Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Sweetheart Summer Cover Reveal

I’m very happy to reveal the cover to my newest romance in the Cranberry Bay Series….SWEETHEART SUMMER. The book will be available as both an ebook and print on August 30.

 

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Seymour’s Secret is Available

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I’m happy to announce that my middle grade mystery, SEYMOUR’S SECRET, is now available in both print and ebook.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Can eleven-year-old Colt find the obit robber who stole Grandad’s vintage toy collection before it’s too late?

Eleven-year-old Colt is devastated when his beloved Granddad’s vintage toy collection is stolen by a gang of obit robbers. Determined to solve the crime, Colt enlists the help of a girl who talks to ghosts and a gang leader who plants marigolds in the moonlight. But can Colt uncover the secret behind Granddad’s toys before everything is destroyed in this middle grade contemporary mystery.

There is a free discussion guide on my website here.

Each book I write has a slightly different journey and teaches me something new about writing. Seymour’s Secret taught me how to plot, something I didn’t really understand after my character driven MFA writing program. But even bigger than that, Seymour’s Secret gave me an outlet for the grief I experienced over the loss of both my father and grandfather during the writing of this story.

At the story’s heart is an eleven-year-old boy who is grieving the loss of his grandfather and trying to understand how to deal with that grief. My hope is that the story not only entertains but reaches those children who have lost a family member. So often, in grief, we expect people to just be “over it” after a few weeks. But grief is much more powerful than that, and there is a cycle to it which when given the chance to be expressed, as Colt says in the story, “allows our lives to move to a new ebb and flow without Granddad.”

Seymour’s Secret includes more of my personal memories than any of my books. From the sideboard secret drawer to where Colt finds Granddad’s prototype of his toy and where in my real life, Mom always kept money in that secret drawer, to a scene in a doughnut shop after school which is based on the doughnut shop across the street from my own middle school where we all piled in after school to sit on pink plastic chairs and stuff our face with chocolate cream filled donuts, to the final scene where Colt is given Granddad’s datebook and Granddad has written a note about how excited he is to finally meet Colt on August 9 when Colt is born. Both my Grandfather and Father kept these date books for years and when they passed away, I inherited the collection of both of them.

When looking through my Grandpa’s datebook for the year I was born, I found a letter written to me slipped into my birthday page. The letter told me how excited everyone was to meet me, the first grandchild, but what stood out to me in that letter was: “We’re united as the solid care of your fan club. Marvelous dreams, from all of us, are forming in your future, but the only dream we all vote for, is the one you choose and build.”

As I got to the end of writing Seymour’s Secret, I knew Colt would find a note from his Grandfather tucked in his datebook to him too.

I hope you enjoy Seymour’s Secret, but I hope you will also share it with a child who might need to know he/she is not alone in their grief.

 

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Goodreads Giveaway for Seymour’s Secret

There is a Goodreads Giveaway for my newest middle grade book, SEYMOUR’S SECRET. The giveaway ends July 31 and one lucky winner will win a signed copy of SEYMOUR’S SECRET. You do not have to be a member of Goodreads to enter. Simply click on the giveaway button below.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seymour's Secret by Mindy Hardwick

Seymour’s Secret

by Mindy Hardwick

Giveaway ends July 31, 2016.

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at Goodreads.

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Cover Reveal for Seymour’s Secret

I’m very happy to reveal the cover for my new middle grade book, SEYMOUR’S SECRET! The book will release on July 15 in both print and ebook.

The story blurb: Eleven-year-old Colt is devastated when his beloved Granddad’s vintage toy collection is stolen by a gang of obit robbers. Determined to solve the crime, Colt enlists the help of a girl who talks to ghosts and a gang leader who plants marigolds in the moonlight. But can Colt uncover the secret behind Granddad’s toys before everything is destroyed.

 

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The Seventh Wish–Middle Grade Book Recommendation

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The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner is a middle grade novel about Irish dancing, friendships and most importantly a sibling dealing with her older sister’s drug addiction.

Blurb: Charlie feels like she’s always coming in last. From her Mom’s new job to her sister’s life away at college, everything else always seems to be more important than Charlie’s upcoming dance competition or science project. Unsure of how to get her family’s attention, Charlie comes across the surprise of her life one day while ice-fishing . . . in the form of a floppy, scaly fish offering to grant her a wish in exchange for its freedom. Charlie can’t believe her luck until she realizes that this fish has a funny way of granting wishes, despite her best intentions. But when her family faces a challenge bigger than any they’ve ever experienced, Charlie wonders if some things might be too important to risk on a wish.

 

The book popped onto my radar from a Twitter post of author, Kate Messner’s blog titled, “Remember Who We Serve: Some Thoughts on Book Selection and Omission.” 

In the blog post, Kate talks about how her book, The Seventh Wish, was removed from a k-5 library and why:

As a huge super fan of yours I did want to offer a new perspective of The Seventh Wish. It was on my book order list before I even read what it was about. However, after reading the description, I too sadly had to remove it.

She says I’m one of the favorite authors in her K-5 library. They have all of my other books, and they fly off the shelves. But this one won’t be added to the collection. She continued:

It’s not that I don’t think heroin addiction is extremely important. Our community has faced its share of heartbreaking stories in regards to drug abuse but fourth and fifth graders are still so innocent to the sad drug world. Even two years from now when they’re in sixth grade this book will be a wonderful and important read but as a mother of a fourth grader, I would never give him a book about heroin because he doesn’t even know what that is. I just don’t think that at 10 years old he needs to worry about that on top of all of the other things he already worries about… For now, I just need the 10 and 11-year-olds biggest worry to be about friendships, summer camps, and maybe their first pimple or two.

This breaks my heart. As a writer. As an educator. As a parent. As someone who loves kids. It breaks my heart because I know this feeling so well. Those are all the things I want 10 and 11 year olds to worry about, too. But I don’t get to choose what those kids’ lives are like. None of us do.

We don’t serve only our own children. We don’t serve the children of 1950. We don’t serve the children of some imaginary land where they are protected from the headlines. We serve real children in the real world. A world where nine-year-olds are learning how to administer Naloxone in the hopes that they’ll be able to save a family member from dying of an overdose. And whether you teach in a poor inner city school or a wealthy suburb, that world includes families that are shattered by opioid addiction right now. Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. It just makes those kids feel more alone.

When we choose books for school and classroom libraries, we need to remember who we serve. We serve the kids. All of them. Even the kids whose lives are not what we might want childhood to look like. Especially those kids.

 

I was one of “those” kids. My dad was an alcoholic. I read the problem issue books of the 1980’s in order to try and figure out what was going on in my family. Like, Charlie in The Seventh Wish, I was not going to talk about it with my friends. I needed those books about drug and alcohol addiction in order to feel that I wasn’t alone in my family’s problems.

But, addiction today is much bigger than alcohol. Addiction today is heroine and prescription drugs. And to censor books with these topics as too much for “children” does a disservice to the child who is living with this addiction in their family.

The Seventh Wish is an important story for all kids, but especially those kids who are dealing with a family member in addiction.Especially them.

Main character, Charlie’s feelings of trying to understand why her sister lies to her, how it’s not just as simple as signing a DARE card to stay off drugs, and the feelings of having all the attention on her sister are very real to those who love an addicted family member.

The Serenity Prayer is quoted often in the story and one poignant moment occurs when Charlie is told, “There’s nothing you can do when someone you love is an addict. So you just…” She shrugs. “You keep living and do other stuff.”

And at the end, Charlie understands this and says about her Irish dancing,

“And I’m dancing. Dancing and stomping and kicking and the loudness of these fast, stomping shoes fills the room. It fills me, until I’m out of breath but bursting with energy because even when I’m scared and worried about Abby, this…this is something I can do. I can fill myself with the energy of this dance, the sound of music and the stomps and clicks, the feeling of flying over the floor with Dasha beside me.”

And this is the hope of what all good children’s stories do–they take a situation and empower that child character to come through to the other side with new wisdom, thus providing hope for all who read.

Charlie can’t do anything to change her sister’s addiction, but she can express all her emotion, all her energy in what she loves–her Irish Dance.

So many of my own stories deal with addiction–from my young adult novel, WEAVING MAGIC, which deals with Christopher’s sobriety and Shantel’s addiction to Christopher, to my sweet contemporary romance, SWEETHEART COTTAGE in which heroine Rylee must confront her Dad’s gambling addiction to my upcoming SWEETHEART SUMMER, which deals with hero, Sawyer’s, alcohol addiction and recovery. And of course, my memoir,  KIDS IN ORANGE, which tells the story of working with the kids in juvenile detention–so many of them brought to detention by their addictions and my own story of watching my Dad die of alcoholism. (This story is currently under consideration with a publisher)

And this is perhaps the biggest reason why I write. I write for the child in me who struggled to figure out what was wrong with her family. I write for the adult whose sibling continues to struggle with addiction. And I write for the adult who loves those men who still struggle with addictions and yet so desperately still hopes for that happily ever after.

I can’t change the addicts in my life. I can’t give them sobriety. But I can write. I can write the stories which tell of how my characters–both addicts and family members who learn how to pour their energy into their own lives.

We need these books like SEVENTH WISH. The nature of addiction is it’s clouded in secrecy and lies. We need these books which tell kids they are not alone and that there is hope.

 

 

 

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Winner of the Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop

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Congratulations Mary Jane Hopper! You are the winner of the Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop at my blog! Please check your email for instructions on how to claim your two Sheila Roberts books.

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

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Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop

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I’m participating in Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop sponsored by BookHounds. One of my favorite contemporary romance authors to read is Sheila Roberts.

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.

I met Sheila at a readers luncheon sponsored by Harlqeuin a few years ago. We had a great time at her table and if you are on Facebook, be sure to like her page. She often does fun giveaways on her Facebook page.

 

So without further ado, on the Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop, I am giving away two of Sheila’s most recent books from her Icicle Falls series. These will be gifted as ebook so both US and International entries are accepted for this giveaway hop. The books are: Home on Apple Blossom Road and A Wedding on Primrose Street

If you are interested in winning both books, please leave me a comment below about your favorite small town setting and be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner.

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Celebrate Children’s Book Week Blog Hop Winner

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Congratulations to Heidi Robbins who is the winner of the Celebrate Children’s Book Week Giveaway Blog Hop. Please check your email for your Amazon gift card and instructions on where to mail your signed copy of STAINED GLASS SUMMER.

 

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

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Celebrate Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop

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This week, I’m participating in Celebrate Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop sponsored by BookHounds.

On the blog hop, you can find authors and bloggers giving away children’s, middle grade and young adult books as well as things related to books–such as gift cards.

The first book I sold was an upper middle grade for tweens called STAINED GLASS SUMMER.

Twelve-year-old Jasmine wants to be an artist. But, can she escape the shadow of her artistic Father to discover her own path as a glass artist?

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Story Blurb: 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 on my website here.

Also be sure to check out the Facebook page for STAINED GLASS SUMMER where you can see lots of great pictures of kids doing glass art.

During the Celebrate Children’s Week Blog Hop, I’m giving away one signed print copy of STAINED GLASS SUMMER as well as a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

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To be entered to win STAINED GLASS SUMMER and the $10 Amazon gift card, all you have to do is leave me a comment and tell me your favorite children’s book. Please be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner. One comment per person. The winner will receive both a copy of STAINED GLASS SUMMER and the $10 Amazon gift card. The blog hop runs until May 8 and I will announce the winner on May 10 on this blog.

Also, if you’d like to know when my latest books, events and classes will happen, please sign up for my newsletter here.

You can find all the blogs participating in the Celebrate Children’s Book Week Blog Hop here.

 

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Books Which Define Our Lives

A few weeks ago, I attended Get Lit on the Beach in Cannon Beach. It’s a fabulous weekend where authors speak about their books, writing and the writing life. The weekend is geared toward readers and I love attending and remembering I was a reader long before I was a writer.

The Saturday evening event is a prime rib dinner at the Surf and Sand ballroom which overlooks Haystack rock and the Pacific Ocean.  This year’s author for the dinner was Jess Walter, author of The Financial Life of Poets.

Jess shared how he asks his college writing students to list ten books which were important or significant to them in some way and then from those ten books select the three top most significant books to their lives. He shared his own top three and how they tied to his life.

This got me thinking about my own top three  books and what I came up with was my list which is more a top three authors which have impacted me.

Danielle Steele and Barbara Taylor Bradford. I devoured Danielle Steele books in high school. By the time I was a freshman in high school, I had outgrown what we called young adult books such as those by Norma Fox Mazer and the all important Forever by Judy Blume. I didn’t care for the books we were required to read in high school–dry and dull literary classics such as 1984, Animal Farm, and Lord of the Flies. I could never relate to any of these books. Instead, I quickly latched onto the horror of V.C Andrews books–How could those children be locked in the attic? And how could that brother and sister pair fall in love with each other?

But the books which kept me reading under the covers late into the night and struggling to get up to go to school to discuss those dry literary books were the epic family sagas such as those by Barbara Taylor Bradford and Danielle Steele.

Although I write romance now, I was never a true romance reader myself. I didn’t latch onto Harlequin category books like so many romance authors. Instead, I latched onto the wealthy family saga stories.

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Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Emma Harte series was filled with glorious description and characters overcoming hardship to go on to become fabulous career woman running multi million dollar industries. In my own writing, description of my settings is something which is often remarked on as being significant to all genres in my books. I have no doubt that began with my love for the rich details in Barbara Taylor Bradford’s series.

In the same way as Bradford, Danielle Steele’s books also featured career women who fell in love with men and had gloriously wealthy successful lives. Families intersected and although not always a series of books, often characters spun off into their own stories.

As a reader, I was captivated by not only the romance in each Danielle Steele book, but the the strength each woman had in her careers and lifestyle.

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And finally, my third significant author was one I discovered while teaching seventh grade. Jennifer Donnely published her award winning book, A Northern Light, during the years I was a seventh grade teacher.  The story takes place during 1906 in an old hotel in the Adirondacks. The story resonates so strongly to me as my own fascination with the Elmheart Hotel on the shores of Lake Ontario began when I was a college student in Rochester New York. Years later, I wrote a series of three sweet contemporary romance novellas set in that hotel. Eventually when the rights return to me, I will reshape those stories and write more in that series.

 

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I also discovered and loved Jennifer Donnelly’s adult series Winter Rose, Tea Rose and Wild Rose. These books are set in East London and span the time period between 1888 and 1914, one of my favorite time periods. The setting details are glorious and the female characters overcome great survival and hardship. tr_cover

As I look at the top three authors which influenced me I see how each author inspired something in me as a writer–from series writing, to family sagas to strong characters surviving and overcoming great odds to become successful career women, each of my favorite authors gave me something to aspire to be in my own writing and my life.

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