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...
August 2015 Program
“The word ‘anthology’ enjoys an etymology worth recalling. ‘Logos’ means writing or speaking, while ‘anthos’ means flower. And so an anthology is a bouquet, a garland, a posy of blossoms that seems best and most beautiful. I might pick more bluebells than you, and fewer daffodils, but they’re all flowers, and the mixture is an expression of the one who picks them.” Mark Kingwell, professor of philosophy, Toronto University, May 5, 2015 in The Globe and Mail.
I am continually intrigued with words—a writer’s occupational hazard, I suppose. Where did they originate? When did they join our English vocabulary? Were our current words birthed in royal courts or on some seamy seaport street? What layers of meaning lie below our common usage? “Anthology” is one of those words.
A little research reveals that the word slipped into English usage in the 1630s. Its origin is Greco-Roman. Early on its use invoked the metaphoric collecting of flowers, i.e., verses and small poems by several authors. The current use of “anthology” embodies a wider literary scope and a subtle difference from a simple collection. A collection can contain works of a specific type of a single author, such as the sonnets of Shakespeare. It could be the complete works of Aldous Huxley or essays of Theodore Seuss. But an anthology is a publication that always comprises works by different authors, sometimes upon a common theme or other shared criterion, such as by authors of a specific location or affiliation, like our own biennial VCWC Press anthologies.
I like Professor Kingwell’s definition of “anthology”—a “bouquet … of blossoms that seems best and most beautiful.” Choosing the blooms is always exciting and always challenging. Publication in VCWC anthologies is reserved for VCWC members and the winners of VCWC’s writing contests that are open to non-members. Because VCWC accepts no other anthology submissions from authors outside its membership, the bulk of the “bouquet” comes from the VCWC garden. Many a tender shoot was carefully tended and coaxed to full bloom in a club workshop. They’re home-grown beauties, if you will. Just as sturdy-stemmed roses, graceful white calla lilies, and pink gladioli combined with delicate peonies and feathery ferns make for a glorious bouquet, so the stories, essays, and poems, long and short, tough and tender, complement each other in Remembrances. A compliment to the work of editor and Anthology Chair, Carol Malone, and her assistants.
Beyond “a gathering of beautiful flowers,” the word “bouquet” has a second meaning. It also refers to a pleasant fragrance, as in the bouquet of a fine wine. How fitting that the selection of noteworthy writing should be referenced in such sensual terms. It is our hope that through the authors’ skilled selections and arrangements of words in their individual works, the reader will experience in this volume the sights, sounds, and yes, the aromas of life.
David Wilk knows a thing or two about remembrances. His appearance on Tuesday, August 11 is the perfect precursor to our September memoir contest and the cherry-on-top for our Remembrances. After over forty years of writing for newspapers and magazines, creating numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, David has focused the last several years on writing biographies and family histories. Enlightening and entertaining, David brings tested tips and techniques for keeping life’s stories authentic and relatable— whether you write your history or someone else’s. His eighth biography will be published in December, 2015.
July 2015 Program
You’ve heard, and maybe said, countless times how solitary the writing experience is. Even now as I write this article, I’ve closed my office door: a do-not-disturb plea and warning to my household. Most times they get it. Sometimes, life interrupts while I’m wringing words from my psyche. I bet it happens to you, too. Who understands this frustration better than another writer?
While writing is solitary, it is also communal. We come together at writers meetings to commune and commiserate, to find empathy and education, to inspire each other and to be inspired on how to be better communicators, whatever our genres.
No matter how much we say that we write for ourselves, we write to communicate. We write so we don’t forget the milestones of our lives and so others will take note of them. We write to share facts and opinions. We write to share dreams and visions. What we want at the end of hours of solitary hair-pulling, teeth-grinding, and blank-page-snow-blindness is for someone else to feel what we feel, hear the sounds, and see the sights that we do — to know what we know. It doesn’t matter what we write — a textbook, a poem, a novel, or bicycle assembly directions — the ultimate goal is communication.
As much as communication is a goal, feedback on how well we are succeeding in that effort is vital in accomplishing it. The bold authors who will be sharing their words and bits of their writing journeys at our July meeting are to be commended, and we ask that you take the time to share your thoughts on their work. Receiving feedback requires the audacious step of exposing one’s creation. It can be as terrifying as it is exhilarating for the speaker. As an audience, being exposed to the array of genres and topics embraced by other writers may shed light on our own efforts.
Ventura County Writers Club exists “to encourage the craft.” Consider this as you listen to and review the readings. Listen as both a reader and a writer. How did the story/poem touch your emotions? Was there clarity? What did you enjoy? Was the work cohesive or did something seem out of place? What about the author’s style, word choices, the tone of the work, the images used? I’m sure you get the idea. The authors, as would you, will appreciate sincere comments and reactions. You may sign your review or let that famous author, A. Nony Mous take the credit.
Fresh Ink: The pinnacle of communication for a writer is publication.
Connie Mukherjee’s expanded Fresh Ink presentation will include some of theartifacts referenced in Nanibala’s Belief, a visionary work of historical fiction. Released in June, 2015, by Balboa Press, a division of Hay House, Nanibala’sBelief, explores the virtues of nineteen fascinating men and women from opposite sides of the world through seven generations of parallel lives. This engaging and moving work draws on the cross-cultural backgrounds of Connie, who is fromIndiana and her husband, Ajit from India. Connie’s “words float onto the page with a poetic cadence that captures and holds the reader’s attention.
June 2015 Meeting
Power Tools for Writers
Ignitions, Accelerators, Clutches and Brakes
What slows you down as a writer? Is it getting started because you're stuck on imagining the perfect opening? Do your characters stubbornly sit still when you're trying to send them down the road? Do you feel like your plot slows when you shift scenes? Do you need a boost in your story's power to move your readers? Is writer's block putting a brake on your progress? Ignite your writing and keep your story moving with a high-octane injection with help from our June 9 speaker, Sheila Lowe.
Author Sheila Lowe (www.SheilaLowe.com) will kick off our “Power Tools for Writers” series with “Ignitions, Accelerators, Clutches and Brakes.” While you won’t hear tips about keeping your automobile running smoothly, you will come away with an increased awareness of what it takes to fire up your story and effectively control the action from beginning to end.
Sheila holds a Master of Science degree in Psychology and lectures around the country, in Canada and in the UK. Like Claudia Rose, the main character of her award-winning Forensic Handwriting Mysteries series, she is a court-qualified forensic handwriting expert. Her work may include analyzing the handwriting of a job applicant or of prospective adoptive parents or testifying in court about the handwritten notes of a criminal. Graphology is not a crystal ball that foretells the future, but handwriting does contain indicators of potential behaviors, making its analysis a useful tool in a variety of situations.
She is the author of two nonfiction books, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis and Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, and of the Handwriting Analyzer software. Her analyses of celebrities’ handwritings have appeared in media such as the Los Angeles Times where she discusses what the signatures of Dodgers and Angels players reveal about their personalities. Sheila is president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes education in the area of handwriting analysis. Her book, Written in Blood, was listed as one of the 2008 Independent Mystery Booksellers Association’s Top 10 Picks.
Ms. Lowe deftly manages to maintain story pace and flow in her Claudia Rose mystery series, while including detailed insights in the profession of handwriting analysis. These components make for fascinating reading for any mystery fan, and are the elements that Ms. Lowe will teach us to spark in our own stories. She crafts plots that build their finales with flair and provides clues that capture readers. On June 9, she will share with us the tools we need to bring energy and authenticity to our stories. Be ready to take notes and ask questions!
The Claudia Rose novels Poison Pen, Written in Blood, Dead Write, Last Writes and Inkslinger’s Ball are available at www.Amazon.com.
May 2015 Meeting
Anatomy of a Best-Seller
VCWC Welcomes Sheli Ellsworth
VCWC member, humorist Sheli Ellsworth will be speaking at the upcoming May 12th meeting. She will be reviewing elements of best sellers of the last decade: what they have in common and what can be learned from focusing on what sells. Style, genre, length, point of view and author demographics will all be explored.
The bestsellers chosen for exploration have made two of the three most popular book lists: New York Times bestseller list, Oprah’s Book Club books and People’s Choice books. Titles include: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Time Traveler's Wife, Water for Elephants, The Kite Runner, The Thirteenth Tale, The Road, Middlesex, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Pillars of the Earth, Love in the Time of Cholera, A Change of Heart, Fifty Shades of Grey, Hunger Games, Icy Sparks, Absurdistan, What is the What, The Help and others.
Sheli Ellsworth holds a master’s degree in psychology used mainly to annoy family and friends. Her first book, The Psychoanalysis of Everyday Life: Sometimes I Pee when I Laugh from BeachHouse Books (2012) is a hysterical and heartwarming observation of life. Her writing has been published in the Pacific Daily News, the Ventura County Star and the Ventura Breeze newspapers. She is an award winning short story writer. Her fiction appears the anthologies: Quintessence, Windows and Serendipity. Auto Week, BackHome, and Zone4 magazines have also published her humorous stories. She is a book critic for the City Book Review and the Portland Book Review. Her advice column, Dear Miss Betty—advice for those who need to be slapped has run in Spotlight on Recovery magazine and the Ventura Breeze. She has written numerous veterinary medical articles for purchaseremedies.com. In August 2014, Sheli’s second book--Confessions of a pet au pair: the ABCs of pet ailments, a creative nonfiction book written with co-author Bill Wafer, DVM--was published by BeachHouse Books. In November 2014, she self-published an interactive children’s picture book, My Winter Holiday by Noah, with co-author Sheldon Brown and illustrator George Robertson. Her latest project, Henry the Helicopter, is due out this coming summer. You can follow her on Twitter: @churchofthelaughingbudda.
May 12 at 7:00 p.m.
Pleasant Valley Senior Center.
1605 Burnley Street