The Ventura County Writers Club was founded in 1933 by four writers in the Ojai, California area. Since then the club has grown to more than 150 members and holds regular monthly general membership meetings. In these meetings persons prominent in all areas and genres of the literary field speak on sources for ideas, enhancing creativity, and getting your work published. Click here for Membership Information...
Short Story Contest is ON!
It's TIME! Our Short Story Contest opens Monday, September 1! Get ready to hit that submit button!
September 2014 Meeting
Ojai author, playwright, and teacher Catherine Ann Jones will share strategies from her 2014 Nautilus Award-winning book, Heal Your Self with Writing at our meeting on September 9. Catherine Ann Jones has been hailed as a “compassionate teacher and wise companion,” on a journey to bring to light the ghosts that haunt us, and to either banish them or put them at our service. Jones holds a Master’s degree in Depth Psychology and Archetypal Mythology from Pacifica Graduate Institute.
As a Fulbright Scholar, she studied shamanism in India. She’s been an instructor at the University of Southern California, the Esalen Institute, and the Omega Institute. Her earlier book The Way of Story: The Craft & Soul of Writing is used in many writing curricula, including at New York University. Her newest book, Heal Your Self with Writing offers practical steps in assembling the pieces of the past, building a new vision of the future, and living well in the present. Jones presents workshops on “The Way of Story” and “Heal Your Self with Writing” throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
“Expressing and listening to one’s own life story is an ancient mode of healing,” Jones said. She will share the steps we can take that will allow us to listen to stories that heal. Using this process, each of us can learn how to rewrite our own life story so pain becomes meaningful, and promotes growth and transformation.
“Often when my family gets together,” Jones said, “our kids get a real kick out of telling stories about their childhood. I listen and am amazed how differently we remember the same events. I sometimes wonder if we existed in parallel universes. By the time we all ‘remember when,’ there is a new version of an old event to be recounted the next time we gather. Our sessions are noisy and fun. This sharing draws us closer. I don’t think we’re unusual in that regard.”
But not all shared memories make all of us feel good. I’m sure we’re pretty normal that way, too. It is here that I think Jones’ statement, “Our lives may be determined less by past events than by the way we remember them,” is borne out. “Even if you feel you’ve got no dark shadows to dispel, no great pains to unearth, no deep wounds to heal, getting to know yourself better by writing is an exercise that can heighten authenticity, awareness and power in your creative expression. All desirable outcomes.”
Jones makes clear the power of words will broaden your perspective, exorcise your demons, and yes, change your life for the better. “It’s a book that would have come in handy during my own dark nights of the soul, and I cherish it in happy days as its lessons brighten an already bright spirit.” Mark R. Lohr, Co-author, The O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure
August 2014 Meeting
Writers and Their Work - The Legal POV
Writers and their work—the legal POV” is the topic for our August 12 meeting. A show of hands at the last meeting revealed we write in a vast array of genres. Living at the back door of Hollywood as we do, it isn’t difficult to imagine that at any time there are numbers of us writing scripts for TV shows and movies. While we may be quite good at our craft, we are sometimes not as knowledgeable about the business of writing. When you’ve written, edited, and workshopped your creation, polished it to perfection and you’re ready to release it to the world, wouldn’t you like to know what you should do—legally?
Maybe your dream deal will bring your stage play or novel to the light. Are the caveats different depending on the method of publication? Perhaps your work is a self-help manual or a how-to or a history book. Are there different expectations regarding nonfiction publishers? Do you know how to protect yourself and your work when you self-publish or e-publish? Attorney Liat Cohen knows, and will share her answers to these questions and more.
Ms. Cohen has practiced law for over twenty years. For ten of them she handled many legal aspects of entertainment-industry law, including negotiations for top industry studios and actors. She was Senior Vice President, Business Affairs and Litigation for Lion’s Gate Entertainment for four years. She’s been a board member of the Encino Chamber of Commerce for ten years, and served as its president in 2003. Her experience in the industry has provided her a unique POV on the legal needs of writers.
Liat will cover copyright protection and copyright law; the do’s and don’ts of submitting materials; what a writer can expect from attorneys v. managers v. agents; and options, offers, deals and agreements with regard to film, TV, theater, Internet and print publishing.
Is your work not yet ready for prime time? Keep working. Remember, good luck is that happy juncture of opportunity and preparation. Prepare now to meet the opportunity coming your way.
Attorney Cohen is a legal veteran handling businesses contracts, partnerships, corporations, employer and employee issues, and related business operation matters. Recently, she joined the law firm of Alperstein, Simon, Farkas, Gillin & Scott, LLP which specializes in Estate Planning, Trust, Wills Probate, and business matters.
July 2014 Meeting
Being a Backpack Writer: Learn to Make Locations Live
Our July 8 speaker, Sarah Howery Hart, a VCWC member, magazine writer and murder mystery novelist, will share her experience in adding authenticity and impact to her work. Her workshop, “Backpack Writer” will include everything we need to know to be well prepared for fact checking, information gathering and absorbing the essence of setting. A comprehensive workbook will be included.
Have you ever gone to jail for the sake of perfecting the details of your story? Taken a stroll through a cathedral-style labyrinth? Hopped a 1950s prop plane to go explore a military island facility? Or slept all night on the floor of an outbound train?
Sarah has done all those things while working on her murder mysteries—Catch ’n Release: The Game and the sequel, Ring Master—and her magazine articles and short stories. She thoroughly enjoyed these experiences and many others, even jail. And, she says, the quality of her writing improved because of them.
Her career as a freelancer includes writing for publications such as The Writer magazine, the Alaska/Horizon Airlines inflight magazine, Ojai Quarterly, and Ventura County Star. Through those experiences and her past work as executive editor of the national magazine Your Wedding Day, Sarah discovered the joys and necessity of emerging from behind the desk to do research, conduct interviews, and even complete the writing itself “on location.” But working out of a backpack effectively and efficiently requires planning and strategy. At our July 8 meeting, Sarah will reveal her secrets.
Her tips include advice on:
- What to pack, in addition to the usual writer’s gear, to enhance any type of writing. (Why should a nonsmoking writer bring a pack of matches? Why a small plastic ruler; why a flashlight and a travel pillow?)
- How to pack it. (Why hang that small flashlight from a loop on the outside of your pack, rather than pack it inside?)
- Which backpack is best? (Why finding the words “rip-stop nylon,” “military grade,” and even “water-repellent” on the label will become your goal, although we Southern Californians seldom see a drop of rain.)
Sarah will also share how becoming a “backpack writer” leads to more powerful writing, including the secrets to:
- Determining exact locations to enhance fiction and nonfiction writing, and how your packed contents can facilitate having “good times,” regardless of the setting.
- Using those strategically selected items to aid in writing descriptions that make readers believe they’re really there.
- Using the six senses for crafting dynamic descriptions, and which backpack items can help you do that.
- Writing higher quality interviews for nonfiction books and articles, and using your backpack items to find the even better “story behind the story.”
Sarah will conclude by discussing how being a “backpack writer” and getting out of the house to do the actual writing can also make writers better at their craft.
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