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President’s Message

February 3, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

by Sue Phillips

How many volunteers does it take to run a chapter? A dozen? Two dozen? Not OCC. At the January meeting, over fifty (50!) volunteers were invited to the front of the room to be recognized by a round of applause and an appreciation gift! Every one of these volunteers is an integral part of the success of our chapter. Some of them work at our meetings. Others do their work at home, juggling time with jobs and family.

Our OCC motto is “One hand reaching forward, and one hand reaching back, in a continuing chain.” I might add that we also have many hands reaching out to lift a box, make a cup of coffee, run a committee, coordinate a contest, stuff an envelope, and donate a raffle basket or a critique. Together, they share the enormous workload of one of the largest chapters in our industry.

While it was a difficult task to limit the list to only eight, the OCC board presents the nominees for the 2007 Chrystal Cashero Award for Volunteer of the Year:

Jina Bacarr (Podcasts)

Kitty Bucholtz (Online class coordinator/moderator)

Jen (Crooks) Bullington (Orange Rose Contest Coordinator)

Helene Esteves (Used Books Sales)

Peggy Mansur (Used Books Sales)

Lori Pyne (Book Buyers’ Best Contest Coordinator, Online Class Moderator & Guest Reception Coordinator)

Charlene Sands (Ask-An-Author Coordinator)

Lisa Valdez (1st Chapter Critique Coordinator)

Congratulations to all of our nominees. Voting by the general members will take place at the February meeting. The recipient will be announced at the March meeting.

Since joining OCC in 1985, I have been asked why I continue to volunteer. As corny as it may sound, I have always answered that I like the idea that, in my own small way, I have helped a fellow writer reach for and hopefully attain her/his dream to be published. Every time I hear of an OCC member who has finaled in a contest, had a manuscript requested by an agent or editor, or got “THE call”, I am so happy for them. I like to believe that this chapter has helped, has made a difference. My contribution – no matter how big or how small – is about helping this chapter to continue to support writers, to give them a place to share their personal stories of joy and heartache. Some will publish, some won’t. There is no guarantee anyone will sell a book. But whether or not it happens, our chapter is here for them, encouraging them to keep writing, keep trying. And I’m proud to be a part of it.

Are you a volunteer? If so, what is it in you that raises your hand and offers to help?

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President’s Message

December 2, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

by Sandy Novy Chvostal

A newspaper reporter contacted me awhile back to get some information on OCC. “What makes your Chapter so successful?” she asked me. “Everyone I’ve talked to says OCC is one of the leading RWA chapters in the nation.”

The answer (like so many answers unfortunately) is complicated. Obviously, our success involves a variety of factors including our location in such a highly populated area, the bylaws that we operate under, the advantages provided by having a large membership and the variety and quality of the programs we support. But in my opinion, OCC’s greatest strength is our ability to evolve–to take advantage of the generosity and expertise of our volunteers to stay ahead.

In the upcoming months, OCC will be evolving once again as we focus on improving our website, and we want to thank all the members who are lending their expertise to this project. Goals and plans for a total redesign include a Members Only section that will include an email roster and allow members to update their own information; published members’ bookcovers featured on the home page in a revolving fashion that changes every time the page is pulled up; a booksellers’ page to feature covers and also facilitate communication between authors and booksellers; and a page for trailers. A MySpace page is also being created for OCC, which will be linked to occrwa.com; and our yahoo groups are being updated for better ease of use.

In conjunction with these changes—and because our fabulous editors are stepping down—our printed newsletter will be phased out. Published authors are requested to notify co-president Sue Phillips at suephillips503@yahoo.com about any book releases to be put on the Bookseller/bookshelf page and items for “Look at Our Members” should be sent to Sue as well.

Questions? Concerns? Suggestions? Copy me with those at Snovy617@aol.com.

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President’s Message

November 3, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as


In the coming months, members will be hearing a lot about bylaws. National RWA has set forth new Chapter Bylaws Standards, some of which will be mandatory, some only recommendations. Chapters are required to revise their own bylaws into the standardized format, and submit a “Restatement of Bylaws” by May 1, 2008.

OCC had already implemented some of the required changes in our last revision of bylaws four years ago. Since we will be going through the steps for changes set forth by National–including a printed and mailed version of proposals, and vote of approval by membership — this is an excellent opportunity to review the entire document to suit our current methods of operation.

One area to address is leadership. For 22 years, OCC has had two co-presidents sharing the workload so both can continue writing. (In theory, anyway. ) In the last six years, this dual position has evolved into a two-year commitment with one co-president running for a second term with a new co-president who spends her first year learning the job. Unofficially, these two leaders serve as senior and junior co-prez, which allows a smooth transition year-to-year.

While I have always been strongly in favor of the shared position of co-presidency, I now realize that our leadership is already basically functioning as a president and president-elect. And it is working beautifully. The current board of directors agrees that it is time to formally change the terminology used from “co-presidents” to “president and president elect.” Why? Because we need to publicly set in place a president-in-training who will eventually step into the role of president after a year “interning” in the position. The way it stands now, both co-presidents can step down at the end of their term, and anyone can run for the office even if he/she has no board experience whatsoever.

Having served as a co-president in 1989 before the immediacy of the internet, and comparing it to my term as co-president this year, I am acutely aware of the changes that have occurred with this position, and the need to assure our membership of consistently strong leadership for such a large and complex writing organization.

Another proposed change will be altering our election year to coincide with National RWA’s, which begins November 1. Currently, OCC’s new board takes over at the peak of our annual membership drive in January—grueling for our membership director and treasurer, especially if they are new to the positions. Our February Valentine’s Meeting is one of our two biggest celebrations in the year, but is often a rush-job for the new board if things aren’t already in place. Finally, coinciding with National’s election year will make it simpler for an OCC board member to run for national office when they step down from the local chapter board. As it stands now, they have to resign mid-year from the OCC board if they run for National, or wait several months to run for the next term.

So changes are definitely on the horizon. Be on the look out for more news in the coming months.


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President’s Message

September 1, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as


by OCC Co-President Sandy Novy-Chvostal

“Did you hear,” fellow writer Colleen Adams asked me awhile back, “that Jonathan Gold won a Pulitzer?”

“No, kidding!” I exclaimed. “Who’s Jonathan Gold?”

Jonathan Gold, I learned, is a food critic. He started his restaurant-review column, “Counter Intelligence,” at the L.A. Weekly (a free, tabloid style publication) in 1986. He brought it to the Los Angeles Times for a few years before returning to the alternative paper in 1996. He’s known for evaluating all kinds of eating establishments, from pushcart vendors to gourmet restaurants. He won in the Distinguished Criticism category.

And he’s the first food critic ever to be awarded a Pulitzer.

“As soon as I heard a food critic had won, I knew it was Jonathan Gold,” Colleen told me. “Every time I read his column, I want to rush out and try the place he’s reviewed.”

Intrigued, I googled Gold to read his columns for myself. I discovered Colleen—and Michael Lacey, executive editor of Village Voice Media which owns the L.A. Weekly—are right.

“Like many of our best critics,” says Lacey, “he [Gold] is a cultural omnivore who can write captivatingly about almost anything. His gift to us is that he chose food.”

As this year speeds by and I work on my writing, and help out with OCC’s multiple endeavors such as our contests, our print publication The Orange Blossom, and our internet e-zine, A Slice of Orange, I often think of Jonathan Gold, food critic, winning a Pulitzer Prize.

It reminds me that contests can be wonderful for drawing attention to a writer. That sometimes success can take years to achieve. That it isn’t the size of a publication that necessarily matters, but rather the quality of what you produce. That talent can shine in any medium, whether it be food reviews or romance novels.

Thank you, Jonathan Gold, for the reminder. And congratulations on your win.

Happy Writing,


Sandy Novy-Chvostal (aka Sandra Paul) has a degree in journalism, but prefers to write from the heart. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have three children, three cats, and one overgrown “puppy.” Her 2006 Silhouette Romance DOMESTICATING LUC was a finalist in this year’s RITA Awards.

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President’s Message

August 20, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

Ah, the weary traveler is home from Texas, bowed but unbeaten. In fact, I’m so proud of our chapter, the buttons are popping off my blouse. Conversations were going on in every corner of the hotel. I heard things like “Mention it to Orange County, they’ll come up with a way to make it work” or “If Orange County hasn’t tried it, “then it probably isn’t worth the trouble.”

Now that’s enough to make anyone proud. But don’t get smug. It’s also enough to make one quake in their boots! It means, of course, that we have to stay on our toes. Because I speak for your board when I say our goal is to continue to give our members what they need by way of support of their writing endeavors, and the incentive to keep trying against the odds. We also hope that other chapters will continue to look to us for help, and challenge us to do even better.

Another thing I heard in Dallas was a common line running through the conversations of published writers. It went something like this–“I write every day at the same time for x-number of hours come hell or high water!” Also heard this theme–“I sent that blasted manuscript out 22 times before it sold!” Which tells me that the fifty-some dollars in postage I have invested in one proposal alone is just a drop in the bucket. I’m packaging it up to send it out again and again and again . . .



This was the President’s Message in the September 1987 issue of the Orange County Chapter Newsletter. Twenty years ago, the RWA National Conference was also held in Dallas, TX.

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