CANNON BEACH — From impassioned citizens at Cannon Beach city meetings to the antique stores and charm of small towns, author Mindy Hardwick has found no shortage of writing material on the North Coast.
“I feel like I have lots of stories I can write for a long time,” she said with a laugh.
Hardwick, a part-time Cannon Beach resident since 2013, writes contemporary romance, young adult and children’s books. She also facilitates poetry workshops at the Denney Youth Juvenile Justice Center in Washington state and will soon publish a memoir on the experience.
Hardwick decided to pursue writing while teaching seventh grade.
“I took my kids to a young authors conference and I really resonated with the children’s writers,” she said.
In 2002, Hardwick was selected to work with youth at the National Book Award Foundation summer writing camp. At the camp, Hardwick met an author she admired, Norma Fox Mazer. Hardwick went on to receive a master’s in fine arts at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she wrote two children’s books.
Since then, her young adult book “Stained Glass Summer” was a 2013 EPIC eBook Award finalist and she has published sweet contemporary romance novellas.
“I had always done those stories in my head, ever since I was in my 20s,” she said.
Hardwick used parts of Wheeler and Nehalem, including the vintage shops, as the backdrop for her “Cranberry Bay” romance series.
“It just screamed ‘story,’” she said.
The series, which focuses on three brothers in a family each falling in love, is available at the Cannon Beach Bookstore.
“I’ll come here and say, ‘If you sit here for two hours and get 1,800 words done, then you can go,’” Hardwick said. “It’s very strict and I set goals.”
Before writing a book, Hardwick maps out scenes and chapters and creates detailed character descriptions.
Recently, she’s been writing in an unlikely place — an Applebee’s near her primary home in Lake Stevens, Washington.
She started writing regularly at the restaurant and befriended a waiter who has helped her throughout the writing process, such as figuring out what dates her characters will go on. “He brought in that guy perspective,” she said. “It’s funny when you have someone playing with your characters with you. This is not typical for how I write my books.”
Hardwick’s experience getting involved in local government issues served as inspiration for scenes in a “Cranberry Bay” book.
In August, the third Cranberry Bay book, “Sweetheart Wedding,” will be released.
When she’s not writing at Bella Espresso, Hardwick enjoys walking the beach with her cocker spaniel, sewing, cooking and traveling.
Memoir took ‘courage’
A memoir of Hardwick’s experience teaching at the juvenile justice center, “Kids in Orange: Voices from A Juvenile Detention,” will be released early this year.
Hardwick guides young adults in writing poetry about their life experiences.
“It’s very raw and honest,” she said. “They were the ones who inspired me to write my memoir. It took me multiple drafts to get to that level of honesty where they go instantly. They taught me a lot about having the courage to get to that place.”
Many of her students have committed drug-related crimes, but Hardwick said their stories allow others to see that “you may have done something, but that’s not completely who you are.”
After the workshop, the children might be released or start a long-term program.
“There’s so much that they’re working with and that you’re working against,” Hardwick said.
— Lyra Fontaine