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I feel especially lucky to introduce STAINED GLASS SUMMER and author Mindy Hardwick on my blog today.

Welcome, Mindy. Can you tell us about the main character of Stained Glass Summer, 12-year old Jasmine? What was she like before her Father abandoned the family and what was she like after?

When the story opens, Jasmine lives in Chicago and wants to be an artist. Jasmine’s Father is an award winning photographer and she adores him. Her favorite thing to do is work, side-by-side in her Father’s studio. Jasmine is devastated when her Father chooses to abandon her and her Mom.  But, Jasmine is a survivor, and when Uncle Jasper visits, Jasmine sees an opportunity she can’t pass up—a chance to spend the summer with her Uncle on a small island in the Pacific Northwest and learn a little bit about stained glass.

 What is the cause of her Father’s choice to leave the family?
Jasmine’s parents have been at odds for years. Her Father is a successful photographer and spends most of his time working on his photography rather than spending time with the family. He finally decides to leave and follow his photography career.     


 Has Jasmine always been a creative soul? What caught her eye to create stained glass?

Jasmine has always enjoyed art. She takes Saturday art lessons at the Art Palace. Unfortunately, at age twelve, she is too old for art classes at the Art Palace which only teaches younger children, and she is too young to work as a teacher’s helper.  As a former seventh grade teacher, this age problem was something I saw often. At age twelve and thirteen, tweens were too old for elementary school classes and activities, but too young for jobs in the community. The middle school years (grades 6-8) can be hard because you’re “in the middle.” I wanted to acknowledge that struggle in this story.   

When Jasmine arrives on the Island, she meets Opal who is a glass artist and a friend of her Uncle’s.  When Opal offers a contest in stained glass, Jasmine jumps at the chance to learn a new skill and show she can be the best—just like her Father.

Opal sounds like a fascinating character. Tell us more about her. I have a feeling she is a major influence on Jasmine.
Opal is a glass artist who owns a glass art shop on the island.  Opal is a successful glass artist, but, Opal is not like Jasmine’s Father. Opal believes in community and being of service to others. She shows Jasmine how to redefine her understanding of what makes a successful artist.

How is life on a Pacific Northwest Island different from where Jasmine was raised?

On the Island, everyone knows everyone—something 13-year-old Cole points out on their first bike ride into town. But, island life takes getting used to for Jasmine. For example, she is frustrated when her cell phone does not work very well. Jasmine is waiting a phone call from her Father (which never comes), and she can only get reception when she is in town.
In Jasmine’s words…what would she like to say to the tween who is reading her story? What words of advice would she give her reader?
If your parents get divorced, it’s not your fault. I thought Dad left because of something I had done. I believed that if I won art awards like Dad, then he would love me.  The best thing to happen was for me to move to the Island and learn about mentorship. Not everyone can move to a small Island. But everyone can have or be a mentor. If you want to find out more about mentoring in your community, here are some great resources:

National Mentoring Month

http://www.nationalmentoringmonth.org/

Find Mentoring Opportunities

http://www.nationalmentoringmonth.org/take_action/becomeamentor/

Big Brothers/Big Sisters

http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962335/k.4DD4/Start_Something_for_a_child_today.htm

Share a little bit of your perseverance with getting Stained Glass Summer to print. You’ve got quite a story
I began writing Stained Glass Summer ten years ago. A friend gave me three pieces of broken glass she had found in an art supply store dumpster and Jasmine’s character popped into my head. What I love about the long journey of Stained Glass Summer is the story took me to so many places.  The journey began when I applied for and was accepted to the National Book Foundation Summer Writing Camp. It was at Camp that I met Ann Angel and Norma Fox Mazer who both encouraged me to apply for the Vermont College MFA in Writing for Children Program. I was accepted to the program and traveled to Vermont two times a year for residencies. I met many great people who worked on this story including: Ron Koertge, Liza Ketchum, Sharon Darrow, and Lisa Jahn Clough. After graduating, I spent another six years submitting. It came close to being published a couple times, but each time, the story wasn’t “quite right for them”. Finally, I sent the manuscript to freelance editor, Sarah Cloots. She suggested the story become a middle grade novel.  It was Sarah who titled the story, Stained Glass Summer.   When I saw Musa was looking for YA and middle grade submissions, I sent off a query and partial.  A few hours later, I received an e-mail from the editor requesting full. A week later, I received a contract.  I’m thrilled to be a part of e-book publishing, and I know that Stained Glass Summer found the exact right home.

You can buy Stained Glass Summer at your favorite on-line bookstore or through Musa Publishing.

A free reader’s discussion guide is available for download at:

http://www.mindyhardwick.com/books/stained-glass-summer/

Mindy can be found at:

Website: www.mindyhardwick.com

Blog: www.mindyhardwick.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stainedglasssummer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/mindyhardwick

Thanks for joining me here today, Mindy. It was a pleasure to discover what STAINED GLASS SUMMER is really about.
C.K. Volnek