Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homer Hickam Newsletter, Fall, 2010


To register for Homer's free quarterly Newsletter and information on contests and book tours, enter your email address in the Newsletter sign up area at homerhickam.com, on the right. Get it first! Every 3 months we will email you notification that the new issue is up with the latest news and stories of the writing life.


Grammy-Winning singing star Kathy Mattea Gets Caught!

My next editor, Ami, gets caught!

Marble gets caught listening!

Fall '10 Issue, October 2010

  21 winners in all!

Dear Gentle and Prodigious Readers:

I'm sitting here at my desk savoring the only copy I've received so far of my new novel The Dinosaur Hunter.  It's a handsome book with a lovely cover.  The cover is even embossed which means my publisher and editor are excited enough over this novel to have gone to extra expense to make it not only look but feel good!  So, for tactile as well as entertainment reasons, I think you really will want to get The Dinosaur Hunter into your hands.  And it's astonishingly easy to do!  Nearly every bookstore in the country plus all the popular Internet outlets will have it available on November 9.  To pre-order or order, go here: Homer Hickam The Dinosaur Hunter Page  If you like mysteries, westerns, or just fine literature, The Dinosaur Hunter is a novel that should be in your airplane carry-on, beside your easy chair, or on your bedside table.  I think you'll discover The Dinosaur Hunter is fast-paced, charming, interesting, and funny.  That's the word from my readers!  And the new character who narrates the story, Mike Wire, a retired city homicide detective turned vegetarian cowboy, is an interesting guy.  You'll like him.  Trust me.  If I hadn't written The Dinosaur Hunter, I'd want to read it.  In fact, I don't think I could wait to crack it open and get lost in the ranchlands of Montana and the "deep time" of the dinosaurs which once lived there.  And please think of your friends and family during the holiday season.  I bet they'd like my tale of Montana ranchers, dinosaur diggers, ancient bones, and murder, too.  It is, by the way, an alternate choice for the  Book of the Month Club, the Literary Guild Book Club, and the Mystery Guild Book Club!

The cool cover of the Audiobook!
By the way, there's also an audio CD and Internet download of The Dinosaur Hunter. Click here: The Dinosaur Hunter Audio or look for it on your favorite Internet book website or bookstore!

For economic and marketing reasons, publishers aren't sponsoring book tours as much as they once were but I did volunteer to go to some great stores close by.  Please don't let me be lonely when I'm there!  Come visit me and tell your friends! Of course, personalized autographed copies of all of my books can be ordered from Shaver's Books.  Please contact John Shaver at shaversbks@comcast.net, (256) 533-7364. Think Christmas NOW!

The Dinosaur Hunter Booktour

Birmingham, AL                                 Nashville, TN
Tuesday, November 9  4:00 PM                          Thursday, November 11  7:00 PM
The Alabama Booksmith                                       Davis Kidd
2626 19th Place, Homewood, AL                         The Mall at Green Hills, Suite 281
Contact: Jake Reiss 205-870-4242                         2121 Green Hills Village Drive
                                                                               Contact: Ms. Robinson 615-783-0218 ext. 1241
                                                                               Store number: 615-385-2645

Huntsville, AL                                         Chattanooga, TN
Sunday, November 14  3:00 PM                          Saturday, November 13 2:00 PM
Barnes & Noble                                                     Barnes & Noble # 2337
2750 Carl T. Jones Parkway                                  2100 Hamilton Place Blvd Suite 315
Contact: Maggie Clark 256-885-0501                   Contact: Adam R. Anderson (423) 893-0186

Decatur, AL
Thursday, November 18  6:00 PM
Decatur Public Library
504 Cherry St. NE, Decatur, AL 35601
Contact: Mary Lou 256-353-2993

Homer talks to Mark about the script
Linda celebrates with 
the prodigious Rocket Boys

In June, Linda and I flew to New York to work with the delightful cast and crew of Rocket Boys, The Musical.  This was a stage reading of the musical based on my most famous work.  We were thrilled with the cast which included my good friend Robert Picardo as Mr. Turner/Basil Oglethorpe, J. Mark McVey as Dad, Terri Klausner as Mom, Carl Anthony Tramon as Sonny, and many more fine actors filling in the cast.  Go here to read a great review of that most delightful stage reading: Review of Rocket Boys: The Musical.  For more news on show plus photos, explore the extensive website of Rocket Boys the Musical.  Naturally, Linda and I enjoyed just being in New York.  There's an undeniable energy there that is like nowhere else.  We love the Big Apple!
MM's enjoying the good life at Camp Runamuck, 2010
Later that month in Huntsville, there was a gathering of the kids who grew up on Monte Sano, the mountain that overlooks the Rocket City.  This included my Bozeman, Montana dino-hunting buddy Frank Stewart and wife Naomi among many others.  Frank and Naomi spent a night or two with us which was most enjoyable.  From there, along with our friends who we call the Mountain Marauders (or MM's for short), Linda and I drove to North Carolina near Ashville to visit the property in the woods that buddies Claus and Debbie purchased last year.  It is an old summer camp for boys with dozens of abandoned cabins which they hope to restore to its former glory.  It is an incredible place where we relaxed and enjoyed the beauty of the surrounding mountains and, of course, our great friends.

During the summer, Linda and I went out to Space camp.com for Educators a couple of times to meet with teachers who were attending special gatherings there.  As always, we love being with the teachers who come to Space Camp and embody the spirit and passion of Miss Riley.  We always feel energized and hopeful for the nation's future when we meet these dedicated teachers.  Kudos to the Space and Rocket Center here in Huntsville and the companies who sponsor these teachers, giving them not only a fun week but also the tools to teach our kids some really neat stuff about science and space.

Homer Hickam, dinosaur hunter
Of course, summer brought my always eagerly-anticipated annual trek to Montana to hunt the wily dinosaurs of the Cretaceous.  I joined up with Frank Stewart and we drove first to Cohagen to visit with Mary and Wayland who operate a ranch in Garfield County.  Mary was one of my advisors during the writing of The Dinosaur Hunter, allowing me some valuable insight into the life of the working rancher in eastern Montana.  She and Wayland are also my treasured friends and it's always great to visit with them and their two great kids, Angus and "Princess" Maggie.  Maggie really loves Frank and crawls into his lap at every opportunity.  Well, the old boy is somewhat lovable in a gnarly, irascible way, I suppose, and that's why I dedicated The Dinosaur Hunter to him.  After our visit, we headed to the badlands to seek out the bones of the Cretaceous.  The first thing that happened after we started hiking was I was bitten by a rattlesnake.  Truth!  Luckily, all the rattler got was a mouthful of Kevlar (tm) since I had on my trusty snake gaiters.  I vented my unhappiness to the snake who, to his credit, looked pretty sheepish about the whole incident. Well, he did let me step on him, after all. We forgave each other and both of us went about our business.  Frank and I had some success this year, especially when we discovered metatarsals of two different theropods in the same little hill.  This indicated to us there were a lot more bones below.  We don't yet know what these meat-eaters were (Dr. Jack Horner will tell us, eventually) but we know they're from a little big animal (perhaps a juvenile T.rex) or a big little critter (perhaps an Ornithomimosaur).

Frank hunting the wily dinosaur
I shot some video while Frank and I were dino-hunting and I'm including a short clip.  After you've read The Dinosaur Hunter, I think you'll understand better how marvelous this Big Sky country really is.

Since our last newsletter, I've been out to WBHP-AM radio any number of times to hang out with Toni and Gary on their morning show.  We have so much fun!  See them here as they get “Caught Reading” The Dinosaur Hunter. Also, if you keep an eye on my Facebook page Homer Hickam Official Page, you'll be able see when I'll be on the show.  No matter where you live, you can listen live online: WBHP online

Toni and Gary Get Caught Reading
The Dinosaur Hunter
Homer, Toni, and Gary at work?

The Marvelous A Squadron Rats, Class of 1964,
Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets
In September, Linda and I drove up to Blacksburg for a Virginia Tech Squadron A "rat buddies" reunion.  I was also asked to speak to the Corps of Cadets as well as give the speech at the Corps reunion.  My gosh, I love the Corps and all that it represents.  Linda and I especially love the cadets themselves.  What marvelous young men and women they are!  Visiting with my old rat buddies was, as always, a special time for me.  Kudos to Chick Leftwich for organizing everything, and thanks to Bill and Barbara May for letting us stay with them at their condo.  What great folks.

Big Creek 50th High School reunion

We next drove over to Myrtle Beach, the site of my 50th Big Creek High School reunion!  It was so much fun to see all my friends from the great class of 1960.  None of them have changed at all, I swan.  Thanks to Mary Ledford for putting it all together.  We know it wasn't easy.

Blast off, Rocket Boy!
The crowd listens at the opening ceremony, October Sky Festival. The Concord University Band was a popular addition
to the parade and festivities this year.

Homer, Roy Lee, Billy & Dreama
 Our next trek was to Coalwood, WV for the annual October Sky Festival, first Saturday in October.  Actually, we drove up a little early to accomplish all the interviews our great publicist, Burke Allen of Allen Media Strategies had set up for us.  We had fun in West Virginia with all these radio and television appearances and it helped the festival to be one of the most successful ever!  Actor Randy Stripling who played Mr. Bolden in the movie joined us.  What a lovely person he is.  Rocket Boys Roy Lee, O'Dell, and Billy also joined us along with Dreama Denver, the widow of Bob Denver (Gilligan of Gilligan's Island) and a truely talented person in her own right.  The people of Coalwood and the visitors to the October Sky Festival absolutely adored him and so do we!  It was a gloriously, beautiful day.

Part of the awesome view from our deck at Skyridge
NASA Al and Dino Boy Homer
The full moon over the sea, view from our deck
To our surprise, our home in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, got whacked by two hurricanes, Earl and Otto.  Earl was a hurricane with a great deal of wind but little rain, and Otto was a hurricane with a great deal of rain and little wind.  Both worked over our end of the island, especially our neighborhood.  When word of downed trees and water in the house reached us, Linda and I planned a quick trip down there along with our buddy Al English (known as NASA Al on St. John) to see what we could do.  We settled in for a week of constant work which included installing a new gate opener, necessary on our steep driveway.  I think we now have Skyridge in good shape.  Of course, the most beautiful views on St. John are as grand as ever!  We were also pleased to visit with our new property manager, Karen of Windspree.  What a delight she and her staff are!  To rent the spruced-up and freshly cheerful Skyridge, go here Windspree - Skyridge

For the second year in a row, I was honored to be the Master of Ceremonies at the National Space Club-Huntsville's annual Wernher von Braun dinner at the Space & Rocket Center's Davidson Center.  What a great group of true Rocket Girls and Rocket Boys joined us!  As always, Linda and I had a great time talking to these people who are passionate about spaceflight.  It was pretty unanimous that we are all less than enamored with the present course of NASA.  Let's hope for better leadership soon.  Time to go back to the moon!  I've written a number of blogs about that which can be found on our website here: Homer Hickam, Blogs

And speaking of blogs, I now have a new site for my blogs (where you've also found this Newsletter) which I will try to keep updated.  Go here for it: Thoughts From Homer Hickam At Skyridge

You can also keep track of me on my Twitter: Homer's Twitter

So, Homer, you might ask, why all the Facebook, blogs, and Twitter activity?  A fair question.  Chomp, munch, gurgle, tromp, trundle, rawwrrr.  An author these days does all that he can to stay in contact with his readers.  It's not only good marketing, but I think the feedback and back and forth between a writer and his readers is invaluable to both.  I hope you agree!
Buddy, big, Littlebit, small
Part of life's journey is saying goodbye to those we love.  In July, we lost our funny little goldfish Buddy who we got to keep poor Littlebit, a hybrid koi/goldfish, company after he was born in our pond with a congenital defect.  Littlebit lived for five years and Buddy just a "little bit" longer.  We loved them and miss them both.
Our kitty angel, Flopsy
And then in August, we very sadly lost our beloved kitty Flopsy.  Flopsy was our NASA cat.  One day, after a meeting at the headquarters building on Marshall Space Flight Center back around 1991, a scrawny little black and white cat came running up to me, meowing.  There were, at the time, many feral cats living on the MSFC grounds but this one was very insistent that I pay attention to her.  I picked her up and brought her home, meaning to find her a permanent family.  Flopsy got her name by performing early on what I used to call "her only trick," that of cutely flopping on her side without warning.  Of course, it wasn't her only trick at all.  She also had the trick of announcing to the world early on that she was a "Hickam cat" and had no intention of ever leaving.  And she didn't.  Flopsy was great company.  We used to say she was no trouble.  She ate what we gave her without complaint, she was quiet, she was clean, and she was polite.  In her latter years, she delighted in sitting, her paws daintily crossed, on the couch beside me and Linda when we watched television.  In the early summer of her 19th year, Flopsy's appetite waned and although her veterinarians and we did everything we could to get her interested in eating, she refused and became thinner and thinner.  At the last, we hydrated her daily which seemed to make her feel better but when it became clear she was not going to recover, Linda and I had to take a deep breath and allow our Doodlebug to go on to kitty heaven.  We miss her now and we will always miss her.  Rest in peace, dear Flopsy.  You were a great Hickam cat!

Your Writer and Friend,
Homer Hickam

Flopsy, a true Hickam cat

Maxx, almost 20
We’ll always miss our little Flop, for our kitties are indeed our fur children. 
Our other four send greetings and are well, all spoiled but fine.  All of our cats are rescues and we volunteer for a wonderful local cat rescue organization, Forgotten Felines. Their main mission is education and community support for spaying and neutering to prevent pet overpopulation. Please help in your community too.
Mango, Dino Hunter

The fluffies, China and Summer

Below is a letter from one of our true heroes, a teacher.  She teaches adult education attended by men and women who want to better themselves.  She sent a heartwarming letter with a slideshow  of a book club where they all read Rocket Boys. If you want a smile, watch it.

Dear Linda and Homer, Our ABE/GED program received a grant from our local Rotary Club this spring to purchase 100 copies of Rocket Boys to use for our Book Club.  I just wanted to let you know that it was an amazing experience for both students and staff, and your website was invaluable in providing background and classroom resources.  Although the length and reading level of Rocket Boys was challenging for many of our students, they loved the story and were able to relate the themes and "message" to their own lives.  As an added bonus, Steve Date came to speak to us about his experiences meeting Homer and his time in Coalwood.

We had four classes, ranging from high-level non-native English speakers to GED students, reading and studying the book in different ways within their own classrooms.  We then gathered together on May 27 for a time of sharing and celebration.  This is the fourth year we have had a Book Club at our site, and it's now become an eagerly anticipated event!

If you're interested, here is a link to our Northside Wiki page to see a slide show from our final event: Rocket-Boys-Final-Event  Here is a link to another page where I asked students for their first impressions of the book: First-Impressions

Thanks to you and Homer for helping us make a positive difference in the lives of our students! Darlene Hays Northside Adult Basic Education  Minneapolis, MN  55411



“Get Caught Reading"
Photo Contest

Dear Readers:  Let’s have fun with my new book with a chance to win some great prizes too!
I am running a contest to have people “Get Caught Reading” my new book The Dinosaur Hunter. Win a specially autographed copy of the book and a cool collectable dinosaur-related prize!

21 winners in all!

See below for contest prizes and rules.

Let’s do it this way:
The whole idea is to take a picture of someone (or something) reading The Dinosaur Hunter.  Now, be aware all photos must have the hardcover prominently displayed.  See Homer's old Howdy Doody doll above for an example.

Submit the photo to Facebook on the Homer Hickam Official Page  or by email to LTerry(nospam)@hiwaay.net – please remove no spam.

One submission per day per person, please.  Please be aware that all photos submitted may be published on Facebook or our website. Contest ends quickly, November 18, so pre-order those books NOW by going to the Homer Hickam The Dinosaur Hunter Page and clicking on the Internet book links OR go to your local bookstore and put yourself on the list for the first arrival of the book!

OK, here's our categories in the Get Caught Reading The Dinosaur Hunter contest:

The world' most romantic piano player, 
handsome Jim Brickman, 
Gets Caught Reading The Dinosaur Hunter!

•  Contest 1 - Best photo of a person caught reading The Dinosaur Hunter (imaginative, funny, different, celebrity, WOW us!) There will be five winners in this category.  First prize is a personalized and autographed copy of The Dinosaur Hunter, a Homer-signed cast of a T.rex skull, and a special Don Howard autographed caricature of Homer as writer and dino-hunter.  Second through fifth prize-winners will each receive a Homer-signed T.rex crossing sign and an autographed picture of Homer!  All very collectible and something no one else will have!

•  Contest 2 - Best photo of an animal (or something else such as Homer's old Howdy Doody and friend above) caught reading The Dinosaur Hunter (imaginative, funny, different, WOW us!)  There will be five winners in this category.  First prize is a personalized and autographed copy of The Dinosaur Hunter, a Homer-signed cast of a T.rex skull, and a special Don Howard autographed caricature of Homer as writer and dino-hunter.  Second through fifth prize-winners will each receive a Homer-signed T.rex crossing sign and an autographed picture of Homer!  All very collectible and something no one else will have!

•  Contest 3 - The most people in one photo caught reading The Dinosaur Hunter (each person in the photo should have their own copy).  Be creative and WOW us! There will be five winners in this category First prize is a personalized and autographed copy of The Dinosaur Hunter, a Homer-signed cast of a full-sized T.rex claw (this is a most prodigious claw and I can just barely stand to give it up), and a special Don Howard autographed caricature of Homer as writer and dino-hunter.  Second through fifth prize-winners will each receive a Homer-signed T.rex crossing sign and an autographed picture of Homer!   All very collectible and something no one else will have!

•  Contest 4 - Video or animation that captures the true spirit of reading The Dinosaur HunterThere will be three winners in this category.  First prize is a personalized and autographed copy of The Dinosaur Hunter plus a Homer-signed 24” x 36” laminated poster of two T.rexes fighting.  Very, very cool!  Second and third prize-winners will each receive a Homer-signed T.rex skull cast and an autographed picture of Homer!   All very collectible and something no one else will have!

•  Contest 5 - This one is for our Newsletter subscribers only (we have a database of subscribers).  In this newsletter, there is a sentence that reflects what we think maybe dinosaurs sounded like.  Copy and paste the sentence and send it in an email to Linda (LTerry(nospam)@hiwaay.net – please remove the no spam) and she will put you into the pot for a drawing.  If you would like to join our Newsletter list, go to www.homerhickam.com and enter your email in the box to the right. There will be three lucky winners of an autographed copy of The Dinosaur Hunter

Summer and friend relax with The Dinosaur Hunter

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Dinosaur Hunters Frank Stewart, Bill Hendricks, and me in Montana.  Ten years of work in the field led to write my new mystery Western novel titled The Dinosaur Hunter

Every author wants Kirkus to review his book but, at the same time, we keep our fingers crossed that it will be a good one.  Many decisions are made based on Kirkus reviews by bookstores, libraries, marketing folks, and publishers.  How many books will be stocked or purchased?  How will the review affect advertising?  How much will be spent on marketing?  Overall, will the book be a hit or a miss?

Kirkus says this of itself:

Kirkus Reviews, founded in 1933, is published twice monthly and reviews, one to three months before the publication date, 4,000-5,000 titles per year: fiction, mysteries, science fiction and fantasy, translations, nonfiction and children's and young adult books. The reviews are reliable and authoritative, written by specialists selected for their knowledge and expertise in a particular field.

Well, we recently received a marvelous review by Kirkus which makes everyone involved with The Dinosaur Hunter very happy.  There's a good chance this could be a break-out novel for me, even possibly beginning a new series.  Remember, think Christmas Holiday Season now.  The Dinosaur Hunter could very well solve your Christmas and/or Holiday list!  Autographed and inscribed copies are available on http://www.homerhickam.com.  Just click on the gift icon!


Hickam, Homer
Dunne/St. Martin's (320 pp)
Nov. 2, 2010
ISBN:  978-0-312-38378-7

Cowboys and criminals mix it up in the new West over the bones of dead monsters.
            Hickam (Red Helmet, 2008, etc.) hits the sweet spot for cowboy fiction with this dusty, inspired mystery about paleontologists and lifelong ranchers in the high desert.  The book's hero is Mike Wire, a former LAPD homicide detective who abandoned Hollywood 12 years earlier to become a foreman on the Square C Ranch where he hides his unrequited love for its owner, Jeanette Coulter, and looks out for her son, Ray.  Hickam breathes life into his square-jawed wrangler, lending him a unique mix of tenderness and stubbornness.  Before long, Mike develops an interest in the area's paleontological history.  Ray's idle discovery of some theropod bones draws the attention of Dr. Norman "Pick" Pickford, who soon has gaggles of students unearthing bones from a butte on Jeanette's property.  Then strange thing start happening, raising Mike's suspicions.  First, a few animals are shot, with clues that lead to an environmental terrorist.  And eventually [SPOILER ALERT] a Russian interloper is found dead with a pickaxe in his head.  Nobody is on Mike's side as he starts figuring things out, least of all the locals.  "I know you're still new out here but I thought a dozen years was enough for you to learn a few of our rules," warns the local tough guy.  "A man could get shot, he wanders where he's not supposed to go."  The plot gets a bit rickety near the end but Hickam's obvious love for Montana and his newly acquired fascination with paleontology—earned at the side of paleontologist Jack Horner, one of the trade's most famous practitioners—makes this tale worth digging into.
            The rare novel that pits science against cowboy doggedness, getting both of them right.

Thanks, Kirkus!  You are obviously true dino boys and girls!

The photo below is of me with a Tyrannosaur rex claw found in Montana.  By its size, we think it was from  a very rare juvenile.  A juvenile T.rex is important to the tale told in The Dinosaur Hunter.

For more on The Dinosaur Hunter, please go to http://www.homerhickam.com/books/dino.shtml