Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Stained Glass Summer Book Sold

on September 7, 2011

It is my great pleasure to announce that my upper middle grade novel, Stained Glass Summer, has sold to Musa Publishing.

Stained Glass Summer is the story of twelve-year-old Jasmine who 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. The story will appeal to young readers between the ages of 8-12.

Please visit the FaceBook Fan Page for Stained Glass Summer!  I’ll be posting more news as the book moves along towards publication!

I began Stained Glass Summer ten years ago this Fall.

An artist friend of mine gave me a broken piece of glass which she had found in a glass art dumpster.

That night, a tough teen age girl character. wearing all black, showed up in my room. She sat down, tossed her black boots over my blue and white striped chair and said, “Hello, my name is Jasmine, and it is time to write my story.”

At the time, I was teaching eighth grade writing. I’d taken one class in writing for children and was attending SCBWI Seattle. One of my goals was that I would share some of my own writing with my students. At the post office, I saw a sign that a writer’s group was beginning in my town and looking for writers to join. I called the number listed and began meeting with a group of five women who, each week, asked that I bring a new chapter for them to read. This group of women gave me a safe, warm place to begin Jasmine’s story.

That following summer, I attended the National Book Foundation Summer Writing Camp. The Camp was for teen writers from NYC, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Each year, a couple adults who worked with kids and wrote themselves were invited to attend. At Camp, I met Ann Angel who read an early chapter and Norma Fox Mazer who listened to me cry after my first workshop. Norma and Ann both encouraged me to apply to the Vermont College MFA in Writing For Children Program.

I applied to the Vermont College program and Jasmine and I started a new journey in the summer of 2003. In my first workshop, Ron Koertge told me, “Alcoholic mothers are a dime a dozen. Change it.” I was devastated, but dutifully took my story back home to Seattle to work on. During my first semester, I worked a lot on Jasmine’s character with adviser Lisa Jahn Clough. During that semester, I realized that the story could focus on Jasmine’s art journey and show her with a father who was a self-absorbed artist rather than an alcoholic mother.

I worked on Jasmine’s story over the next two years in Vermont with advisers Sharon Darrow, Liza Ketchum, and Kathi Appelt. In the spring of 2004, I attended a Seattle SCBWI Conference and submitted the early pages to Alvina Ling at Little Brown. She requested the full manuscript. However, I felt like I couldn’t send it yet as I was still working my way through the Vermont Program, and the story wasn’t quite ready yet.

I continued to work and revise Jasmine’ story, which at the time, was called, Girl on a Thin Wire. After I graduated, I submitted the manuscript to Alvina Ling.

Alvina rejected the manuscript.

I was devastated. But something in Jasmine’s story made me hold on and keep revising. I took more classes, revised and reworked for another year.

And then, I sent the book out on submission. And it got rejected–a lot! I also kept writing and selling during this submission process including articles and short stories. I think having the sales of the articles and short stories kept me going during the many, many rejections on the novel.

A couple times, the story came close to being accepted. At one point, Persea Books asked for revisions. I did the revisions and resubmitted. Unfortunately, by that point we were headed into the 2008 recession and Persea Books had stopped accepting YA books.

A year in a half ago, I sent the manuscript to Ooligan Press which is Portland State’s University Press. They liked the story and took it to their acquisitions meeting. I had high, high hopes. I got an e-mail. It was between me and another book. I kept my fingers crossed. The time dragged. One week. Two weeks. Three weeks.

And then, the e-mail.

Jasmine had not been accepted.

This was the hardest rejection of this story. I had come so close. So close, and yet, still the story was rejected.

It took me a month to pull myself out of my writing funk. I didn’t write anything. Not one thing. I was miserable. Miserable.

And then, somehow, Jasmine came back to me. Her story of survival and artistic triumph, and I remembered the journey we had been on together all these years, and I knew I had to try one more time.

I sent the story out to Sarah Cloots, freelance editor, to do a full manuscript critique for me. She came back with this piece of advice, “You know, I think this story is much more middle grade than young adult.” The light bulb went on! Somehow, over the years, and years of revision, Jasmine’s edginess was gone. Her anger had been peeled back to reveal a smart, funny girl character who was above all else–a survivor.

I revised the manuscript using Sarah’s editorial guidance, and then I sent it back out to a couple agents. “Beautifully written. But it’s too quiet in this market.”

But I didn’t give up. I knew that I just had to find the right doorway. The right editor. The right publishing house.

One thing that bothered me was I’d always had premonitions with this story. From the day Jasmine’s character arrived in my bedroom, to every night at Vermont College before adviser selection day, I’d always dream who my next adviser would be that would work on the story with me.

It bothered me that I’d never had that premonition about selling the story.

And then, this summer, while in Sante Fe, volunteering at the International Folk Artist Market, I had a dream the last night of my visit. In the dream, I was in a crowd of people, and my name was called. “We’d like to publish Stained Glass Summer,” I woke up and it was the same feeling I’d always had when I knew who my next adviser would be.

That morning in Sante Fe, I got into the van to take the hour in a half drive to the Albuquerque airport and a girl was sitting in the front seat. She turned around and looked at me. I gasped. She looked just like Jasmine had in my room all those years ago. The girl in the van was an artist. A glass artist and she’d been in Sante Fe showing her work–a show which had done very well. As the van carried us to the airport, I learned she was from Portland and on the same flight as my sister and I. She also had attended the Art Institute of Chicago–the same place where Jasmine’s Dad works. As I checked into the airport, I felt like I’d just walked into a very surreal experience.

And, when I got home, I read on Hope Clarks’ Funds for Writers Newsletter that: Musa Publishing. A new e-publisher is looking for YA and MG books.

I am already becoming familiar with e-publishing as my young adult romance novel, Weaving Magic is coming out with Muse-It-Up in April 2012. (A Canadian e-publisher). I like the e-publishing model. It’s not pay to publish. My books are acquired, and I have editors, cover art, and promotions. My books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble.com, and through the publishers. The difference is my books come out as e-books first with print to follow. And with Kindles, IPads, Nooks, and everything else, I think this is a good thing!

I went to the website, and I liked what I saw at Musa Publishing. The contract was on-line. Everything was very transparent about the publishing house. The payment terms were favorable. So, I did what I’d done so many times before–I submitted Jasmine’s first chapter.

Immediately, as in twenty minutes later, I got an e-mail from the editor requesting the full.

A week later to the day, I received the contract from Musa Publishing for Stained Glass Summer.

After chatting with the editor about how I live in an area with glass art, the editor said this in her e-mail, “I live in Lancaster Ohio, right in the middle of all that great art glass and depression glass companies that were so big in the early 20th century. I have a huge collection of glassware, which is one of the reasons I liked SGS.”

And sometimes, you just know that a story has finally found the right home!

Welcome Home Jasmine. We did it!

21 responses to “Stained Glass Summer Book Sold

  1. Sara Daniel says:

    Congratulations Mindy! What a great story of perseverance and finding the right home for your story. I love stained glass. My grandpa’s hobby in retirement was stained glass. I have a green poinsettia hanging over my kitchen window that he made. I love it so much that I keep it up year round.

    I’m looking forward to reading Jasmine’s story.
    Sara Daniel

  2. Jen says:

    That is such good news!! And an amazing story-about-a-story, too. Maybe instead of editing, i need to work on my dreaming . . . ;o) Both, i’m pretty sure! But super-congrats. Post when it’s on sale!!

  3. Mindy says:

    @Sara your green poinsettia sounds beautiful! @Jen work on the dreaming..much easier than editing!

  4. Vijaya says:

    What a great story of perseverance. Congratulations, Mindy!

  5. Congratulations, Mindy! I know you are thrilled. Your persistence has paid off. I love finding a non-traditional approach into the publishing industry. This one sounds wonderful. I look forward to reading. Enjoy a nice, long happy dance.

  6. I love your perseverance! Congratulations.

  7. Mindy says:

    @Doraine: My good friend, Steph Lile, who edits Columbia Kids, the online magazine for kids, says non-traditional publishing is writing outside the book! I think technology and all the new media makes writing and storytelling that much more fun!
    @Vijaya and @Shannon: Thank you!

  8. Patricia Adams says:

    What a great success story, Mindy! Congratulations!

  9. Laura says:

    Yay for you. Very inspirational – now submitting an essay about diligence to Hope Clark should be a piece of cake! The very essence of diligence is right here. Nice post!

  10. Congratulations, Mindy! I saw your letter in Hope’s newsletter and recognized your name from the blueboards, and wanted to stop by and celebrate with you. WooHoo!!!!

  11. writenaked says:

    I love reading about Hope’s success stories–congratulations!!

  12. Congratulations! What an inspiring journey. i will be as excited as you to watch the progress of your book. Jasmine sounds like a character I could connect to.

  13. That’s what true love for your story brings you to do: try, and try, and try again, until you succeed. 🙂 You were also humble and persistent with your several edits and rewrites, which makes you – I can’t hide it – a role model to my eyes.

    Keep writing! 😉

  14. Julie Nilson says:

    Congratulations! I saw your note in Hope Clark’s latest e-newsletter and I came here to read about your journey. (I love your book on the title alone!)

    I noticed that you submitted directly to a few publishing houses, instead of going through an agent. Obviously, that’s a method that ended up working out well for you, but it seems like a lot of sources say you should get an agent before a publisher. What do you think?

  15. Mindy says:

    Thanks all! I’m very excited to start on this next journey with Stained Glass Summer.
    @Julie–I don’t think there is one path to publishing. With this particular story, it had been submitted to agents. The most common comment I received was that this story was too quiet for this market. Not all stories are right for agents. But that doesn’t mean the story can’t find a publishing home. I write across many markets–articles, short stories, novels for children, and some in the adult romance market. I look at each piece that is published as continuing to build my career. Although this story didn’t sell with an agent, that’s not to say that I might not write a book which does go the agent avenue.
    I do think that if you get a contract, any contract, you should be sure you understand the contract terms and if needed, have a literary lawyer look over your contract to help protect your rights as an author. Good luck in your journey!

  16. The editor collects glassware. Classic! Congratulations, Mindy, on all your hard work.

  17. Hi, Mindy! I read about your story of success on Hope Clarks’ Funds for Writers Newsletter and I am really impressed by your perseverance and good sense of humor despite so many rejections. Your story reminded me of J.K. Rowling’s struggles to get Harry Potter published. I can tell you know Jasmine very well and she’s been a friend throughout all these years.

    I am an author and a freelance journalist, too. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and I finished my first novel when I was 13. I have my work published in the U.S., but only my nonfiction collaboration to an anthology. I wish, I truly wish, I could publish my most recent work of fiction. I’ve been writing it for a bit more than a year, polishing the plot and my writing the best way I can. I adore my main character, and like Jasmine she is very “concrete” to me. She appears in my dreams constantly, and I believe I understand her well, as she is somewhat part of me.

    Thank you for everything. Your battle to get your book published inspired my day and I will continue fighting to bring my writing to the world.

    Best wishes!

  18. Mindy says:

    @Rebecca–Thanks so much for the kind words. I looked at your blog, and it looks like you are writing about some wonderful things! Best to you! –Mindy

  19. What a story. Thanks for sharing this! I look forward to hearing more about your epublishing journey

  20. Leslie says:

    Loved reading this! Thanks for sharing!

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