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

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

We had our ninety-eighth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, December 12.  Thanks to Lisa, Salvador, Cary, Michelle, Matt H, and Aaron for joining me for our monthly virtual get-together to talk about writing and stuff.  Thanks, too, for the moral support from Jaime and the Tamale Hut Café, who is still open daily for your authentic tamale and tinga needs.  There is also a new batch of artwork on the walls of the Café if you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas present.  Stop by and check it out!

As usual, I started with a few agenda items:
– Brian couldn’t attend, but he hoped we would have a good discussion, and Jaime wished “everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”
– Gary P wrote in to wish us all Happy Holidays and to say that he will see us all in 2021.  He also sent in “a 2020 update of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer [that he] wrote just for the heck of it.”  It’s attached below.
– NaNoWriMo was a bust for me, although I now have almost 17,000 more words written than I had at the beginning of the month. Cary, on the other hand, ended the month with 50,300 words, and he says that he almost completed the story.  Congratulations, Cary!
– Lisa announced that she will be starting her new job after the first of the year.  She will be the new Director at the Chicago Heights Public Library.  Congratulations, Lisa!
– The North Riverside Writers Group meets Thursday, Dec 17 at 6pm. The Berwyn Library Writers Group meets Sunday, Dec. 27 at 7pm. Info is available on their respective web sites
– Brian from the North Riverside group sent a link to an article on Medium with an intriguing title: How Writing Flash Fiction Can Make You a Better Novelist – https://medium.com/@woodthewriter/how-writing-flash-fiction-can-make-you-a-better-novelist-1edc6a4d4704  He also recommended two web sites, SplitLip magazine (https://splitlipthemag.com/) and Smokelong Quarterly (http://www.smokelong.com/), for your flash fiction needs
– Matt B announced that Barnstormers Book Two is now available from Amazon in paperback and for your Kindle.  You’ve all read the story if you’ve been keeping up with the monthly files, but the book (along with the first volume in the series) does make for a dandy Christmas present for the reader in your life.  I’m just sayin’…
– The Windy City Pulp and Paperback Convention is now scheduled for the weekend of Sept 9 to 12, which should give me ample time to finish the third Barnstormers book.  The Printers Row Lit Fest is still scheduled for June 5-6, but I expect that to be either rescheduled or cancelled again due to the pandemic.
– Last month, I had read some “Really Bad Analogies Written By High School Students” and at the time, we proposed writing some of our own.  Unfortunately, most of us just didn’t have the time to do that (except for Matt H, who pointed out that with the latest piece he submitted for review, we had just finished reading a whole book of his really bad analogies.)  We decided to table that idea for next month.  I’ll remind everyone in my January meeting announcement.

– I got a reply from the printer on what it would cost to get the Café Paul collection printed in booklet form.  The quote at 70 copies was $184.75, or about $2.65 a copy.  He said that it would be a little cheaper if we wanted more copies, and slightly more expensive for fewer.  I really want to support the local, small business (they are located in Brookfield) but I think I’m going to check around to see if maybe I can get a better price elsewhere.  (I was hoping for under $2 each.)  I’ll let you know what I find.  The mock-up I have has stories from Kathy, Salvador, Matt B, Matt H, and Sean.  If anyone else has a story they want to include, let me know.

We then went around the virtual table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Lisa read Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh, Case Histories by Kate Atkinson, and is reading Upstream by Dan Heath in preparation for her new job
– Matt H liked A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd (yes, the book that the movie was based on) and Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin
– Cary enjoys the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and he just read the Christmas volume, The Wonder of Christmas by Amy Newmark
– Michelle loved Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson, the true story of a hunt for a sunken pirate ship
– Salvador called in from out of town, and for his trip, he brought along his copy of Technology’s Crucible by James Martin that he’s determined to re-read
– Matt B enjoyed Over The Rockies With the Air Mail by Franklin W. Dixon, the third in the Ted Scott Flying Stories series

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual general writing discussions and critiques.  We had some great conversations about the pieces that were submitted for review.  I could tell that a lot of thought was given to the stories and comments were all very helpful.

At the end of the meeting, Lisa proposed something that we’re going to try for the next meeting.  She said that she had learned about some writers groups that do the critique section of the meetings a little differently than we do, where the writer is not allowed to comment on their piece during the course of the conversation.  They are allowed to answer if someone asks a clarifying question, but the idea is that each written piece stands on its own, without the writer explaining what they were trying to do.  This is obviously not how we do things, and that was especially apparent this month with much dialogue between the readers and the writer, but it makes sense that the average reader doesn’t have access to the author of a piece, and that’s what this is intended to mimic.  I can see a particular problem if the piece is only a portion of a larger work, but that means the author will probably need to include a forward to explain some things to the first time reader.  I see it as a challenge and I’m looking forward to trying it.

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 December 27, 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, January 9 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 December

I hope everyone had a good and safe Thanksgiving. Now all we have to do is get through the Christmas season and we can wave goodbye to the awful year that was 2020. Some of you have managed to get some writing done through all the distractions we’ve had this year. With the pandemic and the isolation and the protests and the riots and the election and everything else, it’s been difficult to maintain concentration long enough to read something, let alone write anything, so it you’ve done any creative work this year, congratulations, I hope next year will be more conducive to creativity, and I look forward to another year of sharing our stories with each other.

Also, as a reminder, I am eagerly looking forward to hearing everyone’s Really Bad Analogies at the meeting on Saturday. I shared some of the ones written by high school students last month, and we talked about writing our own for this month’s meeting. With the creatives that we have in this group, I’m sure we can do better than the high school students!

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, December 12th, 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 12th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt H – the end of AA.docx
Matt B – The Lost Job part 3.docx
Cary – Poems 4.docx
Michelle – Chapter 10.docx

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

We had our ninety-seventh Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, November 14.  Thanks to Lisa, Matt H, Steve, Jen, Salvador, Brian, Cary, and Aaron for joining me for a virtual discussion about writing and stuff.  Thanks, too, for the moral support from Jaime and the Tamale Hut Café, where we hope to be back once the pandemic is under control.

As usual, I started with a few agenda items:
– I found a document on Facebook titled “Really Bad Analogies Written by High School Students.”  I read them throughout the meeting and we all had a good laugh.  The document is linked here.
– NaNoWriMo (https://nanowrimo.org/) is almost half over.  Matt B says he’s pitifully behind in the race to 50K words, but he now has 12K words written that he didn’t have at the first of the month.  Cary says he’s pretty much on schedule, and is using cupcakes as an incentive to make his daily word count.
– The North Riverside Library Writers Group meets Thursday, Nov 19 at 6pm. Berwyn Library Sunday, Nov. 29 at 7pm. Info is available on the respective library web sites
– Salvador sent in a YouTube link (https://youtu.be/sHfrvpgDsaw) of a TEDx talk from the guy behind the Self Publishing School webinar that he felt he was getting spammed after attending.  He was interested enough that he signed up for a second webinar, which he found “informative to a certain point.”  The odd thing was that he got a phone call early the following morning from someone asking about how he liked the session and what were his publishing plans.  Salvador told him that he wasn’t interested at this time, and afterward he checked the caller ID of the call and it was listed as the guy who called, which he thought lent some legitimacy because scammers would usually hide that information.  The odd thing was that he thought that the voice on the call was extremely similar to the guy in the video, although the man on the phone gave a different name.  Salvador is still not certain if this is all a scam or not, but he thought the TEDx talk was worth a watch.
– I stumbled across another magazine that might be worth a look: Mystery Weekly Magazine (https://www.mysteryweekly.com) is a monthly magazine that has a weekly newsletter that contains stories.  They have a submissions page for mysteries 2500-7500 words.  They pay 1 cent a word, and have a turnaround time on submissions of 3-6 weeks.
– If you’re looking for something to watch in isolation, Barnes and Noble stores and their website (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/b/criterion/_/N-1p0i) have a 50% off sale on all Criterion releases through Nov 30.  Amazon seems to be having a similar 50% off sale on Criterion releases as well, and some movies have coupons that knock a few bucks off the total.
– The classic pulp Weird Tales is coming out with another new issue, only 15 months after the last! This is the latest revival of the magazine that introduced Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft and other popular horror writers to the reading public.  It’s available as an e-book or hard copy, and the first revival issue is now on sale for $10 on their web site, which makes it the same price as the Kindle version – https://www.weirdtales.com
– Matt B announced that he received the proof copy of Barnstormers Book Two, which all of you have read piecemeal over the last year or so, and it should be available for purchase from Amazon this week!
– In other publishing news, Aaron reported that he submitted his Bargoth manuscript to his publisher this week, and is hopeful that it will see print soon.

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Again, several attendees reported that they haven’t been reading much.  Aaron and Cary said they are focusing on NaNoRiMo, and Steve was wrapped up in the ongoing election coverage.
– Lisa is reading Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livesey
– Matt H continues to read The Neverending Story by Michael Ende to his kids.  He’s also read The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson, and has picked up The Secret of Satan’s Spine, a Doc Savage adventure by Kenneth Robeson
– Brian said he’s reading some “lighter” things, like stuff on war and public memory. He also read The Missing of the Somme by Geoff Dyer and highly recommended it.
– Salvador finished Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and thought it was pretty good, although it dragged in places.  He’s now re-reading Technology’s Crucible by James Martin, which is a book from 1987 which looks at the “impact of technology on society during the next four decades”, meaning now. Several comments were made about the promise of flying cars.
– Jen has been reading programming books for an on-line course she’s taking, but she’s also enjoying the audiobook of A Mind For Numbers by Barbara Oakley and is getting a lot out of it.
– Matt B read A Storm in Flanders by Winston Groom, the author of Forest Gump, and is browsing but not reading Airlines of the United States since 1914 by R.E.G. Davies

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual general writing discussions and critiques.  One item that came up in discussion was something that I mentioned last month.  I haven’t had the time to investigate, with everything going on these days, but there seems to be interest in collecting the “Cafe Paul” stories from our group project this year into some kind of a publication that we can offer to our family and friends.  Before the next meeting, I plan to put together a mock-up and run it over to a print shop not far from where I live, to get an idea of how much it would cost to get copies in a chapbook format.  So if you want your Paul story included, you might want to take this opportunity to make any changes you think it might need based on any criticism you received from the group.  And if you haven’t finished a story, you still have time to get in on the fun.  I’ll have more information at our December meeting.

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 November 29, 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, December 12 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 or outside dining where available, and most of all: Keep Writing!

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for November

It’s November!  It’s National Novel Writing Month!  The ballot counting is almost over!  I’m running out of exclamation points!

Speaking of the election, if you voted, thanks for doing your civic duty.  If you didn’t vote, as the saying goes, you have no right to complain about the outcome.

Since it seems that the world didn’t end on Election Day Tuesday, we are planning to have another writers group meeting on the 14th.  We had a great meeting outdoors last month, but the long-term forecast for that date has the weather as overcast and a high of 42; not the best climate for sitting around outdoors talking about writing.  Several people last month mentioned having patio heaters, but unless someone can convince me otherwise, I really don’t think that’s a viable alternative.  Jaime let me know that while he would love to see us gain, the local COVID numbers are preventing him from having anyone seated in his establishment. Looks like we’re going back to WebEx.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, November 14th, 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 14th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt H – AA 25-28.docx
Matt B – The Lost Job part 2.docx
Brian – Slough Library Tamale Group November.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf
Steve – Story–‘Report of the Independent Commission on the Covid 19 Mutation’1.doc
Cary – My Boys – Sunday Dinner.docx

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

TCCWG Meeting for OctoberWe had our ninety-sixth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, October 10, the first meeting of our ninth year, in the lovely confines of my back yard.  Thanks to Lisa, Kathy, Matt H, Aaron, Salvador, and Cary for joining me on a slightly overcast but temperate day to talk about writing and stuff.  Thanks, too, to my neighbors John and Erin for lending us the tables and chairs for outdoor seating, and thanks for the support from Jaime and the Tamale Hut Café, where we hope to be back once the pandemic is under control.

As usual, I started with a few agenda items:
– Like I did for the last four anniversary meetings, I brought in the statistics I have for the group.  I can send the full details to anyone who is interested, but the high level is this: over 95 meetings, we’ve had 64 different writers attend, and we’ve discussed 657 separate pieces.  The most people we’ve had at a single meeting was 14 (2/2015 and 3/2018) and the fewest we’ve had was four, but that hasn’t happened since 3/2014.  Nine members have participated in more than 45 meetings each, and we currently have 74 people on our mailing list!
– Jen, Brian, and Steve all had other obligations and sent their regrets for missing the meeting.
– Sean also didn’t attend, and mentioned that he’s going to be taking a break from the group.  He writes “Please thank everyone for all their help and support over the years.”
– Krista reported that there will be no early voting in Berwyn this year.  Early voting in Brookfield starts on 10/19, as it does in Cicero, Lyons, La Grange, and Oak Park.  The Riverside web site had a reasonable explanation for the lack of early voting: “Residents frequently ask why there are no early voting locations in Riverside.  Unfortunately, the Village does not have a handicap accessible facility that can accommodate a polling place for two weeks.”  I see nothing at all about early voting on the North Riverside site.
– Brian wrote “It’s possible everyone knows about the attached series of articles in the UK’s Guardian newspaper as they do tend to be widely circulated.  If not, here’s a link.  There’s also a series on “Why I write” and, for those who might be interested in spatial aspects, “My Writing Room.”  Anyway, here’s the link to My Writing Day.  The Guardian is one of the very few newspapers without a pay wall, or not much of one.  They may ask you to register but that’s free.  Strong books section and lots of international news.”
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/dec/23/philip-pullman-writing-day-coloured-pencils
– Just a reminder that the Midwest Writers Workshop Agent Fest mentioned last month will be held on Nov 18-21 via zoom.  Details at https://www.midwestwriters.org/2020/08/its-launch-day-mww-agent-fest-online-2020/
– The Northbrook Writes series continues at the Northbrook Public Library:
Beginnings & Endings with Juan Martinez Saturday, October 17, 1:00-2:00pm
Award-winning writer and assistant professor at Northwestern University, Juan Martinez shares how to develop the beginning and end of a story, successfully crafting them as two halves of the same whole, and mirror images of one another.
Developing Character Emily Gray Tedrowe Monday, October 19, 7:00-8:00pm
Award-winning author and Creative Writing teacher at DePaul University, Emily Gray Tedrowe presents the keys to developing convincing, memorable characters and how their relationships with one another will have readers invested in their stories.
Genre as Metaphor with Julia Fine Saturday, October 24, 1:00-2:00pm
Julia Fine, whose debut novel was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Superior First Book Award and the Chicago Review of Books Award, will look at the elements of genre fiction with a focus on how writers use genre as metaphor to subvert expectations and enhance their work and how to determine which genre elements make the most sense for your individual project.
Details are at https://www.northbrook.info/keep-in-touch/news/five-acclaimed-authors-lead-new-fall-virtual-writers-workshops
– The North Riverside Writers Group meeting in October will have a special presentation this coming Thursday:
Using Real Crime & Forensics in Fiction
Thurs. Oct. 15th at 6pm on Zoom
“Telling details” and fascinating story sparks for your crime fiction can come from real cases, if you know where to look. Join author Cathy Pickens (Avery Andrews series, South Carolina: Charleston Mysteries, Charlotte’s True Crime Stories, and true crime columnist for Mystery Readers Journal) to discuss using real crime and forensics in fiction.
The presenters ask all attendees to answer the following questions; please email them to the hosting librarian at    bodenl@northriversidelibrary.org for the zoom link.
[1] What are you writing or would you like to write?
[2] What do you like to read?
[3] What questions would you like answered about using real crime and forensics to write either crime fiction or true crime?
– Other Writers Groups: the Berwyn Library group meets on Zoom 10/25 at 7pm.  Details and sign-up information is at https://berwynlibrary.libcal.com/event/7127702
– National Novel Writing Month starts the first of November.  I’m playing this year.  Who’s going to join me?  https://nanowrimo.org/
– Cary said that he found a NaNoWriMo prep workshop that has been helpful to him.  He says that all the sessions are available for those who want to catch up, and that it’s designed to end the week before NaNoWriMo begins, so you have plenty of time to check it out if you’re interested.  https://nanowrimo.org/nano-prep-101
– As mentioned last month, the 2020 Craft Flash Fiction Contest is on for stories up to 1000 words, with three prizes of $1000.  Deadline is Nov 1, must be unpublished work, and there’s a $20 reading fee per entry of up to two stories – https://www.craftliterary.com/craft-flash-fiction-contest/  Still haven’t looked into this site, but if anyone has, please let us know the scoop.
– Another website, The Masters Review, is having a Chapbook Contest for Emerging Writers.  The winning writer will be awarded $3000, manuscript publication, a subscription to Journal of the Month, and 50 contributor copies.  We’re interested in collections of short fiction, essays, flash fiction, novellas/novelettes, longform fiction or essays, and any combination thereof, provided the manuscripts are complete (no excerpts, chapters, works-in-progress, or other incomplete work), and function cohesively. Entry fee: $25  Deadline: November 15, 2020  Individual stories or essays within the manuscript may be considered for publication in our New Voices series https://mastersreview.com/chapbook-contest/
– Wikipedia says that “The term “chapbook” is also in use for present-day publications, commonly short, inexpensive booklets” – almost seems like it would be perfect to share our “Paul” stories.  I’m going to look into that when I have a chance.
– Last month, Salvador said that he entered a short-story contest on Lulu, but now he feels like they are spamming him.  He’s received a number of dodgy-looking e-mails, and when he tried to reply to one of them, he got a message back that the e-mail account doesn’t exist.  He feels they are really pushing him to sign up to have his book published through them, but when he tells them that he’s not at that point yet, the messages keep coming.  Looks like Lulu might not be the reputable company that some of us thought it was.
– There’s a pulp-style periodical called Storyhack Action & Adventure (https://www.storyhack.com/) that I’ve been meaning to look into.  The magazine recently opened for submissions, but I didn’t mention it to the group because they were filling only one issue, and it closed after a week (although I bet this would be a good spot for Gary P’s Kachin Rakshasa story, if he ever finished it.)  You can get a free issue from their site, and they also have a podcast where the magazine editor reads classic pulp short stories.  The narrator is a little rough in spots, but he’s getting better, and the stories are really good.
– Matt H says that he hasn’t had much luck selling advance copies of his book, so he’ll probably wind up getting the rights back once the pre-order deadline passes.  If you’re interested in seeing his pitch and maybe supporting his work, the link is https://www.inkshares.com/books/armageddon-in-the-agriculture?referral_code=5e956e9b

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Several attendees reported that they haven’t been reading much.  Lisa finished the books she was reading as a judge for the current Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project, but hasn’t read much else.  Cary and Matt B have just been catching up on magazines.
– Kathy liked The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
– Matt H finished Role Models by John Waters and read the play Ubu Roi by Alfred Jerry.  He’s also reading The Neverending Story by Michael Ende to his kids, and he’s enjoying it so much he regularly keeps them up past their bedtimes.
– Salvador is still working on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  He’s taking a trip soon and said he hoped to read it on the plane.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual general writing discussions and critiques.  It was great to see everyone in person, and although it got a little chilly as the meeting went on, and at one point it was a little tough to hear everyone with a plane passing overhead as a train thundered by two blocks away, I think everyone felt a lot more comfortable being outdoors and socially distant rather than being inside somewhere.  And in-person is better, too, because of the side conversations that spontaneously started, something that can’t really happen on a video chat.  I again thank my neighbor John for suggesting that we do this, and for the loan of the tables and chairs.

As I mentioned above, I brought up the idea of trying to put all our project stories from this year into a chapbook.  I mentioned in the recap last month that I thought we had a great bunch of stories, and that it’s a shame that we won’t be getting together to present them to our family and friends, but maybe we can find an inexpensive way of printing our stories in a booklet that we can share.  And as Matt H pointed out, we already have the cover art in the form of the picture.  I’m going to try to look into that before I dive into NaNoWriMo and I’ll let you know how that goes.

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 some kind of a breakthrough in the current pandemic.  Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for announcements of upcoming events, should there be any.  I will also try to notify you if anything is happening.
– around November 1, 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, November 14 at 2PM, at a location to be determined.  If the weather is not too bad, we might try another outdoors meeting, as several people said they had patio heaters.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group. I hope to see you at the next Writers Group meeting, be it on-line or in person, 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 or outside dining where available, and most of all: Keep Writing!

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for October

Summer’s over, Fall is here, and we’re in the thick of Election Season!  Here’s some important dates (in Illinois, at least) to keep in mind:
Oct 6 – Voter Registration by Mail Deadline
Oct 18 – Voter Registration Online Deadline (https://ova.elections.il.gov/)
Sep 24 through Nov 2 – Early Voting Dates (Details at https://ova.elections.il.gov/EarlyVotingLocations.aspx)
Oct 20 – Recommended Deadline to Send Back Ballot
Oct 29 – Absentee Ballot Request Deadline
Nov 3 – Election Day!
You can also go to the Registration Lookup site (https://ova.elections.il.gov/RegistrationLookup.aspx) to confirm that you’re registered to vote in Illinois.  This site will also tell you where your assigned polling place is, if you want to wait until Election Day to vote.

And if you really want to be a well-informed voter, you can check out these sites for information about that long list of judges you will see on the ballot:
https://ballotpedia.org/Judicial_selection_in_Illinois
https://www.isba.org/judicialevaluations/bycounty

So now you have all the information you need to register and then vote in the upcoming election for people who will (hopefully) work in your best interest.  You know the old saying: “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about the outcome.”

Meanwhile, the weather forecast for Saturday could not be better for this time of year, so we’re again going to try to have our October meeting outdoors in my yard. If you’re on the group mailing list, check your e-mail for attendance information.  If not, please e-mail thcwritersgroup@gmail.com and I will send you what you need to stop by.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, October 10th, starting at 2PM, in my yard.  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 10th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt H – The Oracle of Des Moines.docx
Salvador – ToruSancto.docx
Matt B – The Lost Job pt1.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf
Cary – My Boys – Let Me Be Your Friend.docx

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

We had our ninety-fifth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, September 12 and while we had hoped to be able to meet in person outdoors, the weather didn’t cooperate.  Thanks to Sean, Lisa, Kathy, Cary, Matt H, Carol, Salvador, and Aaron for joining me to make a perfect Brady Bunch-like square on our WebEx meeting to talk about writing and stuff.  Thanks, too, to Jaime for continuing to offer his establishment to us if we want to have another meeting indoors.  You really should stop by The Tamale Hut and get some carry-out at your next opportunity.

As usual, I started with a few agenda items:
– Jen, Brian, and Steve all had other obligations and sent their regrets for missing the meeting.
– The virtual 2020 Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books at UW-Waukesha scheduled for November 6 and 7 has been canceled, although a few of the previously-announced events will be held.  This is the event that I had a table at a few years ago, and while I didn’t do well in terms of sales, I had a great time.  Details of the event, and the sessions still planned, are at http://www.sewibookfest.com/.
– Verna from the Berwyn Library sent word of a Midwest Writers Workshop event featuring agent pitches!! The Midwest Writers Workshop Agent Fest will be on Nov 18-21 via Zoom. She says “It looks fantastic.!!” https://www.midwestwriters.org/2020/08/its-launch-day-mww-agent-fest-online-2020/
– The Northbrook Writes series at the Northbrook Public Library has a series of writers events coming up:
Methods of World-Building with Mary Robinette Kowal Thursday, September 24, 7:00-8:00pm
Hugo Award-winning writer, Mary Robinette Kowal offers suggestions to help you construct a compelling fictional world.
Beginnings & Endings with Juan Martinez Saturday, October 17, 1:00-2:00pm
Award-winning writer and assistant professor at Northwestern University, Juan Martinez shares how to develop the beginning and end of a story, successfully crafting them as two halves of the same whole, and mirror images of one another.
Developing Character Emily Gray Tedrowe Monday, October 19, 7:00-8:00pm
Award-winning author and Creative Writing teacher at DePaul University, Emily Gray Tedrowe presents the keys to developing convincing, memorable characters and how their relationships with one another will have readers invested in their stories.
Genre as Metaphor with Julia Fine Saturday, October 24, 1:00-2:00pm
Julia Fine, whose debut novel was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Superior First Book Award and the Chicago Review of Books Award, will look at the elements of genre fiction with a focus on how writers use genre as metaphor to subvert expectations and enhance their work and how to determine which genre elements make the most sense for your individual project.
Details of all of these sessions are at https://www.northbrook.info/keep-in-touch/news/five-acclaimed-authors-lead-new-fall-virtual-writers-workshops
– Martin sent in a list of “Profound fortune cookie fortunes”, which is attached here.
– Other Writers Groups in the area: North Riverside Library meets 9/24 at 6pm, and the Berwyn Library groups 9/27 at 7pm.  Both are on Zoom, and you can check their respective library web sites for details.
– Mark your calendars: Advanced notice that the North Riverside Writers Group meeting in October will have a special presentation:
Using Real Crime & Forensics in Fiction
Thurs. Oct. 15th at 6pm on Zoom
“Telling details” and fascinating story sparks for your crime fiction can come from real cases, if you know where to look. Join author Cathy Pickens (Avery Andrews series, South Carolina: Charleston Mysteries, Charlotte’s True Crime Stories, and true crime columnist for Mystery Readers Journal) to discuss using real crime and forensics in fiction.
The presenters ask all attendees to answer the following questions; please email them to the hosting librarian at bodenl@northriversidelibrary.org for the zoom link.
[1] What are you writing or would you like to write?
[2] What do you like to read?
[3] What questions would you like answered about using real crime and forensics to write either crime fiction or true crime?
– The Craft Literary web site announced the 2020 Craft Flash Fiction Contest for stories up to 1000 words, with three prizes of $1000.  Deadline is Nov 1, must be unpublished work, and there’s a $20 reading fee per entry of up to two stories – https://www.craftliterary.com/craft-flash-fiction-contest/  This sparked a discussion of just what focus of the Craft Literary web site is.  I’ve mentioned it before because I’m on their mailing list, although I’m not sure how they got my name.  Matt H said that he’d submitted to their contests before, because it was easy and relatively inexpensive, but he was not sure what would have happened had he won.  I checked it out and it looks like the site publishes fiction and creative nonfiction on-line, and they are a paying market.  They accept submissions year-round and will reply with feedback for a fee.  If you’re interested in submitting, I’d recommend reading some of the fiction they have available on their site to get an idea of what they buy.
– Since I’m now taking the long drive to work a couple of days a week, I’m beginning to make a dent in the podcasts that have been building up on my phone since the plague hit.  I have two podcasts to recommend that I thought were outstanding:
Escape Pod 714: Marley and Marley a good time travel story, which ultimately breaks the rule that you’re not supposed to change things when you go back in time.
https://escapepod.org/2020/01/09/escape-pod-714-marley-and-marley/
Escape Pod 712: When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis is a good sci-fi story starring, unsurprisingly, a robot and a crow.  I thought it was very well done and really held my attention.
https://escapepod.org/2019/12/26/escape-pod-712-when-robot-and-crow-saved-east-st-louis/
– Cary reported that he actually finished a story!  (We kid him on this, which is why it’s newsworthy.)  He said that he set his goal for the July Camp NaNoWriMo at 25,000 words and finished the month with just over 26,000, but more importantly, he completed the story.  Congratulations, Cary.
– Matt H has been looking into Inkshares, and has submitted his latest project with them.  He said that if his story gets enough interest, they will help him to get it published.  Check it out and support his work at https://www.inkshares.com/books/armageddon-in-the-agriculture?referral_code=5e956e9b
– Salvador spoke of a short-story contest on Lulu, another company set up to help writers get their stories in print.  I apologize that I didn’t take down the details during the conversation, but I see on https://contests.lulu.com/ that there is a Halloween Flash Fiction contest going on now.  Submissions accepted until Sept 30
– Aaron mentioned that he sent the first three chapters of his current story to his publisher and is awaiting a reply.  We have our fingers crossed, Aaron!

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Aaron hasn’t done much reading, but he’s been spending time in editing
– Cary is enjoying The First Time by Colton Underwood
– Kathy mentioned three books and said they were all excellent: House on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon, A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum, and Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg
– Carol recommended Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
– Sean is still working on Theory of Remainders by Scott Carpenter.  He gave up on Pulp by Charles Bukowski, started The Girl with All the Gifts by Mike Carey, and picked up Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother by Barry Sonnenfeld and The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
– Lisa has been reading three novels as a judge for the current Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project, and she’s also started The Institute by Stephen King
– Matt H mentioned Asteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams and The Cthulhu Casebooks #3 by James Lovegrove.  He’s also reading a biography of Walt Disney as research for another project, and has started on Role Models by John Waters
– Salvador said he’s read nothing of note
– Matt B read A Laurel and Hardy Book, a collection of essays edited by Leonard Maltin and is enjoying various issues of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine that he’s purchased over the years.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual general writing discussions and critiques.  I think everyone was disappointed with the rain that forced us back on-line, but we made the best of it, and the conversation rambled from topic to topic as it typically does.  And with only five pieces to discuss this month, we had plenty of time for the discussion to veer into sometimes unrelated territory, usually television and movie adaptations.

We also had another unique story inspired by the picture in our latest group project.  I’m really bummed that we will not be able to get together somewhere this month and present all the stories, because there are some great ones, each with a different take on the same picture.   If you’re on our mailing list and you haven’t read them all, check back in your e-mails for the following:
From the July meeting:
Sean – MAXIME ET DANIEL.pdf
From the August meeting:
Kathy – THC photo prompt story 2020 Brunch at Paul’s Cafe & Bakery.docx
Matt B – Next slide, honey.docx
From the September meeting:
Salvador – PauldeLille.docx
From the October meeting:
Matt H – The Oracle of Des Moines.docx

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 some kind of a breakthrough in the current pandemic.  Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for announcements of upcoming events, should there be any.  I will also try to notify you if anything is happening.
– around September 27, 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, Oct 10 at 2PM, with a location to be determined.  If the weather holds out, we can try again to meet outdoors.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group. I hope to see you at the next Writers Group meeting, be it on-line or in person, 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 or outside dining where available, and most of all: Keep Writing!

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for September

Believe it or not, it’s almost September!  The days are getting shorter, the air is a little cooler, and when I was on my morning constitutional today, I saw a number of kids going back to school.  I’m a little sad to think that the summer that I didn’t even realize had started is just about over.

Meanwhile, we’re still mostly trapped in our homes by this virus that has been running amok.  The consensus last month was to have our August meeting virtually again, and with the latest rise in cases in the area, I don’t think we should meet indoors for September.  I do have an alternative that I mentioned during the call last month.  We have a large yard next to the building I live in, and my neighbor has a banquet hall-amount of tables and chairs that he said we could use.  Weather permitting, we could have the September meeting outdoors, in my side yard.  When I raised this idea, Matt H suggested that if we do this, maybe we could arrange a big takeout order from the Tamale Hut, so that Jaime doesn’t think that we forgot about him.

I tallied up the responses I received and more of you prefer an outdoor meeting instead of an on-line one, so that’s what we’re going to try to have this month. As of Sunday morning, the National Weather Service calls for a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms every day this week including Saturday and both Weather Underground and The Weather Channel predict a 40% chance of rain for Saturday. I figure that means a 60% chance that it’s not going to rain, but if it looks bad on Saturday morning, I will schedule a WebEx session and send out the connection details early that day. If you’d like to attend but are currently not on our mailing list, send an e-mail to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com, and I can send you the details.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, September 12th, 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 12th.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt H – AA 20-25.docx
Salvador – PauldeLille.docx
Cary – My Boys – Some Sunday Morning.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf
Sean – COUNTERINTELLIGENCE.rtf