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 31, 2014

Christmas Party / Meeting Highlights 12-11-14

Members Present:   Andrew, Bernardo, Bob, Jackie, Judy, Luneil, Pam, Sharon, Suzy

Suzy demonstrates how to navigate picture e-books on her iPad

Members decided to lower the annual dues to $10. 2015 dues will be due in January. Make checks payable to Judy Whitcomb. A year end statement will be available at the next meeting.

Judy passed around a survey / information sheet. She will send it electronically so members can submit answers to her easily. It asks about what members are writing right now and what genres they are interested in. We are also asking for ideas about future meeting topics and guest speakers. Judy put together a book list of our lending library.

Luneil knows a writer that is interested in our group. Jackie will get her email address and contact her.

Judy passed out an outline about a webinar she participated in entitled Easy Picture Books: Top Strategies to Create Passive Income with Kindle Picture Books. The webinar included information on promoting yourself and using pseudonym names (which is important if you plan to write across several genres). The Guardian and a Flavorwire article both reported picture books and young adult novels sales have increased significantly over the past few years. Members discussed which is a free web based tool for photo editing and looked over a handout from that breaks down different types of books for children based on age and ability.

Here is a link which further explains book formats:

Bob read the first chapter in his latest story geared toward children ages 7-10. Cody discovers something mysterious in the doghouse out back.

Bernardo read the next chapter in his adventure book. The action is now taking place in the upside-down forest.

Luneil read Barty the Clumsy Vampire. She wrote it years ago but has since added several more details to the story as well as more dialogue and conflict. Members encouraged her to keep writing and were eager to offer suggestions.

Suzy read Getting Ready for Christmas at Mrs. Walters. Mrs. Walters begins to come to terms with the real meaning of Christmas and being on her own.

Pam and Judy passed out hand-made stocking ornaments and candy; what a Merry Christmas!

Next Meeting is January 8th, at Panera Bread in Merrillville, IN at 6:30 p.m.

Happy New Year!


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Meeting Highlights - November 13

Members Present:  Andrew, Bob, Jackie, Judy, Luneil, Suzy

Guests:  Ruthann Graczyk, Pat Yackanich

Members discussed where to gather for the next meeting/Christmas party. Ruthanne will make some calls.
Andrew read four poems: Three Pots, The Pot of Beauty, The Pot Suitable for Duty, and The Little Pot. He had done a lot of editing and revising over the past few months. Members gave a few suggestions on rhythm but felt he had done a nice job overall with the descriptions and overall message he was trying to convey.
Bob reported that he uses to check for weak words, clich├ęs, and passive voice.
Patty read Chapter 1 The Foreboding of the Silver Bells. The story takes place in 1900’s Paris, France and is a middle grade novel. Pat has been working on it for over a year and has completed nine chapters. Members are anxious to hear more.

Judy read her revised first chapter of Emma and Guenever. She has broken up some of Emma’s dialogue by including partial interjections from Guenever but has been able to maintain Emma’s energetic spirit in her writing. Judy also read Chapter 2 Gathering Eggs and Feathers.
Suzy read Zilla Plants a Garden from The Adventures of a Garden Gnome. Zilla gets help and inspiration from Chummy, Purr, and the house children.

Bob read Book Three – Hayley the Hawk from The Adventures of Rugs. Riley and Rugs make judgments on the hawk before they know anything about her.

Jackie will gather some handouts from past meetings to share with Pat.
Luneil, Jackie, Judy, Andrew, Suzy, and Bob plan on attending the Write-On Hoosier Christmas Banquet on December 3rd.

Next Meeting:  Thursday, December 11th. Place is to be determined.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Meeting Minutes - October 9, 2014

Members Present: Bob, Jackie, Judy, Luneil, Suzy

Judy gave members (and some young people J) handouts on a contest for writers age 30 and below.

Bob read Adventures of Rugs – Book II. He reported that he inserted pictures and page breaks in his first book to get a better feel of the layout and design. He also talked about attending Blank Slate Writers meetings and submitting for their annual publication.

Jackie will forward information on the Chicago Writer’s Conference. She encourages members to get on their mailing list so they will be notified personally of upcoming local events.

Jackie, Judy, and Suzy attended the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Conference on October 4 in Rensselaer, IN. The conference was on writing non-fiction. An editor and a few authors offered  information on what editors look for, freelance writing, and research, then also shared their personal stories and advice. Jackie brought the book The House that George built by Suzanne Slade (one of the presenters).

Suxy read Lex’s Halloween, a short story about a sinister gargoyle.

Judy read Little Red Riding Hood Edited (an old favorite).

Jackie reported her poem All Washed Up is a finalist in the Indiana Bicentennial Poetry book contest due out in 2016. All counties in Indiana held contests; the winning poem from each county will be included in the book.

Members discussed writing for children online courses. Suzy has completed seven, while Bob has done two. Watch for discounts and Groupons.

Members talked with high school students Tyler and Roman about their group Northwest Indiana Youth Authors. They were planning an Open Mic Event at the Sip Coffee House on October 10th, and plan to host many other local events.

Judy challenged members to post two personal blog entries by next meeting.

Next Meeting November 13, 2014


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meeting Minutes 9-11-14

Members: Luneil, Bob, Suzy, Jackie

Guest: Ruthann

Jackie reported that the MHW blog has had over 6,800 page hits since the first post in February 2010.

Bob has made a list of 27 publishers that will accept unsolicited manuscripts. Of those, half will accept stories for children. He will share the list after completing a little more research.  Bob found a new publishing company based in Indiana. The Kids at Heart Publishing LLC link follows: . As part of the research and preparation phase of his new book series, Bob has been reviewing level 2 reading books and has talked to an illustrator.

Suzy talked about KDP Kids (Kindle Direct Publishing). .

Bob read The Adventures of Rugs, Book 1 Slow Down, Rugs! In this first book of the series, Riley and Allie help Rugs help himself out of a scary situation. Both Riley and Allie are main characters and will appear in subsequent books.

Luneil read a story she wrote for a contest.  Just a Look details the day Luneil’s daughter had a massive stroke, the surgeon that saved her life, and the challenges they all faced.

Suzy read Mrs. Walters and the Gents. Fellow MHW members are featured in her fantasy story which was inspired by true events at the previous meeting.

MHW is always looking for new members. The Sip Coffee House is an ideal place to dine, hang out, and meet new people; Get Inspired! Two young adults (one patron and our server, Tyler) talked with us about MHW and other writer’s groups in the region. We hope they will continue writing and consider joining one or more of the groups for support, critique, and/or learning opportunities. There is a wealth of information out there!

Looking for ways to improve your writing? Check out for Word of the Day, Vocab Boosters and more:


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Meeting Highlights August 14, 2014

Members Present: Jackie, Judy, Luneil, Suzy

Guest: Bob M.

Suzy reported Paul Henry’s Art Gallery will host a reading event on the second Wednesday of every month starting in January. The gallery is located right next to the Indiana Writers’ Consortium’s new office/conference space. Judy and Jackie visited both this past summer. Janine and Julie from IWC are working to secure readers for the monthly event at the gallery which also has regular studio hours and acoustic jam nights as well. Check it out on Facebook.

Suzy attended the Midwest Writers Conference at Ball State in July. She went all three days and gathered a lot of material and information. She was very excited about the opportunity to network with authors and agents and see their latest marketing tools. Suzy also brought in information on the October 4th SCBWI event in Rensselaer, IN. The Indiana Writers’ Consortium Conference will be held October 11th from 1 to 10 pm in Merrillville. A few members hope to attend both events. See our upcoming events page for links.

Judy and Bob would like to ask fellow IWC member Mark Ailes to be a guest speaker for one of our upcoming meetings. He is the author of several since fiction, fantasy, and horror novels as well as an award winning poet.

Luneil read I Can’t Like That, a short story about a little girl’s unhappiness about her lunch choices.

Bob discussed his next project, The Adventures of Rugs, which is a picture book series. He introduced his cast of characters and explained how accepting one’s differences is the theme in each.

Jackie and Judy brought in dummy books and briefly discussed the submission process as well as self-publishing. Jackie read two poems. The first one is in the draft stage and includes prompts for children to design their own backpack. The second one, which she plans to submit to magazines, is about a puppy that chews up everything in the house.

Judy read Coming Home, a memoir type short story with an unexpected ending.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meeting Highlights for July 10, 2014

In attendance: Andrew, Pam Gonzalez, Bernardo Gonzalez, Judy

Personal Sharing: Andrew shared that he got a new apartment. Pam and Bernardo shared they just celebrated 7 years of marriage on July 7th.

Business:  Judy discussed a course she is taking that Andrew had shared with the group via email. The course was offered on Groupon and is called "Write Story Books for Children". Judy showed us the course using her laptop and heartily recommends it. The course is regularly offered for $500 but through Groupon, it was being offered for $19.95. The website address of the course is

Pam passed around a handout that was an article about the pros for authors utilizing Google+ to promote themselves and their books.

Judy suggested we check our emails, as she has been sending us regular updates.

Andrew read two poems he's written: "Three Pots" and "The Pot of Beauty". He also did some illustration work to go with the poems.

Bernardo read more of "Red & Fred" which lead to a group discussion about using description in writing.
The group had a discussion about not force-rhyming poems when writing.

The group ended the meeting shortly after 8:00 p.m. with several members saying they were going to look again at the course "Write Story Books for Children".


Monday, July 7, 2014

Meeting Highlights June 26, 2014

Member’s Present:  Bernardo, Cathy, Jackie, Judy, Luneil, Pam, Suzy

Guests:  Katherine Flotz, Kathryn Page Camp

Kathryn Page Camp, a retired lawyer and full-time writer, read the first chapter of her middle grade novel Desert Jewels.  Her novel tells the story of Emi, a young Japanese American schoolgirl growing up in California during World War II. Kathryn has authored two non-fiction books that are published but this is her first time writing for a younger audience. Writers in Wonderland and In God We Trust are both available on

Lora Mercado was our guest speaker. She started getting signs from heaven after her infant son passed away. This prompted her to collect stories from other people who had similar experiences. She published her first book Our Angels Await in March 2013. Since then Lora has published several cookbooks and other books and magazines featuring art and photography both online and in print format. She went through the process of self-publishing and offered information and resources from getting started to promoting yourself and your work by networking and free book offers. Her handouts included links to writing software, book cover designers, writing podcasts, websites and blogs, and even where to get ISBN numbers. See more about Lora on our Author/Guest Speaker Page.

Members discussed a retreat. Suzy offered to have an all-day working meeting at her house in Demotte on August 16th. Members can work on current projects, get some computer help, and/or some inspiration and thorough critique from each other.

Next meeting is at 6:30 on July 10 at the Sip Coffee House in Crown Point, IN.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Meeting Highlights May 8, 2014

Members present:  Bernardo, Jackie, Judy, Luneil, Pam, Sharon, Suzy 

Members met at Sip Coffee House in Crown Point. Jackie discussed a guest speaker she would like to have at the next meeting. Lora Panero Mercado graduated high school with Jackie. She is a writer, photographer, and a wedding officiant, among other things. She has recently self-published several books and is willing to discuss her journey and offer advice to those who are interested in publishing e-books as well as the printed version.

Judy played the movie she created of the 2014 PoPP Awards Assembly that was held this past April in Crown Point. Four area elementary schools participated. Katherine Flotz and Judy organized and oversaw the annual contest again this year and produced a poetry book of the winning poems. Judy’s grandson took photos of the event.

Sharon still plans on writing a science fiction/fantasy series but needs to do a lot of research beforehand and during the writing process. She brought in Where I Come From. The book and CD contains songs and poems from children around the world.

Suzy read her poem Mommy’s Day.

Judy and Pam talked about having a writer’s retreat.

Next Meeting is scheduled for June 26th, Sip Coffee House in Crown Point, at 6:30 p.m.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Meeting Highlights April 10, 2014

Members Present: Andrew, Jackie, Suzy

Happy Spring!

Members met at Books A Million at Southlake Mall in Hobart. Jackie asked Andrew and Suzy to work on their bios and send them in for the blog. The group discussed possible guest speakers.

Jackie read a rhyming short story/picture book she is working on about a missing pet titled Where is Chewy?

Andrew read Jigsaw, a reflective poem about life, which was written for an older audience.

Suzy shared the first chapter of Zoey and the Kid. This story is inspired by true events and told from her dog’s perspective.

Next meeting is scheduled for Thursday May 8th, 2014. We will meet at Sip Coffee House, 9 North Court Street, in Crown Point, IN.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Meeting Highlights March 13, 2014

Members present: Andrew, Bernardo, Jackie, Joan, Luneil, Pam, Suzy

Jackie brought in board books for the group to review. She encouraged Andrew and Suzy to write up their bios and email them to her. Members then discussed other possible meeting places.

Luneil read her New Year Anticipation and asked for feedback from the group. In her poem she made some reflections on the past year and talked about plans and changes she would like to make for 2014. Members suggested only minor edits. Joan encouraged Luneil to look for places to submit it.

Suzy has a new blog which she started in January. She plans to blog about writing her stories. Her first story Zilla Takes a Vacation is posted. Currently she is working on her second story. Zilla the Garden Gnome is going to try out her green thumb and plant a garden. Later Suzy discussed CreateSpace and Book Baby for self e-publishing.

Bernardo read about Red and Fred’s adventure with the sacred scrolls. The plot is action packed with them fighting off giant ants. He plans to read about the upside-down forest at the next meeting.

Pam is still working on her self-help books and plans to submit the first one to several publishers. Jackie wants her to consider taking pre-orders for her book since so many people are anxious to buy them. Pam then read Farm in a Jar which an informative article about how to grow sprouts in your kitchen.

Joan reported her personal memoir A Charmed Life is about 9,000 words and is ¾ finished. She plans to send it to at least 15 publishers.

Andrew read his rhyming poem Acceptance. It tells about how Oscar the Turtle helped two schools of fish get along.

Next meeting is scheduled for April 10.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Meeting Highlights February 21, 2014

Members present: Luneil, Andrew, Judy, Joan, Jackie
Judy passed out annual financial report and collected dues. Dues were ½ price for the month of February. We have decided to extend the discount through March. She also purchased the latest edition of Book Markets for Children’s Writers and Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers. Any member can borrow either book for a month at a time.
Judy passed out the recipe summary and a draft of the cookbook. Members discussed layout and what is still needed. We need to create recipes for more breakfasts, sandwiches, and side dishes among other things. Judy will work on a cover so please give her ideas. It was decided that we should have a meeting where we focus solely on the cookbook. Jackie will email the other members so they will have the latest information.
Judy will look into a fine arts grant for professional development so we can use designated funds to attend a workshop, conference or writer’s retreat in the near future.
Jackie passed out a list of sensory words and a list of sound words. Both lists can make writing more descriptive and powerful. Jackie is keeping a file folder on the information/handouts that have been passed out in previous meetings. She suggested that Andrew visit the links Sharon has on the Write-On Hoosier blog site.
Andrew showed some illustrations his co-worker drew for his picture book. Members discussed word and page count for picture/board books for 0-2 year olds. Jackie will bring in some examples next meeting.
Luneil and Joan will research additional meeting places. 
Next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 20. The place is to be determined.