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

We had our fifty-sixth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, May 13.  Thanks to Salvador, Sean, Lisa, Steve, Michelle, Marianne, Kathy, and Matt H for joining me for a jam-packed meeting to talk writing.  It was the first time in a long time that everyone who attended had submitted work to review (even more than that, since Aaron had submitted a piece but was unable to attend.)  Thanks too to Cary and Rebecca for mailing in some comments.  And thanks as always to Jaime for his unwavering support and for some kick-ass tinga.

We started the meeting with a few quick agenda items:
– Next meeting will June 17, which is not the second Saturday.
– The date change is because the second Saturday of June is the first day of the Printers Row Lit Fest.  This year the fest runs June 10 and 11.  Matt B will again be under the IWPA tent.
– I gave a short Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention recap.  The even shorter version is I had a great time and spent about what I thought I would spend, which was probably a little too much.
– If you enjoyed the Those Were The Days episode I posted last month, I have two more for you.  The 5/13 episode contained the radio adaptation of Manhattan Melodrama with William Powell and Myrna Loy, with Don Ameche in the Cary Grant part.  The movie is probably best known as the last film John Dillinger saw, at Chicago’s own Biograph theater.  The week before, TWTD played the entire radio broadcast from 90 years ago from Lakehurst, NJ, where they staged the cover photo shoot for Led Zeppelin’s first album.  Seriously, most people have heard the “Oh, the humanity” section of the recording, but many don’t know that the broadcast started before the Hindenburg was even in sight of the airfield, and continues on well after the ship was on the ground in flames.  It’s fascinating to listen to.   The Hindenburg episode will be up as “Previous Week’s Broadcast” on the Those Were The Days site until Tuesday, May 23.  The Manhattan Melodrama is the Most Recent Broadcast until the 23rd, when it becomes the previous week’s show for another week.  Well worth a listen.
– On Saturday , June 3rd from Noon to 4pm, there will be a Human Library event at the Dunning Branch of the Chicago Public Library.  Lisa’s recommended this event in the past and will be helping out with this one.  Details of the Human Library project, and the address of the library, can be found at
– The first of two University of Iowa writing program summer sessions started last Monday, but you may still be able to sign up.  Details are at this link:
– I missed the May Open Mic event at The Frugal Muse bookstore (7511 Lemont Rd in Darien – and I’ll probably miss the June event because I’ll be at Printers Row that day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go.  And I’m determined to make it there in July.
– Lisa gave a review of the newly-opened American Writers Museum.  She thought it was a good start, but she said it wasn’t clear who the intended audience is.  She said it had the feel of a primary school field trip, with little compelling content beyond blocks of text on the wall.  Matt H said when he heard about the museum, he tried to envision a museum dedicated to the written word, but everything he thought of (such as featuring rare books) just sounded like a library.  I mentioned that I was underwhelmed the first time I went to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, but after it was open a few years I went back and found all kinds of interesting content, so maybe the AWM just needs to find its niche.

We skipped the member book list this month in the interest of time, because we needed to discuss the upcoming October Reading Series night, where the Writers Group will again be the feature readers.  We decided that this year, rather than a theme, we would write to a prompt.  Specifically, we would all write stories that started with the same sentence.  The plan is for everyone to write a story starting with that sentence, then we will review the pieces before the October event, likely at the September Writers Group meeting, and determine who will read during the first 30-45 minutes, traditionally the featured reader time.  The rest can read during the open mic segment.  Last year, we had Matt H and Beth go first, since they had never read there before, and maybe we can “feature” someone else who is not a regular.  We can also look if someone has a piece that is longer than the 10-minute open mic time limit, that person can read earlier.  Those details we can work out as the date gets nearer, but for now, here’s your first sentence:

All last night the singing went on upstairs and nobody said a word.

Internet Notes for this month:
– Windy City Reviews is a site where indie writers can get their books revied.  They are also looking for reviewers –
– “Believe” is a comic about the backfire effect, where more evidence makes someone less likely to believe in an idea.  It’s an interesting topic, and it’s presented well. –
– And article at the Columbia College blog is about the “Benefits of Open Mic Readings” –

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the typical wide-ranging discussions of the submitted work.  We tried keep things on track this month, because two people had to leave at a certain time, and we needed to be done by 5 so Joe could set up the restaurant for that evening’s art opening.  Believe it or not, we finished just shy of 5pm.  As usual, I found the conversation interesting, even when it was not my piece being discussed.  We talked again of character motivation in the stories, but we also talked of author’s intentions, and if they got across what they had intended.  There was one attribute of a character that the author was surprised that no one had picked up on.  Another instance, the author intended the piece to be about one thing, but the readers all thought another part was more compelling.  The meeting ended with Steve’s piece, and he asked each of us what we thought the poem was about before telling us what his intention was when he wrote it.  The wide range of interpretations reinforced to me why I have trouble with poetry.

While we were discussing Salvador’s piece, in which he wrote about collecting old computers, I asked if he had seen the story about the 18-year old kid who bought a mainframe computer.  I didn’t plan to watch the entire video where he talked about his purchase, but I couldn’t shut it off once he got going.  Here’s the video.   Some of the talk gets a little techie, but I think he explains most of it well enough for anyone to follow.

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, May 20 at 7PM.  Please check the blog or the group’s THC Facebook page for more information.
– around May 6, 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, June 17 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 the next Writers Group meeting.

Matt B


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