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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Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Meeting Highlights: December 14, 2022

Members Present: Alan, Debbie, Jackie, Karen, Pete, Valia

Karen submitted For the Life of Ivy. She discussed how she paid Kirkus for a critique and that Kirkus is known for book reviews. Prices are based on type and length of book. Karen talked about the first edition and how she ordered 300 in the beginning. Over time she sold 600 herself through school visits and heavy promotion.

Pete discussed the five books he published with Pen It! and details about working with the publisher and illustrators. He admitted he did not spend much time marketing his books and most were bought by friends and students. His main goals were met though. He wanted to see them in print and one was a tribute to a colleague.

Debbie discussed her experience with dealing with publishers and is feeling very frustrated. She said she is also having a hard time finding an illustrator. They are either too busy or too expensive.

Alan is doing stand up comedy after taking a break for over a decade. He will be putting on shows where proceeds will go to charity. He then read his poem “The Angel in the Snow.” He does not think he will submit to any of the publishers on the list he got from Karen, but is looking into joining SCBWI.

Valia read his mythical short story “A Bird, A Tree, and a Volcano.” He too is frustrated about not making it in the children's market but Jackie talked about his numerous sucesses with literary magazines.

Pete read two rhyming riddles and stated he appreciated feedback he got at the last meeting. He explained that the clues are tougher in the beginning and get more obvious as the riddle goes on. He submitted a couple to Readers Digest.

Jackie suggested meeting via Zoom in January and February then resuming in person meetings in March, after the weather breaks.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, January 11, 2023 via Zoom

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Meeting Highlights: November 9, 2022

Members Present:  Alan, Debbie, Jackie, Karen, Pete, Ruthann

Karen has been busy updating six display cases at the Griffith Train Museum. She submitted her revised version of Ivy, now titled “For the Life of Ivy,” and read the first chapter to the group. Her book “Medal with a Heart” was nominated for the Excellence in American History for Children Award.

Alan read his rhyming poem “Mothers are Tougher than Pirates.” Member agreed it needs to be published and discussed submission guidelines and requirements. Alan also discussed his anthology book “Poems for the Pioneer Spirit.” Karen will send Alan a list of 20 publishers that do not require submission by an agent.

Pete shared a rhyming riddle. Members suggested he consider submitting to magazines geared for seniors and their caregivers. After retiring and taking a long break from coaching, Pete’s friend convinced him to take on the new role of boy’s assistant volleyball coach.

Ruthann read “Another Day,” a memoir poem about a dark time in her life.

Debbie reported she is struggling to find an illustrator for her children’s book. Since she is a member of SCBWI, Karen suggested she contact the illustrator coordinator. Members discussed using notes or voice memos when ideas pop up. Debbie talked about adventure books where you create your own ending.

Jackie discussed benefits of meeting in person vs. video meetings but if there is inclement weather, meetings via Zoom will resume. Meetings at Rosati’s will get back on the second Wednesday of the month schedule.

Next Meeting: Rosati’s at 6:30 on December 14, 2022.


Meeting Highlights 10.26.22

Members Present:  Jackie, Patty, Pete Ruthann

Members met in person at Rosati’s in Schererville after meeting primarily through Zoom since early 2020.

Pete briefly discussed the 5th book he had published with Pen It! Publishers. He has written 10-15 Halloween Poems since then and has dozens of rhyming riddle poems. He shared one of his riddles and members tried to guess the answer. Members discussed different ways to share his poem to various audiences.

Ruthann started writing a book set back in England in the 1960’s. She brought the first chapter of the working title “Dawn of a New Day.”

Patty had to find and read comps to her novel, Vienne. She continues to attend workshops, participate in writing challenges, and has been submitting to publishers. Patty has gotten six rejections so far but plans to submit to several more. She is rewriting with a new angle where Vienne has uncontrollable premonitions.

Jackie has been focusing on her work at Lake Central and photography when able. She is considering submitting some old rhyming poems to the anthology Alan, another member, is working on. Pete submitted poems to that project earlier in the summer.


Thursday, June 2, 2022

Zoom Meeting Highlights - May 11, 2022

Members Attending: Judy, JC, Patty

Judy shared her experiences with the Writing for Young Children workshop she has completed through Authors Publish.

Judy shared a book recommended by John Claude Bemis who led the workshop she just finished.  It is the Emotional Wound Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.  She feels this is a great book that helps writers craft emotion in their stories.  

When the group discussed agents, Judy shared the following statistics

    1.      If you are published through an agent, your advance would average $27,000.  Without the average is $3,000

    2.      In 2017, 75% of middle grade books published were through an agent.  Picture books 50% were agent assisted.

    3.      Even with an agent, no guarantee of being published.  Agented authors get 30 or more rejections for debut novels.

    4.      Getting an agent isn't a breeze. 20% of authors get rejected by more than 60 agents a year. An average agent will sign 1% of the authors who query them.

JC is considering trying her hand at poetry for children.

Patty read chapters 31 &32. She discussed the SCBWI webinar she and Karen attended regarding “LOG lines” and submitting your book to agents and editors. Patty recommended Story Genius by Lisa Cron.  Story Genius is a writing guide on how to use cognitive storytelling strategies to build a blueprint for a story. She had heard about it from that Esther.

Next Meeting:  June 8, 2022

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Zoom Meeting Highlights - April 13th 2022

Members Present: Judith Whitcomb, Luneil Morrow, Patty Yackanich, Karen Kulinski, Joyce Shone, Debbie Lewandowski, Jackie Huppenthal, and Hardarshan Valia

Zoom meeting started promptly at 6:30 PM.

Judy described her experience of participating a writer’s workshop with Authors Publish.

Karen mentioned about that Gold Star Mother’s group is going to order her Purple Star Medal book for promoting in their community. Someone introduced her book to VA Deputy Director. She also got request for her book from VA Hospital in Chicago.

Debbie read a revision of her story The One We Could Not See about grieving the loss of a baby. 

Patty read Chapter 30 about Vienne making the decision to step out of her comfort level and take some control over her life. She will bring home Rene, Amelie and The Rat to spend the night in the warm chateau. The Rat discovers it was Yves who stopped his father from killing him. Reluctantly, Yves agrees to take them all to Rue de Grenelle for the night

Hardarshan Valia wrote about his experience during last summer walk-through Wicker Park, He was attracted to a free jazz concert at the other end. The meditative scene initiated emotions as represented in his poem entitled 'Healers of the Night' published in Jerry Jazz Musician, A Collection of Jazz Poetry – Spring, 2022 Edition.

Next meeting:  May 11, 2022, at 6:30 PM.

Submitted by,

Hardarshan Singh Valia

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Zoom Meeting Highlights - January 12, 2022

Members Present: Judy, Luneil, Patty, Karen, Joyce S, and Hardarshan Valia

Zoom meeting started promptly at 6:30 PM.

PATTY, read Chapters 26. Chapter 23. This chapter described her everyday trip to Montmartre, the place she hated. However, on her way she would see horse-driven carts with pre-fabricated panels heading to Eiffel Tower that would give her strength. After all Eiffel Tower was the Iron Lady that instilled iron-will power in her too! One practice she developed was taking food for Rene, Amelie, and Rat. Vienne was able to convince the carriage driver to take carriage through her old street where she was thrilled to see displays dedicated to her on her favorite window shops.

LUNEIL and JUDY, shared Chapters 8 and 9 entitled “Enter the Bullies,” “Feelings.” In these chapters, Ryleigh and Lottie tried to get information about the incident at the tournament that affected Michael’s behavior. They came across boys who were friendlier with Michael but their conversations did not provide any answers. Then they encountered some other boys named Jacob, Tom, and Smitty who were not only mean but spoke with racial overtone. When Tom grabbed Rayleigh’s hat off, that made Ryleigh pretty mad. She also did tit for tat by pulling off Tom’s red cap. Soon after they both fled to Rayleigh’s home where her brother Brain and her two friends who were playing basketball were good enough to force the three boys to retreat back to where they came from. One thing is commendable in how Luneil and Judy introduced the sensitive issue of race in a non-preachy way.

HARDARSHAN VALIA read his poem entitled, “Exodus at an Alzheimer Care unit wherein the newly admitted preacher ends up giving sermon to fellow inhabitants of the care unit.

JOYCE S., who was attending Memoir Writing class by Judy first time attended Magic Hour Writer’s meeting. She is interested in developing writing skills with confidence.

Submitted by,

Hardarshan Singh Valia

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Zoom Meeting Highlights - December 8, 2021

Attending: Judy, Karen, Valia, Ruthann, Luneil, Jackie and Patty

Karen: Has been working on Griffith Historical Society Museum display. She has done an enormous amount of research on the town of Griffith. In addition, she’s sent off her story “The Last Ride” to an editor. Karen is also working on General Grumpy, which is part of her series of train stories for children.

To our great delight, Karen has also been nominated for a DAR award for her book about the Purple Heart, The Medal with a Heart It will be the 90th birthday of the medal in 2022.

Judy and Luneil read another chapter from their already loved WIP, about Lottie Nora and Ryleigh Emma. They have prepared a questionnaire for their beta readers to fill out. The group also discussed plot points. 

Valia read his work in process called, When Parrot leaves a Mango Tree. This is a story about a family that has moved from Chandwara India to Hammond, Indiana. A homesick boy listens to the sounds of his new home, and they remind him of his former home. 

Jackie suggested a book to Valia which might help him plot the comparisons. 

Ruthann is busy with two grandchildren and promises to write when she has a spare second.

Patty completed another NANOWRIMO and read Chapters 25 & 26 of her story, The Iron Ladies.

There was further discussion about questions to ask beta readers, which will be helpful for any WIP being read by the appropriate age group. It’s helps to determine if the story is headed in the right direction.

The meeting concluded around 8:45 pm.

Next meeting:  January 12, 2022, @ 6:30 by Zoom.

Happy Holidays to all!

Respectfully submitted,

Patty Yackanich