Monday, October 11, 2021

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Printers Row LIT FEST: Chicago


Thank you for your patience receiving A WWII Saga. Labor and paper shortages with shipping delays caused late deliveries.  Please let me know if you haven't received yours.  Our shortages harkens back Mac & Irene's making the best of little in their 1945 wedding. This excerpt is from If Trees Could Talk:

     "Irene winked in the photographs that ran in the Chicago TribuneNews Sun and Daily Herald. Mac attempted to calm the adrenaline triggered from the camera flashes. Only his eyes penetrated into the terror he squelched inside. The scapula hung under Mac’s shirt; Irene’s was in her clutch. All were celebrating the end of the war, rations, separation and coming together. Whoops and hoots, cascading rice as they ducked arm-in-arm through the gathered group of family friends on the Basilica steps. Irene’s parents had been married here in quieter, but just as uncertain times. 
     Mac was gazing into Irene’s gray hazy-blue eyes. She had a solemn, warm, girl-like calm face. There was something ethereal about her, as if she always gracefully carried a bouquet of fresh flowers. Irene looked into his sky-blue wide and excited eyes. She handed him her suitcase. He had the keys to Bess’s Buick. They were giddy with their plans for a road trip. She watched his agile, delicate hands, artist’s hands, take the steering wheel.
  They drove to the Knickerbocker with tin cans rattling behind them. Only recently, tin had been rationed. Soap was flagrantly wasted to write Just Married on the back window. They passed the sound of waves on the outer drive. Combining food stamps, Mac’s GI bill salary and a reduced- price reception hall, they celebrated a glorious wedding. Capturing every posed moment of cake cutting and feeding each other fork loads of Agatha’s whipped cream frosted angel food cake, Bess’ brown-sugar dipped figs, dark-chocolate macaroons and William’s pineapples from California."

Mac and Irene: A WWII Saga & If Trees Could Talk are at Amazon

A friend sent this article, click on the photo to read
about Gwendolyn Brooks Monument
 in the New York Times! 


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If you have a chance to read the book would you contribute a couple of sentences review on Amazon: 
It would mean the world to my friends at
Aquarius Press. For AWWII Saga Special Edition:

My sister Deborah was interviewed about Dad's art with
Mario Linhares at the University of Lisbon

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021


This May 4th Newsletter is being posted in September. "Many a slip between the cup and the lip." 

Coming out April 30, 2021. 

Young Adult stories from author and sculptor Margot McMahon's coming of age in Chicago, where she discovers her passion for art, justice, and the mystery of trees in a home that Irene kept. 

Pre-order today with this link:

PayPal Airdrie


Happy Mother’s Day Irene!

How did an awarded travel writer, 

Montessori art teacher and mother of nine children 

in a home named 


juggle it all?

The power of her mothering with seasonal patterns established a sound core of our family that can be discovered in AIRDRIE, a young adult book of the Mac and Irene series.  Irene’s gravitational center inspired confidence for us to explore as she guided us in music, art, reading, writing, ‘rithmetic. (“check you spelling,” she’d have said) and sports. Irene graduated as an art teacher from Francis Parker Teachers’ College during the A League of Their Own era and flew with United Airlines to transport supplies and military. High school sweethearts, Mac and Irene were fascinated with airplanes and flying.  Now I know why...

Tammie Davis Biddle’s astonishing explanation of the mind-boggling trajectory of aerial history captured the shared passion of teens, Mac and Irene during a brief time that redefined being American. First lets back up a bit. Eleven years after the Wright Brothers lifted Kitty Hawk, WWI wood and wire sophisticated bombers were built individually between 1914-1918. It’s hard not to compare it to the robotic 2021 Ingenuity flight on Mars. Mac and Irene would be glued to each Mars tweet, FB post, and newscast.  What humans can do


Before Mac and Irene were born, in June of 1919, military pilots John Alcock and Arthur Witten Brown flew a Vickers Vimy twin-engine plane, converted to a NC-4 seaplane, in 72 hours from the U.S. to crash in Derrygimla bog at Clifton, Ireland. Winston Churchill presented them the prize money and George V knighted them. The 1929 stock market crash followed by the 1930s Great Depression delayed airplane development, yet the 1932 Chicago Municipal Airport was the busiest in the nation with 100,847 passengers on 60,947 flights.


            Chicago Municipal Airport (Midway Airport) expansion plans in 1937In 1935 Boeing designed the B-17 bomber (Model 299). The Stratoliner (Model 307) was developed from the four-engine Boeing B-17.  Mac and Irene were fifteen years old when Beryl Markham flew 20 hours from England on September 4th, 1936 across the Atlantic in a Vega Gill, The Messenger. Beryl survived the crash landing at Baleine Cove on Cape Breton Island, Nova ScotiaCanada. Two Boeing Stratoliners were ordered in1937. When Mac and Irene were graduating from high school, the 1938 Stratoliner took its maiden flight, it crashed in 1939. After the 1938 Munich Agreement failed, Britain and France ordered and financed the first mass production of U.S. planes. Aircraft technology for a limited number of bombers reached high speeds of 165 mph. 



      Irene flew in Boeing (307) Stratoliner        Mac flew Boeing (299) B-17 


In 1940, Mac and Irene were learning to drive a car when FDR ordered 50,000 aircraft, then another 50,000. Relentless sleepless nights increased strain for the required ingenuity of allocation and coordination of false starts, struggles, redesign and retraining for every nut and bolt, rivet and angle. The revolutionary B52 giant bomber, with a range of 5,000 miles, armor, armaments, and self-sealing gas tank, was developed.  Aeronautic history took a giant blind leap in 1941 as the newly named Chicago Midway Airport became the nations refuel hub. Every Midwest firm had an immediate need for finite sources of aluminum, steel, copper and glass. Bent Plexiglass allowed peripheral vision for pilots and navigators to say “twelve o’clock high” with standardized mass production.  Manufactured planes waited on guns, radios and propellers. Making trucks to transport fuel competed for shortages of materials. Between 1940 and 1942 300,000 aircraft were produced on Ford’s mile-long assembly line.


Irene’s Chicago flights took off from crisscrossing runways with a train track down the middle. At Molesworth, Mac navigated in the Flying Fortress that took off on intersecting runways for missions in formation.


           January of 1942 Illinois Reserve Militia guarded Midway Airport in WWII

January of 1942 Boeing converted its Model 307 to military service for overseas flights. Irene graduated from Francis Parker Teachers college (near Midway Airport) after Congress cut the education bill and joined teachers to fly with United Airlines in the the Stratoliner, that cruised at 20,000 feet and held 33 passengers. Airplane production rose 16-fold from 1942’s 6,806 planes to 1944’s 96,318 planes. By 1945, overseas passenger flights were commonplace. Who wasn’t fascinated?



In 1942, Mac was a cartoonist for Chicago’s Extension Magazine when he entered training with the US Navy Air Force and service with the US Army Air Force based in Molesworth, England. He might have been influenced by Bill Mauldin’s 1930-1941 cartoons. “Bill drew six cartoons a week that were funny, original and insightful.  He didn’t transform the art of cartooning but he did create camaraderie amongst soldiers,” said Todd Carpestino author of Drawing Fire. Mauldin would visit the front lines and foxhole for a week, jot down sentences and sketch images.  Returning to the rear he reworked the cartoon sketches for Stars and Stipes.


A military survivor, Charles Shultz paid tribute to Bill Mauldin on Veterans’ Days.

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Franklin (Mac) McMahon’s cartoons while in US Air Force training. 


Happy Centenary Birthday Irene!
May 27, 1921-1997

In 1942 High school sweethearts, Mac and Irene starting flying in the same plane. He was over Germany in a B17 Flying Fortress, she was traversing the continent with the new United Airlines. The were married in July of 1945 and, though they had nine children, never stopped taking off and landing in far away places. Published by Aquarius Press in May 2021. Read more about their WWII service in Mac and Irene: A WWII Saga.



Thursday, September 2, 2021

What you’ve been waiting for!
MAC & IRENE: A WWII SAGA is shipping as you read this.


Order your hardcover book here:
(Thank you for those who pre-ordered A WWII Saga, -we’re working your order.)
Enjoy A WWII SAGA? Share your view here:
September Saturday, 9/11 and Sunday,9/12 10:00am-6:00pm
Illinois Woman’s Press Association & Independent Writers of Chicago Tent
Saturday, 9/11 12:30 -3:00 pm
Chicago Writers Association

More about Mac and Irene:

Amazon warns that older Kindles may start losing cellular service later this year as carriers move to shut down 2G and 3G networks. Amazon is offering U.S. customers various trade-in options. I sent my still-working fifth Kindle to the trade-in address for a gift card, 20% off a new Kindle. An email response came three days later with a few choices for a new Kindle.  One day later my new 
5 G Kindle arrived in the mail. I’m going to trade in my ancient IPad next (by October 10).
The deadline to mail your old Kindle is by October 9th for a trade-in.
Update on Apple TV’s Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks Masters of the Air (Stalag III Airmen) Miniseries
Filming of 8th US AAirforce men has begun in Oxford City Centre for the scheduled 2022 airing.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

ROAD TRIP: If Trees Could Talk

Alderbrook, New York



    Our century-old homestead stone walls were laid by John McKillip by the time the largest geomagnetic storm hit Earth in 1859. Two years after my great-grandmother Margaret McKillip was born (1857) the Carrington Event (the largest geomagnetic storm) hit Earth causing an aurora over Australia and gave electrical shocks to America’s telegraph operators. In the late 1800s scientists in the Adirondacks discovered the climate was warming as the lumber was cut.  We were warned then about the ecological turbulence we face today. 

     On August 12, 2018 our Adirondacks relative Hugh Law showed my daughters and I the way to our family’s 1834 McKillip homestead in the Adirondacks. Annually, Hugh joined his father to help my great-uncle Eddie McKillip post the edges of 15 chains measure of land that included “Eddie McKillip Mountain.” Hugh’s great uncle was Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite guide before the President protected the Adirondacks as a New York State Park-one of his first preservation acts. “What have you brought for them?” Hugh asked me. “Not many have made it this far.”  Our one-hundred-year homestead was kept by Eddie, my great-grandmother’s brother until the 1970s.  It is now deeded to the Adirondacks State Park with his abandoned automobile and a nearby horse-drawn butter churn. Caught empty handed, I wrote a message for our ancestors on a dry cleaner ticket zipped in a plastic bag and tucked into the front door foundation where the knob was. 

On July 8, 1962, when I was four years old, a similar explosion called Starfish Prime was launched into outer space to blast a 1.4 megaton bomb, 500 times as powerful as the one that hit Hiroshima at an altitude of 250 miles above Hawaii.  It caused the street lights to go out in Hawaii and an aurora as far away as New Zealand.  The Earth is encircled by donuts of intense radiation held in place by its magnetic field called Van Allen belts. (James Van Allen, University of Iowa).  The bright ball of plasma of the nuclear blast generates a colorful artificial aurora called “Rainbow bombs.”  Starfish Prime made a new radiation belt that lasted for 10 years destroying television broadcasting satellites that entered it strata. 
            Geoff Reeves, at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has found a way to eliminate radiation belts made from nuclear blasts by hitting the radiation with AM radio waves.  My brothers and sisters didn’t know about Starfish Prime in the 1960s, but nuclear explosions were part of the games we played.  Here is an excerpt from If Trees Could Talk:
“In the east woods by the lake, we decided to dig a hole to China. It had to start off pretty big. Enough for four shovels to fling dirt on top of ripe “stink bombs”, white fungi balls that grew as big as volley balls. “Those smell so bad!!” “Hey, let’s used them for nuclear bombs!!” We tossed, as high as two of us could to explode their stinking white and black powder all over the freshly mowed lawn. The whole yard and woods stunk. We went back to digging. Over time, our hole got pretty deep. Deep enough to let us know we were not going to get to China that summer. Thin plywood was laid over our hole and branches and leaves laid on top. We slipped into the hole and slid the mossy cover shut so nuclear bombs couldn’t get us. We planned to store dried milk, more water, chocolate and beef jerky for that ominous imagined day. Dad’s old Army mess kit with metal spoons and fork was set on a board, then we ran to the basement to make pottery vessels.

         Once Dad made us wooden rubber-band guns in his basement wood shop. Carefully and slowly he carved in jointed wood, with minute detail, a replica pine .45 pistol with a wooden clothespin screwed on top. The rubber band on the barrel head was stretched to the closed-pin mouth. “Only aim at fences,” he said. The older boys had aimed and shot rubber bands at each other before they were up the back-basement steps. Immediately, all the pistols were confiscated by Dad. “And don’t chew a gun from your peanut butter sandwich either,” we heard at the table.”

Above: The white frame schoolhouse beneath McKillip Mountain collapsed recently. Below: Eddie McKillip's abandoned 1920s car and a nearby horse-drawn butter churn. Center: Relative  Hugh Law showed us the homestead where he used to visit Eddie with his father. 
Above: Aubrey sits on the home foundation. Right: Irene, Aubrey, and Margot in the 1834 homestead just below McKillip Mountain. Center Below: In the 1800s Alderbrook community were loggers who are measuring logs.

If you want a hardbound copy of  Mac and Irene: A WWII Saga
Available Summer/Fall 2021only: 
Enjoyed A WWII Saga? Please let others know here:


Read these Books from your Library

Shades of Positively Pandemic Anthology
With short story Soul to Soul by Margot McMahon
Is available on Amazon
Above: Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church was built with the staunch support of the McKillip family from Northern Ireland.
Want to pre-order 
If Trees Could Talk

Please visit Aquarius Press

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

 for preorder:Mac and Irene Trilogy

Please Review A WWII Saga on Amazon

Save the Date!
Mac and Irene Trilogy and I will be at a Fall book signing event at The Chicago Writers Association tent of the Printers Row Lit Fest on September 11, 12:30-3:00 2021. The Illinois Women’s Press Association will host a Printers Row Lit Fest author-signing for the Mac and Irene Trilogy all weekend: September 11 and 12th.
Please stop by and say Hi!

Here’s what the Mac and Irene Trilogy author, Margot McMahon,
was excited about this June:
June updates from Mac and Irene’s Grandchildren and Dan Burke
Margot's daughter, Irene Burke celebrated in June of 2021 her 2020 University of Chicago Harris School graduation in person!
Her son, Brendan Burke is presenting his research on cybersecurity from his work as a Senior Analyst at Pitchbook.
Daughter, Aubrey Burke is leading art workshops for students  this summer after teaching K-8 art at Alphonsus Academy and Center for the Arts.
Margot’s niece, Nora Taplin-Kaguru has a new book for preorder:
Dan Burke, her husband, celebrated eight years as Midwest Director of Multifamily Affordable Housing at HUD this June.

Read an excerpt from If Trees Could Talk, the second book in the Mac and Irene Trilogy, that is coming this summer!
     “That’s my chair!” was called out from behind as we watched the black and white skinny panther who solved the mystery for a missing diamond. Rows of wicker chairs diagonally filled the linen closet room. Cupboards lined the walls with shelves and drawers of sheets and pillows, towels and plastic baskets. The chair before me blocked half the small screen, the chair behind scratched the wooden floor while Jacques Clouseau inspected a door handle. 
     “No one was here when I came.” 
     “I called ‘Saved!’” Two windows reverberated the shouts in the small room. Nine seats barely fit. Jacques Clouseau’s mystery was solved and the diamond was replaced in the museum. Mr. Maggoo and his suitcase scuttled into the small TV screen. I walked out, down the wide creaky front stairs and reached up to open the heavy front door. The door closed. 
     Rustling leaves, bird songs and darting colors filled the air. Forsythia and tulips lined the stucco walls with early smells of spring. A bright orange bird flickered down from the oak, darted into the woods. I ran after it. It disappeared in the bright green canopy. Beneath the branches were yellow trumpets and white pointed flowers carpeting beneath the brush. Layers of plants and colors. Darting birds, mosquitos, and spiders were everywhere. A web glistened with dew. A spider scurried. I walked further down the middle path and saw green cones bent over with lined vertically striped leaves. Surrounded by flashes of color on all sides, I called “Saved.” No one argued in the front woods. 

Other June News from Author Margot McMahon


Take a virtual tour of Margot’s studio  

Read “How Artists are Incorporating Sustainability Into Their Work,” an article that showcases Margot’s paintings of coral


Welcome to the Southern Ocean that became our fifth ocean on June 8!

This year National Geographic recognized on World Ocean’s Day the Southern Ocean as the fifth ocean (along with Arctic, Indian, Atlantic and Pacific). Three oceans spiral east, which began 34 million years ago when Antarctic separated from South America, into the deep and very cold Southern Ocean. Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) transports more water than any other ocean current with colder and less salty water. Colder water sinks with carbon being captured and stored yet is warming in our Anthropocene era. The Southern Ocean determines United States weather from West Coast droughts to Midwest floods and East Coast blizzards. This is not the first time the Southern Ocean has been noted. In 1937, IHO, International Hydrographic Organization identified the Southern Ocean. NOAA acknowledged the ocean in 1999, now National Geographic is changing its maps!

How the ripple effect of a glassy Micronesian atoll
raises Lake Michigan waters

Over a fortnight in 2017, I bonded with Micronesian phantasmagoric coral gardens while kayaking over glassy, body temperature water before fleeing through miles of the largest typhoon on earth. The behemoth, Typhoon Lan, brewed with strengthening spirals over placid snorkeling reefs of a kaleidoscope of coral reefs bursting with shimmering fish, sharks, golden jellyfish, and manta rays. With my best friend from first grade, from our deep-rooted Midwest nature-loving childhood, we attached easily to this marine nirvana as we paddled into our sixth decade. We share a love of trekking, sailing, riding, canoeing while adhering to wild places. Pat and I snorkeled in atoll coves where plugs of restored coral flourished, baby giant clams were planted, Crown of Thorns was speared, and our gunwales were filled with floating plastic. Little did we know a storm was building miles away that would wreak havoc on this paradise. -Margot McMahon

For more information on Margot’s science writing and artwork please visit: