Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'm a reincarnated Amish Woman

Okay, I know that sounds whacky, but sometimes I really think I lived in another time period. And here's why:

--I hate technology…don't even ask me how to use the TIVO in our house. Don't ask me how to program the remote control not when I just mastered how to set the clock on the microwave. My DD typed out and printed off step-by-step directions on how to save my books onto a thumb drive--took me forever to memorize them. This month I used my last 3 ½ floppy to save the book I just sent my editor-- now I'm all in a panic because I don't have a valid excuse not to save my next book to a CD when I send it in.

--If someone asks me to choose between shopping at a high-end department store or checking out the local flea market--flea market wins every time.

--If I had a choice of spending the day at a resort spa or treasure hunting in an off-the-beaten-path hole in the wall town somewhere in Texas--I'll take the hole-in-the-wall

--I don’t get excited when my husband sends me flowers, but I'm over the moon when he says "Oh, go ahead and buy that old fashioned milk can for the front porch."

--If I don’t drive through the country and see cornfields, silos and barns at least every other day I feel lost.

--When I drive past an old dilapidated barn circa 1900's I shiver and my mind races with images of days gone by

--I get all excited going into a historical meat market in a nearby town because I get to look at the old photographs circa 1800's of the town and its people displayed on the walls.

--One entire wall (from floor to ceiling) in my living room is filled with vintage black and white portraits of my ancestors some dating back to the Civil war era

--I'm more at ease eating in a rundown diner than swank restaurant

--I like physical labor, don’t mind sweating and love working in a garden

--my dream vacation is following the Oregon Trail in a Winnebago

--I get excited when I see Historical Markers alongside the road

--I got light-headed and dizzy and swore I heard voices in my head when I stood by the fossilized ruts of the wagon trains that traveled the Oregon Trail through South Dakota

--Out of all the books I've written for the American line, I felt most connected with the characters in my *Hearts of Appalachia* series.

Anyone else ever feel like they've lived in another century--or know someone who swears they have? If not, then maybe I am whacky!

For The Children
*Honorable Mention 2008 Hollywood Book Festival*
In A Cowboy's Arms
Free on-line Read
A Coal Miner's Wife August 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Olympic experience

Like many of you, I’m avidly watching the Olympics on TV. When my sons – ages nineteen and twenty-two -- sit with me, they too enjoy both the spectacle and the excitement of competition.

But unlike their viewing, mine is overlaid with memories.

Memorable scenes from past Olympics filter across my mental screen. There are highs and lows, the most painful being the 1972 murders of the Israeli athletes. I also recall disappointments when outstanding athletes like Mary Decker Slaney and Kim Zmeskal stumbled and fell heartbreakingly short.

There are also shining glories: Olga Korbut and Nadia Comenici and Mary Lou Retton and Carly Patterson. As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of gymnastics.

In fact, in the early Seventies I worked for a public relations office that represented a gymnastics team called the SCATS (Southern California Acro Team), which trained Cathy Rigby. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Cathy several times, and of watching talented gymnasts compete long before the sport became as well known as it is today.

It was so little known, in fact, that when I called the local newspaper with the scores of a major gymnastics meet, the sports reporter asked, “Okay, how fast was the first girl?” It took me a minute to explain that speed wasn’t the point.

My only personal experience with the Olympics came in 1984, when they were held in Los Angeles. Although I’d left my job with The Associated Press the previous year, I still covered theater and the arts on a freelance basis, and was asked by AP to cover the Olympic Arts Festival.

Always held in association with the Olympics, this festival receives less coverage than it deserves. In Beijing this year, for example, there’s a concert series feature some of the world’s most popular opera singers: RenĂ©e Fleming, Sumi Jo, Angela Gheorghiu, Salvatore Licitra, Ramon Vargas, Jonas Kaufmann, Marcello Giordani and Dmitri Hvorostovsky (okay, I'm an opera buff, too). In the case of LA, the attractions included the Royal Opera of Covent Garden, the Royal Shakespeare Company and a host of talented groups from around the world. I had a ball interviewing stars and viewing as many performances as I could squeeze in.

I’m not going to make it to this year’s Olympics in person, but if all goes well with my mother’s health (at age 90, she’s recovering from surgery), we’ll be visiting China next month to attend an international ceramics conference. As you know if you’ve visited my Web site (, my mom, Sylvia Hyman, is an internationally known ceramic sculptor.

She last visited China thirty years ago, when the country was much less developed. So while I’ll be viewing the new skyscrapers and bridges with fresh eyes, she’ll be seeing them through a veil of memories.

Funny how that happens.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Recharged, refreshed and Ready

School starts today. While I've been technically back at work since July 29, today was my first day with a full slate of classes. I'm teaching yearbook, newspaper, journalism, photojournalism, ninth grade English and next semester, one section of novel. It's a lot. But I'm ready.

It's been a great summer, but I admit I missed my classroom. Yesterday was freshmen orientation and my class came by so I got to meet some of them. Yesterday we also had our professional development sampler. This year my publication staffs will build a website and blog. I will work on studying Marzano. I'm recharged and refreshed, and excited about everything--and refusing to panic as it seems way too much.

My ninth graders are starting with To Kill a Mockingbird, and I'm tying it into the November presidental election. Back in Scout Finch's day, no one would have thought we'd see a woman and a black man vie for a nomination, much less a black man be the candidate for president. No matter the vote, it's like the 4x100 freestyle relay where America won. It gives you positive chills.

Today was only a half day, but tomorrow is the full day. I'm ready.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Ever had a Trojan Horse virus?

It's scary. I've been fighting it since yesterday, and this morning I wasn't able to go online at all. I've finally resorted to kicking my husband off his computer so I could at least check in on my blog day! (And, no, this is not a thinly veiled excuse for not having written a blog in advance. Though I didn't, in fact, write a blog in advance.)

So what have I been up to since I returned from the Romance Writers of America conference, flush with inspiration and motivation and ready to light the world on fire with my brilliant fiction? Actually I have been writing some. I've also been watching the Olympics, but I find myself cheering for athletes from other countries as often as I do the Americans. (Maybe I shouldn't admit that, as a Harlequin American author!) I think the Russian gymnasts are incredible, and the commentators aren't giving them much praise. And they aren't showing enough bicycling!

Well, back to check on my virus scan. At least the virus has been detected and I know what it is. Next I have to figure out how to get rid of it. We'll see what's left of my disk drive when I'm through!