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

We had our thirty-seventh Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, October 10, the first meeting of our fourth year, and as usual, we had just a wonderful time.  Thanks to Steve, Cary, Beth, Sean, Lisa, Marianne, Matt H, and Kathy for joining me on a warm Fall afternoon.  And as always, thanks to Jaime for the venue.  We waltzed into his place of business on a Saturday afternoon and started moving tables around and nobody blinked an eye.  There’s not a lot of small business owners who would put up with that.

Just a few news items:
– Sticking with the second Saturday, the next meetings will be Nov 14 and Dec 12.  I’ll have flyers up at the usual places by the weekend
– Steve brought in a notice that the Mississippi Review is running a contest, the 2016 MR Prize, which promises “prizes of $1000 in fiction and poetry.”
– A note for anyone who is a Sherlock Holmes fan, we’ll soon have multiple chances to see the long thought lost but recently discovered William Gillette-starring film version, made by Chicago-based Essanay Studios in 1916.  Details of the film are at here and they are fascinating.  It will be shown on Oct 24 at the Chicago International Film Fest, on Oct 18 on Turner Classic Movies, and from Nov 4 on DVD from Flicker Alley.  I plan on taking in at least one of the showings, possibly more.
– The 2015 Chicago Book Expo is Nov 21, and we’re going to have a table as we did last year, but hopefully in a better spot, since I got our reservation in earlier.  So far the Author Signings will be myself, Marianne, and Phil Reebius, who most of you know as a regular at the Reading Series, but all are welcome to stop by and hang out.  It’s a free event, and we had lots of fun last year.
– I wanted to mention that Reading Series regular Brendan Detzner had what looked like a successful book release on the first of the month.  His new collection — Beasts — has 42 reviews so far on Amazon! Maybe for my next book, I’ll give out free copies in exchange for honest reviews, as he did with this one.
– Submissions are now open for the 2016 Soon To Be Famous Author Project from the Illinois Library system.  If you have a self-published book you want them to consider, you have until Jan 4 to get it to your favorite library.  And Lisa pointed out that if you don’t have a favorite library, we have a librarian in our midst who can help out (meaning, her.)

– I proposed something new for the group: I asked if anyone was interested in collaborating on a round-robin story.  I’ve had a few people outside the group suggest that to me, and when I brought it up on Saturday, most everyone thought it was a great idea.  We didn’t make too many decisions yet, as we plan to talk more in depth about the idea at the November meeting, but here’s what we discussed so far: we’ll pick a subject and come up with a starting point, and decide on a target word goal for each person’s piece.  Someone mentioned that it would be fun to not know who wrote which section, so I’ll collect the names of the writers interested in participating, and randomize the e-mail list.  I’ll then write the first part, and send it to the first name on the list.  They will write their portion and send it back to me, and I’ll forward it to the next person, and so on down the list.
We didn’t get much beyond that as far as planning, and we tabled the discussion until next meeting to give everyone a chance to think about it.  Cary suggested that we might use the list of writing prompts he brought in last meeting as a starting point, but I searched the web for ideas on group writing projects and only found about a billion! So there’s lots to think about.
If you’re interested in participating, the best thing would be to come to the November 14 meeting and join in the discussion.  If you can’t make it that day but want to be in on this, send me an e-mail and let me know and I’ll put you on the list.  I don’t know how this is going to work out, or what we’ll do with the finished product (there was some talk of presenting it at a future Reading Series night) but it sounds like it’ll be a gas!

Internet Notes:
– Chicago Literati has a Halloween issue, although Lisa pointed out that when she considered submitting something to their Fiction issue last month, she noticed that their guidelines are very sparse, with no mention of whether previously published work is eligible, nor other details that she would have expected to see from a publisher, even if it’s for a web site.  Maybe I’ll stop mentioning this one in the future
– One thing I am going to mention is National Novel Writing Month starts in less than a month.  Are you ready to write a novel?
– Amazon’s book editors compiled their list of “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime.”  – I’ve read 23½, listened to 1, saw 3 movies, and just bought 1 –

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual conversation and critiques.  It’s really interesting to me to see how the conversation has changed from what it was in the early days.  Many of the attendees have been regulars for a while now, so we are not only commenting on their current work, but we can put it in context of earlier pieces from past months.  It’s been like that for a while with my submissions because I’ve been bringing in the Stalking Stan Dixon chapters for a over a year, but this month we had the fifth and final part of Matt H’s story, the second chapter of Cary’s piece, more stories from Kathy’s collection, and chapter 1 of Steve’s novel, the prologue of which we read back in February of 2013!  And I think that continuity is helping to make the comments more helpful.

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, October 17 at 7PM, with author John McNally as featured reader.  Please check the blog for more information.
– around Nov 1, just as I’m starting NaNoWriMo, 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, Nov 14 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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