Live Reading at Shasta College Tonight

You can support local writers by attending a reading tonight at Shasta College.

Students in the Script Analysis and Playwriting class at Shasta College will be reading from their works beginning at 6:00 in Room 638. They will read from original plays, monologues, and scenes.

Admission is free, and the reading will be followed by a meet and greet. Refreshments will be available at the meet and greet, also at no charge.

Please go out and support our local writers!

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A Different Sort of Member Monday

Our Member Monday spot usually features an original piece by a Writers Forum member. This week, we highlight a member who could use our help.

A novel from the Aimee Machado Mystery series by WF Program Director Sharon Owen (writing as Sharon St. George) has been nominated for an award. We can help her win that award.

Spine Damage, book four in the series, has been nominated for the 2018 “Reward of Novel Excellence” known as the RONE Award! You can see the nomination at this link: http://indtale.com/2018-rone-awards-week-six

Sharon’s book received a 4.5 star or higher review in InD’tale Magazine. This qualifies it to continue to the reader voting phase of the 2018 RONE Awards.  In this round the readers will be narrowing down the nominees for each genre by choosing the books they love best.

The voting for Sharon’s genre will be May 21st – 27th

Here are the voting instructions from InD’tale Magazine:

It is extremely important that all of Sharon’s readers and fans know about the voting dates!  We would hate to think a superior quality book lost only because people were unaware of the time limit. Also, voters MUST be registered on our website at www.indtale.com in order to vote. Once they register, if they haven’t already, they will be required to click the verification link sent to them via email. If they do not verify their registration with this link, they will be unable to vote. This is very important to help ensure that the voting is fair and maintains the high quality standards required for this top-tier award.

Once the voting is final and the four finalists’ books in Sharon’s genre are announced, those four books will then be read and judged by a group of professionals in the industry to determine the very best mystery novel in the indie and small published world!  The winner will then be announced and awarded the prestigious RONE Award at the formal ceremony, October 6th, 2018 in Burbank, California at the InD’Scribe Conference. http://www.indscribe.com

We at InD’tale Magazine have put in an incredible amount of time and effort to create and present the most credible and prestigious award in the industry today.  Our three-round system of elimination covers every facet – highly rated and reviewed, loved by fans, and critiqued by qualified judges.  No other award system today compares, making the RONE award the very highest of honors bestowed on a novel in the publishing industry.

Don’t forget, the voting window in Sharon’s genre is May 21st – 27th. Email writersforumprogramchair@gmail.com if you have questions.

Good luck, Sharon!

Member Monday: Jackie Cundiff

This week’s Member Monday is from Jackie Cundiff. Jackie shared this story at last December’s Read Around.

Our next Read Around is coming up in June. We invite everybody to come out and share a five minute reading of their work. We will post more details next month.

Rotisseries: Ferris Wheels for Chickens

I’m not big on doing barbeque or any cooking outdoors. I’ll be frank. I’m not too big on any cooking, but it’s one of life’s fundamental requirements. If necessary I can put on a good meal, maybe even an elegant meal. I raised four kids, and they fondly think of me as a good cook, but then their memory of their childhood differs from mine. Since my discovery of the George Foreman grill, my barbeque has stood unused, unless one of my macho boys shows up and brings meat. Then they cook it, which is almost as good as take out.

Some years ago, when I was still feeding three boys that consumed mountains of food daily, we purchased a new barbeque. It was pretty fancy. It had a bit of chrome, a temperature regulator, and a fancy rotisserie. As I peeked through the owner’s manual, I came across a picture of a beautiful turkey, done to perfection, using the rotisserie. I read through the directions, and as it looked pretty simple I decided that is what we would have for Thanksgiving when turkey is required cuisine.

The recipe called for a bird of twelve pounds or under. That was okay, as I never liked leftovers, and since there were only going to be seven of us, it seemed adequate. However, just to be sure, I purchased a boned twelve-pounder. On Turkey Day I propped the included booklet next to the grill, just in case I needed more directions, fed the turkey roast through the spit, and carefully inserted the prongs. I sure didn’t want it to fall off the spit. I set the temperature to medium, plugged her in, and we were cookin’.

It had clouded up a bit and a few flakes of snow drifted down. I moved a table close to the grill and raised the umbrella. After all, it was November and snow wasn’t unusual, but I didn’t know what a sudden snow flurry would do to our new grill or to our dinner.

I watched the roast rotate for a bit, and I thought it looked a little dry. I could fix that. I went to the kitchen for a cube of butter. I peeled the wrapper back and inch or so and returned to the porch to rub the butter on the bird. When I touched the butter to the outside of the turkey, it was hot-hot-hot. I dropped the butter, and it fell into the burner. It flared up, and the net bag that enclosed the meat caught fire. I grabbed the spit handle and pulled the turkey away from the fire thinking that it would go out. It just flared bigger. I waved it, trying to extinguish the flame, hit the umbrella and had another fire going. I screamed and called for help.

The men in the house were gathered around the TV with some football game or other, and my voice wasn’t heard over the crowd’s fervor. However, my daughter heard. She came running with the fire extinguisher. She sprayed the turkey. She sprayed the barbeque. She sprayed the umbrella. She sprayed the deck. She sprayed the air around us. She sprayed me. We were having a white Thanksgiving.

We weren’t having a turkey dinner, though. The new grill didn’t recover. The umbrella was a goner. Amid the general household hilarity, I headed for the shower. Soap and shampoo helped me recoup. But what about dinner? While I showered, my sons fried up some bacon and boiled some eggs. My daughter sliced some fruit, cooked up some white sauce, and toasted some English muffins. Soon we sat down to the traditional family emergency dinner, the dinner that effortlessly materialized when I stayed too long at the bridge table or was generally delayed getting home: creamed eggs on English muffins, bacon, and sliced fruit. The conversation was mostly about fire control, evacuation routes, and of course, my past faux pas, of which I have had a few.

I don’t do Thanksgiving from scratch anymore. I try to hint that someone else do it. One year I even faked a broken oven. Raley’s does a good turkey dinner if the hint doesn’t take, and you can keep it a couple of days before reheating and serving. The things we learn when we get old.

Shasta College Club Looking for Writing Submissions

This is a call for submissions sent to us by the Shasta Community College Creative Writing Club.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

The Shasta Community College Creative Writing Club is proud to announce that we are creating a literary magazine for the 2018 school year. The literary magazine will be published in cooperation with the Office of Access and Equity, so we are primarily interested in work that includes voices from diverse communities or pieces on diversity or community, but we encourage writers and artists from ALL backgrounds to submit your work. We are accepting fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and visual art pieces.

Short stories and creative nonfiction should be no longer than 2500 words.

Poems should be approximately 1 page or less.

We will also be taking submissions for a collection of  nonfiction essays on the subject of “community.”  These should be no more than 500 words.

Art work is needed for the cover of the magazine, and additional pieces will be considered for inclusion inside the magazine.

Please include a short bio of no more than 50 words.

All submissions are subject to editing for grammar/explicit content etc.

Submit work to shastawriter@gmail.com by MARCH 18, 2018.

Please feel free to email us with any questions and befriend us on Facebook at Shasta Writers.

One Christmas Miracle

Today we have an excerpt from a work in progress by Writers Forum member Michael Brian Brussin titled For King and Kaiser, and novel set in the trenches of World War 1. This piece recounts a miraculous event that actually occurred in those trenches in 1914. Michael read this excerpt at the December Read Around in 2016, and it is a perfect Christmas Eve story.

Excerpt from For King and Kaiser

By Michael Brian Brussin

 

Cropped Michael Bussin 1Evening came and it began to snow.

“All right—just because it’s Christmas Eve doesn’t mean you can take it easy; that’s just what jerry wants, so stay alert,” Sergeant Wade said to Albert and Jim and the men standing with them.

“We’re on top of things, sergeant, don’t worry,” Albert assured the cautious Sergeant Wade.

“I just wish it wasn’t so perishin’ cold,” Jim said, clapping his gloved hands together.

“Stop your moaning, Jim, it’s Christmas Eve and we’ve got snow; what more do you want?” Albert teased the young cockney.

“Yeah, Christmas,” Jim sighed. “Ya know, it feels like Christmas, even aht ‘ere.”

“It does at that, even in this hellish wasteland,” one of the other soldiers remarked, watching the snowflakes drift onto the parapet and beyond.

It was nine o’clock in the evening and the snow continued to fall. Oil lamps lit English and German trenches, and drum fires burned that had the men taking turns to warm their hands over the flames.

Albert sat by himself with a mug of tea thinking of home. Jim Broadbent sat with another private where they talked about their families and what they would be doing at that moment if they were home. Sergeant Arthur Wade walked up and down in a casual gait, lost in his own thoughts; and Captain Duncan made an appearance, checking on his men and making sure the parapet was lined with watchful sentries.

Hey, what’s that? What’s jerry doing?” one of the sentries said, peering cautiously at the German parapet.

“What is that?” another sentry questioned.

Sergeant Wade jumped onto the fire step and peered over.

The Germans had acquired Christmas lanterns and placed lit candles inside and put them along the top of the parapet.

The silence was then broken by distant singing.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht…

The entire carol of Silent Night grew louder and was sung in a beautiful voice.

The English trench was captivated and touched by the singing of this hallowed Christmas carol, and when the song was finished the English clapped and cheered.

“C’mon, lads, let’s give ‘em one back,” Jim Broadbent said. “What’ve we got?”

“How about O Come, All Ye Faithful?” Albert suggested.

Sergeant Wade came over to the men and led them in a song like a choir master.

At the end of O Come, All Ye Faithful, the Germans applauded and cheered, and they then entertained with O Tannenbaum.

Christmas Eve ended with an exchange of more songs and a few shouts across the parapets.

“Happy Christmas, tommy!” a voice called from the German trench.

“Frohe Weihnachten, jerry!” Albert responded on behalf of the British.

The men in the trenches woke to an extraordinary sight—two robins perched on the wire in No Man’s Land. One of the red-breasted birds was settled near the German trench, and the other close to the British.

It had stopped snowing, but a soft covering lay on the ground. The sky was a clear blue and a biting yet refreshing cold filtered in the Christmas Day air.

There had been no ‘morning hate’ this day. No shots were fired; both sides honored Christmas with indications of peace. Neither side, however, took a chance looking at his enemy’s trench without the use of a periscope, aware of the ever-ready sniper.

The quiet and stillness remained, then the British sentries picked up some German movement.

“What’s going on over there? Sergeant! Come quick!” one of the sentries called. There was no response. “Jim, go and fetch the sarge, quick,” the sentry directed Private Broadbent.

“What’s happening out there?” Albert asked, hearing the commotion.

“Jerry’s moving about; we can see them. Rifles ready!” the sentry responded; then clicks sounded along the wall with rifles aimed and ready to fire.

Sergeant Wade rushed out of the dugout and looked through a periscope.

Good God, will you look at that!” the sergeant exclaimed.

“What is it, sergeant?” the men wanted to know, still unwilling to look without the safety of a periscope.

“They’re holding up signs…Happy Christmas, and…Drink with us.”

“What’s happening here?” Captain Duncan asked, appearing on the scene.

“Look! They’re coming over the top!” another sentry called.  “They’ve got their arms up!”

Sergeant Wade peered over the parapet without the use of a periscope, as did several of the other men.

“I asked what’s happening here,” Captain Duncan repeated.

“It’s jerry, sir,” Sergeant Wade answered. “They’re all out in No Man’s Land. I don’t think they’re armed.”

“Happy Christmas, tommy! Komm—have a drink with us!” a voice echoed in broken English.

“Let’s go, sarge! How about it?” the men elicited, with some of them already starting up the ladders.

“Stand where you are!” Captain Duncan ordered, stopping the men in their tracks. “There will be no fraternizing with the enemy. Now take up your positions!”

“Come on, captain, sir; it’s Christmas, peace an’ friendship an’ all that,” Jim Broadbent brazenly urged.

“What about a drink, tommy!” another voice rang out from No Man’s Land.

“Komm! We will meet you!” still another man called.

“What do you say, captain?” Sergeant Wade asked. “It is Christmas.”

Captain Duncan looked over the parapet and was amazed at what he saw. Scores of German infantrymen stood about in No Man’s Land, smoking and talking, and some were holding mugs of beer, having a jolly time.

Captain Duncan stepped down and looked at Sergeant Wade, then he turned to the men.

“All right…over you go!”

The men eagerly climbed up the ladders, but then they walked cautiously toward their enemy.

The Germans approached the British, and when the men of the opposing nations met in the middle of No Man’s Land, they shook hands and exchanged Christmas greetings.

NaNoWriMo Wrap

When last we heard from our stalwart NaNoWriMo adventurers, their November writing marathon had  just begun. Did they finish?

You can see how I fared from the Dashboard at my NaNoWriMo account.

NaNoWriMo Dash

I started off strong. I was even well ahead of schedule by Day 3. I fell a little behind on Day 10, but caught up on Day 11.

Then I crashed into a wall.

I had an opportunity to cover the California Conservation Corps regional flood training for my CCC blog. I lost a couple of days of NaNoWriMo writing, but I already arranged to take the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving off just in case I needed some catch-up time.

It didn’t work out that smoothly. I needed a few days to workout some technical issues that I had concerning the blog story. Then the stress from trying to get that story posted before Thanksgiving drained any energy I had for NaNoWriMo. Just before Thanksgiving, my wife Patsy asked how far behind I had fallen.

“Horribly.”

So…I did not hit the goal of 50,000 words for the month. However, I do have 26,370 words written that I did not have on October 31, so I’m counting this experience as a win! (By the time I got back to my NaNoWriMo account, NaNoWriMo was closed and I couldn’t add any more to the word count. I did write for two more days after my last official update, so I actually reached 26,370 words and not the 23,856 totaled on the Dashboard.)

I filled over one-and-a-half Moleskine notebooks. This was where I ended.

It Ends

I did learn something interesting about Redding participation in NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo Redding 2

Apparently, fifty-eight novelists who consider themselves to be in the Redding area officially participated in the 2017 NaNoWriMo event. They wrote a combined 1,035,613 words in November.

NaNoWriMo Redding

I know that WF members Carolyn Faubel and Vickie Linnet participated. We heard from Carolyn on Friday. Vickie wrote consistently for two weeks, and then had a chance to reconnect with a family member. Two weeks seems to be the common point for hitting The Wall, doesn’t it?

I don’t know who those other writers were, but somebody made a mad dash on November 30 to push that final number over the one million mark. Well done, Redding!

I can’t wait until next year. Oh, yeah…I plan to run this marathon again!

We accounted for three of the fifty-eight Redding area writers officially entered at the NaNoWriMo website. That leaves fifty-five writers unaccounted for. Would any other Redding writers care to share their 2017 NaNoWriMo experiences?

My NaNoWriMo Experience by Carolyn Roberts Faubel

Today we hear from Writers Forum member Carolyn Roberts Faubel about her NaNaWriMo experiences. If you participated in NaNoWriMo, we would love to hear your story as well!

Cropped Carolyn Faubel 1

We are writers. It’s what we are.

Is it really what we are? Or is it what we do? Can you know, deep down that you are a writer, but the “doing” part is more elusive? Of course, we write little things, a poem here and there, an article, a bedtime tale. But the larger passion, the dream, the thing that wants to connect us to our real identities as writers is patiently waiting to get stirred up.

From writing my first little plagiarized story in the third grade, I felt the thrill of creating with words, painting a world, setting a scene, putting characters in it and typing along to see what happened next. Although I was consistent in writing over the years, the span of time between my stories, poems, and writings was long, and I felt like I wasn’t really accomplishing anything significant. I had no discipline, and I had no defined goal.

I didn’t call myself a writer.  I wanted to, but I didn’t. When I did write, I saw myself as “doing writing.”

Growing older can make you peer closely at your goals and desires and compare them with how much time you are really spending on them. What place did I want writing to have in my life? How passionate was I, really? After discussing it with myself (I’m never bored, having such an attentive person to talk to anytime I wish), we decided that the thing we wanted to do more than anything else was to start, write, and complete a novel. Specifically, one for the preteen kids, about 5th or 6th grade. Wonderful! I had a goal. And about that time, I began to identify with “being a writer” as an identity, rather than as an activity. But now what? I was itching to put my typing fingers into action.

The standards I set for myself can be tough. The weight of my need to lay down meaningful and worthy and coherent words kept my typing fingers hesitating above the keyboard. Ideas got jotted down on little notebooks. Tips and tricks from books and the internet got filed. Websites with story prompts teased me to go have a look. And the dark ugly thought grew in me. Did I have it in me? Could I ever write something as long as a novel, even a short one?

And then came NaNoWriMo.

My sister told me about it. It was beautiful. It was permission to write a crappy novel! Just fling word after word at the wall, making them stick into something resembling a completed book. High encouragement to throw something together that might barely make sense, if that’s how it worked out. I looked at it as practice, and a test for myself. If I could do this, if I could just FINISH a crappy, disjointed little novel during the month of November, NaNoWriMo month, then I would know what I was made of. I would know that I wasn’t just a writer, but by golly, I wrote!

That morning of November 1, I had no plan, just a laptop and a cup of coffee by the window. My fingers began to type:

Like waves rolling and breaking further up the sand, now drawing back, then reaching forward, consciousness slowly came to Kevin. He still felt the paralysis of deep sleep, felt like his body was encased in plaster, and he couldn’t twitch so much as a finger, but his mind was beginning to move from the night towards the day. With great effort, he managed to open his eyes halfway. They felt sticky. Bright light from an open curtain washed across his vision, and for a moment Kevin felt the room begin to spin. Or was it his body spinning? He couldn’t tell. His head ached, and his mouth felt sour. Had he overslept until his body rebelled, or did he have the biggest hangover of his young life? He moaned and heard the pitiful sound as he exhaled. I can’t remember anything, he thought.

(Kevin)

 Neither Kevin nor I knew what was going on yet, but we both began to discover how he had gotten into his predicament.

It was pretty fun the first few days, but then the daily writing discipline began to be overtaken by other tasks and chores and obligations. And then November was gone, and I had not finished my novel. Drat! A bit of regret and disappointment in myself colored half of December 1, but then my natural optimism took over, and I stashed my story for later and planned on repeating my efforts the next November.

Later, much later on, Jared realized the significance of the thudding and scraping sounds that had started to waken him during that night. But he had not wanted to fully wake up at 2:00 in the morning so he had shut his eyes tighter and created peaceful scenes in his head to try to go back to sleep. It had worked, and he had been able to sleep in another 3 or 4 hours. At first he was horrified to realize that he had been sleeping away, like a Goddamn kid or something! While the most terrible and important thing in all of his thirteen years was going on, he was snoozing away, just like a baby!

(The Wail of the Zither)

Just like “Kevin,” “Wail” also did not get finished. I was annoyed at myself and stashed this one also for later. But I tried to use the experience get some revelation about my style, habits, pitfalls. I’d had a better idea about where this story was going, and that made it more enjoyable to sit down and write it. But the two-week mark was the killer zone, and I just couldn’t get my momentum back after that half-way point. I also realized that I was not a fast writer. Thoughtful, yes. Speedy, no. It was hard to just type away, not worrying about sentence structure, grammar, developed ideas. That would be what I would work on next year! Freeing my careful, controlled thoughts to something more fun and free flowing. Maybe.

It was more than a couple years later when I was able to try NaNoWriMo again. This time, I had a secret weapon, a writers club! I was a member of the Redding Writers Forum, and I knew that at least one other member was going to plunge into the word frenzy of National Novel Writers Month! I could feel the silent backing of the like-minded people entering this dash. I signed up on the website in October. I created a summary of my intended story. For once, I knew what was going to be happening ahead of time in my book! But I was very disappointed when outside events kept me from taking the time I needed to begin writing. After the first whole week of November had passed, I decided it was too late. I knew I wrote slowly, and there was no way I could catch up. But then, I got an encouraging email from NaNoWriMo.  And it said,” If you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late!” A simple message, reminding me how much of this is about the trying and the effort. Just get your damned laptop out and start writing! I got my resolution back.  I began typing:

At first, the girl felt, rather than saw the rosy glow that surrounded and enveloped her body. It was warm and felt good. Soft almost, like a fluffy sunset cloud touching her sore skin. She didn’t know why it was sore and felt bruised, and why her head ached, but the red warmth felt nice and she laid there as she tried to think. Was it morning, and she was just having a hard time waking up? It didn’t feel like her bed, her sheets. It felt more like the grass in the back yard. She didn’t remember anything, and it gave her a little bit of a scary feeling. The girl did not want to open her eyes. It was safer and more pleasant to just lie there, probing her thoughts to see if anything came to her. There was a great temptation to just go back to sleep, but in spite of her wishes, her mind only became more alert and awake. She opened her eyes. And instantly the girl knew she was not in her back yard.

(The Strange Planet of Alien Snails)

Alas, “Strange Planet” did not get finished either, yet. The halfway-through-the-month doldrums caught me again. But I learned even more about myself and what I will need to pull this off, this novel-writing stuff. For one thing, I will have to be a NaNoWriMo renegade and break a rule. Because I write more slowly, I shall begin my novel next year on October 1. I consider this accommodation similar to a handicapped horse race, and I do not feel guilty in the least. I shall take the time commitment more seriously and block out what I need in my calendar. I shall collect even more people to keep me accountable. I must prepare for the mid-month slack-off and put strategies into place. I will appoint for myself a place to write that is beautiful, inspiring, secluded enough, and provided with a bowl of snacks and a place to set my coffee cup. I will give myself permission to write purple prose if need be, to use bad grammar, if that’s what it takes, and to have some things just not make sense, if that will get the thing done.

Because that’s what I am, a writer.