Member Monday: Over the Hill by George T. Parker

Welcome back to Member Monday! Today we feature a story by Writers Forum newsletter editor, George T. Parker. Here’s little more about the piece from George himself.

Author’s Note: This fictionalized story is based upon a true incident on a trail crew in Yosemite. I didn’t see it happen. It was a campfire story we heard from the trail workers leading our crew of an incident that had happened years before.

Over the Hill

by George T. Parker

Hammers clanged on rock. A faint granite dust fog hung low to the ground. Miguel and Bear each worked his doublejack on the weak, weathered, and rotten granite rocks in the trail tread. Neither spoke. They didn’t need to. The borders of the causeway section were finished. All they had to do now was break down the decomposing granite rocks to fill the trail tread, cover the crushed fill with dirt, and this section of trail would be finished. Miguel had been working trails in Yosemite for over fifteen years, had been a trail boss for three of those years, and this marshy section would finally be crossed off his ‘to do’ list. This particular section had been annoying him for a couple of years. This year, this section of high-traffic trail between Yosemite Valley and the Merced High Sierra camp had climbed to the top of the priority list. The rest of the crew worked about a half mile above them, closer to the Merced camp. When Miguel and Bear finished here, they would bump up ahead of the rest of the crew to the next trouble spot on the trail.

It was a hot August day. Miguel and Bear worked shirtless, and their blue jeans carried a lot of Yosemite dirt around with them. Miguel glistened with sweat. A green bandanna around his head kept sweat out of his eyes. Bear’s hairy mass covered up any sweat. His head was bare, but he did occasionally have to wipe sweat out of his eyes with a bandanna he kept tucked into a back pocket. This was the perfect life for Miguel and Bear. They could not imagine any life better than working on Yosemite trail crews in the Backcountry.

As their hammers clanged, hikers rounded the corner below. They appeared out of the trees, three of them. Two guys and a lady. All three of them could have just stepped out of an REI catalog. They sported brand new backpacks and hiking boots. They hiked with the latest style hiking poles. (Ordinary people might call them ‘ski poles’.) Colored piping around the top of the lady’s socks peeking above her low top hiking boots even matched the color of her hiking shorts.

Miguel and Bear saw the hikers right away. They took a quick look around at their work site. Their rock bars, shovels, singlejacks, and other gear were all off the trail and out of the way. They stopped pounding granite and moved to the uphill side of the trail to let the hikers pass through. The first hiker, one of the guys, said “Hi.” Bear said “Hi” as he pulled his bandanna and wiped his face. Miguel said “Como esta?”

The hikers carefully picked their way through the rubble in the trail. After they passed through, Miguel and Bear stepped back down onto the trail, preparing to start swinging again.

The lady hiker turned back to them and asked “Are you guys inmates? You know, like a chain gang?”

Miguel and Bear had been dealing with that question since they were Corpsmembers in the CCC. People often confused them with state prison inmates as they worked alongside California’s highways or state parks. Miguel and Bear were used to hearing that question. This time, though, Miguel had already planned a different sort of response.

Miguel dropped the head of his doublejack to the ground and said “Yeah. Didn’t you see the guard with the shotgun down there around the corner?” He looked at Bear. Bear grinned.

The three hikers stopped. The lady said, “A guy with a shotgun? No.”

Miguel said to Bear “You hear that?” Miguel threw down his double jack and ran up the hill. Bear was right behind him.

The three hikers stood frozen in place and watched the two men disappear through the trees.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!


Special Writers Forum Workshop…

Writing for Children: Anyone Can Do It, Right?

Special Writers Forum Workshop: Saturday, March 12 from 10:30-2:30 (1/2-hour lunch break at noon) $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers

If you have ever read a book to a child and thought, Hey, I can do that…how hard could it be? then this four-hour special program presented by Writers Forum is for you. A skilled and accomplished panel of speakers representing the genres in children’s literature will share insights, experiences, and advice from their journeys as authors and illustrators.

Discussion will include what differentiates children’s literature from other types of literature; tips on pursuing a career in this rewarding industry; and an introduction to the premiere organization of the children’s book world, SCBWI, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The program will include audience participation as attendees are divided into groups to practice writing a query letter to an editor or agent, how to deliver an elevator pitch for your work-in-progress, or how to write a clear synopsis for your manuscript. Each group will be moderated by one of the panelists.

Presenters are Jessica Taylor, Elizabeth Stevens Omlor, Ellen Jellison, Cynthia Saye Kremsner, and Linda Boyden. To cover expenses for our speakers, there will be a minimal charge of $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers. Our customary refreshment table will be available; however, attendees are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch if they desire.

Pre-registration is not required. Attendees may pay at the door. The event takes place at All Saints Episcopal Church, 2150 Benton Drive, Redding, CA 96003. For further details, contact Writers Forum Program Chair.

Is Your Story Short???

Rcvd this as email this morn…


Fellow writers,

One of the best ways to gain credibility as a writer and build your writing resume (especially if your publishing credentials are currently thin) is to win a credible writing competition. And right now, through Writer’s Digest you can do that with just 1,500 words of fiction.

That’s right—Just 1,500 words! Here’s how:

It’s time to enter our 16th Annual Short Short Writing Competition. Whether it’s a story you’ve been working on for years or one you write tonight, all you need is a short work of fiction that is 1,500 words or fewer to submit it right away. It’s that easy. Prizes for the winner of this competition include:

  • $3,000 in cash
  • Your short story title published in Writer’s Digest magazine’s July/August 2016 issue
  • A paid trip to the ever-popular Writer’s Digest Conference (where I’d love to meet you)!
  • A copy of the 16th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection
  • A copy of the 2016 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market
  • And more!

Plus, all entrants will receive access to our February 23, 2016, webinar “Short Story to Story Collection: How to Craft a Collection of Short Fiction That Gets Published and Sells,” a $49 value at no extra cost.

I’ve helped judge this competition for years and, I admit, it’s one of my favorites to read through. Being able to write a good short (short) story can be a challenge, but if you have a fun idea and run with it, who knows what can happen. But you can’t win unless you enter. The deadline for this competition is January 15, 2016, so enter now before it’s too late!

Take care of yourself and your writing,
Brian A. Klems
Senior Online Editor, Writer’s Digest

To enter visit:


Note: There is a $25 entry fee.

Roxy Reindeer by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a unique submission by Writers Forum member, Linda Boyden. Writing pitches and press releases can sometimes be just as difficult as writing the story itself, so today Linda shares her pitch and the press releasefor her latest picture book, Roxy Reindeer, which was recently named among the Best in Family-Friendly Products by the Mom’s Choice Awards. Congratulations, Linda, and thanks for sharing your expertise.

Roxy Reindeer
By Linda Boyden©2015

“Santa’s workshop is a busy place, especially on Christmas Eve. Everyone wants to help including Roxy, Santa’s youngest reindeer. Unfortunately, every time she tries to help, she seems to get in the way. Santa has no choice but to lead her to her stall so the elves can finish packing the sleigh. He tells her the problem is she’s too young and promises she can help next year. Will Roxy’s Christmas Eve be ruined? Not with Mrs. Claus around!  Discover her plan that will turn Roxy’s frown upside down and make readers smile, too.

Roxie book cover sm

For Immediate Release: October 1, 2015
For More Information Contact:

The Mom’s Choice Awards Names ROXY REINDEER Among the Best in Family-Friendly Products

Summary: I am honored to announce that my fifth picture book, ROXY REINDEER, has earned the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award®. Having been rigorously evaluated by a panel of MCA evaluators, ROXY REINDEER is deemed to be among the best products / services for families.

Full Release:

Redding, CA. The Mom’s Choice Awards® has named ROXY REINDEER as among the best in family-friendly media, products and services. The MCA evaluation process uses a propriety methodology in which entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal, and cost.

“I am thrilled to earn the Mom’s Choice Awards Honoring Excellence Seal of Approval,” says local author/illustrator, Linda Boyden. “I know all the great things the MCA does to connect consumers, educators, and caregivers with the best products and services available for families.

To be considered for an award, each entrant submits five (5) identical samples for testing. Entries are matched to evaluators in the MCA database. Evaluators are bound by a strict code of ethics not only to ensure objectivity, but also to ensure that the evaluation is free from manufacturer influence. The five evaluations are submitted to the MCA Executive Committee for final review and approval.

“Our aim to introduce families and educators to best-in-class products and services,” explains Dawn Matheson, Executive Director of the Mom’s Choice Awards. “We have a passion to help families grow emotionally, physically and spiritually. Parents and educators know that products and services bearing our seal of approval are high-quality and also a great value. The MCA evaluation program is designed to incorporate the expertise of scientists, physicians and other specialists; but we also engage parents, children, educators, and caregivers because they are experts in knowing what is best for their families.”

With the evaluation now complete, the testing samples of ROXY REINDEER will be donated to schools, libraries, hospitals and nonprofit organizations.

Information about Linda Boyden and her books, including ROXY REINDEER and where to purchase them can be found at

About the Mom’s Choice Awards®

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children, families and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of entries from more than 55 countries.

Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media look for the MCA mother-and-child Honoring Excellence seal of approval when selecting quality products and services for children and families.

Learn more about the Mom’s Choice Awards by visiting their website:

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: An Excerpt from Twitch by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum member, Linda Boyden. You can catch Linda and a host of other local authors at the Authors Fair at the mall on Saturday, November 14th. Welcome, Linda.

 An Excerpt from Twitch

by Linda Boyden

A brief synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Twitch Taylor hasn’t paid much attention to the old Cherokee stories. Sure his family is Cherokee, but the stories are just the elders talking, right? After a freak car accident kills his aunt, Twitch’s father gives him away to his brother according to an old Cherokee tradition then disappears himself. Overnight Twitch has gone from being a city kid to a country bumpkin. He argues how in the 21st century no one follows this old custom. Uncle stays stubborn and Twitch ends up stuck in a forest learning how to hunt with a bow and arrow and identifying types of plants. He quickly discovers this ancient forest is far from normal. Many of the Cherokee myths are coming alive, including one tied to his aunt’s death and his father’s disappearance. To combat these, Twitch must learn to be a Stone Keeper like his father and grandfather before him. The trick is can he learn fast enough to save himself, his family, and pretty much the rest of the world? Is he man enough?

“The tsi’sdu, rabbit, boings away like its legs are made of rubber. I run, feet on fire, and stay with it till it zooms up a ridge.

“Son-of-a-gun!” I holler. I kick a hollow log and two chipmunks roll out, cussing me in chipmunk-speak. I cuss them back and crane my neck, but see nothing.

Trust a tsi’sdu? Yeah, right, that girl or woman or whoever she was, surely doesn’t know a thing. Crazy drumming or not, I’m going stick to my plan to hitchhike back home to Marquis, but then don’t I spot it? Yonder up the ridge, its pale body waits in front of something dark. From down here, seems like a black smudge on the mountainside.

“Might only be a shadow, or maybe…maybe it’s a cave?” I shrug off my pack and tug my cap lower. “Only one way to find out.”

I scrape fingers as I monkey up and over the ridge onto an old deer path that zigzags directly to a hole in the mountainside. I bend low. A breeze blows on my face. It smells dark, of old and forgotten things.”

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Sleepover from Walks with Thurber: A Memoir by Jennifer Levens

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum Treasurer, Jennifer Levens. Welcome, Jen.


from Walks with Thurber: A Memoir

by Jennifer Levens

Author’s Note: This is all from the dog’s point of view, so the misspellings are his and on purpose.

I had a sleepover at my house. I know, it has been a long time since I got to talk to you. Mom has been busy, whatever that means. I have been going for more and more walks. But I have to tell you about my sleepover. You know I like white fluffy things and purple things. (That’s because Mom likes purple things. Sometimes she is a purple thing herself), but anyway about my sleepover. Mom brought my friend over and he stayed here. He got to sleepover at my house!!! Mom took us both for walks but not at the same time.

His name is Stan, but Mom calls him Sweetie Pie. Is that a food? Mom and Dad get pie a lot. They don’t let me have it. I get bananas and apples and grapes (not many of those) and a cracker at the morning and a cracker at the night and fish oil pills and then sometimes if I have itchy places or I sneeze a lot I get other pills. Sometimes I fake sneezing, because Dad wraps pills in meat. I like meat a lot too.

About my sleepover, the car smelled funny after Stan was in it. He wasn’t in my seat, but something happened. Mom brought him home and my blue thing for my seat wasn’t there again. I have another thicker blue thing. It is softer and more fun. Anyway, Stan stayed for a long time. Why does he get a bowl of food all the time and I only get two bowls a day? I wouldn’t eat his food. It is hard and in really small balls. He throws it up and catches it. I can’t do that with my food only the apples and bananas and grapes.

Anyway Stan slept in a cage. Mom would never let me sleep in a cage. I couldn’t even fit in Stan’s cage, but Stan says he likes it. It is like a cave and it smells like him and he sleeps real good in it.

The first night Stan woke everybody up. He grrr…d and he woofed and he was real loud. I only do that when there is danger like from that gray thing that crept along the fence and hissed at me and made mean faces at me. I don’t really know what Stan was grrr…ing about. I mean, I guess I am used to the stuff that happens around here. When I go to Stan’s house he says he likes it, because he gets out of his room for a while and my Mom walks him. He says she rescues him from the smelly place where there are all sorts of us and other people like, eeuwwee, cats and stuff. I don’t think I would mind a snake. Snails live at my house and I don’t mind them. They are really easy to catch. Anyway, back to Stan and me. Mom didn’t take us to Dog Park. She left us all; me, and Stan, and Dad all the next day after Stan got here. She came home smelling of woods and trees and why didn’t she take me? I would have really liked that.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: An Excerpt from Checked Out by Sharon St. George

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature an abridged excerpt from chapter 1 of Checked Out, book 2 in the Aimee Machado Mystery Series by author Sharon St. George. Sharon is a charter member of Writers Forum and serves as the Writers Forum Program Chair. Here’s a little more about Sharon.

Abridged_excerpt_from_Chapter_1_of_CHECKED_OUT 2Abridged_excerpt_from_Chapter_1_of_CHECKED_OUTSharon Owen, writing as Sharon St. George, is currently working on SPINE DAMAGE, the fourth book in her Aimee Machado Mystery series published by Camel Press. Owen is a charter member and current program director of Writers Forum. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Visit Sharon at or on Facebook at

An excerpt from Checked Out

by Sharon St. George

In order to carry on a confidential conversation, Aimee Machado, hospital librarian, and her colleague, medical staff director Cleo Cominoli, meet at a diner near the hospital where they work.

“Looks good.” I nodded at the steaming bowl Cleo placed on the table. “What is it?”

“The special. Meatball soup with kidney beans.”

“Okay, enough small talk. What’s up?”

Cleo sucked in a deep breath and blew it out on her soup.

“Sig is scheduled for prostate surgery with Dr. Poole.”

“How did that happen?”

“He didn’t ask me. His family doctor referred him to Poole, so it was a done deal when Sig finally told me.”

“Does Poole know Sig’s your fiancé?”

“ ’Fraid so. Of course she’ll blame me if he tries to back out.”

“Then what are you going to do?

“I don’t know yet, but we’ll have to act before Sig’s surgery date.”


“Please, Aimee. Siggy’s loud and bald and fluffy, but I love him to pieces and we have a great sex life. You’ve got to help me. We can’t let Dr. Poole turn him into a eunuch.”

“You can’t be serious. Poole is aloof and intimidating, but that doesn’t mean she’s castrating male patients just for the heck of it.”

“Doesn’t it?” Cleo scooped a meatball into her spoon, stared at it, then dropped it back into the deep crimson broth in her bowl. She looked a little green.

“When is Sig scheduled?”

“Two and a half weeks from now.”

“Have you tried to talk him out of it?”

“Yes, but Sig’s convinced he’s going to die if she doesn’t operate.”

Cleo’s reaction was so extreme there had to be something she wasn’t telling me. She facilitated every one of TMC’s peer review committee meetings. All of their findings and corrective actions were kept in padlocked file cabinets in her office. She also kept confidences brought to her outside committee by nurses who observed suspicious behavior both on the patient floors and in the operating room.

“Do you know something about Poole that you’re not telling me?”

“Nothing I can confirm, but when a patient leaves the hospital against medical advice the night before his surgery, it raises an enormous red flag. There was an incident several years ago at the last hospital where I worked. One of the surgeons was performing unnecessary surgeries, and eventually the OR nurses got suspicious. Word got out to the rest of the nursing staff, and one of the floor nurses started warning the surgeon’s patients away. After a third patient checked out against medical advice the night before surgery, that nurse was exposed and fired.”

“What about the surgeon? What happened to him?”

“Nothing. He’s still there performing surgeries on other unsuspecting patients. That’s why I turned in my resignation and move here, three states away.”

“Are you saying you think someone warned Cody O’Brien away from Dr. Poole?”

“Why else would he bolt at the last minute?”

“Then you should tell Sig to get a second opinion, even if he has to go out of town.”

“If I can convince him to do that and he does decide to back out, I’m afraid he’ll end up like Cody O’Brien.”

“Cody O’Brien was killed by a horse. Sig’s not a cowboy, he’s a dentist.”

Cleo sniffed and said softly, “How do we know Cody was killed by a horse? All I heard is that he was found unconscious in the trailer with his horse. There was a contusion on his forehead consistent with a kick from a horse’s hoof.”

“Sounds pretty straightforward. Is the sheriff’s office investigating the incident?”

“No, and that’s what bothers me. They won’t investigate unless the coroner’s report shows something suspicious. In the meantime, I thought you and I could do some checking—on the quiet. We can’t go through hospital channels.”

“What kind of checking?” I said.

“Checking up on Dr. Poole. You were hired because you’re a forensic librarian. Use your skills.”

“But I’m not a forensic librarian. I’m a health sciences librarian, and part of my job is building a forensic component for the TMC library. That doesn’t make me a detective.”

“Some of that forensic know-how must have rubbed off. I’ll bet you know more than you realize about how to investigate a murder.”

“Cleo, you can’t believe Dr. Poole is going around killing patients who change their minds about surgery?”

Before Cleo could reply, Margie bustled over to our table. “Hello, ladies. Just dropping off our flyer. Friday night’s entertainment is Code Blues.”

She was referring to a blues combo made up of musicians affiliated with Timbergate Medical Center. I glanced at the flyer and noticed Laurie Popejoy’s name crossed out. I asked Margie what that was about.

“Rumor has it Laurie Popejoy can’t be in the combo now that she’s not employed by the hospital.” That was news to me. I shot a look at Cleo.

“I was getting to that,” she said.

Margie continued her update. “They already have a new gal they found right under their noses.”

“Who is she?” Cleo said.

Margie frowned. “Let’s see … I think her name is Dr. Phyllis Poole.”

As soon as Margie was out of earshot, Cleo grabbed my arm. “Can you believe that? Poole in Code Blues?”

“No, but let’s get back to Laurie Popejoy. What’s going on with her?”

“I was about to tell you that Laurie was Cody O’Brien’s floor nurse last night. He checked himself out against medical advice at the end of her shift. She called in her resignation first thing this morning.”

“What does all of this have to do with Cody O’Brien’s death? Are you thinking Laurie Popejoy said something that made O’Brien skip out on his surgery?”

“He skipped out and ended up dead. Laurie resigned immediately. The timing is too suspicious to dismiss as coincidence. I don’t like it one bit, and I won’t rest until I know whether Phyllis Poole’s involved.”

“Come on, Cleo, don’t you think you’re overreacting because of what happened at that other hospital?”

“Maybe, but we don’t know what lengths Poole’s capable of when it comes to protecting her reputation and keeping her medical license. Meanwhile, she’s not getting her hands on Siggy, whether you help me or not.”

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!