Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Welcome, Karen McGrath

Hi Roseanne. Thanks so much for inviting me to visit your blog today. I’ve been enjoying the posts about my colleagues at Muse.

Where to begin…? I was born in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the Union. My dad was in the Navy so we moved around a lot but ended back in RI and then moved around in state. I’m Finnish and English, although I grew up thinking I was Swedish because my grandparents spoke the language. I was a spiritual little kid and drove adults mad with my “emperor has no clothes” observations. Although my family warmed the pews on holidays only, I had a Damascus Road conversion in kindergarten and thought everyone did it.

I’m also an officer’s daughter. My dad was Third Mate in the Merchant Marines. He joined after an assignment as a radar gunner in Alaska during the Cold War. That was my first taste of war - I remember the stench of it quite clearly. I’ve smelled it a few times since, Vietnam, the Gulf War and of course, 9/11. Almost all of the men on my father’s side of my family are military, with the exception of one uncle.

One of my favorite childhood memories is our family reunion clambakes. We always had them on Cape Cod after the summer was over. We’d gather early in the day. A special crew was sent to the beach to dig a pit in the sand. They’d build a huge fire in the pit and let it die down to embers. On top of that they’d lay down boards and seaweed. Then they’d layer lobsters, clams and scallops I think and boards on top of that to keep the heat in and then cover that with sand. I wasn’t fond of seafood so I didn’t pay too much attention to what went in the pit. Me and my siblings and cousins were thrilled to watch the crew fix it up and ask them silly questions in the process. Someone always brought along barbeque chicken for the children, and I was always grateful.

After hours of running up and down the beach and into neighbor’s gardens and sheds, getting sweaty and very sandy, it was time to open the pit. We loved it. I think it was the thought of cooking in the sand that we liked the best, and that we could run riot all day out of range of our parents. I also remember the butter. The adults had great fun dredging steamed clams through bowls of butter and slurping them. We’d pour melted butter all over our corn on the cob, dripping it as we ate it. Of course we had watermelon seed spitting contests. I never won those. We got into more stuff than the adults ever knew, adoring our freedom. I think we would have run the length of the Cape Cod shoreline if our appetites didn’t keep us close to the clambake.

Shortly after dinner the night air moved in and the crew would build a bonfire. We’d pull out our sweatshirts from the car and find sticks to roast marshmallows on. We’d gulp as many sodas as we could before the chill got to us or we fell asleep in our parents laps. I’d always wake up at home in my bed with a crick in my neck from sleeping in the car but happy for the time outdoors and the shared adventures with my cousins.

I live in Boston now with my husband and two teens who are both homeschooled. My oldest daughter lives nearby, also homeschooled. She’s working full time, going to grad school and runs her own business. None of my children have been to a clambake yet, sadly. I’m an author and editor at MuseItUp Publishing, which I absolutely love. I write paranormal romance mysteries, YA and memoir.

I’m pleased to offer a one-day workshop on the 12th at the Muse Online Writer’s Conference if you’d like to stop in. It’s called “Sacrificing your Novel to the Editing Gods?” What editing is, why it’s necessary, pointers on things editors look for, help with opening paragraphs, synopsis, cover letters; the usual fare.

I enjoy connecting with others on the internet so please feel free to email and friend me.

Website: www.karenmcgrathauthor.com

Email: karenmcgrathauthor@gmail.com

Blog: http://karenmcgrathauthor.blogspot.com/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jazzchildblue
Facebook: www.facebook.com/karenmcgrathauthor

MuseItUp Publishing author page: http://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=90&Itemid=82

My novel is Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon, MuseItUp Publishing April 2011

Attorney Kylie Watson returns to Brazil to mourn her missionary parents where she's swept into the Amazon's current with vivid nightmares, family secrets, church corruption and international espionage.

“Do you want the truth, or something you can live with?”

My short story is Love in the Time of Mortals, MuseItUp Publishing August 2011

Lucille Lamphere checks into her Caribbean hotel hideaway for her annual vacation memorial to her husband who drowned on their honeymoon. Except this year, fate has another surprise...

“Sometimes love slips through your fingers only to return like waves on the sea.”

My Christmas novella is The Vagabond Prince, MuseItUp Publishing, December 2011

Jude, a reclusive anti-romantic, has a chance encounter with a homeless man who changes her life and gives her a Christmas she’ll never forget.

“Christmas comes softly but leaves an imprint that lasts for a lifetime.”

My memoir story, An Invitation to Hope, just published this week from the Choice Publishing Group in Nevada in their Patchwork Path anthology Christmas Stocking. Please contact me if you’d like a signed copy.


Unedited excerpt from Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon:
Kylie grabbed her cell phone from her robe pocket. The terry felt warm and cozy but she shuddered from nerves as she dialed Sharra at her condo. Sharra’s sleepy voice droned on the other side of the city.

“Yeah, you ok?”

“Sharra.” Kylie whispered loudly wondering why she was whispering at all and why she didn’t call the police first. “Sharra, I nightmared again…and I hear noises in the back yard… again.”

“I’m there. Get Chris on the line. The police will be there soon, right?” Sharra said waking up quicker.

“No, I didn’t call the police. What if no one’s out there, they’ll think I’m crazy?”

“No Kylie, you think you’re crazy, that’s why you don’t call them. Honestly, if you call them and no one is out there, you’ll feel better knowing that. It’s their job. You hear a noise outside in the middle of the night, you call the cops. Got it? Simple. Now hang up and call them before I do. Ok, leggings, sandals, hoodie here, got the keys and getting in my baby Fiat. Motor running, be there in seconds. Now call them.”

“Sharra, you’re in the car, turn off your cell.” Kylie said and hung up. She dialed Chris.

“Chris, I nightmared, there’s someone in the back yard. Sharra’s on her way.” She whispered loudly into his answering machine. Chris would come immediately when he heard the message. In seconds her friends would be here and then what? They would check the backyard with brooms in hand to fight off offenders? How ridiculous. She decided she needed tranquilizers wondering if her prescription sleeping pills would qualify.

As she spoke to herself, she poured a glass of water and peeked out the window cautiously. Finding nothing, she tiptoed to the front of her small Victorian, past the dining room and the den and into the front foyer. Through the windows on either side of the large front door she saw the headlights of the police car and realized she had to look somewhat presentable. She slipped on her flats which she kept near the front door and pulled the ties on her ivory robe a little tighter. The bottom of her nightgown showed only at the hem. Not too revealing, she thought as she brushed her hair with her fingers and glanced in the side mirror above the bench. No, none of yesterday’s makeup had smeared across her face, as if there might be any after all her crying that night. The knock was light on the door and she pulled the curtain to the side just a bit. Yes, it was an officer. She let him in with his partner.

“Miss Watson? Kylie Watson? Please show us to the back, Miss Watson. Sharra Martinelli called to tell us you may be in danger. Do not turn on any lights.”

“Thank you for coming,” She whispered and walked them through the house to the kitchen and back door where she unlocked the deadbolt for them. Their flashlights were jammed in their pockets and their guns were drawn.

In danger…Kylie thought, grateful to have help now. She was in danger in her dream and didn’t know it. It seemed odd she might be in danger now. Isn’t that what danger is, obvious? If you are in danger it is evident, that’s how you know…right? Otherwise, you aren’t in danger, you’re in the dark…right? Something clicked into place in Kylie’s heart almost imperceptibly. She barely noticed it but her line of thought made sense, but made sense only to her for a very real reason. The moment escaped her as she saw the officers dart behind the garage.


Cyrus Keith said...

Awesome, Karen. Pleased to meet you. I can now say I have vicariuosly attened a clambake as a child.

Anita Davison said...

What a lovely childhood, Karen, I can feel the sand between my toes, but I have never tasted a clam! Now I want to read the rest of 'Primordial Sun' Was there someone out there or not?

Debra K. Dunlap said...

How fun! I can visualize the whole thing, partly because of your wonderfully descriptive words and partly because of watching so many episodes of Murder She Wrote! Can't wait to read Primordial Sun!

Arlene said...

Yes, thank you for bringing those clambakes to life for us. Now I'm hungry and anxious, wishing I could flip a page to see what, who, no one? is behind that garage.

KayDee said...

You've led an interesting life for sure - I loved your recollection of clam bakes on the beach. Your Heart of the Amazon excerpt sounds full of intrigue and danger...gripping. I look forward to reading it. Congratulations on your success - your class sounds interesting also.
Kay Dee

Pat Dale said...

Reading about your childhood experiences on the beach is fascinating. I love the way you bring the scene to life. And my mouth waters, salivating at the food you describe.

Karen McGrath said...

Cyrus, I've heard you can only do clambakes now if you own the beach. Otherwise there are companies that do them for you, permits and all. Sigh...

Anita, Yes! There was someone out there but the cops didn't get him, only a piece of him... :)

Karen McGrath said...

Debra, I love Murder She Wrote! :) And a good mystery. Writing one was interesting.

Arlene, too funny! I like fried clams, I never cared for steamers, though. Another yummy New England treat is stuffed quahogs. Delicious!

Karen McGrath said...

KayDee, thank you! We just got back from a visit to the Cape today and I miss it already.

Dale, my dad used to tell us we had to eat lobster... we all hated it! Thank God for that barbeque chicken and the side dishes. Of course, I think we could have lived on soda back then. :)

Thanks so much for visting, everyone, and thank you, Roseanne. :)

Charlie said...

Wow, what a great line up of stories. I can't wait to read some of them. Your Christmas story sounds so intriguing. Loved your bio. what fun memories. thanks for sharing.

J Q Rose said...

Thanks for sharing--I'd love to attend a clambake, but none available in Michigan. Looking forward to reading your stories.