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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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Meeting Highlights December 14, 2016

Members Present:  Donna, Jackie, Judy, Karen, Luneil, Ruthann, Valia

Guest:  Rachael

Rachael is a science teacher at Lake Central High School.

Karen gave Rachael advice about the submission process.

Judy, Suzy, and Karen participated in the Lake County Local Author Book Fair at the Merrillville Library held December 3rd. Judy met an illustrator and suggested we ask her to be a guest speaker at one of our upcoming meetings. Members were impressed with the illustrations in the books Judy brought in.

Suzy and Judy at the Local Author Book Fair

Judy will be staring a web page for MHW. She would like us to read children’s books and include our reviews as a regular feature on the new site.

Jackie reported she won a large cash prize in a magazine photo contest and the picture will be published early next year.

Donna read her story White and Black Animals in Bella’s Zoo. She plans to include a crayon or dry erase marker so children can draw their own pictures in the book as they read about each animal Bella encounters. Donna also has ideas to make it a series.

Rachael read the first draft of her rhyming story One Kindness at a Time. Members suggested she try writing a non-rhyming version as well and encouraged the idea of continuing the story in a series.

Valia read his poem Old Man and the Mango Stick.  His inspiration for the poem was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.  The poem follows a man and his branch from a mango tree through a lifetime.  The core idea is how all things have a spirit of life that creates a universal karma. 

Next he shared an article he wrote for the Huff Post Religion Blog in 2012.  This true story recounts the friendship between a Sikh poet, a black Baptist minister, and a white Methodist mother who had met in 1969.  Valia was the poet.  Although separated for forty years and losing contact, at the reunion, one of five Sikh religious symbols, the kada – a metal bracelet, remained on the arms of the two men throughout all those years.

Karen read a Christmas story from her developing chapter book that is a sequel to Railroading Harry.  In this story, Harry, a rabbit adopted by two men who inhabit a railroad caboose, is denied some of his favorite treats because they are going to be used for Christmas.  Harry, who was just introduced to the word “Christmas” is pretty sure, because of the denials, that Christmas is not for him.

Karen gave a great history of how cabooses were often used by railroad men as “homes” as the trains travelled 250 miles to a point were the caboose was changed and the men then returned to the original starting point.  These men would get to know people, especially children along the way and would often share celebrations of the seasons with children.

Rachel talked about an idea she has for a book about students who create a school based on what they think it should be like.  We talked about the possible target audience and the group encouraged her to start writing.  Suggestions were given including the idea that the point of view of the narrator (an adult teacher or a teen student) would help determine the target audience.

Members exchanged handmade gifts.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Several members attended the Write-On Hoosiers Banquet December 7th

Next Meeting:  Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Meeting Highlights November 9, 2016

Members Present:  Helena, Jackie, Judy, Patty, Ruthann

The Indiana Writers’ Consortium 3rd Annual Steel Pen Conference is this Saturday, November 12thJudy has been very involved in the planning as she is the treasurer for IWC. Karen will be on a panel.  Many other members plan to attend.

Suzy and Judy will be at the Local Author’s Book Fair at the Merrillville Branch of the Lake County Public Library December 3rd. They will sell our book A Magic Hour Family Christmas and have MHW Flyers on the table. Mari secured the table for us. Jackie will give pens to Judy and any extra books we have on hand. Judy will make coupons and price flyer.

Several of us will also be attending the Write-On Hoosier Banquet scheduled for Wednesday, December 7th 6-10p.m. at Lake of the Four Seasons Country Club Ballroom. Contributing authors will receive their copies of Horizon Spectrum.

Ruthann and Patty are participating in Nano.

Helena read her poem An Autumn Insight. She included some pictures she had taken of the trees at the peak of their color change.

Patty read Chapter 7 - Future Forebodings in her YA novel.

Judy read her short story City Turkeys in Turkey Run which was recently published in From the Edge of the PrairieJackie also had some pictures and poems published in this 2016 edition.

Next meeting:  Rosati’s Wednesday, December 14, 2016 at 6:30.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Meeting Highlights October 12, 2016

Members Present:   Donna, Helena, Jackie Karen, Patty

Members mentioned Tricks and Treats of the Trade, a SCBWI conference that will be held at Franklin College on October 29th. Valia plans to attend.

Karen will be discussing the different ways to be published at the IWC Banquet. She is one of several authors that will be on a panel. The banquet is scheduled for November 12, 2016.

Patty suggested members try listening to books on tape. She said that has helped her become a better writer. She has even typed out a few first chapters of books she likes to get a feel for the rhythm and styles of accomplished writers.

Donna read the 1st chapter of The Secret of the Witch and the Ghost.  Karen suggested she shorten sentences if targeting a younger audience. In early readers and chapter books sentences can start with the words “and” or “but”. Members also suggested adding more dialogue and action.

Jackie read “Dear John”, a poem she wrote for her school’s custodian who recently retired. She framed a copy and decorated the outside with items he likely found on the floor and in the halls over the years. She will bring SCBWI ‘s The BOOK to the next meeting.

Karen suggested members visit editor Ester Hershen’s website. Karen was proud to announce that her agent has hired a screen writer for her book. Rescuing Ivy is on an 18 month hold and will become a major motion picture if enough funds are raised!

Next Meeting: November 9, 2016 at Rosati’s in Schererville at 6:30 p.m.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Meeting Highlights September 14, 2016

Members present:  Jackie, Pam, Patty, Pete, Valia

Guests:  Michelle and Ava
Michelle McGill-Vargas, the Vice President of Indiana Writers’ Consortium, wanted to observe a MHW meeting and brought her friend Ava who is a retired elementary school principal, teacher, and counselor. Members were interested in reading Michelle’s devotionals which can be found on the Highland Redeemer Lutheran Church’s website.

Jackie stated she submitted poems for the Sidewalk Poetry Display project and the Indiana State Federation of Poetry Clubs annual contest. Jackie also presented a poetry lesson to her son’s 4th grade class at Kolling Elementary. She discussed what she writes about, where she gets her ideas, how to submit, and passed around some of the books that feature her poems and photographs.

Valia attended the Indiana Dunes Streamline event and recited his poem “I Remember”.  He was pleased there was a big audience. Valia was contacted by the poet laureate to participate in the Highland Sidewalk project in October.  He plans to attend the SCBWI ‘s one day event at Franklin College on October 29th. Valia then read several of his “Rocky” short poems.

Patty read several pages from Chapter 5 - Trip to Rue Des Rosier. The rest of the chapter was emailed to the group. She has been busy creating more miniatures for her millinery shop and brought them to the meeting to show everyone.

Pete read his poem Izzy & Katie’s Melon Head Halloween.

Upcoming events:
The next Northwest Indiana Poetry Society meeting is September 17th at the Lowell Library at 10 a.m.

The Festival of the Trail is looking for more participants in the kid’s corner for their October 15th event. Those interested should contact Julie Larson or Lance from the Highland Redevelopment Commission.

Next Meeting:  Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at Rosati’s at 6:30 p.m.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Meeting Highlights August 10, 2016

Members Present:  Helena, Jackie, Karen, Mari, Patty, Ruthann, Valia

Mari, Valia, Karen, and Jackie discussed the Prestivus Festival. Although attendance was down due to the high temps, Mari sold several books and Jackie sold a few notecards. Pete read a few of his riddle poems and Valia had an extensive fossil and mineral display. Judy and Valia’s geological timeline printout and stickers were well received.

Karen would like to have another family friendly event at the train depot in Griffith next June. She suggested doing a presentation and readings in a train car as well as having the barrel train ride to attract more attendees.

Mary sent a list of over 50 museums to her publisher and included a summary about her new book Ruby’s Red Squiggle.  She was excited to report Ruby will be carried by the Museum of Modern Art bookstore in San Francisco. Mari will also have a piece in an anthology for children age 4-8 due out by the end of the month. Six American and six British authors will be featured.

Patty, who has been participating in Nanowrimo challenges, wrote 55,000 words in the month of July. She explained the process and freedom she found when refraining from editing her work as she writes.

Karen is on full revision #5 for Haunting Mom. Several members sent her suggestions after downloading and reading her first three chapters. Patty explained that the REVIEW tab on Word brings up a margin where comments for the author can be inserted.

Ruthann read the first poem she ever wrote entitled “Missing Lynx” about her pet cat. Members liked the rhyme scheme and powerful word choice, only suggesting a few minor edits.

Helena read a speech she wrote entitled “A Belated Tribute.” Members thought Honda would appreciate hearing her homage  to her Odyssey.

Valia read “India…ana” from the IU Press anthology Undeniably Indiana. He also brought in the book to show everyone.

Patti read part of chapter 4 New Friends from her YA novel Vienne. Jackie will send out the entire chapter for members to critique.

Next Meeting: September 8, 2016 at Rosati’s at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Meeting Highlights July 13, 2016

Members Present: Jackie, Karen, Luneil, Pete, Ruthann

Guests: Andy, Jane

Members discussed the upcoming Small Prestivus Festival which will be in Griffith on Saturday and Sunday, July 23rd and 24th. On Saturday Andy, Valia, Judy, and Jackie will be reading. Karen will do a presentation on her book Rescuing Ivy. Rescuing Ivy and A Magic Hour Family Christmas will be available for purchase. Jackie will make a coupon and plans to sell some of her photographic note cards as well. Mari and Ruthann have books to give to Jackie. MHW pens have also been ordered.

Pete would like to see his poems published in a book. Members discussed self-publishing vs. submitting to traditional publishers. Pete would also like to include the inspiration behind each poem to inspire others to write.

Jackie will send out information about the Indiana State Federation of Poetry Societies poetry contest.

Jane plans to interview Karen and write an article about the Small Prestivus Festival for the Chicago Tribune and Gary Post newspapers.

Karen discussed Create Space and will bring her first book to the next meeting.

Pete read two riddle poems. He plans to have prizes for the winners at the festival.

Andy read his short story for young readers entitled Substitute Student. The story idea came about when he was working as a substitute teacher.

Jackie read an old poem “The Top” which is about her struggles to follow her children up a fire tower. Someone recently contacted her through her blog asking for permission to share it at a bicentennial celebration at McCormick’s Creek State Park. That state park also has a fire tower.

Next Meeting:  Wednesday August 10th at 6:30, Rosati’s Pizza in Schererville, IN.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Meeting Highlights June 8, 2016

Members Present:  Jackie, Judy, Karen, Pam, Patty, Pete, Ruthann

Guest: Andy

Jackie went over the current member list and discussed a suggestion from Karen. If someone has a longer piece and needs specific help they can email their work to the group a week before the upcoming meeting. This will allow members to take their time reading the piece and then offer more thoughtful advice and critique. The members can print out their own copy and bring it to the meeting with their corrections/suggestions.

Pete reported that he read his poems at an elementary school which prompted the high school graphics department to contact him about adding animated graphics to one of his poems. The LHS students worked over 9 weeks and even used Pete’s own voice. Members are anxious to see the finished product.

Judy is looking for writers for the IWC blog. July’s them is “Writing for Children.”

Jackie discussed the Prestivus Literary Festival which will be held the weekend of July 22-24. Magic Hour Writers will have a table on Saturday 10-4 p.m. at Central Park, in Griffith. The MHW Christmas book, Rescuing Ivy, and artwork will be available for purchase. Members are also encouraged to read a short story or poem for children. There will be other activities for children as well in the children’s tent area.

Ruthann, Judy, and Jackie submitted to Horizon Spectrum, the next Write-On Hoosiers publication, due out this fall.

Judy discussed ideas about an interactive children’s book on travel, culture, and giving back inspired by her grandson’s travels. Luis’ group just returned from the Dominican Republic where they donated computers to an orphanage.

Patty is participating in her 3rd Nanowrimo and encouraged other members to as well.

Karen recapped the school visits she had since publishing Rescuing Ivy. After the presentation, many of the students wrote her letters praising her story.

Pete read the poems he shared on the first and last day of the 2015/2016 middle school year. He is officially retired now but hopes to continue to inspire kids to write poetry.

Andy read his poem “The Small Grey Rock.” Andy is from Michigan and is studying to be a teacher at Valparaiso University. Members felt it would make a good picture book, only needing minor editing.

Judy discussed the books members can borrow from both the MHW library and her own personal library. She compiled a list and Jackie will put the titles on the blog.

Karen discussed the benefits of SCBWI and the Illinois regional networks. She then read Chapter 2 of “Haunting Mom.”

Next meeting: Wednesday, July 13th at Rosati’s in Schererville. 6:30 p.m.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Meeting Highlights May 11, 2016

Those attending: Luneil, Karen, Ruthann, Suzy, Patty and later joined by Helena.

There was some discussion about the meeting day of the week. Those present, Luneil, Karen, Suzy, Ruthann and Patty were in agreement about the change from Thursday to Wednesday. They also mentioned that they all thought it would be a good idea to try and have the meeting on the FOURTH Wednesday in order to not compete with Streamline. They thought it would eliminate some of the meeting conflicts.There was further discussion about the need for Jackie and Judy to appoint a regular substitute to run meetings when both of them would not be present.

Ruthann brought in two books from her class with Sharon Palmeri: The Everything Guilde to Writing Children’s Books by Luke Wallin and The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard. She talked about one of the exercises they had in class about taking a fairy tale and changing it around and coming up with another ending. Several suggestions were given to Ruthann about her class assignment of the fairy tale switch.

Patty brought in SCWBI’s THE BOOK for others to leaf through. It is a complete guide to children’s book writing, publishing, setting up a blog, finding an editor etc. Karen mentioned all the benefits of belonging to SCWBI.

Karen read the first chapter in her book, “Haunting Mom” She explained how she has rewritten the book numerous times from several points of view and was happy to settle upon the new method of dual dialogues running at the same time.

Suzy read a short story “The Goblin Gathering” It was suggested that she could easily turn this into a chapter book and several ideas were given regarding those chapters.

Ruthann read “Changing Lives”  a true story based on a box of puppies being found on a train tracks.  The story told about the entire process of adopting animals.

Helena read an excellent poem about the “Delete Key” It was a poetic argument for using the key more, eliminating not only errors but the wrongs done to human beings through emails.

Patty asked if Karen would read the remainder of her chapter about Francine because of a sore throat. It proved to be VERY useful to hear it being read rather than ‘knowing’ what was written. Patty suggested we might read each other’s in order to hear our work better.

Karen spoke more about “Ivy” and the work she has had to do to promote her book. She talked about publishing rights, agents etc. It was very informative. Karen will bring us all handouts from a class she took at SCWBI’s last conference. She also mentioned that SCWBI has webinars that have been very useful to her, regarding marketing, writing a picture book etc. Webinars give great information without having to spend a lot of money on conferences. She also said she will be on the panel at Printer’s Row Sale in June.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Meeting Highlights April 13, 2016

Members Present:  Donna, Helena, Jackie, Karen, Luneil, Patty, Pam, Ruthann, Valia

Jackie provided the group with information on the Indiana Writers Consortium banquet scheduled for November 12, 2016 at the Radisson Star Plaza in Merrillville.

Jackie also discussed the details of Horizon Spectrum and From the Edge of the Prairie publications. Submissions are due by the end of April. Members will receive the guidelines via email.

Sharon Palmeri is teaching a childrens book writing class at the Crown Point Library. If enough people are interested they should contact the library about adding another class.

Karen discussed her Rescuing Ivy book launch party which was held March 20th. Several MHW members attended. The celebration included games, decorations, and food following the circus theme. Pictures do not due the event justice! Karen’s book can be found on Amazon. Congrats Karen!

SCBWI is holding their Wild Wild Midwest Conference in Naperville, IL  April 29 - May 1, 2016.

Patty read her 300 word summary page for her YA novel.

Ruthann read Gus Needs a Home.

Donna read The Lonely Inchworm.

Helena read three poems inspired by an autumn visit to Purdue in West Lafayette, IN.

Valia read his poem “A Miracle Called Earth.”

Jackie read “Turkey Run” and “Earth is Wasted.” She plans to submit both to the Prairie book along with pictures. This year’s theme is in honor of Indiana’s Bicentennial and includes poems and stories about Indiana’s waterways and byways.

Next Meeting is Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at Rosati’s 6:30-9 p.m.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Meeting Highlights February 10, 2016

Members Present:  Donna, Helena, Jackie, Judy, Karen, Luneil, Pam F., Patty, Pete, Ruthann, Sharon, Suzy, Valia

Guest:  Mary Ellen

Pete had questions about submitting to the upcoming NFSPS Annual Poetry Contest. Judy will forward his questions to Bev and will also ask her if she would like to be a guest speaker this spring. Beverly Stanislawski enters contests regularly and has won numerous awards for her poetry.

Sharon reported she might be teaching writing classes again in the near future. She is looking into two possible sites – the Valparaiso and Crown Point Libraries. Sharon also announced that Gail Galvan will be talking about publishing a Write-On Hoosiers book at the next WOH meeting.

Patty read Chapter 4: The Friends in her YA novel.

Pete read two riddle poems and handed out candy bars to the first people who guessed the correct answer.

Suzy read Chapter 19: The Shaman and Her Potions from Mrs. Walters’ Adventures.

Judy read the end of Chapter 5 and the beginning of Chapter 6 in Guinevere. She asked for advice about how to format a story within the story.

Donna read Spinerella Spider. She often told this story when she was a clown and professional story teller.

Helena read three poems she wrote after shoveling snow one morning. She included pictures with her Haiku, Tanka, and Senryu poems.

Next meeting will be Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at Rosati’s at 6:30 p.m.

(Reminder: Deadline for annual dues of $10 is March 1, 2016. Please send check to Judy.)


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Meeting Highlights January 13, 2016

Members Present: Bernardo, Helena, Karen, Jackie, Judy, Luneil, Pam G., Pete, Ruthann, Valia

Jackie asked for bios from Helena, Pete, Ruthann, and Valia. Judy collected dues.

Valia reported his poem "Volcanoes of Northwest Indiana" will be published in AIST's Iron& Steel Technology Magazine, January 2016 issue. His story entitled India...ana will be published in Undeniably Indiana by Indiana University Press. The book will come out in August 2016.

Jackie announced her poem "All Washed Up" was selected to represent Lake County in the Mapping the Muse: A Bicentennial Look at Indiana Poetry book. The poetry book will be available on Amazon. Contributors will receive a free copy.

Ruthann told the group about the IWPA contest and will send the link to members. She explained that since we are published we can become members. 

Jackie will post and send out information about the National Federation of State Poetry Societies annual contest. Submissions are due March 15, 2016.

Pete read his poem "The Chosen Few" dedicated to all America's Heros. He continues to read his poetry over the P.A. system at Lowell Middle School and inspires the students to write poetry as well.

Valia read When Parrots Leave a Mango Tree and a recap of an audio tape he received from his father entitled "The Shortest Day."

Karen urged members to sign up for the SCBWI Wild Wild Midwest Conference scheduled for April 29 to May 1, 2016 in Naperville, IL. Registration begins February 1st. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn from and network with agents, authors, and publishers.

Luneil read her revised Barty the Clumsy Vampire story to the group.

Next Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 10, 2016.