Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Blog Links of Interest

Happy Friday!

Here are some great writing tips and links for your browsing pleasure!

If you want a little clarity on what hashtags to use on Twitter, check out this great post over at Writers in the Storm.  Twitter is not my favorite social media to use, but hashtags do make it easier to find and follow certain conversations and topics I am bookmarking this one for future reference!

Having trouble pacing your scene or chapter? Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi at Writers Helping Writers Blog wrote a great blog post on how to keep your pacing smooth and balanced. Another good one to bookmark!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this month? I’ve done it in the past and tried to do it this year, but about eight days into it, I realized it just wasn’t possible for me to do it this time. Partially it was because I already did a fast draft of my contemporary romance in-progress in August and September, and so I’m on a second draft of it now which is much slower and involves me flushing out the details and keeping the pacing and characters going in the same direction. And part of it was I simply had too many other author commitments this month, between speaking events, writing and designing an on-line class for January, and an upcoming book signing over the Black Friday weekend, I just kept getting bumped out of the pure “time to write.” mode.  I loved seeing this blog post over at Seekerville about the reasons author, Myra Johnson is not doing NaNoWriMo.

Finally, the Linus Chapter of Snohomish is collecting handmade quilts and blankets to comfort the teens affected by the shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High school which took place last month and took the lives of five teens.  If you are local, you can drop off your blankets and quilts at Pacific Fabrics in Everett where they are collecting them. If you are not local, and you’d like to participate, I’d be happy to drop off blankets for you if they can be mailed to me. The blankets need to be at Pacific Fabrics by December 31, 2014 Please email me if you need to mail them and we can set something up. The details for the blankets size can be found here.



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Oh What a Character–On-Line Class for Teens at the Loft


In January, I’m teaching another on-line class for teens at The Loft Literary Center, Oh What a Character: Crafting Unique Story People.

Characters are the key to the story, but how do we craft compelling characters that go beyond the cookie cutter variety? In this class for teen writers, we’ll explore character archetypes as well as the sociology and psychology of all our story characters. We’ll look at how to craft multifaceted antagonists and best friends who can spin off into their own stories. The class includes writing exercises, reading and discussion, and opportunities to support others in our online community through the sharing of our writing. Beginning to advanced teen writers will learn how to deepen their story writing skills by creating strong characters.

As a part of the class, we’ll write two fun scenes to help us get to know our characters better. The class is taught through the Loft’s on-line website and both writing assignments will be critiqued using the workshop method by peer writers and myself.

Here is a little sample of the two scenes we’ll be writing:

Writing Assignment Scene One:

“Why I Stole It.”--From the view point of either your main character, their best friend, or the antagonist character select an object from YOUR house, and have your character tell you why they stole it. The object should be something with sentimental value such as a souvenir from the last trip you took with an older sibling before they went to college, or something ordinary such as a spoon in the kitchen. Try to stay away from the large, obvious, expensive items a thief might steal–electronics, expensive cars, fancy china, paintings. The one exception might be a piece of jewelry that had sentimental value–but this should be played with as in What if..the jewelry was NOT expensive. The writing should be no longer than 800 words, double-spaced.

Writing Assignment Scene Two:

“The Rattlesnake in the Drawer.”–Your character is going about their daily life and routine, when they find something unexpected that brings about a strong reaction. This should be a physical object that creates a physical or mental threat, or a mystery, real or imagined. The “rattlesnake in the drawer” should be something reasonably found in the house but changes the course of direction of the scene for your character. For example, a twelve-year-old girl finds an old wedding photo album in the attic, but instead of the pictures being her mom and dad, they are her dad and aunt. Pick the room in the house from the following list: Bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, closet, basement, garage, attic.


And here’s how we’ll talk about them in workshop:

What do you like? See if you can be clear with what you like. Do you like the opening? The middle? The character? The ending? The point of view? Be specific about what aspects of the character in this scene are working for you.

What bumps you? Where are you confused?

What questions do you have? What do you want to know more about?

Registration is now open here. If you register by December 12, 2014, there is a $10 off registration.

The class would make a great holiday gift for a teen writer.

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Plotting and Pacing a Romance

This month, I’m working on plotting and pacing my current work-in-progress romance novel. Up until this point, all of my romances have been short, (5K-8K romance short stories), which means the story is about the moment the hero and heroine realize they are the perfect match for each other, and this does not involve a lot of elaborate plotting and pacing.  But, now I am writing a full-length novel, which at the moment I am targeting to the category markets.  Category lines have specific word count requirements and when reading some of the books, the stories are broken down into chapters ranging from twenty-two to about twenty-six chapters.

Within the specific word count and chapters, I need to develop an external plot with internal conflict for both characters as well as create a romance arc to a satisfying happily ever after moment.

So how to accomplish all of this pacing and plotting?

I started with figuring out the key scenes using Blake Synder’s Beat Sheet. I was first introduced to this handy little plotting tool when I took a Writing the Chapter Book series of classes from Anastasia Suen. I highly recommend this tool for plotting any story–from children’s through adult.

Since I am writing romance, I wanted to make sure I hit all the key moments of the romance’s arc. That’s when I turned to Autumn Macarthur’s Blake Synder Beat Sheet for romance authors. The thing I like best about her helpful chart is she maps out how many words the story should hit at each key plot point in the story. I have found this to be extremely helpful for pacing. Here is her Blake Synder Beat Sheet for romance

Looking at that same writing tool page on Autumn’s website, she also has a great sheet for character development that really dives into the heart and soul of a character–including their wounds and how those wounds affect their choices. You can find the Identity to Essence Character Chart here.

Jami Gold has also developed a romance plot sheet for writers–hers is a for books a bit longer at the 110,000 word count. You can see her romance plot sheet here.

Jami Gold also has a wealth of information on her website and you can see all of her plot beat sheets as well as other workshops including a business plan for writers here.

Okay, so after I spent time working on the pacing and plotting using the beat sheets, then it was time to take it to a visual storyboard. At the Seattle RWA Conference, I attended Seven Ways to Plot Your Novel by Darlene Panzera and Debby Lee where they talked about making a story board dividing it into grids on a large piece of butcher paper. Each grid box represents a chapter. The part I liked best about this was when you set up your grid, for a twenty-chapter book, the fifth box, tenth box, fifteenth box and twenty box are aligned and each of those correspond with a key plot point moment.

For example:

Chapter 5: First turning point

Chapter 10: Second turning point

Chapter 15: Third turning point

Chapter 18: Black moment

Chapter 19/20: Resolution

Using the grid method, you can also see your subplot points. For example on the same grid mentioned above, you can see:

Chapter 3: Subplot first scene

Chapter 7: Subplot second scene

Chapter 11: Subplot turning point

Chapter 14: Black moment moving to the resolution for the subplot, and this connects right into chapter fifteen which is the third turning point moment for the main plot.

If you’d like to see a visual of this method, download Robin Perini’s Seattle RWA Layering Handout here and turn to page 4 and 5 in the handout.

I’d love to hear how you plot your novel and make sure it’s on pace to a satisfying finish.



The Author Next Door Panel


This Sunday, I’m participating in the Sno-Isle Library’s Author Next Door Panel. The panel includes local authors who are speaking about our experience with writing. If you have teens or tweens or are interested in writing, please bring them to this event as it’s a great chance to hear some of the inside scoop about being a writer in today’s marketplace. I will  also be doing a giveaway of a print copy of STAINED GLASS SUMMER.  The library has ebook copies of STAINED GLASS SUMMER, but not the limited edition print copies–so this is a special opportunity to win a print copy.


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Links of Interest for Writers

There are a bunch of great blog posts which I’ve read recently and I’m going to share a few here:


If you’ve ever wondered about Deep Point of View and how you get it into your story. Rhay Christou wrote a great blog post for Writers In the Storm about Deep Point of View. She is also teaching a class at the Margie Lawson Academy on Deep Point of View. Unfortunately, this session is totally sold out and beyond, but hopefully, she’ll offer it again in 2015. Her young adult novel, I Do Not, is forthcoming from Spencer Hill. You can read Rhay’s Deep Point of View blog post here.


Win a critique: Writers Helping Writers has just opened their monthly critique contest. These are the gals who wrote The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Traits Thesaurus and The Negative Traits Thesaurus. I won a first page critique from them last month on my sweet contemporary romance and it was very helpful.  Enter to win here. All genres (no erotica) accepted.

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It’s NaNoWriMo time. (National Writing a Novel in a Month). I’m participating over at the Savvy Authors Entangled Smackdown where I’m on one of the Bliss Imprint teams and am working on drafting my sweet contemporary romance.  There are tons of blog posts and helpful webinars about writing this month. Here is a big list of everything from the NaNoWriMo website.

If you’re seen anything to pass along to other writers, please share links in the comments section.







Tea Shop on Lavedender Lane Giveaway Winner


The winner of the TEA SHOP ON LAVENDER LANE giveaway is…..Kateivan!

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who stopped by!


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Spooktacular Giveaway Hop Winner


Congratulations to Jennifer Rote! Jennifer won a $10 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of my sweet, contemporary romance, HALLOWEEN LOVE FORTUNE.

Jennifer look for your gift card and ebook in your email!

Halloween Love Fortunex




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The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane Book Giveaway

Happy Monday!

It’s been a busy couple weeks. Two weeks ago, I attended the Seattle RWA Emerald City Writing Conference and presented: Map It Out: Using Setting to Plot Your Story. The workshop was well-attended–even though it was at 8:30 on Saturday morning! Afterwards, I scurried off to my two pitches–both with agents, one of whom I really hit it off with and will be submitting to her soon.

This past Friday, I met my deadline and sent off my first three chapters and 10 page synopsis of a new sweet, contemporary romance to a Harlequin Heartwarming editor. This was an opportunity I won in May during the Brenda Novak auction and I met the deadline of submitting by October 31.

I am a firm believer in rewarding ourselves when we meet big deadlines, regardless of how the outcome of meeting that deadline turns out, I think it’s important to acknowledge when we do hit the goal we set–and so I signed up for the Harlequin Readers Luncheon held this past Saturday in Seattle.  I got to sit at Sheila Robert’s table for lunch and it was a blast!

Sheila Roberts is the author of the Icicle Falls sweet, contemporary series--set in Leavenworth, Washington. I discovered these books this summer while on a trip to Leavenworth with my sister. They’re fun books centered around a family who owns a chocolate factory in town. You can see the whole list of the series here.

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The first part of the readers event was all about authors speed dating. Each author at the event came to our table for 9-12 minutes and answered questions. Authors at the event included Susan Wiggs, Susan Mallery, Lauren Dane, and B.J. Daniels and others. All of the authors lived in the Pacific Northwest and many of them use this area as settings in their stories.

We enjoyed a nice lunch and then the authors participated in a Q and A panel which was fun. One of my favorite questions was: How many rejections did you receive before you sold your first book? The answers ranged from Susan Wiggs who spent eight years writing before she sold to Susan Mallery who received 52 rejections to Bronwyn Scott who sold her first book on the first try! (There were a few other authors who also had this first try out sale story). As someone who it took eight years to sell STAINED GLASS SUMMER, I was in awe over the first time out sale stories!

You can read a bit more about the Harlequin Reader’s Luncheon on Barbara Vey’s blog here.

And now, I’d like to offer a giveaway of one PRINT copy of Sheila Robert’s book, THE TEA SHOP ON LAVENDER LANE. This is a part of her Icicle Falls series, but you do not need to have read the other ones in the series to read this one.



To be entered to win the contest, please leave me your name and email with a comment naming one small town you have visited and why you were charmed by that town. Due to the fact this is a print book, I’m limiting this giveaway to US addresses only. I will pick the winner next Monday, November 3.


Good luck!







Writing the Picture Book Handouts–Columbia City Branch Workshop

This evening, I’m presenting WRITING THE PICTURE BOOK, a free workshop at the Columbia City Branch of the Seattle Public Library from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This is a free workshop, but you must have registered ahead of time.

For those of you not able to attend the workshop, and for anyone who attends and needs extra handouts, I’m posting the handout set here.


 Writing the Picture Book Overview

Picture Book Structure Handout

Where the Wild Things Are Exercise


And, as part of the workshop, I’m going to be doing a drawing for one FREE picture book manuscript critique with me. If you want to learn more about my picture book manuscript critique services, please download the following handout.

Picture Book Critique Services

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Spooktacular Giveaway Hop


Happy Halloween! I’m participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, sponsored by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I live on a street with many children and love handing out treats and oohing and ahhing over their costumes. One of my own memories of Halloween is the Pumpkin Box costume.  This was a large box painted orange with black eyes and mouth. I wore it during fourth grade and hated it! All the girls that year were fancy witches and as they paraded into the bathroom to get ready, I had to stay in the classroom with the boys who teased me about my costume. That night, I went home and changed my costume to be a witch–just like everyone else. A few years ago, a boy came to my door wearing a box with the Amazon logo. He grinned at me and said, “I’m an Amazon package.” It reminded me a lot of my pumpkin box costume.

Here is a picture of my pumpkin box costume:

The Pumpkin Box Costume

The Pumpkin Box Costume

As a part of the Spooktacular Giveaway blog hop, I’m giving away one Kindle ebook copy of my sweet contemporary romance novella, HALLOWEEN LOVE FORTUNE and a $10 Amazon Gift card! To enter all you need to do is leave a comment telling me about a favorite (or least favorite) Halloween costume that you wore–or that you made for a child. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact the winner. I will announce the winner of the blog hop on November 2, 2014. (US and International entries).


Halloween Love Fortunex

Blurb: 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? This is the second story in the Elmheart Hotel sweet contemporary novella series, but you do not have to read the first one to read this one.

A listing of all of the sweet romances in the Elmheart Hotel series can be found here.


To find the listings of the other blogs on the Spooktacular Giveaway Blog Hop, go here.




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