In Memoriam: Backpacking the Trinity Alps by Gayle Madden

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s with heavy hearts that we feature a piece by Gayle Madden.  She recently passed away and we offer our sincere condolences to her husband, Michael.  While we mourn Gayle’s passing, we celebrate her life, a life well-lived indeed.  We’ll be featuring another of Gayle’s pieces next week and we encourage you to read more of her body of work at her blog, aptly titled The Sweet Life: La Dolce Vita. -Writers Forum Board of Directors

Photo courtesy of Gayle Madden

In what poets refer to as the dead of night, poets who obviously have never slept beside an alpine lake in the high country during a warm summer night, I got up and stepped out of the tent.  I gazed skyward, looking into the purple-black heavens in absolute awe, breathing out slowly, imperceptibly.

Stars hung low, big, bright, too bright to even twinkle, more like a glow.  Silent stars tinkling their songs over the millenniums like sirens, luring, rendering one powerless yet powerful at the same time.  I called softly to awaken my husband, luring him out to see the starlit sky.

He stepped into the night and scanned the sky with the practiced eye of a pilot and the heart of a mystic.  “Look,” he whispered, then nodded.  “The Big Dipper.”

There it was.  Not only huge in the sky but closer than I have ever seen it, dipping perfectly into the outline of the black-inked mountaintops, cradled like a babe held tenderly in arms, resting before resuming its eternal journey in the sky.  It was in that moment that I saw what I had never seen before.

The smooth black water of the lake transformed into sky.  The Big Dipper, along with hundreds of other stars, glowed golden white in the watery sky.  A perfect mirror image of the lights rose from the bottom of the liquid blackness, mysteriously dancing.  I stood frozen in time, gazing into the bigness of nature that man has gazed into since the beginning of man, the Bigness that fills man with a sense of being a part of something greater than himself. There I stood, with ancient man, with every man, filling myself, feeling myself.  More than myself.  Alive.

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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

Success Story Saturday: Sharon St. George Signs Three-book Contract

Writers Forum member Sharon St. George recently signed a three-book contract with Camel Press, the fiction imprint of Coffeetown Press in Seattle, Washington. St. George’s hospital-based mystery series is titled The Machado Mysteries, and features Aimee Machado, a forensic librarian who works in an acute care hospital in rural northern California. Her brother, Harry, plays a part in helping Aimee solve these amateur sleuth mysteries.

The debut book in the series, Due for Discard is already in the publisher’s hands. The deadline for her second book, Checked Out, is May 1, and the third, Breach of Ethics, is a work in progress due  August 1. They will be published as print on demand (POD) paperbacks and as e-books. At this early stage, the date has not been set for when the books will be available to purchase.

St. George is proud and happy to be published by the same company that publishes Steve Callan, another Writers Forum member. Callan’s nonfiction book, Badges, Bears and Eagles, published by Coffeetown Press, is enjoying great success.

For those who do not recognize the author’s name, Sharon St. George is the pen name of Sharon Owen, Program Director of Writers Forum.

Visit Sharon St. George at www.sharonstgeorge.com