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

We had our forty-seventh Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, August 13.  Thanks to Cary, Matt H, Kathy, Beth, Christian, Lisa, Sean, David, Steve, Salvador, and Robert for joining me to talk writing and stories.  And as always, thanks to Jaime for the comfortable surroundings.

We started with a few quick agenda items:
– The next two meetings will be Sept 10 and Oct 8.  I plan to have flyers up by next weekend at the usual places.
– I will be the featured reader at the August Tamale Hut Café Presents event.  The date is August 27th, and we start at 7PM.  I’ll be celebrating the release of my new book, The Sleep Detectives Go to Washington, and am in the process of converting chapter three into a script for multiple voices.  You won’t want to miss this one!
– I reminded everyone that our group is the featured reader at the October Tamale Hut Café Presents event, scheduled for October 22nd.  When I signed us up, I thought we could read some of the serial story we were working on at the time, but I think the “News and its impact” short stories will be better.  I envisioned using the initial 30-45 minutes to feature two or three of the short pieces, ideally by people who are not regulars to the reading series.  Nothing was decided, but we will discuss this further at the next two meetings.
– Steve was at the meeting this month, so he was able to personally confirm that he was still working on the last chapter of the serial story the group collaborated on earlier this year.  He says he is going to wrap up the storyline, and should have the file to me soon.  As soon as I get it, I’ll send it along. (Seems I’ve written that line before.)
– Verna’s from the Berwyn Library Writer’s Group sent in a couple of images that I shared with the group.
tips 10ways
– I mentioned that I learned, during the editing of my new book, that in Russian, most surnames change depending on the gender of the person. The female form is the same as the male plus an “a” at the end for most surnames ending in “v” and “n;” surnames ending in “y” can be changed to the female form by replacing the ending with “-aya”.  I find that fascinating, and another example of something that we need to know as writers, should we happen to name a Russian character.
– Lisa sent in a notice about an exhibit that will be travelling to several Chicago Public Library locations in the next few months.  More details about the “See Writers Who Changed America” exhibit are at this link.
– Marianne sent another status update to the group: Thank you all for your concern…I finished the 6 week daily infusion treatments last Tuesday…they removed the PICC line at that time (it feels really great to be untethered!) and I am now on a 3 month daily oral aggressive antibiotic regiment with lab tests every 2 weeks. The leg is still swollen but I’m walking fine and no longer experiencing suffering pain except for grueling physical therapy…just drove around town for the first time in 3 months. I see the infectious disease doc this Monday and expect him to turn me lose to resume normal activities.
I really miss our great discussions and your wonderful company…hope to see everyone at the September session.
yours truely,
Agatha Christie
– The Silent Summer festival, presented by the Silent Film Society of Chicago, was cut down to one weekend this year, although they plan more such weekends later in the year.  Friday through Sunday, August 19-21, the Filament Theater (across from the Portage on north Milwaukee Ave) will be showing films by Harold Lloyd, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks.  Details at the link above.
– Kathy said that she stumbled across a coffee shop holding its own open mic reading event.  Counter Coffee, on the corner of Circle and Madison in Forest Park, appears to have a monthly Live Lit event on Sunday afternoons.  Sadly, the August one was last Sunday, the 14th, but Kathy said she was going to try attend, so maybe we’ll have a report next month.  From what I can see, they want you to e-mail them your story before they let you read, but if you’re interested, there are some details on their website or on their Facebook page.
– Cary announced that he won the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge.  He picked a lower word count than the standard 50K of November, but he was able to hit his goal, and is continuing to work on his story.
– Salvador mentioned that there is a Spanish language-focused book festival coming to the Chicago Sports Complex in Chicago in early September.  If you’re interested, their Facebook page is probably a good place to start.
– I mentioned that I’ve had an increase in people asking me to forward their written critique comments to other members.  I specifically offered to be middleman in order to hide everyone’s e-mail address, but lately this has become a bit of a burden.  As a remedy, I will now be holding all such written responses until after we meet, then I will send all of them out in one batch.  That will save me time, and will ease my guilt over not responding as quickly as I think I should.  Salvador has sent me a suggestion to start a forum to allow all members to share information without me being involved, and I will look into it and report next meeting.

We then went around the table to find out what each of us was currently reading:
— Kathy read The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian for her book club.  She said it was okay, not fabulous.
— Beth is reading Pilfered Promises by M. Louisa Locke.  She said she found it through a Historical Mystery Novels group she belongs to.
— Christian just read Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, and we suggested that he avoid the movie, which had really very little to do with the novel.  I commented that the Yes song had more in common with the book than the movie did, but I only succeeded in dating myself rather than making a humorous point as intended.
— Lisa quit on the new Harry Potter book, which she said was a huge deal for an HP fan such as herself.  She specifically said a lot of the dialogue did not ring true.  She did recently finish The Girls by Emma Cline and said it was fantastic.
— Sean said he’s reading The Earth Will Shake by Robert Anton Wilson.  He’s also reading The Conquering Family by Thomas B. Costain, and just reread The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré, which I believe he said was his favorite le Carré novel.
— David said he was reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.
— Steve is reading 1984 by George Orwell, which prompted a brief conversation about the various film versions of the story.
— Cary is reading Casco Cove, my first novel.  He’s not very far into it, but he says he’s enjoying it so far.
— Matt H finished the Illuminatus trilogy.  He said that he enjoyed it, but it was not worth finishing it.
— Salvador is reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which got many nods of approval.
— I’ve been busy getting my new book ready for publication, so really all I’ve read lately is The Sleep Detectives Go to Washington, and I’ve read it about seven or eight times this month.

Internet Notes –
– I got a link from our buddy Joe at the THC counter – The Chicken Soup for the Soul people are open to submissions.  The link lists deadlines for upcoming books like Dreams and Synchronicities, The Spirit of Canada, Best Mom Ever!, and two close to my heart, Stories about Cats, and Stories About Dogs.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual conversation and critiques of the submitted work.  Several of the pieces were written as part of the group project “the News and its impact.”  There was a lot of humor there, but also quite a bit of cynicism towards the state of the media today, especially during the current election cycle, which Matt H apparently feels like he controls. (You had to be there.)  I think there are more stories coming, and I’m looking forward to other writer’s take on the topic.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month.  Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– as mentioned above, the next Tamale Hut Café Reading Series event will be Saturday, August 27 at 7PM, and I will be the featured reader. Please check the blog or the group’s THC Facebook page for more information.
– around August 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, Sept 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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