My Writer's Journal

Memoir of a Dedicated Non-Athlete

January 4, 2015

Efforts have been made to encourage me to become athletic, if not an athlete, and all of the efforts have failed. I did learn to ride a bicycle when I was a kid, , but I was clumsy on roller skates—there were no sidewalks in our neighborhood—and didn’t get any better even when skating parties were a part of junior high social life. I was terrible at anything that involved throwing, catching, or hitting a ball, and naturally I was never chosen to be on a team, even when the teacher said I should be allowed six strikes (there was no chance I’d hit it no matter how many strikes I was allowed). Also, I was a clumsy runner. All of this meant that I hated recess, because I was so terrible at the games other kids loved.

In junior high I was forced to take gym classes and did my best to find excuses for NOT taking gym classes. Scared to death of tumbling (I couldn’t even turn a somersault) and all forms of gymnastics, awful at field hockey and basketball. Then I heard a rumor that you had to be able to stand on your head in order to graduate from high school, and for years I lived in fear that I would be the first straight-A student denied a diploma for not being able to stand on her head.

I thought college would be better. It wasn’t. During my freshman year I aced all my courses except for a B in physical education. Sophomore year was more of the same. It ruined my GPA.

A few years after college I fell in love and took up skiing but never got past the bunny slopes. Later, someone talked me into trying ice skating, with predictable results. My mother had once sent me for golf lessons, which, naturally, didn’t take (she wasn’t good at sports either), and years later, still trying to find a socially beneficial sport, I signed up for tennis lessons. After a few weeks of whiffing the ball and hearing the instructor repeatedly yell, “Keep yer eye on the BALL!” I gave that up, too. Sometime in my forties I learned to ride a horse, sort of, but gave it up after I fell off and creaked around for weeks. I also swam a lot, but not very well, and developed a chlorine allergy.

But now, finally, after all these years—decades!—I’ve found something I like: walking. I walk every morning, usually close to four miles. I even have a Fitbit to keep track of my mileage, including whatever else I rack up on a treadmill at the gym. Yes, I go to a gym, an hour three times a week, and work in a desultory fashion on my abs, pecs, delts, glutes, quads. It’s mindless, and I like that. I admire the guys and their tattoos. I have a few gym buddies.

I wish my old gym teacher could see me now. Even if I still can’t stand on my head.

Fiction for Young Adults

Fiction for Young Adults
Dowdy Peggy White reinvents herself as a glamorous photographer, capturing memorable images during the 1930s Depression and 1940s World War II
Three gutsy girls go looking for adventure in the West in the 1920's
Anastasia and her three sisters are the privileged daughters of the richest man in the world, until their world begins to crumble.
YA Historical Fiction
What's it like to be the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world? When Helen of Troy elopes with Paris, her daughter, Hermione, stows away on a Greek ship in search of her mother, hoping to bring her home--and perhaps to find a love of her own.
The future queen of England lives a life of privilege, but privilege comes with a steep price of isolation and loneliness--until she meets Albert.
She leaves Scotland as a child, is sent to France to marry the future king, returns to Scotland as a young woman to rule; a wild queen in a wild country.
First published in 1992, my first historical novel, has been reissued with a new cover.
Cleopatra has been chosen to be the next queen of Egypt, but she faces ruthless competition from her sisters. (Watch a video of Carolyn on this page)
The dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last queen of France. Young Royals series
Who would not fall in love with--or at least have a mad crush on--young Will!
Marie van Goethen was a dancer in 19th century Paris and modeled for Degas's famous sculpture.
A fictionalized account of the early life of Charles Darwin, narrated by Charley himself.
Mozart's talented sister, Nannerl, struggles to achieve life she deserves--in music as well as in love.
Contemporary YA
Four characters, four big issues, four compelling stories: BECAUSE OF LISSA; THE PROBLEM WITH SIDNEY; GILLIAN'S CHOICE; THE TWO FACES OF ADAM

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