Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pencils Points: Jan. 23, 2007 Meeting Update

Hello, folks! Another terrific meeting. Here's some announcements.

REJECT-A-RAMA is Saturday, February 10, at Al's at 7 p.m. If you did not receive a flyer at the meeting with details, it was mailed to you in snail-mail if I had your address. Otherwise, e-mail me and I'll send you some details if you're interested. BURN IT. BURN IT ALL!

NEW WEBSITE. Our domain should be going soon. I'm hoping to pin Nathan down early next week. Meantime, visit

CAPA-U IS MAY 12. It will fill up VERY fast. Their attendance is limited to 125. If you're interested, make sure you sign up. If you did not get a sign-up sheet, visit the Web site and download the form. They do accept credit cards. Capa's not the greatest, but it's wonderful practice, and you never know who you'll might meet. It's especially great if you're a total beginner and have never been to a conference with agents before. For me, it certainly took the fear out of things—it made me see they were real people.

OUR NEXT REGULAR MEETING IS FEBRUARY 13TH AT BORDERS. If you'd like a little extra, consider coming to AL'S TUESDAY, JAN. 30. We'll be having a round-table meeting. We try to do this when, because of the days in the month, there's a three-week layover.

NEW MEMBERS. Welcome, Eric and Terry! Let's hope they come back!

Now, on to the meeting!

1. Walt opened by reading "Looking for a New Job," which had an interesting twist. "I could have joshed him about how to fold the New York Times into a snug shelter half, could have given him a piece of chalk and a cup of instant soup so he could create his own soup line, or passed on a list of edible plants in Central Park. But I didn't."

2. Next up, our introduction to John Palisano's work with "The Good God." "Those notes are to the afterlife." Her expression changed as she folded it in half and handed it back to him. "You best put this back where you found it. Unless you want the mort-vivant to come looking for it."

3. Roger brought us the next chapter of How My Retirement Went South: "There is a God!": "As everyone expected, it turned out to be a major event attended by the likes of Sean Penn and Jude Law. If DISAPPOINTED was written on every grain of sand at the Jersey shore, it wouldn't begin to express how disappointed I was."

4. Jen Connic treated us to an essay she'd written on that day, "I Don't Give a Flying." (FUCK, of course!): "That's when I heard the f-bomb. It wasn't once. It wasn't even twice. It was three times mixed in with "shits" too."

5. NICE TO SEE YOU SHIRLEY GENDRON! Shirley's going to be taking a class on Tuesday nights and will re-join us in the summer.

6. Next up, Joyce, with another chapter from Venus Ascending entitled The Bennett Healing Institute (Day 1): "Estelle's flesh shuddered. I'm going to have to remove my bra? I came thinking I'd always be the one who'd massage. Now I'm going to have to remove my bra? She thought of Murray, shutting his eyes and turning away when he first saw her, post-surgery, bare."

7. Last up, Gerry Rivard. Pencils! was introduced to his work for the first time also. From "Delusions," a short story: "When she had finished her third glass, she wiped her wet face with a paper towel and breathed a sigh of relief. The water had helped to clear her mind, and now she was ready for her next patient. Smiling, she opened the door to her office to greet him. It was important to instill a sense of trust, right from the beginning."

In Memory of Keith W. Harjes

Pencils! Tribute Page

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Jen's in The New York Times!

Hello, all!

Jen Connic has made it to The New York Times! The January 14 article discusses her role in the burgeoning movement of town-specific news sites. Great going, Jen!

Here's the link to the story in case you'd like to check it out.

Happy writing!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Looking for the old Pencils! blog postings?

If you're looking for the old Pencils! blog postings, please visit

Roger's got a new blog!

Roger has reported great success with his new blog, and notes it's putting him in touch with other people who moved South and then back north again. If you're interested in checking it out, his blog is:

Nice work, Roger!

Kaye Places in Toasted Cheese Contest

At the Pencils! Holiday Party, Keith gave Kaye a tip on an upcoming contest for Toasted Cheese magazine: they wanted stories which included a haunted lighthouse.

Kaye wrote “Wailing Station,” and submitted it…and it won second place out of a hundred entries!

All this goes to show you: follow your gut and take chances! The winning manuscript is attached in Word, if anybody would like to read it.

The story will appear in the March 1 issue of Toasted Cheese. What’s really funny is, she’s submitted several stories to them before and been rejected.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Pencils Point: Jan. 9 Meeting Wrap

Greetings! We had an awesome first meeting to kick off 2007 with 17 people in attendance. WOW! Here’s some announcements before I give you the low-down:

Walt reminded us that we should submit, submit, submit! One useful resource for finding markets is <>. This free website even has, if you want to set up a free account, a submissions tracker. At duotrope, you can search for markets by genre, wordcount, response time, and other specifications. Duotrope also keeps track of markets that take the longest, take the shortest, are most receptive, and the ones that don’t bother to answer. They also have a tab that keeps track of contests and deadlines, and you can sign up for their free updates newsletter. Unlike Writer’s Digest, duotrope is run by a couple of guys who do this for the love of it. Truly, it’s the best market tracker out there and it’s easy to use. Don’t be shy! Sign up today!

For those of you looking for a little extra feedback on your work, check out This website allows you to critique others and get feedback on your own work in return. I’ve found it very helpful. <>.

THE PENCILS! 3RD ANNUAL REJECT-A-RAMA is set for Saturday, Feb. 10, at Al’s house at 7 p.m. Bring your rejection slips and burn, burn, burn, or just come and give moral support! It’s a great way to light a fire under your butt for submitting in 2007! Don’t miss out…RSVP today. Details were sent via snail-mail, or just call Kaye.

IF YOU HAVE A WEBSITE, BLOG, OR OTHER INFO you’d like to share with the rest of the Pencils! Gang, please send it to Kaye. I’m going to start compiling a list of all our websites, blogs, etc. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WEBSITE AND WOULD LIKE A FREE ONE, PLEASE E-MAIL KAYE, who will hook you up with an invitation for googlepages. It’s free and it’s easy as pie. (Trust me, if Kaye can do it, ANYBODY can.)

Reminder: <>. Really great, really cheap business cards.

CAROL MCMANUS HAS GRACIOUSLY OPENED HER HOME FOR OUR 4TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY TO BE HELD IN JULY. Thanks, Carol! Details on the party will be released sometime in May.

Phew! That was a lot. Now, on to the meeting updates:

Roger opened the meeting by sharing with us that a manufacturer in Wallingford will be manufacturing his latest piece of designer furniture. Congratulations, Roger!

1. Henderson opened the new year with his presentation of “The Camp,” another one of his wonderful war stories…I swear, they just keep getting better! This one in particular was loaded with some poignant imagery and motifs: “I had thought the cars were empty, but they were layered in bodies, dead bodies, bodies that looked like they had been dead already, like they had been living skeletons. The bodies, still in their prison uniforms, were sprawled as if they had been sticks thrown randomly onto the floor of the car.”

2. Ann was up next with “My Story,” a courageous and moving piece which I hope she’ll consider sharing with others because it may help others in distress. Nice job, Ann. “It was worth working hard and seeing the task to completion. Gives you guts. It’s not so tragic. We find commonality. The day goes on and it’s dinner. And another smoke break.”

3. Joyce presented more of her novel, Venus Ascending, which seems to be coming along beautifully: “He sprinted the blocks to Serena’s house worried that he might lose her. He thought of those evenings on the beach when Scooter would find Lady, and Serena would follow, her black hair falling in waves around her perfectly formed face, her clothes clinging to a body that moved like liquid.”

4. Last up was Judith with more of her novel, called SHU here: “She routinely gave out her address and phone number to patients she liked when their sentences were served and they were going home.”

Quotes of the Night:
Roger: …and you drove down here?
Keith: No, he took a sub.
on our newest member who joins us from the base in Groton

“And then I’m going to carry you.”
Keith, to Joyce

Pencils! Meets Tuesday

Pencils! will meet on Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. at the Wilton Borders.