I suppose everyone is “strange” in their own weird ways, aren’t they? But I was definitely “the one” in my family! We all have a tendency to be “the oddball” or “the black sheep” or the one who is somewhat “different” in one way or another. So instead of just naming 10 things you might not know about me, I thought I’d talk about this phenomena of being “the weird one” in the family.
First of all, I was a mistake. Yep, my sisters were 10 and 12 when I was born—so I was definitely a “bonus baby”—and one my poor parents weren’t sure of what to do with. Picture this: Mom and Dad were both born in a very tiny town in Oklahoma in 1922. They had a graduating class of 12 seniors. They were highschool sweethearts, married, and made it all the way through the 1950’s with two daughters (my sisters) who were well…typical 1950’s adolescents. Smooth sailing!
But…I came along in 1957 and grew up in the 60’s and 70’s—enough said. So another weird fact about me is that my parents gave me the oddest name in our entire family. I’ve mentioned this before, so if you know this already, just skip on down to the next segment. My name is Cheryl. But it’s pronounced CHAIR-yl, not SHARE-yl. I’m sure my parents thought they were just being different…but that’s the point. I’ve spent part of my early lifetime correcting people and finally—I just gave up. But it still feels weird when someone calls me SHARE-yl. And as if that weren’t enough? My dad decided to name me “KATHLYN” – not Kathleen, not Kathryn. I will be 59 this month, and in my entire life, I’ve met 2 other women named Kathlyn and 2 others named CHAIR-yl rather than SHARE-yl. That’s not a lot, but at least I know I’m not alone. And I named my daughter Jessica…no complications there.
Growing up, I was lucky enough (or not, depending on how you look at it!) to be accepted as a student by a very perfectionistic, meticulous piano teacher. So one surprising fact about me is that I’m a classically trained pianist. This is doubly surprising considering the small Oklahoma town I grew up in!
Here I am at age 6, goofing around with my Aunt Emogene who was a self-taught pianist and could make that keyboard ring.
The next strange or surprising thing about me is that I actually achieved the dream of becoming a writer—something I’d wanted to do since I could hold a pen. In fact, I was the “problem child” who got in trouble for writing in my books—not drawing—but adding my own text. (Never mind that it didn’t make sense—it was a hodgepodge of letters that didn’t make words, but to me, what I was doing was really important!) From THE COLOR KITTENS to FIRE EYES!
Another thing that is “strange” was how I met my husband. My father worked in the oilfields, and the summer before I started my senior year in high school in Seminole, OK, he was transferred to Charleston, West Virginia. Yep. I had to leave all my friends that I’d gone to school with since first grade! I graduated from Winfield, WV, and started college. There, I met my “older man”—a Vietnam vet with an ex-wife and two kids. He had just gotten a job with the Federal Aviation Administration, who had their main training facility in…OKLAHOMA CITY! So after a few years of marriage, I got to come back to Oklahoma when my hubby took a job at the FAA Academy, and we’ve been here ever since.
Another little known fact is that I am able to drive a stick shift. We are the last of a dying breed! AND I learned to do it in West Virginia—which is in the Appalachians and full of curvy roads, twist, turns, and…did I mention NARROW lanes? I learned on our little Capri—a car I still love with all my heart and am so sorry that we had to trade in on something else. I found this picture on the internet–this is the exact copy of the car we had back in ’76!
Did you know (I bet you didn’t!) that I started my published writing career as a short story author for Chicken Soup, Rocking Chair Reader, and also a feature writer for our local newspaper? I had been working on the “great American novel” for quite a while, but I had to “break in” somehow—and this was it. Here’s a picture of the first anthology I ever had a story published in. It was called PENNY MEMORIES. What a thrill!
Probably the thing that surprised even me was going into the publishing business. Livia Reasoner and I started Prairie Rose Publications a scant three years ago. We now have expanded to six imprints and I have loved every minute of it! Helping other authors realize their dream of publication has been a thrill I never could have imagined—and now, it’s a reality.
And last but not least, another strange or surprising fact about me is that in recent years I have become an animal rights activist. Oh, no—not that kind that sprays spray paint on people wearing fur coats and that kind of thing—but I started out by sharing shelter animals that needed homes on Facebook. This might seem like a small thing, but guess what? I matched up at least six homeless animals with their “forever” homes just by sharing! What a great feeling. As time has gone by, I try to share petitions to stop animal cruelty as well as the shelter animals that are running out of time. It’s easy. It’s free. And it really does work. I’ve learned that every small thing we do toward keeping animals safe and loved all adds up in “the big picture.” Here’s a picture of my own rescue dog, Embry, when he was a puppy 7 years ago. He’s now a 200 pound bundle of love!
And that does it for me. Thanks so much for stopping by today!