Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pencils! Points: November 27, 2007

First, a VERY special thank-you to all those Pencils! members who generously came out to Gibbs College to inspire young writers this past Tuesday night. Thank you Ann, Nick, Jerry, Roger, Carol, Judith, Vance, Joyce, Claudia, Shirley, and Dave, and thanks for being gracious if we ran out of time in getting to everyone's pieces—it was nice to spend a little extra time discussing everything, and also to allow our students to read their work!


5th Annual Christmas Cocktail this Saturday night, and we're expecting a GREAT turn-out! It'll be wonderful to see everyone there!

Finally, a congratulations to all for a productive and fun 2007. We'll be looking forward to 2008…while our next meeting isn't until the end of January, it'll be worth the wait!

And now…

…our final meeting round-up for 2007!

1. Vance kicked off the meeting with "Wind", a short piece to echo another he'd written called "Rain" last year: "But the animals knew, they always knew. In the field the horse of the plowman pulled his handler into a copse and stood still, refusing to move. No birds were flying. Chickens, the usual noisy barnyard denizens, now clutched quietly to the rafters in the hayloft."

2. Welcome back, Ann! She presented her poem "Something About You": "Set free, out of bounds where we now play;/Talking in simple rhythms, acute with/Familiar foreplay and dancing/Among one another's tongues."

3. Nick shared his Thanksgiving installment of the Darien News-Review column "From My Post Road Window" called "Thanksgiving Mantra": "For me, it wasn't conservative Christian bloggers, or religious apologists, or Freud or Jung or Esquire magazine that called the idea to mind. It was my need for a Thanksgiving Dinner table mantra…"I think Giuliani is the best candidate for the Republicans."/ "What melts wax hardens clay," say I, "and pass the creamed onions."

4. Chris (who just got published! More on this later) presented his short story "The Paradigm", which he has been working on since its last appearance at Pencils!: "It is often like this, she thinks, the way people are separated from each other in moments of passion. Years from now she will sit in that seat and look through the same scratched glass at her husband. They'll both sit to the side of the booth so that the scar does not obscure their view."

5. Tania, one of the English 102 students, read her poem "Seeing Through the Years": "I saw my mother today, a woman in her 30s/Hurrying off to work, coffee cup in one hand, cell phone on her ear,/Polished hands and shiny lips, rushing her children into the car."

6. Roger was up with another installment of "Crash Test Dummies" from his book How My Retirement Went South: "…someone was parked next to us. Not one spot over. Not two spots over. Directly next to us…with fifteen empty spaces on either side! At first I thought it was done maliciously…I figured that was probably not the case since most Charlotteans are generally kind, God-fearing people."

7. English 102 student Nicole presented her short story "The Things That Live in her Room". "Maybe my wife is right. Maybe my little angel inherited her fears and sixth sense from me. It's my fault she's always so scared and waits for me to tuck her in at night." In that same breath he thinks of it as being a blessing. He himself uses it in his profession, as a detective."

8. Jerry was up next with a piece of his latest novel, Omniscience. "I gotta move, Donna Mercury told herself as she walked toward the God Guy, who stood, as usual, outside her apartment building. It wasn't the first time she'd had that thought and it wouldn't be the last. The God Guy had never done anything that she perceived to be a threat. But still, he creeped her out."

9. Kaye was up last with a retelling of an urban legend for a contest, but she'd like everyone to know that on the basis of the feedback she got she's writing something completely different and came up with a new idea on the ride home. Still, here's something from "Crossing Guards": "It's an abandoned house with giant wisteria growing up through its broken windows, weed poking up through the rotting floors, and junk the owners left behind in every room. Like the moldy stuffed bunny in the upstairs closet under the light fixture with the shattered bulb."

Yvonne accepted to MFA program at Goddard

GREAT news. Yvonne got word yesterday that she has been accepted to the MFA in Creative Writing program at Goddard College, in Plainfield, VT. She'll be going to her first residency to begin her studies January 3 - 12, 2008. (Kaye'll be up there, too!)

Congratulations, Yvonne! Their application process is lengthy and overwhelming. This is a true testament to her persistence and talent.

Yvonne received her undergraduate degree at Sarah Lawrence.

Arun's work to appear in Absolute Write newsletter

Arun's article, "Fifteen Tips on Interviewing an Expert for a Story" has been picked up by the Absolute Write newsletter, which has an 80,000-plus circulation. The article is slated to run the week of December 24.

Congratulations, Arun!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Chris' story to appear in Whatever Literary Journal

Chris' short story "The Clutter of Things" has been picked up for Whatever Literary Journal's first issue! The issue is due out sometime early in 2008 -- we'll let you know when it's available.

Congratulations, Chris!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Walt's website and publishing news: his book due out from Wild Child Publishing soon!

Walt's book, Cruising the Green of 2nd Avenue, is due out soon from Wild Child Publishing! Congratulations, Walt...and especially for getting picked up by an Independent Press, which is not easy, as these presses are highly selective with regard to what they'll risk in terms of publication.

Anyway, he's also got a great website now with more details -- this info comes from Jen Connic -- thanks, Jen! To check out Walt's website, visit

Congratulations, WALT!!

Pencils! Points: October 23, 2007

YOU SHOULD HAVE ALL RECEIVED INVITATIONS FOR THE CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1! Thanks to all those who have so far RSVP'd. Please remember to let us know if you're coming or not by November 27. Thanks.

Congratulations to all the Nanos out there! Jerry right now is doing very well at his word count. Kaye broke 50,000 today, but has to get it done by the end of the week (the book's not finished and will probably clock in around 65K) as she's got another book to get to an editor by Nov. 30 which needs clean-up. I know John P is out this year—got a little too much on his plate—and Judith, are you out there? I thought you were. My friend Rob Mayette is also doing well. Congratulations to all our first-timers, and best of luck.

Kaye taught allusion through Disney's Haunted Mansion at her English 102 class this past Tuesday and it was a success! Ricky at the Inside the Magic podcast shared the idea on this week's show, which was heard by 10,000 listeners, hopefully some of them English teachers. To check out Inside the Magic -- world's greatest Disney podcast -- check out show 136 here:
If you want to check it out after Sunday, November 18, the show gets moved to the archive. If you're a Disney fan, you simply should check out this show anyway. It's great stuff.

NOVEMBER 27 we will be meeting at GIBBS COLLEGE in NORWALK. I sent a prior e-mail with directions. Please make every effort to attend this meeting, as we are reaching out to the young writers of the future.

THANKS FOR RESPONDING TO THE SURVEYS! It's going to be helpful in determining how we can freshen things up over the next couple of years. I will share the results at the party, in a subsequent e-mail, and at the January meeting. Rest assured that all of the responses were anonymous -- it just shows up as numbers.

And now, on with the show:

1. Carol Becker read a poem first: "Tenth Anniversary": "I had so much to tell you…but I could not speak freely./…thirsty for the joys still waiting to be harvested in the autumn of my tentative life./Or is it winter?"

2. Joyce was up next with part of her novel Venus Ascending: "New Year's Eve December 31, 1953": "The blue taffeta was her color, the snug bodice was flattering and the full skirt made it easy to move. She thought of the excitement of her first date with Murray, and shook her head. She was older now. This was just Joe, who had been Audrey's neighbor for years."

3. Roger presented more of How My Retirement Went South: "When my mother was alive, I used to FedEx poppy seed roll to her in Florida because she couldn't find it down there." A vivid continuation of his adventures in North Carolina.

4. Nick was up next with a forthcoming Darien News-Review From My Post Road Window column installment entitled "A Matter of Taste": "I have excellent taste. I can tell when a sauce is blended correctly and is of the proper consistency. My sense of smell is well developed so I know wine. And a woman's motives."

5. Vance read "Nannyberry Tea": "…he had grafted fruit trees to produce the best varieties of the most tasty apples, pears, cherries, and plums. His strawberry fields in the summer were like fields of rubies. The flavor of those red jewels was indescribable."

6. Henderson closed out the meeting with more of "The Eight-Fold Way". "The President's image had just appeared on the red-line coded channel. There were streaks of gray in his straw-colored hair. The President's shirt ruffles hid his tentacles. Clean shaven, his face was lean but streaked with care-lines which were clearly visible especially since he was maintaining the light pink of Normal coloration."

Film of John's wins contest!

This from John Palisano: he's won the trailer contest for Sarah Langan's book, The Missing. For those of you who don't know Langan, she's an up and coming horror writer and I met her at a reading down at KGB in New York City last summer, when The Keeper, her first book, was being released. Congratulations, JOHN!! Here's what he sent me, and what she posted on her website. Be sure to click on the link to see his work!

The Missing Trailer Contest Winner is...
John Palisano!

Congratulations John! I loved all the entries, but the one that suits that works best as a trailer for The Missing is this one:

Well thought out, thematically related to the novel, artistic, and technically skilled. Thanks, John!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Hi folks,

As you know, I'm teaching English 102 at Gibbs College in Norwalk on Tuesday nights with Chris Emmerson-Pace. Our students are working hard on their writing skills, and have really responded to the "feedback" format--we've managed to show them that criticism does not mean "you suck", but rather, "here's how you can improve"!

We thought it would be a WONDERFUL opportunity for our students to see a real writer's workshop in action, so the NOVEMBER 27 MEETING HAS BEEN MOVED TO GIBBS COLLEGE IN NORWALK. We'll have a nice, large -- QUIET -- space to meet in, and we'll invite the students to sit in on our circle and comment.

GIBBS COLLEGE is VERY easy to reach, and it's not that much further from our old meeting place at Barnes & Noble in Norwalk. Please consider joining us in inspiring young writers! Plan on arriving at 6:45, as usual, and we'll start at around 7:00.

Yvonne heads for new frontiers!

Hi gang,

Several months ago Yvonne sat in a Pencils! meeting listening to others' fiction and thought to herself, "I can't be that creative" (she has always written stunning creative nonfiction). Well, she has happily proven herself wrong. She apparently has been hit with a fantastic story idea that has been literally keeping her up at night, and has several pages already.

Congratulations, Yvonne! We'll look forward to hearing your fiction and happy writing! (Don't you just WISH you had a story that kept you from sleeping??)

Happy writing!


Jen Connic's latest web project...who wants to hear a good ghost story?

Hey, folks...

Jen Connic's been busy scaring up a few ghost stories. Her video work is highlighted at North Just follow this link and scroll down about halfway. The video link is on the right (you'll see her name there).

Happy haunting and great job, Jen!

-- Kaye

Website Additions!

...if you're as busy as I am, you probably don't have much time to check out what's new on our website. But if you're looking to procrastinate, here's all the new enhancements and additions which have just been completed. Check it out at!

On our homepage:
~ A link to National Novel Writing Month's website to make it easier to sign up! (Hint, hint...)
~ A brand new Pencils! Resource page, which lists the expertise our members (those of you who responded) have to offer.

On the Pencils! Scrapbook page:
~ Pencils & Pizza Holiday Party 2003
~ 1st Anniversary Tiki Bar Pool Party 2004
~ 2nd Anniversary Fiesta 2005
~ National Novel Writing Month 2005
~ Sleepy Hollow Field Trip 2007

Be sure to enjoy these photographic journeys down memory lane!

In other news:
~ Invitations to the CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL AT AL'S will be going out in both e-mail and snail-mail at the end of the week. Hope to see you all there!
~ The Pencils! Resource Guide booklet for 2008 is hot off the presses and will be available beginning December 1 at the Christmas party.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lon's Work at Flashquake

Lon's poem "A Romance (with Switchblades)" is now live as a part of Flashquake's fall 2007 issue. This is his third appearance there!

His poem is at the bottom of the Poetry table of contents here:

Here are links to the other poems they bought:

Happy writing!
-- Kaye

Pencils! Points: September 25 & October 9, 2007

First off, I don’t think that anyone who tells you your master’s degree is “not that much work” is FULL OF IT!! I’ve been working my tail off. I’m super busy, but never been happier. Now I just need to get out of my 9-5 job, and life would be perfect!

Anyway, here’s to catching up on some Pencils! items: I’ve decided I’d combine the notes from the last two meetings since many of the announcements are going to be the same.


SLEEPY HOLLOW is SATURDAY! Don’t forget, we’ll be meeting at 9 a.m. at the Barnes & Noble in NORWALK on Route 1. From there, we’ll pile into cars and head on down to Sleepy Hollow to Washington Irving’s Sunnyside. When we return to Norwalk, we’ll head on over to Nick’s bistro at 70 Main Street for a spot of lunch, for those of you who’d like to join us.

Please bring $12 for admission and additional cash for the gift shop and lunch, if applicable. We’re JUST AT 10 people, but I did not register us as a group because there’s usually a last-minute cancellation or someone doesn’t show up, and we don’t want to be stuck with the bill as the paying in advance is non-refundable. In addition, there are people who said they may come but aren’t sure yet. We’ll pay at the door and break ourselves into two smaller groups.

For anyone who’s driving, I think there MIGHT be a toll somewhere along the line, but I’m not sure. If there is one, it’ll be small.

I’ll bring plenty of directions to everywhere on Saturday morning. We’ll see you there!

PENCILS! 5TH ANNUAL CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL will be held Saturday, December 1, 2007 at Al Maryanne’s in Norwalk. Watch your mail boxes: you’ll be getting the official invitations in the next week or so complete with details and what to bring! This fantastic gathering is not to be missed – and for our landmark 5th holiday together, we’ve got at least one large and unusual surprise planned!

NANOWRIMO IS ALMOST HERE! Who’s gonna do it? Well, so far from Pencils!, it’s Kaye, Jerry, and John P. Wanna take a stab at writing 50,000 words in 30 days? Sign up at Also, since there’s a CT: Shoreline and a CT: North, and several of us in “western” CT – the Danbury, etc., area – are over an hour from all those region’s meet-ups, we slated our own meet-ups and write-ins up Kaye’s way in the Danbury and New Milford area. We’ll be having a Kick-Off Meet-Up, three coffee shop write-ins, and a TGIO gathering. All the events are on Sunday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. If you’d like to attend one of those instead of traveling all the way to Milford or Hamden or out that way, gimmie a shout through NanoMail and I’ll put you on my invites list. We in Western CT are few but mighty!

NEW PROSPECTS! I’ve gotten five calls in the past two weeks with inquiries regarding Pencils!, as they’ve been seeing our listings in local newspapers. Please be aware that at the next couple of meetings, potential new members may be showing up. Make them feel welcome!

BOY I MISS ALL YOU GUYS!! I’ll be at the meeting on Tuesday, November 27, 2007—our last meeting for 2007 and just a few days from our Christmas Cocktail bash! To those of you I won’t see at Sleepy Hollow, I’ll see you all then. Until then, happy writing and keep checking your e-mail boxes!

Pencils! Points: September 25, 2007

Thanks so much to JOYCE for keeping track of everyone’s submissions and keeping me informed of what’s been happening at the meetings, and thanks so much to Vance and Carol for keeping tabs on things and to everyone in Pencils! to keep our meetings productive and healthy while I’m gone!

And now, on with the show of this week’s readings!

1. Jerry wrote the prompt: “In the hospital, I sat with her for an hour. She raised her head every few minutes to take a gasping breath, and at first I was fooled each time into thinking she would wake up. Then her brother came in, and we held each other and cried like men.”

2. Thomas was up with “Five Things You Shouldn’t Say in Church or Synagogue”: “…During the service, which was in Hebrew, I had plenty of time to think about what to say. As we left my fiancé at the time (now wife) greeted the rabbi, then it was my turn. I dug deep within and said, as rabbi turned to me, “I’m with her.” That was it. Then my small talk well ran completely dry. I shot my load. I had nothing in reserve.”

3. Joyce brought more of Venus Ascending, “The Christmas Party.” “Estelle had been living alone for almost two weeks. She’d been opening the windows a little each night and keeping herself warm under an extra blanket. The bracing sea air had deodorized the rank small of cigarettes and bird droppings, and infused her with energy and purpose.”

4. Carol Becker shared part of the first chapter of her novel Finding Rachel: “Twenty years earlier, the railroad brought Rachel and her family from New York City to Greenwood, Mississippi after spending two years sharing cramped quarters with cousins, also German immigrants led to believe the streets there were paved with gold. Cobblestones, yes, but certainly not gold.”

5. Nick brought in one of his Darien News-Review (I think it was pending) columns for his regular “From My Post Road Window” entitled “Entiende”: “Then she told me that almost every night when her driver brought her back to her hotel she would walk past a sea of desperate women and children. And she told me that…she saw a man who at first she thought a dog…his arms were gone above the elbow and his legs above his knees. He used all fours to move, slowly, in pain, not caring if a car would stop or not.”

6. Roger delivered another chapter—“Sumo Size Me”—from his book How My Retirement Went South. “Foodies that we are, Betty and I found it particularly hard to swallow the supermarkets and restaurants down South…having eaten at over a thousand restaurants in New York and hundreds more around the country and abroad. It shouldn’t surprise you then when I tell you that we ate at over one hundred restaurants during the two years that we lived in Charlotte.”

Pencils! Points: October 9, 2007

Thanks again, Joyce, for mailing me everybody’s stuff! Note: Henderson and Nick’s pieces—Henderson’s the introduction to the two factions in the Normal camp and Nick’s a poem comparing New York’s meat packing district then and now—were lost somewhere in transit, but we do have these others:

1. Judith announced that she was just “sick” of SHU, and boy, I’m sure several of us can understand that: sometimes, you’ve “just got to put the damn thing down!”. She decided to take a stab at something new. “To think that the ideas of Alan Greenspan and Charles Darwin combined right here in India to produce a system which trumped centuries of humble acceptance of life’s vicissitudes. Before my eyes was a display of aggressive behavior competing for scarce goods that would rival that of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on a Friday afternoon.”

2. Joyce presented more of Venus Ascending. “Her round body had the curve of an Art Nouveau lamp base; her skirt and jacket were filled with flowers in flowing forms of burnt orange and turquoise. Leah raised her head as high as her neck would stretch, her mercurochrome hair pressed toward the ceiling. “There’s a limit to how long you should suffer when you’ve made the wrong decision. I’m the kind of person who belongs in a house with shapely lines and exuberant patterns.”

3. Roger brought the rest of “Sumo Size Me.” “Now when it comes to “deli,” you have to admit New York City has no peers. so, to satisfy my urge, Betty and I decided to go to a recently opened “New York Deli” that earned high marks from a local reviewer.”

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pencils! Points: September 11, 2007

Hello, folks! Rockin' meeting the other night! Here's the run-down for those of you who missed it.


~ FIELD TRIP TO SLEEPY HOLLOW: …and writer Washington Irving's homestead is slated for Saturday, October 20. Snail-mail and e-mail details will be sent out shortly; cost is $11/per person.

~ PENCILS! 5TH ANNUAL CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL: Set for Saturday, December 1! Details to follow soon, so watch your mailboxes!

~ 2008 SCHEDULE is now posted on the Pencils! website.

~ NANOWRIMO IS COMING. It starts November 1. Check it out at

~ RESOURCE BOOK: Don't forget to contribute your areas of expertise to our resource book! The print edition, which will contain contact information, will be available ONLY to Pencils! members. The page on our website will only contain your first name and your areas of expertise. We're looking right now at a January publication date.

~ PENCILS! PRE-TEXT: Look forward to this exciting new Pencils! feature in January!

~ Kaye will be in Walt Disney World from September 18 through September 23. See you all at the meeting on the 25th!

We kicked off the meeting with some prompts, but not many of us had the opportunity to doing them, so we'll run the same prompt again for those of you who still want to take a shot at it. The prompt is, write 500 words or fewer containing the following:

"There was nothing left to see."

At the meeting, the following people shared their prompts:

1. Vance presented "Egyptian Illusion", about archaeologists and some pretty deeply-buried secrets at a dig site.

2. Carol Becker presented "Seeing in the Dark" about campers and a night in the Adirondack woods.

The reviewed readings:

1. Claudia opened us up with her poem "The Parting": "Drops now pounding/Tree boughs gyrate in backup harmony…/I embrace the turmoil/Storm is seceding…/I keep moving…"

2. Roger was next up with another chapter from How My Retirement Went South... "There was only one dealer in the entire city, so if you want a Mercedes, you're going to pay…dearly. Now take my Volkswagen. When I went shopping for it in New York, I had five different dealers in the area to compare prices with. In Charlotte, there were two—both owned by the same owner."

3. Joyce is submitting her story "Just Like a Man" to Whatever! Literary Magazine. "Since I was the one facing forward, I was the logical navigator, but I didn't have a clue. We were going through a black forest of masts and I had no idea where Semper Paratus was. I could only guide Frank past mooring lines and keep an eye open for his boat.

4. Welcome back, AL!! He brought in a couple of poems, one I can't remember the name of (shame on me, and it was a new one, too) and also an old Pencils! favorite, "Introspective Retrospect."

5. Carol McManus shared "On Maui Again" – a humorous essay about her experiences at the Maui Writer's Conference, which she attended over Labor Day Weekend. The whole thing spawned a brief discussion about the book business and authorship today.

6. Henderson was up next with part of his novel The Eight Fold Way. "You sit tight. I'll keep you informed. This may be just the break we need to find out who's behind these attacks."/Charles, the yellow green of concern moving in waves across his face, started at him, silent."

7. Kaye read her short story "Camouflage" which was really quite a mess but is definitely going to benefit from the help she got! "…he was the tree, she was the vine, and they had navigated their new landscape until the specter of her married roots had intruded."

Quotes of the Night

"I'm learning how to lie, I suppose."
--Carol Becker, on memoir

Henderson: When I hear a poem like that I wonder…how I missed it all.

Roger: Al went to the Keith Richards School of Life.

--on Al's poem, "Introspective Retrospect."

Join Us in Sleepy Hollow October 20

...if you dare! We'll be taking a tour of Washington Irving's Sunnyside. Hope to see you all there!

Kaye's Newest Stuff

Just got word that my story "Bad Enough" was accepted for inclusion in Susurrus Press' I Am This Meat anthology, due out in audio and online on Oct. 31st.

"Deconstructing Fireflies" will be out in the new Tyrannosaurus Press anthology (title TBA) this December or so.

In addition, I am a fiction editor on the staff at The Pitkin Review, Goddard College's literary journal. (I got this title back in July, but forgot to tell you all.)

The Incredible World of Lon...

1) My falling-asleep-at-the-wheel poem "My Old Friend The Road" is now online at From the Asylum. Much better than usual pay for poetry too-- I can probably get TWO happy meals off this sale! And a Milkshake!!! :) Look under September 2007 at

2) This just in today-- A friend let me know that she's already received her copy of Year's Best Fantasy & Horror 2007 (in stores tomorrow) and Yours Truly got an Honorable Mention nod in the back of it for my story "Even at the End, There was Gridlock" which appeared in Florida Horror last February. Want your own copy?

3) And last but not least, word from editor William Jones and the folks at Chaosium is that Frontier Cthulhu, in which my story "Something to Hold the Door Closed" appears alongside stories by some of the leading names in Lovecraftian fiction, will be shipping before Halloween. Pre-orders are being taken at so why not click on over and get your fill of "sleeping terrors and things long forgotten by humanity." A good read for horror and history fans alike, guaranteed.

I mentioned being cast as a 19th century whaler for a series of oil paintings a while back. Just received digital images of the first one and they are in my picasa album at the links below. I am amazed at the likeness! Anywho, here's the links, in case you wanted to see how the paintings turned out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Kathryn & Dave to present in Old Greenwich

Hey gang!

Here's another reading coming up featuring Pencils! members Kathryn and Dave! It is on a Pencils! night, but if you'd rather do something different, I'm sure both of them would love to see some friendly faces in the audience!

Quoted from Leslie's "Just Words" e-mail:
Tuesday, September 11 at Arcadia Coffee in Old Greenwich, CT at
7 p.m. National Book Award finalist David Plante will read from his new novel, ABC (Pantheon Books) which explores the reaches and definitions of grief. Plante is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the acclaimed Francoeur trilogy: The Family, The Woods, and The Country. He is also the author of Difficult Women: A Memoir of Three, and of American Ghosts. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and The Paris Review. Local writers will share their work following this reading, including Kathryn Higgins of Darien, David Roberson of Greenwich and Katrina Dorsey of Stamford. The mic is open to writers of poetry, fiction and non-fiction but you must pre-register to read. This series is sponsored by Just Words Writer's Workshop, Just Books and Arcadia Coffee.

Mike's got new plans...

Hi gang!

Direct from newly-minted teacher, Mike:

By way of an update, I just wanted to let you know I ended up accepting a better offer from Norwalk High School. That's not too far from the Pencils meeting place, so I may be able to get back to a meeting soon!

Lon's got another piece posted

Lon has a new short story just posted in the webmagazine Raven Electrick. It is called "New Lake Formed, Film at 11", and you can read it right here!

Happy writing!
-- Kaye

Pencils! Points: August 28, 2007

Terrific meeting, folks! This issue of Points is packed with information, so be sure to relax and enjoy it all with a cup of joe, glass of wine, or beer. Or Kool-Aid's okay too!



The Pencils! 2007 Field Trip to Washington Irving's Sunnyside, in Sleepy Hollow, NY, has been slated for SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20. At Sunnyside, we'll enjoy a guided tour of the writer's home. The cost will be $12 per person, unless we can guarantee a group of 10, and then it will cost $11 per person. Usually following the trip, we go out to a nice lunch either near the museum or back home near Norwalk.

Sleepy Hollow is not very far at all, and it's the perfect place to visit right at the height of October. This is a late-fall outing you won't want to miss! WATCH YOUR MAILBOXES FOR MORE DETAILS!


I'm pleased to announce that the meeting and event dates for 2008 are now posted on our website, Just go to our main page and you'll see the link on the far right.

You may notice on our new schedule that we're starting very late in January – the 4th Tuesday in January, to be exact. I've been giving this a lot of thought, and there are a couple of reasons for this:

1. Although everyone's usually raring to get back to group after a crazy Holiday hiatus, the first January meeting's always a little sparse because people are still recovering from – well, the crazy Holiday hiatus. Although we have no Pencils! meetings in December, who's had time to write with all of that other stuff going on? Chances are you used the extra time to shop, clean, and party. Take our normal first meeting in January, light some candles, and write instead!

2. It makes for one less meeting threatened by bad weather. Fret not, though, about the lost meeting! If you look further down on the schedule, you'll see there are a couple of "extra" meetings in the months in which there are five Tuesdays.


The Pencils! Writing Workshop T-shirts (see Leon model it, below!) were a big hit at this year's party. If you came to the party, you got one. If you weren't there, here's what I've got left:

XXL – 0 (The one I had has already been set aside)

XL - 2

L - 5

M - 3

S - 3

For some reason, the sizes run a little smaller than typical, so keep that in mind. If you receive your shirt and it's too small, we can up it.

If you'd like one, just e-mail me with your size and I'll set one aside with your name on it. I will bring them to BOTH the September meetings. If you live far away and no longer attend meetings and would like one, let me know and I can arrange to mail it.

What I have left is on a first-come, first-served basis; when I run out, I can order more, but I probably won't be able to do that until after the first of the New Year. Please e-mail me if you'd like one, and if I run out, you'll go into the "re-order" pile for early next year.

These T-shirts are free–my gift to all of you for making Pencils! what it is.



I don't know about the rest of you but it feels like I just got done with the Holidays, doesn't it? This year's gathering has been slated for the evening of Saturday, December 1! It will be held either at Al's or Carol's – the jury's still out on that one! Plan on joining your fellow Pencils! members for some good cheer and surprises. We'll be doing our usual grab bag. Watch your snail-mail and e-mail boxes for details soon.


September's approaching. It's a time when many of us begin to turn over new leaves, begin new classes/semesters, begin to survey our accomplishments in 2007 and figure out how we're going to close out our year (not to scare anybody, but 2008 is just about four months away!) and begin a new one.

The dozen members at the Pencils! meeting on Tuesday August 28 got a lot accomplished in that department, so Pencils! is going to have some exciting new features!

1. New! PENCILS! PRE-TEXT. We've been doing very well with keeping to the state 3-to-5 page limit, and it's ensured that most everyone who wants to read gets a chance. Several times in the past couple of years we've talked about what to do if there's a longer piece that a member would like to present. This is our solution. Please note this is IN ADDITION to what we do at Pencils!. NOTHING ABOUT THE MEETING STRUCTURE OR HOW WE DO THINGS WILL CHANGE. THIS IS SIMPLY AN ADDITIONAL OPTION WE'RE CREATING FOR THOSE WHO MIGHT NEED IT.

Starting in January 2008, any member may send a longer piece to our e-mail address with the following in the subject line (I'm NOT trying to be difficult or an ass, I just get a lot of mail through that account and would HATE to not realize it's a submission!):

For Group Read – Name – Title of Story

Although there is no "specified" page limit, use your judgment. I would suggest a ceiling of 15-20 pages maximum.

From there, I'll take the story and forward it to all the members of Pencils! with a meeting date at which we'll discuss it. Pencils! members then have the option of reading it and bringing their comments already prepared to the specified meeting. As a Pencils! member, also note you're not obligated to participate, but it would certainly be great if you could and contribute to the conversation.

Each member will be allowed 2 submissions per year – this way, everyone gets a chance, and this will also keep the longer pieces to a frequency we can handle. Of course, as always, any member can approach any other member at any time to exchange work outside of group and give each other feedback. Nothing's changed about that at all, and exchanges with other members directly don't count toward your 2 submissions.

Also note, there will only be one longer piece discussed per meeting so we have plenty of room and time for our usual agenda.

Again note: NOTHING ABOUT THE WAY THE MEETING IS RUN WILL CHANGE. Everything will stay the same EXCEPT when there's a longer story to discuss, we'll do that right at the beginning of the meeting. After we're done discussing the submitted story, we'll go on to the 3-5 pages just like usual!

…and yes, I know the word "pretext" really means "something that is put forward to conceal a true purpose or object; an ostensible reason; excuse" – which makes NO sense for what we're doing. So I stuck a hyphen in there. Why the hell not?

If you're concerned you'll forget all this, not to worry – it'll be sent out under separate cover at the beginning of the year.

Also keep in mind, too, that this will be an experiment. If it works well, we'll keep it. If we find it doesn't work for us, we'll just discontinue it.

2. New! RESOURCE DATABASE. Need to know what kind of wine would be best in a given dinner scene? How about whether or not an iron fence would have been around in the 1800s? Or how to tell the difference between and male and a female lobster? What type of tool you'd use for a woodcutting project? You'd be surprised how many Pencils! members could answer these questions, and more! We're our greatest resource, and yet how many of us know who to call?

Announcing the Pencils! Resource Database. Each member will be listed by name, and beneath it, a few areas in which he has some expertise. We will publish this in both print and electronic formats; the print edition, which will only go to Pencils! members, of course, will contain contact information (probably e-mail) for each member. The electronic version will simply be a list on our website.

We got going on listing ourselves at Tuesday night's meeting. What we've collected so far will be going out in e-mail shortly. To add yourself:

1. Hit "Reply."

2. Type Your Name

3. Type the list of subjects/topics you'd be willing to answer questions about

4. Click "Send"!

When I get everyone's information, I'll compile it all. Of course, if you don't wish to participate, you don't have to! We just all agree that it would be great to be able to have a question answered in an e-mail or phone call instead of having to look it up!


At the top of the meeting we presented our responses to last meeting's prompt: "Who is the lucky person who gets garbage detail?" We had to write 500 words or less using that phrase as a basis or included somewhere in the text. What's always interesting about prompt responses…every single person's response is different.

Prompt Responses

1. Vance opened the meeting with his 375 word "Astan's Dinner": Satan throws an elegant meal and who's going to be the political figurehead that takes out the trash? "The hushed conversation among the guests was like the spilling of a thesaurus—each trying to find a word that would capture the essence of the dish. That was only the appetizer. What was to come?"

2. Arun presented "Gobbling Up the Garbage": a fun sci-fi outer-space creature feature. "Of course nobody on Earth knew about this. Nobody on the ship either. Not only had I found life on Mars, I was altering its biochemistry. Whatever happened to these critters in the future, they'd have me to blame—or thank. Some renegade astronaut, out for kicks."

3. Jerry read his untitled piece—another gritty mystery/suspense/crime! Unfortunately, there wasn't a copy since he wrote it by hand! I'm so bummed!

4. Henderson wrote a poem called "Man's Work" –nice philosophical bent. "After the first cells formed in the soupy ocean basin/and clustered together as a colony,/it soon became evident that all was not well./Who is the lucky cell ho gets the garbage detail?"

5. Beware the pissed off pastry chef! Claudia presented "Sweet Revenge." "Who is the lucky person who gets garbage detail? In order to answer this question, one must first understand what garbage is. Garbage is anything unwanted or unusable…She took delight and pride in the business she built by herself, a very successful pastry shop in the North End named Sweet Revenge.

6. Nick shared a little 428-word "Garbage Detail", an interesting reflection on the world today. "The theme, which New York magazine reported is carried through their college years, is "gay until graduation." Then off for a doctorate, a Nobel Prize, or a University chair. With all that grey matter spilling out, I wonder who is the lucky person to get garbage detail?"

7. Kaye was last up with a 466-word "The Unnamed". Which she doesn't know what it's about, and mostly she just played with what it would be like to try to write opening sentences with no verbs in the style of a recent Joyce Carol Oates story she read called "The Banshee." "Cabin, at the end of a weed-tangled dirt road. Bird feeder, crowned with a crude piece of thin metal sheeting."

To move forward with the regular Pencils! meeting:

1. Vance shared some good news! Back in 2005 (some members probably recall this), Vance workshopped a piece called "Flowers for Frank," which he sold shortly thereafter to a magazine called GreenPrints. The magazine paid him a generous $200 for the story, which Vance was expecting to see in print within a few months.

Well, just a couple of days ago, Vance FINALLY got to see his story in print in GreenPrints Autumn 2007 issue! Not only is the story in print, it's also on CD. The editor sent one to Vance and encouraged him to share it with local radio stations in the hopes of getting it on the air.

Vance read "Flowers for Frank" from his copy. "Early in October, 1980, almost every flower in the greenhouse came into bud at the same time: orchids, gardenias, camellias, stephanotis, and more. A few days later, they all bloomed. That was the day we found Dad sitting among the blossoms. He looked asleep, surrounded by so much beauty."

2. Next up was Joyce, who re-wrote a scene from her novel Venus Ascending. "The passage beamed to Estelle in a new, revealing clarity. She understood that even when she stood alone, the Lord would be her loving support. I'm a good person, she thought. I can massage people and relieve them of pain. I'm a woman of value, with or without a husband."

3. Welcome back, Dave! Dave had an extremely productive and rewarding summer in Manchester, New Hampshire, at the widely-acclaimed and well-respected Odyssey Writing Workshop. Scifipedia describes Odyssey as:

"Founded in 1996 by World Fantasy Award winning editor Jeanne Cavelos, the Odyssey Writing Workshop is one of the most highly respected workshops for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. The workshop, held annually on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, runs for six weeks, and combines an intensive learning and writing experience with in-depth feedback on students' manuscripts. Guest lecturers come in once a week to add their own unique perspectives and provide feedback to student work. Also, one week of the course is taught by a writer-in-residence. Top authors, editors, and agents have taught at Odyssey, including George R. R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, Jane Yolen, Terry Brooks, Charles de Lint, Ben Bova, Elizabeth Hand, Patricia A. McKillip, John Crowley, Terry Bisson, Ellen Datlow, Donald Maass, Robert J. Sawyer, and Dan Simmons. Talented, enthusiastic students whose work is approaching publication quality come from all over the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. to focus on their writing in a supportive yet challenging environment. Over fifty percent of them go on to be published."

During the six-week live-in camp, Dave said the student met and had class, and two hours of critiquing. They turned in 6 stories over the course of the workshop; they were allowed to bring one, but had to write the remaining five while they were on-premises. Dave said it was "very intense, a lot of work" and the students were drilled on plot, characterization, and all the other basics. There were writers-in-residence, and even George Scithers, former editor of Weird Tales, teaching courses.

Dave described his experience as rewarding—and a lot like boot camp! "I thought I was going to get to see New Hampshire, but there was just too much work!" On the one weekend excursion – a Field Trip to Readercon (I think that's what it's called but I could be wrong) – he ran into Lon!

He talked about how much he learned.

He then shared a piece he wrote while he was there; it was specifically written for a Flash Fiction Slam. Although he didn't bring copies, the piece was called "I Was a Teenage Overmage" and poked fun at all of those gaming clichés.

Great to see you again, Dave!

4. With the time we had left over, we read Walt's piece that he e-mailed in response to the prompt—a crazy turn on today's marital situations when only one parent works and the other stays home. From "Working Woman's Wife": "Well," he said, scratching his ear, "I can cook and clean house and take care of Jamie, but I absolutely refuse to wear your nightgown to bed." Thanks for chiming in, Walt!


Those of us who did the prompt had so much fun, we decided to put forth another one:

500 words or fewer containing:

"There was nothing left to see."


Vance: Well, the 23rd Psalm everybody knows. It's like the National Anthem.

Jerry: In what country?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pencils! Members Wed

Al and Maryanne got married on August 18, 2007! Congratulations, guys!

Al says he hopes that he'll be able to return to Pencils! when we begin again in January.

Jerry's "Egghead" sold

...remember that piece "Egghead" that Jerry had originally wrote for an Alfred Hitchcock magazine contest? Well, it's been SOLD to Mouth Full of Bullets and will appear in their March, 2008 Issue.

Jerry indicated to the editor that this story was very much inspired by Keith Harjes, a member who passed away early this year...Keith's birthday, incidentally, is August 27. Jerry has requested that in his bio that the story be dedicated to Keith when it appears in the issue.

Congratulations, Jerry!

News from Peter in the Philippines

I got this note from Peter, and he wanted me to pass it on to all of you. If you've got a minute, be sure to pop on over and check out his site. Looks like he's been pretty busy even though he's half a world away -- and he's hoping already to make our rejection slip party this year!

Thank you for continuing to send me emails about

I am in the Philippines, where I managed to bring
along enough materials to continue working on my book.
I have also added an immense amount of material to my
website/blog "Peter's New York"
(, of very unequal quality. (I
am proud, without reason, of course, of a piece I did
on the "National Public Service Academy," a project
being pushed by Hillary Clinton and Christopher Shays.

I am trying to update the site every day. Most of the
material consists of nonpartisan, issue-oriented
material. Politically I come down almost equally for
Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, the presidential
candidates on the extremities of the political spectra
of the major parties.

There's a chance I will return by the end of
September. Then I shall be glad to be able to see you
all again.