Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Writing the Picture Book Online Class

Join me in an online Writing the Picture Book Class! The four week class runs from February 7-March 5. Assignments can be done on your time schedule and include instructor feedback on the draft of a picture book.

You can see the class agenda here.

Class Summary: Picture Books are the most beloved story form of children’s writing. But how easy is it to write one? In this class, we’ll look at how to create a memorable child character, how to craft a simple plot to be read multiple times, explore pacing, and do a little researching into the current picture book market. The class includes instructor feedback on all assignments, and a draft of an 800-word picture book. Students will be encouraged to spend an afternoon at their local library or elementary school reading picture books. The class is designed for those interested in learning how to write a picture book story and is very beneficial for illustrators wanting to know how to write a picture book.

Writing the Picture Book is an online class which is being offered in partnership with WOW: Women on Writing.

Register here

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At the end of every year, I always like to look back and reflect on the challenges and successes of the year. However, this year is also the end of a decade and I thought I’d look back at the last decade.

I began 2010 as an unpublished book writer. Ten years later, and I have published six books and a handful of romance novellas. I’ve had book signings at local bookstores and given talks and workshops at schools and libraries. I wrote and published my hardest book during the last decade, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention.

The biggest challenge has been the last two years when I moved to Portland and restarted my life. I didn’t write for about a year and couldn’t even think about writing. I was too absorbed with learning a new city and trying to find a job which proved to be much harder than I thought. I have been working as a substitute teacher for the last year.  And although at times, I question what exactly I am doing, I have written a middle grade book currently on submission, two picture books and outlined fifty pages of a non-fiction memoir about substitute teaching.

During this decade, my books didn’t publish the way I thought they should. First, I published with small epublishers and as those contracts expired, I moved my books to Indie publishing and built a strong team of editors, cover artists, and book designers around each book–many of whom I met while being an author in the epublishers.

Slowly the more books I published, the more I saw results. Kids in Orange has traveled farther than any book and I’ve had readers contact me from all over the United States.

This summer I got involved in two Indie Author groups in the Washington and Oregon areas and learned how to sell my books at local art events—something which has been fun as I get to meet new readers.

As the decade closes, the hardest thing for me and so many other writers is how to make a living at doing what we love—write books. And there are no easy answers. There is no one path.

I find myself juggling a handful of “gig economy” jobs—subbing, tutoring, and contract work while trying to continue to write and find the best avenue for publication for each book.

Some days are not easy. And I question what am I doing? Yet, when I step back, I see many many pages written in teacher prep periods or at lunch.  I have done impromptu author visits in many, many classes of all grades and subbing has given me access to a whole new bank of stories. It has brought first grade alive for me and reinforced my love for writing for children.

When I look back to who I was in 2010, I see how so often the path that seems curved or out of sync has really turned out to be a straight one after all and perhaps that is the biggest lesson of the last decade.  Trusting the process and it’s a process that evolves with time.


NaNoWriMo Progress

I got a late start on NaNoWriMo this month. I was finishing up edits on a draft of a middle grade novel and doing some querying on that project. But, I am now working on my NaNoWriMo project.

I wrote the story as a memoir about the first year in a half my Cocker Spaniel and I trained to be a Reading Dog Therapy Team. We didn’t pass the test and the story is about what I learned in the process.

I set the draft aside and Stormy and I kept having adventures–including a twelve-week surgery on his knee last fall which grounded us in Cannon Beach where I own a single story cottage. That odyssey introduced me to the world of substitute teaching on the coast as well as a lot of time to research and read for my middle grade novel.

This summer I started a Twitter account for Stormy. Stormy Cocker Spaniel @Stormyspaniel

And Stormy developed a voice of his own!

So in the second draft of my in-progress story, The World is a Sniff, I decided to try to write it from the POV of Stormy.

Stormy at Cannon Beach

At this point, it’s an exploratory draft and I’m not sure if the book will be a book for children or a book for adults in the inspirational life books–in the genre of Chicken Soup for the Soul books. But that’s the fun part of NaNoWriMo. For a month, I get to write every day and explore how this story might be told.

Here is my NaNoWriMo Project in action! I am working from a large outline of ideas told sequentially and the first draft where I wrote it as a memoir. The goal this month is to write daily on this project and get some good “clay” material to move forward.


Name on Broadway

I had a fun time talking about Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention at the Seaside Library on Saturday.

This was my greeting when I pulled into the library parking lot! The library is located on Broadway street–so my name has now been on “Broadway.”

Thank you Seaside Library for hosting me!

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NaNoWriMo Coaching

National Novel Writing Month(NaNoWriMo) is just about a week away. Are you participating ?

I drafted my young adult romance, WEAVING MAGIC, during NaNoWriMo and the lessons I learned in that process I have repeated for many books.

The best lesson I learned was how writing every day for thirty days kept me in the story. I was forced to keep up my word count to reach 50,000 words and keep moving forward when every part of me was screaming to stop.

It is always easier for me to write once something is on the page–even if I don’t keep much of that something in future drafts! At least I have some “clay” to mold the story on the page.

NaNoWriMo can be something that is repeated any month for any stage of your novel. It works best for an early draft because it forces you to keep writing and not edit or allow those pesky voices telling you the story isn’t good enough to creep in.

I have just completed a power revision of a middle grade novel and I used the NaNoWriMo strategy of working on it daily. It worked and I got it done without a lot of stall out moments. I was forced to sit with the story every day and figure out why scenes weren’t working, what needed to be added and what needed to be taken out.

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo and would like a writing coach for the process, please contact me. I offer writing coaching at any stage of the writing process (not just for NaNoWriMo) and packages can be purchased in one-hour sessions. Writing Coaching takes place via Skype (or Google Hangouts), and includes problem solving through plot and character development, feedback and critique on a specific section of a story, and/or motivational encouragement. I look forward to hearing your stories!

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October Author Events

I have two author events lined up for October and would love to see you at one of them if you are in the area.

Kitsap Mall Author Reading/Book Signing. Saturday, October 4 from noon to six. I will be reading from my memoir, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention, as well as set up in the mall to sign books from noon to six p.m. I will have copies of all my books at the event for sale.

Seaside Public Library Author Talk. I’m thrilled to be reading and sharing about my memoir, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention at the Seaside Public Library on Saturday, October 26 from 1:00 to 2:00. This is a free event and I will have copies of all my books for sale and signing afterwards.

Also, if you are a teacher and would like to use Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention as a part of a social justice unit in your classroom, I do offer Skype Author Visits and would love to talk to you. Please contact me here.

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Lakewood Film and Arts Festival

A few weekends ago, I got to attend the Lakewood Film and Arts Festival. I enjoyed meeting new authors as well as talking to readers and hearing their stories. In particular, one reader told me how she and her husband met in Cannon Beach fifty years ago. It was a beautiful story filled with real life romance on the Oregon Coast and I was thrilled to share with her the Cranberry Bay romances.

Lakewood Film and Art Festival. September 14-15, 2019
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Author Radio Interview

Join me on Wednesday, September 11 from 7:00 to 8:00 (PCT) on the Donna Seebo Warriors for Peace Radio Talk Show. I will be interviewed about Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention. The show will be archived and I will post the link if you miss it.

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New School Workshops

It’s Back To School time and I’m happy to announce three new workshops available for school groups! I am also available for Skype Author visits which are great ways to get students excited about writing and reading.

You can see all my school workshops here.

My former Seattle Pacific University Educator Classes are now available as Professional Development workshops. Please contact me to discuss your needs. The list can be seen here.

Restorative and Social Justice Writing Workshop            

This writing workshop is tailored around Mindy’s memoir, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention. It can be tailored to fit middle or high school curriculum dealing with social justice or restorative justice practices. The workshop can be integrated as a Skype Author visit as well as an in-person author visit. Please contact Mindy to discuss your needs.

Writing the Villains and Other Unsavory Characters Characters       

Villains. The characters we love to hate. How do we create these dangerous and unlikeable characters? How far can we push before bad is too bad? Students will learn how motive and backstory can create sympathy for our unsavory character and craft a short story from the villain’s point of view. This is a fun workshop for all ages–kids to adults. Young adult and middle grade literature can be integrated into the workshop.

Writing the Five-Minute Food Memoir

Memories of food capture the times we celebrate, life milestones and moments of grief.  How can food inspire us to dig deeper into the craft of short memoir and explore voice, style and telling our truth? This class will look at writing short memoir vignettes based around our memories with food. We’ll look at the elements of memoir such as: scene, summary, musing and discover how to revise for brevity. This workshop can be adjusted for all ages.

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Writing the Villain Online Class

Registration is open for my fall online class, “Writing the Villain and Other Unsavory Characters” with the Loft Literary Center. The class runs for six weeks from September 25 to November 6. Students work at their own pace in an online forum and receive personalized feedback from the instructor on assignments.

Villains. The characters we love to hate. How do we create these dangerous and unlikable characters? How far can we push before bad is too bad? We will begin by identifying types of villains and choose one type for our story. Next, we’ll look at how backstory drives character motive through a series of questions designed to dig into the psychology of our character and how this might inform our plot as well as create sympathy for our character. We’ll continue our journey into the dark by drafting a short character story in any genre, including picture book, through the point of view of the villain.

Students will share their work and offer feedback focusing on our villain character. Readings for the class will include selections from a young adult short story collection: Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy edited by Ameriie, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jonathan Scieszka and Bullies, Bastards and Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell.

Register here.

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