Magic Hour Writers

Our Mission: To encourage and promote excellence in writing for children through
friendship, education, and peer support to writing colleagues.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Meeting Highlights - June 14, 2017

Members Present:  Helena, Jackie, Karen, Luneil, Rachael, Ruthann, Valia

Karen is working on a picture book about the story behind the Purple Heart for grades K-3rd. She has contacted historians and the auxiliary for the Military Order of the Purple Heart to tell them about her project. She hopes they will endorse the book and help promote it.

Valia had a few suggestions about how to improve the new MHW website. He would like to see an area where we promote our authors’ books.  All ideas should be directed to Judy. Valia also talked about other local groups and projects.

Helena is working on a book about her family history. Members discussed different photo books that can be ordered online. She then read her short article Someone is Always Watching.

Jackie was contacted by the Nature Conservancy. They want to use one of her photos that was on exhibit in the Indy Airport for a note card. In addition, a local author contacted her about talking head shots for her next book.

Rachael is working on the second story in her One Kindness at at Time series. She handed out business cards and talked about her new website. Rachael reported she sent her Blue Pencil story to 40 publishers and has received 4 rejections so far. More determined than ever, she plans to self-publish with Pen It! Publications.

Pete was not present but his book The Tall Man is now available on Amazon.

Luneil will do a lot of traveling this summer and plans to work on Barty, specifically how he and the human boy are afraid of each other because of various misunderstandings.

Valia read his poem Heart Beats which was written in memory of the victims of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub. A year has now passed but the message is powerful and universal.

Next meeting: Rosati’s in Schererville, Thursday, July 12, 2017 at 6:30.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Meeting Highlights May 10, 2017

Members Present:  Jackie, Karen, Patty, Rachael, Ruthann

Guest:  Kim

Patty relayed that her writing coach and editor Esther recommended the book Structuring Your Novel Workbook for Hands-on Help by K. M. Weiland. Patty read "Chapter Two: The Christmas That Never Was" from her ya novel. She is getting more comfortable writing in first person.

Rachael reported she received two rejection emails. She has been doing a lot of research on self-publishing and mentioned she looked into Book Baby for eBook publishing and distributing. Rachel then read The Lucky Beads (Book 2 of the One Kindness at a Time Series) and Written by Rachael A. Thomas (and the morphemes).  A writing prompt gave her the inspiration for this short story.  The title of her latest adult novel is Sapphira's Marriage.

Karen read the 1st chapter of her new chapter book Railroadin Harry geared toward 2nd and 3rd graders. It was inspired by a true story.

Ruthann found some of her missing Boopy chapters!

Kim has been reading/researching a lot of picture books.

Jackie has been busy with photography.

Next Meeting:  June 14th, 2017 at Rosati’s Pizza in Schererville, IN at 6:30 p.m.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Meeting Highlights April 12, 2017

Members Present:  Helena, Jackie, Judy, Karen, Luneil, Pam, Patty, Ruthann, Valia

Judy started working on our MHW website. She found Wix to be more user friendly than a few of the others she looked into. She decided to use the free version for now. At a later date MHW can choose to pay if we need more features. Click here to see the beginnings of our new site:

Judy mentioned the Indigan Storyteller Spring Workshop is Saturday, April 29th in Hobart. The event cost $35 and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jackie will email the link and post on Facebook.

Judy passed out a chapter synopses for Emma and Guinevere then read part of Chapter 6 entitled “A Tale of Friendship.” She also showed her latest illustration of one of the characters.

Valia passed out a handout detailing the art scene in the Calumet Region. He then read a query letter he wrote years ago when he was submitting his story Bill Quartz’s Incredible Journey and discussed the importance of listening to your editor. Finally, Valia shared his poem “Three Facets of Refugee Status.”

Helena read her poem “Clouds.” Her handout included a landscape photo she took and an inspirational quote from Helen Keller.

Pam asked Judy to read the first part of her latest rescue story Now My Name is Jackie.

Ruthann is having difficulty finding some of her stories and if afraid she will have to rewrite Boopy.

Patty read her prologue and revised first chapter of Vienne. She reported writing in first person stirs up a lot more emotions and is very challenging. Karen had some suggestions. Patty also brought some sketches she had been working on.

Next Meeting:  May 10th at Rosati’s in Schererville. 6:30 p.m.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Meeting Highlights - March 8, 2017

Members Present:  Jackie, Judy, Karen, Luneil, Patty, Ruthann

Guest:  Kimberly

Kimberly is a kindergarten teacher and sells fairy houses on Etsy. She hopes to write a book or series of books that relate to her creations.

Karen will be doing a Rescuing Ivy presentation at Hammond Montessori for their 4th and 5th graders. Her second book is in the editing process. Karen told the group that you can pay to have your book reviewed for a minimal fee. Publisher’s Review is one of the organizations that provides this service.

Patty read The Gift of the Third Son. She wrote this short story years ago but revised it for the Pearl Buck contest. Submissions are due by April 15, 2017.

Judy is going to contact Bonnie Meyer and Karen Kmetz Bronowski and ask them to be guest speakers at a future meeting. She would like them to talk about the author/illustrator relationship and bringing your characters to life. Judy met them at the Merrilliville Branch of the Lake County Library when we participated in the local author’s book fair last fall. She brought their Kicker and Flinnder books to show the group.

Judy recommended the memoir School House by Marc Nieson. She met Marc at the last IWC conference. Other books members discussed included Stephen King On Writing and The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day.

Jackie and Judy both submitted to Chicken Soup for the Soul: dog stories and/or poems.

Kimberly read her poem Wildflower Fairies. Members suggested she do some research on the topic and see what is out there now. Members also suggested a few ideas about editing.

Jackie read Space Invaders. Her article and the related pictures were included in the Calumet Region Photography Club March newsletter. She plans to submit it to Prairie Writers Guild for their 2017 edition of From the Edge of the Prairie. The theme this year is “It’s a Small World.”

The Indiana SCBWI Summer Kick-Off Retreat is on June 2nd and 3rd in Potawatomi State Park in Angola.

Next Meeting:  April 12, 2017 at Rosati’s in Schererville, 6:30 p.m.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Meeting Highlights February 8, 2017

Members Present: Helena, Jackie, Luneil, Pete, Rachael, Ruthann

Jackie collected dues.

Pete felt inspired to write after vising Ken Nesbitt’s website. He read his two latest untitled poems that I refer to as Loosing Lunch and A Little Load.

Luneil re-read the last part of Barty and asked for help developing the human boy’s character.

Rachael is still editing The Blue Pencil but has ideas for the next book in the series. She might try writing it as a story instead of a poem.

Helena read her latest narrative fiction piece The Old Man Who Lost His Horse based on a Chinese parable.

Jackie read two poems:  February 14th and Spring Break.

Next meeting: Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 at Rosati’s at 6:30.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Meeting Highlights January 11, 2017

Members Present:  Jackie, Karen, Luneil, Patty, Pete, Rachael, Valia

Jackie collected the annual $10 dues.

Pete signed a contract with Pen-It Publishers. His poetry book will soon be available on and the Pen-It bookstore. There was a very minimal charge for illustrations and Pete will receive 45% of proceeds. See their website for submission guidelines and further details. We are excited for Pete and anxious to hear more about his experience.

Karen talked about Print On Demand. She also talked about her experiences as a guest speaker and other ways she promotes her books. She has a tiny projector and had help making Power Point slideshows. Jackie said that Eric Litwin, author of Pete the Cat books, visited Homan last year. She said videos of author school visits can be found on Youtube. Authors need to come up with unique ways to keep their young audience involved and excited. Often times a book pre-order form is sent home to parents which obviously helps with sales. Schools may even allow the author to do an additional presentation at night for parents and siblings.

Valia is going to give Miracle Called Earth presentations to different school groups up to 5th grade. He also wrote another book for older children entitled Earth Giver.

Karen emailed the first chapter of Ghost Lessons to members before the meeting. She would appreciate any feedback. Karen and Valia again discussed the invaluable advice they got from a local editor. Esther's website's link is

Rachael read The Blue Pencil. She had spent a lot of time editing and revising since reading it at the Write-On Hoosiers meeting. Members encouraged her to read other rhyming books and keep working on perfecting her story to get it ready for submitting.

Luneil read Barty, The Vampire Sleuth. She would like members to give her ideas for subsequent chapters.

Valia read an emotional article he wrote for The Times as a guest commentator. Father waited to say his final goodbye to me was published in 2008.

Jackie passed around pictures she took of the iced over St. Joseph Lighthouse in Michigan a few days earlier and read the related poem That’s Annoying. She also announced Chicken Soup for the Soul is accepting stories and poems on cats and dogs. Submissions are due January 31st. Guidelines can be found on their website.

Patty read the synopsis she wrote for Vienne.

Next meeting will be February 8, 2017 at Rosati’s in Schererville at 6:30 p.m.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Meeting Highlights December 14, 2016

Members Present:  Donna, Jackie, Judy, Karen, Luneil, Ruthann, Valia

Guest:  Rachael

Rachael is a science teacher at Lake Central High School.

Karen gave Rachael advice about the submission process.

Judy, Suzy, and Karen participated in the Lake County Local Author Book Fair at the Merrillville Library held December 3rd. Judy met an illustrator and suggested we ask her to be a guest speaker at one of our upcoming meetings. Members were impressed with the illustrations in the books Judy brought in.

Suzy and Judy at the Local Author Book Fair

Judy will be staring a web page for MHW. She would like us to read children’s books and include our reviews as a regular feature on the new site.

Jackie reported she won a large cash prize in a magazine photo contest and the picture will be published early next year.

Donna read her story White and Black Animals in Bella’s Zoo. She plans to include a crayon or dry erase marker so children can draw their own pictures in the book as they read about each animal Bella encounters. Donna also has ideas to make it a series.

Rachael read the first draft of her rhyming story One Kindness at a Time. Members suggested she try writing a non-rhyming version as well and encouraged the idea of continuing the story in a series.

Valia read his poem Old Man and the Mango Stick.  His inspiration for the poem was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.  The poem follows a man and his branch from a mango tree through a lifetime.  The core idea is how all things have a spirit of life that creates a universal karma. 

Next he shared an article he wrote for the Huff Post Religion Blog in 2012.  This true story recounts the friendship between a Sikh poet, a black Baptist minister, and a white Methodist mother who had met in 1969.  Valia was the poet.  Although separated for forty years and losing contact, at the reunion, one of five Sikh religious symbols, the kada – a metal bracelet, remained on the arms of the two men throughout all those years.

Karen read a Christmas story from her developing chapter book that is a sequel to Railroading Harry.  In this story, Harry, a rabbit adopted by two men who inhabit a railroad caboose, is denied some of his favorite treats because they are going to be used for Christmas.  Harry, who was just introduced to the word “Christmas” is pretty sure, because of the denials, that Christmas is not for him.

Karen gave a great history of how cabooses were often used by railroad men as “homes” as the trains travelled 250 miles to a point were the caboose was changed and the men then returned to the original starting point.  These men would get to know people, especially children along the way and would often share celebrations of the seasons with children.

Rachel talked about an idea she has for a book about students who create a school based on what they think it should be like.  We talked about the possible target audience and the group encouraged her to start writing.  Suggestions were given including the idea that the point of view of the narrator (an adult teacher or a teen student) would help determine the target audience.

Members exchanged handmade gifts.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Several members attended the Write-On Hoosiers Banquet December 7th

Next Meeting:  Wednesday, January 11, 2017