California Writers Club


California Writers Club is a nonprofit educational corporation. Members write novels, short stories, screenplays, poetry, nonfiction, and more. Over half of our members are published. In addition to professional and aspiring writers, CWC membership is open to non-writing literary experts.

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake brought together literary figures in informal gatherings at the Oakland home of poet Joaquin Miller and at Coppa’s Restaurant in San Francisco. Among those who shared their work and challenges were Jack London, Herman Whitaker, George Sterling and Austin Lewis. The group grew and in 1909 California Writers Club was founded with Austin Lewis as the first president. It began with one branch in Berkeley, California.

Today, over 1,800 members belong to 22 branches around the state. Members of each branch enjoy the benefits of any branch they visit. In 2003, CWC led the effort to gain a legislative resolution making the 3rd week of October the California Writers Week in perpetuity. The California Writers Club and its branches are registered 501-C3 and 501-C6 nonprofit organizations.

The Orange County branch of the CWC received its charter in 2001. It began when two local writers tired of the long drive to the closest branch in San Fernando Valley and searched for writers closer to home. 

Our activities include

panel discussions
3-minute readings
competition judging
critique groups

Read the 

CWC-OC brochure

Monthly programs of speakers on various aspects of writing & publishing
To learn more about the statewide organization visit

Executive Committee

Mary Vensel White

President, Programs Co-Chair


A member of the CWC-OC for many years, Mary served previously as Vice President and Newsletter Editor. She is a college professor, editor, publisher, and author of four novels

Elisabeth Cunningham

Vice President, Programs Co-Chair


Elisabeth previously served as Treasurer of the CWC-OC. After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, she turned to writing. She currently writes novels.

Carla Fountain



Carla has an MA in French Literature and has studied several other languages and cultures. She has traveled the world extensively, both on and off of a bicycle and writes travel articles and memoir.

Brooke Dyer



Brooke holds a B.S. in Actuarial Science with minors in Business and Economics and works with financial data on a daily basis in her role as an Actuary. She is currently querying her debut novel. She writes in the romance and fantasy genres.

Claudine Hanani

Membership Chair


Claudine is a corporate communications and freelance writer as well as a MarCom agency owner.

Erin Schalk

Newsletter Editor


Erin is a visual artist, educator, aspiring novel writer, and award-winning poet. She holds an MA in Painting, as well as an MFA in Studio, with concentrations in Poetry, Video, and Performance. 

Janet Lynn & William Zeilinger

Hospitality Co-Chairs


Janet and Will wrote individually until they teamed up and wrote the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder, crime, and thriller stories.  

This creative couple has been married for 51 years.

Carol Celeste



Carol writes nonfiction and teaches personal essay writing. A charter member of CWC-OC, she has served as Secretary and VP of the CWC Central Board and held several positions in the OC branch. She received the Jack London Award in 2003.

Brian Gaps



Brian has served on the CWC-OC board for many years, most recently as President from 2021-2023.

Colleen Parker Janssen



Colleen Janssen has been a reporter for six newspapers in Orange County. Currently, she writes for California Clubwoman Magazine covering social issues, events, and human-interest stories. Like most writers, she has a book sitting on her computer, waiting to find a publisher. Someday…

Allene Symons



Allene is one of the founding members of this branch and a former senior editor for Publishers Weekly. She has written articles and essays for a number of business and consumer magazines, and has published three books.