Adding to our coffers…

For years, Writers Forum has relied on our Membership for Multi-media Presentations. From borrowing Shasta College’s Digital Projector (and later their Screen) to other members’ Audio Cables and Mobile HotSpots, we are thankful. But one problem was that Advanced Planning was needed. We could not at the drop of a hat (read that as a presenter canceling) substitute a packaged media program from Writers Digest or other online resources.


Scripps Howard Foundation  has awarded the Writers Forum a Volunteer Gift of over a thousand dollars for purchase of equipment that support will enhance Multi-Media presentations.


Retired Scripps Howard Employee and Past Writers Forum President Larry Watters, left, holds check for purchase of Multi-media equipment at General Meeting held February 11, while President Laura Hernadez, right, and Program Chair Sharon Owen, foreground, laugh over the prospect of Owen not “Borrowing” Shasta College’s Projector ever again.



Writers Forum Treasurer Jennifer Levens holds Scripps Howard Foundation check.


From the President: Fascinating Rhythm

Fascinating Rhythm

by: Laura Hernandez, Writers Forum Presidentlaura-h1v



Do you know what I’m talking about when I say the “rhythm” in your writing?

You can show mood and tone on the written page with the right words and the length of your sentences. That’s creating a rhythm like a song on your paper. The right words are not the accurate words, they don’t convey imagery. Describing a flower in a trash heap SHOWS tragedy and hope without your use of the accurate words “tragedy and hope.”

Juxtapose emotional descriptions to create tone and mood. Eyebrows down but a smile on that face is a different kind of mood than just describing eyebrows down.

Using short sentences in a dialogue without any exposition or tags (the he said or the she saids) creates a snappy kind of fast pace, changing the rhythm. You can also use choppy sentences to show anger with sudden stops.  Longer sentences can show sadness, internalization. Count the beats of the words (like we used to do when figuring how many syllables a word has for making poetry—hold your hand under your chin as you speak them). Use the downbeat for sadness, an upbeat for happiness.

Your character can help you set the tone with her usual attitude about crap in general, and this really crappy situation in particular. Back up her feelings with the rest of the scene and your reader will be right with you. But if she is too dramatic and the scene isn’t, it will just look soap-opery and not in a good way. Of course that’s a good way to show she’s losing her marbles, but make sure that’s what you wanted to do.

Walk this way. What? You didn’t convey anything. “Creep” across the lot is different. “Skipped” is differenter still.  And no one cares how your character “feels” if you say “she felt” at the beginning of your scene.  Just get to it: Describe the knot in the throat, or stomach, or calf muscle to show that. And don’t end that nice description with, “that’s how she felt” either.  Like Mariachi music that always ends with those last two beats of, “Dun dun.” Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Create the mood, show the rhythm, do the stuff needed to make your writing sing!

More blatant theft from Understanding show, Don’t Tell by Janice Hardy.  You haven’t bought this book yet?  Do I have to do everything?!


Member Monday: Dale Angel

How to Catch a Muskrat

By Dale Angeldale-angel

It was a shameless pond, sending seductive invitations by way of a gentle wind pushing wavelets carrying diamonds across the water. Birds flew in and out of the thick brush along the edge. The far end had ducks…fluffy baby ones.

“Stay away from the water!” was so much noise as our parents screamed the words on their way to the store. “Don’t go near the water!” They were barely out of sight. We were already there.

Something moved across the smooth surface, coming toward us and creating a V in its wake. We didn’t move. It came just within reach.

My brother leaped out with stretched arms to grab it. He finally surfaced. I pushed cattails with my foot. He seized hold and crawled out.

His sopping wet overalls was damaging evidence. We ran back and built a fire in the wood stove and shoved them in the oven.

Meantime, to mitigate my part I decided to peel potatoes for lunch. The family butcher knife in my hands was like using a machete to peel grapes. The potatoes were nubs.

My brother opened the forbidden crackers and wouldn’t give me any. He ate them all.

Dad came in carrying groceries. Smoke filled the air. He grabbed a broom and used the handle to fish out the burning pants.

Dad was stomping out fire as my brother told them I had eaten the crackers and wouldn’t give him any. He was seven going on fourteen. Already a hardened criminal. He invited me to play 52 pick-up. You know…he drops a deck of cards, and I have to pick them up. I hold grudges.

The nubs were boiling over while war was going on over new pants with a waist versus work overall, which my brother hated.

We went back to the fields to pick cotton. My sisters and I practiced harmonizing songs we heard on the radio. Meanwhile, my brother whispered “Let’s tie a rope to a figure four trap to catch that muskrat!”

Next Program: For the Love of Poetry

On February 11, in the month for love and valentines, Writers Forum offers a much-requested poetry event, presented by a duo of eminently qualified Shasta College English instructors.



Photo courtesy CSU Chico

Dr. Sara McCurry has taught in the English Department at Shasta College since 2007. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University and a PhD in English from the University of Oregon. She writes poems about the natural world, women’s experiences including motherhood, and teaching. She believes deeply in the message written to all of us on the Missoulian poet Richard Hugo’s gravestone: “Believe you and I sing tiny and wise and could if we had to eat stone and go on.”



Scott Yates

Photo courtesy of John Boyden

Scott Yates grew up in Cottonwood, CA, earned an M.A. in English from San Francisco State University, and taught for years in various California community colleges and in Sanaa, Yemen. He now teaches English at Shasta College and lives in Redding with his sublime spouse, four frisky children, and alliteration. In poems about Yemen, family, his bicycle ride to work, and other miscellany, Scott seeks to attend to the sounds of his subjects and explore the mysteries of human experience

This presentation will include a mini poetry workshop. Come prepared to participate in writing exercises if you wish. Writers Forum meetings are held  from 10:30am – 12:30pm at All Saints Episcopal Church located at 2150 Benton Drive, Redding, CA. Doors open at 10am. Guests are free for the first two meetings.

Please note a meeting room change for February only. Writers Forum will meet in Eaton Hall East at All Saints Episcopal Church.