Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Free Young Writers Writing Workshop in Portland

On Saturday, I’m teaching a free writing workshop for young writers. Join us in this fun, interactive workshop, “Story Catchers: Creating Stories from Significant Moments” which will show you how to seek, find and capture important moments in your life and turn them into character and plot.

The workshop is a part of the League of Exceptional Writers series and takes place at the Powells Bookstore at Cedar Hills Crossing in Beaverton, Oregon at 2 p.m. It is free for young writers and open to ages 8 to 18.


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My newest sweet contemporary romance novel, SWEETHEART COTTAGE, will release on November 21, 2015 in both print and ebook.

If you’d like to pre-order your Kindle book, you may do so here.

Sweetheart Cottage by Mindy Hardwick_Final Ebook

If you’ve never done a pre-order of a Kindle book, it’s very easy. You’ll click on the pre-order button and then on November 21, the book will be downloaded to your Kindle, tablet or ereader. Your account is not charged until the morning the book is delivered. I love my pre-ordered books. It’s like Christmas morning when I open my Kindle to find the latest book by a favorite author.

(Pre-orders are not available for print. But you can order the print on the morning of November 21!  I will also be signing copies of SWEETHEART COTTAGE in print at Mimi’s A Shabby Chic Country Boutique which is in downtown Snohomish at 111 Glen Avenue. Details to follow soon about the print book signing.)

Sweetheart Cottage Blurb:

Will a bet to save a dying town bring two former high school sweethearts back together?

Self-reliant and determined never to fall in love again, Rylee Harper is traveling with her mutt, Raisin, to Cranberry Bay, a small Oregon Coast town. She needs to sell her deceased grandmother’s house before her meager savings account runs out. Rylee intends to make friends with no one least they discover the family’s long-held secret. But when former high school sweetheart, Bryan Shuster, offers her a job staging his river cottages, Rylee finds her guard softening. However, when Bryan’s plan threatens to unearth Rylee’s shameful family secret, will Rylee run away or will she trust Bryan with her heart and stay?

Pre-order your Kindle copy of SWEETHEART COTTAGE here.

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I’m very happy to share the cover art for my newest romance, SWEETHEART COTTAGE. The book is the first in my sweet, contemporary romance series set in Cranberry Bay–a fictional town based on the north Oregon Coast towns of Nehalam and Wheeler.

The book will be out in mid-November in both ebook and print. Pre-orders can be taken starting next week and I will post the link when it’s up.

Sweetheart Cottage by Mindy Hardwick_Final Ebook


Read the First Chapter of Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention on Wattpad

I’ve posted the first chapter of KIDS IN ORANGE: VOICES FROM JUVENILE DETENTION on Wattpad and am looking for reader response.

This does not mean KIDS IN ORANGE is published…..I’m doing a little experiment with trying out the early chapters and getting some early readers response.  I’ll be posting the first three chapters on Wattpad over the next month or so. I’m using a cover designed by Wattpad. So no need to comment about the cover–that will change when the story is published officially.

What is Wattpad? Wattpad is a creative way for writers to post poems, articles, stories and fan fiction while interacting with readers. Readers can make comments about the writing, like the writing or share the link on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

I haven’t quite decided which approach to take in publishing KIDS IN ORANGE: VOICES FROM JUVENILE DETNETION--each approach from Traditional to Self-Publishing have their limitations and advantages.

So to start, I’d like to begin to build an audience for the story before I continue to move forward on publication. I will not be posting the entire manuscript–you will have to wait for that…But I will post the first three chapters over the next month. I will post on this blog and my Facebook pages when I’ve posted a new chapter of KIDS IN ORANGE: VOICES FROM JUVENILE DETENTION on Wattpad.

If you’d like to read the first chapter on Wattpad and leave a comment or like the chapter, here is the link.

Please feel free to share with others and on your social media avenues!

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Business Plans for Authors

One of the things which I’ve started doing in the last year is a business plan. I use the template Angela Ackerman recommends in this blog post and update it every three months. In my plan, I list categories which include: Writing (This is the creating of new material or drafting), Marketing (This includes things like blog posts, ads, and Facebook events), and Workshops. I’ve found that the business plan needs to be adjusted every three-months or so. Sometimes I finish before the date I set for myself and other times I need to allow a bit more time.

The business plan helps me stick to what’s next to do rather than wandering off on various tangents and directions. It helps a great deal with marketing where I can evaluate what works and what doesn’t and adjust accordingly.

However, something I had never done as a part of my business plan was develop the mission, vision and value statements. I’ve served on a board and have been a part of this process for an organization, but I’ve never done it for my own business.

In the September 2015 edition of RWA’s Romance Writer Report, there was a great article by Maggie Worth entitled: “Sharpen Your Vision: Strategic Planning for Writers.”

She defines mission, vision and values this way:

Vision (Who you want to be)–This should be BIG! It’s a personal log line where you tell the world who you are

Mission (What you do)-Again, this should be BIG. It’s the what you’re going to do and specifically. It might tell the type of stories you write, and not just in genre, but something along the lines of I write stories to inspire and offer hope, etc.

Values (How you do it)–The values define who you are and what you stand for. What are the three to five core values you can’t live without?

I’ve been working on my mission, vision and value statements the past few days and am excited to see how this impacts my business plan.

Do you have a business plan? Have you developed a vision, mission and values statements for your business? Let us know in the comments!

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Recommended Books for Indie Authors

I just got back from a ten-day vacation to Maui. A friend and I had the opportunity to condo and cat sit and we took the offer! The trip was amazing and gave me a chance to explore a new place and try new things–Snorkeling was great fun! The road to Hana made me a “little” car sick…but the waterfalls and scenery along the way was amazing! Traveling and seeing new places always expands my vision and makes me see how things can be a little different in my writing career.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is bringing one of my romance series out through my imprint, Eagle Bay Publishing. The series is a sweet, contemporary romance and one of the obstacles I’m finding in traditional sweet markets is the first book in the series deals with gambling. The heroine’s father has a gambling addiction and the hero is bringing gambling riverboats to the town. Gambling pushes the boundaries of a traditional sweet market where the book might be sold in Christian bookstores.But the premise is too big and links throughout the story for me to change it to something else. I’m also not comfortable with “sexing” up the book so it will sell in markets other than sweet or low heat.

This past spring, my imprint, Eagle Bay published both WEAVING MAGIC and STAINED GLASS SUMMER whose contracts had both expired and all the rights returned to me. The purpose to Indie publishing both of these stories was to keep them available for readers as my other books move to publication. The old term of “Shelf Life” takes on a new meaning with today’s book buyer who presses a buy button on Amazon where books have eternal shelf life and are not removed every few months for new books.

Children’s books have not caught up with the Indie publishing markets such as romance and the other adult markets. Part of this is simply how the children’s books are bought. Children’s books are still bought primarily by librarians and school markets and while they may buy some Indie titles, the majority are bought from reviews in School and Library Journal–something which is still hard for Indie and small epubs to get into. This is not true for YA books–YA books are riding the wave of Indie publishing and selling to adults who read YA. The majority of YA readers are not teens themselves–they are adults!

I am currently submitting two children’s books–a middle grade and a chapter book series, both of which I will continue to submit to traditional paths for at least the next six-months.

But about that romance………one of the things which makes romance novels so lucrative as Indie published are the series potential. Readers loves to read books in a series and with ebooks, it’s very easy to link the next book in the series in the back of the previous one–ensuring readers find that next book!

I enjoy writing books which link to each other through settings and characters–and this seems to be how I get my romance ideas. I don’t just get one book–I get ideas for trilogies and more. All of which makes my romance books very good candidates for Indie publishing.  The trick is only…how fast can I write a quality book and take it through the process of developmental editing, copy editing and getting cover art and formatted.

There were two books which have been recommended to me about today’s Indie publishing both by Susan Kaye Quinn.

Indie Author Survival Guide

For Love or Money: Building a Self-Publishing Career

Indie publishing doesn’t look anything like the old self-published books of the past. Today’s Indie authors are savvy business people who create their own imprint, buy their own ISBN numbers, higher developmental editors, copy editors, cover artists and formatters. And Indie authors develop a strong business plan (something I will post about soon!). A well done Indie book looks no different than a book published by a traditional New York Publisher and hits the best seller lists just as often. (With the exception of children’s books (picture book/middle grade).

I downloaded both books and read them on the five-hour flight to Maui.  I would highly recommend both books if you are considering indie publishing for any of your titles.

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Focusing on the Work

I’ve never been a very productive writer in July. Yes, I’m sure if I was on deadline for a book, I would meet my deadlines. But, as a month when I write a lot–July is not one of them.  Part of this is simply because I live in the Pacific Northwest and it’s extremely hard to be inside during the month of July. We have had an exceptionally hot summer and I have spent a lot of it at the beach–which usually is a chilly beach but this year, the Oregon Coast has been as warm as Southern California beaches. I would like to say I’ve read a lot of books, but I haven’t even done that. I’ve taken a lot of beach walks and spent a lot of time staring into the blue ocean waves.

But I don’t close up shop completely in July. I spend a lot of July teaching–both my teacher students at Seattle Pacific University and teen writers through the Loft Literary Center on-line classes for teens. I also continued to submit my completed books–there are four of them (a contemporary category romance, a memoir, a middle grade, and a chapter book). It’s summer, so the responses are very slow in coming and most will not arrive until fall.

But it is now August…and my teen class is over and it’s time to start looking at the writing again.

So what am I doing?

The first thing I’m working on is targeting submissions for my memoir, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention. I have been “testing the waters” with that story for the last few months. I had a piece published in a literary journal for a community college on the Northern Oregon Coast and I did a reading of that piece in late May. The reading went well and I made a note that yes, people are very interested in this subject.

I’ve had responses come back from everywhere I sent to “test the waters.” I submitted to a couple agents who handle YA and a couple small University presses. The general response is: It’s not a YA book–it’s an adult memoir because it’s being told through my eyes and not the eyes of a teen. And it seems to need a publisher who has a bigger market than some of of the smaller presses. But overwhelmingly positive are the comments that this is an important story that needs to be told and does have an audience.

So, taking that response, I signed up for the Willamette Writer’s Conference in Portland Oregon coming up this weekend. It’s a pricey conference, so I’m just going for one day. But, the theme of the conference is Your Story and I thought it was important to go. I’m planning to pitch Kids in Orange to a couple editors at mid-sized houses and an agent who handles adult books. It’s a little scary because unlike my other books, this one is my story. It’s not a character having experiences, it’s me who is the character. But it is also the kid’s voices and they need to be heard, and it’s that need which pushes me forward.

So, this week, I’ll be working on crafting my pitch!

The writing this month is going to focus on working on a story I call The World is a Sniff. It’s a story about my dog Stormy and how he didn’t quite work out to be an agility dog, and he didn’t quite work out to be a therapy reading dog, but….the world is a sniff and all that training worked very well on the Oregon Coast beaches where dogs run off-leash. Although, after a scare up on Orcas Island last week where he ran into the woods and was gone for five hours, I may have to add another chapter………

So the writing doors will gradually be opening back up this month…

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New Poems on the Teen Poems Behind Bars Blog

The release forms for the teen’s poems in juvenile detention have been steadily rolling in. These poems are from the workshop I did in June. I  always love to see the release forms come back because unless we get these from parents and guardians, we are not allowed to publish their poems on the blog or elsewhere.

Please stop by and read our two newest poems:

One Last Chance

Fake Faces


Real Life Setting Pictures for Cranberry Bay

I’ve been spending a little time on the Oregon Coast and took a day-trip to the town which inspired my setting for my contemporary romance series set in my fictional town, Cranberry Bay.  I thought it would be fun to share some of the pictures.

A festive July 4th scene outside the antique store which in the story is owned by Ivy and where the heroine and seventeen year old Maddie pick out vintage items for the cottage.

A festive July 4th scene outside the antique store which in the story is owned by Ivy and where the heroine and seventeen year old Maddie pick out vintage items for the cottage.


The park overlooking the bay where the hero and heroine have their first kiss and a picnic lunch from the town bakery.


The train depot where the hero's friend Josh runs the old-fashioned train and gives holiday train rides.

The train depot where the hero’s friend Josh runs the old-fashioned train and gives holiday train rides.


The Creative Fabrics shop which in the story inspired the sewing shop where the heroine and her three friends meet to sew vintage aprons.

The Old Wheeler hotel which is the inspiration for the hotel which the character Gracie owns.

The Old Wheeler hotel which is the inspiration for the hotel which the character Gracie owns.


Character Essence

Next week, I’ll start teaching my on-line teen class, “Oh What a Character,” through the Loft Literary Center.

One of the things which has helped me a great deal when crafting my characters is understanding Character Essence.

A good story will show both a character’s external journey and their internal one. The external journey is what the character will accomplish by the end of the story. For example, to win something, to stop someone or something, or to escape. The inner journey is how the character will transform by the end of the story. Screenwriter and writing teacher, Michael Hague says, “A character arc is the journey from living in fear to living courageously.” Others often refer to the character arc as the growth the protagonist undergoes during the story.

In a great post entitled, “Are These Characters the Perfect Match?” Jami Gold writes:

A character’s essence is what lies behind that armor, and it’s who they have the potential to become. The problem for them comes in that they think the mask is who they really are. They don’t think they need to change, especially because they’ve rationalized the belief they hold to be perfectly logical. Most of their struggle might even happen on a subconscious level.

But in a good romance (or story with a love interest), the perfect match for a character will be able to see behind that emotional armor. This creates conflict between who characters think they are and who they can be. Who they must become if they’re to find the courage to meet their longing or need.

Their internal conflict is choosing to move from safe-but-unfulfilled to terrified-but-fulfilled. Only then can they be with the other character who will meet their needs.

In order to figure out this inner plot, there are some questions you can ask yourself:

What does the character long for or need in the story?

What is the past wound or hurt that is the current unhealed source of pain?

What is the character’s beliefs due to the wound? How do these beliefs shape their worldview?

What terrifies the character emotionally? Some form of facing the wound again.

What is the false self the character has created that shields them from the wound?

What lies under all the emotional armor? The true self?

You can read more about each of these stages here.

If you’d like a handy little chart to work with for your story, you can find that here.



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