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

We had our sixty-second Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, November 11. Thanks to Matt H, Lisa, Sean, Marianne, Steve, Robert, Cary, and Salvador for joining me on an chilly Saturday afternoon of conversation and critique. Thanks, too, to Jaime and Joe for giving us a roof over our heads.

We started with few agenda items:
– November means NaNoWriMo – Cary reports that his project for the month is an expansion of a short story, and that he’s over 15,000 words in so far. That’s a little behind the suggested pace, but not so far back that he should be able to catch up easily.
– Marianne mentioned that the Oak Park Festival Theatre that Kathy told us about last month is advertising in her local paper. The ad was for the recent 39 Steps radio adaptation, but the group have more shows on the horizon.
– Salvador e-mailed me that for some time he’d “had the idea of creating some artwork for our group. After some thought I finally had a vision and decided to create it.”
In addition, a friend recommended to him a site called Tee Public, which will put custom designs on all types of apparel and other items. Here’s the link to a sweatshirt.
– the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project is accepting submissions until Jan 8 – check the web site for more details, and bring your self-published book into your local library for a chance at fame and fortune!
– Matt H mentioned an upcoming tour he’s hoping to offer through Atlas Obscura. He’s been working with fellow writing group member Marianne to assemble a presentation about Frances Glessner Lee, a Chicago heiress who built intricate miniature crime scene models to be used as police training tools to help crime scene investigators learn the art and science of detailed forensics-based detection. Matt says he is organizing the content and a location and will bring in more details of the tour when they’ve been given the go-ahead.
– I reported sad news that WYCC is off the air – I discovered lots of good shows on channel 20 over the years, like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Dr. Blake Mysteries, Rosemary and Thyme, and a personal favorite, Last of the Summer Wine, as well as catching up on past episodes of Poirot and Inspector Morse and other past Masterpiece Mystery shows. It will be missed.
– And at least until the end of November, channel 20 is showing the MHz feed, which brought to my attention Detective Montalbano, Tatort, The Undertaker (Der Bestatter), Inspector Brunetti, Maigret, Annika Bengtzon, Miss Sophie’s Instinct, Inspector Rex, Wallander, and many other foreign language shows. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with this channel in December, but I’m preparing to be upset.
– the final season of Longmire premieres on NetFlix this week. Stephie and I HIGHLY recommend the entire series (as well as the books) and hope the finale lives up to the previous seasons, which were uniformly excellent.
– Sean mentioned that his wife invited him to watch an episode of the TV series “The Durrells in Corfu” and in his words, “it charmed the pants off me.” The series is currently featured Sunday evenings on Masterpiece on channel 11, and looks to be available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
– November 29 brings us the next Black Lizard collection: The Big Book of the Continental OP. I didn’t care for The Dain Curse when I read it recently, but I’ve read other Continental OP stories that were fabulous, and this is a great deal if you’re a Dashiell Hammett fan: 28 short stories, 2 novels, 752 pages, $25 (currently $16.37 on Amazon)

– Lisa brought word of a new service that is being offered through the Brookfield Library which allows indie writers to partner with the library to promote their work. According to the flyer on the library site, “SELF-e is a discovery platform designed to expose self-published ebooks to more readers via public libraries. SELF-e enables you to make your ebook available to thousands of readers via participating public libraries in your state, and offers the potential to reach a much larger national audience via Library Journal’s curation service.” Details are at

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Matt H read The Obama Inheritance, edited by Gary Phillips. He said it was an entertaining series of pulpy short stories about conspiracy theories related to our last President.
– Lisa is re-reading the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, starting with the first book, The Name of the Wind. She’s also been enjoying a podcast called My Dad Wrote a Porno.
– Sean read La Marquise de Sade by Rachilde, The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, A Man Called Intrepid by William Stevenson, Camp X: SOE school for spies by David Stafford, and Camp X: A Shaken, Not Stirred by Aaron Cooley
– Marianne enjoyed Haunted Texas by Alan Brown, which she borrowed from Cary last month. She’s also reading The Black Hand by Stephan Talty
– Salvador plans to read The Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, after he saw the 2005 film that was adapted from the short story.
– Steve really enjoyed 1602, a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman which places popular Marvel comics characters in the Elizabethan era.
– Cary read Call of the Wild by Jack London, The Christmas Kid by Pete Hamill, and a few of the Chicken Soup series of books
– Matt B didn’t read anything that wasn’t work-related in the past month, but plans to read The King in Yellow before the next meeting so he can compare notes with Sean and Matt H, who previously read it.

Internet Notes for the month:
– Lisa discovered a series on YouTube called Lessons from the Screenplay. She said that the series analyzes scripts, but the lessons and storytelling tips are applicable to any creative writing:
– A pair of timely articles about piracy (and not the yo-ho-ho kind):

The rest of the meeting was taken up with comments and critique of the pieces submitted by the attendees. We had a smaller list of stories to discuss this month, which allowed us to get deep into details on each of them. Character development and motivations, technical details, plot points, word choice, and use of historical facts were discussed, suggestions on improvements were made, and a little light-hearted ribbing went on. It was one of those meetings that even if we were not discussing your piece, you could learn something or at least hear something that might make you think about how you write your own stories.

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, November 18 at 7PM. This is the last reading series night for 2017! Please check the blog or the group’s THC Facebook page for more information.
– around November 26, I’ll 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, December 9 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café.

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

Matt B