All posts by katemcginn09

I am a writer who lives in Wisconsin near the Mississippi River. I write stories filled with mystery, suspense, and romance with a sprinkling of humor added to the mix. My stories are about strong women who deal with danger, heartache, and life with dignity and grit.

How Chaos Has Stifled My Creativity

It’s been a very long time since I’ve pulled out my laptop to write anything. My surgery was on August 19th. It was tough but manageable for the first few days following surgery. My knee was swollen to twice its size, stiff and painful causing me to move with slow and precise steps. But by the end of the first week, I navigated without the aid of a walker and began using my cane. By the end of week two, I walked without the cane, and by the end of week three, I was discharged from physical therapy.

I wrote twice over those weeks. So much for using rehab time to advance the storyline on my work in progress. When I could, I walked, climbed stairs, and packed boxes. My life became involved in determining where to stack cardboard cubes and judging what should be placed into the same box. My somewhat orderly world with all of its cozy spots morphed into chaos.

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My library  & writing haven, before.

Where would I find a place to sink into a comfy chair, sip on a cup of coffee and write about strong women searching, struggling, and surviving in the fictional landscapes in my head?

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My library, now.

Every room in the house that I’ve lived in for almost twenty-four years has been rendered almost unrecognizable. Is it a wonder that my internal voice has grown silent when I have problems leaving dishes in my sink before I can even begin to sit down and write.

Even my dining room which is used on holidays, when guests visit, and when I videotape or record podcasts, is a cluttered mess with all of my packing supplies,

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The dining room at Thanksgiving.

extra boxes and the like. The rooms where our bed & breakfast guests lounged while they stayed with us have been emptied of any of the grace and peace that embodied those spaces. My compulsion to put things into order wars with the countdown to moving day.

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The dining room, today.

Instead of working through how my protagonist will find purpose, love, and adventure, I focus on my struggles with chaos and my feelings that I will never be able to write again and the nagging insecurity that my contribution to the world of fiction has ended.

Now, back to packing those boxes. The kitchen is next!


The Clare Thibodeaux Series can be found on Amazon.  Watch for Kate’s short story “What Happens in Vegas…” in the Strong Women anthology to be published by NeoLeaf Press. The story features a character from one of her 500-word short story challenges — “Talent Discovered”.

Talent Discovered

I originally wrote this short story for a Write In Weekend Challenge for WriteOn Refugees. Recently, Neoleaf Press decided to publish a “Strong Women” anthology for Mom’s Favorite Reads group. I figured this was the opportunity to expand on this particular story. My friend, author Sue A. Hart, had encouraged me to tell readers more about Elle. 


My grandma used to say that ‘everyone is talented, but some people haven’t discovered their talent yet.’  Grandma was a wise woman.  I don’t know if she would be proud of my new-found talent, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

My name is Elle.  My dad was a fan of Elle MacPherson.  What can I say?  It was the 80’s, and my dad was a scumbag who left us years ago.  I was as far from the supermodel type as someone can be.  I’m short, plump and unremarkable.  No one notices me.  This fact helps me as I hone my new talent.

I discovered my new talent quite by mistake.  I was minding my own business walking down the Las Vegas strip towards my hotel.  I was at a conference of greeting card writers.  You know — those little sayings inside of special occasion cards.  In the age of the internet and social media, the greeting card business is looking for innovative opportunities to expand their market.  And that is how I happened to be in the wrong place at the right time.

I was sipping on my diet soda running through some ideas for a “Happy Divorce” card, and I heard the squeal of tires.  Turning, I saw a black sedan jump the curb and continue to skid in my direction.

My little stubby legs didn’t carry me very far.  I stood with my mouth hanging open and my diet soda spilling onto the sidewalk awaiting my imminent death.   I squeezed my eyes shut and said a quick prayer.  But death never came.   I cracked open one lid far enough to see the black sedan inches from me.  Prayer does work!  Hallelujah!

What happened next defies any rational explanations.

Two beefy guys sprang from the car; their guns were drawn.  I sidled back hoping they weren’t interested in a greeting card writer.

“Stop right there, toots!”  One of the behemoths rumbled in my direction.  I felt the cool press of steel against my temple.  Sweet Lord!  I’m gonna die!  In Vegas!

I don’t know what came over me, but I decided right then and there that if I were going to die, I would go out fighting.  I stomped on the guy’s foot, slammed into his solar plexus with my bent elbow, and as he leaned forward gasping, I socked him in the nose with my clenched fist.  Blood gushed out of his nose, and the dumbass dropped his gun right where I could grab it.

I didn’t hesitate.  I put a slug into my attacker’s forehead.  His friend was frozen for a second before he charged me.  That second was all I needed to put gangster #2 in my sights.  I hit him in the chest and the forehead.  They call those “kill shots.”

I wiped my prints off the weapon with my shirt, picked up my cup (DNA, you know) and blended into the growing crowd.  Remember, I said no one ever notices me.  It comes in handy when you moonlight as an assassin.

I’m not in the greeting card business any longer.  I’ve found my talent.

 

Talent Discovered

I originally wrote this short story for a Write In Weekend Challenge for WriteOn Refugees. Recently, Neoleaf Press decided to publish a “Strong Women” anthology for Mom’s Favorite Reads group. I figured this was the opportunity to expand on this particular story. My friend, author Sue A. Hart, had encouraged me to tell readers more about Elle. 


My grandma used to say that ‘everyone is talented, but some people haven’t discovered their talent yet.’  Grandma was a wise woman.  I don’t know if she would be proud of my new-found talent, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

My name is Elle.  My dad was a fan of Elle MacPherson.  What can I say?  It was the 80’s, and my dad was a scumbag who left us years ago.  I was as far from the supermodel type as someone can be.  I’m short, plump and unremarkable.  No one notices me.  This fact helps me as I hone my new talent.

I discovered my new talent quite by mistake.  I was minding my own business walking down the Las Vegas strip towards my hotel.  I was at a conference of greeting card writers.  You know — those little sayings inside of special occasion cards.  In the age of the internet and social media, the greeting card business is looking for innovative opportunities to expand their market.  And that is how I happened to be in the wrong place at the right time.

I was sipping on my diet soda running through some ideas for a “Happy Divorce” card, and I heard the squeal of tires.  Turning, I saw a black sedan jump the curb and continue to skid in my direction.

My little stubby legs didn’t carry me very far.  I stood with my mouth hanging open and my diet soda spilling onto the sidewalk awaiting my imminent death.   I squeezed my eyes shut and said a quick prayer.  But death never came.   I cracked open one lid far enough to see the black sedan inches from me.  Prayer does work!  Hallelujah!

What happened next defies any rational explanations.

Two beefy guys sprang from the car; their guns were drawn.  I sidled back hoping they weren’t interested in a greeting card writer.

“Stop right there, toots!”  One of the behemoths rumbled in my direction.  I felt the cool press of steel against my temple.  Sweet Lord!  I’m gonna die!  In Vegas!

I don’t know what came over me, but I decided right then and there that if I were going to die, I would go out fighting.  I stomped on the guy’s foot, slammed into his solar plexus with my bent elbow, and as he leaned forward gasping, I socked him in the nose with my clenched fist.  Blood gushed out of his nose, and the dumbass dropped his gun right where I could grab it.

I didn’t hesitate.  I put a slug into my attacker’s forehead.  His friend was frozen for a second before he charged me.  That second was all I needed to put gangster #2 in my sights.  I hit him in the chest and the forehead.  They call those “kill shots.”

I wiped my prints off the weapon with my shirt, picked up my cup (DNA, you know) and blended into the growing crowd.  Remember, I said no one ever notices me.  It comes in handy when you moonlight as an assassin.

I’m not in the greeting card business any longer.  I’ve found my talent.

 

Writing & Recording

My latest blog for the One Million Project is online. Check out the One Million Project’s website and blog about the work they are doing to help raise money for Cancer Research UK and EMMAUS homeless programs.

theonemillionproject

When I was a little girl, oh so many decades ago, my first form of storytelling was just that — sitting with my younger siblings and telling them a story that I made up. Creating little plays that we could perform in for my parents and grandparents. Playing in the yard, I would concoct a scenario of what we were playing that day. Sometimes we were settlers crossing the vast prairies looking for a place to build our cabin; at other times, we might be cruising through space in our spacecraft. (Can you tell I grew up in the sixties on series like Bonanza and Star Trek?)

Originally, I had planned to write a post on one of the One Million Project’s causes, but I decided to write about something new that I and several other writers I know are tackling in addition to self-publishing our work.

My new venture…

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What’s Kate Reading?

This month’s book club selection was The Tattooist of Auschwitz. The book is based on the memories of Lale Sokolov’s time as a prisoner in Auschwitz. It is a story filled with the atrocities witnessed first-hand by Lale, and it is also a love story. Lale met his soulmate in the camp and only knew her by the number he’d tattooed on her arm. He sought her out, and their relationship helped them fight for survival even when life seemed unbearable and death seemed to be a way to peace.

It was a fast read and the insider’s look into the concentration camp was fascinating and horrifying to read. The romance was an important thread throughout the book. I would recommend it to those who enjoy memoirs, historical fiction, WWII stories, and romance novels.

What’s Kate Reading…

I wish I could read more often than I do, but Need to Know by Karen Cleveland was a super quick read because it was sooo good! I love reading thrillers and suspense stories, and this novel was one of the better ones I’ve read in a while.

Cleveland weaves you through the intricacies of being a CIA analyst and having a family while trying to uncover Russian sleeper cells embedded in the US. Things get more complicated when she uncovers evidence that implicates someone close to her.

The rollercoaster ride is only beginning. When I reached the end, I closed the book firmly saying, “Brilliant ending” out loud. I don’t do that every day. I’d give this book 5 stars.