Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Writing the Picture Book Workshop

Picture books are the most beloved story form of children’s writing. But how easy is it to write one?

In this workshop, we’ll look at how to create a memorable character, how to plot and structure a picture book, as well as markets available to picture book writers. This is an interactive workshop with writing exercises and discussion. The class is appropriate for both writers and illustrators with the focus on the writing of the story.

Writing the Picture Book Workshop at the Lynnwood Library on July 13 from 10:00 to 1:00 p.m. This is a free workshop but registration is requested here.

The workshop is a part of the Writing for Young People Write Now Summer Series at Sno-Isle Libraries.

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A Reading List for a Marine Biology Character

I’ve been working on a new middle grade novel where my main character wants to be a marine biologist. I spent last spring and summer volunteering as a volunteer environmental interpreter in the Haystack Rock Awareness Program in Cannon Beach and the idea sprung from my volunteer work. You can learn read more about the Haystack Rock Awareness Program-– at their brochure here.

You can learn a little bit about Haystack Rock and the sea animals who call it home with this brochure at the Friends of Haystack Rock.

As a part of building my story, I usually have to immerse myself in the world of my character. In this case, I’ve had to do a lot of reading about sea life in order to really feel like I know my eleven-year old main character.

The following are some of the books I’ve been reading.

Rachel Carsen’s trilogy about the sea including: The Edge of the Sea, The Sea Around Us and The Sea Wind.

I love her question: One Way To Open Your Eyes Is To Ask Yourself, What if I Had Never Seen This Before? What if I Knew I Would Never See It Again?

Jonathan White, The Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean. I heard him speak this past summer as a talk sponsored by the Haystack Rock Awareness Program and was fascinated by his understanding of the sea both as a surfer and sailor.

The Soul of an Octopus: The Surprising Exploration into the World of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. This is an interesting book about octopus. One of the things I didn’t know was the Seattle Aquarium is one of the best known for their octopus exhibits and because when the octopus die, they can be released back into the waters of Puget Sound easily because of their location. If you didn’t know, Octopus have a very short life span!

The Wave by Susan Casey. This is a fascinating book about rogue waves in our oceans and how mariners and surfers navigate them and seek them out. If you surf, or know of a surfer, this is a great one to hand them as it profiles some of the world’s best known rogue wave surfers.

Between Pacific Tides by Ed Rickets and Jack Calvin is the go-to book for information on the intertidal zone in the Pacific Ocean.

The BeachComber’s Guide To Seashore Life by J. Duane Sept. This is one that is out of print and snagging a reasonably priced used copy on Amazon takes a little bit of persistence, but it’s highly worth it–especially for children who are interested in sea life as it provides a resource guide for all creatures in the Pacific NW waters!

Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction by Mary Ellen Hannibal. This is a great book about citizen science where average citizens including educators, children, teens and retired folks get involved in collecting data. Find out more here.

There are a few more in my to-read pile, but this has given me enough material to feel as if I know my character and can tell her story!


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SAT Prep English and College Readiness Tutoring

SAT PREP English/Language Arts Tutoring

Starting in January, I am available for private and small group tutoring sessions in SAT English/Writing Prep, GED PREP (Social Studies/Language Arts), and College Readiness including applications, essay writings and scholarships.

Areas: Portland Metropolitan Area, Clackamas County (Lake Oswego, West Linn, Milwaukee), North Oregon Coast (Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach students)

Experience: My twenty-five years educator experience includes: teaching high English/Social Studies, instructor in the GED Program at Clatsop Community College, and I hold a Professional Oregon Teaching License with endorsements in English/Language Arts.

College Application/Scholarships and Essay Tutoring

I am also offering one-on-one tutoring helping students select colleges, prepare their applications and write personal essays.

Please contact me here for availability, location and pricing.

It is recommended students schedule with enough time to adequately prepare for the SAT test in the spring and adhere to the various deadlines for college applications.

GED Students may schedule anytime before taking the test.

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Local Spotlight at Umpqua Bank Sellwood Branch

I am happy to announce I am the local Spotlight at the Sellwood Umpqua Bank.

All my books are signed and available for sale. Information about my workshops and manuscript critiques is also available in the display. The books will be there until November 30. If you are in the Portland area, I hope you will stop by to pick up one or two. It’s a special chance to get copies of my first short story, “Hurricanes” published in Summer Shorts which is now out of print but I had some copies still available in my stash!

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Children’s Summer On-Line Writing Class

If you have ever thought one of your childhood memories would make a great children’s story, join me this summer and learn how to turn that tale into a story for children.

How can we use our stories of growing up and turn them into stories for children? In this class, we’ll explore how to craft compelling plots that stretch beyond the truth, how to show not tell our daring adventures and how to create strong characters who leap off the page and demonstrate bravery and strength. There will be opportunity for constructive and supportive feedback.

The class runs from June 6 to July 18 and is on-line with The Loft Literary Center. Register here.

 

Also, if you are an educator and want to add to your summer reading list, there are two great blogs I follow which give me a depth of great new titles to explore.

Nerdy Book Club Blog

And there was a great post a few weeks ago which showcased picture books to use with older students here.

 

A Kids Book A Day Blog

 

Also, if you are an educator looking for continuing education credits, I teach some children’s writing classes and children’s literature classes with Seattle Pacific University. All are distance learning and you have a year to complete.

Some of my classes include:

Writing the Children’s Picture Book

Writing the Children’s Short Story

Writing with Boys

Excellence in Children’s Literature (Which is a study of some of the lesser known book awards for kids)

You can find out more about my educator classes with Seattle Pacific SPIRAL here. 

(Once you click on the link above and it takes you to Seattle Pacific University’s website, look under Curriculum and Instruction to find my classes)

 

 

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Writing and Resistance: Overcoming Your Blocks to Success

I am teaching Writing and Resistance: Overcoming Your Blocks to Success as an online class at the Loft Literary Center. It starts on March 7 and runs until April 4. This is a low stakes class meaning there is not a lot of outside class time work and it’s priced accordingly.  Registration is open here.

You’ve got a great idea for a story. You are working full speed ahead. Suddenly, everything grinds to a screeching halt. Commitments are screaming at you from all sides, you’ve got the flu and you just can’t get to your writing commitments. Stop. Don’t let fearful resistance block your success.

In this class, we’ll look at the ways resistance shows up in our writing life, the causes of resistance and how it blocks us. But more importantly, we’ll explore ways to fight the fear. Participants will create a plan of action for the next time that sneaky pest resistance shows up.

Hope to see some of you in class!

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From the Heart Free Romance Books

 

I’m participating in a fun promotion with Book Cave this month. “From the Heart” allows you to chose one romance book for free in exchange for signing up for that author’s newsletter. And you can enter to win a $50 gift card!

My book, Sweetheart Summer, is one of the books but there are plenty others to select too if you have read Sweetheart Summer.

 

You can find all the books on the From the Heart Promotion here! Enjoy!

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The Water Park Slide

Since moving to Portland, I’ve been attending a few MeetUp Groups. These are groups that get together to do various activities. There is quite a selection to pick from–writing groups that meet to just write for a few hours in a cafe, board game groups, hiking groups, sailing groups, getting to know the city groups and craft groups. It’s a great way to get to know various parts of the city, meet a few people and pursue hobbies and interests.

On Sunday, I attended a MeetUp at a water park. The title of the group was, “Water Park instead of the Superbowl.” I’m not a football fan and this seemed like a better option than a party cheering for teams I didn’t care that much about.

Besides, I like pools and those with slides, high diving boards and wave pools are fun.

There were five of us at the MeetUp, all between the ages of 30’s to 40’s. As we climbed the steps to the slides, I eyed the slides warily. There were two. One enclosed like a tube that went down about four flights to the pool and one open that went on a slower incline. Immediately, I opted for the slower incline. My heart pounded as I stepped into the slide. As a child, I loved these at the pool where we attended and even went on one that was a fire escape for my local YMCA. But as an adult? Suddenly, I started thinking about my health insurance. Where was my local hospital?

 

Hesitantly I got into the slide. It was open above my head and I could see where I was going. I pushed off and after a few seconds of panic, realized that if I just flowed and let the water take me it was a nice ride. Soon, I was dropped into the water below and came up grinning.

I went on the open slide a few more times, but pretty soon everyone began pestering me…”Try the closed one.”

“I don’t know,” I eyed it. I can be a little claustrophobic and that seemed like it had the possibility for me to freak out.

“It goes fast,” one of the MeetUp folks said.

Suddenly a group of girls, age 7, were chiming in. “You can do it. Don’t be scared.”

What could I do? A group of seven year olds thought I could do it.

My heart pounded as I got into the slide. What if I flipped out inside the slide?

I pushed off and moved two feet into the slide. I waited. Nothing happened. And suddenly, I realized I had hit a dry spot and didn’t have enough momentum. I wasn’t moving. I felt a little like my dog when we took agility classes and he got into the tunnel and then wouldn’t come out.

I knew what to do. I could handle this. In the dark, I scooted forward and caught the water and whoosh..I was off. Much faster than the other one had been.

And then, boom. I was dropped into the bottom of the slide and in a big splash into the pool.

When I came up for air, the seven year olds were in the pool cheering for me. “Did you like it? We knew you could do it. It wasn’t so bad was it?”

On the way back up the stairs, one of the girls confessed. “We were taking bets which slide you would take.”

“Did you win?”

She smiled and shrugged at me. “Maybe.”

I grinned back at her.

 

 

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Writing Conferences

It’s that time of the year when the buzz about the spring and summer conference season starts. We are lucky in the Pacific Northwest to have an abundance of good ones to choose from and I’ve been to all of them at one point or another over the last fifteen or so years that I’ve been writing.

The Willamette Writer’s Conference

The Pacific Northwest Writers Summer Conference

 SCBWI Oregon Spring Conference

SCBWI Seattle Conference (This runs bi-annually now and the next one is 2019–good chance for you to attend the Oregon SCBWI Conference this year)

Romance Writers of America National Conference--It moves around each year and I never look much at it until it hits the Midwest or West Coast areas. This year is Colorado but next year it returns to the West Coast again!

Seattle RWA Fall Conference–I always include this one in the considerations because payment is due during the summer for registration.

Connecting Writers with Hollywood-This one is relatively new and takes place in June in Spokane. It’s a good way for you to get your work in front of producers and agents.

Also if you are a reader and live in the Pacific Northwest, the Get Lit Book Festival in Cannon Beach is fabulous! They have different authors every year come talk about their books. Here is the information for this year which takes place in May 18-20. I’m planning to attend this year. I’ve always attended but last year due to my moving process couldn’t get there.

 

I always attend Seattle RWA Conference in the fall and every other year or so try to submit a workshop proposal. (If accepted this cuts down on my costs. I also stay at the Red Lion and not the conference hotel as the Red Lion will also run room specials and I can get a room for under a $100. It’s close enough to the conference hotel and gives me a little breathing room after a long day of workshops.) This has been my favorite conference since I started writing romance and where I learned the most about digital publishing and the world of the Indie author. Plus, it’s also where I see familiar faces who I only see once a year.

At times, I have attended parts of the Willamette Writer’s Conference (a one day session) and the Pacific NW Writer’s Conference. I loved attending Christopher Vogler’s one day session on the Writer’s Journey and it was well worth every penny I paid. Both of these conferences can be very pricey and usually fall out of my writing conference budget.

For years, when I wrote mostly for children, I always attended Seattle SCBWI’s conference and sometimes drove down to Portland to attend the spring Oregon SCBWI Conference. I always recommend these conferences to new children’s writers as it’s a great way to pitch your work to agents and editors and hear who wants what. Since I mostly write in romance now, I don’t attend these conferences anymore but still recommend them.

This year, besides the Seattle RWA Fall conference where I have submitted a proposal to teach a workshop about teaching on-line classes, I am planning to attend Connecting Writers with Hollywood. The more I talk to people, the more I realize how many folks are streaming shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hula. Producers are in need of content. Some want screenplays, but some are literary agents who will get your stories in front of producers. So this June, I’m headed off to Spokane to learn a little bit more about the process of getting a story to Hollywood.

What are your plans for conference season?

 

 

 

 

 

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New Facebook Group for Writers

For all of you who are writers, I have created a new Facebook Group. “Writer’s Cottage: Inspiration for the Journey.”

The purpose of this group is to share your successes, challenges and inspiration on the writing journey. The group is not necessarily a place to share craft ideas or opportunities to publish. Instead, the idea is to create a supportive community around the long and often challenging journey of being a writer.

Think of it as a place to go to give and receive support, inspiration and hope for the journey. We love writers of all genres but especially memoir, children’s writing and romance.

This is a closed Facebook group–meaning your posts will only be viewed by those in the group and you will need to hit a button to request to join.

Unlike my public book Facebook pages for readers, this group is specifically  geared toward those of you are are writers in any stage of the journey–from just beginning to seasoned.

Here is the link on Facebook. I hope some of you will join us!

 

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