Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pencils! Points: July 24, 2007


PENCILS! PARTY ON SATURDAY IS RAIN OR SHINE. We will be outdoors if it doesn’t rain, indoors if it does. Okay, gang…Saturday is coming! Hope you all RSVP’d. I know I’ll be seeing quite a large number of you there! Kinda busy with stuff, so here’s the low-down on the meeting in case you missed it.

LEON!! WE’VE MISSED YOU!! IT WAS GREAT TO SEE YOU AGAIN!! We hope you’ll be able to find time to drop in again soon…this time with one of your poems/lyrics.

1. Judith was up first with SHU (we are back to the novel’s original title). “Dr. Grieg is going to be your new therapist, Sheila. Isn’t that nice? Why don’t you tell her why you are here?”/ “Because I put my baby in the microwave,” Sheila said flatly.”

2. Next up, Roger with Chapter 10 of How My Retirement Went South called “Health Careless.” “It was not unusual for her to spot prescription meds lying about unattended on cabinets in the hallways outside of the treatment rooms.”

3. Nick presented “The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers,” an essay about his time living in London and meeting Prince Charles. “I realized then that “His Royal Highness would like to greet you” because his attendants thought I was someone else.”

4. Joyce shared more of Venus Ascending: “Estelle remembered her mother decorating the room when she moved in after Poppa died. The sewing machine had hummed as she’d worked her way through her loss.”

5. Newcomer Claudia shared a short called “The Dead End Street,” which had an interesting twist at the end. “I’m not afraid,” he said out loud. He repeated this a second time, just in case the ghosts that he did not believe in did not hear him the first time.”

6. Vance was up last with a story called “Careful” (I think that was the title—he didn’t bring copies, but he did it, he said, ‘just so people like Kaye wouldn’t read ahead.”) It’s just as well, because that way I can’t blow the ending. But, hey, something must have been in the air—three pieces with twist endings this week!

Walt's New Words Are Out

Hello folks,

I just received an advance copy of Lunch Hour Stories featuring Walt’s piece “Big Willa and a Push Toward the Edge.” Congratulations, Walt! Keep up the good work!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

NEW Literary Journal for Connecticut Writers!

Attention Connecticut Writers: Whatever Literary Journal wants your work!

Former Pencils! member Tamela J. Ritter and a team of some others are launching a new literary journal, Whatever Literary Journal, early next year; their submission deadline is October 1, 2007, and all Connecticut writers are welcome to submit. Tamela has enjoyed a successful career as the editor of Musings and the book, It Happened at the Green Room, published by her group, Writers on the Rocks, through BookSource. That book can also be ordered on

For more about the magazine and its guidelines for submission, visit: Support the small press!

Pencils! Points: July 10, 2007

Hello again, all! As Jerry pointed out, there will be nothing in your inboxes for weeks…and then you get a flood! Well, anyway, at least all the news is good…


PARTY ON: Please RSVP yes or no to The Pencils! 4th Annual Pirates of Five Mile River Anniversary Party! You can do this by e-mailing Carol McManus. Games and plenty of surprises…there's a lot of you attending so far. It's going to be a great afternoon!

NEW LITERARY JOURNAL: I've already sent out an e-mail regarding Tammy's new magazine, Whatever Literary Journal. They're soliciting submissions from Connecticut Writers. If you were at the meeting, you received a printed packet with the submissions guidelines I got from the website. Consider submitting!

SUBMISSIONS WORKSHOP: It's that time…many of you have requested that we hold our Submissions Workshop again—a "how-to" of getting your work out to markets. The last time we did it was in 2004, and not only have we gotten an influx of new members, there's several of you who said you'd be interested in attending a second time. I can run this as a lecture, a seminar, or just a discussion with question and answer, and I'D LIKE TO PRESENT THIS SOMETIME IN SEPTEMBER OR EARLY OCTOBER. Suggestions and thoughts welcome! Want to do it at someone's house on a Pencils! off-night during the week? Want to make it a weekend with lunch? How about a Friday night thing? GIVE ME SOME FEEDBACK, GANG!!

SUBMIT, SUBMIT, SUBMIT: Who wants to think about February? Well, the only reason I am is because that's when we have our ANNUAL REJECTION SLIP PARTY. This is your reminder: SUBMIT, SUBMIT, SUBMIT now! That way you'll have something to burn…or not…by then…

NEW PRESS RELEASES: New press releases with updated website and contact information will be going out this week/early next week to the local papers.

THE CHILDREN'S SECTION: The next time we meet in Borders, we may be in a different spot in the store, hopefully to the art section or something of similar size. The children's section, which is adjacent to where we meet, is just too distracting (and that's all I'm going to say).

Finally, WELCOME NEW MEMBERS!! Carol, Claudia, Nick…Maria, I know you've been here only once before…WELCOME. We hope you liked what you saw and you'll come again.

We had great attendance this week, but with only five readers, which gave us plenty of time to discuss everyone's work in more depth. Special thanks for keeping within our suggested page/space limit! It's workin'!! Keep it up, folks!!!

1. Kaye kicked off the meeting with a flash fiction piece called "Sandstories," which she had written for an assignment for class up at Goddard but is now going to send out because, why the hell not? "He reaches into his cooler for a cold pineapple juice. He watches as the sea reclaims the seagull, the crab, the panicked fish, and the pelican. And he smiles. Because tomorrow, he will begin again."

2. Newcomer Nick was next; he presented a piece called "(Negative) Sex" (which initially had been part of something larger). "The next day Richie saw the hickey on my neck and asked me if I touched her tits. I lied and told him that I did. Neither of us had touched a breast before and neither of us did that summer in 1959. But we talked about it a lot."

3. Roger—welcome back, you've been gone forever!—brought us another chapter in his book How My Retirement Went South called "Hazy, Hot and Humid." "Every time we checked the seven-day forecast on The Weather Channel, it was like watching a rerun—"Highs in the 90s with lows in the 80s and afternoon boomers."

4. Joyce read Chapter 10 of her novel Venus Ascending. "Estelle looked with hope at the priest who had baptized her, blessed her at her confirmation and communion ceremonies, and bound her with Murray in marriage. His face had crinkled over the years, and his back was bent, but his eyes were as caring as ever."

5. Maria—her second meeting—presented a short piece called "Flowers for My Edna." "Bath time found Edna kneeling at the tub, soaping up washcloths as she scrubbed and sang away the dirt and grime of the day. Then we'd snuggle up to her sample shape waiting to hear our bedtime story."


Roger: (To Joyce): You don't deserve [a copy]. You were late. It's not like you got out of work late, or anything!

Kaye: We're discussing the significance of the word 'tit' in 1959.

Roger: See what you missed, Tom?

Jerry: (looking at cell phone): Burgeoning…to grow or develop quickly, flourish.

Kaye: Jesus Christ, you have a dictionary on your phone?

Tom: And this is ONLY the beginning!

Pencils! Points: June 26, 2007

Hello folks!

Well, I'm back from Goddard-Land, and as I noted in an earlier mailing, it was quite the ride. I think I've learned more about how to view, improve on, and see my own work in one week than I have in the last three years combined. And I TOTALLY enjoyed the Pencils! July 24 meeting. It was great to be back among all of you.

At any rate, MANY THANKS TO JOYCE for running what sounded like a terrific meeting!! And to all the others who helped. And now, this week's edition of PENCILS! POINTS.


WE NEED TO HAVE A COUNT ON THE PENCILS! 4TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY AT CAROL'S so she can give the caterers a count. THE RESPONSE FROM ALL OF YOU HAS BEEN GREAT!! If you haven't RSVP'd either way (yes or no) yet, please do. And I encourage everyone to come! We've made it four years, and we've got some surprises in store.

Former Pencils! member Tammy Ritter has started a new literary journal, Whatever Literary Journal. Let's all support her efforts and send in our stuff! She's given me flyers with more information, which I'll hand out at tomorrow's meeting. Meantime, here's a link to the mag's website: Congratulations, Tammy! Be sure to spread word of her new publication to other writers you might know outside Pencils! and refer them to the magazine's website for submission guidelines. Best of luck to all those who submit!

And now…on with the show. Unfortunately, I'm not sure of the order in which things were presented, but here's the low-down!

1. Joyce presented Chapter 9 from her novel Venus Ascending. "She looks like a wounded bird," Murray thought, wanting to shelter her and make her well. "I'll be here for you," he promised."

2. Judith was up with more of her novel, which has been retitled: Noblesse Oblige. "On a weekend in September, the project made its debut. Danni and his volunteers manned the truck, passing out containers of gourmet food to a group of vagrants who lived on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world."

3. Henderson—whom I believe is on vacation now for the rest of July, so we'll look forward to seeing him again in August!—was up with more of The Eight-Fold Way. "His long lean hawkish face and bare arms were ablaze with patriotic feelings and ripples of concern for the nation's safety. The patterns almost concealed his prominent nose."

4. Gerry re-worked his short story "The Plan," and brought it in to share the re-writes. "He could even smell her perfume, sweet and fresh as the flowers at their wedding. And he could see their future together, a cozy little bungalow in Hawaii. Just Angela, the sun, the sand, the sea, and an insurance check with six fat zeroes left of the decimal point."

5. Sharon brought another piece, "Calla Lilies." "I'm sorry for your loss," he had said on the phone when I first called to make arrangements. But he wasn't, of course. I was certain of that. His words had no more feeling than if he had read a line from the Yellow Pages."

6. Carol was at it again with a humorous piece she wrote in reaction to an ad featuring the former Wonder Woman.

Happy writing! Hope to see you all at the Tuesday, July 24 meeting!