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

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: