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

We had our thirty-sixth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, September 12, and as usual, we had a fun and productive meeting.  Thanks to Cary, Marianne, Beth, Kathy, Matt H, Steve, Sean, Lisa, and first time attendee Robert for joining me on a lovely late Summer afternoon.  And as always, thanks to Jaime, who we didn’t see because he was in the kitchen, cranking out the tamales we love so much.

Just a few agenda items to discuss before the critiques:
– 36 meetings means that this was our Third Year Anniversary!  I brought cookies, which some attendees courageously resisted.  That just meant more for the rest of us!
– Cary had sent in a chart that he found on Pinterest, a tongue-in-cheek pair of pie charts showing the time aspiring authors think goes into writing a novel, and where the time really goes.  I’ve attached the file to this message.  I told Cary that, having written four novels, I think I would lean towards the latter as being more accurate.
– I talked at length about an upcoming play from the First Folio group at the Mayslake Estate in Oakbrook.  My wife and I saw The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story a few years ago, and we’re planning to go see it again this year.  The play gives you a little biographical information about Poe and his wife, and includes three of his stories in the presentation, which moves from room to room and really takes advantage of the building.  I highly recommend it.  It runs Sept 26 – Nov 4, 2015.
– I’ve reserved a table at the 2015 Chicago Book Expo on Nov 21.  I’ll have more information about this at the next meeting, but I brought it up because if we’re going to have author signings like we had last year, I need to get them the names of the people behind the table.  Marianne said she was interested, and if anyone has something to sell and would like to join us, let me know by the next group meeting on Oct 10.  Details of the show at
– Kathy brought in a few of the advance reading copies of books that she received at a recent library event, as mentioned last month.  They all went to new homes.
– Cary mentioned a site he found that had a large number of writing prompts that he found interesting, and he later e-mailed me the site:
– I asked Steve if he had any information about the Chicago Writers Association , which he mentioned after seeing a presentation at the Printers Row Book Fair this year.  I was curious if he had any insight into what benefits were to be had with membership, because I didn’t get anything out of the (admittedly short) time I spent on their site.  Lisa said she had some contact with representatives from there, and she kind of felt the same way.  Steve said he thought that they were more oriented towards sales, but that he would see if he had picked up any info and would get back to me.  I’ll try to take a longer look as well.
– Last month I mentioned that Matt H had been enjoying the Pulp Lit podcast  and this month I told him that he might want to hold off on starting Skylark of Space, the current novel that they’ve been reading.  I don’t know what’s going on, but they stopped at chapter 15, and there has been nothing since mid-July.  There are only four chapters to go, and it is available at Project Gutenberg or Librivox so there are other avenues to finish the story, but I find it odd to change readers in the middle.  I think I’m going to e-mail the reader and find out if he plans to finish.

Internet Notes:
– On re:Sound on WBEZ, I heard a really interesting piece: Tim Key’s Suspended Sentence.  It’s about a guy who decides to write a novel and his pursuit of the perfect opening line.  It’s well-worth a listen, but it made me struggle when I went to start a new story after I heard it!
– There was news on Black Gate that Devil in the White City is to be a movie.  I loved the book, but I thought the portions about the building of the White City were far more interesting than the bit about the serial killer, and that seems to be what everyone is focusing on.  Ah, well.
– The Chicago Literati web site is doing a Fiction Issue this month.  They’re looking for stories 200 to 2000 words.  Submissions are open until Sept 30

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual critiques.  Salvador couldn’t make it this time, but he sent in a piece, which we discussed in his absence.  We’ve done that in the past, but it was a little tough this time because the group wound up with some questions for him, and of course he was not there to answer them.  I sent him notes of some of the comments, and I hope they were helpful to him.

The conversation was especially helpful (I think) to me, because one suggestion batted around was to take my story in a different direction than I was going.  The reason why I write that I think it was helpful because it would radically change the way my story ends.  It was not something that I had ever thought to do, and I’ve not decided to go in that direction, but it was an interesting suggestion and it’s really making me think, and that’s always a good thing.  Maybe I’ll write it both ways to see which is better.

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, September 19 at 7PM, with series regular Brendan Detzner as featured reader.  Please check the blog for more information.
– around Sept 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, Oct 10 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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