Meeting Overview: October 20, 2007

There were only about 10 people at the meeting that took place on Saturday, October 20, 2007, at the Bagel Stop/Book Nook at 1:00PM. Elizabeth and Sherry’s moms were there too, so they helped us come up with a few good ideas. As many of you already know, Mr. Gifford wasn’t at the meeting due to personal reasons, so I was left to speak at the meeting, along with Matt who was there a short amount of time.

1. Member Activity – One issue that has always been a problem in Magic Pens is member activity. Members will join and either never write anything, or will post a few things and then die, never posting anything again, usually without any warning at all. Right now, out of the 44 members that are listed on the Magic Pens School Page list, 11 are marked as unactive, including Carly Hanson, Christian Schuster, Heather Kroeker, Jesse Parks, Jordyn Gantzers, Kirsche Rosel, Kylie Gamas, Nick Parks, Noah Rothermund, Randall Roberts, and Taylor Fowler. If you are able to speak to any of these people in person, please remind them of Magic Pens and ask them to return to their blog to post something. Let them know that we are here, waiting to read their posts. If you know for sure that a member has quit Magic Pens, please let Mr. Gifford know, otherwise people who haven’t posted for months will automatically be deleted. To keep people from dropping out, story ideas and writing prompts are constantly thrown out there. Be sure to check the Story Ideas/Prompt page on the Magic Pens Website often to keep up with the latest prompts and send in your own to contribute to the club.

2. Weekly Writings – Knowing when a member is inactive, or if they are just sick, traveling, have writer’s block, etc., can be difficult, and sometimes members are deleted when they still wanted to be in the club. To keep from being marked “inactive” or from accidently being deleted from the club, make sure to frequently post and aware us if you know of a long absence ahead of time. So, if your computer is broken, temporarily have no internet, are going on vacation, traveling, going to a funeral, have an extreme amount of homework or projects, etc., please just pop on to write a short post telling us that you would still like to be in the club, but may not be able to write for a while. It also helps if you try to post at least once a week. Although the check ups of how many words you had written and read each week are no longer required, those, along with explanations to why you haven’t written, ideas or thoughts you may have, a summary of what you have read or done recently, or some of your future plans of what you are going to write about when you have the time, are great posts that you could publish each week to let us know that you are still active, if you haven’t been posting. Just post something to let us know!

3. Writing Buddies – Last year, Mr. Gifford paired participating members of the Writing Buddies Program up in groups of two and asked that each person read what their partner wrote and give good, constructive crticism after reading. It didn’t work out entirely well last year, but we tried it again this year, this time putting every member of Magic Pens into groups, this time of six or seven people, rather than two. Once again, this hasn’t been working as well as we hoped, so we talked it over at the meeting. Mr. Gifford has mentioned that if you feel that most of your Writing Buddies are inactive and/or are not reading and commenting on your posts, you may ask him to place you in a different group, or you may ask another group to invite you to join theirs. Although it seemed as if people were hesitant to answer, two people at the meeting said that they would like to change the Writng Buddy groups. Through our discussion however, we all agreed that if every Writing Buddy was active and kept up with it, it would work out and actually be fun. We also agreed that we liked the smaller groups from last year better than these larger ones, and feel that the larger groups are too much work and are too difficult to keep up with. Perhaps we can change the Writing Buddies, making them smaller. No matter what happens to them though, be sure to check out the Writing Buddies page on the Magic Pens Website to see who your Writing Buddies are and keep up with them.

4. The Club – Last year, Mr. Gifford started a story that was a series of posts from each participating member, written in first person, that were all written about the same situation and plot, only with different points of view. Each member wrote from their point of view as they are know, only with a fantastical trait about them. This year, we are restarting The Club, this time with a planned plot. Mr. Gifford has posted the plotline followed by his first chapter, which have been transferred over to The Club page on the Magic Pens Website. After asking each person at the meeting if they were going to join The Club, I have posted a Participating Members page that lists each contributing member and their fantastical ability. If you would like to change, add, or elaborate more on your power, etc., please leave a comment. To join The Club, just write a post, throwing yourself in somewhere with a special ability.

5. Mr. Gifford’s Writing Prompt #3 – Mr. Gifford has created a new writing prompt that must be written between 1,000 and 4,000 words. This short story must be able to “stand-alone” without a continuation, although it may branch off of something you have previously written. Just make sure that someone who is reading it will not have to read something else to understand it. It is not allowed to be fan-fiction although it must be fiction, and it obviously has to be your original words. The challenge of this writing prompt is to include an old man, the phrase, “I would never do that,” a silver ring, and a kiss. The due date was November 3, 2007, although many people at the meeting were unhappy with that date, asking that it could either be extended or deleted. If you participate in this challenge, “Writing Prompt 3” must be in the title.

6. End-of-the-Year Book 2007-2007 – Preparation for our end-of-the-year book this school year will start in January or February next year after Christmas, (or Winter,) Break. We started brainstorming some ideas at the meeting, and we all agreed that continuing what we did with the book last year is the best choice. Last year, we allowed any story, no matter what the genre, writing style, timezone, location, etc., to be published in the book, as long as it had an hourglass somewhere in it. This year, we would like to do the idea again, this time with a different object, and keeping with the $15 per person with 4,000 word limit choice. An apple, earring, bird, chain, and pen were suggested. Although there is no secured funding for the project yet, Mr. Gifford has worked out a deal with WordVentures, (our publisher last year,) to allow us to find an area business to sponsor the book, paying the order price of about $200 and receiving their logo on the cover along with a short thank-you from us inside the book, thanking them for their support. We need to start thinking of some local businesses that we could ask to see if we can get a sponsorship, and if we need to, we can have more than one. After a lot of discussion, it seemed that every member at the meeting loved Elizabeth’s mom’s idea for a sponsorship. She suggested that we make a deal with either Bagel Stop/Book Nook or Main Street Books, most likely with Bagel Stop since we usually hold our meetings there. We could ask them to sponsor our book to receive their logo on the front and such, and then they could sell it in their store. Then, when the book actually comes out, we could hold a book signing where each member who participated in the book could sign copies that people bought, which would also increase the business of our sponsor if they sold our book and would draw more attention to our club. This attention could make the School Board aware of our club and actually officialize us as a school club which could bring on funding for future projects. Not only would a book signing be really awesome, but it would also make members want to stay, write often, and may even bring in more members later on. This may even partner us with our sponsor, (Bagel Stop or Main Street Books) so that we could hold our meetings there with an actual reserved area and such. (While we were at our meeting on Saturday, we were kicked out of the back room due to a birthday party and had to hold the rest in the book-store area.)

7. Fundraisers – Elizabeth’s mom suggested a few ideas that could raise money for our club that we could use for our end-of-the-year books. She said that the National Pen Corporation offers special prices for their customized pens to groups that would like to sell them to make profit in fundraisers. We would be able to put whatever we would like on the pens, such as “Magic Pens”, and could sell them at school, around town, etc., to try and raise money. She also suggested that we sell our end-of-the-year books, such as at school.

8. Matt’s Halloween Party – Once again, Elizabeth’s mom helped us with this topic, actually finalizing some of the information. The party will take place this coming Saturday, October 27, 2oo7 from 1:00 to 4:00PM. There will be about four to five chaperones there at the Augustana Church across from Minot University. People who come must be costumed and must bring at least one food item, a game for a large amount of people if they can, and the book of the character that they are dressed as. If you need help finding the book of your character, ask Matt or visit the library. No simple street-clothed characters are allowed. (If your character wears jeans and a t-shirt, choose a different one.) Chaperones do not have to be costumed, but it would be nice if they could manage to find one. You may also want to have a short scary story on your mind to share to the group, which can be made up by you or not. If you would like to bring simple decorations, you may, but it is a church, so keep them mild and we don’t want clean-up to last very long. Electric candles and plug-in jack-o-lanturns would be great to bring. At the meeting, people said that they would bring chips, candy, drinks such as sodas, cookies, tater-tot hot dish, paper cups and plates, napkins, cake, brownies, cupcakes, sloppy joes, and pizza rolls. If you would like to come, try to bring something that is not already on the list. There are members who are allergic to the entire nut family though, so nuts, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, peanut butter, etc. aren’t allowed. All members who plan on attending the party, must RSVP at Matt’s blog. You must comment on his blog to be there!