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

We had our forty-eighth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, September 10, which means we’ve now run four years without missing a month!  Thanks to Lisa, Kathy, Sean, Matt H, Cary, Salvador, and returning member Marianne for joining me to talk writing and stories.  And as always, thanks to Jaime for allowing us to infiltrate his place of purveyance.

We started with a few quick agenda items:
– Steve e-mailed that he’ll have the final chapter of our serial story to me by Thursday, Sept 15.  Shortly afterwards, I’ll begin assembling the chapters into one file for distribution on our blog site.  I was planning to offer it as PDF, EPUB and MOBI, and have it available before our feature at the October THC Reading Series night.  I want to include info on the writers, so I’ll need a brief writer’s bio from everyone involved, something I’ll solicit in a separate e-mail.  I also need title!
– A reminder that the October THC Presents feature is US!  I was hoping to feature some of our “news” stories, and we will need to determine readers at our October meeting.  Ideally, I was thinking two or three short pieces as the feature (maybe people who are not regulars?) and the rest of us in attendance would read their piece as part of the open mic.
– Last month, Salvador sent in detailed reports on his recent trips to the local Comic Con and a Spanish-language book fair.  I forwarded them when I got them, but if anyone missed the pieces, let me know and I can resend.  He reiterated at the meeting that a few writers he spoke to expressed interest in visiting our group.
– Early notice that the 2016 Chicago Book Expo will be held on Sunday, November 13, 2016.  Last two years I got a table to promote the various Tamale Hut events along with my own work, and I plan to do the same this year.  More on this next month.
– Reading Series regular (and early Writers Group member) Sheila Johnson has a new e-book out!  All Our Loved Ones Together: Odd Stories is available on Amazon for your Kindle.  She is also hand-making physical copies if you’re the type like me who prefers books you can hold or put on your shelf.  Details are at
– Lisa mentioned that the Chicago Humanities Festival is upcoming.  There are many programs in October and early-November at locations all over Chicago.  She specifically mentioned the event on Nov 4 with the founder of NaNoWriMo, a challenge that a few of us have attempted.

We then went around the table to find out what each of us was currently reading:
— Lisa is reading Many Ways To Go Home (which I may have written down wrong because I can’t find a book by that name).  She’s recently read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr, and really liked Discount by Casey Gray
— Kathy is reading Evicted by Matthew Desmond for her book club.  She’s also read or is reading Casco Cove by Matthew Bieniek and Black Dress, a Book Shot by James Patterson
— Sean mentioned Geronimo by Bill Dugan, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (which he really liked), and The Onion Field by Joseph Wambaugh
— Matt H highly recommended Tower of Babylon, a science fiction novelette by Ted Chiang.  He said it was a quick read, but it was exceptional.
— Cary is reading You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day, Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and Casco Cove.
— Marianne just picked up three books by Mickey Spillane, for research as much as enjoyment, and she’s still working her way through the Poe collection she mentioned some months ago.
— I’ve finally finished On Writing by Steven King, have recently re-read Selected THC Readings by Chris Krazmus, and am almost through The Saint Meets The Tiger, the first book in the Saint series by Leslie Charteris
— Salvador said he really enjoyed Charlotte, Wander On by Matt Cubberly, a writer he met at the Comic Con.

Internet Notes are related to planning –
– I stumbled across a spreadsheet tool to help with creating outlines for novels.  I’ve not tried it yet, but it looks like it might be fairly easy to use –
– Black Gate had an article about The Master Plot Formula, a guide to writing a 6000 word pulp story, as written by Lester Dent. Dent was a prolific writer in the dime novel days.  He created Doc Savage and wrote 159 novels featuring the character in only 16 years, while also contributing countless short stories to other magazines.  His formula is recommended to aspiring authors. –

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual conversation and critiques of the submitted work.  We only had four pieces this month, but the meeting ran almost as long as normal.  First, there was a lot of discussion around the books that we are all reading (and it is a pretty wide variety of topics.)  Then there was much conversation when we got to the critiques.  Lots of constructive criticism was given and it was all well received.  I had an embarrassing moment when Cary said he changed something because of a comment I made last month.  When I said I didn’t remember the comment, he pulled out a folder which contained the sheet I gave him, and even when I read the comment in my own handwriting, I was not sure what my point was.  I know I’ll keep this in mind in the future, and make sure I explain my comments more thoroughly.

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 Saturday, September 17 at 7PM, and series regular (and fan favorite) Chris Krazmus will be the featured reader. Please check the blog or the group’s THC Facebook page for more information.
– around September 25, 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, beginning our fifth year, will be Saturday, Oct 8 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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