Officers & Chairs

Joan Raymond, President

Joan Raymond

Joan Raymond, a member of Writers of Kern since January 2012, completed her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Creative Writing and English in August 2014 and her Masters of Arts (M.A.) in Creative Writing and English March 2017, She lives in Bakersfield with her family and assorted four-legged companions. Joan has served on the Writers of Kern board since June 2012 and is the leader of two of the club’s many critique groups. A member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Joan is a freelance editor and writer with work published in The Bakersfield CalifornianTaft IndependentThe Southern California Writers ShowcaseThe Penman Review, and Res Ipsa Loquitur. She is a managing editor for The Oddville Press. Her blog, Joan Raymond Writing, focuses on writing, rejections, and random thoughts.

Dan McGuire, Vice President, Southern California Region Representative, California Writers Club

Dan McGuire

Dan McGuire

Dan McGuire’s life has revolved around music. In the ‘70s he owned and operated a restaurant and night club, a music store (www.mcguiremusicandsound) and played over 2,500 club gigs with his band. He moved to California in 1981 as the California representative for a large musical manufacturer. His artist relations work found him backstage with Kiss, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Poison, Crosby Stills and Nash, Yes, Megadeth, and dozens more. He retired in Bakersfield and attended a Writers of Kern meeting in August, 2010 on a whim. The guest speaker talked about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). She said the goal was to write a minimum of 50,000 words in the thirty days of November. Dan joined the club that day and set a goal to write his first novel that November. He was successful and wrote three more the next three Novembers. Dan attributes his success to positive feedback from his Writers of Kern critique group. He has a short story published in Kings River Magazine and has published over 450 posts at his blog, Bako Heat.

Janet Skibinski, Secretary

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Janet Skibinski

A member of Writers of Kern since 2010 and taking various classes in the art of writing from experts like Annis Cassells, Nick Belardi, and Herb Benham, Janet feels she is gradually improving. “Being a member of the critique group led by Terry Redman is one of the many benefits I’ve received from joining Writers of Kern. The advice offered by fellow writers is spot on. I’ve learned so much from each person and made some great friends.” Janet wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. The bug really bit when she was selected to write her 8th grade class prophecy. She was a member of her high school newspaper staff, wrote articles for the Bakersfield Californian, was published in Dr. Chuck Wall’s first Acts of Kindness book which she also edited, and is currently working on a memoir about her mother’s life as a Word War II English war bride. Majoring in American Sign Language in college may seem like an odd field of study for a writer. As Janet explains,”ASL is a language like any other language. It’s just spoken with the hands rather than the mouth. In studying ASL, I found I understood the meaning of words better and possible synonyms for each word.” What could connect better to writing than language? An import from Cincinnati, Ohio, Janet has called Bakersfield home for 26 years. She feels she would never have had the opportunities to grow as a writer and a person had she remained in the mid-West. “Cincinnati will always be home home, but Bakersfield is where my heart is.” Janet invites all aspiring and published writers to join Writers of Kern to hone their skills, learn something new, and enjoy a cup of coffee and a bagel with us on the third Saturday of the month.

Dennis VanderWerff, Treasurer, Webmaster

Dennis VanderWerff

Dennis VanderWerff

Dennis VanderWerff serves as treasurer and webmaster. He joined Writers of Kern in late 2010. A retired librarian with 38 years of experience, Dennis worked in school libraries, college libraries, public libraries, and corporate libraries, including the Getty Research Library. He holds a Ph.D. in Library Science from the University of Southern California. Dennis began writing in the late 1980s for organization newsletters and professional journals. His primary writing interests are in creative non-fiction, personal essay, and memoir. His blog, derwerffblogg, focuses on people, places, ideas, and events that enrich his life. In April 2013, he participated in and survived the 2013 A to Z Blog Challenge writing 26 blog posts about important people in his life. He is at work on a story about the strange and mysterious life of his maternal grandmother. Passionate about writing, Dennis attended the San Miguel Writers Conference in San Miquel de Allende, Mexico, in February 2013 and 2014 .

Clarissa Kae, Critique Group Coordinator

Clarissa Kae

Clarissa Kae

Clarissa Kae, member since 2013 and associate member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), graduated from Brigham Young University’s Animal and Veterinary Science College (prep work for raising a herd of daughters). Her writing experience spans elementary school plays to high school newspaper to technical research on genetic nutrition. She is querying her debut novel, Once Upon A Life. Clarissa writes and publishes Clarissa Kae, a blog about running, writing, and the irony of parenting.

Jenny Estes, Membership Chair

Jenny Estes

Jenny Estes

Jenny Estes joined Writers of Kern in 2015 as a beginner writer. With great enthusiasm, she immediately joined a critique group, attended every monthly meeting, and participated in our Fall Writing Contest and 2016 Blog Challenge. Looking to retire soon from her Legal Video business, she views writing professionally as the perfect retirement vocation. Jenny is a Christian women’s retreat leader, and has a professional background in radio copywriting and newspaper advertising. She credits her involvement with Writers of Kern for the successful publishing of her first story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Gratitude. Jenny continues her writing education through participating in numerous online classes from Iowa University and UCLA extension. Her blog contains reflections on life, and can be found at jennyestes.org.

Annis Cassells, Hospitality/Sunshine Chair

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Annis Cassells

Annis Cassells serves this year as co-editor of the Writers of Kern newsletter and as Hospitality/Sunshine chair. She is the Writers of Kern 2013 recipient of the California Writers Club’s Jack London Award for service. After her 34-year career teaching students of all ages, kindergarten through college, Annis finished a Masters in Counseling and became a life coach and speaker. Today, she works with individuals, organizations, and businesses to create overall wellness. Annis taught memoir writing classes for senior adults from 2006 to 2012 for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Program at CSUB. She independently conducts similar classes in Bakersfield and in Coos Bay, Oregon. She is a frequent facilitator of “Journaling and Life Stories” in Mercy Hospital’s Art for Healing series, A Time to Write. A freelance writer, Annis’s work has been published in Bakersfield Life magazine, Bakersfield Magazine, and Bakersfield’s Wellness Quarterly as well as in professional journals and hobbyist publications.  She is a contributing author in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for the Young at Heart. Annis writes and publishes The DayMaker, an inspirational blog.

Ian Cant, Newsletter Editor

Ian Cant

Ian Cant

Ian Cant was born in Scotland and considers himself a “mid-century modern.”  Spent [or maybe mis-spent] his youth between frozen Scotland and tropical Malaya, and split his working life between military aviation and avionics engineering.  Aircraft buff, traveler, tries to be a writer.  Now lives in Tehachapi and plays with science fiction novels and random short stories.

But wait…there’s more…

Ian has an evil twin who goes by the handle of Khoti Sarque and is not to be trusted.  See the occasional blog at www.khotisarque.wordpress.com.  If you still want to know more, here is what Khoti bellows about himself:

  • Born: Ahead of his time, after decades of gestation.
  • Died: Many times on stage and in public.
  • In between: Traveled, adventured, drank, told lies, loved, formed opinions, corrected his opinions, invented his biography, hid from his creditors, evaded law enforcement and “all the other things one does to prove one is alive”.
  • Interests: Catholic.
  • Religion: Wide and varied.
  • Ethnicity: Dubious, at best.
  • Preferences: Moderation in all things, especially in moderation.
  • Location: No fixed abode, flits between California and Euphoria, winters in New Rasthenia.

So now you know.