Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read the printed word."

Hayley Morris
A highly regarded group, Magic Hour Writers is a cherished part of the writing community and continually supports IWC. Because of their value within the NWI community, earned from dedicating time and resources to promoting literacy and writing for children, IWC is highlighting the Magic Hour Writers this week.
Magic Hour Writers primarily work with children’s writing. Its mission statement is: “To encourage and promote excellence in writing for children through friendship, education, and peer support among writing colleagues.” According to Judy Whitcomb, the group’s name was taken from a quote from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, “Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read the printed word.” Judy said this quote represents why the group writes for children.
The idea for Magic Hour Writers emerged in 2009 when Judy Whitcomb and Jackie Huppenthal took a children’s writing class from Sharon Palmeri. The group’s meetings began in January 2010. Along with Judy and Jackie, five other founding members were in that same children’s writing class. The group averages about 11 members per year.
As creative writers, Magic Hour members are involved in events and activities throughout the year to promote and encourage children’s writers. Members of the group have provided support for the Power of Poetry Project (P.o.P.P.), which is sponsored by IWC and primarily funded by the Crown Point Community Foundation. This year, four of the members volunteered to judge flash fiction and poetry entries by middle school and high school students for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
In order to stay in touch, the group meets on the second Thursday of each month. But, to keep communication open and make sure that members are up-to-date, Jackie and Judy send daily/weekly emails that inform members of contests, new publishers, agents looking for clients, etc., so that members do not miss any valuable opportunities.
During each meeting, the members work together in different ways to ensure that the group fulfills its mission statement. They work as a team, with many subgroups that make up the entire group. During the critique group session, there is time to read and critique each other’s work. Though the main focus is on children’s writing, if a member has another piece of writing to share, the group eagerly critiques and provides feedback for that piece as well. For yearly educational goals, the group brings in speakers to their meetings from time to time, and they purchase books annually which become part of a lending library for member use. Members provide peer support to each other by having a directory that indicates what the members are interested in and what they are working on, which allows sharing of information. If other members come across something that another member may find useful in their work, they send it along.
The community built within this group is one of admiration. It is always comforting surrounding yourself with people who have the same interests as you. This group does just that, with its main focus on promoting reading and writing for children. Magic Hour Writers, in fulfilling its mission statement, is making a better community for children and children’s writers. 

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