Notes from the December, 2015 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting (plus an announcement)

We had our thirty-ninth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, December 12, and we were back to our regular meeting length, after the abbreviated session last month.  Thanks to Cary, Marianne, Lisa, Salvador, Beth, Matt H, Alice, Sean and new member Tom for joining me.  And as always, thanks to Jaime for the hospitality.

We started with a few quick news items:
– Jaime says he’s putting together a calendar of events at the THC, and that we have the second Saturday of every month locked in for 2016.  The next dates on the flyer in the window are Jan 9 and Feb 13
– as mentioned last month, Jaime is looking for us to write up our thoughts on the THC as part of his anniversary celebration next year.  He did confirm that this is something that he wants for himself, and we do not have to read at January Reading Series event.   If you have something, forward it to me and I’ll pass it along.
– a quick notice that NaNoWriMo is over!  Matt B and Cary were both winners!
– I mentioned that one of the prizes for winning NaNo is a discounted Premium membership to Scribophile.com.  I hadn’t had a chance to look at it that much, but I did find a free article there about dialog tags, which is a topic we’ve discussed several times in past meetings
– last month was the Chicago Book Expo.  Unfortunately, attendance was sabotaged by that nasty winter storm that quickly dumped a bunch of snow on the city.  Despite the lack of people stopping by our table to buy books, we had a great time.  I wrote a recap and posted it on the blog if you want more details
– as mentioned in the recap, Wayne Turmel and Jerilyn Willin invited me to an Author’s Marketing session in Lisle on Dec 8.  The group is called Author! Author! and had apparently been around for several years but is trying to get going again.  Beth and I attended that meeting, and while they have some ambitious plans, they still have some work to do to get organized.  I added myself to their mailing list and will try to attend their next meeting, and I’ll let you know if it seems they’re moving in a positive direction.  There was a nice variety of styles and experience levels with the people attending, so if they can get going, it might be a good resource for any of us who need marketing help.
– Cary e-mailed me a Character Development Chart, but didn’t have copies handy.  Here’s the link so you can get a copy for yourself
– Steve couldn’t be with us, but he sent in flyer for Northbrook Arts Commission Poetry Contest 2016.  He said “I thought some (or all) of you might be interested in this. Some to attend the reading, some for entering the contest” and added that he will be entering.  I couldn’t find details on the ‘net, but the flyer he sent is attached here: NORTHBROOK ARTS COMMISSION (1)
– The Tribune Nelson Algren contest is open.  They’re looking for short stories, up to 8000 words.  Deadline for entries is Jan 31, 2016 .
I brought in the inserts from the Printers Row section of paper, which contained last year’s winners, so we could see what type of stories they picked last year.  I asked that they be brought back next month, so other people could take them home.
– I also mentioned that the 2016 Soon To Be Famous Author Project from the Illinois Library system is ongoing.  Cary also brought in a flyer for this contest.  If you have a self-published book you want them to consider, you have until Jan 4 to get it to your favorite library.
– Salvador had problems with two of the files that I sent out for review this month.  I zipped them together and resent them, and those he was able to open.  I only mentioned this as a reminder that if I ever send something that you are not able to open, please let me know, and I’ll do what I can to rectify the problem.
– Sean mentioned that there is a Writers Circle group on Facebook that he likes.  He said he likes scrolling through the daily photos/images, which are a fun mix of encouraging quotes and inspirational aphorisms, and helpful hints regarding grammar, punctuation, character development, story development, tips for overcoming writer’s block, and so much more. He said he was going to download some of them to share, but there were so many, he thought best just to provide a link.

Internet Notes:
Storybundle has a deal on e-books about writing.  Pay anything and you get 6 books on writing, pay over $15 and you get 7 more, but if you pay over $25 get a total of 25 books, and you can donate 10% of purchase price to NaNoWriMo.  I recognized Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith and Kevin J. Anderson among the writers included.   Offer good until the end of the year.
– I also found an article with writing tips from Elmore Leonard
– Dean Wesley Smith is writing his book on Heinlein’s rules, which he follows religiously.
– I plan to collect these and other tips we’ve had and put them on a separate page on the blog.  I figure to have time for that over the Christmas/New Year break.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual conversation and critiques, but we did find time to discuss the big project for the group for the new year, and that’s the announcement that I mentioned in the subject line.

OUR GROUP WILL COLLECTIVELY WRITE A STORY IN 2016.
We decided that each of us would write a chapter with a maximum word count of roughly 2000 words, and will have two weeks to complete each chapter.
Here’s how it’s going to work:
I’ll write the first chapter, starting around the first of the year.  When I’m done, I will forward that chapter to the next person on my randomized list of people who have said they want to participate.  That person will then have two weeks to complete their chapter and send it back to me.  When I receive it, I will forward the entire file to the next person on the list, and so on.  We will not sign our chapters, so with the exception of mine (since it’s the first,) you won’t know who wrote the previous chapter (unless you can recognize their style.)  We’ll keep this going until I hit the end of the list, then we can evaluate where we’re at.
Also, each month I will attach the current version of the story to my announcement of the upcoming Writers Group meeting, which I send out around two weeks before each meeting.  Whether you read it or not is up to you.  If you have already written your chapter, you might want to see where the story is going.  If you haven’t been picked yet, you might choose to not read it and be surprised when it’s your turn.  This will be FYI only, as we will not be discussing the story at any meeting while this is going on.

IF YOU WANT JOIN IN, please send me an e-mail and I’ll add you to the list.  I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month.  Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– around Dec 27, 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, Jan 9 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café.
– the next Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series event will be next Saturday, January 16 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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