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...
April 2015 Meeting
A Night of the Poetic Persuasion
Established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to venerate the vital role of poetry in culture, National Poetry Month is the world’s largest literary celebration. The VCWC joins this worldwide salute with the announcement of the winners of our 15th annual poetry contest at 7:00 pm on Tuesday evening, April 14. Winners are chosen in two divisions: poets over eighteen and poets ages eight through eighteen. Authors of the first, second and third place poems in each division will receive their awards and read their poems.
Guest speaker Shelley Savren--author, award-winning poet, and English and Creative Writing Professor Emeritus at Oxnard College--will lead the evening’s celebration with a talk titled “The Poet’s Life.” In addition to exploring the day-to-day life of the poet, including how to balance working and writing and family life, Savren will speak to “the idea of poet as teacher or workshop leader and how teaching poetry feeds the poet’s muse.” She will also read poems from her books, The Wild Shine of Oranges (Tebot Bach Press, 2013) and The Common Fire (Red Hen Press,2004), as well as some new poems.
Savren holds an M.F.A. from Antioch University Los Angeles and is widely published in literary magazines. Her awards include: nine California Arts Council Artist in Residence grants and five fellowships from the City of Ventura. She won first place in the 1994 John David Johnson Memorial Poetry Award, and has received a Pushcart Prize nomination. She also teaches poetry writing through California Poets in the Schools. Visit her website at: www.shelleysavren.com
In Savren’s words, “Writing poetry is a journey of self-fulfillment. It forces us to put the world right in front of us so that we can taste and swallow it, hear and feel it, take in its abundant aromas and, of course, really see it. Everything in that world can be made into poetry, and it’s the poet’s job to give it a shape and a voice. But it doesn’t stop there: it doesn’t stop until we know the satisfaction of crafting a poem into a little piece of art that is, in fact, larger than life itself.”
Following the poetry readings and Ms. Savren’s presentation, everyone is invited to meet the poets and enjoy a delightful array of special treats presented by VCWC Special Events Director, Louisa Angeli, and Michelle Soto. And of course, it wouldn’t be a party without cake! Join us!
March 2015 Speaker
VCWC's March 2015 Speaker
Rocket Scientist to Boost Writing Skills
by Lee Wade
While writing a novel may not be rocket science, it’s worth taking notice when a rocket scientist is a novelist. On March 10, VCWC welcomes back Bill Vietinghoff, two-term former VCWC president, former short story contest chairman, and author of The Interceptor Program.
“I enjoyed membership in the VCWC because I watched it give hope, inspiration, and tools to aspiring writers. I want my presentation to give the members the determination to write,” Bill said.
In high school, he first he wanted to write stories like the ones about imaginary worlds in sci-fi magazines that he read. A.E. van Vogt inspired him. When he began to read popular novels, he found inspiration in the authentic styles of authors like James Michener (Tales of the South Pacific), James T. Farrell (Studs Lonigan), and Norman Mailer (The Naked and the Dead), and others.
After high school, Bill joined the Navy. While serving on the aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Philippine Sea, he honed the skills he learned writing up events and classmate bios for his high school newspaper. He wrote for the Philippine Sea Line, the ship’s newsletter. Old Navy magazine published his short stories—some serious, some not.
After his discharge from the Navy, he earned a degree in chemical engineering at Northwestern University, and then accepted an offer to work at North American Aviation’s test facility here in the Santa Susanna Mountains. In a career spanning some forty-six years, Bill worked on “rocket engines for the Atlas Missile, which put John Glenn into orbit, the Saturn V vehicle that took us to the moon, and the Space Shuttle.”
The Interceptor Program is Bill’s first novel. Based on his notes and observations collected over the years of company procedures, engineering activities, conduct of meetings, the novel contains nuggets of truth, humor, irony, and pure fantasy.
Written as a movie script, the novel chronicles the tale of Orville Pressfit, an aging airplane mechanic. His insistence in an interview with a television reporter in Ponca City, Oklahoma that he was taken captive by aliens spurs fear of a “threat from outer space directed at defenseless older people.” To quell the rumors and placate the very vocal senior citizenry, the Ponca City Board of Commissioners passes a bold resolution demanding action by the Federal government. When President Thelma Grayfield dismisses the story as the “imaginings of an elderly inebriate,” senior citizen protests erupt across the country. The executive order is given to build a craft to pursue the UFOs.
Packed with details and discoveries from the twentieth century’s Space Race, this mash-up of fact and fiction is a fun page-turner. As Bill takes us on his personal journey to publication he promises insight on developing fluency, scoping out the book plot, artistic decisions and tight writing.
Rocket science? Maybe not. But boosters for your writing, just the same.
7:00 pm at the Pleasant Valley Senior Center
1605 E. Burnley Street, Camarillo
February 2015 Meeting
Motivation at the Heart of It All
By Lee Wade
Nationally recognized master interrogator Paul Bishop, a thirty-five year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, has asked thousands of questions of thousands of people. On Tuesday, February 10, Bishop poses a question for writers at the February meeting of the VCWC: “Are your characters as motivated as you are?”
If you feel compelled to “take the fifth” to avoid self-incrimination, what Bishop has to say may be more than interesting. It could save a life—your character’s. Because what characters want is what moves the story. Recognizing and shaping character motivation is a topic Bishop never tires of exploring. Knowing why a character does what he does is vital for both writer and read.
Being a master interrogator requires asking the right questions, and, most important, getting the right answers. Bishop knows how to do both in real life and in fiction.
Paul Bishop's career has included a three-year tour with his department's Anti-Terrorist Division and over twenty-five years' experience in the investigation of sex crimes. His Special Assaults Units regularly produced the highest number of detective-initiated arrests and highest crime clearance rates in the city. The two-time LAPD Detective of the Year and recipient of the Quality and Productivity Commission Award from the City of Los Angeles will release his fifteenth novel, Lie Catchers, next month. He’s written scripts for film and television, is the author of the Fey Croaker LAPD detective series, and under the pen name, Jack Tunney, is the creator-editor of the niche fiction Fight Card series. He also starred in the ABC-TV series, Take the Money and Run, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.
Bishop teaches interrogation seminars for law enforcement, military, and human resource organizations. He also teaches a local writers workshop. Bishop said that a writer needs to know his characters as well, maybe better, than he knows himself.
Author, screenwriter, master interrogator, Paul Bishop will not only be asking questions on Tuesday night, but providing good answers as well.
Paul’s Amazon page: http://tinyurl.com/l96dom7
Fight Card: http://fightcardbooks.com/
January 2015 Starts Off with A Celebration
By Lee Wade
“And the winner is…” These words, whether uttered in the glitz of a Hollywood awards presentation, or in a local school auditorium, or at the Ventura County Writers Club meeting on 7 p.m., January 13 have the power to silence a crowd and to make aspiring contestants hold a collective breath. Cheers and sighs are likely to follow them as Short Story Contest Chair Shelba Cole Robison does the honors, announcing each winner in the club’s 16th Annual Short story contest. As the winners step to the podium to accept their awards, and read their stories, each will become part of a proud tradition.
Traditions are built on repetition. A recent conversation with Bill Vietinghoff, past VCWC president and a past Short Story Contest chair, revealed that despite the incursion of technology into contest entry processing, much remains the same. The heart of the contest remains to recognize and encourage fine writing. The rubric designed in the early days to ensure unbiased judging is still in use with minor changes. Like the current chair, Vietinghoff spent countless hours designing and distributing fliers, contacting community groups, coordinating judges, fielding questions, and being liaison with the Ventura County Star newspaper. Running a successful contest was and is a labor of love for writers and their craft, along with dedicated volunteers.
Part of our tradition includes an evening of congratulations and celebration with great refreshments. Come and enjoy this year’s best short stories and toast the writers who penned them. Did I mention there will be cake?
Looking ahead: February 10th, join us for an evening with Paul Bishop, a thirty-five year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, an expert in deception recognition, lead interrogator on ABC TV reality series Take the Money and Run, author of 12 novels and numerous episodic TV scripts, co-creator and editor of The Fight Card series of boxing novels under the pseudonym, Jack Tunney.