Simon Wood Offers Workshops

If you have been attending Writers Forum meetings for a while, you might recall a couple of our most popular programs were offered by award-winning novelist Simon Wood. At one, he taught us how to build suspense in our work. In another, he taught us how writers can effectively use social media.

Simon Wood designed several workshops for limited offer to members of the Sisters in Crime crime writer group. He is now offering them to the public through his website.

The start dates for the classes are as follows (just click the links for course details):
KILLER SUSPENSE: May 18th
PLOT THICKENERS: June 8th
MANAGING POINTS OF VIEW (POV): July 6th
SHORT STORIES: August 3rd
AUTHOR PROFESSIONALISM: September 7th

According to the Simon Sez newsletter:

The nitty gritty:

  • The format of classes is a mix of videos and handouts as part of an online classroom.
  • The classes run for two weeks with 6 to 7 lessons in each workshop, except for the plotting workshop, which is three weeks.
  • With every lesson, there’s an assignment and feedback.  You aren’t obliged to do the homework or send it to me for feedback. It’s entirely up to you.
  • The class is conducted via groups.io. People are expected to join in and comment on everybody’s work.
  • Lessons will be posted every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. That is subject to change. If people need more time then I will slow the lessons down.

Workshop cost: $50 each (exception for the Plot Thickeners – that’s $65)

FYI, there’s discount if you sign up for multiple classes.  Also, if you have any fellow writers you think would be interested, there’s a $5 discount for each student you refer who signs up.

If you’d like to sign up, please send me an email at simonwoodwrites@comcast.net 

Having been in two of Simon’s workshops, I can guarantee that any of his workshops will be worth your time.

 

Geo.

 

Queen’s Letter Chingona Virus Iforgetwhattodayis Edition

In which The Queen shares her adventures of finding supplies in the days of Chingona Virus, and offers us some writing tips based upon current publisher advice.

Yup, still going to work every day, still trying to figure out optimum time to score toilet paper and other supplies to minimize risk of death, disease and infection.

People are still panic-buying all kinds of stuff.  My market is completely out of Vitamin C.  Any brand, any size, gone.  Now look, keeping healthy is fine, even recommended during a pandemic. But hording Vitamin C to make sure you will always have enough is ridiculous and selfish. And really, this virus doesn’t respond to Vitamin C like a prevention or a cure. And if you take it on an empty stomach, or as a food substitute, you are in for some serious gastric discomfort that might scare you into a hospital visit, which will do you much more harm than good right now.

So, because Some People have taken all the Vitamin C pills, I’ve been reduced to buying and consuming Gummy Vitamin Cs like I’m a kindergartener.  Thanks.

And I tried ordering my favorite wine online (because I’m out, naturally), from every site I could think of without success. I even went to the vineyard itself.  They won’t deliver to my house unless I join the Wine Club.  That’s where they “hand select” some 6 bottles of Random Wine, and send them every 3 months.  What do I do after week one of Wine Club? Wait panting by the door for a month and a half?  Do I have to go to the Dark Web for wine?  This is bullshit.

 And now we are on to Killing Time and Taking Care.  With our homes.  For me, it’s Weed Time, or as I’m now calling it: The Next Plague.  I made the mistake of going to Home Depot last week for my favorite herbicide (it lasts for a year!). I’d ordered a week before (because this is how long things take to arrive anywhere because people are Online Ordering All the Things). I didn’t go on a Saturday, ‘cause that’s just suicidal in the best of times.  Which this is not. I did what I have done before and ordered and paid online to pick up at the store when it arrived, thinking this was the least risky to me and others.  Miscalculation.  When I’ve ordered this way before to be delivered at the store, there was a “locker” system where you go to a special designated line and cashier to get a numerical combo to access the bank of lockers near the entrance and you can then run off with your pre-purchase.

This time was different.  A masked man at the entrance told me to go to the Young Girl Under the Tree and she would take my printed receipt and run into the store to get it for me!  He was wrong.  Unless you had selected “curb-side” delivery at purchase-point online you (me) would be out of luck.  By the time I was corrected, the line to enter the store was 20 people long, and not spaced out in Social Distancing. The store was/is limiting the number of people inside the store at one time. Goody.  And smart on the one hand. But on the other hand (and two feet), it’s not.  As I stood apart from the guy in front of me, the asshole behind me grumbled that I was doing that.  When I got to the door, after another 10 minutes, the masked man questioned me again and I had to tell him that he shouldn’t tell people to go to the Girl Under the Tree unless they had pre-selected that curb-side option.  I was then allowed to enter and stopped 2 feet inside the door to the Pick Up section.  Where the 4 of us standing there on different colored, spaced out arrows on the floor, were made to wait about 20 more minutes, while Everyone who entered the door passed by us, and breathed on us.  Even the guy who brought his toddler (you know those small people who touch everything and then put their fingers in their mouths?) and promptly let go of her hand once they got inside the door, letting her free-range the aisles, ‘cause everyplace is a playground!

The counter woman was nice, speaking behind a new, spit-guard window mounted crooked in front of her cash register.  I got my Weed Killer, thanked her and was able to exit through the garden, which was effing packed with people buying effing flowers, like we’re all on Vacation and Home Improvement.  Even though I had my receipt out, no bag, one item, I was still stopped by a masked employee and questioned for a several seconds while people in the jammed check-out lines on two sides, breathed on me.

This was all bad enough, and some free-for-nothing advise: No one who is older and/or has underlying health issues (and you know who you are), should be going to Costco or Walmart during the time of Chingona Virus.  There are too many people going there for you to be safe.  People are driving from all over the valley, then standing in line outside for a couple hours waiting to get in, and you are not even getting a sample-snack-on-a-stick these days while you wait. Yeah, it’s cheaper in those places, but really, saving a few bucks for a year’s supply of anything is not saving you the risk of Chingona right now.

I will now order online from Home Depot (because I do need more weed killer and pond cleaner, sludge eradicator) and use the “Deliver to your home for free when you order $45 or more,” option. Until at least June.

 And I keep writing.  Reading about writing is also writing and brought me to a favorite book:  Writing with Emotion, Tension & Conflict by Cheryl St. John.  It goes on the tract of showing not telling and letting your readers fill in the emotion without you pointing it out to them. ‘Cause they hate that. 

This also dovetails with something shocking that I heard and read from several editors recently: don’t do that sequel thing anymore where you have your protagonist mull over or put together what just happened in the scene before. The protagonist uses this mulling over to plan out new or next action.  It’s “outdated.” Yeah, I know.  It’s been the format of most mysteries and thrillers Forever.  But we are being cautioned that modern readers don’t want to put up with that anymore.  So says Donald Maas in Writing the Breakout Novel.  And he knows everything.

Instead, deepen dilemmas and increase tension with interior monologues, that don’t plan the next move.  Show the conflicts of spirit. Use exposition to do this. Use the mixed feelings sparingly. But use them. She is bigger than her circumstances and you will show that throughout your story. But don’t follow your girl throughout the day.  Her day is not that interesting, especially while she’s thinking about shit, rehashing what just happened, what we already know and just saw. This lowers the tension, and you don’t want to do that, no matter what kind of story you are writing. The space between confrontations and other high moments should not be a low swampland of remembrance and wallowing.

Show the inner conflicts through incidents, anecdotes or news that are more complex. Add depths and layers showing her/our human frailties, and fears.  This bonds your readers to your characters. You sustain that interest through constant development and escalation of your girl and her emotional problems.

Do more like John Grisham: hold back on revealing too much of your protagonist until later in your novel. Disguise motives. Hold back information.  It doesn’t Set You Up, it just makes your story fall down.

It helps if your inherent story has tension already, you know like presenting a dead body.

Motives shouldn’t be obvious especially at the beginning. Maybe the circumstances are not even appealing. Drop hints that your girl is not all the way bad. Or good. Somebody loves her. Somebody doesn’t. Make your prose plain enough, but direct.  Don’t spend so much time setting the scene. Each character has a purpose, that’s the scene. Don’t reveal where the money is between the characters.  Let that secret marinate. Unfolding secrets and this rising conflict will dictate the scene order. This ratchets up the tension on a whole-book macro level in a micro page. And isn’t that what you want to do?

 Keep writing and re-writing. Take a break. Walk around the house.  Make a list of shit that needs to be done.  And a list of scenes that need to be written. Take a drink of something.  And for an update on my personal needs met: I found a new favorite wine at the smaller grocery store!  It comes in a can.  Yeah, it’s come to that.  It’s from the same vineyard Beringer Main & Vine as my fav, and it’s a white wine spritzer!  It has white wine, spritz, Blood Orange (not just some navel or something), and MANGO! And it comes in a little four-pack so you don’t look like some sad, lonely drinker but like a Party Person!  I have what I need for now.


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog. Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events.

National Poetry Month

Here it is, almost the end of April, and I have nearly missed writing about National Poetry Month.

National Poetry Month was started by the American Academy of Poets in 1996 “to remind the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters,” as we learn from the AAP website.

I know that Writers Forum has many poets in our membership. I also know that Writers Forum has many good writers who find themselves intimidated by poetry. I know, because until a short while ago, I was one of you.

Sure, I had dabbled in poetry in college. I tried my hand at free verse and sonnets. And once I didn’t have to write poetry for assignments anymore, I stopped writing it. Poetry was hard. I had a hard time reading it. I was much more comfortable writing in prose. I had been writing prose all of my life, and it worked just fine for me. Why change?

I’ll tell you why.

Writing poetry will make your prose stronger. I guarantee it.

Poetry took me by surprise. It ambushed me after a Writers Forum Read Around. I hadn’t even read any poetry. I had read a selection from my Backcountry Trails memoir. After the Read Around, a friend in Writers Forum approached me and asked me to join her poetry critique group. Just like that. I didn’t know what to say. She said that her poetry group had dwindled through attrition down to two people, and they really needed a third for it to remain a ‘group.’ I protested that I don’t even write poetry.

She said, “You are a writer. Writers write. Poetry is just another type of writing, and I am confident that your poetry is just fine.”

I thought about it for a minute. If for no other reason than to get to know these other writers better, I agreed to check out their group. I met them at a local restaurant the next week.

Did I mention that the other two people are language teachers and published authors? Do I need to tell you that I felt intimidated and way, way out of my league to be sharing poetry with them?

I also need to tell you that they did everything they could to make me feel at ease and to assure me that I am a writer, and poetry is one aspect of any writer’s craft. I had heard it said that writing poetry helps your word choice and concision in other writing.

It’s true.

After spending almost two years writing poetry, it turns out to be the single best thing I have done to improve my writing in a long time. Give it a shot!

Even after National Poetry Month ends, we will continue posting on this blog to help you build your poetry muscles. I will also be looking for poets interested in contributing articles about the craft of poetry.

Maybe we can make it a regular feature and call it Hitting the Poetry Gym. I am open to other suggestions.

If you are a poet and would like to contribute to the blog, or if you have other name suggestions for a ‘poetry workout’ feature, leave a comment, or email me at writersforumeditor@gmail.com .

Thanks for reading,

Geo.


If you would like to contribute an original piece to Writers Forum for posting on the blog, please submit to writersforumeditor@gmail.com .  Please note ‘Submission’ in the subject line. All submissions are considered, but shorter pieces of 500-1500 words are preferred. We will consider all original works–poetry, short fiction, essays, memoir. We would also love to run your short pieces on writing as well. Share your writing insights with us. Thanks!

Queen’s Letter 4: More Inspiration to Stay the Eff Home

We have another letter form the Queen! Today Laura shares some tricks and tools for making your social distancing fruitful for your writing projects. She references Amazon books, and I have inserted links in the titles to make them easy for you to find at Amazon. Just click on the title, and you are there! I will also have a few comments on the Amazon maze after her letter to you.

Okay, let’s try and get some work done!

First of all: what the hell are you wearing?  I don’t mean your pants.  I don’t care if you are wearing pants or not.  I mean I care/not care.  What I’m talking about is what are you wearing on your feet?

Shuffling around in your bedroom slippers at home makes you feel sloppy, unproductive, and frankly: sick.

If you are worried about bringing germs in the house with your regular shoes, wipe the bottoms of your shoes with one of those precious bleach-y wipes you’ve been hording for other reasons.

Pants/no pants, put your socks and shoes on! Doing that will literally give you the support you need to get some shit done. Writing, too. It will also facilitate Hokey Pokey-ing around the yard during your 10-minute breaks after 45 minutes of writing/planning to write.  Yup, that’s the schedule (see what I did there?).

Here’s a plan for getting some shit done:  If you have a manuscript started, re-read the whole thing.  Now.  Really, this will get your head right back where it needs to be and is more productive that looking at the blank page and nodding your head to the bouncing curser, waiting for inspiration.  It really helped me get revved up this week!

After doing that or if you haven’t started a manuscript, read something teachable and learnable.

Over the past few months, I’ve told you about some of my favorite Pretend Boyfriends who don’t know I exist, and have written some great writing books. Since you forgot, I’ve made a list for you. Each book is a sentence. Because I think that makes it more dramatic, not because I think it’s grammatically correct.  It’s a list in no particular order of importance or romantic fantasy. And very little commentary. (Not “no commentary,” ‘cause, have you met me?!)  Here ya go:

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton (He wrote some of this from prison, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t learned something about getting hooked. And caught). The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman (Helps you get noticed by an agent!). The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke (Just helps). The Elements of Storytelling by Peter Rubie.  Story Tumps Structure by Steven James (okay he’s my favorite.). Troubleshooting Your Novel by Steven James (see?). Secrets of Story by Matt Bird (he’s probably really cute!). The Last 50 Pages by James Scott Bell (This will change your life!  You can troubleshoot what you’ve already written to get the best ending ever. Not a “happy ending” but that’s a whole ‘nuther kind of thing. But really this is sooo good and you can read and understand it in one afternoon! He usta be a lawyer so he can, arguably, convince you to make your writing better so you can not just drive, but Arrive!).  The Art of Subtext Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter (You’ll have to re-read this a few times!).  Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer (which will make you laugh out loud a great many times!).

The above use literary and cinematic references to give you concrete examples of what the hell they are talking about.

Now for the girls!  These female authors are contemporary and also give concrete examples for you to cruise and use.

Make a Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld (and I like the title for something to rebel against!). Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It) by Janice Hardy (teaching you how to find and fix shit in your writing). 90 days to Your Novel by Sarah Domet.  It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences by June Casagrande (I also like this one because it’s a riff on one of my family’s favorite phrases!). The Scene Book, a Primer for the Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield (who proves that every scene has a pulse!).  Story Genius by Lisa Cron (Planning from idea to wired brain writer). Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody (Changes the way you think about story!). Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide For Novels and Novellas by Karen Wiesner.  Writing With Emotion, Tension, & Conflict by Cheryl St. John. AND DYI MFA by Gabriela Pereira (It’s more than a How To book, it gives a plan like a fun kind of classroom, and you can sign up for e-mail letters to keep you going!).

And how do you get these beauties now, in the Time of Chingona Virus?  Amazon! If you sign up for Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping on books and a whole bunch of new tv and movies things to watch (on your Roku or Smart Thing). A year-long subscription is $106 and now there is a monthly payment option instead of a big ol’ one-time payment.  All online! I like to have these kinds of craft books in paperback so I can (gasp!) mark them up!  These are the kind of books you want to go back to time and again and, as your skill progresses, you will need different chapters that speak to your changing needs.  It’s like learning a new language. When you have mastered some basics, you suddenly hear “new” things because you know more things, now.

Yeah, I know: Big Biz, Independent Bookstores, blah, blah, blah. But this is the time of Chingona Virus and you need to stay the eff home AND get shit done. When it’s safe to go to the Indy stores, we will. But that’s not now, so don’t think your patriotic duty is anything other than staying the eff home.

There is also Amazon’s Kindle to get these books to you right away.  There is a “note taking” function on the Kindle but I think it’s hard to use. So you can take notes like, on paper and stuff. Kindle magically gets your books to you immediately after purchase and opens them on your device when you are near wifi, and is usually cheaper by a few dollars to buy this electronic way than paper books. You will have these books forever on your Kindle.

If you don’t have a Kindle, you might want to get one online now! It’s about $50, on sale at different times. It’s as big as the old kind of paperback novel and weighs just a couple ounces. Get the little “stand” ($12) with it and you can read hands free! You will also get lots of new tv and movie things to watch on your Kindle Fire if you purchase Amazon Prime! Makes tv portable, and you can carry hundreds of books on it, too! There is a “help” telephone/online number to help you set it up (Honestly, it’s very easy, takes seconds, and much easier than setting up a computer!).

Of course, you can get Amazon Prime on your PC, too and read/watch your stuff there. It’s a much bigger screen than a Kindle, but you might be at the mercy of a cord or a laptop battery.

Which ever way you get to these books, get to them! You need to jump-start your writing again, and try to not obsess over, well, all this. And stay the eff home!


Laura referenced Amazon for purchasing your books while we cannot hit the brick-and-mortar stores that might be our favorite indy establishment. I wanted to let you know one thing to be aware of while shopping at Amazon: you easily have the ability to purchase books in multiple formats. The links above all go to the Kindle versions. You also have the option of purchasing softcover, hardcover, and all sorts of editions of the books. You can even purchase them from ‘independent sellers’ through Amazon.

You need to stay aware of exactly which version/edition you are purchasing, and be sure you look at all of your options. When I looked up Laura’s first book, the page I landed on listed the Kindle, softcover, and hardcover version. The Kindle version was $13.99, the softcover version was listed at $54.89, and the hardcover at $112.70. I went to the Kindle version for the link to provide in this post, and I saw that the softcover version here was listed at $23.99, and the hardcover for $25.00. Sometimes the links go to off-site non-Amazon sellers who are selling through Amazon. I don’t think Amazon was trying to rip anybody off, but you do need to look around at exactly what you are purchasing.

One of the books Laura mentioned was DIY MFA. I have mentioned that book on this blog before. It’s not just a book; it’s a program that you can use as little or as much of as you want. In addition to the book, which is a great one in its own right, you can follow the blog, podcasts, and many videos for free. There are also class options and different levels of engaging with DIY MFA that cost money. Look for another blog post on the DIY MFA program soon.

 

Geo.


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog. Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events.

Queens Letter: Easter ‘Effing Letter Edition

Writers Forum President and Queen Laura Hernandez has more thoughts to share with us on quarantine this Easter weekend.

If you are using this time to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and would like to share your work with the public at large, we would be glad to help you do that. Submission guidelines are below Laura’s piece.


Worst. Lent. Ever.

Except for the first one.  Obviously.

We are usually going to church this week. Passover Seder with family is out. Protestants and the lazy kind of Catholic most of us have become can’t go to Mass this Sunday. We better effing not.

On Good Friday, I usually go to church (no mass, ‘cause, Sad Day), to do the Stations of the Cross. We Catholics have prayers at each horrific scene depicted on a plaque, said all together, directed and prompted by the priest. We move together, say the prayers together, remember the history as we know it together. The most famous political prisoner’s death, attended by more people now than were there at the time a couple thousand years ago. It is not a celebration. It is a day to mourn, but we do it in a group.

Not today.

You might know that I grew up Catholic but it was a very rebellious kind of Catholicism. We didn’t attend a traditional parish. My three sisters and two brothers grew up down the street from a college seminary where young men studied to be priests. And they broke the rules toward Social Justice before it was cool. They lived there during most of the year and took their own bus to Loyola University in L.A. That’s who we went to mass with. The caretaker’s family of ten kids, who we also went to school with, went to mass with us too, so there were other civilians. But mostly it was the seminarians.  They were our catechism teachers in classes they created just for my siblings and me, filled with research we did at the public library in another town. Our altar was turned to face the congregation, which was not done for years in civilian churches. They played their own music, protest songs too, and sang like the award-winning choir they were. (I saw the trophies in the rec room!) We were welcomed here since I was 6 and the Head of Students went jogging down my dirt road and saw my mom on the big front lawn with a baby, twin toddlers and two kindergarten-age girls. A good assumption we were Catholic.

We usually sat at the back of the room at Mass, trying not to stick out.

But at Easter Mass, there were guests. The juvenile residential detention camp, David Gonzales, would send a busload of some three dozen older teenage guys sentenced for crimes, to us. They were obviously Catholic, knew all the prayers, and when to stand and sit and kneel. They sat together at the back of the beautiful but Spartan chapel mostly holding their hands in front of them, unchained, clean in their Chambray shirts and baggy jeans and black combat boots.  Respectful and quiet.

Except for the first time I saw them do a sneaky thing. My brother, the baby in his bucket, my sisters me and my mom (dad was a no-name Protestant, so not with us to Mass), sat together at the back on the other side of the center aisle from the Camp Boys. So we could see that they were doing something. One guy would shift his shoulders, left to right and after a second, the guy next to him would do it too. This movement went in a horizontal line as they stood next to each other. Mass by the early 1960s had a lot of standing, so we could watch as the movement went down the row of Camp Boys until it got to the guy at the end of the pew and had to turn. Then I could see they had been passing a bag of jelly beans to each other, taking a handful without making too much of a move, then passing the bag to the next guy with only a shift of their shoulders. Smooth Skills that probably got them to the Camp in the first place. The first time I saw this, I think I had my mouth open because the guy at the end of the row saw me and looked a little panic-y. I would never rat out a guy for jelly beans in church. But he didn’t know that. I didn’t even want my mom to see, a practiced response. I quickly smiled at him. And he winked. It was all good. But it was a secret.

We knew that the Camp Boys were already in trouble, we knew what Camp David Gonzales was. Sometimes as we drove past the entrance gate to the camp on the way to the beach, my mom would tell my little brother that he better behave, or…

We also knew that the Boys were given this privilege to be out in public, to be at Mass, and any shenanigans would revoke the privilege. Maybe for everyone for all time.

These boys and the adult offender Camp Miller men, two miles from David Gonzales, were also trained to work the fire line which was not a theoretical skill in rural Calabasas. These guys could save our lives our house, our horses, our neighbors, every fall when the Santa Anas blew in to try and kill us. I would not rat them out for eating jelly beans in Mass.

And I never did. The Camp Boys made a jelly bean pass every Easter Mass, even though there were different guys year after year. They knew how to keep a secret, too. By the next year my Favorite sister, Patty, noticed it too and we smiled at each other when she whipped her head to me in recognition the first time she got it. When my twin sisters noticed it a couple years later, they could hardly keep it to themselves. They giggled right in Mass. They were not cool. I think threats were made. I think I made them but I’m not sure.

In the following years, Easter Mass was moved to dawn, outside by the little man-made lake on the Seminary grounds. And still there was a jelly bean pass-around. Still surreptitious, still we kept secret between my family and their group.

Of course I want to go to Mass this Sunday with jelly beans in my pocket. But I can’t. You can’t either. And just in case you want to risk it, because, well you’ve been good for a couple weeks, and it’s Easter and shit.

I would like to remind you of just how Church hurt our Redding community a couple of weeks ago.

A 75 year-old woman drove to visit a friend she knew was sick in the hospital in Sacramento in the middle of March. She knew that person was sick and she knew, because it was on the news, that there were reports of Covid-19 cases in Sacramento. She knew this was a California hotspot, like the Bay Area was reported to be. Chingona virus was there. She just had to see and visit.

I don’t know why she was allowed in to see her friend in the hospital. Maybe that person was in the hospital for Something Else. But that person also had the Chingona. And that’s where she got it. But she had no symptoms. So, she went to see her adult son who lives in Redding upon her return from that Sacramento hospital. My guess is that she also went to the store. Or to get coffee. What I do know for sure, because it was in the Searchlight, is that she next went to a big event, widely attended, at her First Assembly Church on Airport Road at the end of March. She didn’t have symptoms then either.

When she did develop symptoms later, so did a few other people at her church. She died. Two other people from that church event did, too.  Now maybe they had hand sanitizer at the church that day. Like that choir group in Washington State who held practice toward the end of March at one of their homes. They thought that Not Hugging and using glops of hand sanitizer would protect them, because they really wanted to comfort each other from the news of the day. Seattle, a hot spot, was 30 miles away, so what were the chances, right? Pretty great, it turned out. Forty of 60 people were infected after that 2-hour practice. Two have died.  Breathing, singing, it turns out, was deadly.

What this means, in the Time of Chingona Virus is that now: church is not your sanctuary. Staying home, eating all the Easter candy is.

Think I don’t want to be at Mass, with jelly beans?  We just can’t yet.

Dr. Karen Ramstrom of the Shasta County Health Department said Wednesday, that we here in this county may have to stay the eff home longer than the rest of the state. Get that: longer than all the people in L.A., we will be grounded. Why? Because people are not staying the eff home. Testing here doubled this week. That means that people who were showing symptoms got tested. A Redding Costco employee is now under quarantine, although that person hasn’t been to work since the end of March, so if you went to buy all the toilet paper since then, you probably didn’t get it from her.

We aren’t done yet. Stay the eff home. You have plenty of toilet paper. I’ll get my own jelly beans. I’m eating all the cookies, too.


Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events.