We had our seventy-eighth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, March 9. Thanks to Cary, Gary D, Sean, Lisa, Brian, Matt H, Aaron, Michelle, Salvador, and Chris W for joining me for an afternoon of conversation and fun. Thanks, too, to Kathy for sending in her comments for critique, to Gary for bringing in the cookie, and to Jaime for giving us a dry place to meet on what turned out to be a rainy and nasty day, weather-wise.
As usual, we started with a few agenda items:
– I reminded everyone that next month we will meet on April 6, the first Saturday instead of the second, since the second Saturday I will be at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention (http://windycitypulpandpaper.com/home/) where I plan to add to my already unwieldy to-be-read pile.
– Starting in March, The North Riverside Library Writers group moves to the third Saturday of the month. Next meeting is March 16 at 1pm, if anyone is looking for another writers group to attend. Details are at http://www.northriversidelibrary.org/events/writers-group/
– Matt H has another Atlas Obscura event scheduled: History and High Scores at the Nation’s Largest Arcade, at the Galloping Ghost right here in Brookfield. The event is on Saturday, March 30, and details are at https://www.atlasobscura.com/events/galloping-ghost-history-and-high-scores-at-the-nations-largest-arcade
– Lisa discovered the Otherworld Theatre Company, the world’s only venue dedicated to Science Fiction + Fantasy performance! She’s interested in the weekly Nerdlesque shows, and I said we should have a group outing to one of the improv Dungeons and Dragons sessions where the players act out the action – https://www.otherworldtheatre.org/
– Kathy wrote in with details of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park short story contest. Ten (10) finalists along with one grand prize winner ($500 monetary award) will be chosen, and with the authors’ agreement, will be published in our 4th edition of the literary journal HEMINGWAY SHORTS. The deadline for submissions is April 2, 2019. Submissions fee is $15. Details and guidelines are at https://thehemingwayfoundation.submittable.com/submit/edf2b018-c075-4c95-9593-2744605a1608/2019-hemingway-shorts-contest
– Salvador mentioned that there will be a live stage production of Pride & Prejudice by the LATTE Theater group in LaGrange on May 10 and 11. Details and ticket information at http://www.lattetheater.com/
– Lisa recommended an article from the New York Times about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. She said there were a lot of videos on the page of the pieces read at the event – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/09/style/cowboy-poets-elko-nevada.html?action=click&module=Features&pgtype=Homepage
– Gary said he’s been attending Bad Grammar Theater (https://badgrammartheater.wordpress.com/), the Oak Park-based reading series run by Brendan Detzner, who occasionally reads at the Tamale Hut. The event is every first Saturday of the month at the Eastgate Cafe in Oak Park. There is also a YouTube channel where you can see some of the readings in the comfort and privacy of your own browser: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdx2xXRY49bxFZB-Uipmykw
– Gary and Lisa discussed the Voice Box reading event hosted at Fitzgerald’s on the second Tuesday of the month. It’s an evening of song and story featuring Cathy Richardson. The next event is April 9, and details are at http://www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com/events/view/VoiceBox-with-Cathy-Richardson-46
– Sean mentioned the Masterclass web site (https://www.masterclass.com/) where famous people will teach you things. He mentioned Neil Gaiman was one of the instructors, and he liked Gaiman’s description of writing a novel: “Writing a novel is like driving through the fog with one headlight out. You can’t see very far ahead of yourself, but every now and again, the mists will clear.”
– I mentioned that our group will be the feature readers for August at the Tamale Hut Café Reading Series, and asked if we wanted to do another group project, and if anyone had any suggestions for the type of project we should do. I had an idea, but I didn’t have time before the meeting to flesh it out completely. My half-baked idea was to try to write poetry in the form of song lyrics. I thought we could get either an instrumental with a basic song structure (verse-chorus-verse) and see what kind of lyrics everyone can come up with. We can likely find karaoke versions of popular songs (instrumentals without the vocals) that we can use. Lisa suggested that we take a basic song that everyone knows, like “Happy Birthday” or “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
This is obviously just one idea. I’m going to try to have a more comprehensive proposal for the next meeting, possibly with example songs, but
if anyone else has an idea for a group project, let’s discuss it at the April meeting.
We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Cary didn’t read anything of note this month
– Gary is enjoying Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
– Sean is still reading Burmese Days by George Orwell, and has started The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
– Lisa is loving Gumshoe by Robert Leininger
– Brian is in the middle of a half-dozen histories of Singapore as research for his story
– Matt H picked up on the comics theme from the last meeting and has been reading the Jim Steranko Nick Fury stories from the sixties, and has started on the acclaimed Sandman series written by Neil Gaiman
– Aaron is starting the optimistically titled How Not to Die by Gene Stone and Michael Greger
– Michelle said she appreciated the recommendation of Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen, if for no other reason than to give her an example of writing dialog in dialect done right
– Salvador also had nothing to report this month
– Matt B finished He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos by Walter Kaylin, and is still reading Autonomy by Jean-Michel Smith. He said he will probably next read the novelization of Metropolis by Thea von Harbou, which was the basis of the Fritz Lang film classic
Internet Notes for this month –
– Recently there was an auction of some first editions of books by Dashiel Hammett. This web site shows the beautiful book design: http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/2019/02/for-sale-otto-penzlers-hammett-novels.html (and this page lists the final prices:http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/2019/03/otto-penzler-aucton-results-hammett.html) Other pages on that site show some of the other books auctioned from that collection, like some Raymond Chandler, John Carroll Daly and some science fiction, but I thought the Hammett book designs were outstanding.
– A recent Escape Pod story I found very entertaining was basically about a participant in Victorian Roller Derby – http://escapepod.org/2019/01/03/escape-pod-661-a-fine-night-for-tea-and-bludgeoning/
The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual varied discussions about general writing topics. Again we had a lot of material to cover, so we tried to keep the side conversations to a minimum. I wasn’t as successful keeping things on track as last month, and we wound up there well after five o’clock, but I think that every piece was suitably discussed. One conversation I found interesting revolved around how different writers approach continuing a longer story. I write in chronological order, where some people can write in snippets and then link them up later. Some writers will glance back at the end of the previous chapter before starting on the next, where some will re-read a significant portion of the earlier work, to enable them to continue in the same tone and style. Still other writers will end a writing session in the middle of a sentence, rather than at the end of a scene or a chapter, and that allows them to pick up their train of thought exactly where they left it. Obviously there’s no one right way, and you should stick with what works, but if one method is not working for you, maybe you could try another approach.
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, March 23 at 7PM. Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for more information.
– around March 24, I will to 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, April 6 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café. Bring your ideas for a group project for August.
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.