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!


Friday, November 30, 2007

Poetry Friday: Poetry Slam with Taylor Mali

Want a change from reading some poetry? How about listening to some poetry slam? I can't imagine anyone finding poetry boring if they had a chance to listen to poetry slam--competitive poetry readings judged by the audience. I discovered Taylor Mali awhile ago, and loved this one poem he performs. Since Two Writing Teachers are hosting Poetry Friday today, I thought it would be a great time to share Taylor Mali's audience pumping performance in honor of all the teachers out there. The text to What Teachers Make is here.

Also, in case you'd like to find out more about this particular artform, you can find other poems to listen to over at LivePoetsDotCom. CAUTION: There are a few poems with swear words, etc. on this site, so don't let a child listen to this until you okay it first.

If you're ready to try performing in a poetry slam, Taylor offers A Baker's Dozen Secrets of Slam: 13 Tips for Performing Poetry in Public. Any takers?

Tomorrow is Last Day to Postmark Jordan's Furniture Monster Deal Rebate Claim Form!

Remember when I posted about this? And I was so thrilled since the Boston Red Sox won the Word Series?! Well, if you're one of the lucky ones who bought furniture from Jordan's Furniture between March 7, 2007 and April 16, 2007, and you haven't filled out the claim form yet....tomorrow is the last day to send in the claim form. It has to be postmarked by December 1, 2007. In case you don't have the terms & conditions of the Monster Deal and the claim form, here it is.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Introducing the 2007 Cybils MG/YA Nonfiction Nominees

Cybils2007white2007 Cybils nominations are now closed. I am thrilled to be on the nominating committee for the MG/YA Non-Fiction category. While I haven't read all of these books yet, these books were nominated because someone really enjoyed them. I'm sure a few of these books will make it to my Great Books for Girls & Cool Books for Boys lists (Both lists are in serious need of some updating).

In case you haven't seen it yet, here is the list of nominated titles for the middle grade and young adult nonfiction category. Thank you, Jen, for putting together the code.

1607: A New Look at Jamestown
written by Karen Lange
National Geographic
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Across the Wide Ocean
written by Karen Romano Young
Harper Collins (Greenwillow)
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

America Dreaming: How Youth Changed America in the 60's
written by Laban Hill
Little, Brown
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Another Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Bad
written by Mark Gonyea
Henry Holt and Co.
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children About Their Art
written by Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Astrobiology (Cool Science)
written by Fred Bortz
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Black and White Airmen: Their True History
written by John Fleischman
Houghton Mifflin
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Dangerous Book for Boys, The
written by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Daring Book for Girls, The
written by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Dinosaur Eggs Discovered!: Unscrambling the Clues
written by Lowell Dingus (and others)
Twenty-First Century Books
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Face to Face with Grizzlies
written by Joel Satore
National Georgraphic
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

From Slave to Superstar of the Wild West: The Awesome Story of Jim Beckwourth
written by Tom DeMund
Legends of the West Publishing
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Grief Girl
written by Erin Vincent
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Halloween Book of Facts and Fun, The
written by Wendie Old
Albert Whitman
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Jeannette Rankin: Political Pioneer
written by Gretchen Woelfle
Calkins Creek (Boyd Mills
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Let's Clear the Air: 10 Reasons Not to Start Smoking
written by Deanna Staffo
Lobster Press
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Marie Curie: Giants of Science #4
written by Kathleen Krull
Viking Juvenile
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail
written by Danica McKellar
Hudson Street Press
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Morris and Buddy: The Story of the First Seeing Eye Dog
written by Becky Hall
Albert Whitman & Company
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Muckrakers: How Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, and Lincoln Steffens Helped Expose Scandal, Inspire Reform, and Invent Investigative Journalism
written by Ann Bausum
National Geographic Children's Books
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

My Feet Aren't Ugly
written by Debra Beck
Beaufort Books
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Ox, House, Stick: The Story of Our Alphabet
written by Don Robb
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Periodic Table: Elements With Style!, The
written by Adrian Dingle
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Pocket Babies and Other Amazing Marsupials
written by Sneed B. Collard
Darby Creek Publishers
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Real Benedict Arnold, The
written by Jim Murphy
Clarion (Houghton Mifflin)
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Red: The Next Generation of American Writers--Teenage Girls--On What Fires Up Their Lives Today
written by Amy Goldwasser
Hudson Street Press
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Secret of Priest's Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story
written by Peter Lane Taylor
Kar-Ben Publishing
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

written by Eve Drobot
Maple Tree Press
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

written by Alexandra Siy
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Snow Baby: The Arctic Childhood of Robert E. Peary's Daring Daughter, The
written by Katherine Kirkpatrick
Holiday House
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Social Climber's Guide to High School, The
written by Robyn Schneider
Simon Pulse
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Superfood or Superthreat: The Issue of Genetically Engineered Food
written by Kathlyn Gay
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Tasting the Sky: a Palestinian Childhood
written by Ibtisam Barakat
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Titanic: An Interactive History Adventure, The
written by Bob Temple
Capstone Press
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Tracking Trash
written by Loree Griffin Burns
Houghton Mifflin
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Ultimate Interactive Atlas of the World
written by Elaine Jackson (and others)
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, The
written by Peter Sis
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin
written by Larry Dane Brimmer
Calkins Creek (Boyd Mills
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Whale Scientists: Solving the Mystery of Whale Strandings, The
written by Fran Hodgkins
Houghton Mifflin
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

What's Eating You?: Parasites--The Inside Story
written by Nicola Davies
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Who Was First
written by Russell Freedman
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Wildly Romantic: The English Romantic Poets: The Mad, the Bad, and the Dangerous
written by Catherine M. Andronik
Henry Holt
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

World Made New: Why the Age of Exploration Happened and How It Changed the World, The
written by Marc Aronson
National Geographic
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Beatles, Beatlemania
written by Bob Spitz
Little, Brown Young Readers
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

You Can Write a Story
written by Lisa Bullard
Two-Can Publishing, Inc.
Buy from Amazon Buy from BookSense (your local independent)

Here are links to the nomination lists in the other seven categories:

If you have a blog, please think about installing the Cybils widget from JacketFlap, with which you can display a new Cybils-nominated title every time your blog is refreshed. I've got mine set to show the MG/YA Non-Fiction Nominees. You can also customize colors and genres. Special thanks to Tracy Grand for providing this lovely widget free of charge for the Cybils.

Please note that if you purchase any of the Cybils titles by clicking through to Amazon or BookSense from any of the nominations posts (including this one) or from the Cybils widget a small commission will go to the Cybils organization. Proceeds will go towards prizes for the winners. Thanks for supporting the Cybils.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Wanderings

For those of you who forgot to submit a post for the upcoming Carnival of Children's Literature, have no fear....MotherReader has extended the deadline to Tuesday, November 27th by 9am, EST. The theme for the Carnival is Tips, and if you want more clarification, then go over here.

The ladies over at Writing YA have an eye opening discussion about ethnicity and YA. You must go on over to read the post and contribute to the comments.

Liz Scanlon has put together a stellar group of poets from the kidlit world--Sara Lewis Holmes, Kelly Fineman, Laurie Purdie Salas, TadMack from Finding Wonderland, Cloudscome from A Wrung Sponge, and Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect--to write a Crown Sonnet with her. I can't wait to read this one. For some powerful examples of a Crown Sonnet, go here and here.

Sara Lewis Holmes shares her podcast, A Cast of One...I love her description: "A writer reads out loud to herself. Because I need to taste the words."

The Cybils nominations are now closed. Go over here to read the index of nominated titles. I'm on the Non-Fiction MG/YA nominating panel, and am excited to be part of this process. The finalists will be announced on January 1, 2008.

"Enchanted" Behind the Scenes Movie Trailer

Disney's new version of Cinderella with McDreamy and Susan Sarandon...

Robert's Snow--Auction 2 Starts Tomorrow

Auction 2 will begin accepting bids on Monday, November 26th at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $100 for each snowflake. All bids must be before the close of Auction 2 on Friday, November 30th at 5:00 pm. Don't forget that 100 percent of the proceeds from this online auction will benefit sarcoma research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and that all but $25 of the winning bid is tax deductible.

Read about all the illustrators who contributed to this auction at the sites linked below. (The order presented is the same as on the auction page.) Thank you, Tricia, for putting these links together.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Thanksgiving Feast of Sorts

Thanksgiving is a time for most people to reflect on gratitude, remember our loved ones, and appreciate our life's bounty. The meaning of Thanksgiving has shifted for me over the years. From sweet to bittersweet.

As a young girl, I couldn't wait for this holiday, much to my mom's dismay. She was and still is an incredible cook, when it comes to fragrant Korean meals that were our daily sustenance. But Americanized meals? The lack of hot spices puzzled her, and her attempts at cooking American were dismal at best. So when she took up the gauntlet every Thanksgiving to cook a traditional feast, you know that's pure love brewing up magic. Especially since her birthday falls on Thanksgiving every few years. When I learned how to cook (thanks to those Home Ec classes in high school all the girls were forced to take), I was able to create my own Thankgiving/Birthday meals and give my mom an opportunity to be relax and enjoy her special day.

After I graduated from college and moved to Boston, I had my first couple Thanksgivings with my best friend's German family. Talk about a Thanksgiving smorgasbord of American and German influences. And then it made me realize that my mother's Thanksgiving meals were a celebration of everything American and Korean and it was dog gone wonderful.

Afterwards, I spent a few Thanksgivings at another college friend's home, and had my first taste of what I imagined a true traditional Thanksgiving was all about. Martha Stewart could be cloned from my friend's mother or vice versa. Talk about a multitude of dishes and desserts that were made ahead of time. Handmade decorations, incredible flower arrangements, little presents wrapped at every place setting. A total gluttonous feast for all the senses.

Then I met the man who would later become my husband, and our Thanksgivings have always been together.

It wasn't until four years ago that Thanksgiving held a different meaning for me. My nephew Michael, was killed in a freak shooting accident, November 19th, a few days before he was to visit all the family in Boston. My youngest was two months old at the time, and in the last conversation we ever had, Michael told me he couldn't wait to meet his new cousin. My other two children were so excited for Michael's visit, especially my eldest. She loved her cousin dearly.

And then we got The Call. The call no one ever wants where you feel like your very breath has been punched right out of you and you're free falling into nothingness. That Thanksgiving was so painful, so filled with What If's. It was a very difficult time to be grateful for anything, when we felt we were robbed of all the possibility and hope of Michael's young life.

Michael was one of the brave who served in the Marines, was sent overseas, and saw too much despair and horror. He was one of the hopeful, who was finally home and ready to start a new life. He was one of the considerate who would help a family member or friend in need. He was one of the honorable, who believed in the power of his word.

A year later, we were to mourn the loss of my mother-in-law, who at the age of 87 was still loving life but missed her first grandchild even more. I loved her dearly but never could say it out loud to her, and for that I have much regret.

Life does go on, and while I do have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, I still find myself at a loss. So while I take a few days off, and focus on revising my manuscript in honor of Michael, I offer you A Thanksgiving Meal Menu of Conversation Starters, in celebration of some of the bloggers who have some wonderful words to share:

A Thanksgiving Meal Menu of Conversation Starters

A Special Thanksgiving Tradition
Some Thanksgiving Poetry

Main Courses
Robert's Snow Auction
The Cycle of Life
Warriors in the Battle of Should, Part I and Part II
Living with Food Allergies
Give the World, Gift a Book: Downloadable Bookmarks
Growing Bookworms Newletter
Poetry Stretch Results--Poems of Apology
November Carnival of Children's Literature and Tips

An incredible crown of glory
A surprise engagement
Children's Books That Never Were

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Snowflakes Are Falling on my Head

It has started to snow. Not the pretty, fluffy stuff that makes one want to run outside and try to catch a few flakes on the tongue. Nope. It's a continual downpour of wet, clumpy snow that threatens to turn to rain at the slightest provocation.

How's that for the first snow of the season? I am not amused.

Monday, November 19, 2007

HWM Sock Monkey Fairy Points Her Magic Wand to....

HWM Sock Monkey Fairy here. I've been trying to get HipWriterMama to choose my new owner, but she's busy attending to a sick little one. So she told me to use my magic wand to find my rightful owner. Sigh. Already she's trying to get rid of me.

Thankfully it has been somewhat quiet. One sick child, one kid in school, and all I've got to keep my eye on is the sly four-year-old who keeps trying to get my wand. I've got to work quick.

Ooooo. This is going to be difficult. I still can't figure out who will be the best owner for me. I mean, who will give me yummy chocolates, a warm roof over my head, and listen to me when I point my wand and be the ultimate taskmaster? Who will absolve me from all blame, bring me to all the fancy award dinners, and make sure I'm not crammed into some moth infested closet and left alone in the dark? Gulp.

While I'm making my life decision, I thought I'd share the great entries from the Shout Out for All the Wonderful Authors Out There contest:

1. M. Thompson: "I'm a huge fan of Markus Zusak. If I mix up his name a little, I've got a character named Marzuk. A mystical wizard with powerful ways of persuasion. I think I'm actually going to use this one in a manuscript!"

2. Cloudscome: "How about a 10 year old girl named Looney Lowery... she has a talent for seeing patterns and color combinations but her communication skills as sadly deficient. She gets into all sorts of difficulties at school but she is a wiz at computer graphics. Parents are divorced. She lives in Illinois with mom and dad lives in Hong Kong. (They email a lot). Little sis is autistic. She goes to an elite prep school and makes friends with a new kid who has been kicked out of four previous schools. I better stop here."

3. Sam Riddleburger: "As for the contest, our Sock Monkey won't let me enter it due to his petty jealousy of other monkeys. However, may I point out that the young artist in Qwikpick wasn't named Dave RASKIN for nothing. Also, if you wanted to make a name out of Dickens, you might spell it backwards which would be Snekcid, prononced Lemony Snickett! Coincidence?"

4. Mrs. T: Isabela Hawthorne is a direct descendant of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Well, by adoption anyway. Lila Hawthorne adopted Isabela at age 5 from her native Guatemala. Having the Hawthorne name might not be a bad thing if it didn’t draw all that unwanted attention from her 9th grade English teacher, especially when Isabela struggles to read 4th grade reading material; she was recently diagnosed with dyslexia. Will she overcome her learning disability? Will she learn to feel truly part of her white, literary adoptive family? Can she find her own unique voice and make it heard among the din of conflicting expectations?

5. Sue Daniels: I love Rachel Cohn's books and think there should be the Cohn Institute for Wayward Girls. The perfect place to send teen girls who need some rest and relaxation from their stressed out lives.

6. Tricia: Let me introduce Silver Stein, a feisty 13-year old girl with a talent for cartooning, spoonerisms and waxing rhapsodic. She is a dreamer who isn't discouraged by Whatifs. She and her friend Ursula sell homemade books (written and illustrated by Silver, published by Ursula) in the summer instead of lemonade. Someday they're both going to make it big.


Okay, this was a tough one. I hope I chose right! Miss Rumphy...send HWM your snail mail address. You're my new owner! Treat me right and I'll make sure you have good writing juju!

Robert's Snow Auction Starts Today!

The Robert's Snow Auction is finally here! Auction 1 will begin accepting bids today, November 19th at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $50 for each snowflake. All bids must be placed before the close of Auction 1 on Friday, November 23rd at 5:00 pm. 100 percent of the proceeds from this online auction will benefit sarcoma research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Read about all the illustrators who contributed to this auction at the sites linked below. (The order presented is the same as on the auction page.) Thank you, Tricia, for putting these links together. And thank you, Jules for organizing this incredible outreach effort to spread the word on Robert's Snow. If anything, this proves it truly takes a village.

To recap...the auction starts today, November 19th at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $50 for each snowflake. Be sure to place your bid here, before the close of Auction 1 on Friday, November 23rd at 5:00 p.m. Thank you for helping to raise money to find a cure for cancer.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Quest for Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy

Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy: Psst! HipWriterMama!

HWM: Yes, Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy?

Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy: You know what I just thought of?

HWM: What?

Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy: How about if we put a Hip in front of my name and then I could be HWM Sock Monkey Fairy?

HWM: What a clever idea! HWM Sock Monkey Fairy it is!

HWM Sock Monkey Fairy: Who do you think will win me?

HWM: I don't know. Hmmm....


If you don't know what this conversation is about...I'm searching for a new home for HWM Sock Monkey Fairy. I made her all by myself, from pretty new socks that were never worn. It would never do to have a stinky sock monkey fairy. Oh, no. This little gal is all about attitude, lovely details, and helping whisk away those unsavory writer's block moments. She's a Hip Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy.

I made her just for my Shout Out for All the Wonderful Authors Out There Contest. The deadline for the contest is this Sunday, November 18th, 11pm, EST. If you'd like a chance to win her and save her from my children's repeated attempts to claim her as their own, your mission is to go here and find out what you need to do.

Hurry, please! HWM Sock Monkey Fairy will be ever so grateful and will be sure to bestow good writing juju to you.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Poetry Friday: Rare Footage of Anne Sexton reciting her poem, Her Kind

I have recently discovered Anne Sexton's poems. No flowery stanzas here. She suffered mental breakdowns and started writing poetry on the recommendation of one of her doctors, who saw her creative side. Her poetry became part of her therapy.

Anne Sexton was a modern confessional poet and her work was often considered to be controversial. Her mentor was W.D. Snodgrass; one of her good friends, Sylvia Plath. She won many awards for her work, including the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Live or Die (1967). Sadly, Anne's battle with depression ended in suicide.

If you have five minutes, listen to this rare footage of Anne Sexton reciting her poem, Her Kind. It is incredible. Though the story of her life, and some of the controversy in here are so very sad. The words to the poem are below this.

Her Kind
by Anne Sexton

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
Click here to read the rest of the poem

Kelly over at Big A little a is hosting Poetry Friday today. Go on over and find some great poems to start off a relaxing weekend...

And in case you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, my Shout Out for All the Wonderful Authors Out There contest ends on Sunday, November 18th. Details here. The lovely prize is my handmade Writer's Muse Sock Monkey. (see picture on sidebar)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Books for National Adoption Month

I found out from Rose Kent, author of Kimchee and Calamari that November is National Adoption Month. I'm posting about this today, in the middle of the month, because I found out there is a National Adoption Day on November 17th to celebrate thousands of foster care adoptions that are being finalized around the country. Isn't it cool when people can open up their hearts and homes to older children? I also have several friends who have adopted children from Asia and have found such joy and hope. Along with sometimes painful questions and stares. I'd like to show my support for their decisions to adopt and bring a child into their home to love, cherish and raise as their very own.

For those naysayers who say a true family cannot exist unless the family members share the same DNA, though that too can sometimes cause some controversy, well, these families I know would certainly prove anyone wrong. I'm of the opinion that no matter how different an adopted child may seem to be initially from their adoptive family or vice versa...once all the family members have adjusted and fallen in love with each other, the external differences melt away. Those who know these families can only see family resemblances and a REAL FAMILY.

Rose wanted to share a few things about National Adoption Month, and since she said this best, I'm quoting her from an e-mail: "I'm on a mission to get lots of people thinking about this in the kidlit world. There are plenty of reasons to acknowledge adoption. Of course an adopted mom and an author with a book featuring an adopted protagonist would say that, right? But the reasons go beyond my kids & my story.

It turns out, we live in a big ol' adoption nation. Studies show that one hundred million people have someone adopted in their family -- that's a third of us in the US. Yet, I can vouch to this, many Americans are clueless on what adoption is & isn't. At a recent school visit I talked about adoption and a little girl raised her hand and said, "Adoption is when movie stars fly planes faraway and get babies from dirty orphanages." (I kid you not.) Many adoptive families I know tell me they are stopped out in public and asked questions like, "How much did your son
cost?" Or if they have more than one child (who doesn't look like them), "Are they REALLY brother and sister?"

Rose has written a Personal View for papertigers.org, and she was kind enough to share it with me. I think you'll like what she has written: Three Cheers for Adoption Books and Why We All Should Read 'Em.

There are so many websites and organizations about adoption. Rose mentioned these two organizations in her article. You might want to start from these sites in your research to find reputable adoption organizations.
Institute for Adoption Information, Inc.--an organization that strives to promote understanding about adoption.
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption--the founder of Wendy's created this organization to help find loving homes for foster children.

Some Amazon.com Lists on Books on Adoption (Please note, I have not read any of these books, these lists are compiled by different readers.)
Books that will change the way you think about adoption, Amazon.com list
Top 10 Books for International Adoption, Amazon.com list
Books I will read to my adopted child, Amazon.com list
Fiction about Children in Foster Care Placements, Amazon.com list
Foster Care Children's Books, Amazon.com list

Some New Books for Children:
The Red Thread by Grace Lin
Every Year on Your Birthday by Rose A. Lewis
We Belong Together: A Book about Families and Adoption by Todd Parr

And in case you want to read about some first hand experiences on adoption, here is the November 2007 Adoption Blog Carnival and a more intensive Blog Carnival from September 2007 hosted by Suzanne over at Adventures of Daily Living.

Robert's Snow Auction Starts Next Monday, November 19th

I can't believe it. The Robert's Snow Auction is almost here! Think Monday, November 19th. Just four more days. In case you need a refresher on some of the incredible snowflakes, here is 7-Imp's Master Schedule of some of the snowflakes designed by talented children's illustrators. If you'd like to see more snowflakes, go over here. Or check out this little film showcasing the snowflakes, made by Sheri of Goading the Pen.

Auction 1 will begin accepting bids on Monday, November 19th at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $50 for each snowflake. Be sure to place your bid here, before the close of Auction 1 on Friday, November 23rd at 5:00 p.m. Here are the official rules for the auction.

Remember my interview with David Ezra Stein? Well, against my better judgement, I'm showing you his wonderful snowflake. Again. Isn't it so sweet? Now, I want this snowflake, but...if you must bid on this snowflake, then bid away. Let's just find this snowflake and all the other gorgeous masterpieces a loving home.

To recap...the auction starts on Monday, November 19th at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $50 for each snowflake. Be sure to place your bid here, before the close of Auction 1 on Friday, November 23rd at 5:00 p.m. Thank you for helping to raise money to find a cure for cancer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Shout Out for All the Wonderful Authors Out There Contest starts today!

Isn't this little sock monkey the cutest? I made her special--just for this contest. Yes. I made this Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy all by myself. Handstitched and everything. A total, total labor of love. Of course my children have discovered her, and have been trying to figure out how to sneak her past heavily guarded doors...so you must save her....

A few disclosures about my sock monkey--
1. She is handsewn so there will be a few uneven stitches here and there. But she's so pretty...
2. There are buttons and other little ornamental items sewn on. Do not give to a baby or child to play with...Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy is not a toy.
3. She will have a wand very soon so she can give you gentle reminders to keep working and inspire you to weave your own spell with words...

Lisa Yee, had mentioned here and here, of how sock monkeys can help ease writer's block. And since we had the WBBT going on last week and featured just some of the incredible authors out there, and Lisa Yee loves contests, and I've had some wonderful authors who graciously allowed me to interrogate them with tons of questions, and I have some more authors patiently waiting for me to put their questions together for some new interviews................it only seemed fitting to hold a contest in honor of all the authors out there who have created incredible characters we have fallen in love with--whether we loved to hate the characters, we have wanted to be like them or whether we have fallen in love with the characters. Phew...I know, this was quite a mouthful of a long sentence.

Here are the rules for the Shout Out for All the Wonderful Authors Out There Contest:
1. Think of an author's name (living, dead), and create a character name from their name and cool personality of the character. Or if you want, create a whole new world, a city, a cool hang out place, etc. Use your imagination.

2. Leave a comment here about your new creation. And you are free to do what you wish with your new character, place, etc. after this...hopefully you will be inspired to create a new manuscript or add to a current one!

3. The deadline for the contest will be Sunday, November 18th at 11:00pm, EST.

4. I will pick a winner from the entries. The winning prize is this Writer's Muse Sock Monkey Fairy designed by moi. Look into her pretty shell eyes.........You know you want her. Save her from some children who are conspiring to kidnap her and she will be ever grateful and will bestow good writing juju to you. And all you have to do is be a little creative to honor an author.

Who's game?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Inspiration Monday: The Secret

I've heard about The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (there is a book version and a movie version of this) for some time, but kind of blew it off as some kind of mumbo jumbo. My husband went to a conference a couple of weeks ago, and one of the key speakers kept mentioning The Secret and how it changed her life.

He was so impressed with her accomplishments, he went out the next day and bought the movie. I was fiddling around on YouTube last night, and found the first 20 minutes of the movie...What do you think?

Friday, November 9, 2007

WBBT: Finding Humor with Lisa Yee

What can I say about Lisa Yee, that most people don't know already? She has fun contests on her blog, she finds a way to meet incredible people and manages to infuse humor in the most difficult of circumstances. Even her little Peepy has a better social life than I do. Sigh.

Lisa has written some wonderful books for middle grade readers: Millicent Min, Girl Genius; Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time; So Totally Emily Ebers; and Good Luck Ivy.

Side note: Millicent Min, Girl Genius was even on the sixth-graders' reading list (of my local middle school) this past summer! Kids are on waiting lists to read about Millicent Min and Stanford Wong. How cool is that!

Millicent Min, Girl Genius is Lisa's Yee's first book. What a great book! You have to love a brilliant, geeky, socially incompetent girl who figures out a way to get back at a bully and just wants to be like other girls her age. In this book, Millicent learns about loyalty, friendships, and being comfortable with who she is from her new friends, Emily Ebers and Stanford Wong. Brilliance never looked so fun!

Check out all of Millicent's awards! Sid Fleischman Humor Award 2004; Publishers Weekly Flying Start; CCBC Choice Bank Street Book of the Year 2004; International Reading Association Children's Choice; 2005-2006 Texas Lone Star List Nominee; The Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee; Georgia Book Award Nominee; Garden State Book Awards Nominee; Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award Nominee; Nevada Young Readers Award Nominee; Nene Award Nominee (Hawaii); Insinglass Teen Award Nominee (New Hampshire); Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee - Pacific Northwest Library Association; South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee.

Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time has been recognized as a ALA Best Book for Young Adults; CCBC Choice; Chicago Public Library "Best of the Best"; Chinese-American Librarians Association Best Book Award for Youth. Stanford finally realizes how easy he has it--He has a girlfriend who doesn't care what he looks like, dresses like, or thinks like--as long as he is honest with her and true to himself?

I adored So Totally Emily Ebers and was surprised at the depth of emotion Emily had in the book. So different from how she appeared in the Millicent Min and Stanford Wong books. As a sidenote, there was a brand of designer clothes in So Totally Emily Ebers that sounded so familiar, and since I had the opportunity to ask Lisa, I had to ask her about the name. She confirmed the origin of the name--an author pal--and now you'll have to read the book to figure it out! Hee, hee. I was inspired to create a contest about this, A Shout Out to All the Wonderful Authors Out There Contest, and had it posted here, but forgot about the long holiday weekend and all. So, look for this contest next week...

It is with much pleasure that I welcome Lisa Yee to my blog. You are going to love what she has to say.
HWM: What was the most difficult part of writing from each of these three voices--Millicent Min, Stanford Wong and Emily Ebers?
It was actually easy to write in three voices, once I found my groove. Because I wrote MILLICENT first, I already knew the characters of Stanford and Emily for their books. However, the depth of their emotions/heartache did surprise me.

I guess the most difficult part was actually technical. I had to make sure that in the overlapping scenes, the dialogue matched up, and that all the dates were correct, etc. It was sort of like plotting a mystery novel where everything must come together to be believable.

HWM: When you first started writing, was it difficult to find an agent or publisher who was interested in publishing books with an Asian protagonist? Do you think the marketing process is different?
I didn’t have any difficulty. However, most of that credit goes to being with Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic from the outset. Arthur discovered me from the slush pile. There was never any discussion about Millicent Min being Asian. It’s just who she was. Although the plot changed several times, her ethnicity never did.

Marketing-wise, I was so pleased that her being Asian was not an issue, nor was it the selling point of the novel. This was a book about an 11-year old genius who was lonely, quirky, and funny (although she was not aware of any of these things). It was positioned as a realistic contemporary fiction, which it is.

HWM: When did you know you had the right ending for each of these books?
I always write my endings first and then write my way toward them. It’s always the first 50 pages that cause me the most difficulty. So I overwrite and then cut, cut, cut away.

HWM: Which character, if any, is most like you?
I’m sort of a little Millicent-y in that I got really good grades in school and would have probably passed out if I got less than an A. But I was social, like Emily. I was nothing like Stanford, although do have a boy’s sense of humor and am not easily grossed out.

HWM: What did you learn from writing from a teenage boy’s point of view?
I learned that the emotions boys have are not all that different than girls’-- it’s just that the way they communicate is different. Boys tend to hold things in. Girls talk them out. Of course that all changes when we become adults . . . NOT!!!!

HWM: Who was the toughest character to write about?
Lisa: Of all my characters, Digger was the hardest. He’s Stanford Wong’s friend/enemy. Digger is such a mean negative guy. But I hinted at his home life with a father who hit him. I didn’t want to make him one-dimensional, and wanted to explore why bullies are the way they are. Quite a few kids picked up Digger’s vulnerabilities and have commented on it to me.

HWM: Tell me about your experience as The Thurber House Writer-in-Residence.
Ah, such a wonderful time. The Thurber House is in Columbus, OH and it is the boyhood home of author James Thurber. The house is a museum, but the attic has been transformed into a two-bedroom apartment . . . all for the writer-in-residence! I taught at a homeless shelter, and at the Thurber Writing Camp, for a few hours a week. The rest of the time, I wrote. Well, wait. That’s not entirely true. I did fall on my face while running and was privy to the inside of a hospital emergency room. And I did do some hobnobbing with other authors, bloggers, ghosts and literary-types.

HWM: How much research was required to write the American Girl novel, Good Luck Ivy? Will you be writing more books for Ivy?
American Girl provided a researcher/historian, so any questions I had I could ask him. (How cool is that!?!?!!) I did go to San Francisco though. It was mostly to soak up the atmosphere. I walked around the areas Ivy lived. I visited Chinatown and ate at restaurant similar to the one I imagined her grandparents owning. And, of course, I had to go to Ghirardelli Square to sample the ice cream and chocolates since I made sure that was in the book. Ah, what we do for research!

As for writing more Ivy Ling books, there are no others planned at this time.

HWM: I understand you have a few new books in the future. What can you tell me about them?
I’ve got a young adult novel called DEFINITELY MAYBE coming out in fall 2008. It’s about a goth girl from Florida whose mother runs a charm school for beauty pageant contestants. Some really bad stuff happens, and Maybe (short for Maybelline – she was named after her mother’s favorite mascara) runs away from home. She ends up in Hollywood looking for the father who doesn’t know she exists.

I also have a couple of chapter books coming out in 2009 and 2010 called JUST BOBBY. It’s about a very sincere, accident-prone boy who’s trying to navigate though his chaotic family life and the fourth grade. All these books are with Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic.

HWM: It’s one thing to be funny in real life; it’s another to be able to convey the humor in writing. What secrets can you share for writing with humor?
Be aware of your punctuation.

? . : ; !!!!

Really though. It’s all pacing. And some other stuff. I don’t think about being funny when I write. It just sort of comes out. I believe that in some ways our writing can mirror out views on life. My teenaged daughter is always saying (and not as a compliment), “Geez, mom, you’re always cracking yourself up.”

I like to laugh, so that spills over into my work.

HWM: Do you feel pressure to be on…to be funny, all the time? What do you do to alleviate the pressure?
One time, when I was in high school, my date said, “Everyone says you’re funny. So say something funny.”

That was the quickest way to get me to clam up.

These days, I’m just myself. Sometimes funny. Sometimes strange. Sometimes sad. Whatever. Whatever. Or not. Or more.

HWM: What has been your most rewarding experience as a writer?
Some letters I receive are so touching. And then when I get to meet my readers in person, it is just so heartwarming. I love it when a fan approaches me with one of my books, all bookmarked and worn from reading. Lovely.

HWM: Do you outline or free form?
Outline. Always.

HWM: Where do you like to write?
I write on the road when I have to. But my favorite place is in my office, surrounded by all my stuff. I’m not one of those people who can write in a coffeehouse. I don’t like people looking at me when I write. If someone is standing behind me when I am typing they may as well hit me over the head with a hunk of smelly cheese--it’s that discombobulating.

HWM: What is your writing process or ritual?
I need big heavy chunks of uninterrupted time to write. Probably because my warm-up routine takes so long. First I have to peruse the NY TIMES online, then Drudge Report, then NY Post, and of course, the billions of blogs. Once my head is filled with news, and I know I’m not missing anything, I can get to work. Only then, it’s usually time for a snack.

HWM: How do you think of your contest ideas?
They usually just smack me in the side of the head. I think I’m due to have one in a month or so.

HWM: What has been the biggest surprise of your writing career?
The amount on non-writing I do. This year in particular I’ve been on the road a lot. I had no idea this was part of being an author!

HWM: If you could share any unique writing tip to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Assign a word to your main character. Then constantly refer back to that word when you are working on that book. For example, Millicent Min’s word was “lonely.”

HWM: What was the best writing advice someone ever gave you?
To paraphrase Anne Lamott because I am too lazy to look it up, she once said something like, “Don’t be afraid to write sh*tty first drafts.”

HipWriterMama's Curiosities
Tell me about the most interesting comment from a fan.
Lisa: There’s a character in Stanford’s book named Marley. Marley’s a kid who’s practically invisible and has no friends. When I was speaking to a large audience, a boy stood up and said, “I need to know what happens to Marley.”

Later, his teachers told me that the boy was exactly like Marley, and never spoke. So for him to stand up in front of about 300 other students was a very brave thing of him to do.

HWM: Why do you blog?
Lisa: For fun and because I use my blog as a writing journal. I print out my blogs and keep them in a binder to remind myself of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to.

HWM: How much time do you take to write one of your posts? -- What is your favorite post?
Lisa: Each post takes less than an hour to write. However, all uploading/downloading those photos and links are what take up all the time. I don’t have an all-time fav post. Recent ones I like though are when Son got to meet JK Rowling, or when author Mary Calhoun read my Horn Book essay, or when I blow up Peeps, or when . . . oops, better stop now.

HWM: How’s Colin Firth?
Lisa: J -- That’s too personal to get into here.

HWM: Peepy or Sock Monkey?

HWM: If you found a way to go back to your teen years as one of your characters, what would you do differently?
Lisa: I’d spend less time on my hair.

HWM: What makes you laugh?
Lisa: My kids.

HWM: If you were a superhero, what powers would you want and why?
The power to take five-minute nap on command and wake up refreshed.


Other Places to find Lisa Yee:
Lisa's website
Lisa's LiveJournal
Lisa's MySpace

Excerpt from Millicent Min: Girl Genius, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003
Excerpt from Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005
Excerpt from So Totally Emily Ebers, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007

Today's WBBT Interviews:
Loree Griffin Burns at Chasing Ray
Lily Archer at The Ya Ya Yas
Rick Riordan at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Gabrielle Zevin at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Dia Calhoun at lectitans
Shannon Hale at Miss Erin
Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple at Shaken & Stirred
Alan Gratz at Interactive Reader
Lisa Yee at HipWriterMama