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

writers forum president

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.


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: 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.