Friday, May 16, 2008

Pencils! Points: May 13, 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 page, and the website’s got some great stuff. You can check that book out at either Amazon here:

or at their website here: 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 Maui.

~ 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 Murray’s rejection. It’s foolish to accept his judgment, she told herself. He’s so flawed himself.”

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.”

4. Henderson finished us out for the evening with a poem, “Empty House”:

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.”

-- Tom

“Self-deprecation does not flatter you.”

-- Kaye

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