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...
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
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