Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for May

Like last month, it’s a beautiful day outside as I write this, but also like last month, long range forecasts seem to predict showers and cool temperatures on the date of our next Writers Group meeting. If it looks like the weather will cooperate, and it has changed for the better since I checked it earlier this morning, we can meet outdoors in my yard. Otherwise, I’ll forward the WebEx contact information on the Friday before, just as I did for our last meeting. In either case. please plan to join me a week from Saturday, so we can talk about all things writing.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, May 8th, starting at 2PM. If you can attend, we’d love to see you. If you would like to submit a piece for critique during the meeting, please send it to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com, along with an idea of the level of feedback you are looking for, and I will distribute it to the group.

I hope to see you all on the 8th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt H – Mic the Worm King, or What Makes a LIfe Worth Living.docx
Cary – Poems 5.docx
Matt B – Barnstormers 3 Chapter 2.docx
Lisa – THC May 2021.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf

Notes from the April, 2021 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our one hundred and second Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, April 10.  Thanks to Laura, Salvador, Brian, Matt H, and Lisa for joining me to discuss writing and stuff, and thanks to Cary for sending in some comments.  Thanks also to Jaime for the good news in his e-mail, as you will see below.

As usual, I started with a few agenda items:
– Aaron sent a note at the last minute that he couldn’t attend, but that we could critique his piece next month
– Good news from Jaime: “THC / Covid reopening art events at the THC ….  Per the Governor, vaccines, and Covid infections going down – I am scheduling THC art events starting September 2021.
I have talked to Aaron Langoria and he will be our featured reader to open us up. Arron has published his book.  I am looking at September 18th at 7:00 p.m. I am excited to start THC Presents again. Please save the date and inform the group.
Also, in September we can also host the THC Writers Group again. Guys is this a good day for all.”
– E-mail from Brookfield Library: “Join us for a virtual fireside chat with John Sandford, author of the New York Times best-selling Prey series Wednesday, April 14 @ 7 p.m. on Zoom. Moderated by journalist and novelist Carl Hiaasen, John and Carl will have a 45 minute wide-ranging discussion followed by Q & A”. Looks to be free but registration is required – https://brookfield.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails?EventId=25392&backTo=Calendar&startDate=2021/04/07
– Lisa forwarded a note that the COD Theater Department is presenting War of the Worlds – “Complete with vintage commercials and live sound effects, this radio-play-within-a-play is a thrilling homage to the form’s golden age and timely reminder of what fear can do to a society.” Thursdays – Sundays, April 15 – 25 with a  Thursday, April 15, post-stream performance $16/household https://www.atthemac.org/events/war-of-the-worlds-the-panic-broadcast
– Salvador sent in an interesting link: “Noemi found this. I thought I’d share here.” https://lithub.com/ray-bradburys-greatest-writing-advice/
– Cary writes: “I am nearing 9,000 words with a goal of 25,000 words. My story is called “Everything’s Different, Nothing’s Changed,” and the title alludes to a Stephen Sondheim lyric. In a nutshell, it’s about a man who just got used to his new life after a divorce but his ex-wife comes back wanting to see if they can work things out. Because of the title, I decided to make it a character trait for Steve, the man who just got divorced, to like the music of Stephen Sondheim.”
– Laura mentioned that she is required to write a number of papers for the Theology curriculum she is taking, and she received approval to write some of the papers from the point of view of the characters she is creating for her current story.  She said that the research is relevant to the storyline, and writing the papers this way is helping her really develop her character’s voices.  She said it’s like “writing dialogue with footnotes.”  Matt H commented that he would probably get more out of reading textbooks that were written this way.
– CraftLiterary.com Short Fiction Prize contest is still accepting entries until May 2.  5,000 word count maximum.  Previously unpublished work only. $20 entry fee, and All entries will also be considered for publication in CRAFT. Prizes are $2,000, $500 and $300 https://www.craftliterary.com/short-fiction-prize/
– The Masters Review has a Flash Fiction Contest running until May 30 – $20 entry fee allows up to two stories (each under 1000 words) – Prizes of $3000, $300, $200 and publication in The Masters Review. Previously unpublished stories only, Simultaneous and multiple submissions allowed, Emerging writers only (which I think we all qualify) All stories are considered for publication https://mastersreview.com/flash-fiction-contest/
– The 2021 Indie Author Project is now under way.   Submissions are being accepted through May 31, 2021. Top prizes are $500 each in adult and young adult categories and opportunities to promote your book(s) at public libraries https://indieauthorproject.librariesshare.com/iap/
– The North Riverside Writers Group meets April 15th at 6pm with a presentation on “Building Your Author Platform.” http://www.northriversidelibrary.org/event-new/build-your-author-platform/
– Berwyn Library meets Sunday, April 25 at 7pm. https://berwynlibrary.libcal.com/event/7336473
– The Berwyn Library / Stickney Library /Oak Park Library Reading Night has been confirmed for Sunday, May 16 at 7pm – https://berwynlibrary.libcal.com/event/7615695 (and a flyer is attached)
– The next No Shush Salon will be on April 29th at 6:30pm with fantasy writer Shveta Thakrar as the featured performer.   Open mic limited to 10 minutes.  https://oppl.evanced.info/signup/eventdetails?eventid=51025&lib=7&return=

We then went around the virtual table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Brian contributed an image from his project to In Honour of War Heroes by Athanasios Tsakonas, and has read Love is the Spur by Geoffrey Bingham
– Laura has been reading some fantasy books but had nothing to recommend
– Matt H liked The Changeling by Victor LaValle
– Salvador said that he’s almost to the end of Technology’s Crucible by James Martin and he’s not sure why it’s taking him so long to finish it
– Lisa read nothing of note this month
– Cary wrote in that he’s reading When We Wuz Famous by Greg Takoudes. He says it’s a young adult novel about a teenager from New York’s Spanish Harlem who moves to a boarding school but doesn’t fit in. He’s about six chapters in and is enjoying it so far.
– Matt B finished The Girl Aviators on Golden Wings (1911) by Margaret Burnham, which was his recent $2 purchase from Half-Price Books, and intends to read the other two books in the series, which are available from gutenberg.org.  In between, he’s really enjoying The Mating Season, the 9th Jeeves book by P.G. Wodehouse

– In the manner of the STET! card game that we looked at last month, Matt B then brought in a headline that he read on the Washington Post web site on April 1 (which is still there as of 4/11 – https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/04/01/cancun-plane-genderreveal-crash-deaths/): “A plane dropped a pink cloud in gender-reveal stunt. Then it fell to the sea, killing two, authorities said.”  We discussed the confusing sentence structure (How did a pink cloud kill two people?) and how we would fix it.  Matt H said that he’s occasionally seen similar problems on the Chicago Tribune site, but that he e-mails them to point it out, and the paper will usually fix the problem on the web version.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual writing discussions and critiques.  We had a small but vocal group this month, and I think the critiques were very productive.  There was a lot of praise, as all the pieces this month were well-written, but each author seemed to have at least one “I hadn’t thought of that” moment.  That’s what comes from multiple people with different viewpoints looking at your work.  Laura, in particular, said that she appreciated hearing from readers who typically didn’t read much fantasy, if any at all.  And with me writing a story about two women, I welcome all comments, but especially ones from a woman’s perspective about how my characters would handle a particular situation.

I also had hoped we would be able to meet in person outdoors this month, but the weather didn’t cooperate.  As we move through spring and into the summer months, we will have more opportunity to do that, and with any luck, we will be back to meeting regularly in person, possibly even back at the Tamale Hut by the fall.  WebEx has been great for allowing us to continue to meet during the pandemic, but there’s nothing like being in a room with a bunch of writers, each talking passionately about their projects.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month. Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– The Tamale Hut Café Reading Series is still on hold until the pandemic abates, but may be back in September.
– around April 25, I will send a reminder to everyone to submit a piece for critique during our next meeting.
– as I get pieces, I will send them out as quickly as I can
– our next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, May 8 at 2PM on-line.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group. I hope to see you at the next Writers Group meeting and at the next Reading Series event, whenever that may be.

Don’t forget to wear your mask when you can’t socially distance, stay healthy, stay sane, support some locally-owned restaurants (including the Tamale Hut Café) with carry-out orders (and don’t forget to tip!) and most of all: Keep Writing!

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for April

It’s a beautiful day outside as I write this, so as is the way “in the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of outdoor writers group meetings!” (Apologies to Tennyson.) Obviously, to plan for that we are at the whim of the weather. Long range forecast seems to call for showers that day, but predictions are rarely accurate that far into the future, so I will keep an eye on the various weather sites. If it looks like it will be comfortable outside with little chance of precipitation, we can meet in my yard. Otherwise, I’ll forward the WebEx contact information.

Unless you would prefer we stick to WebEx regardless of the weather. If anyone has strong feelings either way, let me know and we’ll proceed according to what the group decides. This is (mostly) a democracy, after all. (But before anyone asks, we really can’t do a hybrid, with a group in person but also some on-line. We tried that years ago and I found the technical issues to be too distracting to me.)

(4/09/2021 update: National Weather Service is predicting 90% chance of rain for tomorrow, so we’ll need to postpone our first in-person meeting of the year for at lease another month.)

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, April 10th on WebEx, starting at 2PM.  Connection details were sent to everyone on the mailing list. If you’re not currently on the list but would like to attend, please send an e-mail to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com. If you can attend, we’d love to see you.  If you would like to submit a piece for critique during the meeting, please send it to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com, along with an idea of the level of feedback you are looking for, and I will distribute it to the group.

I hope to see you all on the 10th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Laura – Tamale Hut April.docx
Matt H – Armageddon DInner and Tournament.docx
Matt B – Barnstormers 3 Chapter 1.docx
Brian – A DAY OUT Tamale Group April 2021.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf

Notes from the March, 2021 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our one hundred and first Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, March 13.  Thanks to Lisa, Laura, Cary, Salvador, Kathy, and Aaron for joining me for still another of our monthly get-togethers to talk about writing and stuff.  Thanks also to Jaime for his support.

As usual, I started with a few agenda items:
– Brian couldn’t make it, and Matt H wrote: ”It stinks but I have to volunteer at a Covid vaccine site tomorrow. Tried to get out of it, but global pandemic and all.”  If that’s not a good reason to not attend, I don’t know what is.
– There was a little activity on the Chicago Authors group on GoodReads (https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/710889-chicago-authors) in the middle of February but not much since.  If it picks up, I’ll let everyone know so they can join in.
– CraftLiterary.com has a Short Fiction Prize contest accepting entries until May 2.  5,000 word count maximum.  Previously unpublished work only. $20 entry fee, and all entries will also be considered for publication in CRAFT. Prizes are $2,000, $500 and $300 https://www.craftliterary.com/short-fiction-prize/
– The Writer also has a number of contests listed.  On FB, Tina Jens writes “Several good paying ones with March deadlines.“ – https://www.writermag.com/contests/
– The Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights is doing a pair of radio plays: “Sorry, Wrong Number” and “On a Country Road”.  Live stream with post show talkback with cast and crew will be the 27th and 28th, then the show is available streaming on-demand for a week after. Reasonable price, and it helps a great place to see a show https://www.metropolisarts.com/event/metropolis-on-the-air/2021-03-27/
– Kathy mentioned that the 16th Street Theater in Berwyn is also a good place to see a show.  She said that they are moving to a new building, and they are selling subscriptions to the upcoming season, as well as hosting some on-line content.  She highly recommends them. –  https://16thstreettheater.org/
– If you’re looking for other writers groups, the North Riverside Writers Group meets Thursday, March 18 at 6pm.   Berwyn Library meets Sunday, March 28 at 7pm. Info on their respective web sites
– The March No Shush Salon will be on March 25th at 6:30pm with horror writer John Wayne Comunale as the featured performer. https://oppl.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails?EventId=51024  Open mic is limited to 10 minutes.  More details on Facebook.
– The Berwyn Library Writers Group is planning to host a Reading Night on Sunday, May 16, at 7 pm.  I’ll have more information as plans firm up.
– Cary said that he realized that he really needs the structure and motivation provided by NaNoWriMo to write a novel.  He was in the beginning stages of his next story but it wasn’t going well, so he decided to save it for Camp NaNoWriMo in April.
– I have no Café Paul collection details this month, as time seemed to have gotten away from me.  I plan to start contacting authors this week for input.
– Aaron said that he stopped in the Tamale Hut this week (as we all should be doing) and Jaime said that he is tentatively planning for Sept 18 as the next Tamale Hut Presents open mic event, and he asked Aaron if he wanted to be the  featured reader!  Obviously this is just in the planning stages, subject to good news on the pandemic front, and we’ll have more information as it’s available.
– After the meeting, Lisa sent in an e-mail about another contest: The 2021 Indie Author Project will launch on April 1st.  I’ll have more details at the next meeting, but here’s a link in the meantime:https://indieauthorproject.com/the-2021-indie-author-project-regional-contests-launch-april-1st/

We then went around the virtual table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Lisa enjoyed Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith, but was disappointed with Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote,  she also liked Murder at the Mayfair Hotel by C. J. Archer
– Cary caught up on some People magazines that he had laying around
– Laura’s reading has largely been in the form of research for the class she’s taking
– Kathy liked Luster by Raven Leilani, although she said that the subject matter is not for everyone.  She also highly recommended A Burning by Megha Majumdar, saying it was “an excellent book.”
– Salvador read 30 pages more of Technology’s Crucible by James Martin, and he’s determined to finish it
– Aaron is finishing Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, and plans to next read Safe At Home by Orson Bean
– Matt B loved Gary’s Book of Short Stories by Gary Doherty, and noted that it already had 11 five-star reviews on Amazon! He also read The Girl Aviators and the Phantom Airship (1911) by Margaret Burnham, and is almost done with the second book in the series, The Girl Aviators on Golden Wings

– Next we played a few rounds of STET!, the card game that Lisa received for Christmas.  We were provided with a complex sentence and had to determine if there was something grammatically wrong with it and how we would fix it.  It was harder than it sounds.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual writing discussions and critiques.  The general consensus is that the change in format, where we allow everyone to have a say about a piece before the author is allowed to comment, has really improved the quality of the critiques.  And with only a few pieces to discuss this month, we really went into detail about what worked and what didn’t.  In my case, for instance, I was concerned about how one part played out, but while the group agreed that that part was fine, there was another part that almost everyone had a problem with.  Afterwards, I was wondering if that would have come out so thoroughly if I had been blabbing (as I often do) while everyone was pointing out a problem with the story that I didn’t even realize that I had.  For me, keeping quiet was very beneficial and I’m sure everyone’s comments will help me turn out a better story.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month. Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– The Tamale Hut Café Reading Series is still on hold until the pandemic abates.
– around March 28, I will send a reminder to everyone to submit a piece for critique during our next meeting.
– as I get pieces, I will send them out as quickly as I can
– our next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, April 10 at 2PM on-line.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group. I hope to see you at the next Writers Group meeting and at the next Reading Series event, whenever that may be.

Stay indoors, stay healthy, stay sane, support some locally-owned restaurants (including the Tamale Hut Café) with carry-out orders (and don’t forget to tip!) and most of all: Keep Writing!

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for March

I never really understood that old saw “in like a lion, out like a lamb.”  We’re just as likely to have lousy weather at the end of March as at the beginning.  Is that left over from a time when we were not screwing up the climate and we were not locked away in our homes for our own protection?  I dunno.  All I know is that it’s sunny out there now, the snow seems to be melting, and I’ve already seen some squirrels running around.  The calendar confirms that it’s only a few weeks until spring, so maybe outdoor activities are not too far away.  I’m already talking to my neighbor about borrowing his tables and chairs again for some outdoor Writers Group meetings.  Let’s hear it for life getting (somewhat) back to normal!

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, March 13th on WebEx, starting at 2PM.  Connection details were sent to everyone on the mailing list. If you’re not currently on the list but would like to attend, please send an e-mail to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com. If you can attend, we’d love to see you.  If you would like to submit a piece for critique during the meeting, please send it to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com, along with an idea of the level of feedback you are looking for, and I will distribute it to the group.

I hope to see you all on the 13th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt B – The Lost Job part 5 – THC.docx
Laura – Reading group.docx
Cary – Good Life.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf

Notes from the February, 2021 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our one-hundredth (!) Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, February 13.  Thanks to Lisa, Salvador, Cary, Matt H, Jen, Brian, Kathy, and Aaron for joining me for another of our monthly get-togethers to talk about writing and stuff.  Thanks also to Jaime for his well-wishes on our milestone meeting, and I’ll repeat my usual reminder that the Tamale Hut Café is open seven days a week for your tamale and tinga pleasure.  Let’s keep supporting out local businesses as this pandemic grinds on.

As usual, I started with a few agenda items:
– I received an e-mail that Arts Midwest is looking for writers: “Arts Midwest is seeking contributing writers who are interested in covering stories about creativity, cultural leadership, and community vitality for our website, artsmidwest.org. Deadline is February 28th, 2021″ – Details are at at this link
– Dominican University is hosting Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (virtually) on Feb 18th at 7pm.   If you’re interested in attending, here is the link to register
– The North Riverside Writers Group also meets Thursday, Feb 18 at 6pm, and this month, Lizzy is planning to get into the ins and outs of Reddit with everyone! I don’t know much about Reddit but I understand there are areas that have some benefit for writers, and presumably Lizzy will also help us avoid the more seedy sections of the site. Details are at the North Riverside library web site. Also, the Berwyn Library Writers Group meets Sunday, Feb. 28 at 7pm. Info is on the library web site
– The No-Shush Salon meets this month on Feb 25th from 6:30 to 9pm on Zoom with author KM Herkes.  There is an open mic afterward, limited to 10 minutes for each reader.  Details are on the No-Shush Salon Facebook page.  E-mail me if you are interested but are not a member of that service.
– Lisa mentioned that she read a recommendation from Dan Boyd, who runs https://storyluck.org, about getting into the habit of daily writing.  He recommended that anyone trying to do so should write a minimum of two sentences a day.  He suggests that everyone should be able to find time to write two sentences a day, and his idea that the two sentences should tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end.  Lisa contends that it should really be three sentences, and she’s been doing that for about ten days now and has been really enjoying it.  She said that some sentences are really long but some are short, depending on her mood that day.  It’s a good way to get into the daily writing habit.
– I have more details about that proposed Café Paul collection.  I spoke to my contact at Priority Print in Brookfield and he said that they don’t do any paperback-style perfect binding in-house, which would make that format would be more expensive.  He said the 8.5×11 page folded and stapled format that I proposed is actually the most economical for us, and the price per copy may come down a bit depending on the size of the order.  In the next few days, I will be contacting the six authors to confirm they are interested in participating, and to ask for an updated file and maybe a bio to include.  After that, I will let everyone know how much it will be per copy and take orders, then we’ll place one order for all the pamphlets.  There’s still time for you to submit a story to the collection, but you’ll need to hurry.  E-mail me if you want to participate.
– Cary told us that he saw his friend Robert the other day.  Robert had attended a few of our meetings before quarantine but lately has been too busy to join us.  He did wish us congratulations on our 100th meeting, and hopes to make time for us soon.
– During the current reading list section of the meeting, Brian mentioned that a few years ago, he heard the writer of the book he’s now reading speak as part of that year’s Chicago Humanities Festival.  As with most events of this type, it’s gone all virtual, but Brian recommends it: https://www.chicagohumanities.org/
– Last month, Lisa told us about a new card game that she got for Christmas, and thought it might be fun for us to play as a group, but she didn’t have time to prepare anything for the Feb meeting so we pushed that off to March.

We then went around the virtual table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Lisa’s mostly just been reading vendor contracts and such for her new job, but she did find time to listen to the audio book of Martin Misunderstood by Karin Slaughter, which she enjoyed
– Salvador said that he got through another chunk of Technology’s Crucible by James Martin, and hopes to have it done in a month or two
– Cary read nothing of note this month
– Matt H read For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, as well as Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto, and he said he “could do without” either of them, but he said he’ll keep trying different things.
– Jen is reading Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction by Jay Lake, Orson Scott Card, and Philip Athans, partly for a class but also for inspiration for her own writing
– Brian highly recommended Inside Story by Martin Amis, for its blending of fiction with real people, a form the New York Times called a “novelized autobiography”
– For pure pleasure reading, Kathy really enjoyed Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce, which she said was a “fun story.”  She also read The Chosen People by Sidney L. Nyburg and East River by Sholem Asch for a book club, and she said that she learned a lot from each.
– Matt B enjoyed The Programmer by Bruce Jackson, a story written in 1979 about a computer hacker, well before that term was coined, and he is now reading Gary’s Book of Short Stories by Gary Doherty

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual general writing discussions and critiques.  At our January meeting, Lisa suggested that for our one-hundredth meeting, we should try to write a 100-word story.  Many of us ran with that, so that most of the 11 stories we discussed were 100 words each.  I assumed that this would make for a quick meeting, but the discussions were surprisingly in-depth for such short works.  We modified the format of the critiques somewhat after the January meeting, so that everyone had a chance to discuss the piece before the author was allowed to ask questions or comment on the conversation about their work.  This seemed to be to be a good balance between last month’s format of only the readers commenting on the pieces, and our usual way of having the writers fully engaged in the conversation.  This hybrid still puts more of the onus on the reviewers to be prepared to discuss the work, to which our attendees have stepped up admirably, but it also allows the writer to raise issues that may not have come up in the initial conversations.  While our old format worked well for 98 meetings, it’s sometimes good to change things around a bit, and this seems a worthwhile change.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month. Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– The Tamale Hut Café Reading Series is still on hold until the pandemic abates.
– around February 28, I will send a reminder to everyone to submit a piece for critique during our next meeting.
– as I get pieces, I will send them out as quickly as I can
– our next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, March 13 at 2PM on-line.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group. I hope to see you at the next Writers Group meeting and at the next Reading Series event, whenever that may be.

Stay indoors, stay healthy, stay sane, support some locally-owned restaurants (including the Tamale Hut Café) with carry-out orders (and don’t forget to tip!) and most of all: Keep Writing!

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for February

Every year at our October meeting, I distribute some statistics for the group meetings up to that point.  The number that I most look forward to seeing is the count of how many individual stories that we’ve discussed since we started these meetings (678 as of January!) but many people look at the number of consecutive meetings each has attended.  It’s a point of pride to have not missed a meeting for long stretches, and it’s a motivating factor to keep attending.

Well, our next meeting is a milestone of its own.  The February meeting of the Tamale Hut Café Writers Group will be our one-hundredth monthly meeting!  And to celebrate, everyone is suggested to try to write a one hundred word story.  I’m not sure if I can actually do that, because as you know, brevity is not my strong suit, but I’ll give it a go.  Why not join me?

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, February 13th on WebEx, starting at 2PM.  Connection details were sent to everyone on the mailing list. If you’re not currently on the list but would like to attend, please send an e-mail to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com. If you can attend, we’d love to see you.  If you would like to submit a piece for critique during the meeting, please send it to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com, along with an idea of the level of feedback you are looking for, and I will distribute it to the group.

I hope to see you all on the 13th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Kathy – The Year Of Covid.docx
Matt H – Pandamonium in the Parking Lot.docx
Lisa – 100 Word Story.docx
Matt B – Dad teaches us how to gamble.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf
Brian – Box in the Attic_Tamale Feb 2021.docx
Salvador – TheSingularity.docx
Jen – The Stranded_2pgs_JenniferSmith.docx
Cary – Rock.docx
Matt H – 100 words.docx
Matt H – one more 100 word.docx

Notes from the January, 2021 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our ninety-ninth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, January 16.  Thanks to Lisa, Kathy, Matt H, Cary, Salvador, and Aaron for joining me for our monthly virtual get-together to talk about writing and stuff.  Thanks also to Jaime and the Tamale Hut Café, who have supported our group for the last 99 months.  You should really stop by there soon and pick up some tinga and chili to keep you warm through the long January evenings.

As usual, I started with a few agenda items:
– Jaime sent a note before the first of the year: “Please pass on my sincere well new year wishes to all”
– Brian e-mailed at the last minute that he couldn’t attend, and Steve wrote “I’ll be taking a break from the group for the opening six months of 2021.”
– Gary D wrote to say that his new book, Gary’s Book of Short Stories, is available for purchase at the Looking Glass on Oak Park avenue, at the Book table in downtown Oak Park and at the Eastgate Cafe.  It’s also available from Amazon in paperback and for your Kindle
– Lisa forwarded an e-mail about a Free Weekly Storytelling Workshop.  She hasn’t looked into it, but she said it looked interesting.  Here’s the link if anyone would like to check it out: https://mailchi.mp/279945d4c81d/free-weekly-storytelling-workshop?e=2ecb6e55ac
– The Berwyn Library Writers Group meets Sunday, Jan. 31 at 7pm.  Info is on the Berwyn Library web site
– The No Shush Salon is a monthly reading series, typically held on the last Thursday of the month.  This month it will be Thursday, Jan 28 at 6:30pm.  Sign-up details are on Facebook (search for “No Shush Salon”) or e-mail me for the link.  Another monthly reading event, Gumbo Fiction, was earlier this month, but the next one is scheduled for Feb 11.

– Lana B writes
“Dear Tamale Hut Cafe Writers Group,

The QueryLetter.com Writing Contest, which you posted about on your site, has just wrapped up. It was a huge success, with a total of 3,847 submissions!

We’ve announced the winner and runners up and posted the top 10 blurbs here: https://www.queryletter.com/post/announcing-the-winner-of-the-2020-queryletter-com-writing-contest

We were really impressed by the fantastic work carried out by all the authors and we hope you’ll share the post with your audience. We think there’s a lot to learn from these expertly crafted blurbs.”

– I had a couple more pricing quotes for printing our Café Paul collection, but none of them were significantly less than the local printer had quoted us.  We had some conversation about the format of the book, and I need to go back to the printer to see how changes to the dimensions might affect the price.
– I mentioned that in the Kolchak episode I watched the night before the meeting, “Horror in the Heights”, the monster was called the Rakshasa, which I remembered from Gary P’s story from earlier in the year.  That reminded me that I received an e-mail from him in December and he said that he would be back some time in 2021
– Lisa got a game for Christmas, and she said that we might like it.  The game is called STET! and she said that it’s a card game for grammar fans, and might be suitable to play as a group.  She’ll bring a few cards to the meeting next month to try.

We then went around the virtual table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Lisa said that she enjoyed Casco Cove by Matthew Bieniek
– Kathy read a number of books for her various book clubs, but one she really liked was One Night, Markovitch by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
– Matt H really liked The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain, and is reading Greening Death by Suzanne Kelly for a project he’s working on
– Cary is enjoying The Opening of the Elysium by Matthew Bieniek
– Salvador is determined to get through Technology’s Crucible by James Martin, although he recognizes that it’s taking longer than he’d like to finish
– Aaron is rereading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer as he reevaluates his diet
– Matt B loved reading three graphic novels from Rick Geary: Louise Brooks: Detective, Famous Players (about the murder of William Desmond Taylor,) and Cravan, Mystery Man of the Twentieth Century.  Geary has a very distinctive art style and his stories are very enjoyable, even if there’s a lot of death in them

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual general writing discussions and critiques.  We tried something different this month, in which the writer contributing the piece was not allowed to participate in the discussion except to say ‘Thank you.’.  This was an experiment, just to see how it would work out.  A few members expressed misgivings about the idea, but it all went extremely well.  I was a little afraid that there would be some “dead air” if the author was not asking questions or otherwise soliciting comments during the critique but it seemed that everyone came prepared to contribute and the comments offered were well thought out and constructive.

That’s not to say that our normal discussion is not constructive, but it seemed we stayed on topic a little more than we typically do, and there was more discussion about the stories between the attendees than we usually have.  I know I found it difficult not to jump into the conversation when my piece was discussed, but I think it was useful to just sit back and really listen to what everyone was saying without trying to formulate my reply in my head.  We discussed that we should try a hybrid format next time, where we can give everyone a chance to talk about the story before the author is allowed to join the discussion.  I think maybe we’ll try that next month.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month. Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– The Tamale Hut Café Reading Series is still on hold until the pandemic abates.
– around January 31, I will send a reminder to everyone to submit a piece for critique during our next meeting.
– as I get pieces, I will send them out as quickly as I can
– our next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, February 13 at 2PM on-line.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group. I hope to see you at the next Writers Group meeting and at the next Reading Series event, whenever that may be.

Stay indoors, stay healthy, stay sane, support some locally-owned restaurants (including the Tamale Hut Café) with carry-out orders (and don’t forget to tip!) and most of all: Keep Writing!

Matt B

Next Writers Group meeting rescheduled to January 16

Hi, everyone,

I apologize, but due to some personal issues, I am unable to host the Writers Group meeting this week. Because of this, I’m rescheduling to the following Saturday, January 16. I hope this does not inconvenience anyone too much, but it’s unavoidable.

If anyone who had submitted a piece is unable to attend on the 16th, please let me know and we can move your piece to February.

I look forward to seeing you next week on the 16th of January. The connection information will be the same, and I will re-send the link on the Friday before the meeting.

Matt B

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces: Matt H – Great now you’ve got the kid speaking in tongues.docx
Matt B – The Lost Job part 4 – THC.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf
Lisa – Waiting.docx
Brian – Box in the Attic_Tamale Jan 2020.docx
Kathy – THE HOUSE.docx
Cary – Father’s Boots.docx

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for January

Happy New Year, everyone!

Now that the holidays are just about over, we can look forward to the new year and all the creativity it will bring!  I hope everyone gets more writing done next year. I have two announcements about the next Writers Group meeting.  If you were at the last meeting, or remember from my last meeting recap, we are proposing a one-time change to our format, just to see how it works.  During the critique section of the January meeting, the author of the piece being discussed will not be allowed to comment on any of the points being raised by the other members, other than to simply say ‘Thank you.’  The idea behind this is to allow the work to stand on its own, without the author clarifying anything, just the same way as if a total stranger is reading the piece without access to the author.  I think this is going to be especially difficult for someone like me, because my contribution will be the middle of a larger work.  I plan to make sure that I include a recap at the beginning of the file that has enough information for anyone who hasn’t read the previous chapters to know who the characters are and what’s going on.  It’s also going to be difficult to keep my trap shut and not interrupt the conversation as everyone talks about my work.  I think it will be an interesting experiment.

Also, I wanted to remind everyone that we discussed writing our own ‘Bad Analogies’ in the vein of the ones I read at the November meeting.  I sent out the document containing the ones I read attached to the November meeting recap, or you can find it here.  I’m looking forward to what we come up with.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, January 16th, starting at 2PM over WebEx. Connection details were sent to everyone on the mailing list. If you’re not currently on the list but would like to attend, please send an e-mail to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com. If you can attend, we’d love to see you.  If you would like to submit a piece for critique during the meeting, please send it to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com, along with an idea of the level of feedback you are looking for, and I will distribute it to the group.

I hope to see, or at least hear, all of you on-line on the 16th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces: Matt H – Great now you’ve got the kid speaking in tongues.docx
Matt B – The Lost Job part 4 – THC.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf
Lisa – Waiting.docx
Brian – Box in the Attic_Tamale Jan 2020.docx
Kathy – THE HOUSE.docx
Cary – Father’s Boots.docx