Today I am happy to announce that I’m hosting my very first guest blogger. Mindy Hardwick is one of my fellow authors with Musa Publishing. I’ve had the pleasure of reading her book, Stained Glass Summer. Today, however, she is going to promote another one of her books, titled Weaving Magic. She’s also here to talk about her inspiration.
Mindy works with incarcerated young people. It’s an admirable endeavor, and it sounds like Mindy garners as much from it as the kids she helps. But I’ll let you decide that by stepping aside and allowing you to read it for yourself. Thanks so much for showing Mindy your support. She’s pretty awesome.
I am ushered through a series of locked doors, down a long hallway and into a unit of twelve boys who wear orange pants and t-shirts. I sit down and pull poetry books from my canvas bag. The boys ask, “Who are you? Why do you want to volunteer with us?”
I ask myself these same questions every week. Why do I volunteer with this group of kids locked in juvenile detention? I could have easily gone to a local Boys and Girls Club or YMCA and facilitated an after-school writing workshop.
I’d recently left a full-time teaching job, and I didn’t really think I was a writer. But, after I left teaching, I realized how much I missed being around teens and tweens. A good friend was working with teens in juvenile detention in Seattle through a program called Pongo Publishing. She encouraged me to seek out the detention center closest to me.
When I contacted my local juvenile detention center, the program director was thrilled to have a volunteer writer and I began running a weekly poetry workshop on Monday afternoons. Each week, I met with the teens and asked them to write poetry about their life experiences. We read poetry written by other teens and the “kids in orange” wrote from the heart about loss, addictions, and of course, love! And something began to happen to me in those poetry workshops. I began to find my voice as a writer.
I would listen to the kid’s poetry and then go back home to write. And, slowly, a story started to form. It was a story based partially on my own experiences as a teen and a story based partially on the kids’ experiences that I was privileged to hear each week. That story was WEAVING MAGIC.
WEAVING MAGIC Blurb:
He loves magic. She loves romance. But the biggest illusion is the one Shantel and Christopher perform together. Sixteen- year- old Christopher fights to stay sober while fifteen-year-old Shantel struggles in the aftermath of her mother’s death and seeks refuge in a fantasy world. But the unacknowledged roots of their problems refuse to stay buried and soon, the two are headed toward a deadly magic trick. Can Shantel and Christopher move beyond magical illusions to find love?
WEAVING MAGIC is available at Amazon and MuseItUp Publishing. WEAVING MAGIC is coming soon from Barnes and Noble and the Apple Itunes Store.
The years passed, and I kept writing and running the poetry workshop. We began to get grants, and I added young adult literature and memoirs to our workshop. I moved the workshop to be a part of the school day, and we published four books of the youths’ poetry, and then, a blog. (www.denneypoetry.com)
And, at the same time, my own writing began to take off. Soon, I had a list of publishing credits from articles to short stories and I was teaching a lot of workshops. In April 2011, I received the long awaited for e-mail. My young adult romance, WEAVING MAGIC, had been accepted. I finally had that elusive book contract. The following August, I received another book contract from a different publisher. My tween novel, STAINED GLASS SUMMER, had been accepted too. Both stories are inspired by the teens in juvenile detention.
In WEAVING MAGIC, there is a scene in the book where main character Christopher sits in a juvenile detention poetry workshop and has an epiphany moment about his Father who is also in jail. As I wrote that scene, I felt like I’d had my own epiphany moment and could finally answer the questions the kids asked of me in those early workshops.
Who am I? I am a writer.
Why do I volunteer with kids in juvenile detention? They show me how to write honestly and courageously.
I hope you will visit the teens’ poems at www.denneypoetry.com