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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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Meeting Highlights - December 13, 2017

Members Present:  Jackie, Karen Luneil Ruthann, Valia

Valia discussed his visit to the American Writers Museum in Chicago and brought brochures and bookmarks for our members. Valia passed around “Baby Loves Thermodynamics” by Ruth Spiro. He bought a copy because he was curious after reading about the series on our Facebook page. He then read A scene at the Poetry Recital Venue which was a four stanza poem inspired by the cancelling of the event due to rain. Finally Valia announced his poetry is on display as part of the Gary Poetry Project. The Times covered the story and published a picture in the news and online.

Karen read The Last Ride of the 503. She had started this picture book story over 25 years ago and it has since gone through at least 10 revisions. It tells the tale of a caboose and its fate after becoming obsolete.

Ruthann read the beginning of Traditions, a memoir about Christmas with her grandparents.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hope you find lots of writing inspiration over the holidays!

Next Meeting:  Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Meeting Highlights - November 8, 2017

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

Patty and Karen discussed their experience at the IL SCBWI conference. They got to meet with editors and agents. Patty’s was very happy with the critique she received and shared the comments with the group. They also discussed local children’s author Angie Karcher who founded RhyPiBoMo (Rhyming Picture Book Month) and wrote Santa’s Gift. She does a lot to promote rhyming picture books and has over 6,000 followers. See her website for a list of the Top 10 Best in Rhyme books, information about the Rhyme Revolution Conference next fall in New Harmony, IN, and more.

Rachael will be doing a book signing at Half-Priced Books On November 18th in Bloomingdale, IL. Pen It! Publications has hired a publicist to help promote her book.

Rachael read her latest short story about mosquitoes.

Members suggested Rachel check out the Baby Loves Science series by Ruth Spiro.

Judy has taken on a lot of roles at her new complex including starting a writing group. She then read a bio she wrote about one of the residents.

Next meeting:  December 13, 2017 at Rosati’s in Schererville at 6:30 p.m.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Meeting Highlights - October 11, 2017

Members Present: Judy, Valia, Luneil, Patty, Karen, Rachel

Judy moved into a new facility called Clarendale about a month ago and they having a room that we can sometimes have meetings in.  We can also order meals.  She is going to make inquiries and get back to us.

Katherine Flotz was invited to give a talk about her book . The staff at Clarendale encourages outside activities for the residents. Judy wants to invite Valia to do his fossil presentation.  He also has some ideas about the web page he is going to discuss with Judy.

Rachael self published her book The Blue Pencil with Pen It Publishing.  She brought her book to the meeting.  She is working on her 2nd book The Lucky Beads.  Pen It has a contest for children's picture books and the deadline is December 1, 2017.

Valia read a poem titled Two Feathered Dove to mark the day of International Peace.

Patty read the second part of chapter three.  Viene is learning about her past and her mother.

Submitted by: Luneil M.

Next Meeting: Rosati's, November 8, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Highland Bike Trail Ride and Read Event, September 16th, 2017

Thanks to all who stopped by to talk with us!

Meeting Highlights September 13, 2017

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

Members discussed the upcoming Ride and Read event that will be along the Highland bike trail September 16thJackie is making poem posters (Ruthann will send her a poem), Judy has created a reading flower activity, Valia will bring his fossils. Patty bought bags with the MHW logo and Helena also plans to help that day. Karen will bring coloring sheets and talk about Rescuing Ivy. Jackie will bring pencils and crossword puzzles from Rachel.

Pete discussed his experience with PenIt! Publishers for both The Tall Man and King of the Hill. His third book, Frightful Night, will be out in time for Halloween. Both Pete and Rachael are reading and promoting their books at the Book Sale for Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Rachael's son made a MHW banner for us and we will be able to use it Saturday.

Karen passed around The Cabooseman’s Garden, a book she published for the Griffith Historical Park and Museum back in 2012.  She then read a revised version of the first chapter in Ghost Lessons.

Patty and Karen are both planning to attend the IL SCBWI conference. Helena is attending the conference in Indiana.

Jackie announced that one of her poems will be published in High Five this upcoming April.

Helena read her humorous speech How to Hide from Table Topic Master.

Donna discussed the Chidlren’s Academy online course she took this past spring. She was not impressed as she felt her work did not receive enough helpful critique for the price she paid. Donna then read her latest children’s picture book story about a moving bed.

Next MHW meeting: October 11, 2017 at Rosati’s at 6:30.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Meeting Highlights for August 9, 2017

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

Members discussed the upcoming Ride and Read event. It is scheduled for September 16, 10-12 p.m. on the bike trail in Highland. MHW will set up in the gazebo and the surrounding area. Our interactive activities and readings will be geared toward elementary age children.  Patty will purchase 50 inexpensive bags, Rachael will provide blue pencils, Donna has stamps that coordinate with several MHW stories, Karen will bring Tootsie Rolls because elephants love sweets, Jackie will read “Earth is Wasted” and will pass out a nature scavenger hunt sheet, Valia will bring his rocks and read A Miracle Called Earth. Luneil will talk about Barty the Clumsey Vampire and we also plan to read Pete’s book The Tall Man. Judy will have tattoos for the kids and will read one of her stories. There will also be a poetry brainstorming session and much more. A MHW gift basket with our books and nature note cards will be raffled off at the event.  Helen and others will discuss our group and authors, hand out information, and talk about what is coming next. Jackie will include information on Pam, Ruthann, and Mari's stories as well and a few poems will be posted along the trail.

Judy will be the officiant at her granddaughter’s upcoming wedding so she shared the declaration of intent, rings exchange, and the pronouncement that she wrote. The ceremony will also include blessings from an Apache prayer.

Patty read the rest of chapter three from her novel Vienne.

Helena shared three of her poems. One was about autumn, the second one about a shooting star and the passing of a friend, the third about her favorite pastime, swimming.

Next meeting:  September 13, at Rosati’s, 6:30 p.m.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Meeting Highlights July 12, 2017

Members Present: Karen, Luneil, Patty, Pete, Ruthann, Valia 

Guest: Jane

Pete did a show and tell of his recently published books of two of his poems, The Tall Man and King of the Hill through Penit! Publications, LLC.  He explained the process of publication from layout, purchasing pictures for the books, Amazon, and sales. All proceeds from the books go to Riley Children’s Hospital and to a friend with cancer.

Ruthann discussed Boopy. There was some discussion on a new viewpoint for Boopie. Ruthann liked the ideas and Karen suggested she let Boopy do the ‘talking.’

Valia read three of his poems previously published in various publications, “Meditation” “Companions of the Storm” and “So I could Flow.” He also talked about ways to rewrite his “Quartz” story. He feels he needs a catchy story, such as a war or other hook to interest the reader. Pete’s book gave him a few new ideas.

Jane read her poetry about a walphin, a cross between a whale and a dolphin. The poets in the group offered ideas for improvement, such as research on this and other crossbred species. Jane was very pleased with the help and concepts.

Luneil read the next chapter about Barty. There was talk of having Barty’s human be a…girl! There was a lot of laughter as she read his tale and it was unanimous, everyone loves Barty.

Karen read the next chapter in Mac’s story, “Ghost Lesson’ now in first person, present tense. She received great reviews and Patty said it was fuller and so much better. Pete and Valia talked about Mac’s age and how he came across in the story.

Patty read next chapter in Vienne’s saga. She is always very grateful for corrections and help. She and Karen are participating in Camp NANO. You could say they are trying to work out the bugs, while they stay up all night writing.

Next Meeting: August 9, 2017 at 6:30 at Rosati's


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.