Magic Hour Writers

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

Follow us on Facebook

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Party / Meeting Notes December 1, 2011

In Attendance:
Paul, Joan, Cathy, Judy, Lorraine, Pam, Luneil, Jackie

Joan read her latest poem Bitten by the Love Bug. She would like the group to consider writing and selling a cook book to raise money for MHW. The group discussed incorporating stories and illustrations that would go along with each kid friendly recipe. Symbols could be included as well so the steps are easier for young children to follow. A digital book could be accessed online and costs would be minimal. We could also encourage submissions from readers through various contests.

Cathy has been busy writing letters to the Innocence Project. She informed the group about the organization and discussed a case she is particularly interested in.

Jackie read the poem My Sister's Tutu written by Eileen Spinelli. The poem was in a Highlights for Children Magazine. Jackie also researched the author and brought in the 3 U.S. Kids Magazines she recently purchased. Jackie continues to submit materials to both publishing houses.

Paul brought in the book A Wish for Wings That Work by Berkeley Breathed. He reported that he has not heard back from the non-profit organization he contacted yet but he is still interested in fundraising for the cause. He would like proceeds from his book of poems to benefit those families who have a loved one with a Trisomy disorder.

Lorraine read the cover letter she is working on for her Martie the Moose story and asked for imput.

Luneil reported that she submitted Lottie Nora to Highlights. She informed the group that the magazine is having a short story fiction contest. The topic is a funny story inspired by an unusual newspaper headline. All entries must be postmarked between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, 2012. See their website for more information. She then read Life You Can Love which included a reference to her MHW friends :).

Pam has officially launched her digital paper for scrap bookers and photographers business. Her goal is to start a website and provide digital downloads. She is pleased to report she has already had orders. Jackie discussed Burrell Imaging as a possible host for her orders.

Judy has not had much time for writing. She has been teaching and evaluating her elementary and secondary education interns. Next month she will be teaching a science course to them.

Magic Hour Writers exchanged presents and enjoyed a buffet of holiday food and desserts. Joan won a book and gift card. Luneil won a Kindle - courtesy of Chapel Lawn!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Next Meeting:  Thursday, January 12, 2012.
We plan to have guest speaker Shannon Anderson present to the group. Please join us!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas Party Invitation

MHW Christmas Gathering
December 1, 2011
6:30 p.m.
Chapel Lawn

bring a side dish or dessert (see list in last meeting notes)
bring something to read - theme is LOVE

Meeting Notes - November 10, 2011

In Attendance: Joan, Lorraine, Pam, Luniel, Judy, Jackie

Jackie invited two of her sons to the meeting to discuss their favorite books. Damian did a presentation on the Wimpy Kid Do it Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney. The book includes questionnaires, writing prompts, space to draw your own comics, and pages in the back for journaling. He purchased it at the elementary school book fair. Jake is a fan of all the diary books in the series because they are funny and have good illustrations.

Lorraine brought the book Elena's Big Move written by Sarah M. Olivieri and illustrated by Joaquin L. Zarate. The book is published by Synergy Books. Mrs. Olivieri moved to East Chicago, IN from Puerto Rico when she was nine. Elena's Big Move helps children struggling to transition into their new home. She has also written a second book which should be published soon. Lorraine also brought in Olivieri's author bio to share with the group.

Luneil will officially be starting her series Lottie Nora. She plans to target children 7-10 years old. She asked for ideas from members about different incidents Lottie Nora could find herself in.

Pam suggested members develop and keep Character Fact Sheets in a binder. These sheets or note cards would include information on each character in your story such as their hair color and type, height, unique qualities, speech patterns, clothing, etc. Pam will e-mail a sample Fact Sheet to each member. Pam also knows a lady who writes plays for special needs children.

Judy read a poem about fireflies by local author and artist Beverly Topa. Judy and Jackie met Beverly through Prairie Writers Guild last year. Bev's poem is entitled Magic Hour.

Jackie informed the group she met a local author from Rensselaer who has a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul - Find Your Happiness and also has been in Highlights Magazine for Children. Shannon Anderson has agreed to be a guest speaker in January and may also be interested in joining MHW. Jackie sent in two more poems to children's magazines this week and also purchased three children's magazines from US Kids for the MHW library. Each targets a different age group. Jackie shared her 2011 submission log and reported she received yet another rejection letter.

Lorraine read her short story A Treat to Remember for Martie Moose.

Joan submitted her poem Ode to World Poetry Movement Poetry Contest and has been notified that she is a semi-finalist. She should hear back from them in the spring.

Members decided next meeting will be moved to the first Thursday of the month - December 1st at 6:30. We will have a regular meeting combined with a Christmas party. Below is a list of food members will be bringing. Please join us!!!

Pam - Sloppy Joes
Judy - Pasta salad
Luneil - Vegetables and dip
Lorraine - Chips and hamburger buns
Jackie - Fruit and drinks
Joan - Cookies


Monday, October 31, 2011

Meeting Minutes - October 13, 2011

In Attendance:

Paul Benninghoff
Joan Bodefeld
Cathy Dzuibla
Pam Gonzalez
Jackie Huppenthal
Luneil Morrow
Judy Whitcomb

Guests: Lorraine Ackerman and Brenda Havens
Lorraine is a retired elementary school teacher. Brenda taught ESL and English at the high school level.

Members and guests discussed Writer's Digest and online classes. Both Lorraine and Brenda recommend this site and their services.

The group also discussed local authors including Meg Demakas author of Captain Jeb, Pirate Cat and Sharron Thornton author of Upir and the Monster Gang. Keiko Kasza is one of Jackie's favorite children's authors. She also currently lives in Indiana. She is the author of My Lucky Day and Badger's Fancy Meal, among others.

Joan asked if anyone had any ideas about where to submit her poem Ode.

Pam read her short story Spookified.

Cathy read Seize the Moments, a memory about a recent outing.

Luneil read the first short story she ever wrote for her first writing class entitled The Toilet Paper Incident.

Brenda read some of her short story Gus the Canada Goose.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Meeting Minutes - September 8, 2011

In Attendance:

Joan Bodefeld
Cathy Dzuibla
Pam Gonzalez
Jackie Huppenthal
Luneil Morrow
Judy Whitcomb

Members discussed upcoming events:

Chapel Lawn Craft Fair
Schererville, IN ~ September 24th 10:00 a.m.
Magician, Silent Auction, Raffle Prizes, etc.
Proceeds benefit American Diabetes Association.

Indiana Writer's Consortium 3rd Annual Banquet
Avalon Manor, Merrillville ~ October 20th, 2011 6:00 p.m.

Write-On Hoosiers 3rd Annual Christmas Banquet
LOFS, Crown Point ~ December 7, 2011 6:30 p.m.

(See events page for more information.)

Highlights of the Meeting:

Joan added another section to her poem Ode.

Pam is thinking about writing another book in which the setting takes place on another planet.

Judy read a concrete poem Tiny Little Insect and a fractured fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood Edited.

Cathy read Communication 101, a poem about how young children seek attention in a store.

Luneil read her latest version of Chicken Cereal and asked for input from the group. She is also working on a newsletter for the library. Pam offered several suggestions and tips to get her started.

Jackie reported she received a "rejection to submit" letter from National Wildlife Federation. They are not taking outside writing submissions for any of their magazines including Wild Animal Baby, Big Backyard, and Ranger Rick. Jackie also read a poem They written by David L. Harrison. She found it in an old Highlights for Children magazine at the orthodontist's office earlier in the week. Jackie contributes to David's Poem of the Month contest on a regular basis. He has a very large fan base and really works hard to stay connected with his readers of all ages.

Pam and Jackie are still waiting to hear from several publishers they submitted works to in the spring.

Cathy, Judy, Jackie, and Pam are working on poems and short stories to submit to Sharon for the 2011 edition of Hoosier Horizon Magazine.

Members discussed compiling works and self-publishing a Magic Hour Writers book for children. Pam will start researching options and cost. Jackie will give Pam the book Publishing Basics that she obtained last year. The group needs to decide target audience and layout. Price will depend on length, number of illustrations, and publishing choices, etc. Members would like to sell book locally as well as on

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Meeting Minutes - August 11, 2011

Date: August 11, 2011

Time: 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

In Attendance:
Paul Benninghoff
Joan Bodefeld
Cathy Dzuibla
Pam Gonzalez
Jackie Huppenthal
Luneil Morrow
Sharon Palmeri
Judy Whitcomb

Magic Hour Writers is now on Facebook. Thanks Paul!

Joan passed out a poem entitled Ode. She stated she would prefer everyone to read it later at home. It is a personal account of her life and feelings after the recent death of her husband.

Pam is over her writer's block and has been writing more for adults lately. She has been working on a fiction piece entitled Dear Sophia that reads like a daily journal entry. The story can be found on her online blogsite. She is also excited about starting her new internet business. She has already taken the first several steps that are needed including becoming a LLC Corporation and obtaining a domain name and tax id number.

Sharon had an article posted through The Times online newspaper in the Community Section. It was about the Brickie Fest Reunion she helped coordinate. Sharon is finalizing the details of the Write-On Hoosiers Annual Banquet. The dinner will be the second Wednesday in December at Lakes of the Four Seasons, in Crown Point. The cost is $22.50. All writers are invited and can bring a guest(s), please get check to Sharon at your earliest convenience.

Jackie announced four of her photos won ribbons in the Lake County Fair and passed around pictures from her vacation.

Luneil read Live Challenges and Life, a 16 line poem.

Judy announced that the Indiana Writers' Constorium is planning its annual banquet to take place on a Thursday evening this October. Judy is on the planning committee and looking into speakers, possible sites and their menu options. All writers of any level are invited to attend. Look for flyers next month once date is secured.

Paul Benninghoff was our guest speaker.
He is the author of Images of America, Dyer published by Arcadia Publishing in 2010.

Paul began by informing the group that he is a member of the Dyer Historical Society. They had established a need for an updated book as the last and only one was printed and published in 1976 by Lake Central High School students. Paul volunteered for the job. The historical society had binders for families, local businesses, and schools, as well as binders with town minutes, other meetings, information on the fire department, etc.

Most of his information came from these archives while other information was obtained through the web and other various historical societies. He used Wikipedia as a stepping stone but always validated facts he came across. Some interviews were in video form. Hundreds of photos were gathered and captions were written. Those from the historical societies were in public domain. Paul also worked on breaking the book down into chapters and had to write an introduction for each.

The Library of Congress will do research and assist those working on a genealogy project or individuals who express a personal interest in history and are looking for specific answers.

Paul discussed some of the process he went through first to obtain Arcadia Publishing as a publisher. Arcadia books follow a strict format as well. He had a good experience working with their staff but it was his responsibility to format the book and develop a marketing plan.

Paul worked on the book for five years, much longer than he anticipated. It was unveiled for the Town of Dyer Centennial. He was assigned a public relations person to assist with book signings. Books were made available at bookstores, events and anniversaries, museums, university bookstores and coffee shops. Over two hundred were sold in the first nine months. Paul did not have to put out any money and choose to have any proceeds benefit the Dyer Historical Society.

Paul discussed his interest in the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train wreck that occurred in Hammond, IN in 1918. He is writing an article about the tragedy for Region Rambler. He also recommended How to Write a Book Proposal by Larsen.

The meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Meeting Minutes - June 9, 2011

Date: June 9, 2011

Time: 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

In Attendance:
Paul Benninghoff
Joan Bodefeld
Cathy Dzuibla
Pam Gonzalez
Jackie Huppenthal
Luneil Morrow
Judy Whitcomb

Judy passed out handouts on contests, workshop opportunities, and articles about what publishers are looking for. One was about the art of omission - knowing what to leave out and how to be concise in your writing. Much of her information comes from Children's Book Insider and Writing and Illustrating.

Paul is continuing to spend much of his time writing for Region Rambler. He encouraged others to enter the Photo of the Month contest and notified members that outside writers are welcome. He is currently researching the 1918 circus train wreck in Hammond. The group discussed marketing strategies for the website. Joan offered to help Paul get the word out about Region Rambler.

Jackie announced the Indiana Writers' Consortium Picnic is June 25th at Tom Spencer's house in Lowell at 1:30 p.m.. Writers, friends, and children are invited to attend. You do not need to be a member. Please spread the word. We are asking for a $5 donation for non-members and $3 for members.

Luneil reported she got a rejection from Pelican June 3rd. She had submitted Barty.

Cathy is in the process of editing her book Sean O'Hara and the Leprechauns. Cathy then shared a poem entitled My Life by A. Banana. The group encouraged her to submit it to Highlights Magazine for Children.

Pam is still waiting to hear from seven publishers that she sent Frannie the Frightened Faerie to in January. She is contemplating self-publishing and has been in touch with an illustrator who does some graphics for digital scrapbooks. Pam may also need to get a commercial license to use the art as part of her book. Pam then showed members a quarterly newsletter she designed and developed for Chapel Lawn. Both Magic Hour Writers and Write-On Hoosiers are mentioned in the newsletter as we have been holding our meetings in the banquet room. She said other groups are welcome to use the space as well. Paul mentioned this meeting space may be of interest to local historical societies.

Members discussed starting up a website for Magic Hour Writers. Pam and Judy discussed the benefits of a website over a blog. Information could be easily transferred from our blog and Pam knows how to use tags and keywords within the text so browsers can find it easily. The group will look at other children's writers websites to get ideas. Pam and Judy will choose a server. A website will be easier to navigate, be more visually appealing, and is a more professional way to share information and promote our group. Yearly fees are minimal and would come out of the MHW fund.

Paul volunteered to set up a Facebook page for MHW.

Jackie announced she has been busy with photography. Several of her photos will be featured in the 2012 local Town Calendars.

Judy brought in a contract from Tate Publishing. She discussed their responsibilities and the one-time fee for a publicist. Members discussed where to find legal counsel for these types of contracts. Judy then shared the first few pages of her latest story Ariabelle and Guenever.

Next Meeting with be July 14, 2011 at 6:30 Chapel Lawn Banquet Room

Monday, May 30, 2011

Meeting Minutes - May 12, 2011

Date: May 12, 2011

Time: 6:30 to 8:45 p.m.

In Attendance:
Joan Bodefeld
Cathy Dzuibla
Pam Gonzalez
Jackie Huppenthal
Luneil Morrow
Judy Whitcomb

Luneil is waiting to hear from August House. She submitted Barty to Pelican. She is looking for a place to submit Miss Lawrence, Miss Lawrence. Members suggested magazines for instructors and educators.

Judy reported Children's Writer is having a poetry contest. Entry is free for those who have a subscription to their newsletter. Deadline is October 31, 2011. Judy submitted two stories to the Cherrios Spoonfuls of Stories Contest.  Judy handed out a new database of publishers that she has put together. She is asking the group to give her designated information on publishers they are interested in. Judy will enter the information in the data base and keep it current. She has submitted her Finebar story to Tanglewood. Judy read I Want a Baby Brother. She has been very busy writing and teaching.

Jackie submitted one story to the Cherrios contest. She explained the simple online submission process, discussed the prizes and that there is the possibility of publication for winners. Jackie read It's Sneaky - Be Aware, her latest poem about poison ivy. Jackie reported one of her photos is featured in this month's Region Rambler, an online website.

Joan is still looking for ways to promote her book. Members suggested the Indiana Welcome Center and Museum in Hammond.

Pam brought the Marshall Plan books for members to review. She read Dag the Wingless Dragon. Members encouraged her to add a few more lines to the story and submit it.

Cathy reported she sent Alter Boy to her church for possible publication in their bulletin. Her story Sean O'Hara and the Leprechauns is done so she is busy with the editing process now. Jackie suggested she work on a snopsis to give a general overview of the book. Cathy read Father's Day and Little Girls, a short memoir of a trip to a grocery story with her family.

Next Meeting: Thursday, June 9th at 6:30 p.m.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meeting Minutes - April 14, 2011

Date: April 14, 2011

Time: 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

In Attendance:
Cathy Dzuibla
Pam Gonzalez
Jackie Huppenthal
Luneil Morrow
Judy Whitcomb

Judy gave treasurer's report. She also discussed Telemachus Press and an article praising self-publishing.

Luneil reported that she will submit Barty to Pelican Press and Milkweed. Milkweed will take electronic submissions. Luneil had to do some editing since Pelican stipulated manuscripts for young children must be under 1,100 words. She then read her poem Ms. Lawrence, Ms. Lawrence about a teacher and her eager students. The group suggested she change the order of the lines around and make the poem in present tense. Luneil also read The Pain of Tomorrow, a poem about loss and getting through.

The group discussed the weebly blog/website. Link follows:

Judy gave members a handout on a Cheerios contest "Spoonfuls of Stories". Submissions will be accepted between March 22, 2011 and July 15, 2011. Stores should be less than 500 words and geared for children ages 3 to 8 years old.

Jackie suggested the group consider a Magic Hour Writers "publication". Submissions would be due in the Fall of 2011. Project will be discussed further in upcoming meetings.

Cathy sent Becca the Bat to Albert Whitman January 31st. She then read the timely poem Ode to a Greek Orthodox Altar Boy. Members thought it would fit well in a church newsletter or bulletin.

Pam is still waiting to hear from several publishers. She will bring the Marshall Plan novel writing books next meeting.

Jackie showed Children's Writer newsletters and several Chinaberry catalogues.

Judy read her latest short story My Puppy Pooped. A few members suggested she consider changing the title so she does not give away the ending. Others thought it would fit well in a Humane Society Newsletter about adoption. Jackie remembered Doral Publishing from Sharon's writing class. Links follow:  and,-inc./dt/3464/

Tanglewood Press link follows:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Meeting Minutes - March 10, 2011

Date: March 10, 2011

Time: 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.

In Attendance:
Paul Benninghoff
Joan Bodefeld
Pam Gonzalez
Jackie Huppenthal
Luneil Morrow
Judy Whitcomb

Upcomming events:
Judy informed the group about Story Week at Columbia College in Chicago. Anyone can attend free writer workshops. Event will be March 13-18.

Submissions of poems, short stories, and pictures to Prairie Writers Guild for the 2011 edition of From the Edge of the Prairie are due April 1, 2011.

Jackie is entering several poems in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS) Spring Poetry Contests. Deadline is March 15, 2011. You do not need to be a member to enter most contests.

Joan began writing a biography about a personal friend and former politician. Members discussed various ways to gather factual information and acquire further support.

Paul is interested in donating some of the future proceeds of his book to charity. The group discussed possible ways to designate funds to specific non-profit groups. Jackie will forward an example of a book that designated a percentage of sales to children and environmental charities.

Pam submitted one of her short stories and received her first rejection letter. Pam has done extensive research on publishers and cover letters. She read her most recent cover letter to the group and recommended The Marshall Plan for Writing and the Marshall Workbook as a good resource. The book explains that cover letters should be in courier font and should capture the reader's attention. The author should also mention group affiliations and give a short synopsis without giving away the ending. Pam decided not to respond to any offers until she hears back from everyone.

Judy suggested members report on who they submitted to and why at each meeting.

Judy discussed ways to check your document's readability. With the Fleichman tool, authors can check their work to make sure they are staying at the intended reading level. (The link follows:)

Cathy submitted Becca The Bat to Albert Whitman and Co.

Jackie passed around the updated group submission/results log.

Luneil read her poem Obama. Paul encouraged her to write a series of poems on inspirational characters. George Washington Carver's life as well as his accomplishments and inventions were discussed.

Cathy read her short story Carlisle and Cassie. Judy suggested this be part of a book with several chapters and adventures.

Jackie read two versions of a poem Treasures in Our Tree and asked for input and suggestions. Judy recommended she include her feelings when viewing the baby robins.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Meeting Minutes - February 11, 2011

Date: February 11, 2011

Time: 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

In Attendance:
Joan Bodefeld
Pam Gonzalez
Jackie Huppenthal
Luneil Morrow
Judy Whitcomb

Judy gave members their customized Magic Hour Writers membership cards.

Joan mentioned Paul's bio was no longer on the new bio page. Jackie will correct the omission.

Judy gave the treasurer's report and informed members about the upcoming From the Edge of the Prairie stories and music event. Judy, Jackie, and other local writers will be reading their short stories and poems from the 2010 edition at Mellow Brew Coffee House on February 19, 2010 from 2-5 p.m. Books will be available for purchase, $12 a copy.

Breanne Mitchell will be signing her book Love You From the Tippy to Your Teeny Tiny Toes at Mellow Brew on February 20th.

The group talked about web design. Jackie will help Luneil add pages to her blog site.

Luneil and Judy both reported they had received a rejection letter.

Judy gave a handout from the Children's Book Insider entitled "Assembling the Perfect Submission Packet".

Luneil read Blizzard in my Pool, (her first poem) about California's December blizzard.

During the last Write-On Hoosiers meeting Sharon confirmed that Merrillville Borders is closing and a new meeting place will need to be determined asap. Members of both groups will need to scout out a new centralized location.

The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m. so members could meet at Baker's Square for their first year anniversary celebration.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Meeting Minutes - January 13, 2011

Date: January 13, 2011
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

In Attendance:
Paul Benninghoff
Joan Bodefeld
Cathy Dzuibla
Pam Gonzalez
Jackie Huppenthal
Luneil Morrow
Sharon Palmeri
Carol Rodgers
Judy Whitcomb

The group met at Border's Bookstore. Members discussed current tasks/responsibilities and decided to leave things as is. Jackie will continue to moderate and post minutes on blog. Judy will continue as treasurer and help with minutes. Judy collected dues and gave the treasurer's report. Members discussed next month's anniversary meeting. All agreed to meet for an hour at Borders then go to Baker's Square for a celebration at 7:30.

Jackie asked if group would be interested in being a sponsor for the next From the Edge of the Prairie publication. Members agreed to donate $25. Magic Hour Writers' blogsite link will be printed on one of the back pages of the 2011 edition.

Jackie asked members to write a simple 50 word bio to be added to a new bio page on the blogsite. Please e-mail her. Sharon suggested adding another page listing contests and another page with general information.

Judy reported 354 people looked at her blog. She would appreciate input from members.

Jackie shared her latest rejection letter. She then shared a poem What a Treat about a ladybug.

Cathy read her short story Becca the Bat.

The group discussed House Rules, an excellent book about a child with autism. Members should be prepared to report on what subjects/genres we are interested in.

Judy showed the 2011 Children's Writers and Illustrators Market book. Members can borrow the book as a reference at any time. She discussed copyright information and different rights publishers buy as information included in this resource. Paul suggested that we have a contest. The member with the most rejection letters in 2011 would win the 2012 version purchased by MHW. Members liked that idea.

Carol shared a book she purchased The Secret Lives of Princesses. She was interested in this book because she makes dolls. Carol also discussed and talked about the free creative writing class offered online.

Sharon reported she joined Children's Book Insider. Judy joined last year. Both were happy with the resources this site offers.

Sharon brought the book Dreams to Grow On by Christine Hurdy; published by Illunination Arts. Their submission guidelines were discussed. Illunination Arts reports that half of the books they publish are by first time authors.

The group also briefly discussed book expos and how they are no longer held in Chicago at the present time.