We had our fifty-ninth Tamale Hut Café Writers Group meeting on Saturday, August 12. Thanks to Sean, Lisa, Matt H, Christian, Michelle, Marianne, Kathy, and Cary for joining me for an afternoon of conversation and critique, and thanks to Salvador for e-mailing his feedback to the pieces we discussed, as he was off celebrating his wedding anniversary with his lovely wife Noemi. Thanks, too, to Jaime for the comfortable surroundings, and thanks to everyone who signed the birthday card I was given at the end of the meeting.
We started with a few quick agenda items:
– our next two meetings will be Sept 9 and October 14. I mentioned that I was considering redesigning the flyer, but whether I do or not, I should have new flyers up at the usual spots this week.
– *BIG NEWS* – the date for the October Reading Night has changed. Our featured reader night is now Saturday, October 28th, so mark your calendars for the change. We will be discussing plans for the evening at our next two meetings, and I am still looking into the suggestion from last month of a banner containing our prompt sentence, “All last night the singing went on upstairs and nobody said a word.”
– Cary announced that he met his word count for Camp NaNoWriMo last month. The story he worked on is not finished, but he was happy he hit his goal for the month, and intends to continue the story to completion. He said he did participate a little in the “cabins” that Camp NaNoWriMo provided for a little added encouragement to keep writing.
– Christian said that he is making good use out of an app called Writer for his iPhone. He said it’s easy to use to write on the go, but it also allows you save voice notes and photos associated with your writing. He liked the flexibility of being able to capture a story if all he has with him is his phone.
– Sean mentioned that he’s been regularly recording his observations on his blog, http://seanpatrickparks.com/ and he welcomes everyone to read them.
– For those of you who watch TV, or at least record it for later viewing, the Decades channel has been showing episodes of Westinghouse Studio One weeknights at 10pm. On the air from 1948 through ’58, Studio One was an anthology series of one-hour plays, some taken from books and some written for the series, and most presented live, like a stage play. It’s fascinating to see the variety of actors, many going on to star in tv and movies. We’ve recently seen an episode with a very young William Shatner as a layer defending an equally young Steve McQueen. They’re in black and white, and far from HD, but it’s a fascinating peek in to the early days of TV. Decades is broadcast over the air on channel 2.2, and is channel 338 on Comcast.
– Since the meeting, Lisa e-mailed that the Frugal Muse in Downers Grove is having “A knock-down, drag-out literary fight to the death between authors Martin Seay & Peter Ferry (oh, plus a book signing) on Aug 22, 6 p.m” Lisa said:
“Sounds like fun. I do know this place is suffering and they really could use bodies to walk through the door and buy a few items. So even though it is a school night, I’m going to try to get there.”
I’m not sure we’ll be able to make it on a Tuesday night, but I have my eye on the next Open Mic session at that location on Sept 10.
We then went around the table to get everyone’s current reading list:
– Cary has been reading some travel books in advance of a trip he is taking, and in researching books he discovered Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard, which he intends to read next.
– Kathy continues to embarrass the rest of us by reading more books than almost all of us put togther. She’s recently read Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler (which she said was a fun read), The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai, All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, and Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer, which she said she really liked.
– Michelle said she had no time this month to read, as she spent most of her free time writing.
– Marianne really liked Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson, about two guys who found the wreck of a WWII German U-boat off the coast of New Jersey. She said there was a Chicago connection as the men came to our Museum of Science and Industry and toured the U-505 sub displayed there, to get an idea if what being inside a sub was like.
– Christian recommended Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell and Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson.
– Matt H read The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, partially as background for the Hyde Park tour he’s putting together for Atlas Obscura (http://www.atlasobscura.com/). He’s also said that a recent credit card breach has prevented him from buying any new books, so he’s been going over previous purchases on his Kindle. He’s been re-reading some Lovecraft, and is working on The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle.
– Lisa’s been reading Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory. She liked the characters and the fact that it was set in Chicago.
– Sean also has been too busy to read, as he’s reworking his catalog of self-published books in advance of his September Featured Reader spot.
– Matt B finished The Dain Curse, and liked the first half of it. He also read Mixtape by Adam Gaines, after hearing the author on a podcast. He enjoyed the form of one-act plays, but was turned off by what he felt was amateurish dialogue. He also wanted to recommend the Amazon Studios adaptation of Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon. He said that book has been on his shelf for almost 30 years, and if he knew it was loosely based on Irving Thalberg, he would have read it years ago.
Internet Notes for the month:
– Online Creative Writing Courses for NaNoWriMo Participants – http://www.wesleyan.edu/cpi/idd/NaNoWriMo_enrollment.html
The rest of the meeting was taken up with comments and critique of the pieces submitted by the attendees. We had twelve pieces to discuss this month from nine different authors, and unlike previous meetings, I tried to keep the conversations on-track so that everyone’s piece got the time it deserved, yet we were still out of there in a reasonable time. I know that left to our own devices, we’d have been there until midnight. Jaime is good to us in allowing use of his place of business to talk shop for an afternoon, but I’m sure Joe would have kicked us out well before midnight!
Several of the pieces we discussed were stories written to the theme of our October Reading Series project. It’s amazing how we’ve had such a variety of stories yet they all start with the same sentence. And there’s plenty of time for you join in on the fun! I know many of you can’t attend one of our second Saturday afternoon get-togethers but do attend the Reading Series nights. You are more than welcome to write a story based on our opening sentence, then read it at the THC Presents event on October 28. Wouldn’t it be fun if all the stories read on that night started with the same sentence? If you want to play along, your opening sentence is “All last night the singing went on upstairs and nobody said a word.” (By the way, this is a little long to include in a haiku, but we haven’t seen any poetry yet. I expect Steve is working on something, but I wanted to put a bug in your ear if you are poetry-minded.)
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, August 26 at 7PM, and the featured reader will be series regular Chris Krazmus, who was an early attendee of the Writers Group. Please check the blog or the group’s THC Facebook page for more information.
– the following day, 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, September 9 at 2PM at the Tamale Hut Café. I hope you can stop by to help us celebrate five years of Writers Group meetings!
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.