Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Celebrate Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop



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?



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.



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.



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.


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.



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.




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.


Authors in Bloom Blog Hop Winner


Congratulations to Shannon! You are the winner my novel, Sweetheart Cottage! Please check your email for instructions!

The grand prize winner of the blog hop will be announced on Blooming Thyme blog here.


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What Are You Reading? A List

One of the questions I receive as an author is: What are you reading? I read widely and a little bit of everything, but most of the time, there is a purpose for what I am reading.  It’s very hard for me to read a book and not study it for what the author did that works and what happened in the book that didn’t work for me.

So, what am I reading currently and why?

  1. Book Group Books–I belong to the Everett Woman’s Book Group and the chapter I am in reads mostly fiction. The book group has a fascinating history as it was originally started over 125 years ago with 23 women who began the public library in the city of Everett. I belong to one of the many chapters of the book group. This month, we are reading, A Sudden Light by Garth Stein.  The book is set in Seattle and has all the things I love in my adult novels–a teenage narrator, a fascinating setting, and a complex family relationship between father and son.  Garth Stein is our speaker for the Spring Tea and I am looking forward to hearing him talk on this book.a-sudden-light-9781439187043_lgI also belong to the Seaside Oregon chapter of American Association of University Women and try to attend their book discussions when I am on the coast. The book I am reading for the June discussion is The Woman Behind the New Deal: Frances Perkins FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscious. There is a good article about it on NPR here. woman_behind_cover_200-0c7bc6aa280478578c7955c69db2b1644c873ea8-s700-c85
  2.  Romance--I am always reading a romance book or two. Most of the time, I am reading romance which falls into the type of romance I write–contemporary romance. I often read from the Harlequin lines of Heartwarming and Superromance because I am studying what category romance authors are doing to help me improve my own writing. 0116-9780373367740-bigwCurrently, on my Kindle is Under the Boardwalk by Amie Denman. The story takes place in an old amusement park and is reminding me of my high school years working at Six Flags Over Mid-America in the game department. Someday I will get to the bubbling young adult stories with an amusement park as a setting! l543b15516af10And I read non-fiction for research for my characters, plot or setting. I have just finished The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma. This was a fabulous book for understanding trauma such as abuse, PTSD, how it stays in the body and healing from that trauma.
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Authors in Bloom Blog Hop



Happy Spring! I’m participating in the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop sponsored by author, Dianne Venetta.Over the next ten days, authors and bloggers will be sharing gardening tips, recipes and giving away books on their blogs.

There is also a grand prize for the entire blog hop of one ereader and one gift card. In order to be entered for the grand prize, you must comment on all the blogs participating in the blog hop. You can find the entire list of blogs participating here.

On my blog, I’m sharing a fun Garden Muffin Recipe as well as giving away a copy of my sweet contemporary romance, SWEETHEART COTTAGE.This is the first book in my sweet contemporary romance series, Cranberry Bay.

To be entered to win a copy of SWEETHEART COTTAGE AND the grand prize drawing for the blog hop of an ereader and gift card, please leave your name, email address and one comment about what you love about spring. Please only one comment per person. (US and INT entries)

Sweetheart Cottage by Mindy Hardwick_Final Ebook

Garden Muffins is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Keeping Good Company, by Roxie Kelley and Friends.

Garden Muffins

4 Cups Flour

2 1/2 C Sugar

4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg

4 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

2 cups grated carrots

2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup chopped pecan

1 cup coconut

2 tart apples peeled and grated

6 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, nutmeg cinnamon and salt. Stir in carrots, zucchini, pecans, coconut and apples. In smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and add to the flour and vegetable mixture.  Stir until blended. Spoon batter into greased or paper lined muffin tins, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake 22-28 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched. Cool for five minutes before removing from the pan. Makes about 2 dozen.










When the Plans Don’t Work

On Saturday, I taught a poetry workshop to young writers. The workshop was advertised for ages 8-12 and I had about ten kids who were between ages 7-9.  I had intended to work with the writers on an I Come From Poem and show them some Button Poet performances in order to get them ready for  the Poetry Coffeehouse which takes place on Saturday, April 23 from 2:00-4:00 at the Redmond Library.

However, as soon as the kids were gathered around the table, I knew I was going to need a whole different plan. It wasn’t that I didn’t think they could do an I Come From Poem and have great material, it was just the energy in the room seemed a lot more playful and fun then what I had planned. I traditionally do workshops where the focus is on getting kids who have unheard stories, such as those in juvenile detention, to tell their stories. It’s not these workshops aren’t playful and fun, and I do incorporate some play into them, but they tend to be a bit more serious. It’s not easy for a lot of the kids who have not been heard to trust that they can tell their stories and someone will listen to them.

But this group on Saturday, seemed bubbling with energy and life and something more joyful was needed.

So while the librarian was introducing me and raving about my workshops my mind searched for what we could do that would reach the audience in front of me and still accomplish the goal of working on performance poetry.

As the introductions wrapped up, suddenly it came to me Shel Silverstein. I quickly turned to Jenn and asked if she had some Shel Silverstein books in the library. Thankfully, she came back with the one I was hoping for, Where the Sidewalk Ends.

I turned to my favorite poem, “Sick” and began reading. The group was hooked. Many of them were not as familiar as I thought they might be with Shel Silverstein’s poems and enjoyed hearing the poem.

After I read, “Sick,” I asked the kids to write an excuse poem. I’ve done this exercise before in workshops with young writers and it’s always a big hit. We make up excuses for why we can’t do a chore we are supposed to do.

As the kids wrote, I thumbed through the book of poems and picked out two others we could do “copy change’ with. Copy change is a method of taking a published poem and mirroring the tone or theme in your own poem. I often allow the kids to use one line as a jump off place to get their own poems going.

I found two other poems, “Someone Swallowed the Baby” and “Afraid.” I used “Someone Swallowed the Baby” to ask the kids to write a poem about a time they did something and didn’t want to admit it. We talked about the picture book, “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” which is told through the point of view of the wolf who believes he was framed. I often use  this with older teens and kids in detention with a lot of success.

Then, our last poem was “Afraid” which is a simple poem where the first line uses the name of the poet and then the poet tells what they are afraid of. The last line ends with a please not to do something which will increase their fear.

The last ten minutes we practiced standing tall like trees, projecting our voices and reading slowly in order to prepare for the Coffeehouse Poetry.

It was a fun workshop and reminded me the skill in being a teaching artist relies on responding in the moment to who the audience is and not insisting that my predetermined plan will be the one we follow!





Slam, Jam Poetry Workshop

On Saturday I’m teaching a Slam, Jam Poetry Workshop to young writers, ages 8-12. It’s being held at the Redmond Library from 1:00-3:00 p.m. and is free to young writers.  We are going to be talking about writing poems which can be performed, trying our hands at a few poems drawn from life experience and those things which fire us up, and then looking at how to perform the poems we write for the Poetry Coffeehouse which takes place on Saturday, April 23.

I’m going to be sharing with the young writers some of the poems written and performed by Button Poetry poets.

The following are poems I’ll be sharing in the workshop:


What Kind of Asian Are You?


The Bridge

Brown Girl


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Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop Winner



Congratulations to NJ Kinny who is the Lucky Lerechaun Giveaway Hop winner at my blog! Check your email for notification of your three winning Nora Roberts books!

Happy Reading!


Spring Workshops and Author Events

I will be teaching a couple workshops this spring for both adults and teens as well as giving a public reading of an excerpt of my short story, “The Girl In Orange” which is written from my experience with the teens at Denney Juvenile Justice Center poetry workshop.

Spunky, Daring and Brave: Writing Characters for Children’s Books

She’s spunky, daring and brave. He’s imaginative, fearless and smart. Who are these characters we love in children’s chapter books, middle grade and young adult novels? And how do we create a character who is so irresistible, young readers won’t want the story to end? In this class we’ll explore what makes us love the child character by finding a character’s voice through writing character monologues, exploring their hiding spaces with setting maps and discovering their secrets to success by brainstorming possibilities for sequels and spin-off stories. Students will leave with a spunky child character ready to jump into a story and multiple story ideas for that character.

May 12 and May 19. 1:00-3:00 p.m. Schack Art Center, Everett, WA. Register here

Slam, Jam Poetry Workshop: A Writing Workshop for Tweens and Teens

Join us in this interactive workshop where we write poetry about people, places and events which fire us up, inspire and fuel our deepest hopes and dreams. We’ll explore how to take a poem from it’s raw form and turn it into something which can be performed for an audience at a poetry slam. The workshop includes both writing and coaching for the slam contest which will take place on Saturday, April 23 at the library.

April 2, 1:00-3:30 p.m., Redmond Public Library. Free.


Public Reading of “Girl in Orange”

Also, my short story, “Girl in Orange” was accepted for publication with Rain Literary Magazine which is produced by students at Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Oregon. The short story was drawn from my experience running a poetry workshop at Denney Juvenile Justice Center. A public reading will be held on May 20, 2016 at Clatsop Community College.


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Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!! This month, I’m participating in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop hosted by BookHounds. You can find the whole list of blogs participating in the hop here.

I thought it’d be fun to give away a couple of Nora Robert’s books which are set in Ireland. So without further ado…..I’m going to be giving away all three of the Gallaghers of Ardmore Series to one lucky winner. The books will all be ebook. (International or US).  In order to be entered in the Giveaway please leave me a comment about the luckiest thing that happened to you. Please be sure to leave your email address. I will announce the winner on this blog on March 24, 2016.

You can find the whole list of blogs participating in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop here.

Tears of the Moon


Heart of the Sea


Jewels of the Sun



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