Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Goal Setting

In the last year, I’ve revised and written another draft of my memoir, KIDS IN ORANGE, as well as revised a middle grade novel, GRANDDAD’S TOYS which is now currently on submission. I’ve written and had published two sweet, contemporary romance novellas (HALLOWEEN LOVE FORTUNE and NEW YEAR HEART SONG), and I’ve written and submitted a sweet, contemporary romance short story to Musa Publishing for their upcoming new ezine, Love Notes.

Although Books To Go Now wanted more novellas in my Elmheart Series and this motivated me to keep writing on that series for a two-year period until all six were complete, I am not a writer who, at this time, is under a contract to write more books in a series or line for a publisher by a specific deadline. So, how do I remain productive in my writing output?

Goal setting!

Goals should have two elements– something to measure and an element of time. For example, by the end of the week, I will write 5,000 words on my new sweet, contemporary romance novel.  In order to get to those 5,000 words, each day I will write 1,000 words, and for me, when I am fast drafting a new story, getting to those 1,000 words takes about two hours–if I have already done the brainstorm work with a plot outline, character sketches and created the details and a map of my setting. If I have not done that brainstorming work, then each of those are one and two day goals in the week before I begin to write.


Jane Porter, in her book, WRITING THE BESTSELLER: ROMANTIC AND COMMERCIAL FICTION, says to write three goals.

1. An Immediate Goal--A goal to be accomplished in the next week or month

2. Short-Term Goal: A goal to be achieved within the next six to twelve months

3. Long-Term Goal: A goal about where you’d like to be in five years. (I often shorten this to be two to five years because of the way the publishing industry changes so much right now).


But, if I’m working on a book, what are some external things I use to motive me?

1. Contests–RWA chapters host many contests throughout the year for everything from YA romance to contemporary to paranormal. Some of the contests are open only to unpublished authors, or authors unpublished in that genre in the last five years, but others are open to both published and unpublished authors.  Some of the RWA Chapter contests are only open to RWA members, while others are open to all writers. All the contests do require a fee payment of some sort, but you also receive detailed critiques from up to three judges and since most contests ask you to submit the first thirty pages, this critique can be invaluable–even if you don’t place in the contest.

One contest currently taking submissions is:

Emerald City Opener Contest sponsored by the Seattle RWA Chapter: Polish the first seven pages of your novel and submit to this contest. This contest is only open to unpublished authors, or authors unpublished in the genre they are entering in the last five years. Both RWA members and non-RWA members may submit.


2. Monthly Writing Challenges–November is National Write a Novel in a Month (NaNoWriMo) and it often feels as if the whole world is writing a novel. Local libraries host write-ins and workshops, coffee shops provide space for write-ins and there are endless people cheering you on-line. SPEEDBO in March, sponsored by the blog, SEEKERVILLE, is another way to get motivated in a month to write a novel while having people cheer you on.

3. Conferences–In the Pacific Northwest, it seems April kicks off a six-month conference line-up. There is SCBWI Seattle’s Spring Conference, Oregon’s Spring Conference in May, The Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in July, The Willamette Writer’s Conference in August, Write on the Sound in October, The Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference in October, and Seattle RWA Conference in October.  Conferences can be great way to set yourself a deadline. Find one you want to target with editors who might be interested in your book and then set that conference date as the target date for when your book will be finished. Most conferences sell out early, so be sure to note when the conference opens for registration when you identify one you want to attend. Also, if you want to target a specific editor or agent to pitch, be sure to get your registration in early, and often, it can be better to attend a smaller, regional conference than the larger conferences.

I’d love to hear what goals you are working on and how you motivate yourself to meet those goals in the comments below!









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Congratulations to Leslie Rodriguez who is the winner at my blog for a signed print copy of ROMANCE FOR ALL SEASONS (ebook if International). Leslie’s gardening tip was to run her fingernails over a bar of soap so she will not get dirt in them!

On April 19, the grand prize winners of the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop will be announced here.

Thanks everyone for your great gardening tips and recipes!


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Finders Keepers–Making a Glass Float

I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Lincoln City, Oregon recently. Lincoln City is home to the annual Finders Keepers event where glass floats are hidden on the beach for winter beach walkers to find. This is the inspiration behind my picture book app, FINDERS KEEPERS which is available from MeeGenius.

Finders Keepers Cover

The days I was in Lincoln City, the sun was shining but the wind blowing off the ocean was breathtakingly cold! Even so, I did manage to get out every day and hunt for a glass float. I didn’t find one, so I headed over to the Jennifer Sears Art Glass Shop to make my own. Of course, I really only helped a tad bit by picking colors and doing a little turning of the glass float in the hot, hot fire.

Here are the pictures from making a glass float!

We began by picking colors from plastic bins. Looks like many craft projects!

Blowing a Float 1

Next, a little bit of glass was placed on the end of the pole and stuck in the hot fire. This made it very liquid and it was dipped in each of the colors.

Blowing a Float 3

This is the hot, hot fire. I could barely stand in front of it!

Blowing a Float 5

The glass came out of the hot fire and was rolled back and forth to give it the circle shape. See how none of the colors from above are in the glass? That’s because it’s so hot right now!

Blowing a Float 6

But…look…after many times of going back in the hot fire and rolling and cooling…a glass float took shape. Now see the colors! In order to get it to “blow up.” They attach a small hose to the end and I blew my own air into the float. That’s the best thing about making these floats, is it’s your breath which is inside.

Blowing a Float 9

The glass was taken to this station where the date and LC (Lincoln City) was stamped. He’s stamping the imprint.

Blowing a Float 10

Here is the glass float. It was placed inside a large bin with other floats to cool slowly overnight before I could pick it up the next day!

Blowing a Float 11


Authors in Bloom Blog Hop


Happy Spring! This month, I’m participating in Authors in Bloom Blog Hop. Each author on the blog hop will be posting a giveaway, gardening tip, recipe or both!  It’s a spring celebration designed to introduce you to authors and give you a chance to win prizes. You can find the list of authors on the blog hop here.

On my blog, I’m giving away one signed print copy of my newest sweet, contemporary romance book, ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS. (US entries only for print/International may win an ebook copy). In order to be entered, please leave me a comment with one of your favorite gardening tips or recipe titles. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you!

RomanceforAllSeasons3 500x750-1Blurb: ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS is a collection of six, sweet contemporary novellas which will delight your heart at Valentine’s Day, sweeten hot summer days, banish Halloween ghosts and goblins and warm your soul during the holidays.


As a part of the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop, there is also ONE GRAND PRIZE of a Kindle or Nook with a $25 Gift Card as well as a second prize of $25 ereader gift card. In order to be entered to win the Grand Prize, you must leave a comment on each blog on the hop. You can find the list here. Only one comment per blog please.

Now for my recipe…I grew up in St. Louis, and one of my favorite recipes is a St Louis classic–Gooey Butter Cake! This is a great recipe to bring to those spring parties!

Gooey Butter Cake (From Just a Matter of Thyme, Recipe Book by Roxie Kelly and Friends)

1 box yellow cake mix

1 egg

1 stick butter, melted

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups powdered sugar and some for garnish

Blend cake mix, 1 egg and butter until smooth. Press into a 9 x 13 greased baking pan. Blend cream cheese, 2 eggs, and powdered sugar until creamy and smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture over first mixture in the pan. Bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes or until edges are brown. The middle will sink a little. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serves 10-12.


Finders Keepers Resources

Finders Keepers Cover

FINDERS KEEPERS, a picture book app published with MeeGenius, is a story inspired by a real event called Finders Keepers in Lincoln City, Oregon.

During Finders Keepers in Lincoln City, Oregon glass artists create spheres which are hidden on the beach for winter beach walkers to find. A few glass balls are set out each day with the exception of special float drops such as the one which takes place during the Spring Break Holiday.

You can read about Finders Keepers in Lincoln City, Oregon here.

And you can see pictures of real glass floats on the Finders Keepers Pinterest Board here.

One of my favorite lines is the book is:

The ocean looked like it was very angry. The water moved in large swells and white foam covered the beach. Jesse touched the white foam. It wiggled like a big moving monster. The wind blew pieces of foam down the beach like tumbleweed.

Here are a couple pictures, taken from Ecola State Park, in Cannon Beach which is about two hours north of Lincoln City where the story takes place. This picture was taken during a fall storm like the one Jessee experiences. You can see how the waves are very foamy!




A few years ago, the Schack Art Center in Everett began hosting a yearly event called The Jetty Island Glass Float Find. This event is a part of the yearly Fresh Paint Festival where you can go to watch artists at work.

The Schack Center created this fun video showing how the glass floats are made and the rush to find them. Unlike the Lincoln City Oregon event, this is a one day event and there is a more of a “rush” and big Easter egg hunt feel to it than the one in Lincoln City which takes place over the winter months.


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Sweet Romance Event on Facebook


I’m participating as one of the sweet romance authors over at the SWEET ROMANCE EVENT on Facebook this weekend. I’ll be on a Q and A panel on Saturday evening at 9 p.m. (EST). This is 6 p.m. for my West Coast readers.

And I’ll have my own slot on Sunday evening from 7 p.m to 8.30 p.m. (EST). This is 4 p.m. for my West Coast readers.

This is my first Facebook Event and I’m really excited to participate. I’ll be giving away one signed copy of my print book, ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS, as well as ebook copies of one of my Elmheart Hotel novellas.

Facebook reader events are really fun and you can stop in at any time during my time slot. I post questions for readers to respond to.

The SWEET ROMANCE EVENT event has been going on all week and growing daily with new readers.

For those who don’t know, sweet romance is romance that is clean and focuses on the couple falling in love. They are stories you can hand to a teen or older person without any worry of material that might not be suitable for them. All of my romances are sweet romances.

I hope to see some of you there!

The link to the SWEET ROMANCE EVENT on Facebook is here.

Also, if you can’t make the event and you haven’t a chance to read my sweet romance story, NEW YEAR HEART SONG, this story is FREE on Amazon this weekend. It’s been running in the top ten of Amazon’s Free Holiday stories this weekend. When I wrote this post, it was number seven on the list!

Yea! You can download that story here.

New YEar Heart Song



FINDERS KEEPERS Available for Purchase

My picture book storybook ap,  FINDERS KEEPERS,  from MeeGenius Publishing is now available for purchase!

Finders Keepers Cover

Story Blurb:  Jesse is excited to go to the beach with his family and wants to find a glass float hidden along the shoreline. But, when both Dad and sister find a float, Jesse turns up empty handed. It will take a fall wind storm for Jesse to discover sometimes the best floats are found in unexpected ways.

FINDERS KEEPERS is based on the Lincoln City, Oregon event, Finders Keepers which is held every year Oregon coast. You can read more about Finders Keepers here.

FINDERS KEEPERS is a picture book ap. This means the story is read on a tablet, computer or phone. It is not available at this time in paperback or book form.

To purchase and read FINDERS KEEPERS on your tablet, computer or phone, you will need to download the MeeGenius Publishing ap. This is a free download.

You can find the MeeGenius Publishing download here:

Google Play Store (This is for all of you with Android tablets, phones, and computers)

Apple Store

Nook Store

Windows Store

Once you have the MeeGenius ap, open it on your tablet, phone or computer and FINDERS KEEPERS is a New Release. It’s also listed under Family in the category books or you can simply do a search for it under title or author.




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I’m so happy to show the cover art for my picture book, FINDERS KEEPERS, published with MeeGenius Publishing.

FINDERS KEEPERS is a digital picture book and I will post the buy links soon.

Finders Keepers Cover


Researching Setting


It’s SOLVE’s Spring Beach clean-up weekend in Oregon and I’ve got my bucket and sifter all ready to comb through the sand for those small bits of plastic and other trash items which wash up on the Oregon beaches during the fall and winter storms.

I, like most Oregonians and Pacific Northwest folks, love the Oregon Coast. So, when I find stories which are set on the Oregon Coast, I jump at the chance to read them.

But when stories don’t live up to their settings, I get a little miffed, especially when it’s settings which I know well.

For example, one of the things which makes the Oregon Coast different than other beaches and extremely special is the 1967 Oregon Beach Bill which allows free access to the beach to everyone. There can never be any development on these beaches. They are free and open to the public. People and hotels who own property, do not own the beach. So, books that have a premise of development taking over the beaches, this does not happen on the Oregon Coast.

As a part of this free beaches, dogs run free on Oregon Coast beaches. Yep..that’s right. As long as my dog is under voice control, he is free to be off his leash and running with up and down beside me and with the other dogs.


Food! Portland has lovely food carts everywhere. It is a part of Portland culture. You can take walking tours of these food carts. But, a city like Cannon Beach does not have food carts. In Cannon Beach, you can not even cut down a tree–whether it’s dead or not–without getting a letter from a tree expert and going through City Council. Every summer, there is a great market in mid-town, but did you know, it’s geared more for the locals than tourists? Yep. This is not to say that tourists don’t attend, but, the market is designed for the people who live in Cannon Beach so they can buy fresh produce from local farmers.

So, what’s an author to do to make sure they don’t end up with errors in their setting? Research. And, research well.

1. Read the local papers. A good chunk of these are on-line. For example, if you’re reading Cannon Beach’s newspapers right now, you’ll know that there have been issues with the Seaside School District and a group who wants to start a Cannon Beach Charter School, after Seaside closed down the Cannon Beach elementary school and the kids all ride buses to Seaside. Now, you’re saying, so the kids go to a different town to go to school, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that in the winter storms with the heavy winds and in the possibility of tsunamis, those same kids may not be able to return to their homes in the event of emergencies. So, by reading the paper, you not only learn about the conflicts of the town, but look..I’ve also just discovered some great plot points–weather!

2. Weather Reports–We don’t have hurricanes on the West Coast. We have “winter wind storms.” But, if you’re out at the beach, they can feel an awful lot like hurricanes. We also don’t have basements in most of our houses, and we don’t have air conditioning in the Pacific Northwest homes because it’s just too cool in the summer to need it beyond a couple weeks. But these things are important to a story because your character isn’t going to head for the basement in the middle of a winter wind storm, unless they are living in an older home build around 1910 or so.  And in most cases, your character isn’t going to reach for that air conditioning dial, they are going to get a fan and open windows and sliding glass doors to let in the fresh breeze.

3. The Locals: On the way to the beach, my sister and I stopped at Astoria and had a late lunch, early dinner at a very cool pub. This is the off season at the beach, and so the majority of the people at the pub were from this area. We were sitting near the bar and a guy was talking about how they could pay in advance for a “pint of the month” club. He was explaining to another man how they were given a number and then told the bartender this number and got to try out the latest microbrew. Very cool stuff which we only discovered by going to a local pub and listening.

4. City Government Websites: Research to find out about the city and their laws by going to the city’s website. For example, when you pull up Cannon Beach’s city website, you can easily go to a page which lists all the restrictions in Cannon Beach. These can be great ways to find conflict for a story. What happens to the newbie who has a garage sale one Saturday morning and the city councilman lives two doors down and comes charging down the street to tell her you need a permit?

As a writer, it’s really important to do the research on your setting. You can fool a lot of people, but the locals who live in that place or the ones who visit on a regular basis will know when your story rings true to the place they love.





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Collage Art Poetry Workshop

Today, I’m presenting a Collage Art Poetry Workshop at Homelink School in Lake Stevens.  The workshop is for two groups–an elementary group (3rd-5th grade) and a middle/high school group (6th grade-High School).

In both groups, we’re going to start off writing recipes about ourselves as a way of introductions. Next, I’m asking writers to exchange their recipes with someone else and have that person introduce them to us by reading the “About Me Recipe”.  Recipes can also be used for characters in an activity called, “Bake Your Character” and I wrote a blog post about it here.

Then, for the younger kids, we’ll do a copy/change excuse poem based on Shel Silverstein’s poem, SICK. This is always a lively activity and gets kids excited about poetry writing. It also shows how you can take a poem and using the structure, copy that structure and make your own poem.

For the older kids, we’re going to do found poetry. I’ve got pages of an old Nancy Drew Mystery–(I used the cover for an art journal and kept the pages.) The kids will circle words and then exchange with another person who will write the found poem. Found poetry is another great warm-up for any age and can be used with a variety of materials–think long car trip and hand over those maps and brochures and ask a kid to write a found poem based on those travel materials.

Then, in both groups, we’ll move into the main activity of the day. Collage Poetry!

I’m starting by talking with the kids about similes and metaphors and we’ll work in pairs to come up with responses to some of the following:

 A star sounds like ____________________________________ 

A cry tastes like_______________________________________

A circle smells like ______________________________________

A square moves like_______________________________________

A whisper looks like a_____________________________________

Mischief smells like ________________________________________

Then, we’ll work on creating Color Poems using personification. Each person will randomly select a color out a hat and answer a few questions which will help them personify the color. Some of the questions include:

How does your color move?

      How does it sound?

      What season was it born?

      Who are friends with your color?

Who are enemies to your color?

Finally, we’ll take those colors and using a variety of materials (tissue papers, scraps of paper, and magazines), create a color collage which will go on one half of the paper with the poem on the other.

You can download the entire handout here: Collage Art Poetry Workshop Handout

The poems will be hung around downtown Lake Stevens during April–National Poetry Month.



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