What Kate’s Reading…

A Wrinkle In Time is my local book club’s selection for November. I love this book, and I read it, for the first time, when I was in third or fourth grade. It is a “YA” or Young Adult book but I would recommend it as an inspirational read for all ages.

The winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, this book is a mix of science fiction, fantasy and the drama of coming of age for a young girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere but finds the courage to battle for those she loves.

Editing…oops?

I guess I should have realized that writing involves the process of editing what you write. And, if truth be told I did, but I didn’t understand the total extent the process would involve. Yeah, I could’ve hired someone to edit but in reality, the writer needs to edit their work throughout the writing process, even if an editor is employed to help refine the manuscript.

When you are new to the business of self-publishing, you don’t know who to trust with your manuscript — I mean this is YOUR baby! Will they do a good job? Will they charge you an exorbitant amount with questionable results for the money spent?

I would advise new writers to ask other authors that you trust, who they have used to edit their books. Find out what the fees are upfront, and what exactly will they be reviewing in your finished work.  Will they be acting as a proofreader — doing only punctuation, spelling and grammar? Or will they be looking to improve your book by identifying plot holes, timeline issues, and manuscript flow problems?

The writer should understand they are responsible for doing the revisions that may be suggested by the editor. They are suggestions, and you have the right to reject their ideas, BUT… You paid for their input, and I would suggest you wait a day or two to allow the emotional response to dull before making a decision on any presented ideas that may have been upsetting for you.

Go back, read the areas in question, look at your work with your professional eyes and weigh out the options. Get your creative juices flowing and ask yourself, “If I make this change, how would I go about it?”

Maybe you would have a dynamite idea that would propel your novel to a different level altogether?

We are invested in our work, and ultimately, we decide what the final outcome will be. Be true to who you are as a writer. What is your goal? There are many ideas out there about what sells books, but will making a decision to follow them destroy the essence of your vision or will it be the answer to your very dreams?

Only you can answer this. I, myself, am sitting down and editing the crap out of my story with the hopes I will meet the expectations that I have for myself. I write to please my muse and pray some will find the result worthy, enjoyable, suspenseful, romantic and totally awesome!

“Start your day right — eat well, stretch your legs, kiss your loved ones, read a good book…” ~~ Kate

Another Day Older

What is it about being a woman and having a birthday? I hear all the time from other females how terrible someone’s 30th, 40th or 50th birthday was for them, but I don’t really get it. I remember I was a little upset about turning 23 because I was meeting IMG_0520only 19-year-old guys and was feeling sooo much older than they were. At the time, I’d been holding down a full-time job as a nurse at a university hospital for 1-1/2 years and these dudes had just entered college.

Working at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics had a profound effect on my views on life. It was my first job as a nurse. I learned so much about medicine, nursing and the precious gift of life while I worked there. I shared laughter and good news with my patients as well as shed tears over others whose news wasn’t what anyone would have wanted to hear.

I would return to my apartment at times feeling exhilarated and at other times numbness would result in me lying fully clothed on my bed, staring at the ceiling. It changed me working in a place so closely linked with life and death. I started my quest to try the new, the scary and the crazy (at least, those things I deemed to be so). Tae Kwon Do — start classes… Join the Army Reserve — I raised my right hand… Live in Italy — “when do we leave?”… Bed & Breakfast — run one for ten years… Write books — of course!

Each decade is something to look forward to living, another chapter in my book of life needing to be written. I’ve lived in several beautiful places and visited many more. I’ve made mistakes, had a few successes, and faced the challenges life presented to me.

I turned a day older yesterday, and because it was the day of my birth, a year older too. My husband and I celebrated by drinking margaritas and eating dinner out. Afterward, we went to see a movie. My two adult sons and daughter-in-law called and wished me a Happy Birthday.

So many people have wished me well over the past few days, I want them to know I feel blessed to be surrounIMG_7641ded by so many wonderful people. I have a good life and look forward to many more years.

Getting older is about more than a few wrinkles and a few added pounds, it’s about the laughter that created those lines. It’s about the people in your life that have put the frown lines on your forehead because you worried over them. It’s about the roads traveled that have worn down your joints and put a slight hitch in your stride. It’s about more than a body that sags more than it did in the past and has a few extra pounds on it.

I’ve been lucky to live as long as I have. I will never regret turning a year older because of the blessings I’ve been given. My life has given me a reason to smile and laugh, words to write, and songs to sing at the top of my lungs.

Hell yeah, turning 58 is a good thing!

Girl Talk

I suppose entitling this blog “Girl Talk” is a bit of a misnomer because I think guys like getting together without their feminine cohorts and hashing things over with the rest of the testosterone set as much as the ladies do. I lived (as the only female) in a male-dominated household for over twenty years, and at times, I craved hanging out with the gals over margaritas — or any alcohol-based beverage, really — laughing and chatting about topics I’m sure the men in my life would do anything possible to avoid.

Today my sister and I went out for lunch over pomegranate margaritas and chimichangas, we giggled, groused and reminisced as only two women who’ve known each other for 54 years can do.  So what if we talked nonsense about manicures, wrinkles, and old boyfriends, we also caught up on each other’s families, our dreams and our concerns about our mom.

In honor of my bit of girl time, I decided to publish my short story “Girl Talk”.  Hope you enjoy it!


Girl Talk  ~~~ by Kate McGinn

The outdoor cafe was a favorite spot for the young and successful to gather on a Friday afternoon.  Vanessa Wallace sipped on her cup of black coffee nodding at the appropriate times to the buzz of conversation at her table.  She had been meeting the same group of friends on Friday afternoons for the past 8 years.  Their conversation points were essentially the same — work, men, fashion, men, bitchy women and men.  Vanessa’s mind was occupied with something else entirely.

She’d worked her way up the corporate ladder to become a successful financial analyst. Vanessa loved her job, money wasn’t a problem, and she didn’t fret about bitchy women, because she was one.  It was the age-old problem in the city — more eligible women than eligible men.  And just because they were eligible didn’t mean they met her standards.  Vanessa had very high standards.

Her boss had invited everyone and their significant others to his latest dinner party.  No way in hell was she going alone.  Vanessa had one day to find the right date.  Tonight, she was scoping out the possibilities.

“Nessa, are you listening?” Hailey asked.  “I don’t know why you even came tonight if you aren’t going to participate.”

“Sorry, Hailey.  I have a bit of a work problem.”  The group commiserated with her by nodding their heads and making sympathetic comments before heading onto the next topic.  Men.

“Well, you just won’t believe who’s back in town.”  Anita smoothed her skirt, performed a hair flip which she followed up by biting her bottom lip.  Vanessa thought Anita had the simpering female act down pat.  The girls leaned in with their heads hovering over the table to hear the latest gossip.  Vanessa leaned in along with the others, mentally chastising herself for doing so.

“Matt Summers.”  A chorus of “No!”, “You are kidding!” and “What an ass!” followed Anita’s news.

Vanessa leaned back in her chair with a slight smile flitting across her lips.  Matt Summers was a pretentious ass.  A handsome one.  He’d asked Vanessa out multiple times in the past, but she always said no.  He had a reputation, and she was focused on her career.  Maybe he had some potential as a dinner date.  Matt was wealthy and business savvy, so he would be a perfect fit for her work crowd.  She turned her attention back to the girls.

“I heard he might be here tonight,” Anita informed.  Vanessa chuckled as her friends tried, unsuccessfully, to scope out the cafe for the man of the moment.  It didn’t mean Vanessa wasn’t on the watch with her friends.  Vanessa ordered a glass of red wine hoping it would relax the knot in her stomach.

Halfway through her glass, her companions exhibited visible signs of shock.  Their eyes locked on a point behind Vanessa.  She wanted to turn around but forced herself to stay relaxed and face forward.  She felt a touch on her left shoulder as a familiar voice spoke softly in her right ear.

“I was hoping I would run into you again, Vanessa.  Can I sit down?”

“Matt Summers — I didn’t know you were back in town.”  Vanessa had found a dinner date to rival her colleagues’ trophy wives.

The Words No One Wants to Hear — #OMP Blog by Kate McGinn

The battle against Cancer is real and sometimes heartbreaking, and my family has andcancer-389921_1920 is currently dealing with this terrible disease. Despite being a nurse and caring for patients with cancer over the years, it hasn’t made it easier emotionally.

I support the One Million Project and their efforts to raise money for Cancer Research UK (CRUK). Check out my blog on their website. The One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies are available on Amazon. All proceeds go to CRUK and EMMAUS’ Homeless Programs.

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Home from Home?? ~~ by Christine Larsen

This account is fiction, but this is reality for many homeless families. Written by Aussie author, Christine Larsen for the #OneMillionProject blog.

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The first raindrops hadn’t registered in her ears or mind; so light and far between were they. Little more than a soft breeze drove them… at first.

Rachel peered out the window – even opened it slightly, hopeful of a welcome freshness. A cleansing, she thought. God knows how much we need that. And she imagined luxuriating in a hot shower instead of that hated yet strangely welcome ‘basin bath’. OK for Josh, with his typical young boy aversion to soap or anything that smelled clean! But not Penny. At this age, she’d take a contrary stance to Josh on anything and everything… and to most other boys as well.

The surrounding gloom dragged Rachel’s heart and soul down, deepened by the earliest light of day remaining hidden behind a vast, solid-looking wall of clouds. A quick glance at her old, trusty watch confirmed daylight was near. She smiled. You…

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Category 4

When I woke up this morning, the sky was gray, and it was raining. I burrowed under the covers wishing I had some sunshine to warm my day. I did get up and ventured downstairs in my workout clothes for a healthy breakfast. (I thought I’d be more likely to exercise if I was dressed for it. ((shrug))

Per my routine, I flipped on a news channel and was immediately bombarded with news about Hurricane Michael and its rapid approach towards Panama City Beach, Florida. It brought back memories from twenty-three years ago when my family lived there.

Hurricane season is typically from May to October, and the residents along the Gulf of Mexico pay close attention to the weather reports during this volatile time of the year. In 1995, three hurricanes of varying strengths made landfall or affected our area. I had a tee shirt from the hospital where I was employed with the paths of the storms that year.

October storms tend to be the strongest because the water temperature of the Gulf is at its highest levels after the long hot summer, and hurricanes gain their strength from the warm waters they travel over.

Hurricane Opal was our Category 4.

We’d gotten a phone call at midnight from the Navy base. The base was closing and all military personnel and their families were ordered to evacuate. We got up packed some belongings. My husband filled the SUV with gas, and we packed some of our camping supplies, just in case we came home and found we didn’t have a home.

While my husband packed, I took our other vehicle and proceeded to find an ATM with some cash. He had tried two places without luck. It took me ten more stops before I could find a machine with cash available.

By four in the morning, we had our boys and our dog tucked into the vehicle and proceeded to leave the coast behind. We drove for over 6 hours (about 365 miles) before we found a hotel room in Huntsville, AL.

After we returned home, we found neighbors helping to put the shingles that had been blown off of our roof back into our yard. We were lucky. A few doors down, some neighbors came home to over two feet of water damage inside of their home. According to reports, our huge backyard had been completely covered by flood waters, including our inground pool.

We found our pool half-empty. Odd. We are uncertain if a tornado spawned by the storm damaged the roof and sucked the water from the pool. It remains a mystery to this day. The storm surge had hollowed out many buildings and residences along the coast. We were without power for several days. I cooked our meals on our camping stove, and we slept in the screen porch area due to the heat and lack of air conditioning.

I used these experiences and those I had while living in Corpus Christi, TX to write scenes for my first novel (short excerpt below).

My prayers are with the residents of my former home. Stay safe! ~~ Kate

Excerpt From Exodus (Clare Thibodeaux Series, Book 1 

Running back and forth from the closet to the bathroom, FullSizeRender 6 - CopyClare stuffed the last item that would fit into her worn duffel bag with a sigh.  She glanced around the shamble she’d made in her bedroom for anything she didn’t wish to leave behind.  There was one thing she couldn’t forget, she thought, as she reached into the bedside table drawer removing a .45 and some extra ammo. She clicked on the safety after checking the chamber to make sure it was empty.

A sterling silver frame with a black and white photograph of her family caught her eye.  After she stripped the back from the expensive frame, Clare removed the photo and shoved it into her purse.  Her throat tightened, and she swiped at the lone tear sliding down her face.  Abruptly clearing her throat, she returned to the task at hand.

“Oh, my God,” she groaned as she hoisted the weight of the overstuffed bag over her shoulder.  The perspiration on her forehead stung as it dripped into her eyes.  Clare mopped at the sweat with the back of her hand and headed for the door of the apartment.

“Get your head in the game, Clare Thibodeaux,” she mumbled.  She set her bag on the floor and eyeballed the landing through the peephole making sure everything was clear before she opened the door.  Not able to see anything she considered suspicious, she bent over and picked up the duffel.  The door swung open with a blast of sweltering heat that made it difficult to breathe.  Coastal Florida temps often left one feeling like you’re standing too close to a bonfire.  It was only 6:30 AM.

Angry, dark clouds littered the predawn sky.  Hurricane Emmitt swirled its way across the Gulf of Mexico with The Weather Channel anticipating landfall along Florida’s panhandle.  The residents of this stretch of the Florida coast were familiar with the preparations a tropical storm or hurricane required.  People were boarding up their windows, getting ready for a hurricane party or hightailing it out of the path of the storm.  In the past, Clare had ridden out most of the hurricanes or near misses at the hospital.  Any staff able to stay would remain at the hospital 24/7 until after the worst of the storm was over.

Circumstances were different at present.  She planned to evacuate with the thousands of other residents as they left their homes and belongings to avoid the devastation the landfall of a Category 4 hurricane would bring.  Trees could be broken or uprooted from the ground.  Power lines would be downed, and the electricity might be off for days or weeks.  With so many leaving the coast, she could get lost in the stream of vehicles heading north.  It was probably the best time to disappear.  Maybe the only chance she’d have.

The warm red glow of the rising sun peeked through gaps in the clouds as the storm front advanced towards the coast.  Its weakened light glinted off the corrugated metal carports.  The roaring tide crashed onto the beach, and an occasional car door or trunk closing were the only sounds.  Taking the steps down to the parking lot, she looked across the road to the shoreline.  Lines of white-capped waves swelled larger rolling with power as they slammed into the shore.  Who knew if her apartment building would be standing in another day?  Not that it mattered to Clare, she wouldn’t return.

“What Comes Around” ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

Mark Huntley-James tells a story about how his family’s dealings with cancer have helped in the field of cancer research. An interesting story that shows how important it is to contribute to the efforts in medical research even in a small way.

theonemillionproject

Some decades back, I was offered a research fellowship, funded by a precursor to Cancer Research UK.  Sadly, although it was a hugely tempting invitation, my personal circumstances meant that I turned it down. Maybe if I’d taken it, I might have made some ground-breaking contribution to cancer research.  More likely, I would have made a tiny contribution, all part of the satisfaction of helping to piece together a larger puzzle. None of that happened, but on the other hand, had I taken it I wouldn’t have met my partner, so no regrets.

As it turns out, whilst I declined my chance, one of my relatives joined a clinical trial around about the same time. It’s a story which has only come to light in the last few years, and perhaps only now because my ageing relative has survived cancer twice, and that second occurrence presented some peculiar circumstances.

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What Kate’s Reading ~~ “The Lilac Bus” by Maeve Binchy

I love Maeve Binchy’s stories about Ireland. Circle of Friends was the first of Binchy’s books that I read. The Lilac Bus is a series of stories about all of the passengers who take the bus back home on weekends from Dublin. Binchy is a master at developing fascinating characters and plots.

The Vigil ~~ by Kate McGinn

My father-in-law passed away yesterday in the early hours of the morning. He was the son of Croatian immigrants. He served in the US Navy during World War II and as an officer in the Air Force during the Korean War. He became a much-beloved pediatrician, was chief of staff at a large hospital and taught a generation or two of medical students. He loved his wife of 63 years and has now reunited with her. He leaves behind four children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
He will be greatly missed by all of us.

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It didn’t begin with the inevitable phone call, but months before, after a visit to a physician. We all knew at some point this time would come, but somehow when the doctor’s predicted timeline was surpassed, we began to push the thought into those deep, dark recesses of our brain. Never quite forgotten, but not in the forefront of our daily ponderings.

Then, last week on a Thursday morning, it came followed by the mindless packing of clothing into a suitcase (without caring if anything matched), calling our sons, stopping the mail and the newspaper, and watering the plants. Hours of driving were filled with the quiet of reflection, grief, and disbelief. Each action seemed to be only possible because of our bodies’ repetition over the years of those same maneuvers.

Pressing a button and waiting impassively for the voice on the intercom to allow us entry into the facility…

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It Is Not Widely Known ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Raymond St. Elmo explains the driving force behind the One Million Project as only he can do — with humor, history, and fantasy that are his trademark. Enjoy!

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It is not widely known that Napoleon Bonaparte wrote a romantic novel: “Clisson et Eugénie”. A young man’s classic dream of love, war, and death. Publishers were skeptical; ‘Not exactly world shaking’, said one. “Needs more ‘umph’. Give the hero more pain, adventure, suffering.” Bonaparte nodded in Gaelic politesse.  Later as Emperor, he had the entire publishing staff drafted into the infantry, sent to Egypt where at last they found the adventure, pain, and suffering that eluded them in the submissions pile, merely reading about life.

Had ‘Clisson et Eugenie’ been seen for the work of potential genius that characterized Bonaparte’s military campaigns, the Sphinx would still have his nose. Louisiana would still be speaking French. Probably America would still be speaking English, instead of American.

A fact even less widely known is that Jason Greenfield is a Napoleonic scholar, for all that short Corsicans are a…

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What Kate’s Reading — “Lara” by Anna Pasternak

The current book I’m beginning to read is the untold story about Boris Pasternak, the author of Doctor Zhivago and his inspiration for the love story generations of readers and movie fans have loved. If you haven’t read the book or seen the original movie with Omar Shariff and Julie Christie, make a point of finding them online and reading/viewing them.

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Stories that thrill with a kiss and chill with the promise of danger

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