A Poem a Day

A nice find as I wandered around the Internet this morning.

Live to Write - Write to Live

Jane Yolen is one of the most prolific and lauded children’s writers of our time. She has written more than three hundred books including many picture books and middle grade novels in a variety of genres and worlds of her own imagining. Her awards are many including (from her website), “the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award among many others.” She is also a generous supporter of other writers, often speaking at conferences, teaching, and maintaining a lengthy For Writers page on her own website.

My favorite Yolen book is one that seems to be out of print called The Wild HuntIt’s one of my favorite winter reads and a story that I come back to…

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 Don’t Let Them Get You

Writers Forum member Jennifer Levens has written both historical and contemporary novels. At our March 11 meeting, she speaks about research as it applies to historical novels for accuracy, and to contemporary novels for dates and accuracy of methodology. Levens explains how to avoid the problem of readers who write to the author about the slightest inaccuracies in a novel, or even worse, readers who put the book down unfinished and move on to another author. She will explain how to avoid this by using meticulous research to identify reliable primary and secondary sources. Jennifer Levens is a Master of Education who also holds a degree in English Literature. She is an actress, director, musician, writer and teacher who has been writing most of her life, and thinks making people laugh is the highest form of therapy.

The meeting is this Saturday from 10:30am-12:30pm at All Saints Episcopal Church in the Memorial Hall.  Doors open at 10:00am so that we can get started promptly at 10:30am.  All Saints Episcopal Church is located at 2150 Benton Drive, Redding, CA.

See you there!

Newsletter Delay

My apologies for getting the newsletter out late this month. I try to have it in your mailbox one week before the monthly meeting. That didn’t happen this time. It will be at the printer tomorrow (Monday, March 6) and mailed a day or two after that. You should have it before Friday.

My apologies for any inconveniences.

George Parker, Newsletter Editor

Adding to our coffers…

For years, Writers Forum has relied on our Membership for Multi-media Presentations. From borrowing Shasta College’s Digital Projector (and later their Screen) to other members’ Audio Cables and Mobile HotSpots, we are thankful. But one problem was that Advanced Planning was needed. We could not at the drop of a hat (read that as a presenter canceling) substitute a packaged media program from Writers Digest or other online resources.


Scripps Howard Foundation  has awarded the Writers Forum a Volunteer Gift of over a thousand dollars for purchase of equipment that support will enhance Multi-Media presentations.


Retired Scripps Howard Employee and Past Writers Forum President Larry Watters, left, holds check for purchase of Multi-media equipment at General Meeting held February 11, while President Laura Hernadez, right, and Program Chair Sharon Owen, foreground, laugh over the prospect of Owen not “Borrowing” Shasta College’s Projector ever again.



Writers Forum Treasurer Jennifer Levens holds Scripps Howard Foundation check.


From the President: Fascinating Rhythm

Fascinating Rhythm

by: Laura Hernandez, Writers Forum Presidentlaura-h1v



Do you know what I’m talking about when I say the “rhythm” in your writing?

You can show mood and tone on the written page with the right words and the length of your sentences. That’s creating a rhythm like a song on your paper. The right words are not the accurate words, they don’t convey imagery. Describing a flower in a trash heap SHOWS tragedy and hope without your use of the accurate words “tragedy and hope.”

Juxtapose emotional descriptions to create tone and mood. Eyebrows down but a smile on that face is a different kind of mood than just describing eyebrows down.

Using short sentences in a dialogue without any exposition or tags (the he said or the she saids) creates a snappy kind of fast pace, changing the rhythm. You can also use choppy sentences to show anger with sudden stops.  Longer sentences can show sadness, internalization. Count the beats of the words (like we used to do when figuring how many syllables a word has for making poetry—hold your hand under your chin as you speak them). Use the downbeat for sadness, an upbeat for happiness.

Your character can help you set the tone with her usual attitude about crap in general, and this really crappy situation in particular. Back up her feelings with the rest of the scene and your reader will be right with you. But if she is too dramatic and the scene isn’t, it will just look soap-opery and not in a good way. Of course that’s a good way to show she’s losing her marbles, but make sure that’s what you wanted to do.

Walk this way. What? You didn’t convey anything. “Creep” across the lot is different. “Skipped” is differenter still.  And no one cares how your character “feels” if you say “she felt” at the beginning of your scene.  Just get to it: Describe the knot in the throat, or stomach, or calf muscle to show that. And don’t end that nice description with, “that’s how she felt” either.  Like Mariachi music that always ends with those last two beats of, “Dun dun.” Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Create the mood, show the rhythm, do the stuff needed to make your writing sing!

More blatant theft from Understanding show, Don’t Tell by Janice Hardy.  You haven’t bought this book yet?  Do I have to do everything?!


Member Monday: Dale Angel

How to Catch a Muskrat

By Dale Angeldale-angel

It was a shameless pond, sending seductive invitations by way of a gentle wind pushing wavelets carrying diamonds across the water. Birds flew in and out of the thick brush along the edge. The far end had ducks…fluffy baby ones.

“Stay away from the water!” was so much noise as our parents screamed the words on their way to the store. “Don’t go near the water!” They were barely out of sight. We were already there.

Something moved across the smooth surface, coming toward us and creating a V in its wake. We didn’t move. It came just within reach.

My brother leaped out with stretched arms to grab it. He finally surfaced. I pushed cattails with my foot. He seized hold and crawled out.

His sopping wet overalls was damaging evidence. We ran back and built a fire in the wood stove and shoved them in the oven.

Meantime, to mitigate my part I decided to peel potatoes for lunch. The family butcher knife in my hands was like using a machete to peel grapes. The potatoes were nubs.

My brother opened the forbidden crackers and wouldn’t give me any. He ate them all.

Dad came in carrying groceries. Smoke filled the air. He grabbed a broom and used the handle to fish out the burning pants.

Dad was stomping out fire as my brother told them I had eaten the crackers and wouldn’t give him any. He was seven going on fourteen. Already a hardened criminal. He invited me to play 52 pick-up. You know…he drops a deck of cards, and I have to pick them up. I hold grudges.

The nubs were boiling over while war was going on over new pants with a waist versus work overall, which my brother hated.

We went back to the fields to pick cotton. My sisters and I practiced harmonizing songs we heard on the radio. Meanwhile, my brother whispered “Let’s tie a rope to a figure four trap to catch that muskrat!”