommates who are just adorable and quite the kindred spirits. Thankfully, she has a job she can take anywhere, so that was a blessing. Yes, California is a longgggg way from here, but I know it's where she needs to be right now. Keep her in your prayers, okay?

And I am SO EXCITED about Ken's new book, the sequel to ORDAINED IRREVERENCE. I just finished editing the second draft and I can't even put into words how much I love love love this story! Writing sequels can be treacherous, but this one blew me away. More to come about SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE in the next few weeks!

I do apologize for neglecting this poor blog for so long, but I trust you can understand now that I've been a bit distracted and busy. As the summer heat seems to be in its way out (YEA GOD!), I'm looking forward to fall and all it has in store. How about you?


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blue Like Elvis

I am SO excited to tell you about my newest book! As writers, we're always told to "write what you know." Well, that was certainly the case for me with Blue Like Elvis. How so? Check out the official blurb:
Do you remember where you were the day Elvis died?
I do. I know exactly where I was.
I was there.

In the summer of 1977, Shelby Colter moved back to Memphis, Tennessee hoping to make a fresh start after breaking off her engagement. Working as a patient representative hostess at Baptist Memorial Hospital—the world's largest private hospital—she’s thrilled with her new job, assisting patients with their non-medical needs. She gets a kick out of her colorful co-workers who constantly chat about Elvis-sightings. After all, Baptist Memorial was “Elvis's hospital.”

Shelby hits the ground running, taking care of her patients, getting to know her new friends, and bumping into . . . Dr. Tucker Thompson? Who knew that annoying kid who used to hang out with her big brother was now a resident at Baptist Memorial Hospital? Little Chubby Tucker—a compassionate, handsome doctor?
As the summer rolls along, three people Shelby loves face life-threatening situations, drawing her back to her faith. And then one night in a hospital prayer room, she pours out her heart to a most unexpected visitor . . .
For the record, I am NOT Shelby. But my first "real job" was that of a hostess/patient representative at that great hospital in Memphis in the late '70s. Like Shelby, I had some unforgettable patient encounters, much like Mr. Su-Ba-Ru and others. Like Shelby, I really loved "my girls" that I worked with day after day. Like Shelby, I had a feisty roommate from Puerto Rico named Sandra. Like Shelby, I was part of an amazing singles group at First Baptist Church, and yes - we went on some rather interesting campouts and cookouts. 

And like Shelby, I was there the day Elvis died.
I loved my years in Memphis when I was young and single (that's me above in my hostess days - oh to be that thin again!) And I've had so much fun revisiting those years of my life in that unique city on the banks of the Mississippi. For that reason, I've dedicated my book to Memphis - to my hospital, my co-workers, my church, my friends - thanks for the memories!

So go ahead. Tell me. Do you remember where YOU were the day Elvis died?

Monday, March 5, 2012

WHEW! What a Storm!

On Friday, our little town of Kingston Springs was hit by an EF1 tornado. The damage was extensive to much of our area, the worst of it literally just around the corner from us. But all things considered, it could have been so much worse. We were without power for about 25 hours, and once it came back on, I was anxious to reconnect via TV to see what all had happened throughout the path of those 100 tornadoes that hit on March 2, 2012. I only had to catch a glimpse of other counties in middle Tennessee and farther north in Indiana to realize we literally dodged a bullet this time. And what a big bullet it was.

We'd been hearing for more than a day that a "perfect storm" was on its way. Yes, we have a "safe place" designated, including a kit of emergency supplies for those just-in-case scenarios. We were watching the local weather on TV as they described the progress of the storm and quickly realized it was headed straight for us. The last thing we heard was "Kingston Springs, it will be on top of you in ten minutes - go to your safe place now."

Our house is built on a hill, on about a 45-degree downward slope. The top of our house is level with the street above us. Meaning, our downstairs is basically built partially below ground. So our safe place is in the down stairs bathroom. We'd stocked it with blankets and pillows to use as buffers once we jumped in the tub. For a girl who grew up in Oklahoma's Tornado Alley, this is the most scared I have EVER been. I was in a near-panic, which was obvious when I got in the tub and SAT on the pillows. "No! Those go over you!" my husband shouted, handing me our bewildered dog, Darby, as he grabbed the pillows. He quickly jumped in with me, we covered ourselves with all those layers, the power went out, and BAM! It hit!  
Our KS Library just after the storm. (Photo: WSMV)

I was quite sure a train would plow right through the wall at any second. I have never heard anything like it in all my life. Yes, it roared like a freight train, which must have been the wind, but the pounding of the hail is something I'll never forget. It sounded as if we were being bombarded by sub-machine gun fire. It was SO LOUD! Ken & I were both praying out loud, simultaneously shouting (to make sure the Lord could hear us over that noise!) Over and over and over, we prayed.

I have to say, I was honestly expecting to hear a loud CRACK any second as the house would surely lift off its foundation. That's how loud it was, that's how scared we were. Darby kept trying to pull out of my arms, but thankfully I had enough brain power left to rub the inside of her ears which always turns her to putty in my hands. How did I think to do that at such a time?

City Hall. Photo taken by Bill Clark
And then it was over. I would say it lasted no longer than a minute or minute and a half, tops. We waited a couple minutes more then emerged from Fort Bathtub. What a relief to find the house still standing! We had some hail damage to our roof and the paint on the house definitely got whacked, but overall, we faired pretty well. Neighbors lost windows and a tree next door was uprooted, but again - it could have been so much worse.

We lit an oil lamp and all the candles in the house and made it through the night. Watched a movie on my laptop and later read a book by flashlight.

Then Saturday morning, we had breakfast at our favorite Kingston Springs eatery, the Red Tree right on Main Street. They were open - and crazy busy, as you'd expect since so few of us had power. But oh my - our little Main Street got hit but good. Our library is a log cabin (above) lost part of its roof. Primarily those shops facing west took it the worst. The hail literally obliterated the paint of most buildings.

I realize my little tornado tale here may seem miniscule in comparison to what happened to so many others. Still, after seeing the photographs and feeling the rumble and hearing the roar of that storm right on top of us, I am amazed the damage wasn't worse. I will NEVER take another storm warning for granted. I just hope this was the closest we ever come to one of these beasts.

And with that said, we continue to pray for the unimaginable loss of so many in the Midwest who've been hit this week, and especially those who lost friends and loved ones.

Stay safe,

p.s. I have a question and I'm not sure who to ask. With hundreds of years of storms like these across America, will someone please tell me why every town on the map DOESN'T have some sort of siren or warning system? Do NOT tell me it's a money issue. With so many absurd things government willingly pays for, why wouldn't they pay for that? If this storm had come in the middle of the night? I don't even want to think of what could have happened.
Photos below by Bill Clark:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Random Post on a Faux-Winter's Day

Are those crickets I hear? . . . please pardon me while I brush away the cobwebs on this blog . . . heavens! It's been a while! In fact, I came awfully close to shutting down the ol' girl here. Time doesn't just get away, it runs at wharp speed. And I have trouble justifying spending a lot of time writing on my little podium here. Then there's the fact that everyone on the planet blogs, and let's be honest - who has time to read all of them?

To blog or not to blog, that is the question. Then I decided, who cares!? I browsed back through some of my previous posts and had myself a nice stroll down memory lane. So if no one else ever reads the words I write here, at least I'll have a cozy journal of sorts to come back to again and again.

And so begins my first post of 2012. Random post. Lots of thoughts. Not much connection between them, so consider yourself warned.

Goodness! It's already February 18th. Not that you'd know it by the weather (thus, the "faux-winter" reference). I'm so bummed that we haven't had more than a dusting of snow yet this year. I must have one serious snow or I can't face spring! Just one good one. Asking too much? The picture on the left is from last year. It's currently the wallpaper on my desktop reminding me of what snow looks like . . .

Tomorrow is Ben's 25th birthday. I. Cannot. Believe. It. MY son? Already 25? That's him on the left at Universal Studios in Orlando long, long ago. Ben is so full of life and I'm so proud of him. He has a job he loves (golf anyone?) and oh my, you should hear him play guitar. Basically self-taught but he is SO ridiculously talented - and no, I'm not just biased on that! And a song-writer to boot. He no longer lives with us and I miss the snot out of him, but I'm glad he's still in the Nashville area. Happy Birthday, Ben!  

 I recently discovered Downton Abbey and I'm shamelessly smitten. Can't get enough of it. After so many years of nothing but garbage on TV, what a relief to find something of such extreme quality - from the acting to the music and stunning English scenery, to the amazing costumes, it is top notch. But it is the writing that keeps me coming back. Non-stop drama set in such a fascinating time of history, both "upstairs and downstairs." I just love it - though I'm probably driving Ken crazy since I seem to have acquired a British accent of late, but he's not complaining. LOVE this show.

Just finished helping my friend Dennis Pethers publish his book, The Rooftop: A Crisis of Opportunity. There's an interesting story, how God crossed our paths last September, then laid it on my heart to help him get his book published. Dennis has a fascinating story to share and a message of tremendous importance. I truly believe it's a life-changing book. You can find it HERE.

Busily trying to finish up Book #2 of the Moody Blue Trilogy. Blue Like Elvis has been such a trip to write. I hope my readers like it! Hoping to have it available by the end of March, Lord willing! Then I'm anxious to start research on a book about the Chowhound Mission at the end of WWII. My dad was so honored to be a part of the life-saving food drop for the Dutch, and I can't wait to tell the story.

Our "OBT Bookz" company continues to knock our socks off! Our book sales have continued to do well and we give ALL the credit to God for that. Ken is currently at work on the sequel to Ordained Irreverence and I'm excited to see what other kind of mischief Elmo can get into there!

Well, that's enough for now. I could make endless promises to post more, write less, blah blah blah, but it will be what it will be. And yes, you can quote me on that.

Happy February.