Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Christmas in July Blog Hop


I’m participating in the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop sponsored by I Am a Reader Not A Writer and Laurie Here blogs. This week, it’s all about the Christmas stories! On every blog participating in the hop, you will find giveaways for holiday books as well as gift cards so you can purchase your own holiday book! You can find the whole list of blogs participating here.

One of my holiday short stories for tweens, ELF SHOES, was offered as a free download from Musa Publishing.


Story Blurb: Fourteen-year-old Alexa loves to volunteer as an elf at the Island Santa Workshop but this year her costume elf shoes feel a little too tight. When childhood playmate, sixteen-year-old Samson, turns up to play Santa, Alexa finds herself trying to convince Samson to see her as more than just one of the “boys.” Can first love be found this holiday season at Santa’s Workshop?

ELF SHOES is a companion story to tween novel, STAINED GLASS SUMMER.

You can download ELF SHOES for free at my website here.


I’ve also written two holiday sweet, contemporary romances, LOVE’S CHRISTMAS GIFT and NEW YEAR HEART SONG.

Love's Christmas Gift-001Story Blurb: Skipper Bill and Elizabeth have been friends forever. But, when Elizabeth is offered a job interview across the country, these two friends are going to need the help of a little mistletoe to find their holiday romance. Can mistletoe turn friendship to Christmas romance in this short holiday romance?

LOVE’S CHRISTMAS GIFT is available here

And…..for this blog hop, I’m giving away one ebook copy (any format) of my sweet, contemporary romance, NEW YEAR HEART SONG.

New YEar Heart Song

Story Blurb: Successful concert pianist, Angie is happy to return home for the holidays where she can forget her career troubles and enjoy the opening season of the Elmheart Hotel. The only thing she didn’t plan is running into Caleb who is working as the hotel handyman and doing his best to raise his seven-year old son, Jesse. When a snowstorm throws Angie and Caleb together as hosts of the hotel’s New Year Eve party, will an old song ignite a New Year love?


Please leave me one comment and tell me what is your favorite part about reading holiday stories. I will select the winner and announce on this blog on August 2, 2014. (International and U.S. entries).

Good luck and enjoy visiting the other blogs on the hop here.



New Cover Art for Halloween Love Fortune

Halloween Love Fortune, a sweet contemporary novella in the Elmheart Hotel series has some great new cover art! What do you think?

Halloween Love Fortunex

Blurb: Artistic designer, Jenny Piercy, is excited to help with the Elmheart Hotel’s old-fashion Halloween barn party and enjoys nothing more than working side-by-side long-time friend, Zach Cullver. But, it’s going to take more than a fortune teller’s prediction of true love to bring these two together. Can a coffin and a mummy costume show Zach and Jenny the best romance is found in long-time friendship in this sweet, contemporary romance novella?



Smashwords (and available for purchase by libraries through Smashwords, too!)

Barnes and Noble (It should be up on this site shortly)

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Author Event

If you are local to the Snohomish County/Seattle area, please join me on Friday evening, July 11th at 7. P.M. for a very special ARTS (Artists Rising to Speak) night at Unity Church in Lynnwood where I will read and show my digital picture book, FINDERS KEEPERS on the big screen!

FINDERS KEEPERS is published and available with MeeGenius Publishing here.

Finders Keepers Cover

The night’s entertainment show features local performers of all sorts, and this format has been described as Johnny Carson meets Whose Line Is It Anyway?  Join Arts Director, Matthew Wilson and Dr. Richard Loren Held with five of their artistic friends (including me!) for this largely-improvised evening of music and fun!  The evening is a love offering donation to benefit the general fund at Unity Church in Lynnwood.

Unity church is best known for their Silent Unity 24-hour prayer line as well as their monthly publication, Daily Word, which is often found in hospital waiting rooms. You can find out more about Unity churches here or find out more about Lynnwood Unity Church here.

I hope to see some of you there!



Keep the Kids Reading Giveaway

kids 4

Keep The Kids Reading Giveaway! Musa Publishing is having a Keep the Kids Reading Giveaway this week.  If you’re looking for a chance to win print books for your kids or even your classroom, there are opportunities to win every day. Many of the books included in the giveaway would be great for a seventh or eighth grade classroom library.

Winners will be chosen daily for books. And, my tween book, STAINED GLASS SUMMER is included in the Grand Prize package.

Find out all the details and enter to win here.


Twelve-year-old Jasmine adores her photographer Father and wants to be an artist just like him. But when Dad abandons the family, Jasmine is sent to spend the summer with her Uncle on a Pacific Northwest Island. Soon, Jasmine is learning stained glass from island glass artist, Opal, and thinking she might just be developing a crush on Island boy, Cole. But, it’s not until Jasmine finds herself mentoring another young artist that she can truly let go of her Father and call herself an artist by her own terms.

There is a free study guide to download for STAINED GLASS SUMMER here.

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Happy Fourth of July


Happy Fourth of July!

In this garden picture, I’ve re-purposed my old tricycle from my Mom’s garage and added a bit of festive July 4th ribbon and a pair of red boots. I bought the red boots at a vintage shop on the Northern Oregon coast. They have soil inside them and can be used as planters, too.



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Links of Interest

I’ve stumbled across some great blog links over the last few weeks and wanted to share them.

Marion Dane Bauer posted a great blog about Caring About the Character. This summed up for me the missing ingredient in so many of the young adult contest entries I recently judged. You can read the blog post here.

Penumbra, an emagazine from Musa Publishing, posted a wonderful blog post about Saving the Filters for Your Coffee Pot. The post discussed the importance of removing those pesky filter words from your manuscripts before submitting. Filter words are something I learned a lot about from my editor for STAINED GLASS SUMMER. You can read the blog post here.

Contemporary Romance Writers RWA Chapter wrote a blog post about The Pain Makes It Real. This post talks about the importance of tapping into the emotional pain for our characters. As Marion Dane Bauer wrote in her blog post, Caring About the Character, these are the elements which help a manuscript go from well-written to contest wins and sold stories. You can read the post here.

I haven’t done a blog interview for awhile as most of my books have been out for awhile now, but I was interviewed this week on romance author, Mae Clair’s blog. It was a really fun interview and I enjoyed all the comments.  That blog post is here.


And in a final note...this blog will be going on a light summer posting schedule with posts coming about once a week to every ten days during the next few months of summer. In the Pacific Northwest, these are the days we live for after all the rain and I’ll be out enjoying them–along with drafting a few new stories!


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The Wounded YA Character

I’ve been reading young adult contest entries for a RWA Chapter contest. For the most part, all of the entries understand the construction of a scene–the pacing is good, there is a hook and the story moves along. But there is something missing in all of the stories.

The originality and depth of the teen character is missing and with this lack of depth, there is also a lack of emotional pull which is so important to a YA story.

It’s been said that all stories have been written and this may be true. But as an author, it’s our job to tell a familiar story in a new way. How do we do this?

One way is to create a character who has a wound. For example, in my YA romance, WEAVING MAGIC, one of the comments I received on a regular basis from contest entries was, It’s so unique to see a main character who is sober. Most teen characters tell the story of their drinking, not their sobriety. We really liked how Christopher’s story is about his sobriety.

Weaving Magic - Front cover 72 dpi

In order to create Christopher, I went to the place of his wound. Where had Christopher been hurt? When Christopher is ten, his Dad is taken to jail for embezzlement. Christopher loves his dad and having him ripped from his life is excruciating. At the same time, Christopher begins to drink and experiment with drugs with his childhood friend who becomes his dealer. I chose not to focus on Christopher’s drug using story because the bigger obstacle with the higher stakes was not drug use, it was how to stay sober once he gave up the drugs.

The other thing I did to write Christopher’s story is I drew on the experience I have working with the teens in the detention center poetry workshop. It is their voices I heard when I wrote Christopher’s sober story as so many of them are trying to stay sober.

As a YA writer, I think it’s very important to capture a teen as they are today–not as they were many years ago. A teen today has very different concerns and worries than a teen of the 1980′s. In 1985, I never worried about going to school after a date and finding my date had posted about it on Facebook and everyone knew I kissed them, or didn’t kiss them, or more! I also never worried about lock-downs in my school due to shootings.

In order to help you brainstorm an original character, some questions you can ask are:

  • Where is that character wounded?
  • What happened?
  • Was it an emotional wound?
  • A physical wound?
  • What scars does that character carry?
  • Who wounded the character?
  • What are they doing to compensate for the wound? What are the masks they are wearing so others won’t see the wound?

It’s not easy to dive into a character’s wound, as it often forces you, the author, to dive into your own, but I can guarantee that a character who is wounded and overcomes that wound is far more likely to engage a contest judge, editor or agent.






Summer Reading

One of my favorite things about the summer is finding great summer beach books. For me, these are usually lighter books, set in the summer in warm, sunny beach locations. Most often they are contemporary adult romance, sometimes sweet romance and sometimes with a little romantic heat to them.

Some people really enjoy reading YA during the summer, and if that’s you, be sure to check out the Stacked Blog here where you can find great posts about various YA books.

This summer, before my schedule becomes busy with teaching teen classes and educator classes, I’ve had some time to dive into a contemporary series by romance author, Roxanne St. Claire. The first four novels in this series are about four friends and set in Barefoot Bay, a small town in Florida. In the first story, a hurricane wipes out heroine Lacy’s home. But with the help of her three friends and hero, architect Clay, the two are able to design and build a resort of villas. These villas become part of the story in each of the following stories in the series about the three friends.

As a writer, I am always reading with an eye on craft and how another author creates a story world. These are some of the questions I ask myself:

  • What trope is being used in this story? (Friends to Lovers, Former Loves, Etc…)
  • What is the theme of this story? And what is the overarching theme of the entire series of stories?
  • What archetypes did the author use for her heroine and hero?
  • Who are the minor characters in each story and how do they show up later in the series?
  • How is this story plotted? Do the twists keep me interested and turning the pages? Why?
  • How does the setting impact the plot in this book and all the books in the series?
  • Why is this book a single title rather than a category romance?


If you’re interested in a summer romance read, you can read all about the Bayfoot Bay series here. 

These are contemporary romance with a little more heat to them than I write in my sweet romances, so fans of the sweet romance be warned!


















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Happy Friday! There are a couple contests I’ve seen this week to share. Contests can be great ways to set and meet a deadline for yourself.

Love Story Contest: Do you have a romance story of a first-love, old flame or long-time romance? Enter your story in the Good Housekeeping Romance Story Contest for a chance to win $2,000. Entry deadline is September 1, 2014 and only one entry is allowed per person. You can find all the details here.


Picture Book and/or Chapter Book Contest: MeeGenius Publishing is holding an author contest, looking for the next great picture book and/or chapter book. Winners receive a royalty paying contract along with $1500 in cash. The contest is open until July 13. Details for how to enter can be found here.

Young Adult/New Adult and Romance: Pages from the Heart RWA Chapter is accepting contest entries in YA, New Adult, Inspirational, Contemporary, Historical and Paranormal, Futuristic, Time Travel romance. Enter the first 25 pages of your uncontracted and unpublished manuscript by June 30, 2014. Open to both published and non-published authors, but you must be a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA). Find all the details here.


Summer On-Line Class for Teens



From July 7-August 3, I will be teaching a great on-line class for teens called Write it Short and Real. This is a perfect opportunity for writers between the ages of 13-17  who want to take a class from a published writer and learn a little bit more about the craft of writing narrative flash.

You can find all about Writing It Short and Real here.

Narrative flash is short, fast, and fun. It’s easy to share with others, and most of all, narrative flash is the perfect way to express our voices and capture our real life experiences in a short snapshot. In this class for teens, we will look at how to write short narrative through craft lessons including: structure, character, and brevity. The class includes writing on topics based on our real life experiences such as: truth and lies, first and lasts, and matters of the heart. We will share our writing with each other in order to discover how powerful our voices can be when writing about real life.

Sign up to take the class here.

You can find out tips for writing narrative flash here.

And you can find markets for narrative flash here.

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