Notes from the February, 2018 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our sixty-fifth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, February 10.  Thanks to Steve, Salvador, Sean, Lisa, Marianne, Gary D, Kathy, Matt H, Brian, Cary, Aaron, and new member Mary for joining me for a spirited discussion about writing activities.  Thanks, too, to Jaime and Joe for the use of the café, and for the excellent chili on a cold February day.

We started with few agenda items:
– The dates of our next two meetings are Mar 10 and Apr 14. The flyer is already up at THC and the Brookfield library, and I hope to get the rest up at the usual places this weekend.
– The Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention will be held on April 6-8 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown.  I have a great time every year, and will be going all three days again this year.  Details are at the link above.
– It’s February, and for fans of old-time radio comedies, that means it’s Jack Benny Month on Those Were The Days, the radio show broadcast on Saturday afternoons on WDCB.  More details, and streams of the last two episodes, are at the link above.
– Steve said that owners of the Quincy Street Distillery in downtown Riverside has expressed interest in hosting a reading night in their Speakeasy Cocktail Bar.  Most everyone said they would be interested in going, and Steve said he would relay our interest back to the proprietors.
– Cary brought in a Writers Toolbox that he picked up from Amazon.  Subtitled “Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the ‘Write’ Side of Your Brain,” it is literally a box filled with tools to help an aspiring writer get started, or to help an experienced writer break through the dreaded writers block.
– Kathy mentioned that she was asked to read a piece at her Temple the previous night.  She thought she would be reading to a few dozen people, only to find a group of over a hundred people in attendance.  She said the reading went well, and she was approached by several people afterwards who were moved by her piece.  Kathy has been on a roll lately, with the publication of her collection of short stories, along with her well-received appearance as featured reader at the THC Reading Series in January.  Congratulations, Kathy.
– Gary said that he visited the American Writers Museum in down-town Chicago, and he thought that it was well worth the admission fee.
– Matt H and Marianne reported that their recent Atlas Obscura event at the Glessner house was a rousing success.  I mentioned that I was on the wait list for the sold-out event, and Matt said they had over 60 people on the list.  They are planning to offer the tour again in the Spring, and Matt has other tours in the works.

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Steve is reading Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.  He said he was attracted by the back cover copy, and while he’s still early in the novel, he’s liking what he’s read so far.
– Salvador watched a video on You-Tube based on the Stephen King short story The Moving Finger, then he tracked down the short story and read that, which he said is (spoiler alert) about a moving finger.  He enjoyed both the story and the adaptation, which he thought was pretty faithful to the story.
– Sean is reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, and The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, which he says is still in need of a good movie adaptation, even after the 1946 and 1981 versions.  He also just picked up a copy of The Human Comedy by Honoré de Balzac
– Lisa has read The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson and Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
– Mary recently read You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie and The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes, along with some poetry
– Marianne read Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance and hated it, saying that the author came across as whiny and unsympathetic.  Lisa said that she appreciated the point of view that the writer had.
– Gary recommended A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Dear Dad by Louie Anderson, and The Rabbit Factory by Larry Brown.  Gary said that he feels Brown is an excellent writer and should be better known.
– Kathy recommends The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
– Matt H read a biography of Jack Parsons, who he said was a rocket scientist and occultist who hung around with Aleister Crowley and L. Ron Hubbard.  He also really liked Central Station by Lavie Tidhar and Empire of Deception by Dean Jobb
– Brian enjoyed In Siberia by Colin Thubron, which he said gave him an entirely different picture of Siberia than just a place where Russia sends its undesirables
– Cary is reading All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg, and recently bought another in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, a guilty pleasure of his
– Aaron is finally reading the copy of A Wizard of Earthsea that he bought years ago.  He was inspired to read it by the recent passing of its author, Ursula K. Le Guin
– Matt B finally finished the novella Fight Card: Sherlock Holmes by Jack Tunney and recommended it.  He also enjoyed The Red Dragon by L. Ron Hubbard, and has started Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Internet Notes for the month:
– The HP Lovecraft Historical Society produces a series called Dark Adventure Radio Theatre.  These are full-cast productions of Lovecraft stories in the style of old-time radio shows.  They have a new one, based on an Edgar Allan Poe, that they’ve released for free.  I highly recommend downloading The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar to get a taste of the DART project.
– KB Jensen, one of the winners of the last THC writers contest, wrote an interesting article titled “How to Rock a Free Day Promotion for Your eBook” that contains some interesting information about free book promotions, including some specifics about cost of ads and what her results were.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with random comments, constructive criticism, and helpful discussion about general writing topics.  One of the topics that came up during the critique section was about using literary archetypes in different ways, and about how the author must define the rules of the story clearly so as to avoid confusing the reader.  An example would be if you were familiar with the slow, shambling, unintelligent zombies from the first Night of the Living Dead films, then the fast-moving, more intelligent zombies of the Walking Dead series would seem an incorrect depiction of the reanimated dead, even though the Living Dead zombies are themselves different from the way the undead are portrayed in Haitian lore or the film White Zombie.  In each case, the writers redefined the rules by which the zombies act, but it was conveyed to the readers and viewers so they understand that despite the similarities, their walking corpses are different from previous versions.

This was also the third meeting in a row when mermaids were a topic, first in Cary’s story two months ago, followed by Matt H’s piece last meeting, which was inspired by discussions surrounding Cary’s piece.  This month, it was one of Lisa’s book selections, which she said appears to be about killer mermaids.  It’s fun to see the continuity from meeting to meeting.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month.  Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– The next Tamale Hut Café Reading Series event will be Saturday, February 24 at 7PM, with featured reader Daniel Rosenberg, winner of last year’s Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project.  Please check the blog or the group’s THC Facebook page for more information.
– around February 25, I’ll send a reminder to you 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 10 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group.  I hope to see you at the next Reading Series event or at the next Writers Group meeting.

Matt B

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Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for February

Just a quick mention that I had the date of the next Reading Series night wrong on the flyer at the THC and other places. The February Reading Series night will be Feb 24, not the 17th as I had incorrectly posted. Apologies for the mistake. Jaime says they fixed the sign it at the THC, and I will be fixing the Brookfield Library and Half Price Books flyers in the next day or two. Fortunately, the Writers Group date on the flyer was correct.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, February 10, at the Tamale Hut Café, starting at 2PM. If you can attend, we’d love to see you there. 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 something you would like feedback on but you can’t attend the meeting, I’d be glad to forward it to the group as well. We can discuss it at the meeting and get some comments back to you via e-mail.

Hope to see you all on the 10th for the Writers Group, and on the 24th for the February Reading Series night, where Daniel Rosenberg, last year’s winner of the Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project, will be the Featured Reader.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt H – noahs ark section 4.docx
Brian – Rùm February 2018.docx
Gary D – Killing Time.pdf
Cary – The Year of Living Normally – Chapter 10.docx
Mary – MEHope_Pistol.pdf
Marianne – The Ball Collector Chpt 9 Final.docx
Matt B – Barnstormers chapter 9.rtf
Sean – WHAT ROUGH DESTINY.pdf
Kathy – Retirement and the Freedom to Choose.docx

Notes from the January, 2018 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our sixty-fourth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, January 13.  Thanks to Steve, Gary D, Matt H, Gary P, Sean, Salvador, Marianne, Kathy, Lisa, Cary, and Aaron for joining me on a cold but sunny Saturday afternoon to talk about writing stuff.  Thanks, too, to Jaime and Joe for their cheerful hospitality, although there was some grumbling from the members because the chili was sold out on a cold January day.  Here’s hoping Jaime makes a double-batch before the Reading Series night next week.

We started with few agenda items:
– I don’t like making New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’m setting some goals for myself in an effort (to use writing terms) to plot my life rather than “pants” it.  I tried to come up with some challenging goals, but at the same time be realistic.  One of my stated goals is to submit a story to a publication.  My goal is not necessarily to be published (which would be great, but is largely out of my control) but to submit a story or two to see how they fare in the world.  This triggered a conversation about submissions in which Sean mentioned Heinlein’s Rules, and I said that Dean Wesley Smith was a big proponent of what Heinlein called his “business habits,” which are:

  1.     You must write.
  2.     You must finish what you start.
  3.     You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
  4.     You must put it on the market.
  5.     You must keep it on the market until sold.

And if you’re unfamiliar with Dean Wesley Smith, you can read about him and his take on the rules on his site at this link
– I mentioned that Jaime e-mailed me to ask if we wanted to be the feature in October again, and everyone quickly replied in the affirmative.  Given the choice of Oct 20 or 27, we decided on the 27th, especially after I floated the idea of some kind of a Halloween theme.  We’ll discuss this more as the year progresses.
– We’ve had several mentions in past months of the Oak Park Festival Theater and I reported that their recent production of A Dickens Carol was excellent!  It was the familiar story of the miser with the ghosts visiting on Christmas Eve to show him the err of his ways, but in this version, the man needing his priorities adjusted was Charles Dickens himself.  I thought it was a clever twist on a story that’s been done in many ways over the years.  I’m going to keep an eye on the Oak Park Festival Theater group and the Madison Street Theater for future offerings.
– Matt H had an Atlas Obscura update: the upcoming tour he’s developing with fellow writing group member Marianne sold out in record time!  He said that he was in Washington recently and saw a display at the Smithsonian dedicated to the subject of his tour, Frances Glessner Lee, the Chicago heiress who was at the forefront of modern forensics-based crime detection.  He takes that to mean that she’s poised to be better-known to the general public, and he thinks that his and Marianne’s presentation is benefiting from that.  He said that they hope to be able to do another, similar tour soon.
– I was invited by Mike Penkas, one of the talented regular readers at the THC Reading Series, to another open-mic night, this one in Northbrook.  It’s being organized by his significant other, Julie, who is also a fixture at the THC Reading nights.  My first thought was that it was far from home, but then I realized that it was only ten minutes from work.  That horrible commute is good for something after all!  The event will be Tuesday, Jan 23, starting at 7pm at the Book Bin Northbrook, 1151 Church St. in Northbrook, and I’ll be there.

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Steve is still reading Putin: His Downfall and Russia’s Coming Crash by Richard Lourie.  He says he’s reading it “episodically” as time permits.
– Gary D read IQ by Joe Ide, and Spiritual Graffiti by MC YOGI
– Gary P is reading Corrupt Illinois by Dick Simpson and Thomas J. Gradel, and is finding it both interesting and maddening.
– Sean is expanding on his survey of Western literature to read some poetry: he’s sampled Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Dorothy Parker, TS Elliot, and Shel Silverstein to mention a few.
– As he mentioned last month, Salvador read Ray Bradbury’s Sound of Thunder, after seeing a film based on the short story.  He said that the endings of the two were different, and while he first thought the movie was okay, he liked the short story much better
– Marianne is getting a lot out of the Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum
– Kathy enjoyed It’s All Relative by A. J. Jacobs, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
– Lisa started a new series this month, the Gower Street Detective series by M.R.C. Kasasian, beginning with The Mangle Street Murders.  She also really enjoyed She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper much more than she thought she would, largely because of the portrayal of the girl and how she interacts with the world.  Lisa also read The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
– Aaron received a copy of Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick for Christmas and intends to attempt to read it for pleasure.  He will report back next month to let us know how that goes.
– Cary didn’t read any novels last month, but he has been doing a lot of research into addiction for use in his current story
– Matt B also didn’t read any books but has been working through a stack of magazines, including issues of Blood ‘N’ Thunder, “The Journal of Adventure, Mystery and Melodrama in American Popular Culture of the Early 20th Century!” and The Strand, a slick paged successor to the turn-of-the-last-century magazine that published the original Sherlock Holmes stories.  I’ve also begun reading Murder Draws a Crowd, a large collection of non sci-fi stories by Fredric Brown

Internet Notes for the month:
– 10 Tips on How to Become a Better Fiction Writer – https://www.mywordpublishing.com/2017/12/10-tips-become-better-fiction-writer/

The rest of the meeting was taken up with comments and critiques and suggestions and random thoughts.  We all appreciated Matt H’s story this month, which was prompted by some of the silliness from last meeting.  We had an interesting conversation about Salvador’s converting his prose story into a play, and what that entailed.  Sean’s survey of Western Literature triggered many side conversations, both about what was included and what wasn’t included, a reaction that I assume any such piece would provoke.  And we had a conversation about when someone thinks that your story is a little too similar to another, even if it was not obvious to you.

A question came up about the rules of when to spell out a number and when to use the numeral.  A post on Writers Digest (http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/when-do-i-spell-out-numbers) says “There are several rules of thought … but the most common is pretty simple. Spell out numbers under 10 (zero through nine), and use the numeric symbols for numbers 10 and up.”  The Grammarly Blog (https://www.grammarly.com/blog/when-to-spell-out-numbers/) says “It is generally best to write out numbers from zero to one hundred in nontechnical writing. In scientific and technical writing, the prevailing style is to write out numbers under ten.”  Purdue Online Writing Lab (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/593/01/) says “Although usage varies, most people spell out numbers that can be expressed in one or two words and use figures for other numbers.”  Other sites use variations of these, and all agree that there are some exceptions to these rules.  And as always, if you’re submitting to a publication or site that has a specified style, that’s the one you should use.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month.  Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– The next Tamale Hut Café Reading Series event will be Saturday, January 20 at 7PM, with Writing Group regular Kathy as featured reader.  Please check the blog or the group’s THC Facebook page for more information.
– around January 28, I’ll send a reminder to you 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 10 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group.  I hope to see you at the next Reading Series event or at the next Writers Group meeting.

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for January

Happy New Year one and all! We’re all so busy that time seems to be flying by faster than ever. I mean, wasn’t Halloween just last week? But the start of the new year gives us an opportunity to stop and look back on what we’ve done the previous year, and to look ahead to the next. I’m not big on “New Year’s resolutions” but I have been thinking of goals for the new year. What do you want to accomplish in 2018? Do you want to finish that story that you’ve been working on for months? How about trying to get a story accepted by a magazine or an on-line publication? Is this the year you get that novel polished so you can pitch it to an agent or a publisher? Or do you want to step boldly into the self-publishing arena? There’s a whole 365.25 days of 2018 ahead of us. Let’s make most of it!

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, January 13, at the Tamale Hut Café, starting at 2PM. If you can attend, we’d love to see you there. If you would like to submit a piece for critique during the meeting, please reply to this message and attach it, along with an idea of the level of feedback you are looking for, and I will distribute it to the group. If you have something you would like feedback on but you can’t attend the meeting, I’d be glad to forward it to the group as well. We can discuss it at the meeting and get some comments back to you via e-mail.

Hope to see you all on the 13th for the Writers Group, and on the 20th for the January Reading Series night, where Writing Group regular Kathy will be the Featured Reader.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt H – mermade story.docx
Gary D – Not All Who Wander Are Lost PDF.pdf
Salvador – L2God01.docx
Sean – Western Literary Family Tree.pdf
Gary P – the kings year.doc
Cary – Fame Liquor Love ch 13 + 14.docx
Marianne – The Ball Collector Chpt 8.docx

Notes from the December, 2017 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting (and a shameless promotion)

We had our sixty-third Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, December 9. Thanks to Brian, Steve, Lisa, Sean, Cary, Matt H, Gary D, Aaron, and new member Gary P for joining me on a mild December afternoon of conversation and critique and Christmas cookies, courtesy of Cary. Thanks, too, to Marianne, Kathy, and Rebecca for send in their comments, and as always, thanks to Jaime and Joe for making us feel at home.

First, I’d like to do a little shameless promotion: two of our regulars members, Matt H and Marianne, have teamed up with Atlas Obscura to offer:
Murder in a Nutshell – an evening with Frances Glessner Lee – heiress, millionaire, and crimefighter.
This is the true story of a turn-of-the-century Chicago socialite who helped develop modern crime scene investigation techniques by building intricate dioramas of murder scenes. The evening begins with Matt giving us a tour of the famous Glessner house and ends with a recreation of a grisly murder scene, at which Marianne will describe how a real detective investigates a murder using techniques developed by Glessner. They’ve mentioned this tour at a few previous meetings, and now we get to experience it for ourselves. The event will be Saturday, January 27, 2018 and details and tickets are at https://www.atlasobscura.com/events/murder-in-a-nutshell

We started the meeting with few agenda items:
– The dates for our next two meetings are Jan 13 and Feb 10. Lisa confirmed that the next two Reading Series nights will be Jan 20 and Feb 17. I hope to get the flyers up at the usual places this weekend.
– NaNoWriMo ended on November 30, and at our meeting, Cary was thrilled to announce that he had won the challenge! He hasn’t completed the novel yet, but he did reach the 50,000 word goal just before midnight on the final day, powering through 6000 words that day to beat the clock. Congratulations! Aaron fell a little short of his goal for the challenge, but got a significant chunk written during the month, which is no small feat.
– There are still a few days left to get your self-published book submitted to the 2018 Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project contest. They are accepting submissions until Jan 8, so if you’re interested, check the web site for more details, and bring your self-published book to your local library for a chance at fame and fortune!
– Cary found an on-line resource that he uses while writing. He says that he uses it when he needs to pick a name for a store or a business in one of his stories, but it appears that you can use it to generate all types of names. The site is the Fantasy Name Generator, and it’s at http://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/
– Lisa said that she found some on-line writing classes in the continuing education section of the recent Triton College catalog. Writeriffic: Creativity Training for Writers is a six-week on-line course that covers everything from getting started to improving your process and releasing your work to the world. The December session started this week, but another starts on January 17, and new sessions start each month after that. Details on this class are at https://www.ed2go.com/triton/online-courses/writeriffic-creativity-training-for-writers?tab=detail
– Sean recommended the web site http://tvtropes.org The site started by cataloging tropes (“figures of speech”) from TV shows but has expanded to include all types of media. An interesting read on its own, it’s also a good way to avoid cliches in our own writing (or maybe use them for better effect.)
– Matt H mentioned that he has proposed two more Atlas Obscura events, after his successful tour of Hyde Park in September. One is the subject of the shameless promotion above, Murder in a Nutshell – an evening with Frances Glessner Lee, on January 27. He’s also hoping to have another event about Monster Movies, in cooperation with Horrorbles and Reel Art in Berwyn. He says that’s tentatively planned for Jan 12, but the date hasn’t been confirmed.

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Brian has really been enjoying The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr. He says the book is more than a how-to on writing memoirs, and is an excellent example of writing itself.
– Steve is reading Putin: His Downfall and Russia’s Coming Crash by Richard Lourie
– Lisa has been finishing the third in the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. She’s also highly recommended The Boy Who Really Wanted to Have Sex by John McNally, and The Slow Regard of Silent Things, a novella in the Kingkiller series
– Sean enjoyed Point to Point Navigation, a memoir by Gore Vidal
– Cary is currently reading Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
– Matt H has been reading more non-fiction lately, with titles like An Introduction to Facism and Hitler’s Monsters. He’s also recently read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.
– Gary D is reading Cavedweller by Dorothy Allison
– Gary P recently finished The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, and This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
– Matt B read the graphic novel adaptation of Robert W. Chambers’ The King In Yellow by I.N.J. Culbard, pausing midway to listen to the recording of the original book from Librivox, then re-reading two of the stories from Project Gutenberg. He enjoyed the first half.

Internet Notes for the month:
I found two podcasts to be King In Yellow related:
PseudoPod 491: The Second Act
PseudoPod 558: Toward the Banner of the King

The rest of the meeting was taken up with comments and critique of the pieces submitted by the attendees. This month we had poetry, memoir, fiction, political rant, fantasy, and movie commentary. Four pieces were portions of a larger work, and three were stand-alone. We discussed symbolism, exposition, dialogue, and word choice. And as usual, the side conversations were almost more entertaining than the main discussion. I’m still not sure how we got to a point where we discussed writing about “Presbyterian drug-smuggling vampiric mermaids addicted to sugar.”

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month. Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– around December 31, I’ll send a reminder to you 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 13 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café.
– The next Tamale Hut Café Reading Series event will be Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 7PM. This is the first reading series night for 2018, and Writers Group regular Kathy will be the featured reader. Please check the blog or the group’s THC Facebook page for more information.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group. I hope to see you at the next Writers Group meeting or the next Reading Series event, and I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.

Matt B

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for December

Can you believe it’s the Christmas season already? Where did the year go? Actually, I think the Christmas season started at the beginning of November when the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel started running 24/7 Christmas movies, but now that Thanksgiving is past, decorations are sprouting up everywhere and we’re about to be bombarded with Christmas music. Best get some writing done before the eggnog starts flowing!

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, December 9th, at the Tamale Hut Café, starting at 2PM. If you can attend, we’d love to see you there. 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 something you would like feedback on but you can’t attend the meeting, I’d be glad to forward it to the group as well. We can discuss it at the meeting and get some comments back to you via e-mail.

I hope to see you all on the 9th for the Writers Group.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Sean – PRESCIENCE AND PERSPECTIVE – revised.rtf
Brian – Bewdley continued.docx
Matt H – noahs ark ch 1 section 3.docx
Gary – Windshields.docx
Cary – Chapter 2 – Mermaid, The.docx
Matt B – Barnstormers chapter 8.rtf
Salvador – CocoMovie.docx

Notes from the November, 2017 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our sixty-second Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, November 11. Thanks to Matt H, Lisa, Sean, Marianne, Steve, Robert, Cary, and Salvador for joining me on an chilly Saturday afternoon of conversation and critique. Thanks, too, to Jaime and Joe for giving us a roof over our heads.

We started with few agenda items:
– November means NaNoWriMo – Cary reports that his project for the month is an expansion of a short story, and that he’s over 15,000 words in so far. That’s a little behind the suggested pace, but not so far back that he should be able to catch up easily.
– Marianne mentioned that the Oak Park Festival Theatre that Kathy told us about last month is advertising in her local paper. The ad was for the recent 39 Steps radio adaptation, but the group have more shows on the horizon.
– Salvador e-mailed me that for some time he’d “had the idea of creating some artwork for our group. After some thought I finally had a vision and decided to create it.”
In addition, a friend recommended to him a site called Tee Public, which will put custom designs on all types of apparel and other items. Here’s the link to a sweatshirt.
– the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project is accepting submissions until Jan 8 – check the web site for more details, and bring your self-published book into your local library for a chance at fame and fortune!
– Matt H mentioned an upcoming tour he’s hoping to offer through Atlas Obscura. He’s been working with fellow writing group member Marianne to assemble a presentation about Frances Glessner Lee, a Chicago heiress who built intricate miniature crime scene models to be used as police training tools to help crime scene investigators learn the art and science of detailed forensics-based detection. Matt says he is organizing the content and a location and will bring in more details of the tour when they’ve been given the go-ahead.
– I reported sad news that WYCC is off the air – I discovered lots of good shows on channel 20 over the years, like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Dr. Blake Mysteries, Rosemary and Thyme, and a personal favorite, Last of the Summer Wine, as well as catching up on past episodes of Poirot and Inspector Morse and other past Masterpiece Mystery shows. It will be missed.
– And at least until the end of November, channel 20 is showing the MHz feed, which brought to my attention Detective Montalbano, Tatort, The Undertaker (Der Bestatter), Inspector Brunetti, Maigret, Annika Bengtzon, Miss Sophie’s Instinct, Inspector Rex, Wallander, and many other foreign language shows. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with this channel in December, but I’m preparing to be upset.
– the final season of Longmire premieres on NetFlix this week. Stephie and I HIGHLY recommend the entire series (as well as the books) and hope the finale lives up to the previous seasons, which were uniformly excellent.
– Sean mentioned that his wife invited him to watch an episode of the TV series “The Durrells in Corfu” and in his words, “it charmed the pants off me.” The series is currently featured Sunday evenings on Masterpiece on channel 11, and looks to be available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
– November 29 brings us the next Black Lizard collection: The Big Book of the Continental OP. I didn’t care for The Dain Curse when I read it recently, but I’ve read other Continental OP stories that were fabulous, and this is a great deal if you’re a Dashiell Hammett fan: 28 short stories, 2 novels, 752 pages, $25 (currently $16.37 on Amazon)

– Lisa brought word of a new service that is being offered through the Brookfield Library which allows indie writers to partner with the library to promote their work. According to the flyer on the library site, “SELF-e is a discovery platform designed to expose self-published ebooks to more readers via public libraries. SELF-e enables you to make your ebook available to thousands of readers via participating public libraries in your state, and offers the potential to reach a much larger national audience via Library Journal’s curation service.” Details are at https://selfe.librariescreate.com/self-e/org/brookfieldlibrary/

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Matt H read The Obama Inheritance, edited by Gary Phillips. He said it was an entertaining series of pulpy short stories about conspiracy theories related to our last President.
– Lisa is re-reading the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, starting with the first book, The Name of the Wind. She’s also been enjoying a podcast called My Dad Wrote a Porno.
– Sean read La Marquise de Sade by Rachilde, The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, A Man Called Intrepid by William Stevenson, Camp X: SOE school for spies by David Stafford, and Camp X: A Shaken, Not Stirred by Aaron Cooley
– Marianne enjoyed Haunted Texas by Alan Brown, which she borrowed from Cary last month. She’s also reading The Black Hand by Stephan Talty
– Salvador plans to read The Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, after he saw the 2005 film that was adapted from the short story.
– Steve really enjoyed 1602, a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman which places popular Marvel comics characters in the Elizabethan era.
– Cary read Call of the Wild by Jack London, The Christmas Kid by Pete Hamill, and a few of the Chicken Soup series of books
– Matt B didn’t read anything that wasn’t work-related in the past month, but plans to read The King in Yellow before the next meeting so he can compare notes with Sean and Matt H, who previously read it.

Internet Notes for the month:
– Lisa discovered a series on YouTube called Lessons from the Screenplay. She said that the series analyzes scripts, but the lessons and storytelling tips are applicable to any creative writing:
– A pair of timely articles about piracy (and not the yo-ho-ho kind):
http://maggie-stiefvater.tumblr.com/post/166952028861/ive-decided-to-tell-you-guys-a-story-about/amp
https://www.blackgate.com/2017/11/10/piracy-its-the-creative-ecosystem-that-matters/#more-254873

The rest of the meeting was taken up with comments and critique of the pieces submitted by the attendees. We had a smaller list of stories to discuss this month, which allowed us to get deep into details on each of them. Character development and motivations, technical details, plot points, word choice, and use of historical facts were discussed, suggestions on improvements were made, and a little light-hearted ribbing went on. It was one of those meetings that even if we were not discussing your piece, you could learn something or at least hear something that might make you think about how you write your own stories.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month. Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– The next Tamale Hut Café Reading Series event will be Saturday, November 18 at 7PM. This is the last reading series night for 2017! Please check the blog or the group’s THC Facebook page for more information.
– around November 26, I’ll send a reminder to you 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 9 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café.

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group. I hope to see you at the next Writers Group meeting or the next Reading Series event.

Matt B