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...
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.
November 2014 Speaker
Multi-talented VCWC member, Carol Roullard will speak on non-fiction publishing.
Author, photographer, artist, and winner of the Thousand Oaks Art Association Member Show, November 2012 and February 2013, Carol and her husband, co-author Dr. Brian Matsumotowill release their seventh non-fiction book in early 2015. The Unofficial Quintessential Guide to the Panasonic GH4 will be published by Rocky Nook. It follows six other non-fiction books.
On November 11, Roullard will deliver a peek into the world of non-fiction writing; why consider it, how to choose what to write, the structure of a non-fiction book, and finding a publisher. She says, “There is more opportunity in getting published with non-fiction than … fiction—and it is lucrative.” Roullard will also share what she says with a wry smile, are “lessons learned.”
Bitten by the photography bug in high school, where she experimented with black and white artistic compositions, Roullard has parlayed her early artistic interest into a career in photographic fine art. Roullard’s exquisite photographs of crystals taken through the microscope are creating buzz in the arts community while garnering awards and recognition. Her micro-crystal abstract fine art photographs have been displayed at Linus Galleries in Los Angeles, Darkroom Gallery in Vermont, Art Fusions Gallery in Miami, Las Laguna Gallery in Laguna Beach, both Gallery 113 and Faulkner West Gallery in Santa Barbara and the Galleria De Marchi in Bologna, Italy.
As she honed her photographic skills Roullard’s subjects have ranged from sweeping natural vistas to urban architectural scenes to her current micro-crystal abstracts. Capturing such diverse images requires a variety of photographic tools. They run the gamut from point-and-shoot to state-of-the art complex professional cameras. Prior to writing about the technology and art of photography, Roullard filled pages with marketing campaign materials, detailed training and design documents. Writing about the tools and art of photography seemed a natural fit.
“Writing for the non-fiction marketplace isn’t hard or scary,” she says, but it has to be accurate. And it shouldn’t be dry. Use all your writing skills, just like in fiction, to put life into what you write.” Roullard hopes to inspire others to reach for success in non-fiction.
Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery International Juried Show, Oct. 2014