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.

My Vacation from Writing

‘If you live to write, you write to live’.  I’ve heard that quote somewhere.  No, everywhere.  It and the quote — ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ effectively speak to those of us who were ‘bitten by the writing bug’.  (I know, I know, I’m the Queen of Hackneyed Expressions tonight).

So, I dutifully packed my laptop and lugged it to Puerto Rico with me.  My youngest son was getting married and we would be meeting his fiancee’s family for the first time.  I pictured myself sitting on the deck looking at the ocean or the sunset while typing away.  Carefully dragging my laptop to the beach… You get the picture, right?

Oh, it happened.  Once.  I wrote a 500-word short story for a writing prompt.  The topic was “Lakebed” and despite my usually light treatment of subjects for my short stories, this one was dark.  Perhaps my change of mood was the result of being in Puerto Rico and pre-wedding anxiety.  That would be a resounding negative.

For me, Puerto Rico was all about warm breezes, floating in a pool, and watching the moon sink into the ocean each night as the stars overhead rotated across the dark sky. pool It was the sound of the waves slamming up on the rocks at the foot of the forty-foot cliff our villa was built upon. The island will remind me of drinking wine as I reminisced with my best friend about our youth and the escapades which will remain a secret between the two of us.  Puerto Rico is the laughter floating in the air while we sat at a beachside restaurant inserted the name of our main entree into our conversations because it sounded funny.  “Holy Mofungo, Batman!” will never sound funnier than it did that night.  Okay, I lied.  I think it still sounds funny, but I’m kind of a nerd.

I guess what I’m trying to say is — Puerto Rico was helping me write my next sentences, paragraphs, chapters and books.  It is the source of my memories of the single teardrop on my son’s face while he watched his bride walk down the aisle under strings of lights  illuminating their faces as the shadows of the coming night deepened.

Although I didn’t put many words on paper during those twelve days, I did create lasting impressions I will carry for the remainder of my days.  The creative spark for our ideas can be found in many places and in many activities including floating in a pool watching white clouds in a beautiful blue Puerto Rican sky.

 

Stumped

Wayne took his farmer’s cap off and used his handkerchief to mop the perspiration from his forehead and balding pate.  He stuffed the kerchief into his back pocket and shook his head.

“I don’t know Miss Lydia.  This sure is a puzzle,” he said as he set his cap back in its place.

“There has to be something we can do!  That thing is ruining my plans.”  Miss Lydia lamented.  She was definitely in a sour mood.  In all of her 86 years, she hadn’t let a little problem defeat her.  This one would be overcome as well.  As they stood in Miss Lydia’s yard, a crowd was starting to gather.  In a small town such as Sinippi Cove, anything could serve as an opportunity to congregate.  Each new addition looked the situation over thoroughly before passing judgement.

Harvey, who was a member of Sinippi Cove’s volunteer fire department, offered, “Fire might do the trick.”

“I was thinking we needed some chains,” Tug from the hardware store suggested.  Clyde Parks had seen the group and felt he should be present at any gathering being he was the mayor of Sinippi Cove.

“What is going on here?” Clyde’s booming voice questioned.  Miss Lydia gave him a look that would have turned the average man to stone, but you see, Clyde had survived much worse during the Great War having lost his right leg.  A prosthetic was secured to his stump, and he was proud that he could keep up with all the young whippersnappers who had collected in Miss Lydia’s yard.  Miss Lydia just pointed her finger at the offensive object.

“Dynamite would take care of it,” Clyde asserted.  As mayor, he felt he could offer solutions that others might not have the authority to suggest.

“What?  Blow my house to kingdom come and back?   Humphf!”  Miss Lydia started to mutter which was definitely not a promising sign.  There followed a display of throat clearing, head scratching and shuffling of feet as they waited for another morsel of wisdom concerning the current predicament.

Clarice Travers carried a tray of moisture covered glasses containing cold lemonade handing them out to the conclave of citizens.  Murmured thanks were given for the kind contribution.  The sun was getting higher in the sky, and the temperature was going to reach the triple digits soon.

Suggestions included horses,  chemicals, and Pinterest.  “What in blue blazes is this Pintfester?  Don’t waste my time,” Miss Lydia threatened.  “Humphf, Pinterranets.  Bull puckey.”

“No, Miss Lydia, it’s P…”  The speaker was elbowed and shushed.  No one wanted to get on the wrong side of the octogenarian.  A group of Red Hat Ladies, heading for a luncheon, stopped.  It looked like a party, and anyone familiar with Red Hat Ladies knows they love parties.  It is the whole reason they exist.  The noise escalated to ear drum rupturing levels as the females bestowed their combined knowledge on the assemblage.

The tree stump would have to wait.  Miss Lydia wanted a nap.

Love and Loss

Each story, while unique, has a central theme that the reader can identify themselves with personally.  One of the most poignant themes concerns “Love and Loss”.  Stories, poetry, and songs have paid homage to these tender emotions for as long as humankind has walked the Earth.

I’ve laughed and cried while my favorite characters have struggled as they dealt with love found and love lost.  I rooted for Rhett Butler to win Scarlett’s love and found myself devastated when fortune didn’t cooperate.  Right or wrong, as a teen, I searched for my own hero so that I could live happily forever in a white house with a picket fence.  I ignored the “nice guy” in favor of the “bad boy” FB_IMG_1445913233417_kindlephoto-1998123 (2)experiencing my cycle of stories of love and loss.

The flirty banter between our characters is balanced by the angry and tearful rhetoric in another chapter.  So goes real life.

Over the past few months, I’ve said good-bye to good friends and family as they left this world.  I watched the anguish of love found and love lost knowing I couldn’t change the outcome like I can on the written page.  But comfort can be found in knowing as long as our own stories continue — love will be found, will be lost and will be discovered anew.

 

Looking for Inspiration

2015-06-19_194509000_AADCD_iOSIf you talk about writing with anyone, at some point you will hear the quote — “Write what you know.” — Mark Twain’s famous words.  So does this mean if you are a truck driver you should only write about driving trucks.

No, I don’t believe Twain meant it literally.  I will be sitting at home with my laptop waiting for an idea to pop into my consciousness.  A scene from a day, a week or months ago will come to mind.  A funny story about a friend can suddenly have an influence on how my character will act in a certain situation.

Our pasts and our futures can be the impetus for a story.  I mentioned my canine muse in the blog, The Best of Intentions.  My furry companion and his antics will more than likely show up in several of my future writings.  In Exodus, the protagonist’s yellow lab is an amalgamation of my buddy and some of the dogs I’ve met over the years.

During my walks, I will suddenly have the solution for a plot line which wasn’t working.  I can hear dialog between characters.  When I get home I will grab my notebook and scribble the thoughts on the page hoping I didn’t forget anything.  I have even been known to get up out of bed during the night to jot down a scene.

Obsessive?  Probably, but it’s so much fun when the stories unfold.  The real work happens after the ideas are written.  Then it is up to the writer to mold those snippets of life’s inspirations into an entertaining story.

The Best of Intentions

I admit it.  I’m not good at always following through.  I’ve had diaries, journals and another blog before I started this one.  It had been over a year between posts.

Yikes!  A lot happened…I’ve had my reasons.  Seriously, I have.  Four things occurred in my life which interfered with my blog time.

Oh?  Just four.  Yes, I can hear voices in my head.  I feel I need to disclose to my readers — I do talk back (thought you should know).   Also, I have the privilege of having only sarcastic voices.  I blame my early years in NYC and an Irish Catholic dad from the South Bronx for this issue.  Back to the matter at hand (as you can see I might have ADD too).

The first event was on Thanksgiving eve 2014, my eldest son decided he would like to be the proud owner of a yellow lab puppy.  I felt the spirit of the holiday and agreed it would be great to have a dog around the house again.  We drove over 5 hours round trip that same night to get him.  I know…

Number Two — I developed a severe case of puppy caretaker syndrome.  Every photo I took had a puppy in it.   Every conversation revolved around the puppy.  My daily schedule was now dictated by a small dog.  He didn’t stay small for long.  But that is another story for another time.

Number three is not humorous.  My mom got sick.  Very sick.  At 80 years of age, she needed more help than my other non-medical siblings could provide.  I spent 6 months with her.  Occasionally returning home to assure my husband I still lived there.  My mom is better, is able to live in her own home, and I’m able to live in mine.

I returned home to a half-grown lab and time on my hands.  Here comes number four — I read a lot.  My Kindle has now become two Kindles so I can always have one charged. Can anyone say “Addiction!”?   I joined a writing forum, and  I started to write.  I love it, and spend my time reading other writer’s work, writing on my own projects and occasionally posting on my site.

A yellow lab can be found in some of my books.  I guess you know where I get my inspiration.

How Not to Blog

I think the axiom that “it always looks easier than it is” holds true for blogging.  I didn’t think it would be so difficult to decide on what sort of format I would choose?  Do I add gadgets?  And if so, how many?  I think I changed the template and layout about 30 times!

That calls into question whether or not I am too indecisive or too much of a perfectionist.  I can tell you right now that perfectionism is not something I’m too worried about.  So that leaves indecision… And the main impetus of doing this blog is “What Will I Do Now??”  So it works.

A photograph was necessary for the website, blog, Facebook, twitter, etc.  I am a novice at taking “selfies”.  I don’t particularly like having my photo taken.  So, I am trying to use my smart phone which I hate to admit is smarter than I am at times. There are so many steps to remember!  I have to get the right lighting, try not to get my fingers in the photo or the clutter on the table and try not to look so startled.  Having seen the “selfies” my nieces seem to create daily, I knew I would have to make some choices about whether I should do a “fish face”, open my mouth in surprise as if I didn’t realize I was going to take a photo of myself, or put my hand on my hip like I’m on the red carpet.  I didn’t make any of these choices so I think my photo is unique in its own way.

I haven’t seen this kind of selfie yet 🙂

I’m not sure that my nieces would approve, but I believe that good dental care is important.


My journey of self-fulfillment and actualization was at a standstill today.  I had to run errands.  I worked on my blog.  Oh, and I took a few “selfies”.

FYI

Did you know?

  • You can read Bite Size Stories for FREE if you have Amazon Prime
  • Kindle books can be read on any device just download the appropriate app — I have Kindle available on my iPhone and on my laptop, so I can read wherever and whenever I want
  • If you want to help get quality books published online, consider becoming a Kindle Scout.  You read excerpts from unpublished books and can nominate the ones you enjoy!