Notes from the April, 2019 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our seventy-ninth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, April 6.  Thanks to Steve, John, Lisa, Matt H, Kathy, Chris W, and Aaron for joining me for another afternoon of conversation and fun. Thanks, as always, to Jaime for again allowing us a comfortable place to meet.

As usual, we started with a few agenda items:
– I thanked everyone for adjusting their schedule to meet on the first Saturday this month, so that I could attend the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention (http://windycitypulpandpaper.com/home/) as I do each year.
– North Riverside Library Writers next meeting is April 20 at 1pm, if anyone is looking for another writers group to attend.  Details at http://www.northriversidelibrary.org/events/writers-group/
– Matt H has another Atlas Obscura event coming up later this month.  “Carta Monstruosa – Weird, Wild, and Wonderful Maps” is a visit to the map room of the Newberry Library.  Alas, the event is sold out, but if you want to put your name on the wait list, you can do so here: https://www.atlasobscura.com/events/carta-monstruosa
– For those of you with a DVR (or a VCR): the MHz channel (ch372 on Comcast, 20.1 over the air) will be showing the very first episode of The Undertaker (Der Bestatter) on Tuesday, April 16 at 8pm, 11pm and Wednesday at 2am.  The series is about an ex-policeman who takes over his father’s mortuary business.  If you don’t mind subtitles (or understand German) it’s really very good.

– I again brought up the fact that we will be the featured readers in August at the Tamale Hut Café Reading Series, and asked for suggestions for another group project.  I did a little more thinking about my idea from last month about trying to write song lyrics to an existing tune, but the more I researched the idea, the more I realized that it probably wouldn’t work.  We discussed the idea a bit, and while the song-writing aspect was not feasible, the idea of music intrigued some people.  The suggestion was made that we each write a piece that somehow revolves around music, whether it be a song, or just some lyrics.  (And if I wanted to, I could write some lyrics as part of a piece.)  It seems like an interesting idea.  Let’s discuss it again in May, when we can make a decision.

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Steve put aside his biography of Warren G. Harding to read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
– John is reading The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, and has been enjoying the TV series 800 Words
– Lisa was disappointed by The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.  She said it was just okay.
– Matt H loved Big Machine by Victor LaValle, the writer of The Ballad of Black Tom, which he also liked.  He has also been reading a few books on the philosophy of Russian cosmism
– Chris read If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura
– Kathy has read Educated by Tara Westover, The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, Identical Strangers by Elyse Schein, and In Deep by Angalia Bianca
– Aaron started The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
– Matt B is still working through Autonomy by Jean-Michel Smith, but has put it aside for a bit to try to prepare the first volume of Barnstormers for publication.

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual varied discussions about general writing topics.  The meeting had a different feel this month.  Part of it was that had a smaller group, possibly due to the scheduling change, which allowed us to use fewer tables than usual, so everyone was sitting closer to each other.  There were only four pieces to discuss, so we could take our time and talk in-depth about the stories.  We even had a few deviations when some film or TV show was mentioned, such as the upcoming season premiere of Game of Thrones.  All of this and we were still out by 4pm.  That might be the earliest we’ve ever ended!

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, April 27 at 7PM.  Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for more information.
– around April 28, I will to 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 11 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café, where we home to decide on the group project for August.

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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Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for April

I just want to remind everyone that there is a schedule change in April in which we will be meeting on the first Saturday of the month rather than our customary second Saturday. Also, we will be discussing our upcoming August Featured Reader spot at the THC Presents Reading Series, and if we want to do another group project. Bring your ideas!

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, April 6, at the Tamale Hut Café, starting at 2PM. If you can attend, we’d love to see you there. If you would like to submit a piece for critique during the meeting,please send it to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com, along with an idea of the level of feedback you are looking for, and I will distribute it to the group. If you have something you would like feedback on but you can’t attend the meeting, I’d be glad to forward it to the group as well. We can discuss it at the meeting and get some comments back to you via e-mail.

Hope to see you all on the 6th for the Writers Group, and on the 27rd for the April Reading Series night.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt H – noahs ark section 3.rtf
Matt B – Barnstormers chapter 20.docx
Chris W – 033312019 Chats with a Charlatan Chapters 1-3 for THC.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf

Notes from the March, 2019 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our seventy-eighth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, March 9.  Thanks to Cary, Gary D, Sean, Lisa, Brian, Matt H, Aaron, Michelle, Salvador, and Chris W for joining me for an afternoon of conversation and fun. Thanks, too, to Kathy for sending in her comments for critique, to Gary for bringing in the cookie, and to Jaime for giving us a dry place to meet on what turned out to be a rainy and nasty day, weather-wise.

As usual, we started with a few agenda items:
– I reminded everyone that next month we will meet on April 6, the first Saturday instead of the second, since the second Saturday I will be at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention (http://windycitypulpandpaper.com/home/) where I plan to add to my already unwieldy to-be-read pile.
– Starting in March, The North Riverside Library Writers group moves to the third Saturday of the month.  Next meeting is March 16 at 1pm, if anyone is looking for another writers group to attend.  Details are at http://www.northriversidelibrary.org/events/writers-group/
– Matt H has another Atlas Obscura event scheduled: History and High Scores at the Nation’s Largest Arcade, at the Galloping Ghost right here in Brookfield.  The event is on Saturday, March 30, and details are at https://www.atlasobscura.com/events/galloping-ghost-history-and-high-scores-at-the-nations-largest-arcade
– Lisa discovered the Otherworld Theatre Company, the world’s only venue dedicated to Science Fiction + Fantasy performance! She’s interested in the weekly Nerdlesque shows, and I said we should have a group outing to one of the improv Dungeons and Dragons sessions where the players act out the action – https://www.otherworldtheatre.org/
– Kathy wrote in with details of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park short story contest.  Ten (10) finalists along with one grand prize winner ($500 monetary award) will be chosen, and with the authors’ agreement, will be published in our 4th edition of the literary journal HEMINGWAY SHORTS. The deadline for submissions is April 2, 2019. Submissions fee is $15.  Details and guidelines are at https://thehemingwayfoundation.submittable.com/submit/edf2b018-c075-4c95-9593-2744605a1608/2019-hemingway-shorts-contest
– Salvador mentioned that there will be a live stage production of Pride & Prejudice by the LATTE Theater group in LaGrange on May 10 and 11.  Details and ticket information at http://www.lattetheater.com/
– Lisa recommended an article from the New York Times about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.  She said there were a lot of videos on the page of the pieces read at the event – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/09/style/cowboy-poets-elko-nevada.html?action=click&module=Features&pgtype=Homepage
– Gary said he’s been attending Bad Grammar Theater (https://badgrammartheater.wordpress.com/), the Oak Park-based reading series run by Brendan Detzner, who occasionally reads at the Tamale Hut.  The event is every first Saturday of the month at the Eastgate Cafe in Oak Park.  There is also a YouTube channel where you can see some of the readings in the comfort and privacy of your own browser: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdx2xXRY49bxFZB-Uipmykw
– Gary and Lisa discussed the Voice Box reading event hosted at Fitzgerald’s on the second Tuesday of the month.  It’s an evening of song and story featuring Cathy Richardson.  The next event is April 9, and details are at http://www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com/events/view/VoiceBox-with-Cathy-Richardson-46
– Sean mentioned the Masterclass web site (https://www.masterclass.com/) where famous people will teach you things.  He mentioned Neil Gaiman was one of the instructors, and he liked Gaiman’s description of writing a novel: “Writing a novel is like driving through the fog with one headlight out.  You can’t see very far ahead of yourself, but every now and again, the mists will clear.”

– I mentioned that our group will be the feature readers for August at the Tamale Hut Café Reading Series, and asked if we wanted to do another group project, and if anyone had any suggestions for the type of project we should do.  I had an idea, but I didn’t have time before the meeting to flesh it out completely.  My half-baked idea was to try to write poetry in the form of song lyrics.  I thought we could get either an instrumental with a basic song structure (verse-chorus-verse) and see what kind of lyrics everyone can come up with.  We can likely find karaoke versions of popular songs (instrumentals without the vocals) that we can use. Lisa suggested that we take a basic song that everyone knows, like “Happy Birthday” or “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
This is obviously just one idea.  I’m going to try to have a more comprehensive proposal for the next meeting, possibly with example songs, but
if anyone else has an idea for a group project, let’s discuss it at the April meeting.

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Cary didn’t read anything of note this month
– Gary is enjoying Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally by Bob Zmuda and Lynne Margulies
– Sean is still reading Burmese Days by George Orwell, and has started The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
– Lisa is loving Gumshoe by Robert Leininger
– Brian is in the middle of a half-dozen histories of Singapore as research for his story
– Matt H picked up on the comics theme from the last meeting and has been reading the Jim Steranko Nick Fury stories from the sixties, and has started on the acclaimed Sandman series written by Neil Gaiman
– Aaron is starting the optimistically titled How Not to Die by Gene Stone and Michael Greger
– Michelle said she appreciated the recommendation of Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen, if for no other reason than to give her an example of writing dialog in dialect done right
– Salvador also had nothing to report this month
– Matt B finished He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos by Walter Kaylin, and is still reading Autonomy by Jean-Michel Smith.  He said he will probably next read the novelization of Metropolis by Thea von Harbou, which was the basis of the Fritz Lang film classic

Internet Notes for this month –
– Recently there was an auction of some first editions of books by Dashiel Hammett.  This web site shows the beautiful book design: http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/2019/02/for-sale-otto-penzlers-hammett-novels.html (and this page lists the final prices:http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/2019/03/otto-penzler-aucton-results-hammett.html)  Other pages on that site show some of the other books auctioned from that collection, like some Raymond Chandler, John Carroll Daly and some science fiction, but I thought the Hammett book designs were outstanding.
– A recent Escape Pod story I found very entertaining was basically about a participant in Victorian Roller Derby – http://escapepod.org/2019/01/03/escape-pod-661-a-fine-night-for-tea-and-bludgeoning/

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual varied discussions about general writing topics.  Again we had a lot of material to cover, so we tried to keep the side conversations to a minimum.  I wasn’t as successful keeping things on track as last month, and we wound up there well after five o’clock, but I think that every piece was suitably discussed.  One conversation I found interesting revolved around how different writers approach continuing a longer story.  I write in chronological order, where some people can write in snippets and then link them up later.  Some writers will glance back at the end of the previous chapter before starting on the next, where some will re-read a significant portion of the earlier work, to enable them to continue in the same tone and style.  Still other writers will end a writing session in the middle of a sentence, rather than at the end of a scene or a chapter, and that allows them to pick up their train of thought exactly where they left it.  Obviously there’s no one right way, and you should stick with what works, but if one method is not working for you, maybe you could try another approach.

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, March 23 at 7PM.  Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for more information.
– around March 24, I will to 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, April 6 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café.  Bring your ideas for a group project for August.

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

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for March

We had a really productive meeting last month, at which 12 attendees discussed the nine pieces that were submitted. All that and we still were finished around five o’clock. There was a nice variety of work, too. I hope next month’s meeting will be just as good.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, March 9, at the Tamale Hut Café, starting at 2PM. If you can attend, we’d love to see you there.  If you would like to submit a piece for critique during the meeting,please send it to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com, along with an idea of the level of feedback you are looking for, and I will distribute it to the group. If you have something you would like feedback on but you can’t attend the meeting, I’d be glad to forward it to the group as well. We can discuss it at the meeting and get some comments back to you via e-mail.

Hope to see you all on the 9th for the Writers Group, and on the 23rd for the March Reading Series night.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt H – Noahs ark section 2.rtf
Salvador – Jenny1of2.docx
Brian – Capture March 1 2019.docx
Aaron – Los Ebanos 1.rtf
Matt B – Barnstormers chapter 19.docx
Gary D – The Shit Sits.docx
Cary – Love Hurts pt 2.docx
Lisa – Ronald draft 03 03.docx
Sean – BorderCrossingsCHAPTER4.pdf
Chris W – Prayers for Pigeons.docx
Chris W – Chats with a Charlatan – Chapter 1 for THC – March 2019.docx

Notes from the February, 2019 Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting

We had our seventy-seventh Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, February 9.  Thanks to Cary, Gary D, Kathy, Sean, Lisa, John, Matt H, Michelle, Salvador, Steve, and new member Chris W for joining me for a scintillating afternoon of conversation and critique. Thanks, too, to Jaime for allowing us to infiltrate his place of purveyance for another meeting.

As usual, we started with a few agenda items:
– Our next two meetings will be on Mar 9 and Apr 6.  Note that the April meeting will be the first Saturday of the month instead of the second, because I will be unavailable the second weekend in April.
– I’m unavailable that weekend because of my annual pilgrimage to the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention.  The event this year will be on April 12-14, and I always have a good time.  I’m always motivated to write when I see an entire ballroom full of books and magazines for sale, and a number of writers of new stories are there each year to talk to about writing stuff. http://windycitypulpandpaper.com/home/
– February is Jack Benny month on Those Were The Days on WDCB, Saturday afternoons from 1 to 5, or streaming anytime at http://www.nostalgiadigest.com/those%20were%20the%20days.htm  If you are a fan of sitcoms, the Benny show was one of the best.
– Jennifer from the North Riverside Writers group stopped by last month to introduce herself.  Starting next month, the group she belongs to will be meeting on the third Saturday of the month at 1pm, so if anyone is looking for another writers group to attend, the two meetings won’t clash.  Details at http://www.northriversidelibrary.org/events/writers-group/
– Lisa mentioned that Marvel is giving away five free Black Panther digital comics to celebrate Black History Month.  Details are in the Gizmodo article at https://io9.gizmodo.com/marvel-is-celebrating-black-history-month-with-some-exc-1832410216/amp?__twitter_impression=true
– Matt H said that he has two Atlas Obscura events in the works.  He’s talking to the people at the Galloping Ghost arcade in Brookfield about a video gaming event, and is in discussions with the Newberry Library about a visit to its legendary map room.  As soon as dates have been finalized, he will let us know.
– Sean recently picked up a digital collection of Nick Fury comics by Jim Steranko, which he fondly remembered reading in his youth.  He passed around his tablet showing a full-page example of how Steranko used collage along with his standard comics artwork on the title, and that just blew young Sean’s mind when he first saw it – http://magictransistor.tumblr.com/post/158176633571/jim-steranko-nick-fury-1968

We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Cary is reading The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille, which he picked up at Walgreens of all places
– Gary really enjoyed Reckless by Chrissie Hynde.  He said that The Broker by John Grisham sucked, but that Rhode Island Notebook by Gabriel Gudding was good.
– Kathy liked The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers and The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks
– Sean was interested in Ashenden by W. Somerset Maugham after seeing the Hitchcock movie based on parts of the book.  He also really liked Burmese Days by George Orwell, a book that Gary P recommended months ago, which he obtained in a digital collection of Orwell novels
– Lisa read The Last Refuge by Chris Knopf, and highly recommended the video Untouchable Girls, a documentary about the Topp Twins
– John was looking for a story written somewhat from a horse’s point of view for a project he’s considering, and he wound up reading All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
– Matt H is working his way through Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe, and is fascinated by the behind-the-scenes stories about how some of his favorite comics were created
– Salvador is enjoying Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
– Michelle is reading The Five Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman
– Steve hadn’t read anything this month, but is focusing on writing
– Chris read The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom and Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk
– Matt B finished Roscoes in the Night by Robert Leslie Bellem and has started two books: He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos by Walter Kaylin and Autonomy by Jean-Michel Smith

Internet Notes for this month –
– Writing Tips from the Pulp Era – It’s All A Matter of Timing: A Foolproof Fiction Formula by Nelson S. Bond – I don’t know how useful this article is as writing tips, since it was written in the 1940s about writing for a specific market but I found it a fun read: https://www.storyhack.com/2017/07/17/another-pulp-story-formula/

The rest of the meeting was taken up with the usual varied discussions about general writing topics.  I don’t have much to report this month, because we had a lot of material to cover, so we tried to keep the side conversations to a minimum.  We did recognize that there seemed to be several things that popped up more than once in the pieces we reviewed.  There were two stories that mentioned parachutes, two stories titled after articles of clothing, several stories that contained lines that we classified as “gut-punches.”  There were also a few discussions revolving around comic books.  My favorite comment of the afternoon was when Matt H was asked about some of his word choices, his defense was that he was “just trying to get the red line to go away,” referring to the squiggle that word processors use to indicate a misspelled word.

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 23 at 7PM.  Please check the blog (http://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/) for more information.
– around February 24, I will to 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 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

Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting for February

What’s up with this weather? The Reading Series night was cancelled for January because of a snow storm, and now we’re looking at some dangerously cold temperatures predicted for the middle of this week. It seems bad, but I think we’re just spoiled after what has been a fairly mild Winter so far. This is Chicago, after all. So bundle up, everyone. Make a hot beverage, throw on another sweater, and write a story set in warmer climes. Maybe something on a beach somewhere. Writing of sun, sand, and tropical weather can get us through all this. And Spring will be here before we know it.

The next THC Writers Group meeting will be Saturday, February 9th, at the Tamale Hut Café, starting at 2PM. If you can attend, we’d love to see you there. If you would like to submit a piece for critique during the meeting,please send it to thcwritersgroup@gmail.com, along with an idea of the level of feedback you are looking for, and I will distribute it to the group. If you have something you would like feedback on but you can’t attend the meeting, I’d be glad to forward it to the group as well. We can discuss it at the meeting and get some comments back to you via e-mail.

I hope to see you all on the 9th for the Writing Group, and on the 23rd for what will actually be the first Reading Series night of 2019.

For those of you attending, you should have already received the following pieces:
Matt B – Barnstormers chapter 18.docx
Lisa – End of the Tunnel.docx
John – Red Square.docx
Brian – Capture Tamale group Jan 30 2019.docx
Matt H – noah’s ark section one.rtf
Cary – Love Hurts.docx
Sean – BorderCrossingsCHAPTER3.pdf
Michelle – Chapter 7.docx
Kathy – My Jacket.docx
Gary D – Trousers.docx