Tag Archives: #books #writing #KateMcGinn

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.)


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.

A Writer’s Tense Moments

The tension builds and the cast of potential villains grows to the point where it’s almost impossible to figure out who is the real ‘bad’ guy or gal.  The buildup to a book’s climax is an important part of the story.  Do all the pieces fit into the puzzle I’m painstakingly created over the past 8 months?  Will I do the scene in my head justice?  Or will the readers be deeply disappointed in my efforts?

The past month has been gut-wrenching for me.  I know how important these last few chapters are to the success of my book, and the knowledge paralyzed me with fear.  A few nights I sat looking at a blank screen, unable to find the right combination of words to put the visions in my head on the page, so readers would see the fictitious events as I imagine them.

The entire book is a trail I want readers to navigate by following the bread crumbs I leave for them.  If they take the wrong fork, I will lose them, and they will put the book down.  But if I can leave treats and small gifts along the way, hinting at a bigger treasure at the end of the trail, they may stay the course until the end.

Last night, I finished a very rough first draft of the chapter.  It’s not finished, but it isn’t a blank page any longer.  I can work with it.  Tonight I will read it again and find ways to instill the fear, the despair, and the heartbreak necessary to give it life.

The ‘After’ in my tale will be my next writing challenge and I fear it will be one as intimidating as the preceding chapter had proved to be for me.  Every action has consequences–sometimes happy, frequently not.  How my characters react and the directions their lives will take is in my hands.  Some readers may dislike the conclusion of my story.   Keeping  them engaged, regardless of their feelings, is my goal.

Books should make readers feel a variety of emotions.  I want them to cry when my main character does, get spittin’-mad at the antagonist, and fall in love with the same man who touches the heroine’s heart. 

When my book ends, I hope my readers feel their time was well spent and my story has a lasting place in their memories. 

Isn’t that what all writers want?