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

We had our thirty-fifth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, August 8, and as usual, we had a fun and productive meeting.  Thanks to Steve, Kathy, Christian, Matt H, Cary, Sean, and Salvador for joining me, and to Beth and Lisa for e-mailing their comments.  And as always, thanks to Jaime, who we didn’t see this time, but we knew he was watching over us.

Since I like to hear myself speak, I had a few agenda items to discuss:
– the next two meetings will be Sept 12 and Oct 10.  I’ll be making up my usual flyers and posting them over the weekend at the usual places.
– e-mail regrets came in this time from Beth and Lisa, who each had family obligations, and Marianne, who said that grandbaby #7 has arrived, so she was a little busy!
– I was pleased to announce that Matt H was there for his 22nd meeting, continuing his Cal Ripkin-like streak, which now puts him in second place for number of meetings attended, passing founding member Chris, who is vacationing out of the country.  Well done!
– I found out that this years’ Chicago Book Expo will be on November 21st at Columbia College.  Details at  We had a table last year and had a great time, and I hope to do the same this year.  The only downside so far is that it’s the same day as the Contest Winners THC Presents, so we’re going to have to hustle to get to the THC from downtown in time to hear the winners.  More details as I get them.
Anderson’s Bookshop is now open in downtown LaGrange!  While I’m thrilled to again have a book store that I can walk to from home (after the late, lamented Borders closed) I was a little disappointed that they don’t have a magazine rack.  They have a section of greeting cards (as does the Hallmark around the corner) and a large selection of kid’s toys (which I find odd for a book store) but they say they don’t have room for magazines, even thought the Naperville store carries a nice selection.  Several people pointed out that having magazines at a store usually requires a person dedicated to that full-time, which might be the reason for its omission.  Still, there’s no good place to buy magazines anywhere near there (Walgreen’s tiny rack doesn’t count), so I thought it was a natural.  Maybe once they get established, they’ll reconsider.
– Salvador sent information about Mini Maker Faires – as he says, “where people that create and build stuff come together to share whatever it is they are doing. Although most of these faires are oriented towards STEM, focusing on technology and engineering, makers of all types come to these.”  He says the Chicago area has three such events: one in May at Schurz High School , one (unfortunately for us) on Aug 8 at Ford City Mall  and a third in Mokena on August 22 .  He pointed out that while the emphasis of the faires is on technology, we are makers as well, since we make worlds in our stories.
– Sean’s art is still on display at the THC, but if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you’d better hurry.  It’s coming down at the end of the month, right after his closing reception on August 29, from 7 to 10pm.  As with the opening, complimentary beer and wine will be available, as well as food to purchase.  The flyer is available here, so print it out and put it on your refrigerator so you don’t forget to attend!
– Matt H says that he’s enjoying the Pulp Lit podcast that I mentioned a few months ago.  Details at  To remind you, 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.  Matt said he is working through the Conan novel Hour of the Dragon, and he says that he’s enjoying a story that he probably would not read otherwise, and finding the discussions to be interesting as well.  That’s two Matts recommending the podcast.  How can you go wrong?
– Matt H also said that he signed up at NetGalley and has been getting advance reading copies of books from them.  He said some were terrible, but some were really good, and it was a great way to get a variety of reading material, and even when it’s not that good, you should be able to learn from it.  Kathy said that she had been to an event at the Forest Park Library recently and came away with a bag full of advance reading copies.
– Steve asked again about the classifications of stories by word count.  The list I had was from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and Sean found another one, with different breakdowns, at the Writer’s Digest site.

Internet Notes:
– a blogger I read regularly, Mark Evanier, had a post recently on writing, in which someone asked him how he comes up with ideas.  The post is not necessarily geared for any of us, but more toward the person who wants to write but can’t get started: in case you have any friends or family members in that situation.
– Tina Jens, the host of the Gumbo Fiction reading series, has a series of articles about writing on the Black Gate web site, which I have mentioned before.  This one in particular is on story analysis, and I found it to be applicable to how I review stories for our group –

The rest of the meeting was taken up with critiques, and the usual sidetracks that make our meetings so interesting.  One of the tangents we found ourselves on was a discussion of writing styles and how to get started writing for the day.  Everyone had a story, whether from personal experience, or from reading about a well-known writer.  Some writers say that they don’t stop for the day at the end of a chapter, but prefer to stop in the middle of a sentence, or even in the middle of a word, to make it easy to know where to pick up.  Others will actually retype the last page of the previous session, simply to pick up the rhythm again.  Some of us will stop for the day, but jot down little notes to use to get in the mindset of the story the next time they sit down to write.  It seems that everyone has their own little trick, or combination of tricks, to keep the flow going.

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, August 15 at 7PM, where the featured readers will be Gia Claire, who has been a regular at the recent THC Comedy nights.  Please check the blog for more information.
– around Aug 30, 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, Sept 12 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café.
– the Sept Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series event will be Saturday, Sept 19 at 7PM.  Please check the blog for more information.

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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