Twenty Years of 9/11

Writers Forum President Laura Hernandez submitted a Letter from the President that we decided would work better on the blog instead of a newsletter. Laura shares her reflections on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Please feel free to comment with your own reflections on this unforgettable day.

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Laura Hernandez

I’ve never written about 9/11 before and I may never again, but on the 20th anniversary, I had to.

One of my favorite websites opened their space to let people share their remembrances of that day, hoping it would help to cope. I dunno what will ever help.

What our intelligence from that time to now shows us is that they came to kill us because they were jealous, angry and wanted to bring us down, financed by a rich brat of 13 who couldn’t get the attention of his father. The take-over pilots and the muscle guys were mostly Saudis whose citizens all get a check just for living in Saudi Arabia. What were they so pissed about?

That Day, 20 years ago, I was driving from my home in Dixon, to an appointment in Sacramento in my job as an investigator for a national law firm. There was a personal injury I had to take pictures and statements for.

As I left the house, I saw the first plane hit the first tower and thought, “How could that pilot not see that tower?”

By the time the second plane hit the second tower a few minutes later, I and everyone else knew this wasn’t an accident but a planned, coordinated attack on the literal pillars of America.

My boss told me over the phone to go back home because the state capitol of the most populous state might also be a target. The skies became quiet and everyone’s day halted in front of their home televisions, with hands to mouths and hot tears on faces.

We found out who they were and we went to Afghanistan to hunt down the planners, the leaders, the supporters of the men who came to our land to kill us. We also thought that if we help their country out of poverty, they would be our partners and wouldn’t have any need to be jealous or angry or murderous.

That’s what the generals and the department heads said. Our intelligence helped us find who we needed to find and our Afghan partners on the ground said they would help us take them out. Letting them have a stake in the “getting” would give them the pride and accomplishment they would need to re-take their country. But they didn’t. They let him get away. We told them to vote for their president to unify their tribes. They asked, “What’s a president?”

Our troops on the ground rotated in and out each serving something like a year. They did the same things day after day, taking and re-taking land, dirt, hills, mountains, people. They talked to the smiling people. Soldiers never took their sunglasses off, and talked to women directly. Any cultural anthropologist would have told the soldiers to take off their sunglasses and not direct conversation to Afghan women’s faces. Our intelligence wasn’t all that intelligent. We did it wrong.

Our intelligence said he was hiding in a cave scared and unconnected. He was really living in the next country, in a multi-storied, walled compound in a resort city, down the street from Pakistan’s West Point; with video games, wives and children, receiving and sending messages through a Courier. The audio-taping of the prisoners’ telling each other not to talk about The Courier during interrogations told us that. We followed the Courier. And we got that part right after arguments and a 50-50 bet. We got him and buried him at sea with no pictures.

And yet we stayed to re-build. Until we left.

Now there are memorials in D.C., N.Y. and in Pennsylvania where locals are tired of tourists and journalists who just take not give and the town just wants to keep its shrinking schools open and its economy gasping. Can’t even see the site from the road.

We all see angry people on planes not behaving, arguing with flight personnel who vowed to not let anyone take over their plane. Not again. Never again. It’s a mask, a drink, duct tape, a box cutter. I think of the days no planes flew 20 years ago. The War on Terror is a War on Ourselves. Can’t we get some Intelligence on this?

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Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter.

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.

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George T. Parker

Webmaster/Newsletter Editor

Holiday Movie Recommendation For Writers

Today we have a recommendation from WF member Dave Smith on a movie that is both a holiday story, and a writer story.


I hate it when writing experts try to tell me how to write a story and then use a movie as an example of what to do. Movies are different damn it, like a thousand words blah blah blah, right? A camera is not a pencil.

But you know what? This blurb is to convince you to watch a movie. Say what?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever anguished over the perfect name for a character, or if you talk to the individuals in your stories (or maybe they talk to you), or if you find inspiration in the strangest places, or if you think you’re a failure, etc, etc.

Put your hand down now.

The movie is called The Man Who Invented Christmas, and it follows Charles Dickens through the few months before Christmas in 1843, during which he wrote A Christmas Carol. Even though Dickens was by this time a successful author, he suffered all the painful insecurities we all have about our writing and reacted as we all have. My wife said the weird scenes looked vaguely familiar, as in reminding her of me at times.

The movie is not about how to write, but about how an author struggles to write.

A delightful show and thoroughly relatable. I found it on HULU. I won’t offer any more spoilers, but we all know the outcome: A little over 27,000 words comprising one of the most well-known stories ever. So good they make movies about it.


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter.

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.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.

Dale Angel: Salable Skills

Title with image of author

 

story author

Salable Skills

by

Dale Angel

I was wading in a river of economic crisis, the kind that visits periodically in the form of a deluge. I was drowning when I received a phone call that I qualified for a government program that teaches you how to acquire salable skills to compete in the marketplace.

I met many…interesting…seasoned women there. Our bifocals, plastic teeth, and puffy ankles and conversation on World War Two and our intimate knowledge of the names of classic cars may have given us a competitive edge, but we all agreed, it was the inability to afford breast implants that put us at our most…disadvantage.

My first day in class, they asked us to write a résumé citing our accomplishments and degrees. I wrote in mine that I had graduated from the dish pan to the bed pan, and my most recent job had been terminated by death. His.

They sent me to update my computer skills. I walked in to find the class in progress. I had to interrupt to ask how to turn it on.

They were so inspiring. I was told we had earning and leadership skills. I couldn’t think of any I might own. They insisted we couldn’t have lived this long without learning something. They asked us to name one. I raised my hand and said “Survival?”

I offered my experience of marching a small army through rain, sleet, and tantrums in house wars and mutiny among my recruits…with no fatalities. I thought I had leadership and was in command until I realized I was in charge of rations, latrine duty, and transportation. These are not salable skills.

I was placed in a job under the supervision of a hardened retailer. As I worked, I hummed along with The Beatles. She arched and flared and hissed “Never would those degenerates be found in my house.”

I quit humming.

 


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

IN MEMORIUM: CHLOE RYAN WINSTON

Chloe Winston signing a book

The Writers Forum Board has learned of the recent passing of our long-time member, Chloe Winston, who would have celebrated her ninetieth birthday this December. Her family indicates she requested no memorial service; however, we are pleased to have this opportunity to honor her memory.

Many of us remember her enthusiasm for life and for writing, and for her generous help in critique groups. Until recently, she attended our regular monthly meetings and sometimes participated as a presenter. Always willing to lend a hand, she volunteered at the Redding Library and at All Saints Episcopal Church. Before moving to Redding from Ashland, she was a regular volunteer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Never one to let age stand in her way, Chloe dedicated the past few years of her writing life to her mystery/espionage series featuring Briana Fraser, a former courier for a US spy agency. Each book took place in a different exotic location, all of them places where Chloe had actually traveled. She enjoyed having the satisfaction of seeing her series published.

Chloe was born on a ranch in eastern Oregon, graduated from Marylhurst University, and earned a master’s degree at Idaho State University. She had lived in Ashland, Oregon, which is featured in her writing, as well as Mexico, and had traveled extensively to fifty-eight countries. As a travel writer, Chloe contributed to several publications including The Los Angeles Times, International Travel News, and Mature Lifestyles. She had been a cruise destination lecturer as well as a high school teacher, counselor, and administrator.

Toward the end of her life, this lovely-hearted person continued to regularly put to use not only her degree in Guidance and Counselling, but also her natural gift in that area, and would counsel people in the residence where she lived and others who were a regular part of her life.

You can remember Chloe by clicking on one of these links, to see her writing legacy.

Chloe’s Facebook author page

Chloe’s Amazon author page

Chloe’s author page with her publisher


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.

Simon Wood Offers Workshops

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

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

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

According to the Simon Sez newsletter:

The nitty gritty:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Geo.