Betty Beamguard, 61, admits she's never been athletic and doesn't care anything about sports. A published author, she knows more about dependent clauses than cleats and cockpits.
But Beamguard loves the outdoors, so when she saw a column about a new kayak club in York County in the Observer's Neighbors of York & Lancaster, she decided to jump in.
“I didn't know anything, except not to call it an oar,” Beamguard said.
On July 22, she bought a paddle and 91/2-foot kayak at Old Town Outfitters, and a life jacket and whistle at Wal-Mart. On July 23, she joined the Catawba Cruisers through their Web site. On July 25, she joined the group for a six-mile paddle on the Catawba River. She has paddled almost every weekend since.
Beamguard, who lives with her husband in a 1915 farmhouse in Clover, was educated to be an elementary school teacher. She stayed home to raise two sons.
“I began writing when our nest emptied (in 1995) and I had less to do,” Beamguard said. “I needed something to live for, to work for.”
“I just jumped in like I did with kayaking, knowing nothing,” she said. She has since received more than 30 awards and honorable mentions for her writing.
She confesses she knew nothing but the rules of grammar when she first began writing a novel. She attended a writing conference in 1999, and about five years later joined a local writers group. The members meet twice a month to read and critique.
Beamguard said she could have “been way ahead of where I am now” if she'd joined the group earlier. “You get all different perspectives, and the advantage of everyone's knowledge.”
Poetry, humorous essays, plays, novels, short stories, magazine features and book reviews have all come from Beamguard's pen. “Funny stuff, serious stuff, weird stuff. I enjoy the variety.”
Although none of her novels has been published by a major publishing house, Beamguard has had three how-to-write-fiction articles published in The Writer magazine and many other inclusions in magazines from Women in the Outdoors to Southern Arts Journal.
A biography, “How Many Angels Does It Take: The Remarkable Life of Heather Rose Brooks,” is available at the Book Rack in Rock Hill.