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?!


A Message from the President: December, 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho…

Hoping that everybody has a reading to share at this month’s Members Read Holiday Meeting of the Writers Forum. Twice a year we offer the chance to read five minutes from past, present, or future works. If you have something new, this is an opportunity to use the membership as a sounding board. And remember, FIVE minutes! That includes introduction, scene setting, whatever. As I am wont to say, “Five minutes from when you first open your mouth!”

And have something planned for the potluck. Hint: Nothing messy like BBQ Ribs. Or that requires sharp knives! Remember; we are writers and shouldn’t be trusted with sharp objects for many reasons including acting out new variations of murder plots.

Meanwhile, hope all are being good and impressing Santa with your kindness to others, especially critics. Just because you like it is no reason to presume all would like it. Notice I typed “presume” since I don’t mind making a pres out of you and me.

Also in the “Meanwhile Category” is thinking of gifts for your fellow writers. No, not us (unless you really, really, want to).  Writers need/desire/thrive on stimulation. Some past favorites include the perennial-winner Writer Emergency Pack and the ever popular Writer’s Toolbox, both geared to help the writer become unstuck. Some can also serve as party games; I can personally attest to the toolbox being the focal point of many social gatherings.

Meanwhile (the last one), have a great holiday.

A Message from the President: November, 2015

Such a strange month…and I am not referring to the annual “Who was here first?” debate. IMHO the first were interstellar visitors. None of that Columbus, Eric the Red, Asians crossing over the land bridge crap; there is proof that we were visited by intelligent beings long before any mammals were present. Yep, the great dinosaur die out was by superior Lizard People cleaning up their mistakes after using this planet as a breeding site.

And speaking of Lizard People (notice the segue here to Charlie Price, author of Lizard People), Charlie was our guest speaker in October talking about Writer/Artist in Residence programs, then entertained us with how to keep characters alive in our minds between books. He finished with readings from his latest (not released at that time) book, Dead Investigation, sequel to Dead Connection.

But that is not the strange part.

Since the last President’s Message, our local sponsor of the Authors Fair, the Record Searchlight, has undergone another transition.  Journal Media now belongs to Gannet Publishing. What does that mean to us? Dunno. But I am happy to announce that advertising deals for non-profits co-sponsored by them has allowed us to have the same ad-space as before, but cost us far less $$$. This is a blessing for our Fair budget since the mall has asked for the first time a hefty fee to allow authors to sell their wares. Remember; Mt. Shasta Mall has new owners.

So, hope to see you at the 11th Annual Authors Fair on November 14th, 10 am to 4 pm, at the Mt. Shasta Mall. Director at Large Debbie Israel is honchoing the volunteer list for this, and she can be reached at writersforumdal2 at There are several slots to yet be filled.

A Message from the President: October, 2015

Wow…  I had to be reminded of the President’s Message. After the failure of the September Newsletter, I am not quite on track for Writers Forum tasks.

Not to say I have forsaken WF tasks, just prioritized them. Big goal was to get the 11th Annual Authors Fair rolling again. Hopefully there will be an application in this issue. As I type this, it, the Fair is still subject to change, but at least we, er, I know where the new Mt. Shasta Mall owners AKA managers stand in relation to community events.

Sponsors for the Fair have also taken the proverbial “Left turn at Albuquerque” in that our old Co-sponsor, the Record Searchlight, has new owners also.  No longer under the umbrella of Scripps Howard, as it has been for many, MANY years, the paper recently was sold to Journal Media Group.

Which is a good move, in that Journal Media has its fingers in print, and only print. Scripps had many divisions, and funding of newspapers was taking a back seat to TV and Radio, Cable, Internet, etal.  I am not sure yet how the new dead-trees publisher is going to sponsor not-for-profit organizations. While our normal Advertising Rep is still with the paper, she took time off just when it dawned on me to check for policy changes.

Adding to the confusion was the search for a Newsletter Editor. Our old editor had to bail for new ministerial studies. We wish Ed Sulpice the best. And in the same breath, welcome our newbie, George Parker. So look out for changes in style and substance. It happens every time a new editor comes aboard.

Sigh… But life is good, and all things will work out.

Writers Forum’s Summer Time…

The Writers Forum summer is spent many ways.

Those members who are teachers don’t teach like they had; as teachers, they are always teaching, but not in a stuffy structured environment.

Some members big $$$ is in the non-winter months; summer is for working long hours.

Some members hardly notice the change, as they are writing, writing, writing; editing, editing, editing; revising, revising, revising.

Some travel, some stay at home; some venture out, some hibernate.

Regardless, they all remain members of the greatest not-for-profit known to mankind. Well, slight exaggeration, but you realize where this is heading: SOME THINGS SLIP THROUGH THE GEARS OF A WELL OILED MACHINE.

Didn’t see that coming, didja? It is true. The Website has been remiss in posting. Some say responsibility lies with the President who said at a Board Meeting, “No Problem! I will run a “Best of Member Monday” series. But procrastination won out.

So this is solemnly pledged; “There will be postings; maybe a “Best of Anything that strikes Someone’s Fancy” series.

Stay cool while that someone figures out why Word Press has shifted to a “Replace” mode rather than the usual “Insert” mode; don’t believe it is a keyboard issue.

PS. This could be in lieu of the monthly Message from the President.

A Message from the President: June, 2015

I am so proud of what gets accomplished when I sit back. This year the Writers Forum not only awarded a Five Hundred Dollar scholarship, but was able to afford two other Two Hundred Fifty Dollar scholarships. I was surprised when the Scholarship Committee announced multiple runner-ups; proof of the writing quality of our local high school graduating seniors.

Congratulations to Sydney Stinger of West Valley High. You can read her submission on our Website and our Newsletter later. As time goes by this summer, we should have the others; maybe with bios.

I don’t rightly remember exactly when our current scholarship program began, but it has been popular. In recent years, one of my biggest thrills was when an “English as Second Language” student won. Another highlight has been one school’s English class producing back-to-back winners.

And the Thank You letters!!!! Several brought tears.

Stay tuned for more details.


We will vote on the Proposed Bylaws at the June Meeting. Some highlights are: Changing Annual Meeting from March to June; changing number of visits allowed from three to two; changing term limits from one year back to two; changing requirements for Nomination Committee; other minor clarity changes.


Meanwhile, please ready yourselves for our twice-a-year Member Reads program. This is a chance to dust off an old favorite, or launch a new in-work piece to get a feel for how it lands.

Limited to five minutes, including introduction and scene setting, it is not a Speed Reading contest. While not an audition for Voice-Overs either, it is better if you read slowly for clarity and understanding. Timed out??? You can submit to our editors your reading in its entirety for publication.

A Message from the President: April, 2015

I am tossed about what this month’s blurb is to be about. Years past I have over- used April Fool’s Day, depleting all the online stores of funny tales of absurd pranks. What to do, what to do?

I finally narrowed it down to one of two topics; or can I chance it to combine?

I am a retired Navy Chief. Birthed in 1776, it didn’t become official until April 1, 1893. Which raises the question, “Were we a joke?” Far from it!!!

“The chief petty officer is responsible for three facets of leadership relative to the men placed in his charge,” someone wrote. The effective discipline of their Sailors, the effective supervising of the work their Sailors perform, and finally, to act as an advocate for their Sailors’ best interests.* I excelled at sticking my neck out for the best interests of my gang. With only one seagoing chance to mess in the Goat Locker, I was the favorite of one Commanding Officer who referred to me as “Chief Teddy.” Yes, a long-past nickname caught up to me, as I am not Theodore. *Attributed to

And the combo is the regretful news of a fellow sailor.

Past Writers Forum President Peter Wright passed away Wednesday, March 25. We shared the spotlight several years ago on a local radio show (along with member Linda Boyden).

Author of A Drop of the Hard Stuff…A Sea Captain’s Recovery from Alcoholism, I bought it several years ago, planning on reading it when the time was right: The time is right. I first skipped to the final three chapters about his recovery from this deadly disease, knowing he had over thirty years of sobriety. I knew some of his story, but not all of it. Now I am a third of the way through the background, tales of childhood, teen years, and the start of a long career as a seagoing merchant officer. Spoiler Alert: He retired sober!