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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Meeting / Party 12-12-13

Members Present: Bernardo, Jackie, Joan, Judy, Luneil, Pam, Suzy

Guest: Andrew Von Thaden
Suzy just remembered she is published! She wrote a journal article in the 90’s on Special Education and Computers. Jackie reminded Suzy that all the work she did at Purdue was also published, she just didn’t get credit. Suzy will work on a bio for the blog.
Jackie has some photos and poems in a book that is now on Amazon. Naturally Yours is a collection of poems and short stories about Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs. Proceeds are donated to Indiana Natural Resources Foundation's "Discovering The Outdoors" fund to enable school children to visit state parks to learn about nature and wildlife. Jackie talked to Joan about selling some books at The Center of Performing Arts in Munster since Joan has her book in the gift shop.

Jackie finally posted Bernardo’s bio and reminded members to send her any updates. Jackie brought in an old Family Flyer and some book drafts as well as a few made on Snapfish and Shutterfly to have concrete examples to show to our newer members and guests. Judy will bring some of her illustrated books to the next meeting.
Bernardo has been working on a newsletter for his unit entitled News from the Cobra Nest. It offers drills, support, and job leads among other things. He then read Memory Lane, a Christmas poem about gifts under the aluminum tree.
Nancy from Chapel Lawn talked about her daughter who wrote The House of Pendragon.  Debra Kemp has been a member of Indiana Writers’ Consortium in the past. Her book is available on Amazon and you can see interviews on YouTube.

Suzy read Mrs. Walters’ Christmas based on her memories of past holidays.
Luneil read The Day I Slugged Santa, also (unfortunately ;) a true story.
Andrew read Oscar Makes a Friend, a picture board book geared at children age 0-2. He included rough illustrations to give us a visual of his idea. He then read Rainbow Canyon. This book is for older children but still features Oscar the Turtle as the main character.
Judy read Why do I write? which was a blog entry for the Indiana Writers’ Consortium. Judy will print out the cookbook and bring it to the next meeting. She will also make MHW business cards for each member. Please email the personal information you would like her to include on the back side of your cards.
Members enjoyed a wonderful meal, desserts, and presents.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Next Meeting will be January 9th, 2014

See more pictures of our party on Facebook!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Meeting Highlights November 14, 2013

Members Present:
Bernardo, Jackie, Joan, Luneil, Pam, Suzy


Joan had a photo and poem about the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall published in the November Family Flyer. Congrats Joan! She is also working on a memoir for her kids. She stated she might want to publish it at some point.
Bernardo read the latest chapter of Red and Fred. The two fell down into a cavern and fought the ant guardians of the Secret Scrolls.
Pam has been busy with her newsletter.
Luneil asked for ideas for a poem or story for her pork chop recipe for the cookbook.
Jackie has started keeping a binder of newspaper clippings on local authors and events. She also plans to start posting poems by various authors for children on the Magic Hour Writers Facebook page.
Suzy was unsure about how to proceed with Zilla the Garden Gnome but then found some old notes that helped spark some ideas. Luneil suggested she fill out character cards. Jackie wants her to describe the setting in more depth and go into more detail about both special events and routine happenings around the garden.
Members then discussed the upcoming Christmas meeting/dinner scheduled for December 12th.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Meeting Highlights October 17, 2013

Luneil Morrow
Judy Whitcomb
Joan Pusateri
Bernardo Gonzalez

News: We had a very productive meeting!

Joan submitted an amazing picture of her husband taken at the Wall in Washington D.C. and she also wrote a poem to go along with it. She is going to submit both to the Family Flyer. She also brought us pencil souvenirs from her trip. It said “I cannot live with out books.” Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1815. She has also started writing a book about the search for her biological parents.

Bernardo read us another excerpt from Red & Fred.  He gave us hand out which was a treat. Bernardo gave us another poem and two recipes for our cookbook. He gave us a recipe and a poem for Green bananas to put in the snack section and Mantecaditos (Puerto Rican butter cookies) to put in the desert section. We also helped him write his bio to put on our blog.

Luneil told us that she submitted a story to chicken soup. It was the memo she wrote about her daughter illness. She also submitted a Lottie Nora story to Lee& Low publishers.They are looking for minority writers.

Judy has done a lot of research for us finding contest, information about writing different stories for us submit. She brought her laptop so she could write up Bernardo’s Bio at the meeting so it could be submitted. She organized us a Halloween Party for us. We had bags of treats, drinks, Joan delicious cookies and oranges. As you can tell I like to talk about food.

Hope to see everyone at the next meeting November 14, 2013.

Submitted by


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Meeting Minutes September 12, 2013

Cathy Dziubla
Bernardo Gonzalez
Pam Gonzalez
Luneil Morrow
Joan Pulsateri
Suzy Stueben
Judy Whitcomb

Welcome to Magic Hour Writers  Suzy Stueben who joined our group this week.  She brings Zilla, the little garden gnome who just can’t garden.  Glad you are with us, Suzy.

Pam’s new magazine for the church she works for will be out by Sunday 9/15 that is “Back to Church” Sunday.  Celebration Magazine will be published quarterly.  The magazine will contain more personal stories than the church’s weekly publication such as:
      ·         A story about a teacher who gave up computers for lent
·         A selection written by a teenage girl
Pam works with a retired editor who is a church member.  She plans on bringing copies to share to our next meeting.

Bernardo has been approached by a new commander of his platoon to create an email newsletter for the platoon. The newsletter will contain information about events, military news, etc.  Another important feature will be information about job fairs and other employment opportunities.  Some service personal have employment issues when returning to non-military life.

Suzy had an interesting trip with a friend who invited her because she was at the top of her friend’s “crazy-enough-to-do-it” list.  The trip was to the Mansfield Ohio State Reformatory.
The reformatory was opened in the 1800s on what had been a civil war camp.  It has been the site of movies such as the Shawshank Redemption and Airforce 1.  The architecture was very interesting with a huge discrepancy in style between the warden and other prison personnel’s area and the prisoner’s. There are Ghost Tours offered there where people may even stay overnight.  Suzy’s group didn’t do that but she had a great experience anyway.

Luneil shared a story that she is planning on submitting to a Chicken Soup publication.  The story was about the time her daughter had a major stroke and was in a coma at a time when Luneil’s husband was becoming very ill.  It was a beautiful story. Our group gave basically grammatical suggestions for editing.

Cathy then read a short essay that she wrote a while ago about two conjoined twins that subsequently died after their birth.  The uplifting essay framed her reaction to a newspaper article that told about the twins.  Cathy’s work focused on all the reasons the twins should have lived, although briefly. 

Suzy shared the further adventure of Zilla. In this section, Zilla’s efforts are aided by the family’s children.  The twin boys spent most of the time running around the garden while Zilla decided that there should be a rest spot in the garden under the shade of a half dead tree.  All this occurred as Purr, the cat, was enjoying a saucer of milk at the tea party.

Judy read from her Emma and Guenever story.  Although she had read it before, she hadn’t done much with it in a year or so but started to work on it again recently and had revised it.  She is hoping to turn it into a chapter book for middle grade students.  Pam suggested that she thought the use of “Mom and Dad” stood out from the tone of the language used.  With the help of suggestions from the group, Judy decided to change it to “Mum and Da”.  Bernardo did a sketch of Emma that Judy thought was right on.

We reviewed the current state of the cook book.  Everyone is going to try to fill in the gaps.  We hope that all members of MHW will be represented with at least one entry.

We also discussed some options for getting the book into print.  The only conclusion that we came to is it will be costly.  More future discussion is necessary.

Judy shared the picture of Luneil’s Doxie the Dog that she did.  Everyone liked it.  In view of Bernardo’s artistic ability, we suggested he do some of the illustrations for the book.  They don’t all have to be the computer graphics Judy does.

For the next meeting, Judy will do a dummy book of what we have at that point.

·         Next meeting, Judy will bring her computer and demonstrate Dragon Dictate and Scrivener (a writer’s organizational writing program)

·         After the meeting a few members discussed meeting more than once a month.  We will discuss that at the next meeting.

Our next meeting is scheduled for the night of the 5th Annual Indiana Writers Consortium Banquet so members need to decide if we will change the meeting date in October.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Meeting Highlights August 8, 2013

Members Present:  Luneil, Judy, Cathy, Joan, Jackie

Guests: Suzy and Carole

The Crown Point Library did not have information on local writing groups but Carole found MHW online. The members agreed we need to give the various libraries flyers and talk to key people to make sure they know about us and can link us with people who want to join writing groups or simply want information. Members also discussed approaching libraries and offering to read to children on a regular basis as a special program.

Carole worked at a local preschool as a program coordinator and now does freelance writing. She recommended Silent Writers Retreat by Natalie Goldberg.

Cathy has been writing children's prayers. She read Joyful Scolding, The Holy Family in my Hand (a poem with hand gestures), Daily Prayers, and Lord Hear My Prayer. Members encouraged her to submit to her church and Christian publications including Guidepost.

Suzy brought in The Grandmother's Cookbook that was compiled by her sister. It contained recipes from as long ago as 1870 and included bios on the contributing family members. Suzy then read the first few pages from her humorous children's story Zilla the Garden Gnome.

Joan is on page four of a new book about a search.

Luneil started writing down a funny true story about a recent trip the chiropractor. Members thought it might be appropriate for Reader's Digest.

Carole is working on a children's book about a hamster, also inspired by a true story.

Judy shared a draft of the MHW cookbook. It includes her illustrations, tips on safety in the kitchen, and also a measurements guide. Judy read her latest computer illustrated book Lily Grace Explores with Magic Shoes (pictured above). She recently submitted this short story to a children's writing contest.  Later Judy read Unbalanced. Unbalanced is a story she had written a while back for adolescents but now has revised it to get ready for submission.

Jackie brought in a pile of rejections and one promising one she just received that encourages her to keep sending in her materials. She is now working on several poems with related activities and plans to keep submitting. She then had members complete the latest children's activity so she could get feedback and suggestions. Jackie won four ribbons at the fair and will have two photos  in a photography exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center until the end of September.

Next Meeting: September 12, 2013

Save the Dates:

Indiana Writer's Consortium 5th Annual Banquet with Poet Laureate Karen Kovacik
October 10th, Avalon Manor, Merrillville, IN.

Write On Hoosiers Annual Banquet Wednesday, December 4th, Lakes of the Four Seasons


Monday, July 29, 2013

Meeting Highlights - July 11, 2013


Lorraine Ackerman
Bernardo Gonzalez
Pam Gonzalez
Joan Pulsateri
Judy Whitcomb


Pam and Bernardo were on vacation but chose to come to the meeting any way because they enjoy the group.  Everyone else agreed MHW was a good group to belong to.

·         The group discussed editing:
o   It is difficult to edit your own work
o   With grammatical edits, there is the issue of style vs. traditional standards.
§  When writing, there may be times when we choose not to follow traditional standards.
§  Judy brought up an article she had previously sent out that dispelled some traditional writing rules (ex. Prepositions shouldn’t be at the end of sentences) because they is no historical precedent for them. She’ll send it again.  
o   For the cookbook, we need to self-edit. Possibly use an outside editor after we have finished.
·         There was a brief discussion on how to lay out a page for publishing.


·         Bernardo submitted a poem and recipe for the cookbook.

·         Bernardo read the next chapter of his book, Red and Fred’s Adventure to the Sea. Judy commented that when he’s finished, he’ll probably do a lot of editing on the first part because his writing has improved so much.  The group agreed and brought up points about how his plot is now developed. He uses his characters to move the plot along and does much less “telling”. He is emphasizing characteristics to make his characters more distinct.  He is also integrating those characteristics throughout the book through character interactions and reactions. While he has made his characters more distinct, Bernardo still wants to concentrate on developing that technique further.  It was pointed out how well done his section (read at this meeting) on the mirrors was done.

·         Bernardo gave Judy the scripted copy of his book so far.  She will put it into a word document.  She told him that she would do the same for his next section. If he gets it to her  before the next meeting, she’s have copies for the group ready.

·         Pam continues to do a large portion of the writing for her job. She hasn’t been able to work on other projects.

·         Lorraine accepted Judy’s challenge to try and write a 150 word story for young readers sponsored by Children’s Writer. She wrote about a child’s exploration through an adventure park. She used repetition of single syllable words to appeal to the young reader.  She had a sketch of a park and talked about how a book based on the sketch could have a child move from area to area in a book for example a dial book.  She was able to use only 75 words. 

·         Judy shared her story for the same contest, Lily Grace Explores with Magic Shoes.  She used exactly 150 words and had a hard time doing that.  The group gave her some great suggestions and she was able to implement them and not change the total word count. She said that she wanted to do pictures for the story and showed those to the group.

·         The layout and graphics used so far in the cookbook were looked at. Judy stated that there wasn’t a decision about the graphics in the book.  The group liked the ones that were there. Joan asked her to do one for Myrtle the Turtle.

So she did!

Next Meeting is Scheduled for August 8, 2013


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Meeting Highlights - June 13, 2013

Members Present:  Bernardo, Jackie, Joan, Luneil, Pam

Guest:  Suzy Stueben


Jackie met Suzy at a Write-on Hoosiers meeting last month. Suzy worked at Purdue University for 15 years as an instructional designer offering computer networking support. Since retiring, Suzy has more time to devote to her stories for children.

Members discussed the updated recipe list and age of target audience. We decided to target children up to age ten. Suzy is interested in help with Illustrator. Jackie and Pam would like more instruction on graphics in general. The group discussed Judy's success in illustrating her own poems and short stories. A few examples of Judy's computer art were passed around.

Joan read Elbows and Peas and the related recipe for Peas and Parmesan Crostini.

Luneil is working on another Lottie Nora story. This time Lottie Nora's adventure takes place at her grandpa's farm. Luneil will submit it to Lee and Low Publishers within the next month.

Pam brought in another poem for her Stuffed Hotdogs recipe but she likes the original poem she shared last month better. She informed us that cookbook companies offer measurements and tips as an option when developing the layout of the book. Jackie said Judy had brought this up as well. The group decided we need kid friendly pictures of ingredients (eggs, butter, milk, etc.), supplies (measuring cups, bowls, etc.), and actions (mix, stir, bake) incorporated in our book. Lorraine had demonstrated this idea earlier in the project when she passed out her recipe for  Rhubarb-Oatmeal Bars complete with steps and clip art pictures.

Pam is still working on her self-help guides. Sharon had suggested she send it out to 30 publishers before she considers self publishing. Pam has since removed all the formatting for the version she plans to send in.

Pam is also still producing weekly newsletters for her church and posted a link to her column on her 
Facebook. The group discussed the benefits of "liking" and "sharing links" on each other's page.

Bernardo shared a poem he wrote about the love of his life - his wife Pam. He then continued the chapter on Stone Castle. He believes his book will be best suited for children ages six to ten.  Members were pleased to learn Bernardo is proficient in Exact Sign Language. The group enjoyed listening and watching him as he communicated songs and his experiences with his hands.

Jackie reminded the group to check the monthly meeting highlights on blogspot and send materials for the MHW Facebook page.

Next meeting is scheduled for July 11, 2013


Monday, May 27, 2013

Meeting Highlights - May 9, 2013

Members Present:  Bernardo, Cathy, Jackie, Judy, Luneil, Pam

Judy passed out price sheets and ordering information for personalized pens. We plan on giving MHW pens to members and using them to advertise our group and promote membership. Pam and Judy discussed Adobe Creative Suite and the programs they use for illustrating and book formatting.
Pam brought two recipes and poems for our cookbook. She wrote a poem about hotdogs and has a recipe for stuffed hotdogs, a meal she enjoyed as a child. The other recipe was for cinnamon apples which accompanies a poem about apple blossoms.

Jackie brought in apple slices and caramel dip. She is submitting the dip recipe for the book.

Luneil read Parfait Makes a Great Day and brought a recipe for Fruit & Sherbet Parfait.
Pam will work on a pasta salad. Jackie will work on a party punch.

Everyone should bring cookbooks to the next meeting so we can have examples and make some decisions about layout and design. Everyone also needs to send their submissions to Judy via e-mail.

Luneil came up with the title for our book. Everyone agreed it should be called Magic Hours in the Kitchen.
Bernardo continued his story about Red and Fred. They are now at Stone Castle. He has been working on including more descriptions and dialogue. Jackie thought it might be a good idea to have Fred practice different anger management techniques in each chapter. She will send Bernardo a list to inspire ideas.

Judy read Faces which is a poem she wrote as a memorial to those killed at the Boston Marathon. The group encouraged her to submit it to different magazines and papers in Boston. Judy then read a short story entitled Connections about two very different people who meet at a beach.

Pam has been writing devotions every week for her church's newsletter. All end with a scripture passage at the end. Members think she should consider compiling and publishing them in book form each year. See Pam's devotions at You can find them in the about us/past newsletters section.
Next Meeting:  June 13, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April Meeting Highlights

Members Present:   Jackie, Joan, Judy, Luneil

Joan read her poem My Song which is about grief and hope in finding happiness.

Luneil has been busy reviewing proposals and visiting agencies that are requesting funds from United Way.

Judy read her revised Angels' Playground poem. Judy also read What Can I Do? Jackie suggested she change the layout and put it into two columns so it reads as a "two voices" poem.

Judy would like everyone to send her their poems and recipes via e-mail so that she can start laying out the cookbook.

Jackie discussed the PoPP children's poerty project awards event which is scheduled for April 25th. She also brought in a copy of the April Family Flyer which featured one of her photos and poem Treasure In Our Tree.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

March Meeting Highlights

March 14, 2013

Members Present: Joan, Luneil, Bernardo, Pam, Jackie, Judy

Pam reported that she does a lot of writing on her job and hasn't written much for kids lately. Currently she produces a weekly newsletter and will be developing a quarterly magazine for the church as well. She will be working with three photographers and three writers. Celebration Magazine will highlight church events among other things.

Pam plans to finish her self-help book by the end of April. She has talked extensively with member Sharon Palmeri about the pros and cons of self-publishing and e-publishing. Sharon encouraged Pam to send out a query letter to 30 publishers. The group agreed that the older population prefers hard copy books and manuals. Jackie added that some publishers may request she include a chapter outline and/or a sample chapter.

Bernardo's website is He read more from his short story Red and Fred. Bernardo has been working on character development and has been editing his first draft as well. Jackie suggested he include a map at the beginning of the book.

Judy read the article "How Do You Write a Poem" that she wrote for the PoPP 2012/2013 magazine. Jackie suggested she include at least five kid-friendly links to poetry in the back of the magazine. The PoPP committee will meet next week to review the draft copy. The awards banquet will be in April.

Judy shared her potato recipe and poem.

Joan is working on a recipe and poem for peanut butter and chocolate. She will bring in her poem My Song next meeting.

Luneil is working on developing two additional characters for her Lottie Nora series. These include Lottie Nora's mother and cousin.

Jackie will bring in her apple dip recipe next month.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


February 2013 Meeting Highlights

February 21, 2013

Members Present: Cathy, Lorraine, Judy, Luneil, Joan, Jackie

Members met at Schoop's Restaurant.

Judy reported on the last Prairie Writer's Guild meeting.  Judy, Luneil, and Jackie drove down to Rensselaer earlier in the month. Past guest speaker Shannon Anderson is working with Tate Publishing. Her latest book is titled, I Am Not a Pirate, which was inspired by her daughter's amblyopia (lazy eye). Judy discussed her past offers with Tate and their rates.

Judy passed out a list of generator sites which help you with character development. The sites help with coming up with unique names and personality traits, etc.

Jackie reminded the group about checking the minutes, updating bios, and keeping up with readings and posts from the Chicago Writer's Conference.

Joan submitted 2 poems about the loss of a significant other. She passed out a poem and recipe for cheese crackers.

Lorraine has received rejections from all three publishers she submitted her moose story to. She plans to contact her friend who works at Corby Press out of South Bend. Lorraine then read her latest short story A Hardheaded Mother Bird.

Luneil passed out her character development sheet on Lottie Nora. It included specific details on Lottie Nora's physical description and personality traits. Jackie suggested Luneil include a mannerism or saying that carries over into each of the four books she has planned for the series.

Judy passed out Christmas gifts to Cathy and Lorraine since they missed the New Year's Party.

Next Meeting: March 14, 2013


Friday, February 8, 2013

Meeting change this month

Due to Valentine's Day falling on the second Thursday this month we will be meeting on the 3rd Thursday instead. See you at Chapel Lawn on February 21st.

Upcoming Event:  Free Reading though Chicago Writers Conference

An Evening of Speculative Fiction
Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Readings from Chicago Authors

(click on the following box)

Chicago Writers Conference

Date: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Time: 6:30 - 9:00 pm
Place: Open Books Bookstore
213 W. Institute Place
Chicago, IL 60610

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Upcoming Events - We Need YOU!

The Southlake YMCA in Corwn Point is looking for
Children's Authors to read their books
to children on Healthy Kids Day in March.
Contact: Lauren Mandernack

Friday, January 25, 2013

New Year's Party/Meeting, January 10, 2013

Members Present:  Judy, Joan, Luneil, Bernardo, Pam, Jackie

HAPPY NEW YEAR! We had some terrific food and desserts; Judy even brought gifts! See slide show on right side at the top...

We worked too:
Judy will collect dues in February. Judy will also make 2013 membership cards and business cards so that we can hand them out to anyone interested in writing for children.
Members looked at the current list of recipes and related poems and stories. Jackie will e-mail the recipe list again to members. Members discussed having a workshop in April at Pam and Bernardo's home to work specifically on the recipe book.
Bernardo read a part of his Red and Fred story and had some questions about how he should help the reader distinguish between his main characters and their clones. Jackie suggested including detailed descriptions and personality traits that carry over to the clones as well. Pam will work on a character development tips sheet.
Pam read the table of contents, forward, and first chapter of her guide book. The members felt it was very direct and easy to read. The layout was in book form and gave a good preview/representation of what the final product will be like.
Jackie brought in a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times. The newspaper and NBC Channel 5 news featured one of her cardinal photos in the weather section.  Jackie also had several photos in local 2013 Town Planner Calendars. She has not been writing much.
Judy read her short story Little Red Riding Hood from the latest Hoosier Horizon magazine.
New Year's Resolutions:
          ***Magic Hour Writers wants to
                                  retain current members and recruit new members!!!

* I want to help finish our cookbook and... get back to my Grandma book idea,... Joan
* Slowly adding and editing my collection of children's poems. Paul
* Finish my watercolor paintings and send in Sally Mae for editing. -- Jackie
* I want to write another Ryliegh Emma story and start submitting more. Judy
* I would like to say that I am going to write every day.  I have been trying this for years and far I have not accomplished this. I am going to write at least twice a week.  I plan to write another Lottie Nora story. I am going write more in my personal journal.  So far I have managed to write in it almost every day this year.  Luneil
* I plan on writing more which includes a journal of daily events and thoughts. Maybe some writing ideas may come out of it. Lorraine