Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop

I love holiday romances–both writing them and reading them. This month, I’m participating in the Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop sponsored by Book Hounds. I am giving away one ebook copy of I’ll Be Home for Christmas as well as an Amazon Gift card for $10 to one name drawn at random who posts a comment on this blog about a holiday story you love. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you.

If you’d like to hear all about upcoming releases, other blog hops, contests and giveaways, please sign up for my newsletter here. The newsletter is only published about four times a year (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter).

Here is a listing of the other blogs on the hop. Good luck!


Titles and Scenes in Picture Books

Titles and scenes are important elements to the craft of writing a picture book. Here are a couple resources to help you with titles and scnes.

The first one comes from Ripple Grove Press who posted about the importance of titles. Titles can be something which are often overlooked but can make or break a story, especially as a picture book story. To read about picture book titles, go here.

If you’d like to submit to Ripple Grove Press, here are the guidelines. 

Note: Ripple Grove Press is only taking picture book submissions and they do not want religious or holiday themed stories.


The second blog post comes from the Children’s Book Academy Blogateers. This looks like a great blog to follow if you write for children and includes the Newbery Honor Book Award winner, Audrey Couloumbis. Audrey posted a great article about scenes in picture book. This is not something I’ve seen written about for picture books and is extremely important in any type of story. You can read that article here.

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Further Resources for Writing the Picture Book

One of the questions which we discuss in the writing the picture book workshop is…but how many pages in a picture book story? And how does an ebook picture book story differ in page count from a traditionally print published picture book?

Darcy Pattison is one of the best resources I know for current information about picture book writing, and she answers this very question on her blog:

How Many Pages in a Picture Book? Printing Methods Determine the Answer.


She also has a great post about Indie Publishing here. Be sure to read what she says about the Amazon Program, Kindle Kids Creator–this is the picture book self-publishing program at Amazon.

If you’d like to learn more from Darcy about writing picture books, she has a great ebook about writing the picture book which you can purchase and download here.

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Writing the Picture Book Handouts and Resources– Darrington Library

On Saturday from 11-2 p.m, I am teaching Writing the Picture Book at the Darrington Library in Snohomish County. This is a free workshop for folks in and around the Snohomish County area.

For those of you not able to attend the workshop, and for anyone who needs extra handouts, I’m posting the handout set here.


 Writing the Picture Book Overview

Picture Book Structure Handout

Where the Wild Things Are Exercise

Other Useful Resources

Carla Sonheim’s Mixed Media Drawing Book

Carla Sonheim’s Classes-She runs the Silly Class which I talked about. This is the class where each morning, we receive a short (ten minute or less), fun and silly drawing assignment to do via our e-mail. I participated in her January class and loved it!

Carla Sonheim Interview–I interviewed Carla about mentoring. It was posted on my blog in January.

Writing the Picture Book for Educators--This is the class I teach through Seattle Pacific University for Educators. You’ll need to look under the category of Reading, Writing and Communications. This is a year-long distance learning class that you complete at your own pace. Educators earn five continuing education classes. A great way to work on your picture book and get feedback from me!

Helpful Blog Posts About Picture Book Writing

Story Structure for Picture Books

Targeting Your Picture Book Submission

Where to Submit Picture Books

Picture Book Blogs


Picture Book Critiques

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Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop


This month, I’m participating in the Gratitude Giveaway sponsored by Book Hounds. As a part of the blog hop and to thank my loyal followers on everything from my blog to my Facebook page to my Twitter account, I am giving away one signed copy of Sweetheart Cottage as well as an Amazon Gift card for $10 to one name drawn at random who posts a comment on this blog about what you are grateful for this season.


I have always loved the fall and find there are so many things to be grateful for–from beautiful fall leaves to yummy foods such as pumpkin bread to spending time sewing gifts for the holidays, it’s a great season and one which easily fit into the first story in my sweet contemporary romance, Sweetheart Cottage, set in the fictional town of Cranberry Bay set on the North Oregon Coast.

Blurb: Can a bet to save a dying town bring two high school sweethearts together for a second chance at love in this sweet contemporary family saga small-town holiday romance.

Self-reliant and determined never to fall in love again, Rylee Harper is traveling with her dog, Raisin, to Cranberry Bay, a small Oregon Coast town. Rylee intends to make friends with no one least they discover the family’s long-held secret. But when former high school sweetheart, Bryan Shuster, offers her a job staging his vintage river cottages, Rylee finds her guard softening. However, when Bryan’s plan threatens to unearth Rylee’s shameful family secret, will Rylee run away or will she trust Bryan with her heart and stay?



In order to be entered to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card and signed copy of SWEETHEART COTTAGE, please leave me a comment below and tell me one thing you are grateful for.

If you’d like to hear all about upcoming releases, other blog hops, contests and giveaways, please sign up for my newsletter here. The newsletter is only published about four times a year (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter).

Here is a listing of the other blogs on the hop. Good luck!



Creativity Coaching

For the last year, I have been teaching an on-line class, Writing and Resistance.  The class works through your blocks to a project or writing in general. It came out of my work writing what I call my monster memoir book–Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention and working through the personal blocks, anxieties and fears about telling that story. It also comes out of my experience making the commitment to Indie publishing for some of my books.

There are many obstacles to success which can derail your writing project and I want to help you find what those are, move through them and get going on that book which is meaningful to you!

Sooo…I am now announcing my services as a Creativity Coach!

Do you want to write a memoir or novel but don’t know where to begin? Do you have a manuscript sitting in a drawer but lack the motivation to get going on it?  Has something in life pulled you away from writing or your creativity and you want to get your energy back? Do you want to learn more about Indie publishing and if this might be right for you?

Mindy is available for Creativity Coaching!

Mindy can work with you in-person, by phone, Skype, or email to find more meaning in your creative work, push past blocks, fears and insecurities, and help you move to a new level in your creative work. She can work with you on a specific manuscript and help develop the story or she can work with you through weekly coaching sessions to help you meet a goal of completing a project.


Her Creativity Coaching Services Include:

  • SMART Goal Setting
  • Weekly Check-Ins via text, phone, Skype or email
  • Targeting Your Blocks and Creating a Plan of Action
  • Developmental Critiques on the following types of manuscripts: (Memoir, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Chapter Books, Picture Books)
  • Planning and Brainstorming Novels (Romance, Middle Grade/Young Adult, Memoir)
  • Understanding Indie Publishing, how it works and if it might work for you
  • Developing and Creating Workshops

Please Contact Mindy to discuss your creativity coaching needs.

Creativity Coaching services may be provided ala cart or as a package depending on what you need for your project.

I look forward to working with you on the next part of your writing journey!

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Writer Perseverance


Hi everyone! Today I have a special post as part of the Writers Persevere event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.


To help them celebrate this release, many of us are posting stories about some of the obstacles we’ve overcome as writers. As we all know, this isn’t an easy path. Writing is hard and as writers we tend to struggle with doubt. Sometimes too, we don’t always get the support we need to follow our passion, or we have added challenges that make writing more difficult. Because people are sharing their stories this week about how they worked through these challenges to keep writing, I wanted to post about it too.

As many of you know, I published my first middle grade book, STAINED GLASS SUMMER with a new small epublisher, Musa Publishing.

I loved the three years of having my first book with Musa and found working with them taught me a lot about being a publisher in the age of digital. I wrote the book during my graduate work at Vermont College and it took six years for it to find the right publishing home. During a three year period I published a series of sweet contemporary romances with another small epublisher as well as a young adult novel with a third epublisher. Each had their own pitfalls. After three years, Musa closed it’s doors and the other two books reverted rights back to me.

At that point, I decided to go Indie with both my middle grade and young adult novel. I decided to hold off on the romance short novellas as I felt they needed to be rewritten.

I hired cover artists and formatters and took them out under my own imprint. (I didn’t need editors because both books had been edited with the epublishers). At the same time I was writing a sweet contemporary romance series that I pitched to agents. However, due to the fact the first book had a father who had a gambling addiction and the hero was bringing gambling to the small town on a riverboat, I was quickly told I couldn’t sell the stories in the sweet contemporary market which also sold to the inspirational markets. So, I made the decision to bring that series out as an Indie.


At the same time, I also brought out a new middle grade novel, Seymour’s Secret, and my memoir, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention.

I hired cover artists, editors (both developmental and line/copy editors) and formatters for all books.

And then, I decided to move from Seattle to Portland. And my life got thrown into upheaval. Due to our markets, my house had to be sold and my stuff go to storage in Portland while I looked for a house–which took most of the summer because I wasn’t sure what type of house I wanted (1925 bungalow or townhouse) or what neighborhood.I am a person who likes to be grounded in a home. I do not like to live out of bags for an extended period of time.  As the summer ended and fall began I did purchase a townhouse. But they needed a rent back period while they got their next house and then since my stuff was in storage I figured why not get it painted and new carpet and flooring in a few rooms. Of course, everything was a three week out period to be scheduled. The weather changed and I still had my summer clothes and couldn’t dig around in a storage unit for my fall clothes that were buried under a house full of furniture and house hold items.  I am still not quite in the house yet–although I do have a futon and go over for long weekends.

Needless to say I had no room in my head for any type of writing at all.

And something shifted. It was time for a new direction.

I just attended the Seattle RWA Conference and pitched a new sweet contemporary series to an agent. She liked it a lot and I’m working on getting it together now shifting my focus into more a hybrid author (traditional and indie published).

But I also decided that I needed to expand my skills and am taking a grant writing class on-line with our local community college. This is something I’d like to add to my skills a bit.

And I started gathering information about how to apply to a couple community colleges. It was time to put that MFA and M.ED to work.

I’ve been a committed writer since 2005 when I left a full time teaching job, lived on my home equity line of credit, and began pursing writing work seriously. And over that time, I’ve seen my writing shift and change–from trying new epublishers to going Indie to now trying to go hybrid.

The one thing I would tell any author is this: Life changes. Your writing will too. In order to stay current in our ever changing market, don’t write to trends, but stay up on what the trends are and that includes both how to publish, where to publish and what to write. And don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself–whether it’s what you write–from YA to adult romance to how writing fits in your life. The reality is that writing is a hard road and most of us don’t make a living at it–you have to juggle other things too.

But the best writing comes from that place in us that draws on our life–so if you’re going through a change, maybe you can’t write now but hold on because eventually you will be able to use that material and you might just find your writing has a new freshness that you didn’t dream possible.

In late September, the writing urge came back to me. I had my house and no I wasn’t in it yet, but I had it. And the newness and freshness of exploring a very creative city–Portland suddenly had me bursting to go back to writing.



Do you have a story to share, or some advice for others? You can join Becca and Angela at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell them about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, write a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere. Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.



There’s a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost at Writers Helping Writers.

I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!

The giveaway is only from October 25-27th, so enter asap. And don’t forget to share this using the #writerspersevere hashtag so more prizes will be awarded!


Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

It’s time for my favorite part of the year–Fall! I’m participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by BookHounds and giving away one signed print copy of my middle grade novel, Seymour’s Secret, as well as a $10 Amazon Gift card to one person who leaves a comment below about what you love about fall!

Then, be sure to visit the other blogs participating here.




Can eleven-year-old Colt find the obit robber who stole Grandad’s vintage toy collection before it’s too late?

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Colt is devastated when his beloved Granddad’s vintage toy collection is stolen by a gang of obit robbers. Determined to solve the crime, Colt enlists the help of a girl who talks to ghosts and a gang leader who plants marigolds in the moonlight. But can Colt uncover the secret behind Granddad’s toys before everything is destroyed in this middle grade contemporary mystery.

There is also a free study guide for Seymour’s Secret here.

Good luck!



Sweetheart Cottage Giveaway

Happy Fall! This weekend, I planted the tulip and daffodil bulbs and got out a few fall decorations. For the last few months, I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Oregon Coast as I’m in a transition of moving between Seattle and Portland and have had to do a little juggling with selling one house and buying the next. This weekend, I took a little tour of The Old Wheeler Hotel which is the inspiration for Ivy’s hotel in Cranberry Bay and the setting of the third book in the series. The book got a little delayed in publication due to my relocation. The gal giving me the tour showed me the rooms and suggested it might be fun if I stayed a night or two and worked in the lounge on the story–a beautiful room which overlooks the Nehalam River.  It sounded wonderful and with the fabric store–inspiration for Katie’s shop in Sweetheart Cottage–just two steps away I can’t think of a better late fall getaway!

However, as we move into the fall days, I keep thinking of main character, Rylee driving over the Coastal range on her way to Cranberry Bay in Sweetheart Cottage and decided it was time to do a little giveaway of a signed print copy.

I’m hosting the giveaway on my Romance Author Facebook page here and all you have to do is leave me a comment by October 1 when I will draw one name.

Story Blurb: Can a bet to save a dying town bring two former high school sweethearts back together for a second chance at romance?

Self-reliant and determined never to fall in love again, Rylee Harper is traveling with her dog, Raisin, to Cranberry Bay, a small Oregon Coast town. She needs to sell her deceased grandmother’s house before her meager savings account runs out. Rylee intends to make friends with no one least they discover the family’s long-held secret. But when former high school sweetheart, Bryan Shuster, offers her a job staging his vintage river cottages, Rylee finds her guard softening. However, when Bryan’s plan threatens to unearth Rylee’s shameful family secret, will Rylee run away or will she trust Bryan with her heart and stay?


National Recovery Month Giveaway

It’s National Recovery Month. Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. You can read and listen to some of the recovery stories here.

My personal life as well as two of my books are about recovery. Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention tells the story of some of the teens I worked with in the poetry workshop who struggled with addictions as well as my own story of growing up with alcoholism and the grief and loss of losing my Dad to addiction.

My young adult novel, WEAVING MAGIC, is also about recovery as main character Christopher is a member of AA and working hard to stay clean and sober.

In honor of National Recovery Month, I am giving away two signed copies of WEAVING MAGIC and one signed copy of KIDS IN ORANGE: VOICES FROM JUVENILE DETENTION.

You can enter the Weaving Magic Giveaway here

You can enter the Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention Giveaway here.

And if you have your own personal story of recovery, I’d love to hear it!



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