April Showers

We just returned from a very enjoyable stay in New Orleans. The weather was kind to us which made it all the more comfortable. The following are highlights of our visit.

Our main objective for the trip was to visit the National WW II Museum. For Americans of all ages it is a must see. The chronicles of American involvement in the war are categorized by exhibits portraying the European/Mediterranean theater and the Pacific theater. The Tom Hanks introductory movie was well done as a precursor to visiting the exhibits which were authentically presented. It would have been nice to have seen a small exhibit about Hot Stuff and its gallant crew as noted in our book Before the Belle. They deserved to be remembered.

We also visited the New Orleans Museum of Art. It is a class art museum that ranks along with those in New York, Dallas and Boston. If you’re a fine arts enthusiast this is also a must see. The museum has something for everyone as it has outstanding samplings from Europe, Asia, Africa and of course the United States. We enjoyed the American folk art and the paintings of  influential Americans and scenes before, during and after the Revolution.

One thing we had to do was to ride on a streetcar. We rode the Canal St. streetcar from one end to the other taking in the sights.

Of course, one can’t visit New Orleans without at least taking a stroll along the Mississippi and resting on a bench in Jackson Square.

On our way to dinner one night we happened upon a “Second Line” parade for a wedding. The newly weds led the parade carrying umbrellas followed by a uniformed band and singing and dancing wedding guests all waving white napkins in the air. To imagine it in another city would be hard to fathom.

Cash wore his ARMY cap the entire trip. We were pleasantly surprised at how many people thanked him for his nilitary service. This included strangers on the street, patrons in restaurants and hotel and restaurant workers. The big surprise was an anonymous patron at one restaurant paid for our meal. This has happened to us before in years past.

One last item  is the outstanding food one would find in New Orleans. Among the most memorable of our trip were Nola’s, Muriel’s and a fun restaurant called House of Blues. All three had unique atmospheres to go along with the cuisine.

As you can imagine by our blog title, here on the first of April we’re experiencing much needed rain in Central Texas.

We wish you all a fabulous springtime.

Interest in Hot Stuff

We have been pleased with the surge in interest in our new book Before the Belle. Many readers have related how much they enjoyed learning about the exploits of the B-24D named Hot Stuff and her gallant crew. In particular a number of readers related how much they enjoyed the dialogue of the era. Our intent was to correct history where Hot Stuff should be credited with being the FIRST heavy bomber in the 8th Air Force in WW II to complete 25 combat missions and be rotated back to the United States. This feat was accomplished by Hot Stuff months ahead of the famed B-17 named Memphis Belle.

We’ve received a number of reviews; one such review from Amazon reads:

I am a non-fiction reader, history buff and the very proud daughter of one of the Hot Stuff crew members – This book was an incredible account of history! If you have any interest in WW II history it is a MUST read!

Proceeds from sales of Before the Belle go toward the construction of a monument in Iceland to commemorate Hot Stuff and her crew. The monument is to be dedicated on May 3, 2018, the 75th anniversary of when the plane crashed into a mountain while returning to the United States. The stainless steel model of Hot Stuff in the photos will be placed above the monument.

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The intent of our writing Before the Belle is to reach all generations, particularly younger people to educate them about the perils confronting the heroes of WW II.

Currently we are in the process of editing our new novel titled Living for this Moment. It is another mystery thriller that is intended to keep the reader guessing how the hero will eventually attain justice.


Before the Belle now Available Online

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Photo is Lt. Robert Shannon, pilot of Hot Stuff in North Africa, December 1942.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. We traveled to Tyler, TX to visit with our dear in laws. Although it rained most of the time, a good time was had by all. Even Cash was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century when he received an iPhone from his elder son. Still playing with it to get a grasp of all its apps.

Our historical narrative Before the Belle was released and is now available online. Family members of Hot Stuff’s crew have been waiting for this moment. We’re anxiously waiting to get feedback on how the narrative has been received by our readers. A portion of every sale will go towards the erection of a monument in Iceland to commemorate Hot Stuff and her crew. The target date is May 3, 2018, the 75th anniversary of the tragic crash.

At this moment we’re in process of updating the website to include Before the Belle.

We just submitted another manuscript to our publisher. We’ll be beginning the editing process sometime after the new year. This new novel is thriller with a twist.

We want to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Before the Belle Approved for Printing

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All of us have been waiting patiently for the publishing process for “Before the Belle” to finally bear fruit. Yesterday we received word from our publisher our manuscript has been approved for printing. According to our publisher we will be receiving sample copies of the completed work within a week. After checking for print errors and providing approval, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play and iTunes should have the print version listed in the next couple of weeks.

It’s been a long journey from conception to completion. Compiling facts and visuals along with suitable dialogue has been nothing short of a labor of love. We’re astounded how much we’ve come to appreciate what the crews of the 93rd Bombardment Group endured in the early air war over the European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operation. We as authors feel we’ve come to personally know each member of the crew of Hot Stuff.

The “Belle’s” back cover reads as follows:

On May 3, 1943, a lone American B-24 on a secret mission from Bovington airdrome in England neared the Icelandic coast bound for the United States. Captain Robert “Shine” Shannon was at the controls. He and his nine man crew of Hot Stuff had been honored two weeks earlier as being the first heavy bomber in the Eighth Air Force to complete 25 combat missions. That number was a benchmark established by the Army Air Force for bomber crews to be rotated back to the United States where the plane and its crew would tour the country to promote the war effort.

By the time Hot Stuff and its crew received word they were to rotate back to the States, they had endured not just 25 but 31 combat missions. A combat mission was defined as anytime an American aircraft came under hostile fire over enemy territory.

Hot Stuff was honored to be chosen by Lt. General Frank Andrews, commander of all American Forces in the European Theater of Operations, to fly him and his staff to Washington, D.C. for an undisclosed purpose. However, the accomplishments of Hot Stuff and its crew along with those of Andrews went unheralded in the annals of World War II.

We all look forward to the debut of “Before the Belle”.

The Heat is On

93rd Bomb Group formation flight. Near aircraft is Consolidated B-24D-25-CO (S/N 41-24226) "Joisey Bounce" and second aircraft is (S/N 41-24147) "The Duchess." (U.S. Air Force photo)

After a very comfortable spring in Central Texas, we’re now paying the price – the temperature has soared to the 100s for the past couple of weeks. Everything we do we do in air conditioned comfort.

Since our last posting, we’ve been busy with three editing cycles of our manuscript which chronicles the life of the WW II B-24 heavy bomber named Hot Stuff. The historical narrative is tentatively entitled Before the Belle. We have included 38 visuals consisting of seven maps and 31 photos. We sent our publisher the latest and final edit on 27 July. We’ve been informed by the publisher that the book will be released in October.

We have engaged a professional model builder to build a plastic 1/48 scale model of a B-24D. It will have the exact markings as Hot Stuff to include the nose art. BTW, Hot Stuff is one of the rarer WW II aircraft to have nose art on both sides of the fuselage. The model is expected to be completed by Labor Day and we plan to have it encased in a clear plastic enclosure for display at book signings and other events.

In between editing cycles we’ve been putting the final touches on another novel as yet to be titled. The mystery entails special federal protection for a man believed to have been killed by the mob. The main character is guided by fate and is able to extract vengeance through unorthodox  means.

We’re taking a few days off to stay at a B&B. We plan on doing the good stuff – visiting museums and antique malls.

We hope you all have a great summer.