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

We had our thirty-fourth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, July 11, and we had another terrific turnout.  Thanks to Laurie, Matt H, Salvador, Beth, Marianne, Steve, Kathy, and Sean for joining me, and to Cary and Christian for e-mailing their comments.  And as always, thanks to Jaime, for the roof over our heads and the tamales and tinga in our tummies.

As usual, I had a few agenda items to discuss:
– We had a number of people e-mail with regrets that they couldn’t attend.  Cary was out of town and Christian was working on a paper for school, but both were kind enough to send in comments for most of the pieces.  Alice said ‘Hi’ and that she hopes to be back soon, and Jenny took time from planning her move to sunny California to congratulate Sean on his art opening next week.
– Updates on the Blog/Website (I don’t know what to call it)
— Salvador and myself have links listed.  If anyone else has something to promote, let me know and I’ll add it.
— there was a question last meeting about opening up the site for others to post, but I had no time to look into that.  I’ll try for next month, but am not promising anything.
– I passed around a flyer for the Silent Film Society of Chicago’s upcoming Silent Summer Film Festival, Thursdays from 7/30 to 9/3.  I really enjoy silent movies, in part because it’s a different way of telling a story.  If you’re interested, details are at  I’m going to at least two of the six.
– I mentioned Goodreads a few meetings ago, and had a good experience on there.  I posted a review of a book by Adam Lance Garcia, who is making a name for himself in the New Pulp community, writing stories featuring characters from the ’40s.  Later that day, I got an e-mail from Goodreads saying that he “liked” my review.  The following day he sent a personal note, thanking me for the review and asking if I could also post it on Amazon.  While the note was a shameless attempt to get me to review on Amazon (which I did) I was impressed that he took the time to thank me.  I plan to look for more books by him, partially because of that.  If I get any more reviews on Goodreads, I intend to do the same, hoping for the same effect.
– Salvador asked a question about writing dialogue.  He said that he had seen books in the past where the dialogue in the story was delineated by dashes instead of quotation marks, and was wondering if that was a viable way of writing.  None of us had ever heard of that, but his question triggered a conversation about formatting styles, and what you can or can’t (or should or shouldn’t) do when writing.  I think the general consensus was that the main thing is to not confuse the reader.  As long as you don’t make it confusing, you should be okay.
– Someone asked a question about what is considered a novel or a short story by word count.  I said that the only stated guide I could find back when I looked into that was the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and they had their word length categories at  Sean said he found another one, with different breakdowns, at

Internet Notes:
– Phil Reebius, a regular at the Reading Series, now has a podcast –  It’s very odd and very funny.
– I found an article on the Black Gate web site that I found amusing: Some Writing Advice That’s Mostly Useless (And Why)
– I heard a great story on the Escape Pod podcast a few months ago, and just found that the author now has a web site, which didn’t exist back when I heard the story.  His name is Aaron Gallagher and his site is  The story that hooked me is at  There was a post in the Escape Pod forum by him at the time that he had many more stories with the character in the podcast story, and I plan to search them out.  I was that impressed.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual conversation and critiques.  We had a couple of longer pieces, and I feel that we had plenty of time to give each piece its due.  As I believe I’ve said before, I think I get as much benefit out of listening and participating in the discussion of other works as I get from the critiques of my own, and that certainly was the case again on Saturday.

Also, as I proposed in the notes from the last meeting, we organized the tables more in a circle this month, and I think it helped keep everyone in the conversation.  It didn’t mean that side conversations didn’t pop up from time to time, but I think everyone was able to hear the main discussions, and that seemed to be good.  I plan to continue to do that for future meetings.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month.  Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– there is no Tamale Hut Café Reading Series event in July, but next Saturday, July 18, will be the opening of the next artist display at the THC, with our own multi-talented Sean Parks displaying his photography.  The event runs from 7pm to 10pm, and as usual at these things, there will be complimentary beer and wine.  The flyer is on our web site
– around July 26, 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, August 8 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café.
– the next Tamale Hut Café Reading Series event will be Saturday, August 15 at 7PM.  Please check the blog ( for more information on the scheduled feature reader.

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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