Notes from the June, 2015 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our thirty-third Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, June 13, and we had another terrific turnout.  Thanks to Christian, Lisa, Sean, Matt H, Cary, Steve, Kathy, Laurie, and Salvador, and first-time attendee Beth for joining me, and to Marianne, Rebecca and Bob for e-mailing their comments.  And as always, thanks to Jaime, for all the little tables we use to build a big table.

I tried to keep the discussion items to a minimum, because we had so much material to critique:
– We’re keeping with second Saturdays for our meetings, so the next two meetings will be July 11 and Aug 8.  I’ll be making up my usual flyers and posting them over the weekend at the usual places.
– Everyone agreed that including the detail from previous e-mails was helpful, and since it’s actually less work for me, it’s a win-win.
– We had a few problems with file formats this month.  As you may recall, I used to convert everything to RTF before sending that out, but some people had problems with my RTF files, so for the last few months, I’ve just been sending them as I get them.  This month, one piece came in as a .PAGES file, which is unreadable unless you have a Mac.  I later sent out a more platform-agnostic version of the same file, but I think it may be good to mention that for greatest compatibility, most people are able to read .DOC and .RTF files.  .DOCX should be fine, too, because OpenOffice, LibreOffice and Google Docs can read them, and there are converters available for Office version pre-2007, but they don’t work too well on Android tablets or phones.  .PDF files are also acceptable, although be careful if you include pictures as they really increase the size of the files.
– The blog/web site is now up for information about the group.  You can find meeting announcements, these recaps and other stuff at  There were some questions about opening it up to allow all members to post there, but I need to look into that.
– Last month, I mentioned that Anderson’s Bookshop is supposed to be opening in LaGrange this summer.  I noticed an odd thing on their web site this week, that they are running an IndieGogo campaign to raise $50K to open the store.  Last I looked, before the meeting, they had raised $2766 w/29 days to go.  Does that mean that they won’t open if they don’t hit their goal?
– Cary brought in a list of 20 prompts for writing myths that he found on the ‘net.  The list is at  He also recommended a book, 642 Things to Write About, that he recently received.  GoodReads shows it with 4.27 stars out of five.

– Steve went to Printer’s Row Lit Fest and had a fabulous time.  He suggested that if the group does not get a table there next year, which may be prohibitively expensive, we should plan a group outing.  He was not able to get into some of the author sessions because they were packed and he didn’t have advanced tickets, but he found enough there to make it worthwhile to travel down and fight the crowds.  He said the session from StoryStudioChicago about “How to Read like a Writer” was extremely beneficial.  He handed out cards promoting their web site, which say that they will “help writers hone their craft, express their creativity, and communicate with confidence.”   He also raved about the jerk chicken he got from a food truck parked at the event.

Internet Notes:
– I’ve been enjoying the Pulp-Lit Book Club podcast –  The host reads a chapter or two from a classic pulp story, then discusses it the following week with an eye towards learning from the storytelling used.  So far, they’ve done Burroughs’ Princess of Mars, Howard’s only Conan novel Hour of the Dragon, and Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness.  The current story is Doc Smith’s Skylark of Space.  It’s a shame that they started Snarl of the Beast by Carroll John Daly, only to find that it wasn’t in public domain, because the one chapter they did was great.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with conversation and critiques.  We had nine pieces to talk about, two of which were substantial chunks of longer pieces, but we took our time and worked through everything.  We took a little time to bring Beth up to speed on how we run the meetings, something that I hope the web site will do to a certain extent.  There were times that we had two (or more) conversations going at the same time, and that was bad for me because both were interesting and I wanted to participate in both.  Such problems we have!

The one thing I’m going to do differently next month is the organization of tables.  I joked above about using Jaime’s little tables to build a big table, but what we really built was a long table, which I think made it difficult for the people on one end to hear what the people on the other end were saying, especially when there were other customers in the restaurant trying to have lunch.  That might also contributed to the frequency of the side conversations.  Next month, I think we’ll try for a more round-table type set-up, so that everyone can participate equally, even if we have a large group like we did in June.

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 next Saturday, June 20 at 7PM, where the featured readers will be our own Alex Collier.  Please check the blog ( for more information.
– around June 28, 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, July 11 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 next Writers Group meeting.

Matt B


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