Member Monday: Poetry by Larry Solberg

Today’s Member Monday features a pair of poems written by Larry Solberg. Larry read them at the last Read Around.

If you read at the Read Around and would like to see your piece on the website and in the newsletter but did not give us a copy yet, please send them to .

Thank you.


Larry Solberg

The Voice of a Parent

(Who has Lost a Child)

Upon the Sea of Life

I carried a soul in its tiny boat

To the shores of the Sea of Life.

The spirit sailed its growing bark

On The Waters both light and dark.


With energy it would float

O’er that Lake with meaning rife

Until it could make its mark

Upon the Waters of Strife.


And ever as I watched The Lake

To see the way the soul would take

I heard a note with meaning rife

(A message that cut like a knife.)

The wind above The Waters wrote.


I’ll review the life that soul bore

Whose raft to the dock draws near.

T’will sail The Sea of Life no  more.

I hold its essence most dear.


In my mind is now forever locked

The voyage of that ship now docked.

I’ll review the journey that boat took,

And see the soul’s shining look.


My soul will hold that soul most dear.


I Would a Sailor Poet Be

A sea of sound engulfed me

Just the Other day

It most carried me away

For I would a sailor poet be,

An endless sound to my sea.


And for freight a thought or two.

Misty thoughts for which I’d expound

Words would shower off my tongue,

A deluge for expectant ears.

All the while those memes would

Swim in that endless pond

While waiting proud masses to respond.


Member Monday: The Berghoff

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a memoir piece written by Writers Forum member Jeanne Crownover. Jeanne read this piece at June’s read Around. Welcome, Jeanne!


Jeanne Crownover

Jeanne Crownover


I was a young, single woman in Chicago in 1960, and my date took me out to dinner one night at the Berghoff, which he characterized as one of Chicago’s finest restaurants.

The downtown restaurant was lovely with a dark wood interior and murals of the city on the walls. The waiters were splendid in their black trousers and jackets. A real cosmopolitan experience for this small town girl from Wisconsin.

A few months later my mother came to visit me. I promised to show her the town. She bought a new black dress for the occasion, as I had warned her we’d be going out to dinner at The Berghoff.

As we perused the menu, I recommended the Dover sole, which previously my date had recommended to me. She took my suggestion. Later, she said she loved it. I felt so grown up, taking my mom out to dinner at what seemed such a classy place. And so proud.

Eventually I moved away from Chicago—from the whole Midwest. Got married, became a Californian, raised a family. A whole new life.

Twenty-five years after departing I returned to my roots for the first time. My daughter, a young adult at the time, joined me in Chicago. The Sears Tower topped our list of “must places to go” (it hadn’t been there in 1960), followed by the Art Institute and, of course, dining at The Berghoff.

The restaurant looked exactly the same and the menu prices appeared quite reasonable through my California eyes. The large building across the street was being demolished; a huge wrecking ball swung back and forth as we enjoyed our lunch.

Five years later I returned with my newly grown-up son. His sister had told him about lunch at The Berghoff, so naturally we had to dine there, too. The building and the wrecking ball across the street were gone, of course, but to my surprise it had not been replaced by another building. Instead, a temporary fence surrounded the lot.

Another five years passed, and I returned to Chicago with my youngest child, another son. “So where did you take the others?” he asked.

“Sears tower, the Art Institute, and The Berghoff,” I replied.

So dinner at The Berghoff it was. Only this time there were trees across the street, behind a wall. Not as metropolitan as the building, as dynamic as the wrecking ball or as temporary as the fence. A familiar room with yet another view.

My son excused himself from the table for a short time, and I found myself suddenly deeply nostalgic. I remembered, with considerable emotion, a young woman dining at The Berghoff with her mom, some thirty-five years earlier.

Mothers, daughters, children…Buildings, wrecking balls, fences, walls.

The inevitability of change. The constancy of The Berghoff.

Member Monday: My Mother’s Wedding

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a memoir piece written by Writers Forum member Jo Ann Perkins. Jo Ann read this piece at June’s read Around. Welcome Jo Ann!

Jo Ann Perkins

I was working in Denver, Colorado for United Airlines as a Stewardess, when George Perkins asked me to marry him. This was in April of 1955, and the Wedding was scheduled for September 10th. My mother demanded that I come home in June to prepare for the event. I had some trouble with this: why was it going to take so much time and what was I going to do about it? All I thought I had to do was purchase the wedding dress. I had never spent any time thinking about my wedding because I always thought I would be an old maid with a cat farm. I was unaware that my mother had been thinking about it for years.

Well, I came home at the end of June and actually didn’t do much about the wedding because my mother was into high gear on the subject. I spent a lot of my time on Battle Creek at the local swimming hole. In fairness to my mother, she did have a lot to do to prepare for the event. Because we owned Mineral Lodge, the reception would naturally be there (we had the cooks and plenty of help for this), but Mineral had no church, so there was no place for the ceremony except our front yard. The yard was big enough, and it was mostly lawn, but it was not as fancy as my mother would have liked it. It was hard to have flowers in Mineral, because of the black tail deer that loved to eat anything. My mother had cages built of chicken wire that she put over her flower beds every night to keep the deer from destroying everything. She had this problem licked, but the even bigger one was the land behind the house. It had been used to store auto wrecks from the Mineral Lodge Garage for several years. My father had promised her that these unsightly vehicles would be removed by the time of the wedding.

Well the summer went on and the vehicles did not move. To add insult to injury, a few more of the same were added to this menagerie. My mother almost killed the poor tow truck driver who delivered the last items. My father, bless, his soul, kept assuring her that they would be gone by September 10th. I am not sure what his plan was, but by the first of September, all the vehicles were still there, including the newest arrivals. As you can imagine, my mother was quite upset. She could not physically remove the unsightly items herself. What could she do? Bill Bruener, a close friend, came up with a solution. He put two strands of rope to screen off the offending items, then leaned cut Christmas trees against the ropes. This took some 50 trees which came from our own land. The cars could hardly be seen and peace was restored. I am sure that most of the guests never realized what was behind the trees.

Then there were the flowers for decoration of the lodge and reception area. Mrs. McQueen, who lived in the little fairy house on Scenic Ave spent all summer making imitation carnations out of Kleenex tissues. At the time I did not see anything unusual about this, I even helped sometime to make them and delivered all the Kleenex to her. I am sure the guests were not aware of these fake carnations either because they were backed by fresh evergreens from the forest.

George, the groom, was not planning on any wedding guests. He came from Chicago, his parents had retired to the Virgin Islands, and his one brother was overseas in the Air Force. Unannounced, the day before the wedding his cute blonde cousin Barbara* from Sacramento arrived. My uncle said he was there in quality, not quantity. So it was a great wedding. All my family’s relatives and friends from everywhere were there. The cake was the biggest cake the Red Bluff Bakery had ever made, and my mother could relax, she didn’t have to do it again, because I was the only daughter!


*Barbara Musler and her husband Jay retired to Mineral several years later. There is a plaque on the Mineral Lodge porch in his memory. He flew B-24 planes in World War II.

Member Monday: Then Will I Stand by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a poem by Writers Forum member, Linda Boyden. Welcome, Linda.

Then Will I Stand

By Linda Boyden ©2015

Night window, dark,

his profile etched

by the streetlight

he sits, hunched

in the wheelchair

hands clasped on top

of the warrior blanket

of stripes and buffaloes

I bought to ease his chills.

We wait for it to snow

though it is too cold.

We wait together

holding hands

we wait for the inevitable

for his long march to the stars.

Then will I stand,

his blanket around

my shoulders.

Then will I stand

under the myriad of stars

and hunt for his, for him.

Then will the wind bite

my cheeks and fingers.

Then will I bury my tears

in his blanket,

smell his memory,

hear his laughter.

Then will I stand

under the falling snow.

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: 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!

Who is Ethical Norm? by Sharon St. George

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature a piece by Sharon St. George. Here’s a little more about Sharon.

Abridged_excerpt_from_Chapter_1_of_CHECKED_OUT 2Sharon Owen, writing as Sharon St. George, is the 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

Who is Ethical Norm?

by Sharon St. George

Who is Ethical Norm?

Sorry, trick question. Ethical Norm is not the husky man from Cheers who sat at the corner of the
bar. Norm’s ethical boundaries might have been compromised by his appetite for beer, a
proclivity that, on more than one occasion, caused him to behave in an unethical manner.
Ethical norm is a term I first heard in a college fiction writing course. My professor assigned
Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery, to be read by the class. During the discussion that
followed, the professor pointed out that the ethical norm of that community was an integral part
of the story setting. Without it, there would have been no story.
I recently refreshed my memory by searching out a definition of the term. I found that Webster
tells us norms are standards of proper or acceptable behavior; ethics are rules of behavior based
on ideas about what is morally good and bad. When these are combined, we have standards of
acceptable behavior, not necessarily mandated by law, but based on a particular society’s ideas of
what is morally good and bad. There is general agreement that as a society, we expect certain
behaviors from society at large, even when they do not fall under the purview of law.
Some of literature’s most memorable works have used the concept of a given society’s ethical
norm to startle readers’ minds into active thought about the behaviors they expect from
themselves and others who share not only their community, but their nation and their planet.
Another example, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, demonstrates what happens when a group
of young boys become castaways on a tropical island. Does their survival depend on establishing
an ethical norm different from what governed their behavior before they became shipwreck
This important element of setting reaches beyond fiction. A 2016 Academy Award-winning
documentary short subject film titled A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness is a stunning
example of the concept of how one society’s ethical norm differs from others. Set in Pakistan, it
sheds light on the practice of honor killings, and involves a 19-year-old woman who survives an
honor killing attempt by her father and uncle for marrying the man she loves. It brings to light
the statistic that approximately a thousand Pakistani women are murdered each year by male
relatives for dishonoring their families. The film has already prompted Pakistan’s prime minister
to address the need for a stronger law against honor killings in his country. In her Oscar
acceptance speech, courageous woman filmmaker Obaid-Chinoy stressed the “power of film” to
bring about social change.
So when we consider the setting for our novel, short story, or work of nonfiction, we’re not
looking merely at the time and place, but we also consider the ethical norm of that setting. We
know that it will affect the main characters, it will affect the other characters in the story, and it
will affect the reader’s reaction to the work. It is inspiring to realize that writers who expose
unacceptable ethical norms can do more than entertain and inform, they can make a better world
  1. Breach CoverIn Breach of Ethics, Sharon St. George’s third novel in the Aimee Machado Mystery series, a troubled surgeon faces an ethical dilemma while operating on a ten-year-old girl. His efforts to save the life of the child prodigy pianist result in ominous consequences involving Aimee and her band of intrepid crime solvers.

    Breach of Ethics will be released by Camel Press on May 1, 2016. It is available now to preorder from Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback and eBook format.

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: Grandmother’s Skirt by Alicia McCauley

Welcome back to Member Monday. Today we feature an essay by Alicia McCauley. Alicia is a teacher, a writer and the President of Vigilante Kindness. Her essay, Grandmother’s Skirt, was recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas. Welcome, Alicia.

Grandmother’s Skirt

by Alicia McCauley

A tiny crack splintered through my heart when I hung my grandmother’s skirt up in my closet this Christmas.  It’s a red and green plaid skirt that sits perfectly on my hips and floats at my knees, a traveling pants sort of miracle being that I’m six feet tall and my grandmother was five feet tall on her tallest days.

The skirt is one of two items I took from her closet when she passed away.  The other was a bland oatmeal sweater that smelled like her.  I kept that sweater on for days after she died, breathing in her smell even as I laid in bed nights, listening to the sounds that felt all wrong in her house.

But the skirt went unworn.  

The first Christmas season after she died, I couldn’t put it on without crying and so it hung at the back of my closet, its red and green merriment lost in a dark corner.  The second Christmas season after she died, I was able to wear the skirt with only the slightest quiver in my bottom lip when I looked in the mirror.

I paired my grandmother’s skirt with a black jacket zigzagged with zippers and tall, black boots with the skinniest of heels.  For good measure I added my favorite leather studded bracelet.  I remembered my grandmother wearing the skirt, so proper in her heels and pantyhose and a red sweater on top.  She would’ve laughed and shaken her head at her modest skirt paired with my hints of edginess.  

A thousand times I wanted to send her a photo.  I wanted our pictures to stand next to each other, each of us wearing this magical skirt, her red lipsticked mouth smiling next to my own pale grin.

Every single time I took her skirt out for a spin, I was showered with compliments.  I’m not fashionable or trendy in any sense of those words.  I’m gangly and awkward and when I can find pants that don’t look like I’m readying for a flood, that’s a fashion win in my book.

When I stepped out in my grandmother’s skirt, it was a whole new experience.  Compliments were showered upon me.

“I love that skirt.”

That is a fantastic skirt!”

You look radiant in that skirt.  It really brings out the color in your cheeks.”

Needless to say, I felt great in that skirt, so great that I carefully put it in my clothing rotation as often as possible.  I took the skirt to see ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.  I wore it to three Christmas parties.  I wore it to the Christmas sing-a-long on the last day of school.  Finally I donned it for our Christmas morning church service.

As we read the Communion passage, I held the plastic Communion cup, complete with wafer sealed on top, and swirled the grape juice so that it coated the sides of the cup in red.  I thought about how Christ’s sacrifice covers my sins. I savored the wafer on my tongue and washed it down with the bittersweet juice, running red down my throat.

After church and after all the gifts were opened, a knot caught in my throat when I hung my grandmother’s skirt up that Christmas afternoon.  I ran my hand over the wool and slipped the skirt back into the recesses of my closet.  

Later that day I strapped on my helmet and pedaled out for a Christmas bike ride.  Under a blindingly blue sky and with the taste of Communion still on my lips, I thought of all the gifts I’ve received this past year, both tangible and not.

I smiled because somehow in spite of her passing, my grandmother still manages to give incredible gifts.

In her skirt I felt vibrant.

I felt confident.

I felt beautiful.

And the most magical gift of my grandmother’s skirt is that when I took it off and placed it back in the closet, all of those feelings still remained.

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!