Notes from the May, 2015 Tamale Hut Cafe Writers Group meeting

We had our thirty-second Tamale Hut Cafe Writers Group meeting on Saturday, May 9, and we had another terrific turnout.  Thanks to Matt H, Cary, Laurie, Sean, Lisa, Marianne, Salvador, Christian, and first-time attendees Mike and Kelly for joining me.  And as always, thanks to Jaime, for providing such comfortable surroundings.

BIG NOTE before I get started on the recap:
After the meeting, I learned that the submission period for the 2015 Tamale Hut Cafe Presents Short Story Contest is now open!  You have until July 10 to submit your story, and like last year, there will be cash prizes.  Details are at https://thcshortstorycontest.submittable.com/submit

As is our custom, we had a few discussion items besides the critiques:
– The group agreed that the list of previous files on the submission e-mails this month was useful.  I’m going to tweak it a little next month to include the comments along with the file names.  That should make it a little easier for me to send out.
– I mentioned that it’s now not a matter of ‘if’ I’ll set up a blog or web site for group information but ‘when’.  I think it would be a big benefit to have a presence on the web where I can send anyone interested in our group, so they can get information about upcoming meetings,  meetings recaps, maybe a list of pieces sent so far (but NOT the pieces themselves).  I can see a spot for links to members web sites or other member news.  I’ll have more info before the next meeting.
– The 2015 Printer’s Row Lit Fest is June 6-7 – http://printersrowlitfest.org/ – I won’t be able to attend, because my wife will be showing her art work at the Graue Mill Fine Art Festival that weekend in Oakbrook.  The Lit Fest is one of the major literary events in the city.  It’s too late to get a table there as an author, but I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from the Illinois Woman’s Press Association offering a spot under their tent.  They say to check their web site at http://www.iwpa.org/event/save-the-date-join-iwpa-under-the-tent-at-printers-row-lit-fest-2015/ to see if there are any spots still open.
– I asked if anyone uses GoodReads (http://www.goodreads.com/), and how?  I’ve signed up as an author, primarily to fix a listing for one of my books, but I’ve been posting reviews of the books I’ve read since the beginning of the year, and I was curious if anyone uses the site when buying books.  It seems that several in the group are on there, and they use it to basically keep track of what they’ve read, not necessarily when shopping.
– I also asked if anyone uses Kobo (https://store.kobobooks.com/), which is a Canada-based e-bookseller.  The guys on the Self Publishing Podcast (https://sterlingandstone.net/smarter-artist/publishing-2/spp/) say they have had success with them, and the site is very author-friendly.  The store is big in Canada and Australia, so if you’re interested in selling outside the US, you might want to give them a try.
– Anderson’s Bookshop (http://www.andersonsbookshop.com/) opens this summer in LaGrange – web site says they’re looking for an Assistant Manager and part-time booksellers.  Details at http://www.andersonsbookshop.com/work-ab .  Apparently, they also have some relationship with Kobo, so buying Kobo books in some ways supports the local bookstore.  Can’t say that about Amazon!

– We had a couple of reports about recent events:
— Writing And Self-Publishing-What I Wish Someone Had Told Me was held April 13 @ Brookfield Library.  Lisa and I were there, and the speaker was enthusiastic, but a little light on details.  She spoke more about her ideas on writing and less about the self-publishing end, which is what I was interested in.  I did learn two things, though: Amazon holds onto returned copies of self-published books and will ship them out the next time someone orders one of your books, so you may not be aware you have returns, and Amazon will remove reviews of your books if from family members.  They will use any gifts you send someone via their service to indicate a family connection.
— I attended the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention the weekend of 17-Apr.  I had a great time and spent way too much money.  Two of the author/publishers there say they will be reviewing one of my books on their respective review sites, although they didn’t say when.
— Lisa attended the Evergreen Park Authors EXPO 2015 on 18-Apr and had a great time.  She saw a self-publishing session that she said was much more comprehensive then the Brookfield one, and got lots of ideas on putting on a similar event at her library, which she hopes will be sometime in the fall.
— Camp NaNoWriMo (https://campnanowrimo.org) was a bust for me in April, as I was not as dedicated as I had been during the previous full NaNoWriMo months I’d participated in.  Maybe I’ll try again in July.

Internet Notes:
– Rod P, a regular at the THC Reading Series nights, has decided to write under a pen name, and has set up a web site: http://philreebius.com/  He has some interesting thoughts there on writing.
– I keep mentioning the Chicago Literati site, but have never submitted anything to their special issues.  The latest is The Revolution Issue.  Submission period ends on May 25 – http://chicagoliterati.com/2015/04/28/announcing-the-revolution-issue/
– Lisa sent me a link to an article about a bookstore in Florida that carries only self-published books: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/66254-first-bookstore-dedicated-to-self-published-authors-opens-in-florida.html
– Cary mentioned that his writing class had an interesting visitor in Jake Hinkson (http://www.jakehinkson.com)  He’s recently released a collection of his essays about film noir.

During the news item section, we had quite a bit of conversation around self-publishing.  Kelly said she was specifically interested in learning how to publish a book, and while Lisa provided a handout from the Evergreen Park session she attended, I also promised I would send her a separate e-mail with some links I collected, and I intend to do that in the next day or two.  If that comes out well, that might be something else I can put on our blog/web site.  Mike also talked a little about his experience running a Kickstarter campaign to fund his first children’s book, and some of the difficulties involved in that.  You can see the details on his campaign page at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/251426047/the-adventures-of-the-salamander/description

The rest of the meeting was taken up with conversation and critiques.  It seemed to me that this month’s conversation was a little livelier than normal, in that we kept jumping back and forth, as something would come up while discussing one piece that brought up a point in an earlier piece, so we went back and discussed that.  Fascinating stuff.

We also agreed that we would read larger portions of novels written by Laurie and by Sean.  I sent those out yesterday.  The files were larger than normal, but I don’t thing anyone’s mail provider would have a problem with the size.  If anyone didn’t receive them, please let me know.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month.  Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– the next Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series event will be next Saturday, May 16 at 7PM, where the featured readers will be Nathan M. Beauchamp and Reading Series regular Brendan Detzner.  Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for more information.
– around May 31, I will 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, June 13 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Cafe.

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

Matt B

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