Monday, December 11, 2017
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Membership Information

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...

No December Meeting

Just a reminder that we do not have a general meeting in December.  We at VCWC wish you a warm and wonderful holiday season with family and friends.


November 2017 Meeting



Judith Mathison/1st VP of Programming

SAVE THE DATE! Sunday, November 12, 11AM-3PM – Camarillo Library’s Local Authors Fair. VCWC will be sharing a table with the library – stop by and say hello!

November 14 – Attend our regularly scheduled meeting. Check out the line-up, which will include a few surprises:

Ø  Justin Formanek, Adult Services Librarian for the Camarillo Library, will fill us in on plans for upcoming events for writers and readers.

Ø  Four short PEN talks (five minutes each) are scheduled on subjects as varied as Enneagrams, The Story Arc, Public Speaking Tips for Writers, and Internet Safety.

Ø  Be prepared! Open Mic/Opening Act is back. Several of our brave members will step up to the mic and share their poems and other writings with us. These are limited to one page (double spaced) and do not include politics, religion, or things of a sexual nature. The more humor, the better.

Ø  Holiday Bazaar – In the back of our meeting room, we’ll have tables of books for sale for intrepid holiday shoppers. If you have a published book, bring in a few copies and price them to sell. Maybe you’ll have some leftovers from the Local Authors Fair, or perhaps you have a couple extra in your garage or the trunk of your car … share.

We’re also hard at work planning our January 9, 2018 meeting. Two local crime/mystery writers will participate on the “It’s a Crime” Panel. Sheila Lowe, forensic handwriting analyst, author of the Claudia Rose mystery series, and David Keith, former Public Information Officer for the Oxnard Police Department, author of the veteran homicide investigator Jack Keller series, have interesting tales of how they started writing and publishing their books. We have a tentative venue change for this meeting and will notify everyone in advance.

January 15 also ushers in the start of our annual Poetry Contest – more details at the January meeting. In the meantime, as the late local poet, Jackson Wheeler, said in his Ars Poetica, “All hail the poetic arts, and the art of poetry; and to the knowledge at the heart of it all: Words bear witness.”

Remember, there’s no December meeting. See you all in November! 

October 2017 Meeting

October’s Treats

By Judith Mathison

 During my childhood back home in Indiana, Halloween night was a neighborhood affair.  Hundreds of kids in homemade costumes traveled in gangs, Charlie Brown style, visiting almost every dwelling throughout the neighborhood.  First, I’d go trick or treating with my younger siblings to our closest neighbors, then go back out further afield with my friends to hunt for the generous Halloween lovers who gave out full size candy bars!  By the end of the evening, I’d come home with two grocery bags of candy! So much fun…wish I could do it again!

I suppose I still could, but instead, I’ll be happy with the next best thing: two wonderful women (dare I say good witches?) providing treats for the attendees of the Ventura County Writers Club October 10th meeting!  

Patrice Karst, the author of the bestselling children's classic The Invisible String, will be first up to the podium.  Her talk is titled "My Unusual Path to Publishing (Why life is so much better when you stop talk about "wanting to write” and just start doing it!”)

The Invisible String sold over 250,000 copies.  Patrice also penned another children’s book, The Smile That Went Around the World and two adult books: God Made Easy and The Single Mother's Survival Guide. Patrice and her books have been widely featured in print and broadcast media and she has made public appearances on both local and national levels to promote her professional endeavors.  Her next book tour is in Japan later this year.

Born in London, England, Patrice has been on a fascinating spiritual journey since she was a young girl looking out in awe at the glistening stars. The mother of one grown son, Elijah, and one zany wiener dog, Coco, Patrice lives at the beach in Ventura, California, where she is currently editing her memoir and still gazing up in wonder at starry nights. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Loves to hear from her readers! To find out more or to contact Patrice go to:

Our second featured speaker for the evening is Connie Halpern, the owner of Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm in Camarillo.  Much to my surprise, there is no actual Mrs. Fig.  When Connie purchased The Bookworm in 2009, she hoped for a little help to make her new business venture a success.  She added the acronym, FIGS: Faith in God Shows, to the name of her store.

Before I met Connie, I had been under the false impression that the establishment was a Christian bookstore.  Being spiritual, but not religious, I’d never had the need to visit.  In order to write this article, I stopped by Mrs. Figs one evening near closing time to get a sense of the store and interview Connie.

Books of all genres line the shelves and cubies of the cute and cozy space.  The store features a small area which resembles the front porches of Middle America, reminiscent of Connie’s Ohio roots.  The real attraction, however, is the good-hearted whirlwind of activity in the center of the room.  Connie’s faith translates into kindness, which her loyal customers and many friends are lucky to receive.  Along with other volunteer endeavors, she delivers books to the homebound, and reads to children in the local schools and during story time at her shop. 

Connie’s portion of the evening’s program will be based on several of her personal favorite books including the children’s classic, Old Turtle byDouglas Wood, 1992.  Connie stated that this book has resonated with her since it was first published, and continues to do so today.  Appropriate for readers 6-116, the tale is about the significance of life and demonstrates the healing power of the natural world.  Connie’s daughter grew up on the book, and describes it as “an insightful, thought-provoking, life-changing book.” 

This is not a trick…the VCWC is proud to host strong women who make a difference in the world!  But, wouldn’t it be fun to come home with two grocery bags full of candy again?

Our October Fresh Ink speaker, Julie Mohr, is the author of the 2016 children’s book, The Enchanted Tower Garden.  Julie is a distributor for a company that markets and sells a vertical, aeroponic growing system called the Tower Garden.  She volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club, which has a Tower Garden, educating children on growing fruits and vegetables, and the benefits that come from them. Julie and her co-author, Noel Leon, wrote the book to inspire children in an entertaining way to select healthy foods. 

September 2017 Meeting Info

Memoir Writing:  Ventura County Writers Club Style

 By Judith Mathison

What do the following have in common: (1) a young girl’s precious Barbie Dream House; (2) an encounter in the back of a car with a homeless shelter resident armed with a switchblade; (3) panic caused by an uninvited mouse in the house; (4) a day in the life of a twenty-year-old soldier in Viet Nam hunkered near a downed Huey helicopter; (5) a meet-and-greet with the Three Stooges; and (6) construction of a homemade apple core for rubber stamp decorating?

Answer: All were winning entries in last year’s VCWC Memoir Contest. These poignant, dramatic, humorous, memorable pieces were recognized as quality after several rounds of judging by experienced VCWC writers.

Memoir (memory-based) writing has become more popular as people continue to choose nonfiction reading over fiction. The dictionary definition of this genre is a factual account of one’s personal life or experiences. Yesterday’s memoirs came from society’s famous and infamous members, such as movie stars and sports figures. Today, regular people just like you and I can write memoir bestsellers.

So, it’s that time of year again. The Memoir Contest time for submissions has come to a close and the judging is in full swing with the annual winners’ celebration slated for our regular club meeting on September 12. This is the third contest held, again managed by long-time VCWC member, Shelba Cole Robison. I spoke with her about the origin of the contest.

Shelba proposed including this genre three years ago after noticing club writers who weren’t entering short story and fiction contests instead had a stronger interest in memoirs. She noted the strength of memoirs as they capture people’s real struggles in life and their accomplishments. Unlike fiction, these true stories can pare away the unnecessary and get down to the basic core of what constitutes human life. And unlike straight nonfiction, the reader doesn’t get too caught up in facts and miss the importance of story and characters.

We hope you will join us on a night where certain of your friends and fellow club members share a heartfelt slice of their lives, in 1,250 words or less. Cash prizes will be awarded along with the opportunity to hear these prize-winning stories September club meeting, September 12, at 7:00 p.m. at the Senior Center.

We hope that those who hear the winning stories will be inspired to enter the contest next year which will probably be administered differently.  

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 VCWC Memoir Contest!

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