Member Monday: Gusty by Larry Watters

Welcome back to Member Monday.  Today we welcome our beloved Writers Forum President, Larry Watters.  Welcome, Larry.


by Larry Watters

It was a dark and stormy night in Beeville, Texas, home to a naval air flight training squadron during the early days of World War Two. Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Adel Schwartz was in the tower, and she was talking down Lieutenant Mort Feinberg in his T-2, a navy training plane. An experienced ex-civilian pilot, he was smart enough to know that he had to rely on her, since she was familiar with the winds that were gusting in from the gulf. Mort was so taken with her voice that the next day he asked around to find out who she was. While fraternizing was not allowed, he was determined to meet her.

Loitering between the WAVE quarters and the chow hall a few days later, he bravely asked others if they would point her out. Seeing the sturdy young woman, he excitedly rushed up to her, on the pretense of wanting to thank her for guiding his plane to a safe landing during the storm. He asked her to meet him for a cup of coffee off base later.

They hit it off and enjoyed each other’s quirky humor. He graduated from that flight school, and shipped out to the war in the Pacific. But they stayed in touch. In their letters they fantasized about what they, if married, nah, when married, would name their first child. After the war they hooked up and got married.

And they named their first child Gusty. After all, when they first talked, it was a dark and stormy night.

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!

A Message from the President: June, 2014

June is a time when most thoughts are about Graduation, or Fathers Day, or finalizing plans for summer. As for me, myself, and I?

Bugs! More specifically June Bugs! Or as they truly are, June Beetles!

Having lived in more places than normal (thanks to my 20-year Navy stint that initially was to avoid the draft, but I hung around because it was fun), I became familiar with many regional variations of what THEY thought were June Bugs. The green scarab beetle that Southerners claimed was far different than the brown Mid-West version, and while it may be green, desert dwellers have a vastly different bug.

A question on the internet asks, “What is the purpose of June Bugs?” Dunno, but reminds me of this old story of an old man whose son, Junebug, would till the family garden, but couldn’t one year because he was in jail. In his monthly letter, the old man lamented that he missed his son, and that he was too old to be digging up the plot, but he was thinking about hiring some lads. A few days later the son replied, advising him to not dig up the garden ‘cuz that is where he buried the loot. That next morning agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding anything; they apologized and left. In the next mail, his son wrote that it was ok to plant, since that was the best he could do under present circumstances.

True??? Dunno, but at the next Writers Forum General Meeting, you may hear something similar. While most thoughts will be on “What to read? What to read? What to read?” there will be polished stories. One only has five minutes to read; that time includes any introductions, scene-building, or explanations of the what, why, who or where factor of your reading. Certainly published or completed-but-not-yet-published works are welcome, but I look at the readings as a test-bed for works-in-progress, or even the idea of “Will this fly?” Remember this tho’ — it is not a Speed Reading contest; read with emphasis. After all, it is YOUR story, and you know the emotions that you’re trying to reach. It is not necessary to get all of it read since the editor and webmaster want to print or post your reading in its entirety (and more).

Until then, keep your ears tuned to the bugs, and pencils sharpened.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President

A Message From the President: March, 2014

Ah, the Ides of March. All this time I thought they were about the assassination of Julius Caesar. Face it, not being religiously raised, and while I had the complete works of Shakespeare handed down through my mother’s side which I read, I didn’t do any background research on why, who, what, where and when. But now research is my game (Yes, thanks to the Web), and found out that there are Ides of not only March, but every month.

Another revelation I had is that the color blue was originally associated with St. Patrick’s Day. It took more than one thousand years for green to win the masses over.  ‘Sides, Wearing of the Green rolls off the tongue easier than Wearing of the Blue. Celebrated anywhere there is Irish diaspora (and some places where there isn’t), Argentina uses it as a reason to par-tee; neither the Catholic Church nor the Irish community (fifth largest outside Ireland) take part in the organization of the parties.

Another festival in the middle of March is the annual NCAA March Madness. ‘Nuff typed about this…I am sure that someone will approach you about buying in on a pool.

March is also Women’s History MonthHexagonal Awareness Month,  sees the end of Mardi Gras; starts with Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day and ends with National Clam-on-the-Half-Shell Day; and in between are World’s Math Day, Save a Spider Day, World Water Day (unlike Woodstock, I chant “Mo’ Rain! Mo’ Rain!) and I Am in Control  Day.

Man-o-man, the middle of March is a busy time.  Our next meeting after the Nones of March will be just as busy when we will elect officers for the next year.  Once voting is quickly out of the way, we have the opportunity to discover how walking the Mediterranean became fodder for an interactive e-Book by Joel Stratte-McClure.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President

A Message From the President: February, 2014

January and February mark the annual Crab Feeds as Fundraisers season. Scattered around the North State, most use the Shasta District Fairground. Ranging from small community events, like benefiting the Cottonwood Community Library, to all-out shows like One Safe Place (nee Shasta Women’s Refuge) and various Service Organizations, these raise the sense of supporting local groups; the money raised stays here! So grab your bibs and fav Crab Cracker and chow down. Oh, and a hint: Anderson Rotary has the best Chowder; they contribute it to other fundraisers!

And typing of Crabs (segue here); did you hear the one about a crab walking into a bar? Yep, didn’t get served; barkeep refused cuz it couldn’t walk straight. Now imagine this leading to crabs that live in mangroves, how mangroves look like they have legs, and plants that walk. True dat, plants walking, er, moving.

Beyond Tolkien’s imaginative Ents, there are plants that literally move, seeking a better location. “Nomadic vines” never grow in length, but send thin stems with small leaves to move quickly, and when sun is found, develop thicker and larger to stay there, but leave their trailing parts to wither and die. I have “read” that certain fig trees can “walk” on their stilt roots to escape from a tree that has fallen on them. But Googling has revealed nothing.

Until next month, keep your pen to the paper or your fingers on the keyboard; more importantly, don’t stay rooted in one place.

Member Monday: Twelve Days of Writing by Larry Watters

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to feature a piece by our devoted Writers Forum President, Larry Watters.  Larry’s piece had us all in stitches at our December Read Around.  Welcome, Larry.

Twelve Days of Writing

 by Larry Watters

On the first day of writing, my Muse gave to me … blank paper on a desk.

On the second day of writing, my Muse gave to me … 2 paper weights, blank paper on a desk, and permission to shorten this by not repeating.

On the third day of writing, my Muse gave to me … 3 cups of coffee.

On the fourth day of writing, my Muse gave to me … 4 potty breaks and further permission to shorten this even more.

… 5 pink erasers

… 6 broken pencils

… 7 pens a-leaking

… 8 gendered pronoun mistakes

… 9 oft-over-done phrases

… 10 plots a-twisting

… 11 reject letters

and finally

… 12 awards for Best Book of the Century!!!

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!

Best of Member Monday 2012 #5

The Webmaster is off to Uganda; great time to re-run past Member Mondays based on fan comments.

Author’s Note: We were renters of a place that had a  pond with twin waterfalls, 7 koi and 11 gold fish. And raccoons feasted. The owner hired a trapper who’d catch one or two, then nights would pass. Thinking we’d had the last, we stopped setting the traps, and a week later another koi would disappear. The trapper said they were the biggest raccoons he’d seen. Finally the owner threw in the towel.

Rocky and the Mystery of the Boxes at the Pond
by Larry Watters

Rocky waddled up to the pond, listening to the soft splashing of the twin waterfalls. There were no more of the big fish; in the past, they had been so plentiful all could not fit under the ledges. This stop also had a food box occasionally, but no more. The boxes were far different from the food bowls that his clan used many moons ago.

Rocky remembered when more than twenty of his clan would gather on a deck by the river, feasting on dry crunchy protein-laced kibbles. Occasionally there would be piles of softer food, but the older, more senior, clan members would claim first dibs. Moon in, moon out, the deck was a steady, reliable source of food, no matter what the season. His elders told tales of earlier famines during those periods when the big orange orb that was overhead during their sleep would begin rising later and be lower in the blue, just before the leaves would start drying and falling to the ground. But this horn of plenty seemed to always be there.

Then one dark it wasn’t. The clan was not concerned. There had been other times that it would not be there for a couple of darks, forcing them into small groups to seek food elsewhere. Each dark it was their wont to forage, eat, and when sated, return to their sleep-trees.

But this time it never returned. Roaming and foraging in small groups of three to five, the clan survived. One group told of a magic pond that had fat, colorful, and lazy fish. And for those that didn’t want fish that dark, the ground nearby held fat grubs that could be had with very little digging. They told of how a single fish could feed them. There were also floating toys that they could play with, even out of the water, as long as you returned them. Only once had they not returned one. The group told others that they could not come, keeping its location a secret. But then Uncle Frank didn’t return one dark.

A mysterious food box had showed up. With an enticing aroma that reminded him of the food on the deck of the past, Frank had squeezed into one of the oddly configured boxes; only one opening with a lid. The lid had dropped with a loud clunk, trapping Frank. The others had waited for him to come out, but they tired of waiting, so they left.

The next night two boxes were there, but Frank was not. But the food smelled just as good as it had the dark before. So his other uncle, Sid, had gone in. Again there was a loud clunk and Sid was trapped. An older cousin thought it couldn’t happen twice, declaring it was safe for him, and went into the other. CLUNK! The group decided it was time to give up that food source, sending only an occasional scout.

Cousin Scout, for that was his name, came back one rising with the news that the boxes were not there anymore, and the big fish still were, having gorged himself on one of them. So another small group with several new members set out the next dark. But the boxes had returned. Ignoring the warnings from the others, and thinking he was smarter than any old box, cousin Dilbert succumbed to the temptation. CLUNK! Scattering, the group left the pond once again. Scout volunteered to check it out every few darks.

After many darks, Scout reported that the boxes were gone; again. Only one big fish remained after Scout had fed, but smaller ones were as plentiful as they had been. Returning the next dark to feed, the newly reformed group, that included Rocky this time, was surprised once more to find that a single box had returned. Thinking that Scout had tricked them (after all, there was a power struggle for clan leader), they forced him into the sole box. CLUNK! The group decided that Scout had got his just desserts for tricking them, and vowed to never again visit the pond.

But one dark, Rocky decided to return, curious more than anything. Seeing no boxes, he edged up to the pond, slipped quietly into it, and caught the sole remaining big fish. Returning to the clan, he made no mention of it, keeping it to himself, superstitiously thinking that if he told the clan, the mysterious boxes would return.

The next dark, he returned, and the boxes were not back; nor the next night, nor the next. Rocky was happy to have the smaller fish and the grubs all to himself.

A Message from the President: July 2013

I just finished a four-week online with conference calls writing workshop for stroke survivors. For some survivors it was the first time they had communicated, let alone write, about their feelings about what happened, what they experienced, what they expected. For others, while they may have ‘let it all out’ earlier, it was an opportunity to learn to use expressive writing techniques to organize and share personal reflections on their recovery.

I got to know other survivors spread across the states. And will get to know others. There were three day/time option tracks; I chose the one that was best for me. Eventually the three will be linked as the last one finishes.

There was no difference in workshop content for the three tracks other than the schedule. Each week two themes were presented with several suggested topics to write about. As we finished, we posted them on a dedicated page of a website to read and comment. Similar frustrations were the norm, even though we ran the gamut from mild residual disabilities to wheelchair-bound, recent to long-term.

The workshops were made possible by American Heart Association’s off-shoot American Stroke Association’s quarterly magazine, Stroke Connection. Debi McGill, the editor of the magazine, was in charge of the nuts-and-bolts of connecting us. It was facilitated/coached by Carol Keegan, a forty-year survivor, who had the idea of developing an expressive writing group composed of stroke survivors. In her own recovery, she had relied on deep reflective writing practices like journaling and legacy letters to help her make sense of how stroke had changed her life. She had found the simple process of finding words to convey her fears and resentments allayed her need to make sense of the experience. When she sat down to write, the paper answered her nagging questions about “Why,” and “How,” and even, “What if.” The more she wrote, the more inner resources bubbled up.
So she decided that her 40th anniversary celebration would focus on finding ways to share expressive writing techniques with other survivors. She decided to develop a writing workshop that would support them through the process of harvesting their individual experiences of recovering from stroke. By sharing their writing with each other during the workshop, they could find a greater appreciation of their own coping skills and more confidence in their capacity to rebuild their lives.

We were the first to use technology to link wide-spread survivors together (the first had been with her local stroke support group).

So…that’s how I started my summer with new hopes for a writing life, getting that needed ‘kick-in-the-ass’ to my in-work-but-stalled “Life without Clots.” Hope you had a great start to your summer.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President