Notes from the February, 2017 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our fifty-third Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, February 11.  Thanks to Sean, Lisa, Marianne, Aaron, Matt H, Cary, and Salvador for joining me on an unseasonably mild Saturday afternoon to talk stories.  And thanks as always to Jaime for his support and encouragement.

We started with a few quick agenda items:
– First, a serious note that Writing Group and Reading Series regular Steve will be out for the foreseeable future after having some somewhat serious health issues.  I saw him this week and he’s in good spirits and his prognosis is good, so we wish him well and expect to see him back at the THC before long.
– Out next two meetings will be on Mar 11 and Apr 8.  New signs are up at the Tamale Hut, and will be posted at the usual places as soon as I get around to dropping them off.
– I brought up the Writing Group’s presence on Goodreads, as I put it “for one last time.”  Last month I asked that everyone at least take a look at Goodreads to see if we want to pursue using the service to share our reading lists, but the general feeling is that it would be too much work to maintain that.  I’ll leave the group there if anyone wants to join and share their reviews on books they read, but for the monthly reading list, I guess I’ll just continue to try to accurately capture titles as we go around the table at the meetings.
– Matt H announced that his long-promised collection of short writings will soon be available on Amazon.  The listing is there, but it’s currently showing as temporarily out of stock.  He’s not thrilled at the price, but the publisher set it so he didn’t have any control.  The sample copy he passed around looked pretty good, and he’s going to find out if he will get copies to sell.
– Lisa said that as much as she values our monthly meetings, she feels like she’s not getting the full benefit because she’s not submitting anything due to difficulties in finding time to write.  She thinks that if she schedules some time, maybe outside her home, it would force her to make time to write.  To that end, she’s reserved a room at the LaGrange Park Library for the next few Thursdays and invited us all to bring our laptops (or pen and paper) to join her at a write-in.  The first one will be next Thursday, February 16, starting at 7PM in the Music Room
– Last weekend, I attended the First Folio Theatre’s production of Captain Blood, and I recommend it whole-heartedly.  I’ve not seen a bad production by First Folio, and I thought what they did with lighting and set design was outstanding.  The play runs through the end of February, it’s in Oakbrook (so it’s not far), and the tickets are reasonably priced (and there’s free parking), so there’s no reason not to go.
– Cary had two more movies to add to the “movies about writers” conversation we’ve been having for the past few meetings.  He recommended Alex & Emma and Ruby Sparks.  He wanted me to include Author’s Anonymous, which was mentioned last month but I failed to capture that part of the conversation.

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Sean is enjoying Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi
– Lisa’s reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.  She also recently read Delicious! by Ruth Reichl and said it was “so bad she’ll never read another book by the author.”
– Aaron is close to finishing the first Bazil Broketail book by Christopher Rowley.  It’s taking him a while, and he said he will wait until he’s done before deciding if he wants to inflict the other six volumes on himself.  He also recommends A Dog’s Purpose, both the film and the book.
– Marianne is still in research mode for her next book, but she was excited to purchase a copy of a history of Riverside Community College.  He said she found it on alibris, that it was kind of expensive, but it was in beautiful condition for being an ex-library book.  She said it was not exciting reading, but invaluable for her project.
– Matt H is enjoying Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, and says you can’t go wrong with Vonnegut.  He’s also recently liked Counternarratives by John Keene and Jihad vs. McWorld by Benjamin Barber, which he said was written in 1995 but has increased relevance today.
– Cary is reading two books: Reality Boy by A.S. King and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub.  He said he’s not very far into the latter but is really enjoying it.
– Salvador said that his greatest accomplishment was “getting within three feet of his bookshelf” but expects to get back to reading for pleasure now that a few of his other commitments have been completed.
– Matt B recently read a nice variety: The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, The Desert Demons by Will Murray as Kenneth Robeson (which prompted a quick discussion of the history of Doc Savage), the LibriVox audio book of Armageddon 2419 AD, the first Buck Rogers story by Philip Nowlan, and two books for research for his next project: The Perils of Pauline by Charles Goddard and the Time-Life book Barnstormers & Speed Kings.

Internet Notes for this month:
– I passed around a humorous jpg about writing that I found on Facebook.  It’s attached at the bottom of this post.
– An article on Black Gate: What Black Sabbath Can Teach Us About Writing

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the typical wide-ranging discussions of the submitted work.  In the course of those discussions, we talked about: writing fiction using real locations, the history of photography, the use of spell-check and grammar-check in writing software, how the nature of relationships change the longer they last, how and when to use “drink,” “drank,” or “drunk” in a story, how formatting of text (especially in poetry) can impact how a piece is perceived, the intrinsic value of collectibles, the history of the “Dark Shadows” TV show, using pop culture references in fiction, the use of standard characters in detective fiction, and whether anyone besides me used the Home and End keys on their keyboards.  And that’s only the stuff I remember!

During the discussion of my piece, there was some question about my description of a stairway to the front of a building.  I need to make my description clearer, but if anyone is curious, here’s the Street View of the location I was trying to describe (it’s the house on the left).

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, February 25 at 7PM, with series regular Brendan Detzner as featured reader.  Please check the blog or the group’s THC Facebook page for more information.
– around February 26, 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, March 11 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café

Thanks for your interest in the THC Writers Group.  I hope to see you at next Writers Group meeting or the next Reading Series event.

Matt B



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