Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Savvy Authors Pitch Fest

Savvy Authors is hosting a pitch fest this week. It’s free and open to all writers–no registration or membership in Savvy Authors required.

If you don’t know about Savvy Authors, they are a great resource for writers. I have taken many of their romance writing classes, often taught by Harlequin writers, and learned a lot!

There are lots of good agents and editors who are participating in Savvy Pitch Fest. The emphasis is mainly on romance books–all genres, but there are agents and editors looking for middle grade, lots of YA and NA, and picture books.

In order to participate, you’ll need to check out the list of participating agents on their blog here.

The pitches are taken on the blog so be sure to subscribe to the comments and replies after you pitch to know if yours is requested! Be sure to read the guidelines as to how to pitch as there are some small, specific requirements that need to be included in your pitch.

Good luck!

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Musa Publishing Closing

I received the news this morning that Musa Publishing is closing on February 28, 2015. All my rights to STAINED GLASS SUMMER will revert back to me.

I have loved being an author at Musa Publishing for the last three years. In January, STAINED GLASS SUMMER’s contract was up for renewal and we negotiated so there would be a print version to come soon.

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But the good news is, in this day and age of publishing, when a publisher closes it’s doors, it does not mean the book has to die too. Sooo……..later this spring, I will be bringing STAINED GLASS SUMMER out in print and ebook through my own imprint which is how my print version of WEAVING MAGIC has always been done.

WEAVING MAGIC ebook contract also expires in April, so that will not completely come back to me…and viola….all of the books will be under my imprint–which also means I have more control over price, sales and where and how to get the books distributed. When WEAVING MAGIC print came out, I packed up fifteen books and sent them off to treatment and recovery high schools across the country. I am looking forward to targeting a specific audience with STAINED GLASS SUMMER and going into our gorgeous San Juan Islands this summer for book events. I will also be mailing copies of the book to Camp Orkila on Orcas Island and asking if I can visit the kids at camp for an author visit.

To bring out STAINED GLASS SUMMER under my own imprint I will be enlisting the help of the former marketing director at BooksToGoNow who did a kick-ass job with my romance books, and now has her own company…Self Publishing Services, LLC.

The new print book and ebook of STAINED GLASS SUMMER will also have my short story, ELF SHOES included in it since that will also come back to me.

However, there may be a period of three to four weeks when STAINED GLASS SUMMER is not listed  for sale on any of the outlets as I adjusting things to link up, so if you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy published by Musa Publishing, you have until February 28 to pick up your ebook copy. All the links are here at my website and will work through February 28.

The one constant in life is change and it’s never up to us when or how those changes occur but what we do have control over is what we do with those changes and those choices help create the path we call our lives. The publishing industry has been in a state of enormous flux for years and it continues to evolve and change. As an author, my role is to write the best book possible, but it’s also to understand that things do change constantly and I must ride those shifts on the top of the wave and not underneath in an undertow. And this is where my membership in RWA (Romance Writers of America) and especially the Seattle RWA has been extremely valuable in teaching me how to ride with the changes and showing me the next step.

Good-bye Musa Publishing. Thank you for fulfilling the dream of publishing my first book and giving the story a good run!

 

 

 

 

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Goals

In January, I set a goal to write three books in three months. Now, let me clarify here…..The first book, a contemporary romance was in the drafting stage. I had a fast draft of the story, I had done all my character work, a twenty-five page series bible, and plotted the story using color coded stickies and butcher paper. I had written the first seventy-five pages, but I still had another 150 pages to go.  This is the finished draft of the contemporary romance. My dog is peaking out from under the table and wants to play ball…

Contemporary Manuscript

My second book, a contemporary middle grade mystery, needed to be revised using the edits from the freelance editor I use in the final stages of writing before a book goes out on submission. This included line edits, cleaning up some subplot issues, and clarifying the mystery of the story. Here is the completed manuscript of the middle grade.

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The third book, a memoir about my experience running the poetry workshop with teens in juvenile detention, also needed to be revised using edits from a free lance editor. Again, like my middle grade, the edits were similar: line edits, cleaning up some subplot type things, and adding a bit more of me and my “musings” into the story.

 

I am happy to report that I finished the contemporary romance on January 30, completed edits on the middle grade by February 16 and am now working in the third book–ahead of my three books in three month schedule which is now allowing me to send out my romance to a freelance editor and I will do revisions on that by the end of March–which means I completed three books in three months and all will go out on submission in April.

 

So, what have I learned in this process on how to reach these goals?

1. Break Writing Into Manageable Chunks–Each day, I set page and/or word goals for myself. The romance was three chapters a week, the middle grade was to edit at least fifteen pages a day, and the memoir is to edit at least 15 pages a day. The romance was the hardest because I was creating new material and I had to really work to override my analytic side of my brain which wanted to go into editing mode and stop the creation process.

2. Reward Yourself: As writers, we can’t control publication (unless self-publishing), and we don’t control too much of the process once the book leaves out hand to go out into the world, but what we can control is the writing of the book. So, it’s important to reward ourselves when those goals are met. When I finished the romance book, I had a nice manicure and a pedicure at a spa I don’t usually go to. When I finished the middle grade, I took a hike I’ve never taken before on a beautiful sunny, February afternoon. I also gave myself the gift of a lawn gal to do my fall clean-up–which meant raking leaves and cutting the tall decorative grasses. I hate that job and our spring is coming fast this year, so this was a real gift and took this chore off my hands.

3.  Eat well and exercise–In order to keep up my momentum, I ate well. I cooked a lot of soups and prepared a lot of salads I could pull out of the refrigerator for lunch and dinner.  I don’t cook for a husband or family, but cooking for one has it’s own challenges. I cut back on sugars, sweets and breads because those things give me a quick energy boost and then I crash. I, however, did not stop my coffee drinking but I did limit my trips to my favorite coffee stand. I also increased my water intake and snacked on veggies and nuts instead of stuffing whatever I had in the kitchen in my face in the afternoon. I already attend yoga twice a week, but during this time, I also picked up an extra yoga class a week–usually a gentle or restorative yoga to help focus and clear my mind. And by February, I started walking on the treadmill again–mainly because I am missing my beach walks.

Each book I checked off on my business plan gave me a feeling that yes, I am moving forward again and there will be new books coming soon for readers!

 

 

 

 

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Romance is in the Air Blog Hop Winner

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Congratulations to Sonya Sanderon for winning the Romance is in the Air Blog Hop!

 

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Titles and Scenes in Picture Books

There have been some interesting picture book resources posted in the last week or so.

The first one comes from Ripple Grove Press who posted about the importance of titles. Titles can be something which are often overlooked but can make or break a story, especially as a picture book story. To read about picture book titles, go here.

If you’d like to submit to Ripple Grove Press, here are the guidelines. 

Note: Ripple Grove Press is only taking picture book submissions and they do not want religious or holiday themed stories.

 

The second blog post comes from the Children’s Book Academy Blogateers. This looks like a great blog to follow if you write for children and includes the Newbery Honor Book Award winner, Audrey Couloumbis. Audrey posted a great article about scenes in picture book. This is not something I’ve seen written about for picture books and is extremely important in any type of story. You can read that article here.

And yes, I know Valentine’s Day is past, but this was a very fun article about love notes found in used books.

 

 

 

 

 

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Romance Is In The Air Blog Hop

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m participating in Romance is in the Air Blog Hop sponsored by I Am A Reader Not A Writer. On this hop, you  can win all kinds of young adult and sweet adult romances. You can find all the blogs participating here.

On this blog, I’m giving away one copy of my book, ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS. (Print to US mailing addresses and ebook to International winners).

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ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS is a collection of sweet contemporary romance stories–all taking place at the holidays including Valentine’s Day and Christmas. The stories are set in Upstate New York and take place at the old, Elmheart Hotel and a Sailing Club.

Included in the book, ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS, is my sweet, contemporary romance, VINTAGE VALENTINE!

Vintage Valentine

Vintage Valentine (Elmheart Hotel Series Novella #1)
Hailey has returned home to the Elmheart Hotel with her ten-year-old daughter. After years away, Hailey is happy to be back and celebrating her grandparent’s golden wedding anniversary. But, when Hailey finds former, high school boyfriend, Patrick, working as the hotel’s chef, she will have to find a way to tell Patrick the secret she has kept for ten years.

This story was inspired by vintage valentine’s that were passed down to me and belonged to my grandfather and his sister.

Here are a few pictures:

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In order to win a copy of ROMANCE FOR ALL THE SEASONS, please leave me a comment with one of your favorite Valentine memories. One comment per person please. I will select a winner and announce it on this blog on February 16. Please be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you. If you are an International entry, the book will be an ebook, if you are a US address, the book will be a signed print copy.

You can find all of the blogs participating here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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2015 ALA Award Books Announced

The 2015 American Library Association Award books were announced this morning in Chicago. These books include the 2015 Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, Coretta Scott King as well as the Alex Award books. I love to see which books are included on the Alex Award list. These are books written for adults that appeal to teens too. I recommend many of these in my adult book group when it’s my turn to pick a book for the month.

You can see the entire award list here.

One of the books which won a Newbery Honor is El Deafo by Cece Bell. The story is a memoir, told in graphic novel, about when Cece Bell looses her hearing as a child during the 1970’s and has to wear a hearing aid. I read this story earlier this year and loved it, not only because this is set during the time period I grew up and so many of the cultural details I could relate to, but because the voice is fresh and the story paints a picture of everything a child has to do to deal with a loss of hearing.  Here is a review of the book in the New York Times last summer.

And here is an interview with the author on NPR.

If you only have time to read one book from this year’s award list, I would highly recommend El Deafo.

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Agent Seeking Picture Book Writers

When I began writing for children, one of the best resources was the Seattle chapter of SCBWI. During those years, at the monthly meetings they often posted calls for submission from editors. My first children’s short story, “Hurricanes,” published in an anthology called SUMMER SHORTS, was the result of one of those calls for submission.

Although I don’t attend the monthly meetings of SCBWI anymore, you can still find calls for submission and events of interest to children’s writers on their blog, The Chinook.

This announcement was posted on the SCBWI Seattle blog, The Chinook, this week and I thought it might be of interest to those of you writing picture books. Please note, she is very specific in what she is seeking.

Clelia Gore, literary agent specializing in children’s books at the Mercer Island-based Martin Literary Management says…. “I recently realized that the Kraken, the mythical sea beast that has been having a bit of a pop culture moment in the last few years, would make for a great picture book protagonist. As far as I know, there aren’t really any Kraken picture books in the current marketplace, and I think the right book would be an easy sell to publishers. I have already received some editorial interest for this idea. I am looking for a modern, humorous, quirky, and beautifully illustrated picture book. Perhaps someone has a manuscript that already exists, in which case, I would love to see it. If not, I’d like some author/illustrators to take a “krack” at writing a Kraken picture book and send me manuscripts and some sample artwork (i.e. a mock up of a spread). I’d love to see samples by February 15th. They can send their submission to me at Clelia@martinliterarymanagement.com. Please indicate “Kraken submission” in the subject line.

Clelia is one of the agents who will be at the SCBWI Spring Conference, which I highly recommend attending if you are interested in children’s writing. The conference is good for both writers and illustrators. Registration opens on February 13 and you can find out more here.

 

 

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Writing the Picture Book Additional Resources

On Wednesday, I am teaching a two-session class at the Schack Art Center, WRITING THE PICTURE BOOK.

This fall, I taught this class to two packed audiences at the Seattle Public Library branches.

One of the questions which we discuss is…but how many pages in a picture book story? And how does an ebook picture book story differ in page count from a traditionally print published picture book?

Darcy Pattison is one of the best resources I know for current information about picture book writing, and she answers this very question on her blog:

How Many Pages in a Picture Book? Printing Methods Determine the Answer.

 

She also has a great post about Indie Publishing here. Be sure to read what she says about the Amazon Program, Kindle Kids Creator–this is the picture book self-publishing program at Amazon.

If you’d like to learn more from Darcy about writing picture books, she has a great ebook about writing the picture book which you can purchase and download here.

If you are interested in writing picture books and/or other children’s stories, I’d highly encourage signing up to follow her blog.  

 

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When the Writing Comes First

At the beginning of every year, I always sit down and map out writing and household/personal goals with measurable markers. It’s something my dad taught us to do as children and a skill I’ve always been grateful. For example, I will write ten pages a day and finish a novel in so many weeks. I don’t ever set a goal of I will sell a book this year–as that part of the publishing process is out of my control, unless I am self-publishing. For example, my ebook rights to my young adult novel, WEAVING MAGIC, will revert back to me in April and I am planning to repackage the ebook and print and bring it out under my own imprint. But, other than that, in writing, I only focus on what I can control which is the output in writing.

I also prioritize one or two household projects that need to be done during the year–sometimes these are projects which are carried over from the previous year. For example, this year, the deck railing has to be painted. It should have been done last summer, but it wasn’t. I’m hosting my women’s book group of twelve people in August, so I know that project will be done this year.

One of the things which became clear to me when looking at 2015 is the writing has to come first. At least for the first three months of this year, the writing has to come first, not the teaching, not the workshops, not the promotion angel of my business, not my various household responsibilities, but the writing and creating books.

I have three books which I need to finish in the next three months. One is a contemporary romance, the first twenty-five pages were requested by an agent at a fall conference. I did not want to send the pages until I had a handle on the length of the story and possible markets.  I also have a middle grade novel which received an editorial critique last August and I’ve never finished the edits. And I have a memoir which also had an editorial critique that I received in December. Both of those books, the middle grade and memoir, need one more sweeping round of light revisions before I start submitting–neither of which will take long if I focus on it.

And that’s the thing–Writing Needs to Come First. For the next three months, I have committed myself to finishing these three books. It’s very doable. The romance novel is in good shape. The other two just need revisions. But it does mean the distractions need to go for the next three months.

I call them the anxiety about writing distractions. These are the things I do while the anxiety races–What if I this story sucks? What if the words won’t come? What if no one wants to buy it? What if everything I’m doing is a waste of time? Shouldn’t I be doing something else?  Shouldn’t I be obsessively scanning for new workshops? New students? After all, teaching is what pays, not this writing thing.

Stop. I tell myself. We’re looking at three months here. Three months to put the writing first and finish these three books.

So what needs to be eliminated or decreased?

Too much social media time wasting, reading Facebook, clicking on all the articles and news media links. It’s not the updating of my own feeds which take awhile. It’s the distraction of finding out what everyone else is doing. Or what big news story I might be missing. Or what big weather storm is headed our way. Enough. Enough!

Too much checking email and responding immediately to everything that comes in. The best business practices with email are twice a day, in the morning and in the evening.  I need to stick to that. Nothing has to be answered NOW. In a working day, it’s reasonable to expect that within a twenty-four hour time period, emails will be responded and for the next three months, that’s how mine will be. Now, if you happen to email me in the evening and I’m sitting in front of the fire, half-hardheartedly watching some bad movie or reading a book which isn’t keeping my interest, then yes, you may get a response quickly from me. Maybe.

But, the best thing I did to affirm this goal for myself? I hired someone to do my least favorite job–my fall/winter yard clean-up.  By doing this, in late March, my yard will only need me to pull some weeds, which in the Pacific Northwest, is a job in itself, but it’s a lot better than trying to clean up leaves I never picked up, trim grasses I never bothered to trim, and cut back shrubs I never pruned, all while being irritated that I’m not writing.

In the spring, after I have finished these three books and met my goal, I’m also planning to have my backyard redone and will hire someone to rip out the grass, put in gravel paths and easy to care for plants. A few years ago, I did this for my front yard and I love it. There is no mowing. The flowers are pretty in the spring and the gravel paths don’t get soggy with our winter rains. The biggest time suck for me in the spring and summer is my yard. I hate doing it and so the chore becomes a weight hanging over my head every week.

So, by eliminating that big winter yard chore and making my spring and summer yard work lighter, I am giving myself permission to say that yes, writing comes first.

What are your new year goals and intentions?

 

 

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