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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!

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 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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Sometimes You Eat Concrete

Whenever things seem to be going amazingly well something happens to put your feet back on the ground. It never fails, and I believe it is the universe keeping everything in balance. Call it karma or the biblical “pride cometh before a fall”, but either way, life has its ups and downs. I’ve been on the roller coaster ride of life this summer. Good times and sad ones have been mixed with moments of triumph.

My third book is coming along, and I hope to reach a point where I can publish it this fall. It will the end of a trilogy. My first, but hopefully not the last one I will write. My goal to work out regularly has been interrupted at times but I’ve managed to still work out at least three times each week.

Then there was Tuesday. I got up, threw on my workout clothes, and headed out the door. I was going to put in some miles. Turned on my tunes and started walking down the sidewalk with my ponytail bouncing to the beat. Unfortunately, the music was fading in and out with each step. I reached for my iPhone and the universe decided to take my high spiritedness and level it out…

Sometimes you eat concrete.

What Kate’s Reading…

Definitely check out the #OneMillionProject’s Blog by #OMP Blogger, Mark Huntley-James. In his blog, “Something to Talk About”, Huntley-James discusses his reasons for becoming a member of this organization of writers, artists, musicians and interested volunteers.

His story about how he discovered his mother’s support of one of the OMP’s charities — Cancer Research UK — shows how cancer touches so many lives around the world. Sometimes, we are intimately involved on the battlefield of this category of diseases, but this is not always the case.

Each person deals with their cancer diagnosis in their own way. Some reach out and let those close to them know what is going on during their day-in, day-out fight with it. Others prefer to keep their illness to themselves.

Our bloggers have brought wit, knowledge, compassion, and their own heartaches and battles to the One Million Project. Please take the time to read their blogs and join us in our efforts to support the work of Cancer Research UK and EMMAUS Homeless programs.  ~~ Kate

 

Words and Actions Have Power

Sometimes I forget how one human being can have a powerful influence on someone else. I go through my day trying to smile, to say “Thanks!”, and to avoid exhibiting road rage. (I had a brief flirtation with it earlier today. Please forgive me for being peeved.)

Each day, I write a blog, post something on social media or work on my latest book draft, I’m affecting someone’s mood for the good or maybe in a negative way. I’m sure you have all had the post you hid because it was upsetting ( I’m picturing the trauma of seeing a dog being tortured.) Or had somebody send you a very personal photo that you didn’t wish to have sent to you. Even the very way everything is divided in the US across political lines is disconcerting. I remember when we identified as Americans first and not by political parties. But that is another topic that is off limits because of the bad karma it brings.

I like to keep things light. Positive thoughts, happy photos IMG_8762and every meme or video I can find that makes me laugh, includes Jeeps or nurses or dogs or babies or books. Get the idea???

My books are not necessarily happy love stories. They are filled with many themes including love, misunderstandings, pain, hate, criminal activity, friendships, and suspense. But the main theme is how people affect each other for good or bad.

I want to stay on the “good” side. Thank you to all of my readers and social media friends. Writers tend to be a bit introverted myself included, so your comments, likes, and book reviews mean a great deal to me. They give me the motivation to sit down, again and again, to wrangle a multitude of words into pages that transport those who read them to another place and another time. I couldn’t do it without all of you.

 

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!