Thanks so much for visiting HipWriterMama, my blog about children's books, authors and readergirlz!

It's time for a change. I've decided to focus my attention on my writing blog, www.vivianleemahoney.com. Hope to see you there!


Monday, August 27, 2007

Inspiration Monday: Getting Back on Track

The future depends on what we do in the present.
- Mahatma Gandhi

I'll be one of the first people to admit that I was a bit lax this summer with my writing. I was doing really well with the writing every day until these past couple of months. And then the loose days of summer just got to me. It was more fun to hang out with the kids, go to the pool, and have fun summer adventures.

Sure, I wrote. And I have to say, I did get some great stuff accomplished. But, if I had worked on a more consistent basis, I believe I'd be further along and ready to send off one of my manuscripts before the end of this summer. Sigh.

So now's the time to get back on track. Move back into the groove and get back into my regular routine. And to do this, I have to start back in again with the...say it with me, folks...the 30 Day Challenge. Anyone ready to do this with me?

I'm on vacation this week and probably won't post until next Tuesday. The 30 Day Challenge will start officially next Tuesday, September 4th and will end on October 3rd, 11pm, EST.

As for prizes...hmmm...let me think about this one and see if I can come up with something interesting. But truly, the biggest prize will be getting your habits and routines back on track after a relaxing summer. Right?

If you're in for the Challenge, let me know in the comments by next Tuesday, September 4th, and we'll get back on track together! So whatever habit you need to get back on track with to reach your dream. Are you with me?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Writing Question: Plot Outline vs. Plot Boards

I'm working on a few manuscripts and have found my work is much easier if I've outlined my plot. Which goes totally against my free spirit ways. But I have to tell you, outlining helps me focus on what I need to achieve in each chapter.

Now, I've thought of a new idea and started a plot outline, but am wondering whether to try working with a plot board this time around. This can go above my desk and I can map out my progress with lovely colored sticky notes.

My thought is this plot board would be so in my face at all times, and I can instantly change something by taking off a color coded sticky note or adding a new sticky note. But I'm wondering if it would make me too obsessive with moving things around on the board, rather than actually writing.

So, what say you? How do you map out your manuscript?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Great Books for Boys and Girls

I finished reading The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. I liked this book much better than Funke's book, Inkheart. Five-year-old Bo and twelve-year-old Prosper are two brothers on the run from their Aunt and Uncle, the Hartliebs, who only want to adopt little Bo and leave Prosper to a life of foster homes. The brothers are unwilling to be separated, and go to Venice, a magical city their mother loved.

The boys soon encounter The Thief Lord, a thirteen-year-old named Scipio, who helps them and other runaways, even though he cannot help himself. The Hartliebs commission Victor Getz, a detective, to locate Bo. Add to this story a young girl named Hornet, who loves to read; Riccio and Mosca, young boys who are anxious to prove themselves able to The Thief Lord; stealing from the rich to survive; an interesting assignment; a couple of kind hearted adults; and a dishonest antiques dealer named Barbarossa...and you've got an interesting Oliver Twist/Robin Hood type storyline.

Cornelia Funke is a German author, and I'm wondering whether something is lost in the translation. Especially since Cornelia Funke is an award winning author. While I enjoyed reading The Thief Lord and liked the characters, I found the plot and pacing disappointing at times. So I'm wondering, is it the translation, the book, or my reading tastes? Hmmm.

I put The Thief Lord on my list, since I think children will enjoy the adventures in this book and imagining what it would be like to answer to no one but themselves. Children ages 9-12 will probably appreciate the book the most.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Great Book for Girls Book Giveaway Winner

So the time has come for the winner to be announced for my First Great Book for Girls Giveaway. The prize--a brand new paperback book of Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley.

Drumroll please...Becky B...You're the winner!! Send me your mailing address to hipwritermama at comcast dot net and I'll get this book out to you in the mail this week. I'm happy you'll donate it to your library after you read it. Congrats!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Poetry Friday: Original Haiku

It's been awhile since I contributed to Poetry Friday, and I figured I'd get back into the swing of things with an original haiku poem...

School starts very soon.
Three weeks left and counting down.
The kids are, not me.

Enjoy the rest of the summer! And if anyone is looking for a great end of summer read, I'm giving away a new paperback copy of Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley.

Kelly Fineman is hosting Poetry Friday. Go on over and take a look.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reading Dilemma

I have a bit of a reading dilemma. Here are a sample of books in my TBR pile:

Eclipse (The third book in the Twilight series) by Stephenie Meyer -- You all know how much I loved Twilight. I'm nervous about reading the third book.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling - I loved Books 1-3, found Book 4 okay. Will Book 5 redeem the HP story for me?

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp and then Book 2, The Seal of Solomon by Rick Yancey - The covers of both books are all boy, cool and tough. Which frankly made me nervous. But now I find out this adventure series starts off with stealing Excalibur, King Arthur's amazing sword, and I'm intrigued. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table was one of my favorite stories when I was younger. So much, I was irritated beyond belief at the pathetic attempt of adding King Arthur as a teenage boy in the movie Shrek the Third. Sigh.

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book Two) by Rick Riordan - I loved the first book, The Lightning Thief. It's fun, hip and smart. Plus great action. Will Book 2 pass muster?

Lucky by Susan Patron - An interesting combination of controversy over a word and Newbery Medal winner.

All really interesting books. See why I have a problem? What books do you have in your reading pile?

The First Great Book for Girls Giveaway

Yup, you read it right. I've been meaning to start earlier this summer, but got distracted. And now that school starts in three weeks, I decided I'd better get the ball rolling. I'll be hosting book giveaways periodically throughout the year for books I've really enjoyed. And boys, fear not, I'll have books for you too.

For the first Great Books for Girls Giveaway, I debated which book to choose. I wanted something really good, that was all about summer, and already highlighted in my book list. And here it is. This book is a perfect beach read, all around great book to send a loved one at summer camp next year, and a book I wished I had when I was a teen. Any ideas?

Okay, if you haven't figured it out by the picture of the lovely cover, I'm gonna give away a paperback copy of Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley.

Write in your comments down below on the Truth of why you deserve the book by next Monday, August 20th by 11pm EST, and I'll announce the winner on Tuesday.

Ready. Set. Go!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

SBBT: Best Reads With Vegemite! Some Australian and New Zealand Authors

Earlier this summer, the SBBT, brainchild of Colleen Mondor, launched the first multi blog author tour. We're on to the next project, The One Shot World Tours, which starts today with the Best Reads with Vegemite! -- featuring reviews and interviews with Australian and a few New Zealand authors. As Australian author of the Magic and Madness Trilogy and cricket enthusiast Justine Larbalestier would say, "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!"

Here's the list with links to all the sites:
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast interviews Margo Lanagan

Kelly Fineman writes about Melina Marchetta

Big A, little A writes about Anna Feinberg and her Tashi series

Not Your Mother's Bookclub interviews Simmone Howell

Chicken Spaghetti reviews Kathy Hoopmann's award winning All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

Shaken and Stirred writes about How Sassy Changed My Life, The Red Shoes by Ursula Dubosarsky and Margo Lanagan

Jen Robinson discusses John Marsden's Tomorrow series

Finding Wonderland writes about Undine by Penni Russon and some of Jaclyn Moriarty's titles

Little Willow discusses Finding Grace by Alyssa Brugman

A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy writes about Catherine Jinks and her four Pagan books

Interactive Reader posts about Randa Abdel-Fattah's Does My Head Look Big in This? and John Flanagan's The Icebound Land

The Ya Ya Yas interviews Queenie Chan

Fuse Number 8 writes about John Marsden and the new Hot Man of Literature: Andy Griffiths

Chasing Ray writes about Nick Earls

And the SBBT welcomes two guest bloggers:
Jenny Davidson interviews mystery author Peter Temple.

Mother Reader writes about Am I Right or Am I Right? by Barry Jonsberg.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Inspiration Monday: Anticipate, Anticipate, Anticipate

Earlier this summer, my old laptop crashed, taking everything in it...pictures of my kids, manuscripts, everything. I had a few things saved on disks, but not everything. You'd think I'd learn.

But no. I got too comfortable with my new refurbished laptop and saved things on disk when I remembered, but since it was in great condition, I figured there was nothing to worry about. I neglected to factor in emergencies like viruses and worms. Oh yeah. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve most of my work. I need to look on this bright side otherwise I'm gonna cry over a couple of revisions...

To make a long story short, save your files on a regular basis to a place other than your hard drive. There are on-line storage files. You can burn things into a CD. Ask around to find out what other people recommend. Just save everything.

The moral of this story: If you anticipate complications ahead of time, you can use preventive measures to fight off problems that will postpone your progress. Now I'll go find my Magic 8 ball and hang my head in shame.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

An Almost Four Year Old's Self Portrait

My three year old is already planning her birthday party. She wants to be four already. Now. Never mind the big day isn't for another month. But, when you have two older sisters who revel in glorious birthday celebrations, it's only natural to want to start planning...especially when said older sisters whisper tales of big birthday parties, yummy cake and piles of presents.

Little one has been quite industrious today, drawing with her preferred drawing instrument. Permanent ink pen, of course. "Mommy! Mommy! This is me, for my birthday pah-ty invitation," she tells me. And I melted.

Isn't this the sweetest picture? Three year old has been practicing for days on drawing faces, and this is the first picture that looks like something. Goodbye to the little squiggles and scribbles. My little baby is growing up. Much too fast for me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Movies: What's Your Favorite Comedy?

Every once in awhile, I like to indulge and watch a light hearted romantic comedy. Don't get me wrong. I love thrilling action packed movies, but there's nothing like a romantic comedy that gets me laughing and crying, then laughing again.

I'm working on my revisions for my YA WIP, and as the topic can get dark at times, I really like to watch a funny movie to snap me out of the intense writing. Last night, I watched While You Were Sleeping (1995) starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. I love this movie. No matter how many times I watch this movie, I always laugh throughout the movie and get weepy in the end--always the sign of a satisfying movie for me. And Bill Pullman...he's simply Mmmm.

Another movie I like to watch just because I think it is plain funny, is Shanghai Noon(2000) starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson. While it's not a romantic comedy, the laugh out loud moments just bring out the adolescent in me. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll just have to watch it yourself to find out.

What movies make you laugh or cry?

Monday, August 6, 2007

Inspiration Monday: Honor Yourself Day

"The shortest and surest way to live with honor in this world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them."
- Socrates
In my most recent post, I asked you all to treat your dreams with respect and take yourselves seriously. A tough thing to do at times. It was wonderful to read your comments. I loved all of your comments and hope you made progress over the past couple of weeks.

This week, we'll try something new. Get two pieces of paper. Then think of someone who you admire. It can be someone who has overcome all odds and is living their dream, someone who has inspired you, someone who is your mentor or muse--you decide. Honor this person in a short paragraph or two on one sheet of paper. What is it that makes them so worthy of your admiration and respect?

On the second sheet of paper, honor yourself. Give solid examples of what you like and respect about yourself. Take your time with this one. No need to be embarrassed here. This is for your eyes only. Nobody needs to see this unless you want them to.

For me, I found it so much easier to write about my inspirational person rather than write about myself. But once I actually started to think about this some more, it became less of a struggle. I hope you found this true for yourself too.

I think it is always easier to admire and yes, even envy, what other people have accomplished. But remember, this isn't about anyone else. This isn't about trying to do something someone is doing, or trying to beat someone else's record. It's not about trying to make your parents proud or getting someone else's attention. It's only about you, and what is good for you.

For today, take the small step of honoring yourself. Discover what you like about yourself, even love about yourself and find some small way to celebrate yourself. Just for today. Maybe you'll even show respect to yourself the next day. Who knows? It might become a great habit--honoring yourself. I think you'll find that underneath all the layers of modesty, you're a pretty cool person who is capable of so much. No need to worry about what the next person is doing. You're simply spectacular all by yourself.

I know this may seem like a hokey exercise, but if anything, I hope it will give you affirmation of your strengths and all things that you're good at. Because odds are, most of us will get some form of rejection at one point or another. Nothing like a little bit of rejection to give you a big kick in the butt and make you question all you've built up and dreamed about. But when you acknowledge and respect your own abilities, you're already armed with the most powerful shield to deflect those barbed jousts coming at you. I'm not gonna say it'll be easy to hear any negative feedback, because I'll be the first one to tell you that it just really bites. However, when you honor yourself and respect your abilities, you will make it easier to bounce back and and claim all that's yours.

So. What are you waiting for? Don't you deserve a little honor for all your efforts? How did you do?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Writing Tip: A Short Study of Harry Potter

Okay, okay. So you're all ahead of me already and have finished the last HP book with gusto. But I've got one up on you. I get to read all these books for the first time with no waiting required. Wahoo! And is it fun. I have really enjoyed the first three books. My goodness, Book Three is simply divine.

I could probably talk forever on what makes these first three books so great, but I'm on vacation, and need to get back to my reading before my husband and kids come back from the beach and need attention. So, I'll just share a few things on what I loved about these books.

Great Names for Wonderful Characters
I love the names of all these characters. I find character names very difficult to think up. Of course I'm also one who couldn't come up with a baby name for any of my children until I actually saw them and held them in my arms. No sure names for me.

The perfect character name, whether he/she is friend or foe, has to roll off my tongue in a familiar way. A good name helps me define my character. And J.K. Rowling has thought of great names. And wonderful characters.

Take the Dursleys. Notice how this last name just rolls off your tongue in a dismissive manner. Cousin Dudley. Uncle Vernon. Aunt Petunia. Do you see yourself liking characters with these names?

Now you have Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Fred. George. Neville. Percy. Hagrid. Dumbledore. Professor McGonagall. The house of Gryffindor and Slytherin (All I could think with this was slithering snakes, and then when the gigantic snake appeared in Book Two, I was pleased). Sirius Black. Professor Snape. Draco Malfoy. Voldemort. What do you feel about these characters just based on their names? And then when you see how J.K. Rowling develops these characters, don't these names make perfect sense?

Great Use of Emotion
Rowling is genius with her use of emotion in these first three books. I felt disgust and anger towards the Dursley's, sympathy and hope for Harry, the yick factor for Draco Malfoy. Fred and George, Ron's twin brothers are magnificent for comic relief. Hagrid is like the sweet teddy bear you want to befriend and protect.

The emotive quality of the book chapters go up and down. One chapter ends on a sad or evil note. The next chapter has a comic or happy note.

Books One, Two and Three are so full of adventure, mean spirited bullying, comic antics, pure evil, innocence, extreme heroism, great friendship...I was so surprised with the touching ending of Book Three. It made me cry and yearn for more. Now that's great storytelling.

Great Pacing
These books are long. But the pacing of the book is simply wonderful and I just wanted to keep reading. No boring, long passages. No wanting to close the book for another time.

No Boring Backstory
In Books Two and Three, J.K. Rowling tells the backstory of the previous books in a manner that is natural to the course of the story. No tedious excerpts from the previous books so loyal readers are drumming their fingers until the juicy stuff comes along. And enough backstory so readers who aren't familiar with the books can pick up and start reading out of sequence. Not that you'd want to though.

Extraordinary Imagination
J.K. Rowling clearly has an incredible imagination to come up with the freedom and conflict of the wizard world, the bureaucracy and suspicion of the Muggles, the fairy tale of Harry Potter's beginning, and this spellbinding story that still begs to be told, even after three books. This is quite an accomplishment.

Okay, I've got to stop this for now. Here's your chance. What do you think makes the Harry Potter books so awesome? And what about any criticisms, if any? Just curious since J.K. Rowling certainly breaks some rules at times, such as the descriptive telling rather than showing the story. What do you think make her books so great that we can overlook things that we wouldn't necessarily in other books or our own manuscripts?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Great Books for Girls and Boys

What a wonderful day. I'm just about half way into my vacation week. Nothing like reading some Harry Potter by the ocean. Oh my goodness. I am so glad I waited until all the books were published before starting this series. Otherwise, my teeth would be worn down from the agony of waiting for each and every book to be published. It's that good.

You'd think I'd plan better for this, but I didn't. I only brought the first three books--The Sorcerer's Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban--with me, along with a few other fine books I've been waiting to read. But....I just finished The Prisoner of Azkaban early this afternoon, and had to run to the book store to buy Book Four, The Goblet of Fire, even though I have one at home. Sad, isn't it?

Boys and girls will adore this magical adventure series where the characters become so real, you wish you were part of this world. They'll want to cheer Harry as he escapes from the Dursley's, finds his own niche over at Hogwart's, and fights for truth, honor and good. Comedy, drama, tragedy, true friendship, bullies, heroism, good versus evil...these books have it all.

As a writer, I am in awe. J.K. Rowling has created wonderful names, incredible characters and spellbinding storyline. Even three books into the series, the story is still enchanting and fresh, which is another triumph.

So, in case you are one of the few who haven't started to read this incredible fantasy series, get yourself a copy and start reading. You are going to love this series.