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

We had our sixty-eighth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, May 12.  Thanks to Lisa, Steve, Kathy, Gary P, Sean, Salvador, and Vickie for joining me for an interesting afternoon of discussion about writing activities.  Thanks, too, to Matt H, Marianne, Cary, and Kay for mailing in comments, to Jaime and Alex for the usual hospitality.

We started with few agenda items:
– Brian sent in this note: By the way, I thought you might enjoy the following.  I read several Biggles books as a child but was a mere dabbler as there were dozens and dozens of them. (Biggles’ Big Adventures) https://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/nov/10/featuresreviews.guardianreview
– Cary wrote in with the news that he won Camp NaNoWriMo last month. “My story is called “Help Wanted” and it’s basically about a newly divorced father struggling to move on with his two kids, so he hires a new nanny and gets a second job. Yet again, the story is unfinished, but I still won. With my word count being 25,000 I won with 25,025.”  Congratulations, Cary!
– Sean announced that he was working on his first play.  Titled “The Turd in the Punchbowl”, he said it will be a reflection on our modern times.
– Kathy highly recommended The Florida Project on Netflix.  She said it was a story about a little girl and her mother living a stones-throw from Disney World, and how they and their friends try to make the best of their situation.
– This may not have been the best venue for this question, but I asked if anyone had any recommendations for web hosting?  My writer site is a free account on wordpress.com, but I need to move my personal site, Stephanieandmatt.com, and I don’t want to be forced to use a predefined layout like WordPress or Squarespace uses.

– We began discussions about the October Reading Night.  Our group will be featured at the Tamale Hut Café Reading Series on October 27, and we need to decide what we want to present.  You might recall that last year we all wrote stories starting with the same prompt sentence.  The year before the stories were all written to a theme.  What do we want to do this year?
The event is a few days before Halloween, so we could easily choose something Halloween-related.  An idea that we didn’t use last year was to incorporate a specific item in the stories.  It could be something as complex as a machine that can record dreams, or as simple as a specific pair of blue socks.  Just something to tie all the stories together.
We’re hoping to decide on our plans at our June meeting.  Bring your ideas to the meeting and help us come up with a cool concept for October.  If you can’t make it in June, send in your ideas and we’ll discuss them.

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Gary is reading May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes, and Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami
– Kathy only had one book for us this month, but she couldn’t say enough good things about it.  She said she had wanted to read The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, but then it appeared on the list of one of her book clubs and she loved it.
– Salvador enjoyed The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth, and now he wants to see the film but is having trouble locating a copy.  Lisa recommended checking the library, and specifically the inter-library loan system.
– Steve hadn’t read anything, but recently watched Interstellar and Wag the Dog, and he recommended both films
– Lisa finished I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley.  She said the author writes well, but could really use an editor.
– Sean said that one of his favorite series, the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn, have been turned into a Showtime mini-series starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  He’s re-read the books many times and is looking forward to the adaptation.
– Vickie read Endurance by Scott Kelly, which she said was an interesting story but not well-written.  She also read The Great Spring by Natalie Goldberg, and she told of her recent road-trip to visit Larry McMurtry’s bookstore in Archer City, Texas.  She says she’s thinking of writing a story about the trip, an idea that was met with much enthusiasm from the group.
– Matt B recommended The Hunter Island Adventure, a New Pulp story by Wayne Reinagel featuring thinly-veiled pastiches of classic pulp characters.  He also read The Scandal of Father Brown by GK Chesterton, which is considered to be the worst book in the series.  He’s also started The Flying Squad by Bishop & Stuart-Wortley, which he got at the library for a quarter.

Internet Notes for the month –
– a recent Google doodle featured some animation based on the films of Georges Méliès, who came up in last month’s conversation – https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-georges-melies
– Here’s a few sites featuring some really bad book covers: http://www.kahnscorner.com/2013/03/judging-books-by-their-covers.html,
http://www.kahnscorner.com/2013/07/judging-more-books-by-their-covers.html
– A study recently concluded that two spaces after a period makes reading easier:
https://boingboing.net/2018/05/07/study-two-spaces-after-a-peri.html

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual random comments, constructive criticism, and helpful discussion about general writing topics.  It was a smaller group than we’ve had lately, but everyone really participated in the conversation.  One of the more interesting topics was about the method the writer is presenting their piece to their audience comes into play.  Most of us thought that if the piece was intended to be read aloud, say at an open-mic event, then some issues like changes in tense and POV might not be as distracting to the listener as it would be if read they read it themselves.  Certainly spelling and punctuation errors are also forgivable if the piece is read live.  That’s not to say that consistent tense and POV are not important goals for the writer in any case, but we agreed that an audience would be more forgiving of such things when the story is read to them, as opposed to reading it from a printed page.

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 26 at 7PM.  Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for more information.
– around May 27, 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, June 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 Reading Series event or at the next Writers Group meeting.

Matt B

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