Today I'm excited to host children's author Mindy Hardwick, who has two books currently available--YA novel "Weaving Magic" and MG novel "Stained Glass Summer." Welcome, Mindy!
When did you discover you had a “sense of fiction?”
I’ve been making up stories since I was five. I loved playing with the Fisher Price yellow dollhouse and making up stories for the little, round, wood people. But, it wasn’t until I began working on my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College that I truly began to discover my sense of fiction.
What was your favorite book as a child? As an adult? How did those influence you as a writer?
My favorite book as a child was Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt. Dicey strongly influenced my character Jasmine in my upper middle grade novel, STAINED GLASS SUMMER (Musa Publishing). Both Jasmine and Dicey have a parent who abandons them. Both characters go to live with an extended family member and both find a way to start over in small communities. I always loved Dicey’s strong, survival spirit. I like to think Jasmine has a little of the same.
My favorite author as an adult is Jennifer Donnelly. I love the historical fiction worlds she creates in her stories. I hope I bring a little bit of that description and depth to my contemporary stories.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write my YA, WEAVING MAGIC, by the teens in the juvenile detention center where I have run a poetry workshop for five years. You can see some of the teen’s poems on their blog: www.denneypoetry.com
Many of the teens in detention are battling drug addictions. It can be very hard for many of them to stay sober when they return to their friends and family. I’ve read a lot of YA novels about teens who are getting off drugs, but I’ve never read a YA story where a teen is already sober and the story is about their sobriety. I wrote WEAVING MAGIC to explore the idea of how a teen lives a life clean and sober.
How would you describe your writing process? What must you always have while writing?
I am very much a character writer. I begin the process by getting to know my characters. This can involve character interviews, writing monologues, and looking at character monologues. Next, I sit down and sketch out a brief outline with the major plot points of the story. Then, I write that ugly, ugly first draft. I write fast and try not to edit as I go. After the first draft is finished, I set it aside for before I dive back in for multiple drafts in structure, edits, and polishing and shining the story. While my drafts are “sitting,” I work on a lot of other smaller projects such as short stories and articles.
For example, I’ve recently been writing some spin-off stories to STAINED GLASS SUMMER. My holiday YA short story, ELF SHOES is a part of the FREE December stories at Musa Publishing. You can find ELF SHOES here.
My short story, FIRST DRIVE, is another spin-off story to STAINED GLASS SUMMER. This will be published in Musa’s upcoming YA anthology about first experiences.
But no matter what I’m writing, I always need to have coffee with flavored vanilla creamer!
What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?
I’ve done a lot of blog tours, interviews, and postings. But, my most successful marketing tool has been word of mouth. My favorite word of mouth story happened last spring. My Grandpa was in the hospital and my Mom handed out postcards and talked to the nurses and staff about my stories. She sold quite a few stories for me!
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
Keep writing. There is so much we can’t control about publishing a book and there are numerous things that can derail a book from sales. But, what we can control is to keep working at our craft and writing more stories.
Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.
This is my favorite excerpt from my YA, WEAVING MAGIC. This scene is the first kiss between Christopher and Shantel. Christopher has just stopped by to return Shantel’s bracelet which she left in his truck. Shantel’s loom broke and he offers to take a look.
“Gotcha, Superstar,” Christopher said as he stood up beside me. He wrapped his arms around me the way he’d done in the bakery.
“Umpfh.” Seemed the only word I could manage.
“Shantel,” Christopher murmured.
“Mmmm.” I enjoyed the way my name sounded on his lips.
Slowly, he began to rub small circles on my back before he reached up, and cupped my chin. Lifting my face, Christopher lowered his mouth to mine and time seemed to stop. Softly at first, we moved our lips, and then, hesitantly, I parted mine just a bit. Christopher’s tongue quickly moved inside my mouth and swirled gently. Christopher pressed his hands against my lower back and drew me closer to him.
Thinking fast about what the romance heroines did, I moved my fingers softly into his hair. The kiss deepened, and Christopher’s hands moved slowly down my sides, and then up under my shirt. I knew I should tell him to stop. We were alone in my bedroom. Dad could come home at any minute. But a part of me didn’t want him to stop. I wanted him to keep going. I wanted to see what happened.
Christopher’s fingers played with the edges of my bra. “Want to take it off?” he murmured.
In a bit of a haze, I stepped away from Christopher. I lowered my hands to the edges of my t-shirt and then froze. What was I doing? Everything was moving so fast. So fast, I could barely think. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw myself in the mirror. My face was flushed. My shirt was askew, and I looked like I was terrified.
This wasn’t how I was supposed to look. I was supposed to look like I was enjoying it. I looked like a fright show was happening.
I stepped away from Christopher and straightened my shirt. I combed my fingers through my hair and ran my tongue over my lips. But, I couldn’t look at him. I was so confused. I wanted him to keep going. I wanted to see what it would be like to be with him. But it all seemed so out of control. And out of control was scary. When people got out of control, bad things happened.
Where can readers find you and your book?
Readers can find where to buy all my books including WEAVING MAGIC and STAINED GLASS SUMMER at my website: www.mindyhardwick.com
I blog at: www.mindyhardwick.wordpress.com
How interesting that "Weaving Magic" is based on your personal experiences--it sounds like a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing with us today, Mindy!