Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Kindle Vella Available on Android

The World is a Sniff

The World is a Sniff, a Kindle Serialized children’s story, is now available for Android. Readers can now read Kindle Vella stories on their Android Kindle Apps. I use an Android (Google Pixel) phone and the story was in my Kindle App tonight underneath all the ebooks I am currently reading in the Kindle App. Once you start reading the story, it will show up on your Kindle App.

There are 31 posted episodes of The World is a Sniff with new ones posted every Saturday. The first three episodes can be read for free. Then, readers buy tokens to unlock other episodes. Each episode is short and something that could be read while waiting in line, traveling on a bus or subway, or enjoy as a bedtime story. (There are no illustrations with this story.)

Story Blurb: Stormy. Born for greatness as an agility dog. But greatness slips out of Stormy’s paws when he flunks his first puppy agility test and is reassigned as a pet dog, Now, Stormy must learn the rules of backyard dog barking contests, how to coexist with a pesky cat, and most importantly, how not to steal other dog’s treats in weekly training classes. A humorous and joyful journey told through the eyes of a dog who is trying to teach his Human how to see the world one sniff at a time.

And don’t forget to visit Stormy at Dog Twitter here:

Stormy also has ventured into Tik Tok but we aren’t quite ready to reveal his new videos yet! His Human is still learning the ropes of how Tik Tok works!

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Stained Glass Summer New Anniversary Edition

My first middle grade book, Stained Glass Summer, was published ten years ago by Musa Publishing. In 2015, the rights reverted back to me and I took it out as my first Indie published book. Many of the same people who started with me at small epublishers have been a part of my team of editors, book designers and cover artists and it began at Musa Publishing with Stained Glass Summer.

I’m happy to announce Stained Glass Summer has a new cover, new layout design and is now available as an anniversary edition! It is available in both ebook and print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as your favorite local Independent Bookstore! (The book is being distributed by Ingram so your favorite local bookstore can order you a copy!). If you’d like a special signed copy, let me know and I can do some small batch mailings.

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Holiday Romances

This past week I took a great class with the Contemporary Romance Writers called, “Writing Holiday Romance,” taught by Robyn Neeley.

We did fun writing exercises with our opening lines, brainstorming lists of holiday activities and talking about snow in holiday stories.

I have written two holiday romances, very short novellas, that were published by Books to Go Now years ago called, New Year Heart Song and Love’s Christmas Gift, both which are no longer available.

Most romance authors have at least one holiday story, if not many, and about a year ago it came up in my writer’s sprint group that I did not have a holiday story published. Over the last year, I’ve been working on mainly my children’s stories with the publication of Some Stories Are Not Seen and the Kindle Vella, World is a Sniff.

In my Monday night writing sprint group, I’ve been working on drafting a rom-com about a quirky beach town and all the eccentric characters who live there.

So for my holiday romance class, I decided to return to my Cranberry Bay series.

In class, I posted my opening lines to a holiday novella, Sweetheart Santa, that I’ve had rolling around in my head for awhile for a holiday story in my Cranberry Bay Series.

Ivy replaced a light-bulb inside the body of the vintage, plastic Santa and tucked it into a box filled with three foot Santas. Every year helping the town’s home owners get ready for the annual historic holiday homes tour was one of Ivy’s favorite Christmas jobs. at the antique shop. The holiday homes tour was a fundraiser for the town’s historic train that on Christmas Eve turned into a Santa Train with hot cocoa and children bundled up in sleeping wear, all in the hopes of traveling to the North Pole to see Santa. Ivy wrapped a cord around a small tabletop lighted Santa and chuckled at the small bite on Santa’s beard. Her year-old Springer Spaniel sprawled across his bed under a roll top desk. He had been both a blessing and terror in the last six months, trying her patience with his constant chewing and bringing her laughter and joy with his puppy charm.  

Bells chimed as the door to the Red Door Antiques opened. “I’ve got room in the truck for one more box,” Josh’s blue eyes sparkled and his Santa hat tilted at an angle.  He grabbed a frosted tree cookie from the china plate on the counter.  Sasha and her son Tyler had dropped them off on the way to set up the tea and cookies at the library for people to enjoy as they strolled along the tree-lined streets and toured the homes later this afternoon.

“This one goes to Mrs. Perkins on Hemlock Street,” Ivy toed the box by her foot.  “I think she must have a hundred Santas. Every year she asks me for another box.” She smiled at her long-time friend Josh. Ever since the two had been in high school working on the holiday food drive, they’d been partners for the holidays.

Hallmark, Lifetime and Netflix have just begun rolling out holiday romance movies and since our dark, rainy winter season has set in, I decided to watch a few.

I started with Next Stop, Christmas which is a charming story about a heroine who gets one a train to take her back to Yonkers for the evening and instead finds herself whirled back ten years on a magical, Midnight Express, type train. Once she returns to the home of her childhood Christmas, she must revisit a marriage proposal she receives as well as a long time friend and how she feels about him.

The next night, I watched Open at Christmas which was another fun holiday romance about a heroine who finds a holiday card left in her high school text book that is filled with holiday love. She is determined to find out who gave her the card. It’s a charming story and along with the hero and heroine’s story, we also get to see the story of the hero’s best friend and her fiance and how their story entwines with finding out who gave the heroine the holiday card. I also enjoyed this one because the characters were slightly older than the typical romance characters and in their early 40’s.

Both will be aired many times over the next two months as well as many others. You can find the whole Hallmark line-up here. But don’t forget to check out Netflix and Lifetime too. Each network has a slightly different flair for their holiday stories and if you want to write for any of them, it’s good to do a little research!

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Writing the Subplot–Seattle RWA Conference

This weekend I am presenting a workshop, “Subplots: Building the Secondary Layer.” at the Seattle RWA Conference. This is a virtual conference and the following are the handouts, slides and links for anyone who would like them. The session was pre-recorded and there is a live Q and A for those who are attending the virtual conference.

Here is the subplot workshop handout:

And here are the workshop slides

The following are the links referenced in the handout:

Save the Cat Beat Sheet Explained:

https://timstout.wordpress.com/story-structure/blake snyders-beat-sheet/ 

Save the Cat Beat Sheet (You will need to send in your email address to get one) https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/save-the-cat-beat-sheet/ 

Save the Cat Beat Writes a Novel Beat Sheet: (Subscribe to her newsletter to get a free one) https://www.jessicabrody.com/2020/11/how-to-write-your-novel-using-the-save-the-cat beatsheet/ 

Romancing Mr. Brigerton Beat Sheet

Robin L. Perini (Seattle RWA 2014) 

https://www.robinperini.com/emerald-city-writers-conference-what-a-great-time/ (Layering  Handout/Page 4 and 5)  

Janice Hardy Blog Posts  

Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave: Crafting Subplots 

Juggling Subplots

 

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August News

The summer is moving along and in a few weeks I’ll be back to teaching. One of my goals this summer was to finish all the episodes in my Kindle Serialized story, The World is a Sniff, which is a story told from the point of view of my Cocker Spaniel Stormy.

There are ten episodes posted and new ones release each Saturday. Currently I have twelve more ready to go with another seven or eight to be finished to wrap up the season. The entire series will be posted by the middle to end of October. If you would like to read the story so far, the first three episodes are free and Amazon is giving away 200 tokens which should take you almost through all the episodes posted currently. Be sure to like and follow the story. You can find World is a Sniff here.

There is a second series, Tails from the Beach, which will follow shortly.

Kindle Vella is a new serialized story program that Amazon rolled out for readers in July. It is currently in Beta form and stories can be read on the Amazon website or Kindle IOS. Hopefully Android Kindle App will have the stories soon!

My August Author Newsletter was sent out today. You can read it here or sign up to receive it directly into your email by going to my website and using the sign up link.

And for those of you in the Portland Metro area, I will be signing my romance books on Sunday from noon to two at Jan’s Paperback Books. I would love to chat books and writing romance (or writing children’s books)! Come on out to see me and bring the mask. Masks are required in Oregon businesses.

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Library Writer’s Project

Every year, Multnomah County Library (Portland, Oregon area) places a call for local writers who would like to see their books added to the library’s collection.

This year, Some Stories Are Not Seen, was selected to be part of the collection.

Some Stories Are Not Seen can be checked out as an ebook from Multnomah County Library’s Overdrive Platform.

My local branch is the Sellwood Branch which is walking distance for me. It’s a pleasant walk. The library is located on 13th Ave and there is a great food cart pod, a couple coffee places, and other small shops on tree lined sidewalks. The neighborhood is filled with craftsman homes, often with gardens in place of the grassy medians, and a sharing corner with a little free library, street mural, and a make-believe play house for kids. The dog and I enjoy many walks and it fills me with creative ideas.

These are some pictures I took this spring on one of the walks with everything in full bloom.

The Sellwood Library has some great history starting with:

In December 1904, twenty-two residents, led by the Rev. D.A. Thompson, met at the Sellwood Presbyterian Church on Spokane St, and organized a Reading Room Association. Accustomed to tithing in church, each pledged $1.00 per month to fund the library.

The library opened on February 10, 1905.

In 1910, library service expanded into the community with a small deposit collection of books placed at a firehouse and another on a ferryboat. Late that summer, a box of 100 discarded books was sent to the Sellwood playground. Another set of 84 books was placed in a street railway company clubhouse.

The Depression strained all of the library collections as people turned to these free resources for both entertainment and information. Circulation at the Sellwood branch shot from 56,763 in 1930 to 70,701 in 1931, with people looking for nonfiction titles. Books on raising poultry, rabbits, bullfrogs and mushrooms on small plots of land were especially popular.

You can read more about the history of the Sellwood Library here.

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World is a Sniff Now Available

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B096RJGZSC

My children’s serialized story, The World is a Sniff, is now available on Kindle Vella. The first three episodes can be read free. Amazon is giving away 200 tokens to readers so you can read episode four and five as well as pick a couple other Kindle Vella stories to try!

If you enjoy an episode, please like it at the bottom of the episode page.

The World is a Sniff are stories based on my dog Stormy and I learning to be a reading dog team. There will be a second “season” called Tails from the Beach which are Stormy’s stories as an Oregon Coast dog.

Here is the story blurb: Stormy. Born for greatness as an agility dog. But greatness slips out of Stormy’s paws when he flunks his first puppy agility test and is reassigned as a pet dog, Now, Stormy must learn the rules of backyard dog barking contests, how to coexist with a pesky cat, and most importantly, how not to steal other dog’s treats in weekly training classes. A humorous and joyful journey told through the eyes of a dog who is trying to teach his Human how to see the world one sniff at a time.

Stormy has a Twitter account that you can follow here @Stormyspaniel

Kindle Vella is in a beta phase and stories are available to be read on the Amazon webpage as well as the Kindle IOS app. Hopefully the Android app will have it shortly.

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World is a Sniff Serialized Story

Next week, my serialized children’s story, The World is a Sniff, will be launching on Kindle Vella. A new episode will release each week throughout July and August with the possibility for more episodes in the fall.

Kindle Vella is a new program Amazon is launching for readers. All the stories on Kindle Vella are serialized and there are many different genres to choose from–romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, children’s.

The first three episodes of all stories are free and after that, episodes will be purchased using tokens.

Readers can read Kindle Vella stories on the IOS Kindle Ap (Apple) and the website. Hopefully Kindle Vella will be successful and it will be launched across more platforms–such as Android.

After a story has been posted on Kindle Vella for thirty days, authors are allowed to remove the story with episodes and then go through KDP or other venues for publication.

My own story will most likely go to print at some point down the road but the serialized version is a good way for me to meet a deadline and to try out this new format. Next week, I will post more about how to access this new serialized children’s story on Kindle Vell!

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Kindle Vella

This spring, Amazon announced a new serialized story program called Kindle Vella. Authors will post a new serialized story on a regular schedule and readers will purchase tokens. Programs since as Wattpad and Radish have used this approach to serialized fiction for awhile.

Kindle Vella’s genres include science fiction, fantasy, romance, and children’s.

Many years ago, I started writing stories about my Cocker Spaniel, Stormy and I training to become a reading therapy dog team. I had great dreams of me as the author and my cute Cocker Spaniel reading with kids in schools.

It didn’t happen. Stormy didn’t pass the final test. A car door slammed and he stood up and barked. We didn’t pass. Barking was forbidden. I could have retested him in a few years when he matured but it was a lot of work to keep his all his training skills current.

But the training program was not wasted and many of his new skills made him a very wonderful off leash beach dog on the Oregon Coast. Every walk he greets people, never jumps up on anyone, knows how to stand still while children jump around and try to pet him, and stays under voice control as we walk the wide open beaches.

For a long time, I couldn’t figure out what type of book I was writing. It seemed to just be snippets of Stormy’s training and he’s a dog. We all know where pet stories end up–with the dog at that final vet appointment. I really didn’t want to write that type of book.

But I kept working on the stories.

And then this spring I attended an Eastside RWA virtual meeting and an Amazon rep was there talking to us about publishing with Amazon. In the last few minutes suddenly the tone shifted from how to upload your book with KDP to this new program, Kindle Vella.

They were rolling Kindle Vella out for KDP authors to try for a few months–upload a few stories, see the format, the layout and then this summer Amazon would roll out Kindle Vella to readers.

The spark caught. This wasn’t the first time I had been on the cusp of an Amazon rollout with publishing. I heard Jon Fine talk about the KDP program at a conference on Whidby Island as it rolled out. The spark in the virtual room was the same as it was at that conference on Whidbey Island.

Stormy’s story! My heart beat fast. Stormy’s story was episodic. It was a story that could easily be rolled out in short bits of a serialized story. And I had kept adding to those original stories. Not only did I have the stories of him in training but I had years of our beach stories. I had drafted enough content to feed a serialized story for a very long time.

I got off that meeting and set up my Kindle Vella page. I uploaded a picture of Stormy for the cover.

Kindle Vella creates the format to be a small circle which readers will see as the cover. I wrote my blurb.

Stormy. Born for greatness as an agility dog. But greatness slips out of Stormy’s paws when he flunks his first puppy agility test and is reassigned as a pet dog, Now, Stormy must learn the rules of backyard dog barking contests, how to coexist with a pesky cat, and most importantly, how not to steal other dog’s treats in weekly training classes. A humorous and joyful journey told through the eyes of a dog who is trying to teach his Human how to see the world one sniff at a time

And then I stopped. I needed to do some editing of the first stories. I had just finished an editorial map so I had a strong direction of how to revise each story.

But it took me awhile to get back to the revisions.

And then this week, I posted a picture to Stormy’s Twitter feed of him in front of our first sandcastle for Cannon Beach’s Virtual Sandcastle summer festival. (Usually this is a day in June but because of the pandemic it’s been a virtual event the last two years. Sandcastle builders can build at any time and take a picture and enter it in the contest).

Stormy’s sandcastle tweet went viral. Quickly the likes and retweets came in. I knew for the rest of the summer, I will be taking pictures of Stormy with sandcastles and posting them on his Twitter account. But I also knew he was doing a better job on his social media accounts that I have done as an author.

And I got back to revisions on his stories. I spent the week working in the morning before I had to log into my online teaching role–one of the huge perks of my job. I don’t have a commute and often use that time as my writing time.

By the end of the week I had the first five stories uploaded to Kindle Vella. According to Kindle Vella, the first three stories will be free to hook readers into the series and then readers will purchase future stories with tokens.

There is no official launch date yet for Kindle Vella to readers–but the buzz seems to be it will launch before the end of July and in order to go live in that first roll out, authors need to have at least five serialized stories posted.

Kindle Vella recommends authors know the roll-out for their serialized stories. Will it be every day? Every three days? Once a week? And then keep it consistent.

I’m not sure what my roll out will look like. I’ll be curious to see how the first five stories go.

But I know somewhere in those stories will be one or two about sandcastles!

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How I Use Canva

My day job for over the last year has been teaching at an online high school in Portland, Oregon area. I got the job right before the pandemic and was given a fabulous mentor who trained me for about six weeks in all things online including; using our LMS, Canvas, how to teach on Zoom while asking kids to work on Google Jamboards, Docs and Slideshows at the same time as I was teaching, and how to maneuver my way through Google spreadsheets–something which has been necessary to keep all the data we use but one of my biggest challenges!

We often use various apps and programs with kids to help them work on line such as Kami to annotate documents, SlidesGo to help jazz up slide shows, and Canva.

Canva was something I heard mentioned at my Rose City RWA group when we got a mini-workshop in Book Brush. I was enthralled with Book Brush but didn’t want to commit to the full price just yet–which includes making book covers, creating box sets and videos. (There is a free version and you can do quite a lot to see if you want to buy the full version).

And then Canva popped on my radar at school. My tenth grade advisory students were working on their semester end projects and I was helping them do some time management with those projects. I knew a couple teachers were using Canva to create worksheets that could be turned into PDF’s and then annotated with Kami online but I hadn’t really needed to do that with the creative writing class or my GED students.

And then Some Stories Are Not Seen launched and I needed bookmarks, postcards, and Twitter, Facebook and Instagram graphics. So I popped onto Canva and gave myself a little tutorial.

It’s a pretty easy program to use and once I got the hang of it, I did a Zoom lesson with the tenth graders to help me solidify my learning and see if they knew of any tips or tricks. Only one student was using Canva so it was new to them but a lot of them loved the card making feature. As an educator, my school account has all the bells and whistles but the free version of Canva has all I need for my author role.

Here are some of the things I’ve made so far for my book launch: (All of these have been made with my free author account).

Instagram/Twitter Graphic:

Instagram Image. I also posted this on Twitter.
Postcard–Front and Back
Bookmark. I uploaded these to Vista Print for printing and they have a nice glossy front and back. I have been inserting one into every book I sign for the Cannon Beach Book Company who has been fabulous with promoting my book!
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