Monday, October 13, 2008
1. Jerry was up first who read a short story called "Perfection" which was a re-work from a writing exercise we did at the May 27th meeting in which we had to use a sentence as either first or last. At that time his sentence was "Good is not good enough" ....."I trust you will strive for nothing less than valedictorian?" He waited for an answer and I said yes. "Well, he said "That is as it should be." And he left the room. I was Salutatorian of a graduating class of over 300 students. When the graduation ceremony was over, my father walked right past me to the Valedictorian and congratulated her on a wonderful speech. Knowing I was in earshot, he said "I wish my son was more like you." .....
2. Next, Joyce read a chapter from her novel, "Venus Ascending" .....Vince leaned forward, voice plaintive. "Mimi, don't be mad. You know how much I care about you." Mimi's shoulders pulled back. "I care about you too. I want us to be together, but, except for when we're dancing, you always keep your distance." She bit her lip. "We've been together since Thanksgiving, and you've never hugged or kissed me".....
3. Keith treated us to "the first third" of a short story titled "Fat and Ash".....Chores completed, he steps outside on to the deck with his pack of Lights and fires up the first of his daily five, a tiny defiant smokestack he hoists against the Jersey sky. The draw, the searing purge, and clarity. A tingle, a dancing ember of youth, starts at The base of his scalp, descends through his stomach, and culminates, satisfyingly, in his loins. He remembers. Today, he will not stop at five, Today, he will not stop. Today is Fat Tuesday. Ruby Tuesday.
4. Carol shared part of chapter 7 of her novel, "Buried for Life"..."That still doesn't explain how you met Mrs. Sullivan and her daughter at the playground." The jagged line of questioning increased Walter's anxiety but he answered as calmly as he could. "I'm sorry. My first love is photographing children in their natural environment, not in a studio setting. I like to go to the playground and shoot kids when they're not posing." .....
5. The final piece was Henderson's poem, "I Welcome the Theologian - me" read by Claudia (who did not nearly do it justice...). ..." Theology-me even whispers of truths unknowable to science-me."
Announcement and Request- Jerry is working on the Pencils! website and is asking for suggestions from members of what we would like to have.
Book / Resource Recommendation- from Keith - "The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within" by Stephen Fry
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
12-pt. Times New Roman font
Page numbers (name of piece and your name on subsequent pages is optional, but encouraged)
Sunday, August 10, 2008
...be sure to visit our page of photos from THE PENCILS! 5TH ANNIVERSARY SOIREE IN WONDERLAND at Al & Maryanne's on July 26. For those of you who missed it, we were all in costume and it was one hot day for a Mad Tea Party in the rabbit hole!
You can view the pictures here:
If the above link isn't working, just head to www.pencilswritingworkshop.com and visit The Pencils! Scrapbook page for a link. Happy perusing!
Monday, August 4, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
PENCILS! 5TH ANNIVERSARY SOIREE will be held at 3 p.m. JULY 26 at Al & Maryanne's. We're looking at a fantastic turn-out! If I have your deposit from the original date, then I'm assuming you're attending. If you can come now and couldn't before, please drop us a line and let us know. We'll be doing all of our preparation in the next few days.
Walt's at it again. Back at the beginning of June, he let me know that his story, "The Case of the Checkered Murder", was the "Featured Flash" for their Minute Mystery June 2008 edition: Summer Heat. Check out his story at http://mysite.verizon.net/
He then interviewed himself. Check it out at the MysteryAuthors.com blog here: http://mysite.verizon.net/
Congratulations, Walt! Best of luck with your continued moving and we hope to catch up with you soon!
I got some news from Kathryn last week. She's been happily jamming-busy with her internship at Time, Inc., in New York City, and she reports that with her steady stream of submissions, she's "still trying VERY HARD and getting rejected daily." However, she DID have success—major success—with placing her very funny "Real Historical Dolls: A Catalog" piece in McSweeney's Internet Tendency. You can read it here:
And, just recently, her piece "Painful skin condition afflicts girlfriends/wives of 'hot' guys" appears in Farmhouse Magazine's Summer 2008 Issue. Check that out here:
Welcome Carol McManus' friend Barbara Smith. Barbara took a class with Carol, who will also be returning shortly.
DON'T FORGET THE PENCILS! 5th ANNIVERSARY SOIREE IS SATURDAY, JUNE 26, 2008. Please let us know ASAP if you are coming or not! I'm assuming those of you who said "yes" last time—before the reschedule—will be attending.
STAY TUNED: I've missed LOTS of announcements. They'll be filling up your inboxes very shortly!
In other news, MOUTH FULL OF BULLETS—the terrific 'zine that's published more than a few Pencils! writers, including Jerry, Walt, and Keith Harjes, is discontinuing its recently-established print edition. BJ has always done a terrific job with the electronic version, and will be returning to his previously-successful all-electronic focus. You can read the entertaining MOUTH FULL at www.mouthfullofbullets.com. Thanks, Jerry, for the heads up!
And now…on to the meeting notes! If I have your stories and your snail-mail addresses, they'll be on their way to your regular mailboxes this afternoon.
OUR NEXT MEETING IS TUESDAY, JULY 22 AT SHOPRITE!
Pencils! Points: May 27, 2008
Thanks to Carol M, we opened the meeting with a listen to part of Joe Ortiz' "Supercharge your Creativity through the Art of the Six Minute Story" workshop, which was presented at the 2006 Maui Writer's Conference. The key point? "Don't worry about what you're doing when you write—don't be concerned with mechanics. The best stuff comes out when you don't give a shit."
We followed this up with a six-minute writing exercise (well, we ended up doing eleven minutes because we were so into it), in which we had to use a sentence as either first or last. Here are descriptions of the pieces attending Pencils! came up with:
Tom: "stuff around the house". Let's hope Tom takes this idea quite a bit further. We all agreed it was hilarious!
Shirley: "burning letters".
Henderson: "space-time continuum".
Kay: "back home again in Indiana".
Jerry: "Good is not good enough". (Great flash piece! Send it out!)
Joyce: "Memorial Day Parade".
Carol: "People who say "I just finished"/"I'm working on" are winners in life."
Kaye: "Water Wheel"
1. Shirley kicked us off with a reading of her poem, "The Avaricious Sea"—which was just recently published in Norwalk Community College's Musings. She didn't provide a copy, or I'd print some here.
2. Yvonne shared more of her environmental crisis novel, which also happens to be her thesis at Goddard College. "Chaim studied Asher's sandy curls and alert blue eyes as he spun the dreidel. He was a fine boy. Being his daughter Devorah's son, he wouldn't carry on the Silverman name, but still, a grandson was a grandson and a healthy one at that."
3. Claudia presented her poem, "The Green Grass." "Hmmm…don't mind if I do…well…maybe I'll have two…/I never thought I should, never thought I would…/But, you know Man, the stuff's pretty good!"
4. Henderson shared two poems—a re-work of his "Empty House" and another called "What're You Doing?" "I know something about empty houses./They sit, sad, tragic, dangerous, and spooky./One sat back, shielded by heavy growth/behind an iron fence which, when, on a dare,/we pressed our faces against the rust, and stared,/it left a stain more visible than the ghost that surely haunted there."
5. Last up was Jerry with the beginnings of his newest short story "Truth & Consequences". "He had never met Emory before, but he'd recognized him from the pictures Janet had shown him. Emory's body, like his life, was a glaring example of excess. He was too tall, his nose was too wide, his ears too big, his fingers too long. And his eyes, just as Janet had told him, were too blue. Ice blue, she'd called them. At first, she'd seen warmth in those eyes, and a bright future blazing with promise. But after three years of marriage, of getting to know the man behind them, all she could see was the bitter cold."
Quotes of the Night
"That's it. Roll it up and smoke it."
--Jerry, on Claudia's poem
"Dysfunctional people don't cease to be dysfunctional in Walt Disney World. They can pretend like they will, but even Fantasyland can only take you so far."
"I didn't have a pen."
Pencils! Points: July 8, 2008
An interesting meeting…not many readers, which gave us LOTS of time to discuss minutiae.
Some ideas on the table this meeting were:
~ breaking up some of Kaye's work, such as the website, since she's entering her final semesters at school and has a lot of deadlines to meet;
~ the possibility of introducing a conference-style meeting (via speakerphone) so that those of us who will be moving out of state can join us.
1. Maria presented "Denied the Cup". "He invited all to partake. He even offered the cup to Judas—knowing that Judas would betray Him. He didn't have any stipulations attached to the invitation. He didn't ask any questions. He didn't pass out small plastic cards stamped with "I am eligible to receive."
2. Kaye read what little she had so far of her newest, "What the Dormouse Knows". "This is their final ride on the last day of their decades-overdue honeymoon. Jack turns the center wheel, wishing the cup would spin faster…"
3. Maria's sister, Julie Georgis, graced us with her presence as a visiting poet. She lives in Germany! She read her poems "Let There Be Words" and "Yes." "The tickelty tackelty of mummy's loving fingers/The ingenuity of Daddy's quick and vibrant mind".
Friday, May 16, 2008
~ June 14th is the Pencils! 5th Anniversary Soiree in Wonderland. $30 per person includes catered meal (appetizers, entrees, sides and salad) with wine, beer, and soda included…we promise a bountiful feast as well as a special dessert, and Al and Maryanne have made some magic in their yard you won’t want to miss. Come in costume! Invitations went out via snail and e-mail about two weeks ago. If you didn’t receive either and would like info, contact me.
PLEASE LET US KNOW BY JUNE 1 IF YOU ARE COMING OR NOT. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR OUR CATERER. In addition, we have to give him the money up front. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, PLEASE PAY IN ADVANCE. You can bring it to the next Pencils! meeting, or just mail it to me.You can make the check out to me; I’ll be cutting the check to the caterer.
Thanks! We hope you’ll all join us for this super-special occasion! (Hey, gang, we’re probably back to pot-lucks after this). We’ve got several RSVPs already. Don’t miss it!
~ Kaye is back from Disney, and her project, Admit One Literary Theme Park, has successfully distributed two stories to a small mailing list. This collection of short stories is set in Walt Disney World, and eventually they’ll all be available on a website, the elements of which are under construction right now.
If you’re a Disney Fan and would like to receive one short story per month, contact Kaye.
~ This week’s handout was an article from the Nov/Dec 2007 issue of Poets & Writers, “The Sadness they Carry on their Backs”, by Kris Babe, about short fiction writer Benjamin Percy and his new collection, Refresh, Refresh. The reason I chose this was because I liked Percy’s philosophy on the writing life. If you’d like a copy of this piece, drop me a line at the Pencils! g-mail address and I’ll get it in the mail to you.
~ Book recommendations for this month! Wanna great laugh and learn a bunch at the same time? Check out How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them--A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman.
Kaye’s review is over at the Amazon.com page, and the website’s got some great stuff. You can check that book out at either Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Write-Novel-Them-Misstep-Misstep/dp/0061357952/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1210962386&sr=8-1
or at their website here: http://www.hownottowriteanovel.com/. Jerry just finished reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King and highly recommends it; I know I’ve got it on my list for this coming semester. You can check out that book at Amazon here:
Read a great writing book lately? Or any great book lately? Read anything that SUCKED? Drop me a line so we can get the word out to other Pencils!. Keep in mind that it’s great to recommend quality, but it’s also helpful to warn about crap. Crummy books shouldn’t be getting our money; it frees us up to spend it on what’s really worth it.
~ Yvonne mentioned that she found the CD’s Carol has been sharing at the beginning of the group very helpful and valuable. John Lescroart had talked about reading poetry before he begins writing, and how it helped his flow. Yvonne took the advice and said it has thusfar made a big difference in her work.
Carol will be back at the May 27th meeting to share more from
~ OUR NEXT MEETING IS TUESDAY, MAY 27. Come join us! With all this time, we’ve got plenty of room to workshop the hell out of things!
And now, on with the show!
The new space at ShopRite is amazing. Private bathrooms, bright, large, comfortable—plenty of table space! It’s also so clean. And, a special thanks to Kay Cole. She had arrived early to find that, more than likely, the employees had had a meeting in there and there were some cookies and other things left out. She did a fantastic job cleaning up for us so we could have a clean space! In future, I’ll make sure I arrive about fifteen minutes early to make sure it’s tidy for us so Kay, when she comes, doesn’t always get stuck with the job.
If you haven’t been to our new digs, make the time. It’s easy, even, to stop by the deli (which is what I did) and get a sandwich. And oh, blessed silence! Oh blessed no interruptions! I can see Pencils! Writing Workshop has finally found its permanent—and perfect—home.
1. Joyce was up first with “The Wellness Institute”, part of Venus Ascending: “As she stripped down, she recalled the panic that had engulfed her the first day she’d disrobed at the Institute. Now she stood calm, accepting the imperfections left by her mastectomy. Her body functioned well, though there was a vestige of pain when she thought of
2. Next was Kaye with a portion of a new story she’s working on, “Phantom Limbs”: She reminded herself that it was supposed to contain the ashes of a nasty old billionaire—one who had summered with three different mistresses at this very hotel before “dying of some weird all-over rot,” according to his daughter in an Earth Day is Every Day T-shirt—but that it didn’t. There were no ashes in that urn. There were no ashes in any of the urns that she delivered.”
3. Jerry brought the first part of his newest endeavor, “Truth or Consequences”: “Despite her situation, she was feeling calmer, more in control, for having begun to assess it. She’d always prided herself in her ability to think her way out of difficult situations. Left with only one weapon, had she been able to choose, she’d have chosen her mind…The voice came from behind her and above, but she knew it well. She’d been hearing it tell her no for the past three years, ever since she married him.”
I know something about empty houses.
They are sad, tragic, dangerous, and spooky.
One sat back shielded by heavy growths
behind and iron fence which, when, on a dare,
we pressed our faces against it and stared,
left a stain more visible than the ghost that surely haunted there.
Quotes of the Night
“The pencil might be pushing a little bit…I can’t believe I said that.”
“Self-deprecation does not flatter you.”
Saturday, April 26, 2008
She has been cited for work she did with WestportNow. She is nominated for work on the breaking news pieces "Demolition of Paul Rudolph House" and "Flood Emergency"; she has also been nominated for the online feature "Eric Von Schmidt -- Westporters Who Knew Him" and for "General Excellence, Independent" (which I believe is a category).
The winners will be announced at a formal event on Thursday, May 22 at Fantasia in North Haven.
Awesome, Jen! If you'd like to check out her pieces and hear details from the gal herself, visit her blog at http://jenconnic.blogspot.com
Nick's latest column in The Darien News Review is available at the following link.
Friday, April 18, 2008
OUR NEXT MEETING, APRIL 22, AND EVERY MEETING HERE ON OUT, WILL BE HELD AT 6:45 P.M. AT SHOP RITE ON ROUTE 1 IN NORWALK. We will still meet for all the original dates on the Pencils! calendar, the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, and, as usual, will not meet in December so we can all take time to enjoy the Holidays.
While the idea of meeting above a grocery store may seem a bit odd for a writer's group, Shop Rite offers us many advantages. For one thing: a conference room with a large table, plenty of chairs, and a door to close (no more screaming kids! No more rude Borders employees!) More than ample parking, convenient to Route 1, easy to find. We're finally going to be in a space at which we can do whatever we want to do. And best of all, we can have the room until 10 p.m. No more rushing. If we need the time, we take it!
The information below comes directly from Carol. PLEASE PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE "NO COMPETING GROCERY STORE BAG" RULE. (Not that I've ever seen any of you with plastic bags from grocery stores, but, you know, let's just be super, super sure!) And get ready for some additional Pencils! magic. Just read below.
Happy writing! See you on April 22nd (this coming Tuesday!)
First Meeting at our New Location:
Shoprite in Norwalk
(across from Stop & Shop and same center as Barnes & Noble)
We will be meeting in the Community Room which is on the second floor
When you enter the store, turn right through the flower department and right again.
Walk past all the cashiers all and frozen food aisles all the way to the far end of the store
(on the far right if you are facing the store from the parking lot)
You will go through the double red doors into an employee area briefly.
As soon as you go through the doors, you will see the sign for the Community Room.
Turn right and either use the stairs or the elevator to the second floor.
The entrance to the Community Room is directly across from the elevator.
Meeting is 6:45 to 9:00 as usual (although we have more time if we want; we have to be out by 10)
Rules: Please do not bring any food or packages from competing locations (Stop & Shop, Stew Leonards, etc.)
You may bring drinks and of course, are welcome to purchase anything in the store and consume it during the meeting.
Please bring whatever creative outpourings you are ready to share (copies for everyone is appreciated).
We are also going to try something new by incorporating a portion of the meeting to listening to some audio break-out sessions that Carol McManus brought back from the Maui Writers Conference. Over the coming meetings, you will hear a mix of best-selling authors, editors, publishers and screenwriters talking about the craft of writing, how to pitch your work, and much, much more!
MANY thanks to Jerry on this one. I could not attend!
Attendees: Al & Mary Ann, Henderson & Kay, Joyce, Jerry (& Carol at 9:00)
1. Henderson wrote an untitled piece (unentitled "A Piece") about Viagra and manhood.
"Brigham Young, the Mormon leader, had 27 wives back in the days when it was all right. He was known as a very vigorous man."
2. Joyce brought an update to a chapter from Venus Ascending.
"When the waiter served their drinks," Joe checked again. 'You can't have just one glass of wine?'
'Not tonight, Joe." Estelle read his disappointment. "Is being with the real me going to ruin your evening?'"
3. Al brought an old story up from the cellar. I don't have a copy, so I can't quote from it. Al was supposed to send you a 'clip' and Mary Ann was supposed to remind him. Did either of those things happen?
4. Carol arrived in the "nick" of time with a story called Bel Air Blues.
"Anyone reading this diary in the future will be confused and might wonder why my sleigh and eight reindeer are not in the picture. Christmas, 2007 is one that will go down in history."
Monday, April 7, 2008
Here's some news from Jen Connic. She tells it best, so here's what she wrote. Be sure to check this out if you've got a minute. It's a great video.
As you are probably aware, last Friday was the anniversary of Martin
Luther King Jr.'s assassination. We ran a story detailing his visit to
Paterson just eight days before his death. I tagged along for one of
the interviews, which was fascinating to me as a student of history,
and compiled a video including archival photos of King.
Here's the link to the video:
Sunday, April 6, 2008
You can check it out here:
If you'd like to order the print edition in which Jerry's story appears, complete order info is here:
Congratulations, Jerry! Great work!
Chris Emmerson Pace: "The Clutter of Things"
Lucinda Sands (Cindy): "Cowboys and Indians"
Vance Fazzino: "Paganini's Phantasma"
John Kildahl: "Peas in a Pod"
Sharon Butler: "Unloosed"
Joyce Fischman: "Bastille Day"
Kathryn Higgins: "Fear of Flipping" and "How to Collect the 100 Free Cell Phone Minutes You Receive in the Mail"
Nice work, everybody!
INFO ON PURCHASING/SUBMITTING:
This issue is now available for purchase; you can purchase the print edition for $12.99, or conveniently download it to your computer for just $5.00. Support the small press! To purchase, go here: http://stores.lulu.com/store
At the moment, duotrope.com reports Whatever is temporarily closed to submissions--and the mag's submissions page has not yet posted a new deadline. I'd bookmark their submissions page--http://www.whateverlit.com
and check back, or keep checking duotrope.
I'll keep you guys posted and let you know when they re-open, as I'm on duotrope just about every day. Or, you can sign up for Whatever's newsletter by visiting here: http://www.whateverlit.com
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
TODAY (March 26) IS ROBERT FROST’S BIRTHDAY!
First off: a terrific meeting at Al’s, honestly the most productive we’ve had in a long time. Great job everyone!
Pencils! is in transition! Along with our new public location—which is looking like it is going to be the Community Room at ShopRite in Norwalk—we’re going to up the ante a little bit with incorporating some time at the beginning of the meetings for discussion and writing tips. For the time being, our next meeting—APRIL 8—will be held at Al’s. Thanks for your patience! We’ll soon be in our new home!
Happy moving, Ann! Ann is relocating to Delray Beach, Fla, to be closer to her family. The March 25 meeting was her last, and she says she’ll miss all of us—and we’ll miss her, too. I have her new address if anyone would like it!
Happy moving, Lon! Sadly, also leaving us: Lon Prater. I believe he is moving out to
Think you may have just penned a few pages rife with clichés? Here’s your chance to find out: head on over to http://www.clichesite.com/! They’ve got a huge list. You can search by topic, by alphabetical, or just see the whole damn list of close to 3000.
* SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT*
This meeting’s hand-out was an article entitled “The Importance of Place” from the March/April Issue of Poets & Writers—it’s all about why writers pick where they do to create their art. It’s not available on line, but it’s a terrific piece. E-mail me at the Pencils! address with your snail-mail if you’re interested in a copy.
Upcoming Creative Writing Workshops:
…are being offered by Cindy Wolfe Boynton at Café Atlantique,
ON WITH THE SHOW!
2. Ann wrote a poem for her landlady, which she shared with us. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the title, and there weren’t any copies. But it was a fitting tribute to someone that she’s going to miss very much.
3. Next up was Nick—who brought his very first piece of fiction (he’s never written fiction before!) He said the experience was rewarding and a big awakening for him. His first piece, “Dangerous Conditions”, was written for a specific publication, but he wanted suggestions for improvement so that it could be sent elsewhere if need be. “Cliff loved Amy, too, but the way seventeen year olds love lending their bodies to each other and wanting each other again and again, ignoring curfew times.” Nick also presented his next column for the
4. Al brought us the second half of “The
5. Carol and Joyce stopped by after they’d been to the Small Press Editors Panel at Manhattanville College; they shared details of their enriching experience which featured speeches and a Q&A with editors from the literary journals Inkwell, Lumina and LitMag, as well as from the small presses Marsh Hawk Press and Slapering Hol Press. All three literary magazines are seeking submissions; a Google search on their names should turn up some more info on that and guidelines if you’re interested.
6. Claudia read her newest poem “Rush Hour”, which was very rich at its core. “Crow, circles high above, laughs, flies home.”
7. Kaye brought the first few pages of a new story, which right now has no title and actually is getting a major overhaul in terms of plot and characters. But just for the hell of it: “I don’t mind the house being Disney-fied, but I’m not into Small World, because when she has a little too much wine she puts that song on repeat, and there are dolls singing that hateful melody to the drone of my electric toothbrush, the pop of the toaster and the dribble of the coffee maker for weeks afterward.”
NEXT MEETING APRIL 8 AT
Thursday, March 20, 2008
John P's short story, "The Marine", will appear in the upcoming werewolf anthology The Beast Within later this year. Previously he sold "Wings For Wheels" to Darkness on the Edge. He also sold "Tennatrick" to an as-yet-untitled anthology at the moment.
I'm pleased to announce that Pandora Ink Books will publish a limited edition, perfect-bound pressing of my short story, "Candle Garden"—a haunting story about a woman struggling with the loss of her children whose tryst with a wax artist leads to some…well, interesting outcomes.
Melissa Duckworth is a talented artist who carefully selects poetry and short fiction which inspires her; then she creates a three-dimensional book-art experience. "Candle Garden", with a limited edition of 50 copies (that's gotta make you feel famous, folks!—I'm good enough for limited edition??), will be a reproduction of the work she created around this story for an art installation; she acquired the rights to this story a couple of years ago, and she has invested much time in turning my story into a work of art.Copies will run at $30.00 and the book is slated for release in September 2009; pre-orders are being taken now. Although 9/09 seems a long way off, her books are popular and many sell out in their pre-order phase. Support the small press! Her work is amazing and you won't be disappointed, I can promise you that. For information and for a link to order, please visit her website at http://www.myspace.com/pandorai
I believe he sent this to all of you, but Walt's short story "Modern Love" is available now in Short Fiction World! Read it here: http://shortfictionworld.com
Congratulations, Walt! For more news, visit his blog at:
I think you all get my newsletter anyway, but "King of Bull", which took 1st Place in the Toasted Cheese 2007 Dead of Winter Contest, is now available to read on the web, as it has been published in the e-zine's March Issue.
Here's the Link:
Also, the story was mentioned on someone's blog!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
We are no longer meeting at Borders Wilton.
The immediate details: there is no cause for alarm! Until we find a new public venue, we will be meeting at Al's, Carol's, or John Palisano's. All 3 are close to Route 1 in Norwalk. Our next meeting—March 25—will be held at Al's; we will CONTINUE to meet the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, and we will send out an announcement designating our meeting spot for the next couple of months or so as soon as we get it locked down. In general, I feel—and so do the other seven people who gathered last night—that this is a positive step for Pencils!, that it is time for us to take the next step so we can continue to grow and foster our sense of community and art. We don't feel that this is anything that should be looked upon as negative.Not to fear! Our next meeting will be TUESDAY, MARCH 25, AT AL'S at 7 p.m.!! Carol and John Palisano have also opened up their homes until we find a new place to meet. One additional note on meeting in people's homes: we will be treating this as though we are still meeting at a public place. In other words, just do whatever you've always done to prepare for meetings. We'll start promptly at 7, stop right at 9:30 or spill over until 10. We will not be making this into a "party" atmosphere because it's in someone's home; we are working writers, and we need to get work done!
We have formed "The Official Ad-Hoc Re-location/Location Committee". Committee members were simply whoever had showed up for the meeting, so don't feel bad if you weren't consulted. Members are: Dave, Jerry, Joyce, Matt, Claudia, Maria, Carol, Kaye, and Al (who wasn't there but, since we wanted to know if we could meet at his house for the next meeting, he was phoned in). We outlined criteria for a new location, and then drafted a long list of possibilities. Each member took a couple of locations and will make exploratory calls. The new meeting place, we decided, MUST meet the following criteria, and these were all based on things we DIDN'T like at Borders.
1. Good hours. We can now meet from 7 to 9:30 (hard stop at 9:30, if we have to go until 10, then we have time).
2. Privacy. We recognize that at times we are loud and either discuss or present material that may not be appropriate for a general audience. In addition, we do not want our meeting interrupted by customers.
3. Accessability. It should be not too far from anyone and relatively easy to get to.
4. Parking. There must be plenty of parking. Borders' parking was awful.
5. Cost. Is there a charge to meet there? If there is, can we absorb the cost? Is it a place where we must buy coffee/donuts to make the location more amenable to hosting us?
6. Ease. Is it comfortable to sit in? Does it have bathrooms that are decent? Do we feel at home there? This, too, will be a step up from where we were. Also, we shouldn't have to ask anyone to "set up". That system really didn't work well.
A number of suggestions—in fact, at least a dozen—were bandied about last night. So we've got a great starting point, and what's even more important, we've got the time to look. Al, Carol, and John P have graciously offered to host for as long as needed. The committee will do its research, and then we'll compile a list of the most viable options and narrow them down. My personal guess? The right place is going to end up in our laps.If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call or e-mail me.
Happy writing, and see you on March 25!!
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Another terrific meeting (and we only got rain instead of snow! The Gods smile upon us!)
Welcome back, Al! After a nearly two-year full hiatus, it’s great to see you back and reading. We hope to see you again soon.
We also got another surprise: Matt has returned! For those of you who don’t know Matt, he wrote a lot of good stuff and joined Pencils! back in its early days. Then his e-mails started bouncing back and I lost track of him. Wow, it was great to see him again! He’s got a website, www.ArtDepreciation.com, which is a really neat webcomic and definitely worth the time to check out. Welcome back, Matt. We hope you’ll find the time to join us again soon in the future.
Nice going, CAROL!
Carol is back—and she’s been busy. Her business, Y Wait 4 Success—Real Estate management, training, and coaching resources—has taken off since its inception just a couple of short months ago. The website looks really sharp. Check it out at www.ywait4success.com.
~~ The Rejection Slip Party on Feb. 23 was an enormous success! Lon showed up with a bag full of slips, Jerry burned an entire book (which was a New York Times Bestseller but that didn’t mean it didn’t suck and wasn’t worthy of burning), Kaye got a special gift, Roger burned for his first time, John P had a great story about getting screwed (by the publishing industry, ahem)…and assorted other adventures! When the photos are up in the Pencils! Scrapbook, I’ll be sending out the link for all to enjoy. Stay tuned!
~~ Pencils! 5th Anniversary Soiree in Wonderland has been slated for JUNE 14. (Please note it is NOT in July). We’re doing this in the hopes we’ll have some finer weather than we’ve had in the past. Mark your calendars now—details coming soon!
And now, on with the show.
1. Roger was up first with more of his book—actually, the Epilogue of his book—How My Retirement Went South. There was also a bunch of discussion about the differences between Epilogues and Afterwords. Anyone know? Please share. Anyway, from Roger’s book: “It was also the home of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s now defunct Heritage
2. Carol M brought a piece she had written just that afternoon, called “Answers from Questions.” “I believe this new approach to achieving what I want in life is working in ways I never imagined. I am not there yet completely, but I am on the right course. I actually have those out-of-body moments when I realize my thoughts, my behaviors, my reactions, and my actions are different than they have been in the past.”
3. Joyce presented more of Venus Ascending! “
4. Al was back and brought his newest venture, “Easy Way Out.” Although he didn’t bring copies to read from, I do remember one really cool phrase: “Jackpot! The slot machine in my brain registered all 7’s.”
5. Jerry closed out our evening with a bit from Omniscience. “She had often thought of her life as a road trip, and as she listened to the cars on the freeway, she thought of how they were as different from each other as people. Each went through a unique series of turns to get to this highway where they would whoosh by her in an instant, each to get off on their own exits and continue through another unique series of turns.”
Quotes of the Night
“Don’t let the truth ruin a good story.”
Kaye: Anything here is worth reading.
Jerry: Great! I’ll get out my driver’s license.
Al: …and then the Star of Baghdad could be the Star of Uranus!
Jerry: …and in between, she shops for books.
Kaye: Any book called The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands…I had to check it out, you know? Like they’re llamas or something.
Al: She’s a phone-y waitress.
Matt: You know, I’m outta here, listening to the bad puns all night.
Jerry: But you know she didn’t skill someone with her knees.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Here it is:
- Artist Scott Waddell ( www.scottwaddellfinearts.com ) touched base with me this weekend with exciting news about the painting he cast me as a whaler in. It is featured this month on the inside back cover advertisement of American Art Collector. Cavalier Galleries ( www.cavaliergalleries,com ) of Greenwich, CT have the painting as a part of their current show. The lady working there recognized me from the painting after a brief double take, and graciously allowed Shelley to take some pictures. From all reports, the painting is being very well received by the gallery's patrons. If I had 14 large, I'd pick it up myself, but for now I'm going to have to settle for a snapshot. See the attached file, if you're interested.
- I met my short story idol Howard Waldrop this weekend at Boskone; he's a soft-spoken living legend in short weird stories. He is writing the introduction to my friend (and collaborator) Josh Rountree's collection Can't Buy Me Faded Love which comes out in May from Wheatland Press ( www.wheatlandpress.com ), and you will hear more about that amazing book, I guarantee.
- FREE (which most of you know is my favorite four letter word) FICTION: None from me this time around, but check out cool stuff going on THROUGH THE END OF FEBRUARY at Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show ( http://www.intergalacticmedicin
- My poem "Goodwill" appeared this month in CHOPPER 2, a local poetry journal. They sold out fast, but I was able to snag a copy before they did. Anyone interested in the second printing should give a shout to Helen at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out details. I also recently sold a poem to the webzine Goblin Fruit ( http://www.goblinfruit.net ) for their Summer 2008 issue.
- On the fiction front, Frontier Cthulhu ( http://www.amazon.com/Frontier
- That's enough for now, thanks for reading!
PS Check out the up-to-the-minute updates on my writing at the recently revamped www.lonprater.com
Well, AT LAST! We weren't cancelled out! But, the wait was worth it. Even though this wasn't a normally scheduled meeting time, we still had ten people in attendance and were able to allot twenty minutes of time to each presenter—not too shabby! That said, on with the show:
~ The "Oh! Sweet Rejection!" Burning Slip Dessert Party is still on track for February 23 (that's today, folks!) at 7:30 p.m. Despite yesterday's dumping, the roads and all should be fine tomorrow night. If we decide to change our minds, however, you will all be notified by e-mail and by any phone numbers that we have on file. As of right now, though, we're sure that we're going to go ahead with it.
What to bring: a dessert to share, something to drink…and rejection slips! No worries, if you don't have one, come anyway. Moral support is always an upper!
~ Pencils! new "Pre-text" program: is not yet up and running. Jerry is in charge (he'll basically be setting us up with a submission system and do all the disseminating of the stories, as well as scheduling which stories will be discussed at which meeting and who has read what so far) and we're also going to change the name. We'll keep you posted, so stay-tuned.
~ Believe it or not, THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY PARTY is…well, not too far away. While it may be hard to think of summer partying in this dreary crap, Maryanne and Kaye have already got some really exciting plans in place. Based on the feedback we got from the Pencils! survey, we know that everyone likes that particular party the way it is—so we're just going to one-up it a bit. Stay tuned for more information.
~ Even though we are coming to the end of winter, PLEASE BE SURE I HAVE YOUR UPDATED PHONE NUMBERS. A few I have don't work.
Here we go, folks!
1. Yvonne kicked off our first meeting of 2008 by reading a portion of her novel (for which I don't have a title): "After a brief tour of R&D, Melanie thanked them and left. As she walked towards her car, she thought that it sounded like an excellent opportunity, with good experience and a substantial salary hike. Suddenly, a premonition that she could not name came over her and chills ran down her spine."
2. Joyce was up next with more of Venus Ascending (refresher: the novel about Estelle. When we last left her, she was partying it up on New Year's Eve with a potential new beau). "Joe hobbled in late in the day carrying a carton of coffee containers, jelly doughnuts and box of aluminum foil. His eyes had a ruby cast, and he looked exhausted, but his voice sounded cheery. "Here's the one-man snack and cleanup squad." He put the carton on the floor, and winced as he stood up."
3. Shirley presented the first part of a NEW short story, "The Little Pink House": "The only pink house with a pink garage and a pink mailbox on Salteri Road belonged to Jenny and Gio./Jennie fastened her seat belt and uttered a sigh. "Gee, I hope Susie isn't too mad at us when she finds out we're gone. We did promise her we'd wait awhile."
4. Dave put us on a planet full of vampires with – well, an excerpt from Planet of Vampires: "It was that odd mix of fascination and contempt that only a warrior who has dehumanized an enemy for years and years of waiting for attacks in hot stinking trenches and cold silent-running assault vessels could fully contain."
5. Kaye took us to the Magic Kingdom with an excerpt from her short story "It's a Small World", which is part of her master's thesis: "There could be no denying that twelve-year-old Kevin Shagumbria was a brat…he demanded his laundry be done every Wednesday, refused to eat the food that was made for him, and regularly walked past adults who were smoking and told them how disagreeable their habits were."
6. And last but not least, Jerry showed us a little bit of what his new novel Omniscience is like: "He had known it would take time to get his life back together after the accident. He went through the first four stages of grief quickly. Denial ended the day he got the news, when he identified her body. Anger subsided quickly because there was no one to be angry at. And what little faith he'd had was shattered by Jenni's senseless death, so the bargaining stage was the shortest of all."
Quotes of the Night
"Yeah, and I know no disclaimers, but…"
Dave: Or I thought maybe the Devil was going to show up—
Yvonne: The Devil does show up; wait until you read the rest of the story.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I'm PLEASED to report that Kaye's story (here I go again, referring to myself in the third person), "King of Bull", took first place in the Toasted Cheese 2007 Dead of Winter Contest! The last time she won first place in a short story contest, she was 12. Perseverance pays off!
This was the second story she wrote for the contest -- the first one was "Crossing Guards", which she didn't submit because it made a disappointing show at the Pencils! meeting on November 27. So she came up with this second idea.
The story will be published in Toasted Cheese's March issue. Toasted Cheese is a great mag; check it out at www.toasted-cheese.com.
This is really quite an achievement. Congratulations, Kathryn! May this be the start of a fabulous new career!
Monday, January 21, 2008
Some of the pix are really hilarious. You can check it out here: http://pencilswritingworkshop
If for some reason this link doesn't work, you can just go to Pencils! home page, hit Pencils! Scrapbook, and then click on '5th Annual Christmas Cocktail 2007!'
In addition, I took any websites I had for anyone and splashed them up on the front page of the site under our main profile to give you all a little more exposure. If you've got a website or blog that's not there, it's because I didn't know about it...so drop me a line and I'll add you! (Chris? Does this mean YOU?? I was pretty sure you had a blog.)
Happy writing and enjoy the site!
"Oh Sweet Rejection" Slip Burning Dessert Party
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Al & Maryanne's
(address provided on official invitation)
We'll provide some sweets, but you may bring something sweet to share if you like. BYOB and don't forget to bring every slip that really pissed you off!
Snow date: Saturday, March 1
All things considered, 2008 started off with a bang for Kaye. Here's what's going on:
"Wailing Station," which placed 2nd in Toasted Cheese's “Dead of Winter” Contest last year, has been picked up by the audio-serial Parade of Phantoms. This is truly exciting--they always have professional readers, and the stories on the other episodes are really top-notch. I'll let you know when "Wailing Station"'s available, but for now, do yourself a favor and check the mag out here:
A review of my story "Bad Enough", which was published last December in Susurrus Press' I Am This Meat anthology, appears here. I was pretty pleased with what he had to say:
Orlando Attractions Magazine printed a tip and a photo of mine in their Letters to the Editor section. The clip, in JPEG format, is what appears above. If you're a fan of Disney or any of
The Taj Mahal Review published "Matchbox" in their December 2007 issue:
"Glass Kill" appeared in
I honestly have to say that this is SUCH a major error I won't be submitting there again—this is the kind of stuff that undermines a writer's credibility. Besides, next time around they might just insist the Bronx Zoo is really in
Here's a few things I've had forwarded to me by various people over the last month. I think Claudia may have sent me some news, too, regarding upcoming contests and events Pencils! members may be interested in, but I can't find that e-mail. Claudia, if you have it, can you re-send? Or maybe it was Vance? God, I'm a train-wreck...
Anyway, here's some stuff coming up. Take a gander:
Eligibility: The Vocabula Well-Written Writing Contest is open to all.
Write 200 to 500 words of readable, well-written, even beautiful
writing. Send your entries to email@example.com. Along with your
submission, you must include your name, address, email address, and
$20 entry fee.
Contest Dates: Entries for the Vocabula Well-Written Writing Contest
are accepted year-round. Each contest ends on May 31. The next contest
begins the following day.
Selection: We accept nonfiction submissions only. Entries are judged
on readability, beauty, and creativity -- in that order. Submissions
not meeting the word count requirements are disqualified.
Prizes: First prize is $200 and your choice of any three $40 Special
Second prize is $100 and your choice of any one $40 Special Offer book.
Winning entries will also be published in The Vocabula Review and may
be considered for publication in a forthcoming anthology.
Everyone who submits an entry will receive the PDF version of 101
Elegant Paragraphs, a $10 value.
Fees: There is a $20 entry fee.
Copyrights: The author retains the copyright to his or her writing.
Notification: Winners are announced every August 31. Winners are
notified by email.
Decisions: All decisions are final.
share personal information collected.
Sponsored by The Vocabula Review. All rights reserved.
If you do not now subscribe to Vocabula, you may do so here.
You may send your entry fee through PayPal, or you may send a check
for $20, made out to Vocabula, to:
5A Holbrook Court
Rockport, MA 01966
CT Press Club Program
February 7, 2008
Self Publishing Success: From Manuscript to Mass Distribution
You Can Self-Publish Your Manuscript! Greetings!
Learn how to self-publish and market your book at the Self Publishing
Panel featuring four successful self published authors on February 7,
2008 at the Norwalk Inn in Norwalk.
Self Publishing Success: From Manuscript to Mass Distribution
The Norwalk Inn
February 7, 2008
6:00 PM to 8:30 PM Dinner and Informative Panel Discussion
Robert Crooke, Michele Turk, Stacy Lytwyn Maxwell and C.J. Golden,
all successful self-published authors, will share their
Learn how to make your book look completely professional, from
editing to cover design to quality of the printing. Learn how to
distribute your book (via Amazon and bookstores) and how to create a
marketing plan to get more publicity and to generate more sales -
something every author needs to know! RSVP for this Event NOW!
CT Press Club
Connecticut Press Club
P.O. Box 4099
Stamford, Connecticut 06907
$35 for CPC Members/$40 for non members. Reserve by contacting
Patricia D'Ascoli at (860) 354- 6488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration is open for the
2008 Nieman Conference
on Narrative Journalism!
Visit our Web site to register online and view our growing list of
speakers, including keynoters John Hockenberry, Sam Pollard, Sherry
Turkle, and the team of Dana Priest and Anne Hull. While you're there,
connect with other conference participants through our message boards.
To take advantage of our early-bird discount, register now. Don't
forget to make your hotel reservations at the same time to take
advantage of special conference rates offered by the Sheraton Boston.
Please forward this e-mail to all who have an interest in narrative
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard · One Francis Ave. ·
Cambridge, MA 02138 · 617.495.2237
First, the second volume of Cruising the Green of Second Avenue is now available from Wild Child Publishing. You can check it out here as an e-book you can download as a pdf file, at http://www.wildchildpublishing
Cocktail Reviews again gave the collection their five Champagne glasses, saying, "Volume II, allowed me to revisit everyone from Volume I. I slipped back into Jake's life easily, feeling as though I knew them all—good character development, an easy voice, and funny lines saw to that. Once again, a brilliant set of short stories that involve everyone in Jake's life. Here's hoping there is a Volume Three."
In addition, Walt's short story "Cable Window" was published in Bewildering Stories issue 271, and you can check that out here: ( http://www.bewilderingstories
Well, here we are, catching up. I apologize for stuff going out that happened, like, seven weeks ago, but...no news is old news around here!
Jerry has a fabulous new website! Check it out at www.geraldrivard.com. Way back in December, his photo was featured in a Connecticut Post article on National Novel Writing Month. Unfortunately, the link to the story has expired (Kaye's bad 'cuz she waited too long). I was going to spend $2.95 for their archive to get the text, but then I realized it doesn't come with the photo. What a RIP! So, instead, I give you:
Author: FRANK JULIANO
Date: December 9, 2007
Publication: Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, CT)
Article ID: 7679262
Think you accomplished a lot last month? Elizabeth Laden, Patti Woods and Brian LaVoie and 65 other area residents each wrote a complete, 50,000-word novel during November. They were among more than 100,000 writers from more than 70 nations participating in the annual National Novel Writing Month, which organizers claim is the largest writing competition in the world."It's all about getting to write, getting a pure train of thought...
The close-up of Jerry's photo.
Pretty swank, eh?