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

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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.

Queen’s Letter: Notevengonnatrytolookupwhatdayitis

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This week’s Letter from the Queen highlights some important issues we have to deal with today. Laura’s piece on contact testing and continued social distancing should go viral. It’s that important. And then Laura gives us another great writing aid.



Contact Tracing

I’ve done this.  When I was in graduate school for Medical (Urban) Anthropology, I manned and ran the Hotline at the university health clinic in the eastern San Fernando Valley.

It wasn’t the flu we were tracing. It was venereal disease. Girls would call; it was mostly girls calling.  They would call and describe symptoms we were trained to ask about, and we’d make appointments at the clinic for confirmation testing. The reason there were more girls calling than men is because most of the time, females have symptoms they notice. Their male partners did not have symptoms. But they were carriers. The men didn’t know they were carriers. Yet.

That’s where contact tracing found them. In the appointments at the clinic, girls were encouraged to make a list to take home, of the sexual partners they had in say 6-8 weeks previous to the onset of symptoms.  It was up to the infected girls to contact their previous partners and encourage those partners to come to the clinic (or an anywhere clinic), for testing and treatment.  There was blaming, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

I encouraged the girls to paint a grim picture, with colorful language, for the important phone call they would have to make to each partner (former and current, cute or ugly). She, in turn, was encouraged to use colorful language to encourage the partner to come clean and get clean before he made any further contacts.  Once the male partner(s) came into the clinic, same dosey-doe. Each contact was traced by each person who came for treatment. The clinic didn’t contact the contacts on the list.

Unless a person told us that a contact refused treatment and made some kind of threat that they would intentionally continue untreated contact with the community. That didn’t happen in our clinic. But we heard about a guy who did that at another university. Cops were involved as a Public Health Emergency. For that one guy.

Contact tracing for Chingona Virus is coming. It’s already here. That’s how we heard about that Redding woman who just had to go to Sacramento to visit a sick person and brought the Chingona back with her to her son, to her church.  She was asked, after she was sick, who the hell she had contact with. She told health care workers before she died. The health care workers did this tracing and contacted those people she contacted because she was too sick to make the phone calls.

Staying the eff at home makes contact tracing much easier.  One way you can make this easier to do for yourself is to keep your receipts from the grocery store and the drug store for 3 weeks at a time in a prominent place. They are date and time stamped, so you don’t have to remember when asked, and health care workers can find these in case you are too freaked out when asked after you get sick or someone you know is now sick and you had to visit them and are now busted. And, of course, these are the only places you should be going for a while, so that’s not a lot of receipts to keep, is it? Don’t rend or gnash, just keep your receipts.

As of today (it’s the latest, trust me) Age 18-49: 26,956 cases,

Age 50-64:14,078 cases

Age 65+: 12,098 cases

in California. What the hell does this mean? It means that Californians who are 18-49 are getting sick far more often than older people. My guess is that they are also more likely to not be staying the eff at home. And also more likely to get in their cars to go somewhere else for recreation because, you know, they are bored.  And it’s not that they are going on a hike in the wide, open spaces and not contacting other people. They go to the gas station to prepare for driving Somewhere Else. They buy snacks at the gas station or one of our little markets. Contact. If your nephew, or grandson or sons and daughters are doing this, don’t yell at them, just back away. Tell them to just wave from where they are. Save a nurse.

Things are opening up, but not all the way and we are still vulnerable to spreading this and getting this. Wear an effing mask.  Not while you’re driving. Didn’t you read about that woman who was driving around with her mask on and hit a tree because she passed out at the wheel? The mask is hard to breathe through. I saw 3 people driving around downtown Redding yesterday, wearing masks while driving.  Don’t do that.  It’s going to start getting warm outside and that makes breathing more difficult, too. Limit wearing your mask to when you get out of the car to get groceries.  And you can’t put on your lipstick before your mask.  Found out the hard way. A cloth sleeping mask, turned upside down with the “nose part” flipped up, can make a pretty good mask with something you may already have around the house. Don’t try and order N-95 ones yet as our health care professionals still need them more than you do.


I know you’re bored and freaked out. I’m one of those. I’ve been trying to write and have been reading about writing, which is the same thing (it is, it is, it is!).

The funnest book in My Pile right now is Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need, by Jessica Brody. This book has a predecessor for screenwriters and this book builds on that one for helping us write something as riveting as a great movie.  She’s written (and sold) some 15 bestsellers (YA mostly), so she does know a couple things.

This book helps you write a Beat Sheet for your plot points to fill out the Three Act Structure. It’s good for planning something you haven’t done yet, but it’s also great for fixing up what you’ve already written! Jessica (I can call her by her first name because I have contacted her online and now we are Pretend Friends!), shows examples of what she’s writing about in popular movies so you can get the visual.

And there’s more! Udemyyes, I spelled that right…is an online teaching place that offers Jessica’s “Write a Best Selling Novel in 15 Steps” course!  It’s offered on sale for $9.99 most of the time (wait for a sale, not the $50 price), and once you buy it, you have it online forever. It’s a lot like the book, but not exactly, but it’s very good to use and play along.  You can go back anytime and re-view one of more of the almost one-hour class. Go to www.udemy.com to sign up, create an account and pay online. There are 100s of classes to take, not all of them by Jessica.

I bought her book, marked it up and use it, but I also bought the course from Udemy because sometimes you need a puppet show.

Jessica’s course on novel writing is presented in little blocks of something like 5-10 minutes each with examples, charts, short outlines, and clear explanations from her little face of what the hell she’s talking about. You can stop and start and repeat in the middle of each lesson and go back and forth as you need. She shows how popular and classic novels used what she’s talking about (because they all have these beats!), and of course, how popular movies show her concepts. AND this gives you a movie and book list to learn from and get back into right now because you need more to watch now!

She explains things like Theme, the Catalyst, the Debate, and the B-story (which is NOT the sub-plot but is the main character’s emotional development throughout your novel, her reason for and resistance to the change she needs to make to survive her story).

You’ll learn exactly how to improve your Fun & Games, Midpoint, Bad Guys Close in, All is Lost, and the Dark Night of the Soul. And yeah, you need to improve all that to write and sell your best-selling novel. The Finale Beat and Final Image spots are the necessary ending parts that will make you sure you have given the reader what she needs to love your novel and look forward to your next one.

There’s a “writer’s room” at the end of each “chapter” or “beat” where she shows you what she’s working on that illustrates what she just said, and shows you how writers plan in person, in real time, and how we can help each other “spit-ball” ideas in the comfort of your living room in the Time of Chingona Virus!  See how that all came together?!

Learn something new online, you know, Distance Learning. Continue to stay the eff at home. And just be glad it’s not the University Health Clinic contact tracing you.

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.

Queens Letter: Easter ‘Effing Letter Edition

Writers Forum President and Queen Laura Hernandez has more thoughts to share with us on quarantine this Easter weekend.

If you are using this time to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and would like to share your work with the public at large, we would be glad to help you do that. Submission guidelines are below Laura’s piece.

Worst. Lent. Ever.

Except for the first one.  Obviously.

We are usually going to church this week. Passover Seder with family is out. Protestants and the lazy kind of Catholic most of us have become can’t go to Mass this Sunday. We better effing not.

On Good Friday, I usually go to church (no mass, ‘cause, Sad Day), to do the Stations of the Cross. We Catholics have prayers at each horrific scene depicted on a plaque, said all together, directed and prompted by the priest. We move together, say the prayers together, remember the history as we know it together. The most famous political prisoner’s death, attended by more people now than were there at the time a couple thousand years ago. It is not a celebration. It is a day to mourn, but we do it in a group.

Not today.

You might know that I grew up Catholic but it was a very rebellious kind of Catholicism. We didn’t attend a traditional parish. My three sisters and two brothers grew up down the street from a college seminary where young men studied to be priests. And they broke the rules toward Social Justice before it was cool. They lived there during most of the year and took their own bus to Loyola University in L.A. That’s who we went to mass with. The caretaker’s family of ten kids, who we also went to school with, went to mass with us too, so there were other civilians. But mostly it was the seminarians.  They were our catechism teachers in classes they created just for my siblings and me, filled with research we did at the public library in another town. Our altar was turned to face the congregation, which was not done for years in civilian churches. They played their own music, protest songs too, and sang like the award-winning choir they were. (I saw the trophies in the rec room!) We were welcomed here since I was 6 and the Head of Students went jogging down my dirt road and saw my mom on the big front lawn with a baby, twin toddlers and two kindergarten-age girls. A good assumption we were Catholic.

We usually sat at the back of the room at Mass, trying not to stick out.

But at Easter Mass, there were guests. The juvenile residential detention camp, David Gonzales, would send a busload of some three dozen older teenage guys sentenced for crimes, to us. They were obviously Catholic, knew all the prayers, and when to stand and sit and kneel. They sat together at the back of the beautiful but Spartan chapel mostly holding their hands in front of them, unchained, clean in their Chambray shirts and baggy jeans and black combat boots.  Respectful and quiet.

Except for the first time I saw them do a sneaky thing. My brother, the baby in his bucket, my sisters me and my mom (dad was a no-name Protestant, so not with us to Mass), sat together at the back on the other side of the center aisle from the Camp Boys. So we could see that they were doing something. One guy would shift his shoulders, left to right and after a second, the guy next to him would do it too. This movement went in a horizontal line as they stood next to each other. Mass by the early 1960s had a lot of standing, so we could watch as the movement went down the row of Camp Boys until it got to the guy at the end of the pew and had to turn. Then I could see they had been passing a bag of jelly beans to each other, taking a handful without making too much of a move, then passing the bag to the next guy with only a shift of their shoulders. Smooth Skills that probably got them to the Camp in the first place. The first time I saw this, I think I had my mouth open because the guy at the end of the row saw me and looked a little panic-y. I would never rat out a guy for jelly beans in church. But he didn’t know that. I didn’t even want my mom to see, a practiced response. I quickly smiled at him. And he winked. It was all good. But it was a secret.

We knew that the Camp Boys were already in trouble, we knew what Camp David Gonzales was. Sometimes as we drove past the entrance gate to the camp on the way to the beach, my mom would tell my little brother that he better behave, or…

We also knew that the Boys were given this privilege to be out in public, to be at Mass, and any shenanigans would revoke the privilege. Maybe for everyone for all time.

These boys and the adult offender Camp Miller men, two miles from David Gonzales, were also trained to work the fire line which was not a theoretical skill in rural Calabasas. These guys could save our lives our house, our horses, our neighbors, every fall when the Santa Anas blew in to try and kill us. I would not rat them out for eating jelly beans in Mass.

And I never did. The Camp Boys made a jelly bean pass every Easter Mass, even though there were different guys year after year. They knew how to keep a secret, too. By the next year my Favorite sister, Patty, noticed it too and we smiled at each other when she whipped her head to me in recognition the first time she got it. When my twin sisters noticed it a couple years later, they could hardly keep it to themselves. They giggled right in Mass. They were not cool. I think threats were made. I think I made them but I’m not sure.

In the following years, Easter Mass was moved to dawn, outside by the little man-made lake on the Seminary grounds. And still there was a jelly bean pass-around. Still surreptitious, still we kept secret between my family and their group.

Of course I want to go to Mass this Sunday with jelly beans in my pocket. But I can’t. You can’t either. And just in case you want to risk it, because, well you’ve been good for a couple weeks, and it’s Easter and shit.

I would like to remind you of just how Church hurt our Redding community a couple of weeks ago.

A 75 year-old woman drove to visit a friend she knew was sick in the hospital in Sacramento in the middle of March. She knew that person was sick and she knew, because it was on the news, that there were reports of Covid-19 cases in Sacramento. She knew this was a California hotspot, like the Bay Area was reported to be. Chingona virus was there. She just had to see and visit.

I don’t know why she was allowed in to see her friend in the hospital. Maybe that person was in the hospital for Something Else. But that person also had the Chingona. And that’s where she got it. But she had no symptoms. So, she went to see her adult son who lives in Redding upon her return from that Sacramento hospital. My guess is that she also went to the store. Or to get coffee. What I do know for sure, because it was in the Searchlight, is that she next went to a big event, widely attended, at her First Assembly Church on Airport Road at the end of March. She didn’t have symptoms then either.

When she did develop symptoms later, so did a few other people at her church. She died. Two other people from that church event did, too.  Now maybe they had hand sanitizer at the church that day. Like that choir group in Washington State who held practice toward the end of March at one of their homes. They thought that Not Hugging and using glops of hand sanitizer would protect them, because they really wanted to comfort each other from the news of the day. Seattle, a hot spot, was 30 miles away, so what were the chances, right? Pretty great, it turned out. Forty of 60 people were infected after that 2-hour practice. Two have died.  Breathing, singing, it turns out, was deadly.

What this means, in the Time of Chingona Virus is that now: church is not your sanctuary. Staying home, eating all the Easter candy is.

Think I don’t want to be at Mass, with jelly beans?  We just can’t yet.

Dr. Karen Ramstrom of the Shasta County Health Department said Wednesday, that we here in this county may have to stay the eff home longer than the rest of the state. Get that: longer than all the people in L.A., we will be grounded. Why? Because people are not staying the eff home. Testing here doubled this week. That means that people who were showing symptoms got tested. A Redding Costco employee is now under quarantine, although that person hasn’t been to work since the end of March, so if you went to buy all the toilet paper since then, you probably didn’t get it from her.

We aren’t done yet. Stay the eff home. You have plenty of toilet paper. I’ll get my own jelly beans. I’m eating all the cookies, too.

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