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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Past Guest Speakers, Other Authors


Two sisters, Katherine and Erna Hoeger, age nine and three, have suddenly had their lives changed forever.  They lost their parents, their home and their freedom.  It was 1944 in Gakowa in the former Yugoslavia.  They spent three years in a concentration camp, guarded by communist partisans of Marshall Tito.  The camp located in their town of Gakowa was one of seven in Yugoslavia where ethnic Germans were incarcerated because they were the “enemy of the state”. 

The little girls were separated and raised by caring relatives in the camp and later the families escaped in 1947, one going to Austria and the other to Germany.  After two more years of separation, Katherine came to America in 1949 and Erna in 1951.  They made Chicago their home.
During the same timeline, another young boy, George Flotz, Jr. together with his mother and two brothers left their birthplace of Bezdan, just 15 kilometers from Gakowa and traveled across Europe during the last months of fighting in WWII, dodging bombs and barely surviving as refugees.  In search of their father, who was a soldier, they found him in a miraculous turn of events and ended up in Vienna, Austria. They came to Chicago in 1956 where George met Katherine and the rest is history.

The author welcomes speaking engagements. 

Paul Benninghoff

Paul is currently enrolled in the Elementary Education program at Purdue University Calumet.  Through South Suburban College he has earned an Associate in the Arts and an Associate in the Fine Arts degrees.  In addition to his schooling, Paul is a member of the Dyer Historical Society, of which he was president for two years and published a pictorial history book for them on the history of Dyer.  Once a month he facilitates a discussion group called Socrates Café and an artists group called Northwest Indiana Artists Support Group.  As an artist he has pieces of his work showing at a local gallery.  He is also a member of the Paranormal Society of Indiana and has been ghost hunting/investigating the paranormal for over six years.  Paul is currently in the process of writing two more books.

Shannon Anderson

As a literacy coach and former first grade teacher, Shannon loves speaking at schools, libraries, clubs, and events.

Shannon wrote "I am not a Pirate" as a way to spread awareness of Amblyopia and help children cope with the frustration of wearing an eye patch.

Watch the local news coverage about Shannon's family and her latest book on youtube by copying the link below:

Lora Mercado

Lora Mercado is a freelance writer and self published author. Her articles are also featured weekly on the online health and fitness magazine 

Lora enjoys writing cookbooks with delicious, easy to follow recipes. Be sure to check out her newest books: "Oh Cheese!" "Tasteful Memories" "Bunch O' Brunch" "Gimme that CHOCOLATE! The PMS Survival Cookbook"

In tribute to her son's passing, Lora has been on a quest to help bring peace to those who are in a state of grief. Read her book "Our Angels Await, Stories of Love from Beyond", if you enjoy inspirational stories from people across the globe who have had connections with loved   ones who have passed away.

Joan Pusateri

Joan, born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, attended Dixon Grade School, Hirsch High School and graduated in 1960 from South Chicago Community Hospital School of Nursing. Mother of 3, daughter Mary Davis, sons Steve and David Ainley. Proud grandmother of 9, Michael and Ben Davis, Steven, Michelle, Dylan, Hannah, Samantha Ainley, Danny and Diane Ainley. Retired from duties as a Charge Nurse on the Psychiatric Unit of St. Margaret Health Care Center in Dyer, Indiana. Joan lives in Dyer with her husband Bob Pusateri and Wheaten Terrier Micki. Joan enjoys reading, gardening, golfing, baking, travel, crocheting prayer shawls, crossword puzzles and activities with the grandkids. Joan especially enjoys her involvement in two golf leagues, Scherwood golf course in Schererville Indiana and Lincoln Oaks golf course in Crete, Illinois. She is also a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and a participant in the literary club. Joan is a member of Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church in Merrillville. Joan was honored as a nominee for the 2009 Golden Hoosier Award. Joan is the author of "The Pause in My Life...The Story of Andy. "Andy" was Nelson J. Anderson, a 79 year old gentleman found asleep on a lawn in rural Dyer, in need of emergency medical help and thought to be homeless.

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