Notes from the April, 2018 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our sixty-seventh Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, April 14.  Thanks to Sean, Lisa, Kathy, Gary P, Matt H, Steve, Cary, and new member Kay for joining me for a fun afternoon of discussion about writing activities.  Thanks, too, to Salvador for mailing in comments, to Jaime for the usual support and to Alex for the tasty food.  And we all hoped Joe was enjoying his vacation, although if we know Joe, he was probably just off somewhere causing trouble.

We started with few agenda items:
– Our next two meetings will be May 12 and June 9.  Flyers will be up in the usual places shortly.
– Good news for TV watchers: the MHz Worldview channel will be back on the air at 5am on April 23, on broadcast channel 20, Comcast channel 372 and RCN channel 57.  This is the foreign-language channel that used to be broadcast by WYCC before that channel ceased operation.  They carry subtitled, mostly-mystery and crime shows from all around the world.  Before the end of the month, we can see an Italian Nero Wolfe, a Swedish action miniseries called Commander Hamilton, and the season finale of Der Bestatter, a personal favorite of mine.  Schedule information is at
– In other TV news, WKRP in Cincinnati is on MeTV weeknights at 8:30.  Original reports were that this would be the version from the DVD set that had most of the original music restored, but I’m not too sure about that.  It’s still a very funny show.
– Lisa sent in a note about Free Writing and Publishing Workshops at Frugal Muse in May.  The store is at 7511 Lemont Rd in Darien, and their web site is at
– Memoir Writing Workshop – Wed, May 16 at 6:30
– How to get your Novel Published – Wed, May 30 at 6:30
– Cary said that his Camp NaNoWriMo was going well, although he was a little behind where he had hoped to be.  Camp NaNo lets you set your own word count goal, and Cary is shooting for 25,000 words this month.  He thinks he can still make it.
– My Windy City pulp convention recap: had a great time, spoke to some interesting people, saw a couple of good movies, spent a little less than I had planned.  Notable acquisitions this year included a copy of Philip Wylie’s Gladiator, 10 Perry Rhodan paperbacks, and a couple of free books!
– The enigmatic Bob Nemtusak sent me a fairly straightforward marketing e-mail with the subject “$7 on”:
I wrote a book.
Please buy a copy here:
– Salvador sent in word of an event that he thought we’d be interested in:
May 1st Crafters meeting at the Westchester Village Hall. A neighbor who is into crafts wants to start a crafting community. She organized the first meeting. All are welcomed. I thought I’d mention it here because, after all, writing is a craft, and I also know that people close to the group are crafters (and that includes painting<g>). One of her ideas is to have a storefront where crafters can sell their works. This may be attractive as a distribution point for our written works.   [No login necessary to view fb content.]
– Matt H has another Atlas Obscura event coming up next month.  Ray Bradbury’s Waukegan ( should be of interest to anyone who is a fan of Bradbury.  The tour is May 12, which is unfortunately the date of our next Writers Group meeting, and tickets are still available.
– Lisa sent in a note that the 14th annual Illinois Emerging Writers Competition is open for entrants.  Winners will receive the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award.  Entries must be postmarked by June 30, 2018. Cash prizes will be awarded for first ($500), second ($300) and third place ($100). Details and entry forms can be found at

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Cary is enjoying Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
– Steve is reading a biography of Warren G. Harding
– Matt H liked The Comedians by Kliph Nesteroff, which has the fabulous subtitle of “Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy”
– Gary is doing research for his latest story, but one book that he really liked was The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World … Via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains, and Planes by Carl Hoffman
– Kathy read Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
– Lisa says she’s been reading “a bunch of crap” but she did like The Chalk Man by C J Tudor, and she highly recommended My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Chicago native Emil Ferris
– Sean picked up an omnibus of Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn
– Kay enjoyed The Wife Between Us by Sarah Pekkanen, and White Teeth by Zadie Smith
– Matt B highly recommended The Turk by Tom Standage, but suggests reading it before you Google the subject, because it really is written like a mystery.  He also read Edison’s Eve by Gaby Wood but was not that enthusiastic in comparison.

A quick note that during the discussion of the Edison’s Eve book, I mentioned that one of the chapters was essentially a brief biography of Georges Méliès, a French illusionist and pioneering filmmaker.  Many people know of him through his most famous film “A Trip to the Moon” ( but just as many know him as a character in the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, and the movie Hugo, which was made from book.  The group recommends reading the book before seeing the movie.

Internet Note for the month (thanks to Lisa):
– Web App Identifies Unnecessary Words In Your Writing –

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual random comments, constructive criticism, and helpful discussion about general writing topics.  One thing that sticks in my mind from this month is the importance of doing research when necessary.  My story, Barnstormers, benefits from research because it’s set in 1925 and features biplanes, neither of which I’ve ever experienced outside of books, movies and TV, but I’ve been told comes across as credible in the story.  I asked Matt H about a small detail regarding a baseball game in his story, and he confessed that he didn’t know much first-hand about baseball, just what he had read.  And we were surprised when we asked Gary about the setting of his story and he told us that he had never been there, because the way he used the exotic location was used so well.  He said he was just intrigued by the area and did his research.  It’s easy for research to overwhelm a story, as in when the author wants to include everything he or she has learned in her research, but the better writers use just enough details to make you think they know what they’re writing about.

Thanks again to everyone for joining me this month.  Here’s the schedule for the next month or so:
– around April 29, 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, May 12 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café.
– The next Tamale Hut Café Reading Series event will be May 26 at 7PM.  Please check the blog for more information.

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

Matt B