Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pencils! Points: March 25, 2008

Hello, folks!


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 Ohio (or somewhere west of here). He’ll still be on our mailing list, and here’s to hoping he’ll chime in once in awhile and visit us when he’s in town. As soon as he’s settled, let’s hope he sends us his new postal address.

Think you may have just penned a few pages rife with clichés? Here’s your chance to find out: head on over to! They’ve got a huge list. You can search by topic, by alphabetical, or just see the whole damn list of close to 3000.


The Alice in Wonderland’s Through the Looking Glass 5th Anniversary Soiree is slated for Saturday, 3 p.m., JUNE 14TH, at Al & Maryanne’s. This will be a very special event. Mark your calendars and watch your mailboxes for details—because of the nature of what we have planned, we will be having a VERY EARLY RSVP date.

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, 33 River Street, Milford. “Finding Your Voice on the Page” will be offered on Saturday, April 5, and “Writing Your Family History” will be offered on Saturday, June 7. Both events will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the cost is $99 for each, which includes hand-outs, writing pad and pen, continental breakfast and a choice of lunch. For more information, head on over to

And now…


1. Henderson opened us up with more of The Eight-Fold Way. “They blended their skin to the dingy concrete and suddenly seemed to disappear from view. Charles watched their faint images as the two of them moved down the stairs, their two stunners seeming to float in the air, behind them.”

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 Darien News: “The Entitlement Generation.”

4. Al brought us the second half of “The Easy Way Out”. I didn’t have copies or I’d put some in here!

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.”


Thursday, March 20, 2008

John P hits it thrice!

Hey gang,

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.

Kaye's "Candle Garden" slated for Pandora Ink Books

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, or contact me and I'll direct you to her online catalog, which not only features the release of my book but several other wonderful projects as well (hint: start your Christmas shopping early)!

Walt's "Modern Love" in Short Fiction World

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:

Congratulations, Walt! For more news, visit his blog at:

Kaye's "King of Bull" is now up!

Hey guys,

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've moved!

Hello all,
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

Pencils! Points: February 26, 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,, 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


~~ 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 USA, a 2,300 acre Christian theme park of sorts. In its heyday, it attracted six million suckers a year, employed over 2,000 people, and earned more than $125 million annually.”

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! “Murray walked into the sun room to the syncopated caws and trill of the parrot, mackaw, mynah bird and love birds. He restocked their trays with fruits and nuts and refilled their water cups. Lady and Scooter followed him, adding a barking beat to the chorus.”

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.”

-- Joyce


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.