Monthly Archives: January 2018

All Roads Lead Home Audio Book – Enter to Win

I’ve spent time this weekend packing books.

There’s nothing like a pile of brown kraft paper, boxes, tote bags, books and other things to get three cats all excited. I keep saying that these three can add multiple levels of complexity to every simple task. It gets a little intense.

Tomorrow I will make my first run to the post office and then again on Tuesday and Wednesday. If there are any stragglers, they’ll leave here on Friday.

As much as I love getting books into people’s hands, I’ll admit this isn’t one of my favorite parts of the publishing schedule. Fortunately, I might get through this January shipment without snow and ice on the ground. Once these are gone, bring on the blizzard. Yeah, it’s not in the forecast, my hopes and dreams will probably amount to … not much.



The first book in the Bellingwood series has been published to audio. All Roads Lead Home is available through Audible and Amazon.

The process for Book 2 will begin soon, which is pretty exciting. I don’t have a timeline for when the series will catch up to itself; it depends on a great many things. But it has begun!

Audible is very generous with its authors and has given me codes for free audio copies to help spread the word. I want to give them away to you!

If you’d like to enter for a free audio copy of All Roads Lead Home, all you have to do is leave a comment. Either on this blog post … or (preferably) on this post on the Facebook Bellingwood page.

What should the comment be about?

Since the Winter Olympics are coming up in a couple of weeks – tell me about some of your favorite Olympic sports – either summer or winter. Memories that you have about the games … anything. I love watching the Olympics and have for years. Whether it’s figure skating, speed skating, the luge, diving, swimming … or, oh my gosh, I fell in love with rugby two years ago. Tell me what you love about the Olympics.

I have ten free audio books to give away right now, so there will be lots of winners. You have until Wednesday evening, January 31 to leave a comment.

Entrants release Facebook of any responsibility and this promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.



The January newsletter went out last Thursday. I hope everyone got their hands on it. I always have fun putting them together for you. If you don’t want to miss out on the latest vignette and other Bellingwood news, be sure you’ve signed up. I send these every month on the 25th. I don’t give away or sell your email addresses, you can unsubscribe at any time, and I never spam you with information.

Book 20 Vignettes are available on Amazon now. These are some of my favorites so far.


Book 21

Twenty-five percent of the book has been written, so I’m on target – well, I’m actually running a little early. That’s good news, right?

Publication dates for the Bellingwood books are always March 25, June 25, September 25, and December 25th. It keeps me on my toes!

Memories from Long Ago

In the years I’ve been on social media (GEnie, Compuserve, AOL, MySpace, Facebook), I’ve met incredible new friends while rediscovering old friends and family relationships. I can look back over these years and honestly say that those connections have been amazing.

Some of the most surprising things have come from people I knew years ago and never expected to encounter again. High school classmates who moved far from home, college friends I only knew for a year or two (I transferred in and out a couple of times), and people from churches my father served over the decades.

One fun surprise arrived a couple of months ago when I had a message request on Facebook from a woman I didn’t remember at all. How could I? The story of our encounter happened when I was still much too young to create a strong memory. But the story we shared I knew very well … my mother loved telling it to me.

Mom loved animals and living in small-town Iowa in the early sixties gave her the perfect opportunity to have some fun. I have no idea how she talked Dad into it, but she got a goat and named it Rachel. She loved Rachel … a lot. Then I was born. For the first couple of years, things were just fine. Rachel didn’t pay much attention to me. When I started to walk though, things changed. Rachel recognized me as a competitor for Mom’s affection. Doing what goats do, she used her head to butt me around the yard. My little baby / toddler legs couldn’t hold up to that and I generally ended up on my diaper-clad bottom. Then Rachel discovered I screamed louder when she’d butt me down the back steps of the house. That got a lot of attention from the adults.

The day came when Mom was told she needed to make a choice. The goat … or her daughter. Mom would always stop at this point in the story and make sure I understood just what a difficult decision she was being asked to make. Then she’d draw it out and tell me that she finally realized that I couldn’t live without a mother, so she chose me and found a new home for Rachel.

That fun story has always been part of my life.

Last November, I received a message request from a woman asking if I was the daughter of Reverend Greenwood who lived in Bussey. She’d seen me show up on the page of another woman who lived there during the same time. I assured her that yes, that was me.

Her mother was the custodian of the church while Dad was there and this woman remembered her coming home from work one day with a female goat – a gift from the minister! It seemed that the goat liked to butt his young daughter down the tall concrete steps. The goat arrived with a small house Dad had built for it and spent a lot of time standing on top of it. Rachel ate everything – plastic from the neighbor’s windows, the cardboard lining their outhouse, everything, but the goat lived with them from then on. She shared a picture of Rachel as a much older goat.

A story from my childhood that had lived as one small bit of history was suddenly combined with a small bit of history from someone else and the story had new legs. Now I know where Rachel went and that she was loved and cared for by another family. Our paths crossed for just a moment in time and fifty-five years later we discovered how much fun it was to share that moment.

There are so many wonderful stories of connections made. I’m grateful every day to be able to communicate with friends, new and old. What fun!

Do you have a fun re-connection story?


Stuff …

1. The newsletter comes out on the 25th – Thursday. Make sure you’ve signed up. There are a couple of fun things I get to share with you this month! As always, there will also be a short vignette featuring someone from Bellingwood.

2. Don’t forget. The Shop Now button on the Facebook Bellingwood page will take you to the book list here on the website. That list is THE list for every book and short story in the series. Anything else has the potential to be … well … wrong. Trust no one. Except for that list.

3. Book 21 is well underway. Publication date is March 25.

Naming Characters, Slow (Limbo?) Paperbacks, Reviews

A midweek blog post wasn’t in the plans, but when something leaps into my head … well, there it is.

One difficult thing when writing is finding character names. Now, sometimes a person’s name is obvious. When I wrote Book 1, Lydia, Beryl, Sylvie, and Andy’s names flowed out of my fingers. That’s who they were. Polly and Henry couldn’t have been anyone else either.

But then more people showed up. It’s Bellingwood, you know. Rather than calling him ‘the guy down the street,’ he needed a real name. And not just a first name, but a last name, too. Sometimes characters are named after people I know and love, but often I stare at the screen trying to come up with something … anything.

Last names are the worst. I might be able to look at a person (in my head) and know what their first name is, but then what?

Would you believe a little phone book is the perfect answer? Errr, what? A collection of last names and I don’t have to work at this? Well, duh.

My sister handed me a fresh list of names (new phone book) at Christmas. I laughed and laughed. It’s becoming dog-eared because of the number of times I’ve thumbed through it while writing Book 21 – and I’m barely at 25% of the manuscript. Yeah, yeah, everybody needs a name. They may never show up again, but they still need a name.



(Alert: long story ahead.)

For those of you patiently waiting for paperbacks to arrive in your mailbox, well, here’s what it is. I think. Oh, who knows. I despise making excuses for not delivering on time.  I hate this, hate this, hate this.

However, I don’t yet have paperback copies of Book 20 in my house. None. Not a single one. I hoped to get shipping confirmation in the last couple of days, but nope. Not yet.

This has been the craziest publication I’ve experienced to date. Someone told me that after successfully publishing 19 books, it was probably time for the process to spin out of control. Joy.

From the first step of creation, publishing Book 20 to paperback has been a problem. Let me assure you, it’s a fluke. Nineteen+ books have happened with no issue. Maybe they held them all just to frustrate the baloney out of me now. You know, how’s her patience doing?

This company always gives me a date that books will arrive on my doorstep. It’s usually about a month after I place the order. That’s never phased me – they nearly always arrive within a week and a half. Easy. Right? Except that I can’t say much about it until February 1st. If I complain, they’ll tell me their policy and I’ll end up giving them a nod and a smile.

This, of course, followed a crazy-stinking week of even trying to get the book through the process. The company requires a minimum of 24 hours to approve each step. It usually takes 12 hours or less. For this book? Every single thing took the minimum 24 hours AND in the middle, they completely screwed up the process, causing me to lose two days while they looked into it.

My patience was tested. I didn’t scream. I didn’t throw a tantrum. I remained calm. Let me tell you, I treated myself to an adult beverage for good behavior. LOL.

So … as soon as I receive confirmation of shipment, I’ll make announcements, you’ll order books and we’ll get reading material in your hands. If you can’t wait any longer, you can order a paperback directly from Amazon. I’m certain you’ll receive it long before I get mine!



Thank you all for writing reviews on Amazon. Each time you write one, another Bellingwood book gets its wings. No, wait. That’s not right. But those positive reviews do help other readers see my books. I do appreciate it.

If you would like to write a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. And who knows, maybe those books do get wings.

Words … All Messed Up

For as much as I adore the English language, I can butcher it with the best of them. It usually happens that just as I’m in the middle of saying something really dumb, I hear it in my head and at that point, I can no longer back away from it.

I’ve told you before that my mother had a huge vocabulary, but one of her favorite things to do with that vocabulary was splice it up, put it back together, and come up with something new. Now, Shakespeare could get away with that … he was a famous playwright. Mom’s words just got her naive children in trouble.

Like the time I was standing in front of my highly-educated handbell choir, directing a rehearsal. The conversation moved to what authors we were reading (yeah, we took too many breaks, but they were just that good). I announced that I was reading a book by Fletcher Knebel. But I was halfway through his last name when some of the ladies started laughing and it hit me that I’d pronounced it kuh-nee-buhl, instead of using the silent ‘k.’ Because … yes, you guessed it … Mom. She did it as a lark. She also pronounced knife – kuh-nife. At least I could self-correct when it came to asking for the sharp utensil.

Or rhinoceros. If I don’t focus, I’m well into the second syllable before I realize I have to start over or stop right away. Mom pronounced it ri-no-sore’-ass. Pronounce it in your head the correct way … that second syllable is a short ‘o’, not long. If you shorten it to rhino, you use the long ‘o’ sound. Well, mom’s way uses the long ‘o’ sound and from there on out, you’re just in trouble. And let me tell you, if I’m talking about rhinos, most of them have a flaming red hind end.

My sister sees the world differently and this usually comes out in what she says. This is another girl who has a huge vocabulary, but she mixes it up without knowing why. Not her words, but her phrases and sentences. We teased her mercilessly because what she said was just that funny. One day my dad put the snowblower into the van to clear a large space at a local lake (pond) for the youth group to do some ice skating. Carol insisted he was blow-drying the lake. That’s what she saw in her head. Or the time she asked how much a 49 cent coke cost at McDonald’s. It took a few moments to figure out that she was asking which size was being sold for 49 cents (yeah, that was a long time ago – it was a medium coke).

Last night as I was writing, I insisted that a word was correct. However, spell check insisted I was wrong. I love having access to a dictionary online. Oh, was I wrong. No matter what I wanted, indignance is not a word – indignation was just not what I was looking for, but I needed to give it up. I re-wrote the sentence.

We all have our stories about language – from screwing up words because we speak too quickly, to those words we never really learned, to discovering surprising meanings to words we’d always used one way … on and on.

Anyway … do you have a favorite story about your personal language mess-ups?


Business Stuff

Remember – publication dates for the books are always the 25th of  March, June, September, December. If you’re wondering when the next book is coming out – there ya go.

SHOP NOW button on the Facebook Bellingwood page. That button is a little bit of Diane-magic. It takes you directly to the list of books … in order … on my website. All of the Bellingwood books are listed right there. If you wonder whether you’ve missed out on something, there’s the list. If you’re looking to get the link to Amazon, there’s the list. It’s all right there. If you don’t understand why Amazon is giving you enough information, that’s cool, get it from me on this page.

PAPERBACKS for all the books are available on Amazon. If you can’t get to them through your Kindle … well, that’s because it’s a Kindle, not a computer.

The short stories are published in the paperback they are closest to. For instance, book 16 also contains #16.5 – stuff like that, there. The only thing not available in paperback are the vignettes. I don’t know that they ever will be. They’re awfully short and can be found on the website, in back issues of newsletters, and yes, on Kindle.

BOXED SETS. I’ve had several queries about when I’m going to build a third (fourth, fifth) boxed set for the series. That’s a good question. I know that twenty books is a lot to absorb if you’re just getting started, and yes, I will continue to build out boxed sets, but I don’t really have those set into a schedule. Will the third one hit in 2018? Probably. When? I can’t be sure. I’m sorry that I don’t have more precise information for you right now.

I’ll keep saying it over and over – thank you for being part of this crazy little world I spin. I’m so thankful that I have this chance to get to know you. What an incredible blessing you are to me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully express my gratitude for the time and care you give to me.

I Love Winter

I love winter. I love snow. I love cooler weather. I love blankets. I love snuggling fur-babies. I love wearing sweatshirts. I love bright blue skies. I love blizzards. Really … I love winter.

I’m not fond of ice and I’m not a fan of below zero temperatures. If I could have winter without those things, that would be pure heaven.

The last two weeks have been cold here and that cold is permeating much of the northern half of the US. Just, plain, brr. So I made a choice. I’m not going anywhere. I can look out my windows and see all of the beauty of winter. Then I can snuggle in with my fur-babies, my sweatshirts and my blankets (oh my gosh, I love blankets. Truly, this could be a serious addiction).

Today the temperature rose into the thirties. I practically exploded from the house. There were things to do out there and I didn’t need to wear a coat (one is always in my Jeep). All I needed was my sweatshirt (seriously, love those, too) and a pair of gloves to deal with the snow still on my Jeep.

Off I went to the post office, then down to Boone for some groceries. Are you using that grocery online ordering / pick-up thingie? Glory be, I don’t have to wander a stinking grocery store ever again. Some young kid can wander it for me. I will tip you to do that, thankyouverymuch.

The world felt alive today. People were smiling and happy to be outside. I can’t tell you the number of kids I saw building snowmen and snow forts. My favorite was the dad outside by himself building a snowman. I had an image of his three kids standing in the front door with their snowsuits on, trying to hurry before he finished. Maybe the guy just likes to build snowmen. Or maybe he escaped from their noise and chaos to the quiet of the front yard.

There are many of you who have very good reasons to hate winter. I get it. That’s your deal and your life.

I’m thankful for the seasons that I get to experience. I am grateful to finish with one and move to the other … about four times a year. Look how that works out! I don’t have to wait long – it never lasts forever, though trust me, by September I’m completely finished with summer. By the end of March I will be WAY over winter. But that’s the beauty of it. It will all change in its time. Not because I’m complaining or whining about it, but because it is time.

That’s the way of so many things. I get to love and enjoy and find joy in so much because I choose to allow the earth to spin without my complaints and negative opinions. There is much out there that I can find fault with, but my opinion won’t change a thing … well, except for my attitude.

So I choose to love winter. You don’t have to get on board with that. It’s okay. I still choose to love you, too.

There’s another snowstorm forecast to come through on Thursday. I can hardly wait. Fresh, white snow will drop all over my valley. Yeah. I’ll have to clear the Jeep again before I get out of here, but that’s okay. The absolute peace and beauty that a gorgeous snowfall brings will be worth it to me.

The pictures in this post were taken last year after a particularly beautiful snowfall. This is where I write. This is the beauty that surrounds me. Can you blame me for loving it?


A few random things.

1. I had the worst time getting the paperback for Love’s Surprises published. The company that prints these completely lost their minds this week. It took several conversations with customer service and a great deal of patience, but they finally figured out that they had created a problem and I could do nothing about it except tell them to look a little deeper. It’s live on Amazon now.

I’ve placed my order. If you regularly order paperbacks from me, now’s the time to let me know you’re ready to do it again. They’ll be shipped out within the next two weeks or so.

I’m sorry it took so long – it was far out of my hands – my very frustrated hands.

2. On the Facebook Bellingwood page you will see a ‘Shop Now’ button near the top. That little button takes you directly to the list of Bellingwood books on my website.

That is the list that tells you what books come where in the canon.

Amazon doesn’t allow for creative numbering (i.e. 12.5, 16.5, 20.5). This forces me to put the vignettes and the short stories outside the canon. Don’t trust anything else but my website. It’s better that way.

3. On the Bellingwood book page of my website, I am also placing the ‘Notes and Characters’ PDF files for you to read or download. I’m up through Book 6. That should keep you occupied for, oh, about a day or two. Again, hit the ‘Shop Now’ button on the Facebook page to get to the list.

4. Really … check out my website. I get a lot of questions that I’m glad to answer, but if you dig around, you’ll probably find what you’re looking for. There is a map of Bellingwood, sketches of Sycamore House and its environs, and sketches of the Bell House.

I’ve had requests for a more sketches. One of these days, I’ll put one together of the Bell House and land around it – where the tunnel is, etc. I see it all in my mind, so I’ll get on that.

A sketch of the downtown shops is a little more iffy. I’m not sure when I’ll ever get that done. I’d love to tell you that I have every single shop and space figured out, but that would be a lie. I know I should – maybe one of these days. For now, your imagination will just have to do.