Notes from the February, 2016 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our forty-first Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, February 13.  Thanks to Cary, Lisa, Sean, Robert, Christian, Matt H, Marianne, Beth, Salvador, and new member Karl for joining me to talk writing and stories.  And as always, thanks to Jaime for the space, and thanks, too, to the family of four eating lunch at the next table.  Not only did they not bat an eye when we came in and immediately rearranged the tables around them, but the two young children there were better behaved than some of us were!

We started with a few quick news items:
– Round-robin story: Four chapters done, and am expecting the fifth this week.  We also discussed what to do if someone can’t make their deadline.  We decided that I would send an e-mail at the two-week mark, and if the person feels they can’t complete, we’ll move onto someone else.  If anyone else wants to get in on the story project, please e-mail me and I’ll add you to the list
– First batch of links for recommended books and articles about writing are on the blog site.  The link is in the menu bar above.  If anyone has more to share, you can e-mail them, or better yet, bring them to a future meeting to discuss.
– I saw a note that Narrative magazine is having a Winter 2016 story contest – there are big cash prizes but a $24 entry fee, although that includes three months access to magazine
– Robert brought in a copy of the 2014 Literary Marketplace Catalog.  It’s a directory of the book publishing industry, and although it’s a few years old now, there’s still some good information in there.  I’ll bring it to the next meeting if anyone wants to take a look.
– Sean recommended that everyone should have a copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.  It’s a thin, inexpensive paperback that should be on the desk of every writer (I have two copies, one at home and one in my work bag.)  He also recommended a series of videos from Merriam-Webster called ‘Ask the Editor‘.  They’re full of information about grammar usage and word history, presented in an entertaining way –  A warning about these: if you click the link, plan to be there for a while.
– I plan to go to the next Indie City Writers Live-Lit event at Women and Children First on Clark St. on Thursday, Feb 18 from 7:30.  I went to their first event in January and heard some really good stories
– The next Bad Grammar Theater is Friday, Feb 19 at Forte Framing and Gallery, 2301 W. North Avenue. Show starts at 7 o’clock.
– The current play at First Folio in Oakbrook is ‘Jeeves at Sea‘, a new story featuring P.G. Wodehouse’s characters Jeeves and Wooster.  I saw it and it was terrific.  It runs through the end of February

Internet Notes –
– I spoke to K.B. Jensen from the Indie City Writers at the Chicago Book Expo last year.  They’re doing some interesting things there, and we talked about maybe doing an event to promote both her group and ours.  Here’s an article I found about them.  (Extra added bonus: see if you can spot me in the picture accompanying the article.) –
Top 10 Places to Read and Write in Chicago – I’m going to try to visit some of these, and will report back –

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual conversation and critiques.  There was one piece in particular that I thought would generate a lot of comment because of the subject matter involved, a situation acknowledged by the author before we even started discussions.  It did do that, but the conversation was measured and respectful, when in another group it might have turned nasty.  Kudos to everyone who participated.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month.  Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– the next Tamale Hut Café Reading Series event will be next Saturday, February 20 at 7PM.  The featured reader will be Bill Hillman. Please check the blog for more information.
– around Feb 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, Mar 12 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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