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, December 31, 2007

Inspiration Monday: 2008 New Year's 30 Day Challenge Starts Wednesday, January 2nd

I made an announcement yesterday about the 2008 New Year's 30 Day Challenge. Since I won't be posting tomorrow, I'll post the details of the new challenge today. I also decided to post a portion of my original 30 Day Challenge post for today's Inspiration Monday. So, infuse yourself with all this encouragement and think about your dreams...

I've heard somewhere that if you want to develop a new habit, you need to consistently work on it everyday for 21 days. This new habit then becomes automatic by Day 30. Pretty interesting stuff. But...how does it relate to Inspiration Monday?

Well my gifted wonders, with every productive new habit, you'll find more motivation and determination to work toward your dream. And that is what I'd like this Challenge to show you. Your ability to work towards your goal...no matter what. No matter if you've got 100 things to do for the day. No matter if you're down in the dumps. No matter if someone tells you your dream isn't attainable. No matter if you're in a creative funk. No matter if you just don't feel like it. No matter what.

By now, most of you are probably using your Mission Statements as a guideline to reach your dreams. And you're probably finding out by now, that even with the best of intentions and incredible dreams, it's sometimes hard to keep the momentum going. It's easy to let a day or two slide by. It's easy to say that you need to pay attention to life around you and take a break. It's easy to forget the thrill of the intensity of your dreams and goals.

All because you've got these big dreams. And big dreams take big actions. Big sacrifices. Big commitment. Nothing like getting a little bit overwhelmed by all the big things you've got to do to succeed. And we haven't even touched on the fear of failure yet.

Creating a productive new habit won't necessarily take away your fears and worries. But, if carefully implemented and worked on everyday, a productive habit will eventually give you the comfort of a welcome security blanket called Routine. Just a little thing you need to do everyday. Just like waking up every morning and getting out of bed. Brushing your teeth. Enjoying your first cup of coffee or tea. Reading a newspaper. Checking your e-mail. It's a small step that's automatic, easy to do, for just a short time. Everyday. And this new habit will give you the strength and the ability to do things no matter what. It's these small steps that will get you determined and motivated to get to the big steps. Which will get you closer to your goal.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to meet this new challenge? Come along and read the rules:

2008 New Year's 30 Day Challenge Rules:
1. The Challenge starts on Wednesday, January 2, 2008. Write a quick comment in Wednesday's post. Tell me what new habit you'd like to work on. This can be as short as one sentence or as long as you'd like. So start thinking and planning what you're going to do, and how you're going to make it happen.

2. If you're going the distance for this 30 Day Challenge, you need to check in with me every Monday via comment with a very quick report on your progress.

The 6 dates to check in are:
Today or Wednesday, January 2nd (first day of challenge): Specify your goal in either today's comments or Wednesday's comments.
Monday, January 7th
Monday, January 14th
Monday, January 21st
Monday, January 28th
Thursday, January 31st by 11:00 PM EST

Only those who are accountable to their goals and report in every week will be considered for the grand prize.

3. The winner will be announced on Friday, February 1, 2008.

Now, go and enjoy your New Year's Eve. Happy New Year's everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Get Ready for the 2008 New Year's 30 Day Challenge!

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year's. And I've come to realize this conflicting attitude taunts me more every year I get older. When I was younger, New Year's was more about festivity, and with that, a positive outlook on what could be. It was so easy to set goals, no matter how high, and dream. Oh, yeah baby. I could do anything. Because I had time, youth and dreams on my side.

But somehow down the line, I just became more cynical, or perhaps wise in my ways. Or maybe it's dealing with the day-to-day realities of having a mortgage, a family, and the astronomical costs of health care. Or maybe it's the double whammy of having to set New Year's goals and then having a birthday a couple weeks after, when I wonder, what have I accomplished in my life?

So, I'm going to start 2008 with a bang this year. And the best way I figure is to begin a 30 Day Challenge. I know quite a few of you haven't been blogging as much lately with the holidays and all, so I'll give you a few days warning on this one.

The 2008 New Year's 30 Day Challenge starts Wednesday, January 2, 2008 and ends on Thursday, January 31. 2008. Details and grand prize to be announced later.

So start thinking about your 30 Day Challenge, my little wonders. You've got three days to plan your attack. We're gonna take 2008 by storm!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm Enchanted by Enchanted, But...

Well, I thought I'd hate it--a Disney production about a misplaced Cinderella/Snow White/ Sleeping Beauty type character. Nothing like oozing saccharine for the brain. But surprise, surprise. I adored the movie Enchanted.

First of all, there's Robert Phillip/McDreamy--Patrick Dempsy of Grey's Anatomy. Looking absolutely McDreamy. And I can't believe it--he's even dancing and whispering a song. Oh my.

Then there's Prince Edward/James Marsden--who I remember so well from Ally McBeal--playing the caricature of a slightly dim-witted but heroic prince. The camera zoomed in so well on his chiseled face...and on a totally different tangent, he can sing!

Let's not forget Narissa/Susan Sarandon, who does a magnificent job portraying strong women on film. She must have had fun playing the evil stepmother. Absolute, absolute fun.

And the heroine of the movie, Giselle/Amy Adams, who played the sweet princess-to-be stuck in the real world of New York City. She did a fantastic job hamming things up in the movie. What a great role!

There are a few parts of the movie I found lacking; however, since I don't want to give away any spoilers, I won't mention them. But overall, this is one enjoyable movie. Especially when you add the comic antics of Pip the Chipmunk, the funny spoofs, and witty comments.

But...the soundtrack is so, so disappointing. Don't even bother buying it. Even if your children wear down the inner lining of your brain that you can't even think any more. What a waste. And if you don't believe me, listen to the soundtrack yourself. There are 15 songs on this soundtrack...more than half--9 songs are made up of Disney type instrumental music...one of the instrumental compilations is over 10 minutes long. If this were an amazing symphony, it'd be one thing. But Disney instrumental music? And it's so sad since the vocalized songs that are on the soundtrack are lots of fun.

I would have loved an evil stepmother song by Susan Sarandon or a lovesick song by Nathaniel/Timothy Spall, who was full of unrequited love for the evil Narissa. And then to find out that Nancy Tremaine/Idina Menzel, who played a supporting role in the movie, is a Tony Award winner for her performance as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked....

Oh, well. Bottom line, go see the movie. You'll really enjoy it.

Sweet Treats: Peppermint Sticks, Pretzels and Chocolate

I finally had a chance to download my Christmas pictures and found something you may find sweet to look at.

My chocolate bark and chocolate covered pretzels. These are simply the easiest things to make. And when you arrange these chocolate pieces in a small box or cellophane bag with a festive ribbon, you've got an impressive gift to bring to friends, family and neighbors.

Jama Rattigan, I know these aren't cookies, but I think you'll enjoy these tantalizing morsels of goodness.

I made three kinds of chocolate bark and chocolate covered pretzels this year. White chocolate, milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. Yum! Here's how to do it.

Note: First, as you all know, my middle child has a bunch of food allergies, two being dairy and nuts. So I make the semi-sweet chocolate goodies first. Just for her. She LOVES the semi-sweet chocolate covered pretzels the best.

If you have a loved one with food allergies, make sure the "safe" ingredients and "uncontaminated" cooking pans and utensils are kept separate from the rest of the food and cooking supplies. This is absolutely critical in my household. You'll be able to find semi-sweet chocolate, pretzel rods, jimmies, and some candies that is not manufactured near nuts or dairy. You may have to call the manufacturer directly to find out this information, if it is not specifically detailed on the food packaging.

Chocolate Bark
2 bags white chocolate chips

2 bags milk chocolate chips (if you can't find milk chocolate chips, then melt white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips together until you get the milk chocolate flavor you like)
2 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
Crushed peppermint and/or spearmint hard candies or candy canes

Melt the chocolate chips over the lowest heat possible in separate pots. Stir each pot of chocolate chips until the chips have all melted. Line three cookie sheets with wax paper. Spread the melted white chocolate in one pan, melted milk chocolate in the second pan, melted semi-sweet chocolate in the third pan. Spread the chocolate to less than 1/2 inch thickness.

Quickly shake the crushed peppermints/spearmints or candy canes over the chocolate and press down. If you use the peppermint/spearmint combination over the white chocolate, you'll have a pretty red/green/white candy that's perfect for Christmas.

If you have any leftover chocolate, drizzle the white chocolate on top of the milk chocolate, drizzle milk chocolate on top of the white chocolate...get the picture? Place the chocolate someplace cool to harden--your refrigerator, your porch, etc.

Once the chocolate bark has hardened, break off pieces and store in an airtight container. This makes plenty to share with loved ones. Enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels
1/2 bag white chocolate chips
1/2 bag milk chocolate chips
1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 bags of Rod pretzel sticks
Colorful jimmies, sprinkles, colored sugars, mini chocolate chips, crushed candy canes, crushed toffee, crushed candy bars, mini marshmallows and anything else you'd like to try

Melt the chocolate chips in three separate pots over the lowest possible heat. Stir until the chocolate chips have melted. Line three cookie sheets with wax paper.

Take one pretzel rod and dip it into the chocolate. Use a spoon to distribute the chocolate evenly over the pretzel. Quickly cover the chocolate covered pretzel with any of the yummy toppings and then put on the wax paper lined cookie sheet. Take a spoon and drizzle chocolate on top of the toppings. Continue with the rest of the pretzels.

Place the cookie sheets somewhere cool until the chocolate hardens. These are amazing. The crunch, salt and sweet together is total, total joy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Writing Tip: Beginning a New Manuscript

Over the past week, I came up with a new idea for a manuscript. I'm thrilled with my start and still haven't written a word. How's that, you ask? The answer is research. This new project is strangely out of my element. Historical fiction, if you can believe it. Definitely YA.

Thanks to the internet, I've got quite a bit of research done. While there are some trips to the library in my future, I have enough information to sketch out a vague outline. Once I've got the detailing complete--more information on clothing, hairstyles, speech, proper etiquette--I'll start writing the manuscript.

Research is an essential part of my writing. I think I've had to look up information for just about all my manuscripts, though not to this amount of detail.

Here are some things I look for when I research information for a manuscript:
1. Time Period - what is unique about this time period?
2. Clothing, Styles, Language, Etiquette
3. Vocabulary - what words are important to the topic of the manuscript?
4. What kind of house, town, region?
5. Names - Keep the names appropriate for the time period or style of manuscript.

Any research ideas you'd like to share?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

While I Recover from all the Christmas Festivities...

Hope you all enjoyed your holidays! I know I did. However...I am Exhausted. With a capital E. Three days of constant housecleaning, family festivities, keeping up the magic of Santa for three children, making holiday goodies and rushing around to complete last minute details I should've done earlier is enough to make me wish I was in my twenties again. Sigh.

So while I recuperate, here is the long awaited Brotherhood 2.0 Happy Dance Project video from John and Hank Green! Watch Nerdfighters from around the world share their own special dances to celebrate when they're really, really happy. Hope this gives you a little bit of a pick-me-up as you recover from your holiday festitivies. Now on to New Year's...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oh Yeah, Hear Me Roar!

I am so honored. Miss Erin nominated me for the "Roar for Powerful Words Award" from The Shameless Lions Writing Circle. And I'm in great company. She also nominated Little Willow, Sara Lewis Holmes, Shelf Elf and Sara Miller.

The fact this award comes from Miss Erin is icing on the cake. She's a dedicated kidslit blogger, a postergirlz for readergirlz and on the MG Fiction nominating panel for the Cybils. Thank you, Miss Erin.

Hmmm. Now who should I nominate? I'm supposed to celebrate the powerful writing of five bloggers.

Liz Garton Scanlon: Liz writes pure poetry in her posts. Liz is one of my first blog pals, and I simply adore her writing. And the fact she's gathered a group of wonderful bloggers to write a crown sonnet, which I cannot wait to read, well this is totally deserved.

Robin Brande: There's power in Robin's words. She is encouraging, inspiring, and funny. And the fact people were "betting" on when Robin would return to blogging, well that tells you just how much we're all addicted to her words.

Seven Impossible Things for Breakfast: Jules and Eisha of 7-Imp simply rawk. Detailed book reviews, unbeatable interviews, organizing Blogging for a Cure for Robert's Snow, writing articles for Poetry Foundation...need I go on?

Finding Wonderland: These smart ladies can write a thoughtful post that makes my brain hurt (in a good way).

MotherReader: I can't drink a thing when I read MotherReader's posts for fear I'd drown my laptop. That's how funny her posts can be. And when you can make people laugh with the written word, that's magic.

Congratulations, everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Poetry Friday: Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There's a Christmas carol called "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" based on a poem Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote on December 25, 1864. This is a solemn poem, yet it is filled with hope. Perfect for this time of year.

Christmas Bells
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

read the rest of the poem

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said:
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

AmoXcalli is hosting Poetry Friday today. Enjoy some wonderful poems to start off a relaxing weekend.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Writing Tip: Take Care with Your Revisions

Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill.
-Edmund Morrison

What Will They Think of Next?

Have you seen this scooter chair? Now you can write your manuscript and multi-task. Need coffee? Scoot over to the kitchen. Need to answer the door? No need to move from your work.

Not sure I'm ready for this new type of office chair. What say you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Blogiversary to Me and a Call for Teacher Gift Ideas

I can't believe it. My one year blogiversary is here! What's really weird is how much has changed over the past year, but how much things haven't changed at all.

My first post was about my Christmas preparations, or not...and I find myself in the strange position of being in Groundhog Day. I'm still in the same place when it comes to Christmas. Candace tagged me for a meme, which I haven't gotten around to, and probably won't get to due to my sheer panic of to do's.

What was amusing about my first post is how thrilled I was that people commented. It wasn't until a few months later, my sister admitted to writing a couple of comments to encourage me. And I'm so glad she did. Because blogging has been a wonderful experience, and I have loved every moment of it. And you, my blogsphere friends, have enriched my life, more than you can ever know. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Back to my Christmas preparations. In my mind, I have a magical Christmas ready and waiting for my family....great holiday music echoing throughout the house; amazing presents bought, wrapped and mailed out if necessary; the house totally decked out in all it's Christmas splendor; the heavenly smells of baking underway. Instead there is total chaos in my house. Santa's elves certainly did not visit here yet. No great music blaring away. A few little presents bought. None wrapped. Some mailed out thanks to Amazon.com. Still haven't taken pictures of kids to show everyone how cute they've gotten. Thus, no holiday cards mailed out. My kitchen is a total mess since I decided to do a kitchen makeover by painting the gross cabinets. And I'm expecting 18 people over on Christmas Eve. What was I thinking? (This paragraph is straight from my first post. And a year later, I'm still at this same point. Even to the kitchen cabinets--which I finally painted an off-white, but never got the cabinet doors to align the right way--thus, all of my mess is exposed for all the world to see.)

I love Christmas. What I don't love are the expectations, the pressure of having the perfect Hallmark holiday, when chaos is filtering in everywhere my eye can see.

I love Christmas music. Our current family favorite, is the Celtic Woman - A Christmas Celebration. The kids even like it, which surprised me.

I love baking cookies and making my mother-in-law's secret chocolate sauce to deliver to friends and neighbors. The smiles and gratitude are worth all the effort of a messy kitchen.

I love finding gifts for people that I know they will appreciate. And that's tough, in this land of materialism, where it seems the more expensive things are, the better. This makes me sad and I have a strange need to try to shelter my children from it.

But I am then hopeful when I read books like Frindle by Andrew Clements, and am encouraged by how much a great teacher can impact a child's life. Frindle, by the way, is a wonderful book. I would recommend this for your child's reading list. I read this book last night, and it of course reminded me that I needed to find a special gift for the teachers in my children's lives.

So tell me, what teacher gift ideas can you share with me?

Writer's Notebook Wednesday: Take Yourself Seriously

Two Writing Teachers are hosting today's Writer's Notebook Wednesday. Haven't heard of it? Here's what it's all about. Today's charge is based on my post from Monday.

"What are you going to do today, this week, this month, this year, to take yourself seriously? For the sake of your dream?”
- HipWriterMama

Go forth, take yourself seriously and submit your post here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Inspiration Monday: Take Yourself Seriously into the New Year

I love New Year's. There's something about saying farewell to the old and greeting the new, that makes me grateful I'll be able to start with a clean slate. Didn't do something last year? Here's a chance to start once again. And I'm not talking about the goals that are here one minute, gone the next. I'm talking about things you've poured your sweat into and haven't yet gotten the results you've wanted.

In the interest of getting you all revved up for the New Year, I'd like to reprint this past post. Here's to thinking about what you'd like to accomplish in the New Year.

How many of you let other people know what your dreams are? Or do you secret it away, hiding your herculean efforts, until the moment of truth comes and you can unveil your masterpiece? Or, do you let a few people in, and try to juggle everyone else's needs since you don't want to change the status quo, while you waste away, not having the time to work on your heart's desire?

Two of my favorite things to do when I was young, was to read and write. Sure I loved to do other things, but reading and writing were the things I had to do, sure as I needed to breathe. My family really didn't understand it too much. Still, my parents faithfully brought me to the library every week, so I could lose myself in the book stacks and carefully make my selections.

Then, when I was in third grade, I remember my English teacher asked us to write a story. I was hooked. That's when I knew that's what I wanted to do when I grew up. Write. I mean, can you even imagine? Creating a story for other people to enjoy and to even want to read it again, and again, and again? Now that was my idea of the best job ever.

Though, for some reason, I was always close mouthed about this dream. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say the right things every solid American citizen wishes for their children. President. Doctor. Lawyer. Professor. Dentist. Financial Whiz Kid. I mean that's what gets the respect and money in this land of opportunity.

When I first started college, my major was biomedical engineering. I convinced myself it would be cool to learn how to meld robotics with medicine. And it is absolutely fascinating stuff. And it really is. To read.

My freshman year, I took a Creative Writing Class. I was so thrilled. What a relief it was to write, when all my freshman days were filled with biology, chemistry, and physics. Oh my. So imagine my disappointment and grief, when my professor told me I didn't have what it takes to write a good story. Instead of getting angry about that and wanting to prove him wrong, his words cut me to the core, shredding all my dreams. For years, I believed this professor, and stopped writing. For a little bit. When I started to write again, I squirrelled my work away, not telling a living soul about my dream in fear of the laughter that would follow. Because in the back of my mind, I wondered whether my professor was right, maybe I really didn't have the creative knack to make it as a writer.

But you know what? I've had it with doubting myself and my abilities. I've had it with my old professor, whose words haunted me for years. I've had it with all the naysayers and dream busters.

My kids are a big reason for this. I want them to know they are capable of reaching their dreams. What type of message am I sending them if I can't work toward my own dreams?

The only way to do this, I think, is to take yourself seriously. I know this is easier said than done, but really, if you can't take yourself seriously, who will?

Be responsible for yourself. Take those classes, join those critique groups or professional organizations. Practice, practice, practice your art. State your dream, loud and proud. Make sure you allow yourself the time to work on your dream. Enough time so you're not cheating yourself. Yes, you may disappoint people in the process, but in the end, you will disappoint yourself far more. It is all a balance, and one you will need to figure out how to manage so you can succeed.

Take yourself seriously. Treat your dream seriously. And by the way, it is totally okay to allow people to treat you and your work with respect.

What are you going to do today, this week, this month, this year, to take yourself seriously? For the sake of your dream?

Inspiration Monday: Some Great Quotes

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.
-Samuel Johnson

Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.

All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.
-Thomas Edward Lawrence

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.
-Lanston Hughes

Friday, December 14, 2007

2007 Nobel Prize in Literature: Doris Lessing

Via TadMack, 88-year-old Doris Lessing's acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Here is the Presentation Speech for the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, documenting Doris Lessing's incredible contributions to Literature.

Doris Lessing is the eleventh woman to win this prestigious award in its 106 year history.

Poetry Friday: The Snow Storm by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday morning, there were a few snow patches here and there across the lawn. By this morning, we had a little over a foot of fluffy white stuff covering the ground, perfect snow for skiing, if I do say so myself. The sad thing was the almost three feet of packed in brown snow at the very edge of my driveway, a gift from unmerciful snow plows. This bit of snow was about as tall as my four-year-old's shoulder, a daunting mountain to greet first thing in the morning, when you have to get one child to the school on time. Middle one has been home for three days now--croup, asthma, fever, ugh!

I was going to take a picture of our discouraging task to show all of you, but given my husband and I weren't sure we had enough time to shovel the driveway, the picture had to wait.

But, perhaps you can envision all the wonderful snow art created by yesterday's snow storm, by reading Ralph Waldo Emerson's poem, The Snow Storm.

The Snow Storm
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling Auctioned for $4 Million

Amazon.com has purchased J.K. Rowlings handwritten book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, referenced in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (The book Dumbledore gave to Hermione Granger in his will) for $4 Million. J.K. Rowling is donating the proceeds to The Children's Voice campaign, to help improve the lives of institutionalized children across Europe.

This handwritten and illustrated book by Rowlings is 157 pages and bound in Morrocan leather. There are only seven copies in the world. She gave six away as gifts.

Curious about what Rowling's illustrations and handwritten work looks like? Amazon.com already has some pictures up, and promises to have more pictures and reviews of the five fairy tales in the coming hours.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Writing Tip: Nurse the Spark of an Idea

You know those Aha! ideas you get in the middle of doing something so you forget to write it down? Or maybe you think about for awhile but your momentum fizzles out because of life's demands.

And then you see a book similar to what you had been thinking about on the shelves? Ahem. Or am I the only one that happens to? Well, if you admit to this...how about if you do yourself a favor and work it for this New Year?

Write down those ideas in a notebook. Think about it. Write some more. Outline. Free form. Whatever gets you moving. Do some research. Listen to some great music that gets you in the writing mood. Just keep working at it and nurse that spark of an idea into a blazing flame of activity so you can get to the writing.

The way I see it, every day you work on your bit of inspiration, gets you one step closer to getting a book published.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Transformation of a Writer

Want to know what it feels like to be a writer? You're gonna want to watch this. The Beginning to The End.

Thank you, Sara Latta for finding this gem.

And if you need help to get to The End, take the time to read Laini Taylor's interview. She'll give you some great advice to reach the finish line. It's worth every precious second.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Inspiration Monday: Reach the Finish Line with Laini Taylor

It's hard not to be charmed by Laini Taylor. This ultra-cool artista is one talented lady. You want vibrant art? Got it. You want pretty, adorned ladies who will prance about with inspirational quotes in your face? Got it. How about a faerie tale thriller that will keep you reading page after page? Yup. Got that one, too.

Laini is married to artist Jim Di Bartolo, and together, this couple is just oozing with hipness and talent. Jim designed the cover art for Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer and is currently working on illustrations for Laini's other works.

Faeries of Dreamdark:Blackbringer is a tale of a devil hunting faerie. Yup. You read right. A devil hunting faerie. No sparkly dresses, fairy wands and sweet spells here. We're talking an unstoppable faerie, Magpie Windwitch, who is chosen to hunt down an evil demon who is intent on destroying the world. And she stalks this devil down with the prowess of a true heroine and the finesse of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat. Add her posse of loyal crows who will make you smile, a determined knitting warrior prince faerie who discovers a way to fly, a loyal friend, a disgruntled scavenger imp who is out for himself, and an evil faerie who pretends to be what she is not, and you've got one dark faerie tale of sweeping proportions that clips along with fresh language, action, humor, fear, and joy.

Faeries of Dreamdark:Blackbringer has only been out since this summer, and it has already been nominated for the ALA Best Book for Young Adults, the Booksense 2007 Summer Pick and the Cybils. If you're looking for a book to buy a favorite teen for the holidays, you're gonna want to put this book on your list. Wait. If you want to choose a book for any occasion, add this to your list. It's good.

Laini Taylor was kind enough to stop by and share her brainstorming ideas, tell about her writing projects, how she comes up with names, how she finished writing her novel and she shares wonderful writing tips. Laini seriously wants to help everyone else get to the finish line with her. How cool is that? So, pull up a chair and read awhile. You'll be so glad you did.

Without further ado, please welcome Laini Taylor...

HWM: What made you realize you wanted to write children’s books? How did you get your “break” into children’s books?
Laini: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but it took me a while to find my voice and genre. After college I was writing mainstream, “grownup” stories and I wasn’t having much fun. Looking back, I realize I was writing what I thought I should write, what was “literary” etc, after being an English major and having teachers like Maxine Hong Kingston.

It took a gradual rediscovery of children’s books throughout my 20's, fantasy in particular, before I finally felt the fit. You know, I can’t remember if I was actively reading YA fantasy before the first Harry Potter book, but I don’t think I was. Once it occurred to me to write fantasy (which I loved as a child but got away from in my “literary snob years”), it was a revelation. Now I don’t think I could write “mainstream” if I tried; some fantasy element would creep in no matter what.

My “break” came at successive years of the SCBWI summer conference. It seems, in retrospect, that everything that kept me on my path as a writer happened right there in the Century Plaza Hotel. One year I met both my agent and a wonderful editor who expressed interest in my faerie illustrations, and agreed to take a look at the first few chapters of my novel-in-progress; after that, she really helped me develop it and I will always be deeply grateful. Without her, it’s really likely I’d have set the manuscript aside. At SCBWI I also attended a seminar by the writer Dan Greenberg about writing series for kids that helped me build my ideas into a world and a story. And later, I heard both of my current editors speak there, and asked my agent to send them my manuscripts. Now I will be doing my first SCBWI workshop this spring in Seattle!

HWM: Tell me what inspired Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer.
Laini: It all began with paper dolls, oddly enough. I spent a few rainy months one winter drawing and oil-painting a set of elaborate faerie paper dolls. The characters were Magpie, Poppy, and Whisper, and I was planning a series of books to go with them, but at the time I envisioned them to be short, light-hearted tales for younger girls. Once I really got into the story, though, it grew naturally into the kind of book I like to read: sophisticated fantasy with the influence of horror (I’ve been a fan of horror since I was a little girl) and I put the paper dolls away and went with it.

HWM: When did you know you had the right ending for Blackbringer?
Laini:There’s something that happens in my head when I get the right idea; I think of it as the “snick.” It’s the sound and feel of a puzzle piece settling into place. You know how you just feel the rightness of it. I brainstorm a lot. I almost never stop at one idea/solution. Maybe it’s a holdover from art school where we were taught to always draw lots and lots of thumbnails before deciding on a final layout. That’s what I do with ideas too. I audition as many as I can possibly get, and when the right one comes along, I get the glorious, unmistakable “snick.” I’ve heard from other authors who have their own words for this -- one was “ping,” and I can’t remember the other.

HWM: Which character is most like you?
Laini: Hm. That’s tough. I feel really boring saying this, but I don’t think any of them are. I feel like, as the writer, I’m kind of a cipher, sitting in my little room dreaming up characters who are out dagger shopping at the bazaar or having breakfast picnics in the cemetary. There are a few characters I’ve written (one of them is in Goblin Fruit) who are sort of tongue-in-cheek homages to my teenage-self, filled with huge daydreams and wild yearnings, but none of the Blackbringer characters feel like me.

HWM: Who was the hardest character to write about?
Laini: The hardest were the main characters, Magpie, especially. I had never written a novel before Blackbringer; I had never created a character who could sustain a long narrative. This book was like “writing school” for me. In early drafts, Magpie was too perfect, too accomplished; I had to figure out how to make her feel real and lovable and flawed. There was a period of probably a year of writing chapters and dialogues, trying to figure out who the characters even were, what they cared about, what they would talk about, and none of that discovery process even made it into the book. In fact, in those early drafts, Talon had not yet come into being. There was another character named Acorn, and he just wasn’t working out. I had the idea tucked away in my brain for a later book that one day Magpie’s soulmate would emerge and that he would be a Rathersting warrior. And then it occurred to me: why save that? Why not use that now? And with that puzzle piece settling into place (“snick!”) the book started racing forward. Quirky or wicked characters like the crows or Batch and Vesper are always easier, I guess because they’re almost caricatures.

HWM: I now look at crows in a whole different way. Why crows and what inspired the idea of these wonderful characters?
Laini: Very early on in the planning of Dreamdark, back when it was still a very different, gentler sort of book, I had the idea of a young faerie raised by gypsy crows, and I just loved the idea, and through all the changes the book underwent, that one stuck. I love crows and ravens; I’d love to have one for a pet. When I was writing Blackbringer there were always a good half-dozen crows always right out the window, as if they were posing! I heard once about a woman who had a pet raven who flew beside her car when she went places. Can you imagine?

HWM: How do you think of names of your characters?
Laini: I love naming. For the most part I’ve used names that come from the natural world and that in some way reflect the personality of the character. Talon is from a warrior clan; all his family have tough-sounding names like Hiss and Nettle and Shrike. Magpie is descended from the wind and her family are named for birds -- her mother Kite (a small hawk), grandmother Sparrow, etc. Poppy, the plant mage, has a flower name. Bellatrix the huntress is named after the star Bellatrix, which forms the bow shoulder in the constellation Orion the hunter. It means “female warrior.”“Batch” is a funny one. It’s a family joke, but “batch” is my dad’s made-up word for any nameless icky substance -- the stuff that dribbles out of a leak in a garbage bag, the unidentifiable goo in the treads of a shoe. I decided that’s what “batch” means in the scamper language too!

HWM: I understand you’re in the process of writing a sequel to Blackbringer called Silksinger. What can you tell me about the new book? When is it due to be released?
Laini: Silksinger picks up a few months after Blackbringer ends, and there are two threads to the story: the continuing story of the characters from the first book, and the new characters. The title character, Whisper Silksinger, is the last of a great, ancient clan, left alone in the world to bear her clan’s terrible burden (much as the old Shadowsharp warrior in the beginning of Blackbringer was left alone with his clan’s duty, if you remember what that was). Journeying over the Sayash (Himalayas) by dragonfly caravan, hunted by devils, she meets a young faerie mercenary with an ancient scimitar and secrets of his own. It takes place not in the snug world of Dreamdark, but all across Asia from the jungles of Borneo to the islands of Halong Bay to the peaks of the Himalayas. I’ve had a wonderful time dreaming up exotic faerie cultures to go with these places! Hobgoblins feature, as do flying carpets. And there are a lot more devils. I’m not sure of the release date yet. Some time in 2009, most likely.

HWM: What are the challenges in writing a sequel?
Laini: This is new to me, but what I’ve found to be my main challenges are: coming up with a compelling storyline that works within the overall series arc and carries it forward; and giving readers what I think they will want after the first book, plus lots of new surprises they couldn’t have anticipated. From the very beginning of planning out the series, I knew I wanted new characters in book 2, but when it came time to write them, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the characters from book 1 couldn’t be left in secondary roles so I’ve had to figure out a way to entwine their storylines, making the most of both, and all the while working with the series arc. It’s more complex than Blackbringer because of that, but I never wanted it to feel complicated.

HWM: You have recently sold Goblin Fruit to Arthur A. Levine Books. What can you share about this project? Has a publication date been set yet?
Laini: Goblin Fruit consists of three supernatural tales -- two long stories and one novella -- about kissing! That is, each story is a supernatural romance that pivots on a single kiss with profound ramifications for the kissers’ souls. The title story is influenced by Christina Rossetti’s poem Goblin Market, which I have loved since college.

The other two are called “Spicy Little Curses Such As These” (set in Raj-era India) and “Hatchling.” They’re for teen and adult readers and are sensual and creepy and mysterious. I’m really excited that the book is going to be lavishly illustrated by my husband/art monkey, Jim Di Bartolo (who also did the art for Blackbringer), though it remains to be seen quite what this will look like, as that process is only just now beginning. The pub date isn’t firm. Probably 2009. I can’t wait to see what it will look like!

HWM: I never realized what an incredible artist you are, until I read your blog. Do you have any desire to illustrate books or work on an illustration project with Jim or write/illustrate your own book, or write a graphic novel or….. Laini: Thank you! I really would like to write and illustrate a picture book some day. That’s why I went to art school to begin with (in my mid-20s). I wanted to illustrate my own books! But I’ve since figured out that what I really want to write [now] is novels. Since I’ve gotten more serious about writing full-time, it’s been hard to keep up with painting.

I still make time for designing Laini’s Ladies, my “other job,” of course. But I haven’t painted in ages, and I miss it. Jim and I collaborated on a graphic novel a few years ago called The Drowned, published by Image Comics. We’d like to do more graphic novels some day, but I have no desire to illustrate one -- it’s way too big an illustration job for me!

HWM: What do you enjoy about your different careers? What do you do to organize both careers and keep things in balance?
Laini: Well, they’re fairly lopsided in terms of time devoted to each. I spend far more time these days writing than doing art. A few times a year I do a new line for Laini’s Ladies, but otherwise I’ve had to put illustration on the back burner. Each does provide a nice change from the other, so it’s nice to go back and forth. But what I’ve found is that for me, real balance just isn’t possible.

HWM: Do you outline or free form?
Laini: There’s not a free-form bone in my body. (Well, maybe it’s in there and just sadly underdeveloped!) I plan and outline like a maniac. When I feel like I’m on solid ground and ready to move ahead with the writing, I go for it, but I always end up coming back to outlining. It’s like my default setting is: planning! That said, the only truly joyful times I’ve ever experienced in the writing process are the times when I’ve hit a stride and I’m just writing, the scene unfolding ahead of me, fingers flying on the keyboard. It’s magical when that happens; I wish it happened every day.

I like to think of an outline as the equivalent of “aerial photography” -- you get a flattened-out, two-dimensional view of the topography of your story, with no sense what it’s really going to be like once you get “down on the ground.” You can plan all you want, but only once you’re in your story will the real life of it reveal itself -- the fragrance and predators and quicksand -- and you’ll have to be nimble and resourceful to adapt to what you find.

HWM: Where do you like to create?
Laini: I wrote Blackbringer at the kitchen table, and have since converted a spare room to my “writing room,” and that’s mostly where I write, with occasional changes of scenery to this or that sofa. And we have an art studio upstairs which is where I draw, paint, and design. It’s also where Jim works.

HWM: What is your writing process or ritual?
Laini: Ideally, I get up early, about 6, make coffee, and sit down to write. For me, the words of Emily Bronte ring true: “A person who has not done half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.” I’m a morning person, and though often I’ll work all day and evening, my most productive time is morning.

As for “process,” it’s always changing as I come up with new stategies to keep myself working, but my basic ritual is to start out my day’s writing in my “working doc” -- that is a sort of “decoy” document that I always have open next to my “real manuscript.” That’s where I trick my perfectionist-self into getting started, where I chit chat a little with myself about where I’m at in the story, etc. At some point, if things are going well, I switch over to my “real manuscript” and just write.

HWM: What has been the biggest challenge of your writing career and how did you tackle it?
Laini: Finishing a novel has been my biggest challenge. Muscling through to the end. First with Blackbringer, now with Silksinger. Goblin Fruit was easier because the tales are shorter. I hope it gets easier as I write more books, but finishing a novel is HARD and there’s only one way to do it: to just do it. No tricks or secrets. Just stubbornness! Learning that kind of “applied stubbornness” has been crucial for me. I tend to get paralyzed by perfectionism and want to rewrite early chapters over and over, rather than ploughing ahead. I need to constantly push myself forward.

HWM: What has been the biggest surprise of your writing career?
Laini: Goblin Fruit has been a big surprise from the very beginning. It was an entirely unplanned book. Each of the three tales began as one- or two-word writing prompts on Sunday Scribblings (they were “real life,” “monster,” and “music”) while Blackbringer was being edited. My intention was to get back to writing short pieces after spending over two years working on a novel; it was really just an exercise. Once I got into it, the ideas started flowing like crazy and these stories were born and formed themselves around a theme, and -- even more surprisingly -- Arthur Levine wanted to publish them! It has made me so aware of how ideas are always, at any moment, ready to give themselves up to you if you just put yourself in the right state of mind.

HWM: If you could share any unique writing tip to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Laini: From my own experience, it has been crucial to me to go to conferences. Not only do you learn a lot -- you truly begin to internalize the fact that writers are real people, no different from you, and so are editors. Under the influence of a good conference, writing begins to seem not like a crazy dream, but a real career.

HWM: What was the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
Laini: I love what Jane Yolen said at a conference a few years ago: “Write the damn book.” I’m considering stenciling it on my wall!

HipWriterMama's Curiosities

HWM: Why do you blog?
Laini: I initially started blogging as a curiosity and found an instant connection to so many “kindred spirits” all over the world. I now can’t imagine NOT having it. I would feel incredibly isolated as a writer if it weren’t for blogs, being able to connect with readers and other writers this way. I don’t have a writer’s group or know any local writers, so it’s really important to me to have this community online.

HWM: What is your favorite post?
Laini: This might be my favorite. I posted it after my first ever book talk and signing (at ALA Midwinter last year), and I also posted the transcript of my talk. That was such a fabulous experience -- I [heart] librarians! And here’s a short fiction I wrote for Sunday Scribblings.

HWM: Why did you start Sunday Scribblings and Not For Robots?
Laini: I co-created Sunday Scribblings with one of my first blog friends, Meg, who lives in England, because we wanted something like “Illustration Friday” but for writers. I wanted to get myself working on short fiction and it has really worked -- as I mentioned above, all the stories in Goblin Fruit began as exercises for that site.

With Not For Robots, I didn’t intend it to be an active site, but just a place to post a series of essays on writing. I was inspired to write the essays partly because I was struggling with my own writing at the time and sometimes writing about writing helps me inspire myself, and partly because I have noticed that a lot of published writers don’t really talk about how hard writing is. Or if they do talk about it, they downplay the difficulty. I wanted to share the things I’ve learned, and all the tricks I have to use on myself to overcome my issues with perfectionism. When I have more time, I’d like to update the site and start including author interviews about process.

HWM: What inspired Laini’s Ladies? What is your process for creating one of your lovely ladies?
Laini: Laini’s Ladies was a serendipity in much the same way that Dreamdark was. Funny to think, the roots of my two careers are both: paper dolls! Dreamdark came about after I got obsessed with drawing and painting faerie paper dolls and created the characters of Magpie, Poppy, and Whisper. Laini’s Ladies were a further evolution of paper dolls that I created as my Christmas cards one year. They were laminated ornaments with bead feet, and I tested them out in my craft booth the week before Christmas, and I started selling out! It was a light bulb moment that really shifted the entire direction of my art career, and it was really a result of playing and following my creative whimsy.

HWM: Do both you and Jim work at home? It must be great for bouncing off ideas and for support, but I would imagine it can get stressful at times depending on deadlines, writer’s block, creative bursts of energy, etc. What type of arrangement did you have to work out, if any, to create in peaceful co-existence?
Laini: Actually, it’s effortless. Truly. We have an art studio that takes up most of the 2nd story of our house, and we work in there together; and I have my writing room downstairs, which is where I am mostly to be found these days. And we’re really lucky to share the same work ethic -- we’re basically always working. I think it would be hard for a “normal” person (ha ha) to be with either one of us. We’d drive them crazy never wanting to go out and “do things” when we’re working on a project. And, since we’re both home, we still get to see each other a lot, and then go back to our own workspace.

HWM: If you were a superhero, what powers would you want and why?
Laini: I would want the power to stop time so I could get more work done!! Really. I know that’s boring, but it would be so great. If I really were able to pick out a super power, though, I would probably have to go with something like invulnerability or healing ability (like Wolverine or the cheerleader on Heroes), because then I would never get sick or hurt or old. (I’m married to a comic book geek and we’ve played this game before!)

Other Places to Find Laini:
Laini's blog
Laini's website
Laini on MySpace
Sunday Scribblings
Not For Robots
Laini's Ladies

Excerpt from Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer
Podcast of Laini reading the first few chapters of Blackbringer

Successful Book Marketing and a Book Giveaway Winner

Last Wednesday, I introduced Kamilla Reid's self-published book, The Questory of Root Karbunkulus. To be truthful, I haven't had a chance to read her book yet. But since she sent me a copy to give away to one of my readers, and it's the holiday season, I figured this is a good time as any to host a Book Giveaway.

I also wanted to start a discussion on things authors can do to market their books. If you're interested to see what Kamilla has done to market her books, go here. Authors, whether they are self-published or through a traditional publisher, need to market their books. And with this one common denominator, I thought it would be interesting to find out what kind of creative book marketing ideas people came up with. Here is the link to all of the comments. Or if you just want to read the marketing ideas, read onwards.

m. thompson said...
Everyone uses bookmarks, because they're cheap. But it does nothing to really distinguish a book.I'm thinking a calendar or a cool magnet would be great.

PJ Hoover said...
Group marketing like The Class of 2k7.

Minh Le said...
Start a (hopefully) unfounded rumor that your book has veiled references to Satan worship... send memos to the 700 Club, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, etc. Once the book starts getting banned in libraries across the country, interest will go through the roof, sales will skyrocket, you'll be interviewed on NPR and maybe even get a mention on the Colbert Report! Hey, it worked for Harry Potter...

Anonymous said...
Ha! Minh Le is hysterical! I've always wondered about self-publishing--it has such a bad rap. This is one of those tempting things you want to look at, but shouldn't because self-publishing is considered a no no if you want to be taken seriously in the publishing world. The book trailer is pretty impressive. It really makes alot of book trailers look really lame, no? I like how Stephenie Meyer did all those proms for Twilight.

Brian Mandabach said...
That trailer is very WOW! I had a contest for best trailer, but since the book hadn't come out yet (I wanted it before release) I provided a script and image ideas to choose from. I don't think that worked so well because, though I have one really nice trailer, I can't figure out how to upload it. (file too big)I also had some really cool t-shirts made, and I give them, along with books and cd's of the books "soundtrack" away when I do school visits. Not sure any of this stuff helps, but it is kinda fun. (NOTE: If anyone knows how Brian can upload the file to YouTube, please contact him through his blog.)

Readablefeast said...
Using social media to market the books is something I teach writers about. One of the ideas I would like to see used more often is creating a MySpace page not only for the book/author but for a book's fictional characters as well. If the book is for young adults/teens, this would be very effective. Having a character "guest post" on the author's blog would also be a lot of fun both for the author and their readers. I'd love to see some conversation between the readers, the author and the characters and a blog, Facebook page, or MySpace page would be a great place to start. Podcasting and doing video on YouTube would be a good idea, too. The only downfall is that these types of efforts could be time consuming, so if the author had a budget, I would recommend them hiring someone to write it with them overseeing things to make sure the reader would pick up on the character's voice. Imagine the feedback the author would get for the followup book!

caryn said...
I really like it when authors tie their book into a scholarship or donate a percentage of their sales to a charity. I'm not sure how it really works out financially though, especially when you hear that books don't always earn what they're supposed to.

Aren't these ideas wonderful? Thank you, everyone who shared an idea. I'm sure you helped someone who is searching for some good book marketing strategies. If anyone wants to add another creative marketing idea, please feel free. I'll add your comment into the post. In the meantime, I'm going to announce the winner of The Questory of Root Karbunkulus. Minh Le, you're the winner. E-mail me your snail mail address to hipwritermama at comcast dot net. Congratulations!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Poetry Friday: A Tiny Look Through a High School Journal

Well, Sara, TadMack and Robin were brave enough to do this. So I figure, why not me? Let's give a look see through one of my high school journals and find a lovely morsel to share with you.

Actually, I only saved two high school journals over the years. One is full of angsty journal entries that I'm still amazed I wrote. The other is full of handwritten inspirational quotes, essays, excerpts from books and poems that resonated with my tortured teen self. Everyone from Eleanor Roosevelt, La Rochefoucauld, George Bernard Shaw, e.e. cummings, Woodrow Wilson, Henry David Thoreau, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Shakespeare, Ben Burroughs, Ann Landers and more share a spotlight in this journal. I even wrote a few original poems, that made me laugh and shudder.

The one poem I am going to share is one I could recite at a moment's notice when I felt my parents were unjust. I even remember writing this in letters to my mom to reinforce my feelings. I'm not sure who wrote this poem (it sounds like it came from a greeting card), but it captured my teenage spirit and made me free. I hope I'll remember this poem and the rebellious teen I was, so when my children turn into teenagers, I'll remember my dreams for them are simply my dreams, and not theirs.

Accept me as I am
Appreciate me as myself
I am not perfect
It doesn't worry me.

I have my feelings
But I am unique
A one of a kind me
And that is something to be proud of.

I can change...let me do the
changing though.
For I will be responsible
For the mistakes I make
And the accomplishments I achieve.

I want to be the way I am
That is my decision.
And if I can't see that,
Then don't blind me
With what you think I
Should be...

For I am me
and nothing else.

Becky is hosting Poetry Friday today. Go on over, submit a poem, and learn about some new poems.

Also, as a reminder, the deadline to enter the Successful Book Marketing and Book Giveaway for The Questory of Root Karbunkulus is Sunday, December 9th at 11pm EST. You're gonna want to check this post to see the wonderful book trailer and get some book marketing ideas. Here are the rules for the contest:

1. Use your creativity to come up with an idea -- small, big, inexpensive, extravagent, easy, time comsuming, etc. -- on something you'd like to see authors do to market their books. You can use a wow! stategy an author used that you loved.

2. Only clean and respectful entries will be accepted. Otherwise, they will be deleted.

3. Comment here with your great idea by Sunday, December 9th, 11pm EST for a chance to win a paperback copy of Kamilla Reid's book, The Questory of Root Karbunkulus.

4. The winner will be announced on Monday, December 10th.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Successful Book Marketing and a Book Giveaway: The Questory of Root Karbunkulus

I had planned to write a post earlier this summer about self-publishing successes after I read Eragon by Christopher Paolini. But I never got around to it. Then, Kamilla Reid sent me an autographed copy of her self-published book, The Questory of Root Karbunkulus, which reminded me about writing this post. But I never got around to it.

And while today's post won't exactly cover self-publishing, you'll find a couple of links to articles on Kamilla's success on marketing her book after the fantastic book trailer below.

Kamilla even sent me an extra book to give away to one lucky person...and I figured this would be a great time to do so. I must admit, I haven't had a chance to read the book yet. I really wanted to have read it before giving away the book, but given my book stack is pretty high, it might be awhile. However, here's a Teens Read Too book review. And here's the awesome book trailer that she did with the help from some friends--you will never believe some of this was filmed in her basement!

If you're intrigued after watching the book trailer, you're going to want to check out Kamilla Reid's website. By now, you're probably curious about what Kamilla has done to market her books. Here are a couple articles to read: recent article about Kamilla's marketing plan and PC World's article, Six Rising Stars on the New Web.

I figure, all authors --whether self-published or published with a traditional publisher -- have to market their books in one way or another. And I'm wondering whether you've ever come across anything an author did that made a wow! impression on you . Or, perhaps you stumbled across a pathetic book marketing attempt. So, given this thought...here are the updated rules for this Book Giveaway:

1. Use your creativity to come up with an idea -- small, big, inexpensive, extravagent, easy, time comsuming, etc. -- on something you'd like to see authors do to market their books. You can use a wow! stategy an author used that you loved.
2. Only clean and respectful entries will be accepted. Otherwise, they will be deleted.
3. Go and write about this idea in the Comments section below by Sunday, December 9th 11pm EST, if you'd like a chance to win a paperback copy of Kamilla Reid's book, The Questory of Root Karbunkulus.
4. The winner will be announced on Monday, December 10th.

Thank you, Kamilla, for donating this book for the Book Giveaway. Okay, folks. Ready? Set? Now....Go! Comment away.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Inspiration Monday: Our Deepest Fear

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear
is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness,
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually who are we not to be?

And when we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Final Snowflakes for Robert's Snow

Auction 3 will begin accepting bids on Monday, Dec. 3 at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $150 for each snowflake. All bids must be before the close of Auction 3 on Friday, Dec. 7 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.)