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HOMER HICKAM QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER
Holiday '08 Issue, December 2008
click here for this issue's photos
Dear Gentle and Prodigious Readers,
And now comes the 2008 Christmas Holiday Season when we reflect on the year almost over, count our blessings, and move forward confidently into the new year. Here in north Alabama, it's been an extremely cold autumn and winter seems ready to get a rough grip on us. Well, bring it on, I suppose. We've been remodeling our house and getting ourselves organized by storing, tossing, or giving away lots of "stuff," the kind of stuff that just seems to build up inside any home. I got this outstanding (according to Linda) idea to give up my office and make it our den. So I took over the loft that had been Linda's office (and, incidentally, where I wrote Rocket Boys), and Linda moved her office to another room she shares with Elsie's piano. The remodeling is nearly done and we will be thankful when the commotion, noise and dust are truly done!
Of course, we have not been immune to the economic storm that has swept the nation and the world but money isn't everything. In fact, it isn't much of anything compared to our health, family, and friends. If you're feeling down, don't forget to go back and read We Are Not Afraid . If you haven't read it, you might want to go forth and procure it. It has within its pages the simple prescription for a good life, no matter the economy. In any case, Linda and I hope you and your family have a wonderful and blessed Holiday and that 2009 is the best year of your lives. We will keep this newsletter short but we just wanted to let you know our thoughts in your direction at this wonderful time of year.
THE WRITING LIFE:
My agent Frank Weimann is sifting offers from publishers for the Anousheh Ansari memoir titled Be The Change. I'm proud of the book and want to make sure it has a good home. I think Anousheh's proud of it, too! Go here to read a little about this fascinating woman: http://www.anoushehansari.com. Red Helmet, my story of today's Appalachian coalfields which, by the way, has received many wonderful reviews, is now out in trade paperback. There's also a fine audio book of Red Helmet read by the very talented actor Kirsten Potter. You might want to check it out! Go here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1598594265?ie=UTF8&tag=homhhicjr&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1598594265.
And for those "Josh Thurlow" fans who missed it, there's now a trade paperback of The Far Reaches. This is one of Josh's best, an adventure in the South Pacific that starts at the bloody battle of Tarawa. After the fighting, Josh, Ready, and a few Marines are shanghaied by a determined nun to a unique tropical island. If admiring reviews and avid fans are any indication at all, I think you'll enjoy any and all of Josh's World War II adventures!
Right now, I'm gearing up to write my long-awaited The Dinosaur Hunter novel for St. Martin's. If all goes as planned, it will be out Summer 2010. More on this one in subsequent newsletters.
A few days after the October Sky festival, Linda and I spent a little over a week at Skyridge, our home in St. John, US Virgin Islands, to get it ready for the Thanksgiving/Christmas rental season. While there, we were blessed with a 6.2 magnitude earthquake and Hurricane Omar. On the latter, our good friend Wayne and I worked hard under some time duress to get up all the hurricane shutters. (photo 1) We managed but just barely. Omar was a "backwards" hurricane in that it passed St. John to the north, then turned around and came at us from the south. That meant Skyridge was right in its path. As it progressed to a Category 1 storm, it looked as if the eye would cross right over our house! So we prepared for the worst, a long hard job. At the last hour, however, Omar coalesced into a very dangerous Category 4 hurricane which caused it to wobble a bit. This turned out to be a piece of luck as it slid off to the east and missed us except for some high winds and rain. All we got were leaves and sticks in our swimming pool (photo 2)! In any case it was an exciting night and then we got to spend a day taking down the shutters and putting everything back outside. When we left, Skyridge was looking good with some new furniture and lots of loving care. We hope to get back down there at least by February and maybe a bit before. (photo 3)
Other fun trips included an appearance and speech at Paducah, Kentucky where Rocket Boys was picked as the city/library read for 2008. In late October, I was privileged to give two speeches to employees of the Rocketdyne Corporation in California. I had a ball visiting with them and getting a chance to tour their rocket museum and mission control room. In November, I traveled to Kansas City, MO for another city/library read. What delightful folks live in KC! A week later, I flew up to Michigan to visit Hillsdale College to speak to their staff, faculty, and students. Hillsdale is a lovely institution with tremendous values. I had just a grand time. These community reads are wonderful for a visiting author – everyone has already read his book! Everything you need for your town, library, or university to have one of your own is on our website's "Reading Groups" page at http://www.homerhickam.com/groups/
By the way, a fun thing I do one morning each month is to join the Gary and Toni Show at WBHP, a local north Alabama radio station. We manage to have lots of fun and provide a little commentary about life and such, too. Go here to listen to the live broadcast: http://wbhpam.com/main.html. My next gig is Dec. 16. I usually get going around 7:30 AM Central. I try to keep my WBHP schedule current on http://www.myspace.com/homerhickam. Check it out!
AND, It is almost, but not quite, too late to order autographed books for Christmas from Shavers. Quick quick if you want them in time! See info on the Gifts page http://www.homerhickam.com/gifts.shtml
That's it for now. Have a great Holiday Season, folks!
Your writer and friend,
Merry Christmas indeed! I got into the spirit early this year as last year I nearly missed Christmas after my emergency appendectomy on St Thomas Dec 10. We were on St. John (never say St. John's - that's somewhere else!) which has no hospital so I had to take a boat ambulance at night to the hospital on the next island, St. Thomas. After I returned home, I got an infection and I don't think we got a tree or decorations up until the 20th or so. BUT this year we are already all decorated and having a small party this weekend (photo 4). We have even had snow two days ago here in Alabama! Admittedly it was at my parent's house which is 1000 ft higher than we are and five degrees colder, but it was falling pretty hard here too, just didn't stick (photo 5).
All of our fur children are fine and China is loving playing under the Christmas tree. I put unbreakable ornaments low, but the kitties are all very good about not bothering things in general. They spent many a day locked in our bedroom while construction workers were here, but they took it rather well. I think the three heating pads we provided had something to do with their contentment… spoiled rotten! (photo 6, 7, 8, 9).
The fishes outside are COLD, brrrr. Homer hates cold weather and they do too. They go into almost hibernation and don't eat or hardly move until the water temp is back over fifty degrees.
I think I will go light our wood stove and check on the baby opossum (pronounced, well, possum - go figure) who just came up for the sunflower seeds I put out for squirrels and chipmunks. (photo 10) I'll throw in a photo of Homer and I on our anniversary also.
Stay warm, and safe and make 2009 your best year yet. We are NOT afraid! Linda
A few favorite letters:
Dear Homer, I contacted you a few years back after reading three or four of your books over a 10 day period after seeing October Sky on television.
Since then I've seen you on various news programs, unfortunately during mine disaster coverage. Anyway...I just read "Red Helmet" after my wife saw it in the library. Excellent book and as a man...it was impossible not to fall in love with "Song"...a great testament to your ability to make the reader care about your characters. I got to admit...I was ready to be disappointed when it appeared Cable (spoiler deleted) I am a sucker for a happy ending.
Any news on any of your works being developed for the big screen or television? I felt inclined to say hello. Thank you for your books, I've enjoyed every one I've read! TC
Dear Homer, I just finished “The Keeper's Son,” wrapping it up just after we arrived here in Texas for the winter. I enjoyed the story, particularly the way you wove the true incidents of the U-boat scourge in early '42 into the fictional Outer Banks setting. After seeing you on the 4th I'd looked up the details of the actual U-85 (my old pastor lives on the Outer Banks now and filled me in on some of that story). That was a terrible fate for the German crewmen, even knowing the horrors they'd inflicted on merchant crews up and down the coast. 28 years ago I remember seeing the graves of British merchant seamen buried near Ocracoke Light, having washed ashore after a sinking.
I'll look forward to reading the next installment. Mr. Thurlow is the young man I wished I'd been...a mean hand with an axe though. TJ