Friday, December 10, 2010

Homer Hickam Holiday 2010 Newsletter

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Fun, 2009 Christmas Parade Marshall
Holiday Issue, December 2010

Dear Gentle and Prodigious Readers,

First and foremost, let me wish all reading this a joyful Holiday Season with the emphasis on the meaning of the word Holiday, i.e. Holy Day, celebrating a renewal of our spirit and the contemplation of our Creator and the blessings we have all received throughout the year.

One of the blessings I've received this year is the enthusiasm of readers for my new novel, The Dinosaur Hunter.  Many accolades are coming my way for this book and more than a few are asking if I'm going to make it into a series.  It's a thought.  Mike Wire is an interesting fellow and I'm sure he'll be getting into more trouble over in Fillmore County, Montana.

A top seller in the Western & Mystery genres across the USA and Canada!
Reviews have been marvelous, too.  Here's a couple of them I like.  Go here for Carolyn See's review in The Washington Post.  Carolyn is known for giving tough reviews and I was most pleased to see she liked the story this "mannerly, old-fashioned gent" told.

And please go here for a review from the Big Sky state itself in the Great Falls Tribune. It's always nice when the home folks like a story I tell about the place and the people where they live.  I work hard at getting it right.

Here's an interview I gave a radio station in Billings, Montana, that kind of tells it all.

Of course, if you haven't gotten your copy of The Dinosaur Hunter, then just go here on our website to learn more about the book and make that happen. It's also not too late to get an autographed and inscribed copy for that special reader in your family, just email or call John Shaver at shaversbks@comcast.net or (256) 533-7364! I'm loving that e-Book readers are also embracing "Dino." For these readers, I've got your autograph situation covered.

There you go!  Just print my signature out and tape it to your electronic reader and you're good to go! 

We also love our Book Club folks and hope they will choose The Dinosaur Hunter for their members to read.   Go here for some discussion Q&A.

We're just back from Skyridge, our beloved home in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.  While we were there, Clay and Chris, my brothers-in-law, installed a marvelous invention, a web cam that looks out at the view from our top deck.  Go here to see the view.  Its live, so you may see boats going by, maybe even a big cruise ship from time to time.  The biggest island seen is Tortola, British Virgin Islands.  The twin peaks in front are part of the National Park in St. John.  There's actually an island called Frenchman's Cay between the peaks and Tortola although it tends to blend in.  Behind Frenchman's Cay is a rather large settlement and marina called Soper's Hole which is invisible to us from our Skyridge perch, except for its lights.  That little triangle of blue to the left of Frenchman's Cay is often where the big yachts of the rich and famous dock.  Keep your eye out for Sean Connery or maybe even Tiger Woods! We also are pleased to rent Skyridge as a vacation villa.  Just go here to read all about it:  

Still shot from SkyridgeCam. It is live so you see the many boats going by.
While we were at Skyridge, Linda and I went snorkeling many times.  Here are just a few underwater photographs I took in those most marvelous, serene, and very clear waters.
Hawksbill Turtle, Yawzi Point, St. John, USVI

Eagle Ray, Grootpan Bay, St. John, USVI

Twin Eagle Rays, Yawzi Point, St. John, USVI

Linda on a Grootpan Bay reef

There are so many beautiful places on St. John but the one we love the most is the view from our deck. We also love the birds that come to visit us. Hummingbirds, hawks, doves, kingbirds, banaquits and many many more.

Bananaquits at our Skyridge sugar feeder with a bullfinch flying up to join them.  They all get along!

The entrants to our "Get Caught Reading The Dinosaur Hunter" contest were many and varied and we had so much fun looking at them.  Linda and her panel of judges have made their decisions.  It was tough to choose the winners but here, at last, they are!


Our GRAND PRIZE winner of our photo contest, who just blew us away with ALL of their amazing photos, is Ken Mitchell, who had much assistance from his lovely wife Jeanne. The UNDERWATER ONE (can you imagine?) was our first #1 pick for Contest 1 until little Rachel came along, and next the basketball one, and reading on the racing bike,... and the graveyard, and and and. We just had to create a special category for all their effort, a Grand Prize. We all had so much fun wondering what would come next. 21 Photos in all!

Here are a few in the "She just couldn't put the book down" series: 
View all of their marvelous photos, posted on Facebook here.
Dyin' to finish The Dinosaur Hunter...

Contest 1  One person, one book

1st Prize: “I got here four months early to make sure I would be ready to get caught reading The Dinosaur Hunter. And look, it’s my first Chanukkah present! Now, if only I could only hold my head up to read.  Rachel Farbman

Daughter of Joel and Melissa Farbman, Huntsville AL

2nd Prize: Cadet Alexander Hughes, Gun Captain Timothy Brooks, and Cadet Jason Schnitker get caught reading in front of the Skipper cannon, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. By Rock Roszak.

3rd Prize: Laura Wilson, Boulder CO is caught reading with a special triceratops friend!

4th Prize: Oh my goodness....!!   Skylar Green, by Jerry Green, Huntsville, AL.

5th Prize: Future engineer Gray Miley and his friends read The Dinosaur Hunter in Pilot, Virginia. By Leane Charett

And some great Honorable Mention photos below!

Jacob, Decatur, AL
Jean reads in the Dinosaur House, Coral Bay, St. John
Charles, Huntsville, AL
Jacob, Decatur, AL

Debbie reads to Claus and Ginny, Thankspigging, Coral Bay, St. John

An animal or thing caught reading!

1st Prize: Paleontologist Barbie, By Kari Baker

2nd Prize: Petunia, Matza Ball, and Isabella Nuckolls, think that Homer's new book is just splendid. By Rich Nuckolls
4th Prize: McQueen "The Great Escape" reading The Dinosaur Hunter while checking out his fish fossil from the Green River Formation in Wyoming. By Thomas Rone

3rd Prize: Marble Belkowski listens to the audio version in New Jersey.

5th Prize: Pierre English reads The Dinosaur Hunter during a boring poker game... LTH
Thankspigging pig reads The Dinosaur Hunter in St. John, USVI

Multiple books and people caught reading!!!
1st Prize: Rachel Hergett, Tiffany Heydon and Naomi Stewart share champagne and a good book on a balmy day in Bozeman, Montana. By Frank Stewart, Dino Boy.

2nd Prize: The family that reads and wines(whines) together, stays together. The Stewarts of Bozeman, Montana. By Rachel Hergett

 CONTEST 4, VIDEO or Animation

Congratulations to Janet Oliver, Erie, CO, whose outstanding, creative and funny entry is the winner in this category! She worked very hard on it so have fun watching this and please share :) Thank you Janet!

To watch this most excellent and entertaining video, click on the screen!

CELEBRITIES Caught reading....!!!

Ami McConnell, Homer Hickam's editor, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN. LTH

Elon Musk, who heads up SpaceX, a great new company that's revolutionizing space travel

Jim Brickman, the world's most romantic and handsome piano player gets caught reading in Washington, DC. By Burke Allen
Grammy winner Kathy Mattea curls up with a good book between touring, Nashville, TN.

Phury Arnold, featured cat in The Dinosaur Hunter (spelling name changed to protect him from fans) Kim Arnold

Rhage Arnold, featured cat in The Dinosaur Hunter (spelling name changed to protect him from fans) Kim Arnold


I would be remiss during this season if I didn't remind readers that The Coalwood Way, the follow-up memoir to Rocket Boys/October Sky, is at heart a Christmas story. I wanted to title it A Coalwood Christmas but was overruled by the publisher. I should have fought for it. I think it would be considered a Christmas classic if I had done so. So if you're looking for a good Christmas story...  please go here.

May you and yours have a most joyful and wonderful Holiday Season and please, please have a most prodigious and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Your writer and friend,
Homer Hickam


Piece of pottery Linda found
We had a good time in St. John, and I love all the blues and greens this drab time of year, but that always puts me behind here at home. Snorkeling was great and Homer got some super shots of the rays in particular. I even found a shard of ancient pottery, as I came out of the water, on the beach.  We believe it might be pre-columbian Taino Indian pottery dating from around 900AD to 1400AD but most likely closer to the earlier years when their pottery was finer.  It most likely was a ceremonial offering bowl that was deliberately smashed after a single use, as was their custom.   This was exciting and, with our understanding that every archeological find deserves to be examined by professional scientists, I turned it in to the National Park for further study. 

We are not decorating for Christmas as much as usual this year as my mom is having a fused vertebrae back operation December 14 and at eighty one, we know it will be a bit of a slow recovery. Prayers please for her, Sue Terry. I am lucky to have a great dad, and a large family who will all pitch in with love to make everything go as smoothly as possible for everyone.  We just had to put up a small tree here though…for the cats we say. Summer cannot resist the lower branches with their pretties, so they have unbreakable ornaments and Homer has the Christmas music on to keep us in a cheerful mood. 

RIP dear Flopsy
 And  finally, this is the first Christmas we've had in 19 years when we didn't have our beloved Flopsy with us.  We still miss her and always will.  You were a good girl, Flop, and you live on in our hearts, darling Doodle Bug.   


China says "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and We Love You All!"


  1. I love you guys...your mom is in my prayers, Linda....what wonderful pics of your babies...thanks for taking the time to post them::)

    Love and Merry Christmas,

  2. Only that Kathy Mattea (a great WV girl) spells her last name, I think, with 2 ts instead of 1.

  3. You're correct, Anonymous, on Kathy Mattea's name. We know how to spell it, of course, but the typo sneaked past us. All corrected now. Thank you.

  4. Loved all the great Dino reader pics! Homer, you have some clever folks following you and your literary journey. I'll be reading The Coalwood Way this Christmas. Looking forward to more good stories in 2011. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

  5. I just want you to know, as a person losing his eye sight with major health problems, I've learned to get my hands on audio books. I must have listened to "The Colewood Way" 40 or 50 times. I have both the Frank Muller version (my hero, God rest his soal) as well as the David Lansbury version. I'm on my second set of the Lansbury tapes. I have every book you've written on CD or tape and have listened to all of them many times. You've given me hours of great entertainment. I've even gone to the Coalwood web sites and have October Sky on VHS. Thank you so much. I look forward to your newsletters. Michael Roeper, Fairview, Oregon

  6. Sending prayers for your Mom Linda and wishing you and Homer a very Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing your lives with us.

  7. I have read and enjoy The Coalwood Way and it is at my Mom's house right now. I think that I will need to pick it up and bring it home with me soon. Wonderful Christmas blessings to you and yours Homer and Linda, with prayers for Linda's mom to have an excellent recovery.

  8. Good to hear from you two and hope all will go well with Linda's MOM, I met you two, two years ago in Coalwood at the festival, I feel honored to have met you. You make me proud to be a West Virginian. We love you both, good wishes and good blessings in 2011. Sheila Burns, Hamlin, WV

  9. Thanks for the pics and autographs at Coalwood. Already looking forward to next year. Brian and Linda Mercer Parkersburg WV

  10. That should be "brothers in law" not "brother in laws"...

  11. Thanks for all of the pictures Homer. My Beagle McQueen has already got the big head. He is struting around like he owns the place.

    By the way being a teacher and former basketball coach I really liked the one with the young man dribbling and reading The Dinosaur Hunter. I thought that was unique.

    Thomas Rone
    Huntington, West Virginia.

  12. If you do all this to sell books, it is still OK; I have read and love all your books, having read them several times... I love reading about your and Linda's adventures... As a fellow West Virginia boy, I am proud of you and all you have accomplished... I look forward to whatever you do next... I sincerely hope you and Linda have a Merry Christmas... I will remember Linda's Mom and hope she has a quick recovery... The very Best to both of you... Rodney Smith, Madison, West Virginia...

  13. Rod, we appreciate your comments. Naturally, our newsletters are a marketing tool as is Facebook but, truthfully, we love the friends we've gotten because of my books and the film October Sky. We also like to project a positive image of our lives while also sharing the unhappy things, too. We want everyone to have a good life during all their ups and downs. The main thing is to savor our existence, mindful of our Creator and the unalienable rights we ALL have for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  14. I just read about Linda's mom. Janet and I will remember her and your family in our prayers during this time. We pray for a complete and swift recovery. My mom had a heart attack two years ago and had stints put in and she has done quite well although she suffers from severe arthritis.

    God bless you, Linda and your families.

    PS. I am just finishing up The Far Reaches this morning. Another marvelous adventure.

    Thomas Rone

  15. Loved the film and my dad convinced me to read the books. Glad i did. Will make a film for you homer for your inspirational writings!
    Tom H.

  16. Thank you, Tom H. But have you read my more recent stuff? I think you'd like the "Josh Thurlow" series that began with The Keeper's Son and on through The Ambassador's Son, and The Far Reaches. I'm sure you'll like The Dinosaur Hunter, too. I don't deliberately write inspirational books and have always been surprised (although pleased) that Rocket Boys is considered inspirational. To me, it is the story of a family struggling during times of change but maybe that's the inspirational part of it. Still, I write because it's in my heart and soul to do so and I hope you'll try a few of the other books.

  17. Homeschool mom in Auburn, ALDecember 23, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    Stumbled on "Rocket Boys" tonight on television. I am inspired again. Thank you for living so ambitiously and sharing your story! I will look for your books tomorrow!

    ~Homeschool mom in Auburn, AL.

  18. of course, I have read October Sky and saw the movie-that was all great, but then I heard you speak in Denver and it was a moment in time. You are an inspiration and there seem to be so few.
    I am currently the President-Elect of the Council for Elementary Science International. Each year we have not only the 3 area conferences, but also a National conference. Next year the National is in Indianapolis. We hope to have a pre-conference day where K-8 teachers come in a day ahead of the conference for a day long program just for them. It will be focused on STEM and I thought that you would be a great speaker to kick off a day of science investigation. Is there any possibility of you considering this? The date is early March. Barbara Tharp-btharp@bcm.edu

  19. Hi Mr. Hickam you don't know me so let me introduce myself. My name is Riley Nelson am 14 an dcurrently in Tton Valley Id, with Mr Street as my science teacher. I am truly inspired by your book "Roket Boys" and hope to become an engineer for NASA myself and I was hoping you'd give a little advice to what college you went to I would pay anything to hear it.
    Riley Nelson

  20. Hello Homer Hickham, your an awesome dude:) I am reading October Sky now!:)

  21. Mr. Hickam, yo soy de Galapagos, Ecuador, realmente yo he visto la pelicula The October Sky, y es muy inspiradora, ojala y en le mundo hubiesen muchas Miss Rilley, y la juventud tendria muchas mas oportunidades de poder superarse, la historia de su vida es muy inspiradora, me identifico con ella, no he llelgado a ser alguien famoso, pero creo que si he logrado ser una gran persona, y es algo que logre tambien en mi epoca de universidad, porque para lograrlo tuve que salir de Galapagos para poder superarme.

  22. Tom Erickson 40 yr amateur astronomerAugust 11, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Dear Homer Hickam. Nice seeing you at the 14th Mars Society convention in Grapevine Texas.Seen your bio. We both seem to have many of the same interests.Thanks for a great presentation and the funny,heartwarming stories of you growing up. Look forward to reading your many books.