Category Archives: Blog

Discovering Our Ancestral Past

Most everyone has heard about geneology research sites such as Ancestry.com which help us to search records for snippets of information about our families.  Many families pass down stories about their ancestors to younger generations, but my family didn’t.

I was always interested, but when I asked questions of my parents, they had very few answers.  My grandparents had difficult lives, and I doubt it left much time for passing on stories of their youth.  Most of what I’ve been able to find out has been through a couple of stories one of my uncles told me and the web.

Kate McGinn is my alter ego.  When I decided on my pen name, I chose a combination of my own name and my grandmother’s maiden name.  If I was to be known as someone else, I wanted it to be connected to me in some way.  It was important to have a name with meaning.  When I started writing and creating social media sites for promotions, several of my relatives asked my mother “Who in the world is Kate McGinn?”

My husband and I are planning a trip to Ireland in the near future.  It will be my first time traveling to the homeland of my ancestors. I really wanted to travel to the town where my grandmother grew up — Carrickmacross in County Monaghan.  In preparation, I contacted some of my family members to see if anyone still had contacts in Ireland.  I was pleased to find out several of my father’s cousins still lived near my grandmother’s hometown.

When my aunt told them how I was using their mothers’ and my grandmother’s family name, they were very pleased.   It was such a special feeling to know I would see the place that my McGinn ancestors called home.

My curiosity has peaked thinking about walking the streets my grandmother traveled as a young girl and woman.  I look forward to seeing if any of our Irish family bear a resemblance to their American cousins.

The story of my family and their past awaits, and Kate McGinn can’t wait to see it unfold.

 

Post Election Thoughts

No matter who you may have voted for or which party, if any, you affiliate yourself with, we need to come together. We need to realize freedom of speech doesn’t mean you shout the other side down to silence it.

Prior to the election, the country was divided almost 50/50.  Each of us must acknowledge this fact. This election was not a landslide by any means, but what makes America great is uniting as a people and compromising so large segments of the country don’t feel ignored.

America needs to move forward not backward or at a standstill.  Only time will show us if we will strengthen our democracy or impede it.

God Bless America.

Inspiration Versus Procrastination

Fellow OMP writer, Michele Potter discusses how she deals with inspiration and procrastination (something I fight daily).

theonemillionproject

I admit to being a world-class procrastinator. Having lived that way most of my life, it is probably too late to change. I successfully procrastinated my way through high school and, many years after, college, summa cum laude.

Having never been a disciplined scheduler, I use my non-writing time for inspiration. I love to write, but sitting in front of a screen for hours when I’m not ready does not work for me. A friend tries to write 2000 words every single day. She says she doesn’t want to get out of the habit, even if many of her words are thrown out. I admire her for that, I really do. I doubt that I could do it, unless I were being paid for each word.

In college, I wrote essays, critiques, and theses with comparative ease. At least, it appeared so to my peers, who stressed over the required…

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Building Suspense

I love a good mystery or thriller.  Throw in the FBI, CIA and a few Navy Seals and I’m a happy camper.  The genre of my current series is Romantic Suspense, and one of the challenges of this genre is building suspense and keeping the story moving without giving too much away.

The allure of the mystery/suspense story is trying to solve the puzzle before the characters in the story.  When I was young, I was always trying to out-sleuth Trixie Belden or Hercule Poirot. A writer’s task involves dropping some hints and using dialogue and plot points to advance the story.  Just when the reader is positive they know who the villain is — insert a plot twist.

“What is it?”

“It’s a tracker.  Someone placed it on your vehicle, so they could follow your movements…” ~ Dave Cartwright to Clare in Exodus

Don’t you love the feeling you get when you’re at a critical juncture in a scene?  The suspense has been building and building.  I know something major is about to happen.  My heart starts to beat a little faster, and my eyes fly over the words reading rapidly.  I am anticipating what the next scene will reveal.  Boom!   Your theories just got blown out of the water.  One of the best compliments I have received from readers is “I thought I had it figured out, but you had me second-guessing myself through the whole book”.

Secrets can be revealed along the way to advance the plot and to throw some red herrings into the mix.  But the final solution or climax should remain a mystery until the last couple of chapters; otherwise, you lose your readers once they solved it.

Here’s a caveat — some thrillers and mysteries use the antagonist’s point of view to unveil their plot.  These stories build suspense through the unpredictability of the villain’s next actions.   The key is to have certain elements of the story remain in the dark.

I like to give my characters some flaws.  Is the “good guy” telling the truth or acting out of character?  The writer instills doubt with an unexpected action or a sudden change in temperament, for example.

A good story brings the reader along for the ride. A book is an alternate universe and the reader is wanting to immerse themselves in it.  Whether it’s falling in love with the handsome detective or holding their breath during a chase scene, the reader needs to feel the tenderness and the heartache along with the fear and confusion.  If the writer can involve the reader and get an emotional response from them, you’ve done your job.