Queen’s Letter: If I have to come over there…!

Today we have more words from Writers Forum President and Queen Laura Hernandez. With the COVID-19 numbers back on the rise in California, and with the lack of masks we see around town, it looks like this is going to be a longer ride than we hoped. Laura has some pointers for staying active with your writing as we wait it out.

One thing you can do is submit work to post at this blog! I can only post material that I have. If I don’t have it, I can’t post it. The more material I receive, the more regularly I can post, and the more variety we can have. Submission guidelines are always at the bottom of each post. Submissions from non-Writers Forum members will be considered.

Geo.


If I have to come over there…!

Welp, we did it! We passed up all the other states except New York (it’s always a struggle to be 2nd Best to Them, isn’t it?!).  We in CA are the Second Most Infected With Chingona, in the whole country!  And it’s not because of “increased testing.”  It’s because we are Stubborn, Bored and Selfish!  Yay!

Most of the newly infected in Shasta County (we are up to 86 as I write this, yay!) are attributed by contact tracing to a Family Gathering and another Graduation Party!  Yay!  And yes, there are people who infected each other at those Very Necessary Parties. But then they all went to the store. On different days. Your store? My store? My drug store? My liquor store? (This is no time to judge me.)

Wearing masks is not a matter of opinion, thank you Governor, it is a matter of State Mandate. You know, the force of law.

And did you see the young people who have erected card tables and petitions at the grocery stores to recall the governor over MASKS?!  Bless their hearts.

I’m sure it wasn’t any of you who participated in these Very Necessary Parties.  But we are going to have to police ourselves (by example) and exert some peer pressure with a Parental Glare that says, “Don’t Make Me Come Over There!” to those who are not wearing masks. It is the only thing we have.

And I know, I’m tired (and sweaty) trying to tell people to do this. At work, I have a sign, 8 ½ X 11, on yellow paper, in a font that is as big as your face on my door, that says, “You must wear a mask to enter the Law Li-berry.” And STILL there are people who bang in the door without one.  No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service. No shit.

Yes, we were good, we behaved. For a while. And now people are done. I see that. I also see the rate of infection climbing like it hasn’t before. Seven thousand. In. One. Day. Yay.

Please stay the ‘eff at home when you don’t have to get food. Or drugs. Or liquor. (I can see your face, stop it.)

I’m getting good at shopping online for stuff I now know I can’t fetch because there are people without masks in line ahead of me at the freakin’ store. They yell at cashiers because they want to be free to infect.  Did you know Old Navy will take the stuff you ordered online but maybe you have to return for free and you can take your bag to a less-crowded place like Mail Boxes, Etc. instead of the Post Office, to return before 5:00 (except they are closed on Sat/Sun.)?  Home Depot delivers shit right to your door, too (except not that Stump Remover stuff, I guess because of that you-can-light-a-match to accelerate the removal part of the instructions?). You can even get a box of blue-paper disposable masks (30 of them!) delivered right to your door (Amazon, free delivery, Yay!). And yes, wear them outside, too. You are walking right behind someone’s Chingona Cloud of Conversation.

The good news is that we still have a lot of hospital beds available!  Yay!  We might need them. Or not. I don’t have all the information I need. The Redding Record Searchlight is pretty much over this whole pandemic thing, too.  They no longer show a daily count from the health department for free online, like they did every day last week. Over it. And yet, many, many more cases. Go figure. Listen to the radio, like NPR 88.9 or 97.1 for Redding. There’s a California Report everyday at about 9:00 am, that is not just for infection reportage. On Thursdays there is a Selected Shorts program at 8:00-9:00pm where professional actors you’ve heard of, read short stories on random topics in front of live people somewhere. It’s pretty fun!

Try and find something funner to do indoors. Did you try Udemy for writing and editing yet? Do it now. You can play the classes over and over and take notes or just make sock puppets to interact with them! Maybe you thought we’d be out of the woods (I live in the woods, so you know, metaphor) by now and online learning wouldn’t be something we’d have to resort to.  We have to resort to. It’s funner than you think. There’s another $10 sale on now!

I did those and also hired a Content Editor through Reedsy, who gave me a 16-page evaluation for my first novel, (I sent her the whole damn thing!) and an evaluation on my query letter which gets me that much closer to publication!  Yay! I know I‘ve told you this before, but you might be able to hear me now. On Reedsy.com, you can find an editor, evaluate their credentials separately by just Googling their name, and interact online with them to negotiate a price (you make payments to Linked In) to get the kind of professional assessment you need to take your writing to the next professional level.  I love my critique group partners, but we all need experts in the publishing world, too.  There are hundreds of editors for different needs to choose from, and you can evaluate 5 at a time, like an auction you control, to make them jump to be your line or content editor for your very own manuscript! My content editor lives in Ireland (although her business in based in Florida), and worked for one of the Big Five publishing houses before going on her own. She gave me details and Big Picture ways to improve this novel and my others that was specific and understandable.  She is a fan and we will work together to get me published. I love her, get your own.

You know how hard it’s been to concentrate because of all the Pandemic News creeping us out? That’s the part we have to get over. Force yourself to concentrate, like it says on the orange juice carton. (My column, my jokes.) Write something that isn’t about germs, disease and infection. I dare ya.

Buy an exercise course online to keep you in the Fun Zone! If your internet is spotty at home, buy an exercise CD/DVD and have it delivered to your house (Target, Amazon, not Home Depot!)!  Get some extra batteries for your new, portable CD player (you can order that online from Target and they will deliver to your house!! Like magic!). I know, it’s money.  But we are going to have to spend a little in ways we didn’t think we’d need to before…all this. Get a DVD about Yoga!  I hate Yoga. It just forces me to see how neglectful I am with vacuuming.  And dusting. And spider de-webbing.  And how I’ve never liked that blue book… there. But that’s just me (and I can still see your face).  This will also be good prep for PG&EffingE’s planned plug-pulling for fire prevention this summer, too. Be sure to include a mask in your Go Bag in case we need to leave to let firefighters work.

Yes, we’re exhausted. Buck up. Thought the Not-So-Great-Depression was hard? Yep, nope. And it’s not so bad at home. At least there, I don’t have to wear my mask to go to the bathroom down the hall. Like I do at work. Yay.


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter. 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 Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction. 9.) Poetry.

Queen’s Letter: My Country is on Fire

Writers Forum President and Queen Laura Hernandez submitted a short piece on supporting the protests in the middle of COVID-19 on the day the one demonstration was to assemble in the Kohl’s parking lot. Before I could get it posted, that plan had been postponed. And then merely changed locations. And then another one added.

It was a chaotic weekend, and between the breaking events chaos and my day job, it didn’t get posted right away, and events quickly moved past the content of most of Laura’s message .

Because this seems to be an ongoing event, we decided to post the still-relevant parts of her piece.

We welcome any piece submitted by members that helps us navigate these difficult times. That’s what writers do. See below for submission guidelines.


My Country is on Fire

For many of us, it’s too dangerous to be in a public gathering right now. Chingona.
 
There are still ways for you to be safe and supportive. Yup, it’s money where your mouth is.

 

As protests continue across the country, police continue to make arrests of those exercising their constitutional rights to fight injustice. Here are a few places you can donate to bail funds to support protestors who have been arrested:

Make it count.
Because Black Lives Matter and Justice for All must be made real.

Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter. 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 Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events.


Queen’s Letter: Notsobrighterday

Writers Forum President and Queen shares her take on the covid-19 restrictions as we enter the Memorial Day weekend.


May people are optimistic that places are opening up. I remain crabby.

Redding City Council meeting was bullied and bull-horned by a mob this week, demanding things open up further. They also want churches to re-open because, God.  The federal government wrote a letter to our governor to re-open churches because, First Amendment.

I know it wasn’t any of you who went to the Mother’s Day church service in Butte County where an old guy had Chingona and infected others there. I’m pretty sure none of you went to the Cottonwood Rodeo that same weekend. Both in violation of state orders. And no one was wearing a mask, ‘cause, where’s the fun in that?! Happy Mother’s Day. Way to celebrate.

Churches are the places that have infected more people than any other gathering spots besides nursing homes. It’s not the touching and the hugging. It’s the breathing and the singing. Physical distancing is negated by raising your voice.  This is why we can’t have a nice Quarantine.

And it’s not enough that you don’t go to church.  It’s that after exposure to people from many neighborhoods who have gathered at the church, people go to the store. Your store, your take-out restaurant, and expose those people. So, Butte County’s church becomes your store’s infection point.

I’ve argued and negotiated distance and 30-minute timers with people coming into the law liberry without masks in violation of the posted policy on my door.  I’m gonna use a squirt gun next. I’m tired of wiping staplers, counter tops, desks, chairs and door knobs after each person uses them. And that’s just the stress at my workplace.

This staying the ‘eff at home has been hard on all of us. Some more than others. There are some Writers Forum members who own their own small business who have had to shut down. There are those who own professional solo practices who have had to close up. Essential First Responders who work at grocery stores, and families who live with nurses and are caregivers to First Responders’ grandchildren are trying to stay safe from infection while trapped together.  There is even someone who works the 911 phones. Imagine how hard that is.

There are now cases in all counties but one up here. Know what that means? It means that someone from Trinity County went somewhere and got Chingona and came back with it, or let someone visit from somewhere else who gave it to him. We know that because for two months, there were no reported cases in Trinity County. This was not an Immaculate Infection. It came there from a person carrying it inside them who wouldn’t stay the ‘eff at home. Cases are not rising in Shasta County, but they are everywhere else in California.

This is Memorial Day Weekend and people want to get out and remember the war dead, and to blow off steam. I’ve heard celebratory gunshots and fireworks at night this week in my neighborhood. Assholes abound. Please don’t go to Walmart or Costco. Masks are not enough to protect you from the crowds there who are buying party supplies for this weekend.  Go on Tuesday.  If you have to go there at all. A smaller market is best. During the earliest hours. With your damn mask on.

If you think being outside is just fine, think again. If you’re in a crowd this weekend, it won’t help you to be outside where people are not wearing masks. Even walking past them won’t help. They’ll be shouting, laughing and spreading Chingona far and wide if they have it, making a cloud of droplets that will linger for several minutes while you walk under it. Fresh air doesn’t kill this Chingona.  And you can’t tell if they have it. That’s the thing, isn’t it? You can’t tell by looking at people. They may know they have it, they may not know for sure. And some people don’t care enough about you. Stealthy Assholes.

I’m going to be occupying myself at the ‘eff home, doing yard work with my online supplies from Home Depot delivered directly to my door; reading, and viewing classes on Udemy.com. I’m taking Sell Your Novel to a Major Publisher, Write a Bestselling Novel in 15 steps, and The Foundations of Fiction Writing Mastery.  Really these are so good! And it’s not reading which takes concentration and comprehension! They are video lectures with prompts and examples and exercises! And you can make them repeat!

I have writer friends in New Jersey who are having trouble concentrating one day and then getting a burst of creative energy another day only to be felled by no-energy the next. None of them have Chingona, they are just getting Quarantini Blues. They joke about gaining the 19 pounds of Covid-19 stress eating. They are also trying to keep young children educated and alive at their houses. I have writer friends in San Diego, CA; and St. Augustine, Florida who are being intimidated in the street for wearing their masks. I have writer friends in the Bay Area who were laid off and are about losing their minds trying to get the Unemployment Office to answer the damn phone after writing out online applications and receiving nothing. For days and hours each day. They have mortgages and small children who need to eat. And these are all published writers who have agents and everything.  This is really hard.

What I want to do is stay the ‘eff at home in preparation for the next wave coming in two weeks from this weekend. The Asshole Factor for Memorial Day Weekend will infect people and start making new Chingona cases within 14 days. It may come in day 2 or day 13.  We don’t know. But we can stay home this weekend and not be spit on, or shouted at, or sung to.

I love you. Stay safe. Stay the ‘eff at home.


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter. 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 Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events.

 

Queen’s Letter: Oneofthesedays

One thing is for sure: stressful times make writers write. And stressful interactions with others can make us write even more. Another word from our President and Queen…written before the Cottonwood Rodeo of last weekend. And before another case of COVID-19 was announced for Shasta County on Monday.


 

 

Miss Translation

by: Laura Hernandez

 

I had a little talk over the fence with my neighbor yesterday that alarmed me. You might be having similar talks with your neighbors as Chingona blows somewhere else and Shasta County starts to roam around.

My neighbor listens to alternative news and online crap fests. You should have seen the list she gave me during Snowmagedon that “Proved” the government was using the electrical wipe out to kill people on purpose, but we could resist by listening to these radio stations. That may have been when they started buying toilet paper online and having it delivered. But I didn’t ask then.

My neighbors have always worked from home with a business that is artistic and global:  they make and manufacture custom buttons for coats and jackets using everything from Czech Republic crystals to plant designs she has created. They have ovens and molds and packaging so they can ship themselves.  Don’t laugh, they pay their 15-year mortgage (the kind where you pay double payments to pay it off early) with the profits from this business and have not had a “supplemental job in 18 years. She is also a fine artist showing in galleries here and trade shows as far away as New York.

She and her husband help me with firewood and I know would give me the toilet paper off their rolls if I asked.

But here is what horrified me yesterday: She doesn’t believe, you know, an act of faith not based on anything, that THIS has all been an exaggeration and people who died in this county ALL DIED FROM SOMETHING ELSE, and the government is lying.

I told her about that 75- year old woman who infected her church after a visit with an infected person in Sacramento. She interrupted me 3 times to say that woman had and died from her heart surgery. Which is not true. I told her she was thinking of another case. She wasn’t convinced.

I told her she and I had to be careful because we have had cancer and we are old. She said we’re not old!

This also tells me she is not reading the Record Searchlight where this 75-year old’s story has been researched, contact traced and documented by a real journalist and real nurses and the real Health Department.  Not reading the paper is weird for her because she still has one of those obnoxious orange mail boxes in her driveway labeled and designated for actual delivery of said paper. Her little newspaper delivery person has even yelled at me, through my neighbors, that I was placing my trash toters too close to the box, disabling her from driving on the wrong side of the street to easily deliver the paper to my neighbor.

But this was not the most disturbing part of our conversation.

The most disturbing part was that she was not going to go to Costco on Monday as she planned because Costco was requiring customers to wear masks and masks “were bad for us” even though Fauci, she spat his name, said we should wear them when going out.

She mis-translated what Fauci said. He has talked about how masks protect the person in front of the mask wearer, not the mask wearer.  Your mask protects other people. Their masks protect you from their germs that you don’t know you have. Coughing without a mask goes some 12 feet (yeah, double Social Distancing). A cough with a mask goes about 6 inches and up, not out. Wearing a mask is Not Bad Protection, just inadequate for you. It doesn’t harm you. Unless you are wearing your mask while driving your car for prolonged drives. (Reference previous Queen’s Letter)

It’s like a game of telephone. Or when my brothers and sisters would tell my one little sister, “Don’t tell dad, don’t tell dad, don’t tell dad.” She was nervous (Dad would see that and interrogate her and she would crack, ‘cause she always cracked). She would repeat, “Don’t tell dad” so much and with such fear that she would very soon forget half of the warning. “Don’t tell dad, don’t tell dad,” Became, “Tell dad, tell dad.”  She totally mis-translated the warning. And told dad.

And as for Dr. Fauci: do not disrespect him in front of me. He is my new Pretend Boyfriend (in addition to Governor Andrew Cuomo). And by the way, I’m not the only one crushing on him. Sally Quinn based her love interest on Dr. Anthony Fauci in her thriller romance published in the 90s. She met him at a fancy dinner a long time ago and was anticipating the dinner would be a bore when she was seated next to Dr. Fauci. Boy, was she wrong! She said she was wrong, and had a fabulous dinner with a fascinating man. She has told Dr. Fauci that he was the inspiration for that fictional character in her Romance Novel, Happy Endings, and he just laughed and said thank you.

If Sally Quinn’s name is familiar to you, it should be. She was a journalist and married to Ben Bradlee the executive editor of the Washington Post from ’68-’91. She was married to him from ’78 to his death in 2014. She still writes a blog in WaPo on religion.

Like Ruth Bader Ginsberg of the Supreme Court, and Governor Cuomo, I pray for Dr. Fauci’s health every day. I wish they’d all get their own morning TV show, but I don’t get everything I pray for.

As we open up, and if Shasta County can go until May 13 without new cases, we can all leave the house, the Asshole Factor has increased.

Traffic around town is up and aggressive. People are running red lights and speeding like I haven’t seen since the last 3-day weekend.

People are also being rude in person. I got my first Rude Patriot in the law library yesterday. Since my counter and lobby can’t be locked with drop boxes like the other departments at the courthouse, I am requiring people to wear masks to come into the law library. It’s posted on my door and the Marshals are telling people that when they enter the courthouse. The courthouse is “recommending masks” for other departments.

This Rude Patriot woman breezed in with an adult man, both 30-something in age (the age group that is getting most of the infections, too), and when I leaned from my chair 6 feet away and politely told her a mask was required to come in here, she moved away from the copy machine and said, “So are you taking away my civil liberties, too?”  I said, “No one is doing that, goodbye,” to her back.

Now, I could tell you with plenty of case citations about how the government CAN tell you how to do your protests, your freedom of speech, in a time, place, and manner that doesn’t take away your civil liberties, and still gives you instructions. You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater (remember those?) and the government says you can’t. You can’t say whatever you want, any time you want, where ever you want. I could give you more examples of that but my critique group gets enough of those, and I’m also guessing you’ve opted out of going to law school, so you don’t need more examples.

Suffice it to say that you don’t have a Constitutional Right to make copies in the law library and wearing a mask isn’t depriving you of anything except the right to smudge your lipstick.

The government, the state governor, by the authority of the 10th Amendment Police Powers can tell you to stay the ‘eff at home, and wear a damn mask when you go out. So far, Governor Newsome has said masks are required in some counties, mostly in the Bay Area and So. Cal and that County governments can require them as needed. So far, ours has not required it.

Does that mean you should try and get away with it? How about not. How about lowering the Asshole Quotient, saving a nurse, and wearing your damn mask?

“Opening up this county” just means our county has decided a we have enough hospital beds in the event of a sudden outbreak of this virus and can treat your acute respiratory problems in our ICUs and have a clean respirator and a tube they can shove down your closing throat with your name on it; based on the guessing models and the math the Health Department has been using this whole time.

Hospital beds, tubes. Not eradication of the virus.

And if Other People are trying to up the Asshole Quotient by driving to our area to recreate, ‘cause they are bored and really, really want to, we will get their stealth virus. They will go to the lake (not likely to let the virus linger and pass around unless grouping on the shores), then go to the store and the gas station near you. Yeah, they’re not wearing masks.


 

What are you writing during our covid-19 stay-at-home? Share it with us! Please!

Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter. 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 Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events.

Queen’s Letter: Notevengonnatrytolookupwhatdayitis

This week’s Letter from the Queen highlights some important issues we have to deal with today. Laura’s piece on contact testing and continued social distancing should go viral. It’s that important. And then Laura gives us another great writing aid.


 

 

Contact Tracing

I’ve done this.  When I was in graduate school for Medical (Urban) Anthropology, I manned and ran the Hotline at the university health clinic in the eastern San Fernando Valley.

It wasn’t the flu we were tracing. It was venereal disease. Girls would call; it was mostly girls calling.  They would call and describe symptoms we were trained to ask about, and we’d make appointments at the clinic for confirmation testing. The reason there were more girls calling than men is because most of the time, females have symptoms they notice. Their male partners did not have symptoms. But they were carriers. The men didn’t know they were carriers. Yet.

That’s where contact tracing found them. In the appointments at the clinic, girls were encouraged to make a list to take home, of the sexual partners they had in say 6-8 weeks previous to the onset of symptoms.  It was up to the infected girls to contact their previous partners and encourage those partners to come to the clinic (or an anywhere clinic), for testing and treatment.  There was blaming, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

I encouraged the girls to paint a grim picture, with colorful language, for the important phone call they would have to make to each partner (former and current, cute or ugly). She, in turn, was encouraged to use colorful language to encourage the partner to come clean and get clean before he made any further contacts.  Once the male partner(s) came into the clinic, same dosey-doe. Each contact was traced by each person who came for treatment. The clinic didn’t contact the contacts on the list.

Unless a person told us that a contact refused treatment and made some kind of threat that they would intentionally continue untreated contact with the community. That didn’t happen in our clinic. But we heard about a guy who did that at another university. Cops were involved as a Public Health Emergency. For that one guy.

Contact tracing for Chingona Virus is coming. It’s already here. That’s how we heard about that Redding woman who just had to go to Sacramento to visit a sick person and brought the Chingona back with her to her son, to her church.  She was asked, after she was sick, who the hell she had contact with. She told health care workers before she died. The health care workers did this tracing and contacted those people she contacted because she was too sick to make the phone calls.

Staying the eff at home makes contact tracing much easier.  One way you can make this easier to do for yourself is to keep your receipts from the grocery store and the drug store for 3 weeks at a time in a prominent place. They are date and time stamped, so you don’t have to remember when asked, and health care workers can find these in case you are too freaked out when asked after you get sick or someone you know is now sick and you had to visit them and are now busted. And, of course, these are the only places you should be going for a while, so that’s not a lot of receipts to keep, is it? Don’t rend or gnash, just keep your receipts.

As of today (it’s the latest, trust me) Age 18-49: 26,956 cases,

Age 50-64:14,078 cases

Age 65+: 12,098 cases

in California. What the hell does this mean? It means that Californians who are 18-49 are getting sick far more often than older people. My guess is that they are also more likely to not be staying the eff at home. And also more likely to get in their cars to go somewhere else for recreation because, you know, they are bored.  And it’s not that they are going on a hike in the wide, open spaces and not contacting other people. They go to the gas station to prepare for driving Somewhere Else. They buy snacks at the gas station or one of our little markets. Contact. If your nephew, or grandson or sons and daughters are doing this, don’t yell at them, just back away. Tell them to just wave from where they are. Save a nurse.

Things are opening up, but not all the way and we are still vulnerable to spreading this and getting this. Wear an effing mask.  Not while you’re driving. Didn’t you read about that woman who was driving around with her mask on and hit a tree because she passed out at the wheel? The mask is hard to breathe through. I saw 3 people driving around downtown Redding yesterday, wearing masks while driving.  Don’t do that.  It’s going to start getting warm outside and that makes breathing more difficult, too. Limit wearing your mask to when you get out of the car to get groceries.  And you can’t put on your lipstick before your mask.  Found out the hard way. A cloth sleeping mask, turned upside down with the “nose part” flipped up, can make a pretty good mask with something you may already have around the house. Don’t try and order N-95 ones yet as our health care professionals still need them more than you do.

 

I know you’re bored and freaked out. I’m one of those. I’ve been trying to write and have been reading about writing, which is the same thing (it is, it is, it is!).

The funnest book in My Pile right now is Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need, by Jessica Brody. This book has a predecessor for screenwriters and this book builds on that one for helping us write something as riveting as a great movie.  She’s written (and sold) some 15 bestsellers (YA mostly), so she does know a couple things.

This book helps you write a Beat Sheet for your plot points to fill out the Three Act Structure. It’s good for planning something you haven’t done yet, but it’s also great for fixing up what you’ve already written! Jessica (I can call her by her first name because I have contacted her online and now we are Pretend Friends!), shows examples of what she’s writing about in popular movies so you can get the visual.

And there’s more! Udemyyes, I spelled that right…is an online teaching place that offers Jessica’s “Write a Best Selling Novel in 15 Steps” course!  It’s offered on sale for $9.99 most of the time (wait for a sale, not the $50 price), and once you buy it, you have it online forever. It’s a lot like the book, but not exactly, but it’s very good to use and play along.  You can go back anytime and re-view one of more of the almost one-hour class. Go to www.udemy.com to sign up, create an account and pay online. There are 100s of classes to take, not all of them by Jessica.

I bought her book, marked it up and use it, but I also bought the course from Udemy because sometimes you need a puppet show.

Jessica’s course on novel writing is presented in little blocks of something like 5-10 minutes each with examples, charts, short outlines, and clear explanations from her little face of what the hell she’s talking about. You can stop and start and repeat in the middle of each lesson and go back and forth as you need. She shows how popular and classic novels used what she’s talking about (because they all have these beats!), and of course, how popular movies show her concepts. AND this gives you a movie and book list to learn from and get back into right now because you need more to watch now!

She explains things like Theme, the Catalyst, the Debate, and the B-story (which is NOT the sub-plot but is the main character’s emotional development throughout your novel, her reason for and resistance to the change she needs to make to survive her story).

You’ll learn exactly how to improve your Fun & Games, Midpoint, Bad Guys Close in, All is Lost, and the Dark Night of the Soul. And yeah, you need to improve all that to write and sell your best-selling novel. The Finale Beat and Final Image spots are the necessary ending parts that will make you sure you have given the reader what she needs to love your novel and look forward to your next one.

There’s a “writer’s room” at the end of each “chapter” or “beat” where she shows you what she’s working on that illustrates what she just said, and shows you how writers plan in person, in real time, and how we can help each other “spit-ball” ideas in the comfort of your living room in the Time of Chingona Virus!  See how that all came together?!

Learn something new online, you know, Distance Learning. Continue to stay the eff at home. And just be glad it’s not the University Health Clinic contact tracing you.


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