Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for July

While the coronavirus threat is still very much with us, our friends and neighbors (well, most of ‘em, anyway) have been doing such a good job with wearing masks and social distancing that we are now in Phase 4 of the state’s recovery plan. This means that gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, and bars and restaurants are allowed to have indoor seating.

It also means that we can resume in-person meetings starting in July. Things will be a little different from past meetings, though. Everyone will be required to wear a mask, except while you’re eating. Everyone will be seated at their own table, and the tables will be situated at least six feet apart to maintain recommended social distancing. And Jaime has offered to provide hand sanitizer for our use. Other than that, it should be the same fun and interesting kind of meeting that we’ve been enjoying for almost eight years. I hope to see many of you there.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, July 11th, at the Tamale Hut Café, 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.

If you have any questions or concerns about the meeting, please let me know. I hope to see you all on the 11th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Sean – MAXIME ET DANIEL.pdf
Chris W – First Lucky Chapter 3 POVs.docx

Notes from the June, 2020 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our ninety-second Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, June 14.  Thanks to Lisa, Sean, Salvador, Matt H, Brian, Kathy, Cary, Chris, and Aaron for joining me on-line via WebEx for conversations about our current creative efforts and how we’re coping with the state of the world today.

As usual, we started with a few agenda items:
– I received a message from Marianne: Hello All, Just a shout-out to check in and let you know I’ll be back with the group when we can finally meet in person…I have been reading everyone’s submissions each month…WOW, lot’s of writing going on, all great stuff!  Juppe is still romping around in my computer…can’t wait to get critics again.
Hope everyone is well, so far I have endured months of Covid isolation, 3 demonstrations in town, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse THE CICADAS ARE HERE, aaaaaaaagggggggggggggg!!
Love & miss you all, Marianne K.
– Errol wrote in to say that he couldn’t make the call this month, and Jenn wrote that she “won’t be able to make today’s meeting, studying for my Microsoft exams.”  Good luck on the exams, Jenn
– I had some encouraging book-related signs that life might soon be returning to normal:
– Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention (http://windycitypulpandpaper.com/home/) and the Printers Row Lit Fest (https://printersrowlitfest.org/) are still scheduled for September.  I was skeptical when each rescheduled instead of cancelled, but with Illinois already in Phase 3 of reopening, the possibility of the two events happening is increasing.
– Chimera’s Comics in LaGrange is now open Wednesdays – Fridays 12-7 and Saturdays 11-5.  As most places, they have a limit of now many people can be in the store at once, but they are offering curbside pickup if you call ahead.
– Brookfield Library is also open for curbside service, as are other libraries
– Half-Price Books in Countryside is open, but with the limited number of customers allowed in the store, shopping there is apparently not the casual experience it has been.  I’m sure that’ll change once restrictions loosen.
– In disappointing news, Lisa reported that the stories from last month were true that Anderson’s Bookshop in LaGrange is closing for good on July 1, even while running a GoFundMe campaign to keep the chain open.  I still say a magazine rack would have been a moneymaker there, despite the extra work involved.
– I’ve been enjoying the Silent Comedy Watch Party (https://www.silentfilmmusic.com/silent-comedy-watch-party/), where you can see three silent comedy shorts on-line, accompanied by live piano music and some historical commentary.  The live broadcast is at 2pm CDT on Sundays, but you can see past episodes on YouTube at the link above.
– The North Riverside Writers Group meets next on Thursday, June 18 at 6pm on Zoom.  Details and registration information are at http://www.northriversidelibrary.org/events/digital-programming-writers-group/

– We briefly discussed the Group Project that we’re doing this year.  The photo we’re using as a prompt is on our web site, and was included in last month’s recap e-mail.  Kathy said that she’s been thinking about a story, but Sean said that his story is done and he would be sending it in for review soon, possibly next month.  How’s everyone else coming along?

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list, such as it is in this time of short attention spans:
– Lisa has been reading documents for work on how to reopen public buildings safely with the threat of COVID-19 still upon us.  She’s also been writing some similar documents, so at least she’s getting some writing done.
– Sean is really enjoying What’s Bred in the Bone, the second book in the Cornish Trilogy by Robertson Davies. Brian also highly recommended the author and the series.
– Salvador had nothing to report
– Matt H is reading Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham. He said he’s looking forward to the upcoming film adaptation of the story.
– Brian really enjoyed Trial by Battle by David Piper, so much so that he actually finished it!
– Cary recently started On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves, and he likes what he’s read so far
– Chris liked I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid, and Finding Chika by Mitch Albom
– Matt B just started reading Shatterday by Harlan Ellison, after Jenn’s recommendation last month, and she was right that the first story, “Jeffty is Five,” is amazing

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual general writing discussions and critiques.  We had a few more technical difficulties this month with WebEx than we’ve had for previous meetings, but it was still better than meeting in person with all the associated health risks involved, and much better than not meeting at all.

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, pending lifting of the statewide stay-at-home order.  Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for announcements of upcoming events.
– around June 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, July 11 at 2PM on-line via WebEx.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group. I hope to see you on-line for the next Writers Group meeting call, and in-person 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 – now also open on Sundays!) with carry-out orders or outside dining where available, and keep writing!

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for June

Jaime sent word that the meal that we all pitched in for was delivered on Tuesday, May 26, to the COVID-19 unit and the Internal Medicine department at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.  Our contributions purchased:
24 pork tamales
24 cheese – Jalapeno tamales
24 chicken tamales
24 spinach tamales
12 bean tamales
19 pounds of tinga with tostada chips, sour cream and cotija cheese.

The following message was sent with the lunch:
Please accept this small token of appreciation from the Tamale Hut Café Writers Group for everything you do for the community. As writers, we know that our words have the power to heal minds and spirits, but your deeds have the power to heal bodies. Thanks for being there for us.

And our gesture was well-received:

Thanks to everyone for helping out the heroes at Loyola, and the Tamale Hut!

I also received a request from Chris, one of our regular attendees.  He is looking for someone to help him directly with the novel manuscript that he has been submitting in pieces to the group.  He writes, “I would be happy to offer a stipend that I could talk to anyone who might be interested in this with directly. Since I have sent in different chunks at various times, it’s not necessarily so fresh in everyone’s minds. Also, I know that it isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea.”  I’m hoping that Chris will join in the next meeting, so we could talk to him in person about what he’s looking for.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in helping Chris out, let me (Matt B) know and I’ll put you in touch with him.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, June 13th, on the ‘net via 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, or at least hear, all of you on-line on the 13th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Sean – REGARDING THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.docx
Matt H – AA 11-14.docx
Brian – The contours of homesickness June 2020.docx
Salvador – GodofWar.docx
Cary – My Boys – Just Three friends.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf
Matt B – The Three Piemakers pt1.docx
Chris W – Batch of 4 Shorts for June THC Meeting.docx

Notes from the May, 2020 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our ninety-first Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, May 9.  Thanks to Brian, Lisa, Sean, Matt H, Michelle, Jennifer, Kathy, Aaron, and Salvador for joining me on-line via WebEx for conversations about our creative efforts while we’re all confined to our homes.  Thanks to Robert for checking in via phone at the very beginning of the meeting.

As usual, we started with a few agenda items:
– Errol wrote in to say: I will not be at the meeting today. I am starting a new project – a one-man show. I start today meeting with a friend who is going to help and will be taking two of her classes through the summer at Chicago Dramatists (all virtually, of course). And she is only available to meet Saturday afternoons.
Please send my gratitude to the group for all of their support and feedback. It has been an amazing education. I will keep you all informed of the book’s progress. I am querying daily. I will also let you know if and when the one-man show evolves – right now titled “Delta Boy”. Maybe, I will catch up with the group in September.
Everyone stay safe, well and creative.
https://friendlywriting.wordpress.com/
– The North Riverside Writers Group meets next on Thursday, May 21 at 6pm on Zoom.  Details and registration information are at http://www.northriversidelibrary.org/events/digital-programming-writers-group/
– Local independent bookstore Anderson’s Bookshops has a GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-keep-anderson039s-bookshops-here) that’s raised $84K of a $100K goal to help them survive in these dire economic times.  I also saw an article in the Tribune that said that before the Coronavirus shutdown, management told employees that the LaGrange location would be closing in July when the current lease is up.  Some people in the article say they are conflicted about contributing to the store if they’re just going to close.  Apparently the plans to close the LaGrange store are not set in stone, though.
– The Printers Row Lit Fest is now tentatively scheduled for Sept 5th & 6th – https://printersrowlitfest.org/
– The Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention has been postponed until Sept 11-13 – http://windycitypulpandpaper.com/home/
– Lisa sent a notice: North Street Book Prize for Self-Published Books – Enter your self-published book into the sixth North Street competition, sponsored by Winning Writers and co-sponsored by BookBaby and Carolyn Howard-Johnson (author of The Frugal Book Promoter).
Choose from six categories: Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, Creative Nonfiction & Memoir, Poetry, Children’s Picture Book, Graphic Novel & Memoir
The top winner in each category will win $1,000, one grand prize winner will win $5,000, and all will receive additional benefits to help market their books. Any year of publication is eligible. Entry fee: $65 per book. Deadline: June 30. Winning Writers is one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers” (Writer’s Digest).
https://winningwriters.com/our-contests/north-street-book-prize
– Lisa also sent in a note about upcoming webinars offered by the American Writers Museum:
– Catharine Arnold – Pandemic: 1918 – May 26 11:00 a.m. Central
– Dr. Manisha Sinha on the Enduring Legacy of Frederick Douglass – May 28 6:30 p.m. Central
– C Pam Zhang – How Much of These Hills Is Gold – June 4 – 6:30 p.m. Central
Details for these events and more are at https://americanwritersmuseum.org/calendar/
– She also received an e-mail from the Writer magazine about the Summer Festival of Writing from JerichoWriters.  She wrote “It is about $185, but I figure that if I am stuck at home all summer, it is less expensive that all the concerts I’d be going to.”  Details at https://jerichowriters.com/festival-of-writing/

The conversation then drifted into television shows, since most of us don’t have the attention span these days to read anything substantial:
– Lisa mentioned that she’s really enjoying “Nebula-75”, the new series from Century 21 Films Ltd., the studio behind the Supermarionation series such as “Thunderbirds” and “Captain Scarlet”.  You can read all about how the show was produced by only a few people cooped up in their apartment, and also watch some episodes, at https://www.filmedinsupermarionation.com/nebula-75
– Matt B mentioned that The Movies! Channel shows lots of good old movies, something like TCM but with commercials.  They have a regular Noir Thursday feature, as well as showing Hopalong Cassidy films on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  They are channel 363 on Comcast and channel 32.2 over the air – https://moviestvnetwork.com/
– Aaron has been watching “Lassie” reruns on YouTube, and recommends watching the series in order from the beginning – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXquPCNsPzM
– Salvador offered this YouTube video, a Jupiter 2 liftoff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4rDZhsgn9Q
– Michelle recommended looking up videos of Coconut Leo, in order to see what she was describing in her story this month.  Here’s an example – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pa6xbk0-1_c

– I then floated the idea of trying to help out the Tamale Hut in a more tangible way.  We’ve been supported by Jaime all these years, and I thought we could do something to give back just a little.  Since it’s taken me so long to write up this recap, we’ve actually run a little fund raiser and many generous people in the group kicked in $445 to help out the Tamale Hut with a catering order, and to provide lunch for the Emergency Room staff at the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.  Details of the fund raiser are on our web site at https://thcwritersgroup.wordpress.com/2020/05/10/tamale-hut-cafe-writers-group-pitches-in/, and the results are here: https://thcwritersgroup.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/tamale-hut-cafe-writers-group-helps-out/
There will hopefully be more pictures coming, but in the meantime, Jaime sent a note thanking the group on his behalf and the THC.

– Last month, we decided that our next Group Project would be for everyone to write a story based on a photograph.  We’re still scheduled to be the feature at the September Reading Series night, if that even happens, but even if we’re doing it just for ourselves, it should be fun.  After much deliberation, Stephie picked the photo.  I showed it to the group on the call, and you can see it here:

Now let’s get writing!

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list, such as it is in this time of short attention spans:
– Brian spoke highly of Normal People by Sally Rooney, which has been made into a TV series
– Lisa is still working on Nine Shiny Objects by Brian Castleberry and is impressed with the writing, considering it’s his first published book.  She’s also watching lots of B horror movies
– Sean is dividing his time between Matthew and Empire by Warren Carter, Trouble is my Business by Raymond Chandler, and Night Squad by David Goodis
– Matt H says he’s not up for reading, so he downloaded the audio book of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick from LibriVox and is remembering why he always liked that book.
– Michelle is not reading much, but has been doing a lot of jigsaw puzzles to relax
– Jennifer again highly recommended Shatterday by Harlan Ellison.  It’s a collection of short stories, and while she said that they were not all her cup of tea, the first and the last stories in the book blew her away
– Kathy liked Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, and also read Home by Harlan Coben, Enchantress by Maggie Anton, Escaping Into the Open by Elizabeth Berg.  She’s also been writing some Covid-inspired haiku
– Aaron is enjoying Dragons Can Only Rust by Chris Cymri, the first book int he “Gonard’s Journey” series
– Salvador had nothing to report
– Matt B liked The Great Express Robbery and The House of Mystery, both by Grace Miller White, Rescued in the Clouds by Franklin W. Dixon, and The Man from AVON by Michael Avallone

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual general writing discussions and critiques.  It’s funny, but when I sat down to go over my notes to write up this recap, I remembered one of the attendees showing something to group, and I thought that it was funny that they brought the item to the meeting, only to catch myself when I realized that they had the item at their own home, and we were all seeing everyone in little windows on a computer screen.  Several times while writing this, I would have sworn that we had met in person.  Maybe it’s a function of me writing this so late, or maybe I’m getting used to seeing friends and family on a TV screen instead of in person.  I honestly hope it’s the former.

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 has been put on hold until the stay-at-home order has been lifted and life resumes some normalcy.  Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for announcements of upcoming events.
– around May 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, June 13 at 2PM on-line via WebEx.

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

Stay indoors, stay healthy, stay sane, and keep writing!

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group Helps Out!

Thanks to the generosity of many of our members, we were able to raise $430 to help out Jaime and the Tamale Hut, and to provide a nice lunch for the Emergency Room staff at the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, all of whom certainly deserve it.  You can’t really tell because of the masks, but Jaime was all smiles when I dropped off the check today.

Helping out

The next step is for him to contact Loyola to get an idea of how much food would be needed for a good lunch for the staff, and what would be a good day to bring it by.  He said he would send pictures of the delivery.  I’ll post ’em as I get ’em.

I know that this all happened really fast, and thanks again to all of you who stepped up.  If you were behind on reading your e-mail and missed the deadline to contribute, that’s okay.  Just stop by the Tamale Hut and get a takeout order of your own.  They’re open Monday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm.  Every little bit helps!

 

 

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group Pitches In

Hi, Everyone,

During the global pandemic, Stephie and I have been ordering take-out from some of our favorite local restaurants at least once a week. I know that our dinner orders alone will not keep these restaurants afloat, but if enough people do the same, these small businesses may be able to survive the current trying times.

That got me thinking about the Tamale Hut Café. As everyone knows, Jaime has hosted the Tamale Hut Café Writers Group once a month since late 2012. Once a month, for 89 consecutive months, we’ve been allowed to take over the restaurant for a fun afternoon of conversation and critiques. I always make sure that I buy something to eat before every meeting, but Jaime has never asked us for anything in return.

I’ve also been thinking lately about the people who are on the front line fight against this virus. What if we could help the Tamale Hut and also show our appreciation for some of the people who are risking their own health to care for ours? I think we can.

I’ve opened up a Money Pool on PayPal to collect money to purchase a Tamale Hut lunch for the Emergency Room personnel at the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. Jaime has delivered food there many times before and has a good relationship with the facility. He said that we only have to tell him how much we want to spend and he would take care of the rest. The Emergency Room workers get a good lunch and the Tamale Hut gets a catering order. Like our carry-out dinners, this one order will not keep the restaurant going on its own, but every little but helps.

Here’s the link: paypal.me/pools/c/8oZO6Gljo1  Sorry, but the pool is closed.

I know that lots of people are out of work, and if you can’t contribute, I understand. But if you can, and if you’ve been a regular at the Tamale Hut Café Writers Group, or have just attended a Reading Series night and enjoyed your neighbors telling stories, why not chip in a couple of bucks for a good cause? All the money I collect will go towards a catering order at the Tamale Hut, and I will give a full accounting to any donor who wants it after it’s over. I’m planning to keep this open until Thursday, May 14, after which I’ll place the order with Jaime, so please contribute now!

Thanks,

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for May

First, Salvador sent this to me today:
=================================================================
Hi all! Some information. The Xcaret Group, from Cancun Mexico, will for the first time, transmit live their evening show showcasing Mayan traditions and culture. I’ve seen this show and recommend it. Now’s your chance to travel to Xcaret without leaving the comfort of your living room. The live transmission will be this Sunday April 26 at 7 PM Central time on their Grupo Xcaret Youtube channel. Search for it. More info here (in Spanish):

https://www.lajornadamaya.mx/2020-04-20/Grupo-Xcaret-transmitira-en-linea-el-show-Xcaret-Mexico-Espectacular

I thought that some in the group could be interested. If too late, the replay might be available on YouTube
=================================================================

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, May 9th, on the ‘net via 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, or at least hear, all of you on-line on the 9th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt H – AA 5-10.docx
Brian – Backup of Bird’s Eye View with images 1st draft April 2020.docx
Sean – WHEREBY.rtf
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf
Michelle – Chapter 9.docx

Notes from the April, 2020 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our ninetieth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, April 11.  Thanks to Lisa, Sean, Kathy, Matt H, Brian, Salvador, and first-time attendee Jennifer for joining me on-line via WebEx for conversations about stories and writing in this time of lock-down.  Apologies to Steve, who texted later to say that he only got a busy signal when he tried to call in.  And I wanted to remind everyone that the Tamale Hut is open until 5pm Monday through Saturday for carry-outs, so stop in and support Jaime with a lunch or dinner purchase, as has supported us all these years.

First a quick note: Michelle had to work on Saturday, and Gary had another commitment, so neither were able to attend the call.  They both asked for feedback for the pieces they submitted.  If you have time, please give their stories a read and send a message to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com with your comments, and I will make sure your thoughts are forwarded to the respective authors.

As usual, we started with a few agenda items:
– Next two meetings will be on May 9 and June 13.  I won’t be putting up flyers, so meeting announcements will go out here on our web site and via the mailing list until the crisis has passed.
– The North Riverside Writers Group meets April 16 at 6pm on Zoom – they had a speaker booked and were trying to see if she would be willing to join the on-line meeting – details (the organizer asks for an RSVP if you are attending) at http://www.northriversidelibrary.org/events/digital-programming-writers-group/
– Lisa sent in a message that she received via The Writer (https://www.writermag.com/).  IngramSpark is offering a 30-Day Writing Challenge – Writing Tips & Inspiration Straight to Your Inbox – “For the next 30 days, we’ll join you on your writing journey to share tips, make you laugh, and inspire you when you need a little boost!”  IngramSpark is a Print-On-Demand publishing company that will allow you to get your books into libraries and bookstores.  Kind of like Kindle Direct but without the Amazon stigma attached.  Details at https://www.ingramspark.com/blog/join-ingramsparks-30-day-writing-challenge
– We should all check out https://www.inkie.org/, a website in the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) system.  “Inkie.org is a suite of resources – available to everyone in Illinois at no charge – that supports local authors with online creation and publishing tools and allows readers to access locally-produced content.”  There’s a tool there to help you format your story as an e-book, and another to allow you to share the e-book with library patrons.
– Submission period for the 2020 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project is open until 5/31 – details are at https://soontobefamous.info/
– I was looking at the blog on the Illinois Author Project site and came across the list of semi-finalists on the Manuscript contest, and while browsing the list to see if I recognized anyone, I saw that one of the ten books listed was Noah’s Ark by our own Matt Holmes!  Congratulations, Matt.
– Lisa also reports that since no one can go to the American Writers Museum, they are promoting a virtual exhibit on-line – My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today – at https://my-america.org/
http://indieauthorsread.com/ is a web site put together to allow authors who normally would get exposure doing readings at conventions to get their work in front of the public.  I’ve recorded a video for chapter 1 of the first Barnstormers book and you can listen to it there.
– And if you’re interested in recording some audio, whether as an audio book or a podcast, there’s an article I found that might help – “How to Build The Best DIY Vocal Booth (On a Budget)” – https://www.musicianonamission.com/diy-vocal-booth/

We then talked about our next Group Project.  We are still on the list to be the feature at the September Reading Series night, assuming that we are free to move about and congregate by then, but even if that doesn’t happen, it should be a fun project to work on.  Lisa said that she liked the suggestion, based on a contest in Writers Digest magazine, to choose a picture that everyone writes a story about.  We discussed how to choose the photo, and everyone agreed that we (the writers) should not pick the image, since we would likely make a choice based on if we already have a story in mind, and that we should be given only one image, in order to take away all decision from the writers.  I’d asked my wife, who is an artist, if she’d choose the picture and she agreed.  I’ll have that image at the next meeting.

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list.  Most attendees said that they were not reading as much as they’d like, because they’re finding they don’t have the attention span necessary to read a novel:
– Lisa is enjoying The Randy Scuffle Papers by Phil Reebius, and finds it great for her because it can be consumed in short chunks, and is so darned funny.  She’s also trying to work through The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, and is watching lots of Gerry Anderson Supermarionation productions on Amazon Prime, including Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Joe 90
– Sean also has been watching more video than reading.  He’s enjoying movies on TCM, as well as the Jekyll series from the creators of the recent Sherlock programs, and the Torchy Blaine movie series from the 1930s
– Kathy really enjoyed Becoming by Michelle Obama and highly recommended it.  She’s also reading The Funeral Makers by Cathie Pelletier, and watching Offspring and Unorthodox on NetFlix
– Matt H is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.  He’s also reading Plagues and Peoples by William H. McNeill, and recently watched the Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator and he marveled at how well written the speech is at the end of the film.
– Brian actually finished a book, which he says is rare for him since he’s typically reading any number of books at the same time.  He spoke highly of Middle England by Jonathan Coe, and as this was the third book in a trilogy, he said he would seek out the other two.
– Salvador read The Call of the Wild by Jack London after all the press regarding the new film version starring, as he put it, “Harrison Ford and the computer dog.”  He then went looking for other of the seven film adaptations that have been made.  He thought the Clark Gable version was too much about Clark Gable, but that the Rutger Hauer version was really true to the book.
– Jennifer read Stein on Writing by Sol Stein, after Errol’s recommendation.  She’s also catching up on some Harlan Ellison, reading Shatterday and I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.  She’s also reading Until the End of Time by Brian Greene and The Overstory by Richard Powers
– Matt B used his Hoopla account, which he got via the Brookfield library, to read Houston Aviation from Arcadia Publishing, as research for an upcoming project.  He also watched The Mystery Squadron, a 12-chapter Mascot serial starring  Bob Steele and Guinn “Big Boy” Williams.  It had lots of good biplane action and serial thrills.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual general writing discussions and critiques.  I thought our first virtual meeting went fairly well, with few technical difficulties, and it was kind of fun to watch Matt H wander around his home in search of a better wi-fi signal.  We started the meeting talking about everyone’s well-being and the current state of the world, but then when we got into the critique portion, it was all business.  The meeting was a little odd because the virtual nature of it precluded most of the side conversations that make our get-togethers so rewarding, but the comments about the work submitted were helpful and insightful as always.  And it reminded me why I put the work into organizing the previous 89 installments of our group.  I really like hanging out with all of you, even if it’s only remotely.

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 has been put on hold until the stay-at-home order has been lifted and life resumes some normalcy.  Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for announcements of upcoming events.
– around April 26, 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 9 at 2PM on-line via WebEx.

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

Stay indoors, stay healthy, stay sane, and keep writing!

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for April

I hope everyone is safe and well in your well-stocked home, and you’re doing what needs to be done to keep you and your family healthy and sane in these trying times. I also hope you’re getting some writing done.

I’m still bummed that we missed our March meeting, but I’ve created an account with WebEx so that we can hold our April meeting on-line, which is where all the cool kids are hanging out anyway. WebEx is a web conferencing system that’s mostly used for business, but it has a lot of features that we can take advantage of, like a purely web-based connection if you don’t want to (or can’t) install the app on your computer. It also provides a telephone number for those you with no Internet where you’re at, or if your Internet is not up to the task of web conferencing. The only negative I can see is that it doesn’t currently work on Kindle Fire tablets, but it should work on most other computers and smartphones, including Chromebooks, as long as you install the app from the Play Store.  Connection details were sent to everyone on the mailing list.  If you’re not currently on the list but would like to attend, send an e-mail to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com.

At our last meeting, we discussed doing another group project. We are scheduled to be the feature at the THC Reading Series event on September 19, which will be the ideal time to present our stories to our friends and neighbors. Now all we have to do is decide on what we want to do. Do we want to do another prompt? Another theme? Another common first sentence? Another round-robin story? (Okay, maybe not that last one.) Hopefully you’ve come up with some good ideas on our extended break so bring them to our next meeting.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, April 11th, on the ‘net via WebEx, 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, or at least hear, all of you on-line on the 11th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Gary D – The Posse.docx
Matt B – Barnstormers chapter 28-30 updated.docx
Matt H – AA section 2 (1).docx, AA Section 3.docx, AA4.docx
Brian – The Marmite Solution Tamale group April 2020.docx
Sean – A_LIFE_ON_THE_FENCE_v2_CH12_FINAL.pdf, A_LIFE_ON_THE_FENCE_v2_CH12ONLY.pdf, ALifeOnTheFenceChapter12.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for March CANCELLED

Hi, Everyone,
This is tough.  Part of me considers the virus that’s threatening the health–and possibly the lives–of our friends and family as a kind of terrorist.  And while it is certainly prudent to shut down mass gatherings of people until there is some sort of plan to deal with the illness, I feel like not leaving the house for any reason except to get food and medicine is letting the terrorist win.
But the reality of the situation seems to be that we are just as likely to catch this bug by meeting a few friends to talk writing as we are going to a concert or a sporting event with thousands of strangers, and we know those have all been cancelled.  Several people said that they had planned to attend today’s meeting, and Jaime was willing to allow us to meet, but I think that the best thing, with all the uncertainty about this virus, is to cancel the Writers Group meeting for this month.
In my e-mail yesterday, I floated the idea of a virtual conference or on-line chat session to replace today’s in-person meeting.  The more I think about it, I worry that I won’t be able to work out the logistics of that in time for today’s session.  I’m keeping that in my back pocket should this crisis continue beyond the few weeks that everyone seems to be planning for.
The good news out of all of this is that what we do–write stories and novels and poems and haiku and scripts and what have you–is something that we do in the comfort and relative safety of our own homes.  If I’m stuck at home with no place to go, I expect to carve out some quality time to write something awesome.  I hope you all do the same.
Stay healthy.  Stay safe.  Wash your hands.  Share your toilet paper stockpiles with people that you love.  I hope to see you all when we resume our regularly scheduled meetings, whenever that may be.
Matt B