Category Archives: Short stories

Miss Lydia and the Magnolia County Bake-Off Debacle

Miss Lydia watched the woman running down her sidewalk from her kitchen window. If Miss Lydia remembered correctly Clarice was quite the track star in her days at Sinippi Cove High. In fact, Miss Lydia was certain the other woman had run all the way from the library where the fleet-of-foot Ms. Travers worked part-time. A frantic tapping increased in strength until it reached the level of a pounding knock before the octogenarian ambled to the back door. Miss Lydia could have arrived faster, but she liked to frustrate her younger neighbor.

As soon as she started to open her kitchen door, Clarice appeared body part by body part sliding in with the skill of a spelunker through the crevice in a cave. Her friend had a serious case of head-sweating as evidenced by her wet locks and the sodden collar of her dress. Miss Lydia handed her a dish towel which the librarian accepted with a nod mopping with unprecedented enthusiasm at her damp face and neck. It took her guest a few moments to slow her panting enough to speak.

“You will never guess what I just heard at the library,” Clarice crowed throwing the dish towel down on the counter for emphasis.

“No, I don’t suppose I will guess the news. Since I’m in my 80’s and my days are numbered why don’t you tell me, Clarice,” Miss Lydia stated with a wry tone. Unfortunately, her sarcasm was lost on her young friend.

“Well…” Clarice provided a long pause to build suspense (too bad it only built irritation), “You wouldn’t believe who walked into the library this morning.” Feeling another pause in the ready, Miss Lydia made a repetitive circular movement with her hand to get her friend to hurry up.

“Spit it out, Clarice,” Miss Lydia said, her words staccato and harsher than her usual clipped manner of speech.

“Enid Floss,” Clarice whispered the words. The whites of her eyes were clearly visible around her irises.

Miss Lydia opened her mouth slightly with shock for a fraction of a second before snapping it shut hard enough for her dentures to clack together. Miss Lydia never wanted to appear shocked in front of others.

“What did she want?” the older miss hissed like a snake as she uttered the pronoun representing her arch nemesis — the Jezebel of Sinippi Cove.

Trembling like a leaf in a hurricane, Clarice divulged the ultimate betrayal, “Enid Floss is entering the Magnolia County Bake-Off. And if that isn’t enough, she is planning on baking Snickerdoodles.”

Miss Lydia’s signature cookie. She gently tapped her closed lips with the index finger of her right hand as she ruminated on this debacle. Enid was her best friend until they reached the age of seventeen. Miss Lydia had met a nice, young man and had fallen in love. His name was Roy Floss. The rest of the story would have to wait. Let’s just say — although 69 years had passed — Miss Lydia never forgave Enid. Pushing Clarice out the door didn’t prove too difficult, she knew when it was time to leave Miss Lydia be.

It took all of three days and dozens upon dozens of batches of Snickerdoodles before Miss Lydia was satisfied she had the winning entry for the Magnolia County Bake-Off. The day of the big event Miss Lydia dressed in her best church clothes, submitted her entry, and walked past Enid Floss with a triumphant smile. Later, as Miss Lydia accepted the Blue Ribbon for her Caramel Chai Snickerdoodle cookies, she felt like a champion. (On a side note — Enid didn’t even receive an honorable mention for her Snickerdoodles.)


Just a Midwestern Girl

One of the things I love best about being female is being privileged to know so many fabulous women.  There is something about the women of the Midwest that is real. The kind of “real” which is imbued with sincerity,  caring, strength, humor, and the pursuit of fun.

They speak their minds. Some women do so bluntly in a “take no prisoners” way, but most will tell you what they think in a thoughtfully worded statement trying to help but not wound the recipient. That is the caring part of the equation.

Caring enough to bring food to an ailing neighbor IMG_8753or shoveling the sidewalk for another is a commonplace occurrence. These women are caring enough to volunteer to help out at church and school events without griping about it. They don’t think twice about helping because the culture they grew up in incorporates the ethos of good works and citizenship into daily life.

Women who get up at the crack of dawn to help milk cows before making breakfast, sending the kids off to school and heading to their “day” jobs.  After work, they work on the evening meal, head back to the barn to milk cows once again, and then drop into bed after the homework is done and the kids are bathed. A strength of body and spirit enable these women to do this day in and day out–not Monday-Friday, but 365 days a year.  Dairy farming is not for the idle.

The strength of dealing with hard work when the rewards aren’t designer clothing, fancy vacations or luxury cars. For many women in the middle of the country, our rewards are evidenced in having a roof over our heads, bills paid (but not paid off), and food on the table. Our lives are simple, but money can’t buy the luxuries our world offers.  Natural beauty, a sense of community and a focus on family are a few of our rewards.

D2B8A3FA-1AFB-49E1-BAF2-C9A424F42BE4We don’t need to get overly raucous or lewd to laugh and have a good time. A weekend of camping and/or a concert are some of my favorite outings.  We aren’t perfect, but when we aren’t our friends are there to keep us safe.

I was born in New York City, but the majority of my youth was spent in the Midwest.  I’m just a Midwestern girl, and I’m darn proud of it!

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.

Going Golfing

I wasn’t an athletic kid.  I stumbled, couldn’t hit a baseball if my life depended on it, and dodgeball was my personal hell. I wasn’t the last kid picked for the teams but I was in the bottom 10%. I really wanted to run like the wind and be decent at sports (note: I didn’t say “good at sports”.  My goals were realistic.).

I was pretty good at making baskets whenever we played Horse on the playground. Finally, something where I could achieve a modicum of success! The first week of basketball practice in middle school and a six foot tall Amazon landed on my foot and broke at least one of my toes. It was the end of my basketball career. I realized at only five foot three inches I was at a disadvantage. Besides, my foot turned black and blue, swelling so much my toes curled under my foot. It wasn’t something I wanted to repeat.

One of my friends ( another writing nerd) informed me she was trying out for the golf team. It isn’t much of a tryout. Everyone makes the team unless they decide they don’t want to do it anymore. Golf wasn’t a contact sport, and I didn’t need to run. It sounded like a win-win to me.

My dad was pleased I was trying something different. He bought me a set of golf clubs with the understanding I needed to persevere and not give up since “golf clubs aren’t cheap!”

And, play I did. I played on the golf teams through middle school, high school, and college.  My first date with my husband was playing 36 holes of golf. We walked the hilly course and carried our own golf bags.  Ah, youth…(wistful sigh, insert here).

Through the years, we continued to play but the frequency depended on how busy our lives/jobs were and how strapped financially we were at the time. And for some inexplicable reason, I stopped playing seven years ago. That is, until last week when I picked up my clubs and headed to the driving range to hit some golf balls.

Truly, I was worried. I was in much better shape physically than I was the last time I’d played, but I was also much older now.  It went fairly well. Some balls responded exactly as they should have, and others rolled a few feet away leaving evidence of my inconsistency and my sloppy swing.

Undeterred by my less than stellar performance, I told my husband I wanted to play a few holes of golf. I proceeded to bogey and double bogey multiple holes. Most of my puts were laughable, but I did sink a forty-footer (smile). I ended up in not one, but three bunkers.

Nine holes later, I was smiling, sunburnt and had stiff and aching shoulders. It was great fun. I didn’t let my poor putting or uneven play depress me, because golf IS only a game and with more practice time and rounds of golf under my belt, I know I will improve.

See you out on the links!

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.

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPThriller

What Kate’s Reading…

Check out this 3-volume short story anthology by authors from the One Million Project!

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

Snapshots of a Lovely Woman

I’m of an age now.  An age which brings with it the loss of youth in not only the mirror but in my world-view of myself. Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and not only am I a mother, but I still have my mother in my life. I’m very fortunate in many ways.

The past month has been very difficult for me. I’ve had a front-row seat watching my mom’s physical and mental decline, losing a bit more of herself day by day. Over the past few years, her mobility decreased rapidly, but her spirit remained high. Even during her fight against breast cancer, she swore to anyone who would listen that she would fight it. Sure enough, when she awoke after surgery, she stuck out her tongue at us. She’d found a way to make the solemn and frightening event emotionally lighter. In the last month, her memory has been failing, and simple tasks require step-by-step instructions.

IMG_7410My mom was born in the middle of the Great Depression on a July day so hot, my grandfather had to buy two fans for the hospital room to keep his wife and new baby girl comfortable. Mom grew up on a 560-acre farm in a house without running water, electric lights, heat or an indoor bathroom. The family used an outhouse. Kerosene lamps were used for light. They had an icebox, not a refrigerator like we have now, and every few days a new block of ice needed to be purchased to cool their perishable food.

From kindergarten until the fourth grade, Mom attended a one-room schoolhouse.  She wrote about her feelings concerning school in a short autobiography published for her family, “I hated school so my mom would take me inside the building, and the teacher would hold me until she knew my mom had gone.  I would then go outside and cry.  I did the crying for quite awhile.”

As a teenager, Mom detassled corn working in fields with

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Mom is #20, back row, first from left.

mile-long rows of corn under the hot summer sun in order to earn money. She was an awesome basketball player, was voted the “Carnival Queen” in high school, and graduated third in her class. She would laugh when she told others of her prestigious class ranking, informing her listeners that she’d graduated in a class of three students!

 

She never left the state of Iowa until she married my father, a native New Yorker. After their wedding, they moved to New York City. What an adventure for her! She’d never eaten pizza, flown in a plane or seen so many people from so many different cultures. But being my mom, she made friends quickly and my dad’s Irish immigrant family welcomed her.

IMG_7436There are many, many stories about this wonderful lady and her life, but I offer you a sliver, a snapshot to avoid this becoming a novella. I share these small glimpses into Mom’s life with supreme gratitude for her patience and loving care of me over the years. I wouldn’t be the woman I am without my parents.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I return back home again to honor my mother, care for her needs and grab every moment I can to laugh with her and show my love for her just as she always did for me.

Thanks for reading…Kate

The Empowerment Program Empowers Homeless Women

This is a fabulous idea! This organization hires homeless women taking them out of the shelters to train them to make jackets that are given to the homeless.

They also provide training for other careers for those who wish to move on once they are established. We need more ideas like this one. Check out the video and consider donating to help this worthwhile program.

https://www.facebook.com/attn/videos/1703232489712203/

What Kate’s Reading: One Million Project’s Fantasy Anthology

Check out the One Million Project’s Fantasy Anthology! Great stories! So many of my favorite writers are featured in this volume. A must-read, must-have book for your collection. And the best thing about it — all proceeds benefit charity!!!

theonemillionproject

The recent publication of the three-volume short story anthologies from the One Million Project was the culmination of over a year and a half of work and coordination of over one hundred writers, editors and publishing professionals. Each week, I will highlight each of the anthologies to give readers a taste of how fabulous these books are.

Our Fantasy volume presents a variety of genres including Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and PhotoFunia-1517875727 (1)Supernatural Fantasy.  Each story is of differing lengths and some authors have contributed multiple mini-stories so there are more than forty stories in this volume.

Find out what happens to Rachel when her long-time boyfriend leaves her for another man in S. Cinders’ story, Dragon or escape into a tale about what happens when the gods and goddesses create mischief in The Perfect Tree by Sarah A. Wilson.  Have you ever gazed in the mirror and questioned your life choices? Raymond…

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