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...
October 2015 Speaker Information
Power Tools for Writers 4: Voice and Point of View: Striving for Authenticity
In the fourth presentation of Power Tools for Writers on Tuesday, October 13, Valencia author Veda Stamps will share how she evolved from having a lack of understanding about point of view and voice to now feeling confident that she chose (or allowed her character’s voice to choose) the best authentic point of view for her acclaimed award-winning, middle-grade novel, Flexible Wings.
Two years ago, Southern California author Veda Stamps took a sabbatical from The Ramsay Group, LLC, a community planning firm she co-owns with her husband, to write a novel about her beloved community in New Orleans. But as serendipity had it, she could not decide which point of view worked best, writer’s block set in, and characters stopped talking. So she instead wrote Flexible Wings, a story inspired by her daughter’s neighborhood swim team. Veda’s experience as a city planner and writing lengthy community planning documents prepared her in many ways for the dedication it takes to draft a novel. However, even though she had written numerous plans, she had never written fiction, let alone middle-grade fiction. So as she began to world build, she kept the following questions in mind:
1. Which point of view best showcases the middle-grade world I’m creating?
2. What will make it seem real to preteens?
3. What am I, the writer, trying to say?
4. What character(s) can best express that message?
5. Is the story driven by character or by plot?
6. What do kids in general sound like?
7. What is my character’s voice, given her age, race, cultural, social, and economic status in
8. What viewpoint will entice the preteen reader to care about the story and keep turning the pages?
9. Which point of view creates the most story tension or drama?
Join us as Veda provides advice based on what she has learned through trial and error, research, and a matrix that she created. In the end, selecting point of view in MG/YA is determined by your own intuitive choice, but this workshop and the matrix will provide helpful guidance.
Veda’s critically acclaimed novel Flexible Wings has recently won two literary awards.
Veda currently lives with her husband, two daughters, and three dogs in Valencia. She is working on three novels, Flat 1906, Pontchartrain Park, and Waterbird.
Winners of Memoir Contest Honored
VCWC honored its first annual memoir contest winners on September 26!
September 2015 Meeting
Power Tools for Writers 3: Writing Live
Can your readers see and hear your story?
By Lee Wade
In the third presentation of Power Tools for Writers, on September 8, Los Angeles author Nancy Cole Silverman will add to our tool belts. Nancy spent 25 years writing news stories and commercial copy for some of LA’s top radio stations before she retired to write fiction. She credits her experience in radio’s auditory format with developing her ear for storytelling, and its short deadlines with fostering an ability to write quickly, succinctly, and vividly. Nancy said as a copywriter, she daily felt the challenge to “let the listener see and hear.”
One of my favorite lines of poetry contains the words, “the tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells, the tintinnabulation of the bells.” Edgar Allen Poe could have written “the bells rang.” Thankfully, he did not. It is the word tintinnabulation that provides the auditory experience. The onomatopoetic word imitates the sound made by the bells and I hear them. Bells ring—ringing, their singular sounds tumbling over each other in a glorious, consuming swell.
Nancy will explore with us how such choices, for example, and literary devices—aphorisms, similes, metaphors, even malaprops and clichés can induce and elicit emotional and sensory responses for a full circle experience for your reader.
In the last ten years, she has written numerous short stories and novelettes. Currently she has three audio books with MindWings Audio. Her first novel, The Centaur's Promise was published by Eloquent Press in 2010. Henery Press rolled out the first of her Carol Childs Mysteries, Shadow of Doubt in December 2014. Beyond a Doubt was released in July 2015 and Without a Doubt will debut in January 2016.
If you want to give your readers the full sensory experience of the worlds you write, join us on September 8 to hear Nancy’s tips and techniques for writing live!
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.