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, March 31, 2008

Inspiration Monday: Share Your Good News

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure...than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. 

-Theodore Roosevelt

I told myself I can't blog until I finish my taxes.  It remains to be seen if I can stay strong on this one.  Give me some hope and share some good news so I can get through this!  Edited to Add: Oh, and if anyone wants to share a little tip that can inspire the rest of us to keep on reaching for those dreams, go for it. 

The comment thread is yours.   

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Possibilities of Youth

Middle Child worked on her first grade "All About Me" project these past couple of days. I'm a big believer in letting my children do their own projects, so I really didn't think I needed to do anything hands on with her on this, except help with spelling. I didn't take into account all the pictures she wanted to paste onto her poster board documenting her life from babyhood to present time.

Thank goodness for color copiers. After a bit of negotiation, MC had a great selection of photos and artwork she could cut and paste onto her project; my collection of memorabilia remained safe from sticky fingers.

MC also worked on her list of favorite things for the project. Here is her list:

Favorite Book: Junie B. Jones
Favorite Subject: Reading, P.E.
Pet: Dog (pleez Mommy?)
Food: Candy Apple
Hobby: Arts and Crafts
TV Show: Hannah Montana
When I grow up, I would like to be President.

"Why do you want to be President?"

"Well. I really want to help other kids like me who are allergic to different kinds of food. If I were President I would be able to make new laws and make everyone listen to me."

Oh my. Needless to say, she wants to visit the White House.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Support Operation Teen Book Drop on April 17th

Operation TBD

YALSA and readergirlz are partners in Operation Teen Book Drop (TBD). To celebrate April 17th, 2008, Support Teen Literature Day, we've organized a massive, coordinated release of 10,000 publisher-donated YA books into the top pediatric hospitals across the country!

We invite you to celebrate Support Teen Lit Day with us. Donate one of your own books to your community, then join our amazing online book bash, The TBD Post-Op Party, the night of April 17th.

Donate a Book
First, download and print the appropriate readergirlz/YALSA/TBD bookplate. Paste it into the book you plan to donate.

TBD author bookplate TBD readergirl bookplate

If you are an author and would like to donate your own book, download this plate.

If you'd like to donate a favorite novel, download this plate.

Blog about Operation TBD and place the I Rock the Drop icon on your site. Get the icon at http://www.readergirlz.com/tbd.html - Simply cut and paste the code we've provided into your blog or at your site, and the result will look like this!

Operation TBD

Talk About It
At the readergirlz MySpace group forum (http://groups.myspace.com/readergirlz) look for the threads entitled TBD rgz! and TBD Authors! Post a reply in the thread that applies to you, and participate in other TBD threads as they are posted in the forum.

Drop a Book on April 17th
Leave one copy of your novel, with a TBD bookplate pasted inside, in a teen gathering spot in your community. Place it where the book will be found, taken, and read. (i.e. a coffee shop, the park, your school, a bus stop.) Imagine the fun someone will have when they find your donation! This is the same day all 10,000 publisher-donated books will be dropped in pediatric hospitals across the country, and it is the same day authors and readergirlz worldwide will release their own books into their communities just as you have.

Join the TBD Post Op Party on April 17th
We invite all readergirlz and authors to join our online two-hour book party hosted at the readergirlz MySpace group forum on April 17th, Support Teen Literature Day, from 6 PM-8 PM Pacific / 9 PM - 11 PM Eastern. The chat will be in a thread titled TBD Post Op Party. The readergirlz divas will be giving away books and prizes, and chatting with teens and authors from around the world.

Operation TBD has special meaning to the readergirlz divas. After researching pediatric oncology wards for her novel GIRL OVERBOARD, Justina Chen Headley spent a year purchasing autographed YA novels to donate to her local Children's Hospital, specifically because most hospitals do not have comfort objects for teens. Lorie Ann Grover (ON POINTE) and Dia Calhoun (AVIELLE OF RHIA) personally know the healing power of stories during hospital stays, since they both live with chronic illness. Mitali Perkins (WHITE HOUSE RULES) has recently joined the team and is eager to support a readergirlz/YALSA special project.

We all know that books give hope. Together, let's show our love of teen lit and ROCK THE DROP.

Read, reflect, and reach out!

~ Dia Calhoun, Lorie Ann Grover, Justina Chen Headley, and Mitali Perkins
(readergirlz divas / authors)

TBD Recommended Reads
The postergirlz advisory council recommend a variety of titles for teens dealing with health issues. Their list of picks is split into two sections: Under Redefining Normal, the book characters are facing similar trials themselves or their friends or family have health concerns. Escape Reads are for all teens who need a moment to journey to another place and refuel their own energy and hope. The readergirlz divas and postergirlz hope that many find
comfort and encouragement through these works of literature.

YALSA librarians selected books all about teens whose lives are affected by illness and injury, either their own or a loved one's. Some of these books are realistic fiction, some nonfiction, some historical fiction, some science fiction and fantasy. By reading these books, ill and injured teens, or those with sick family members or friends, will know that they are not alone in their battles against disease.

Download the list of books recommended by the postergirlz

Download the list of books recommended by YALSA

Download, print, and share the TBD bookmarks

Operation TBD

For more on this and other literacy and activism projects, plus recommendations of remarkable books for teens and adults, please visit www.readergirlz.com.

Readergirlz Live Chat with Sarah Dessen Today at 3pm EST

Sarah Dessen, bestselling author of Just Listen and other great books will be over at readergirlz today for a Live Chat to talk about her new book, Lock and Key, at 3pm Eastern Standard Time, 12noon Pacific Time.  Hope you stop by!

My Five Favorite Posts Meme

I've been tagged for a meme by Two Writing Teachers. Basically, you're supposed to pick five of your favorite posts and share it.  This proved to be a difficult task; however, it was fun reading through old posts.  Here are the five I chose--hope you enjoy.  
By the way, I tag anyone who wants to participate. If you do, comment below with your link and I'll visit.
I wrote this last year when I was frustrated with reading levels and how to use them to find books my eldest daughter wanted to read.  This post gets quite a few visits a day, so I'm glad people are finding it helpful.

Interesting character development usually involves some sort of conflict and compromise.  This post goes through some of my thought process as I write.  If you're interested in some more of my writing tips, you can find them here.

I wrote this post because I see the girls in my town growing up with too many expectations and it makes me sad.  Boys do grow up with pressure to succeed, but for some reason, I don't see the same fall out for them.  Keep in mind, this is my opinion only.  What I loved what how this post resonated with so many people.   

I love my Inspiration Monday posts.  I really like this post because it helped me focus on what was good about my work and that's important in the writing world.  Or anytime, for that matter.

Finally, I'll close with 7-Imp's interview with me.   I know, I know.  It's not officially a post from my blog, but I couldn't help myself.  This was such an honor and very much appreciated. 

If you'd like to participate in this meme, consider yourself tagged.  Comment below with your link and I'll visit.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Are Books Recession-Proof?

I found this recent article in Publisher's Weekly.  I'm going to remain optimistic and veer on the side that even with the economy being what it is, people are still going to want to read good books.  Be that as it may, it also stands to reason that fewer books may be published in the next couple of years and publishers will expect more from a manuscript.  

So, if you're submitting manuscripts, polish those babies up and make sure they promise addictive eye candy to the reader.  Just my two cents.  

What do you think?    

One Shot World Tour: Celebrating Canadian Authors

Colleen Mondor over at Chasing Ray has a post and blog links in celebration of Canadian authors.  Go on over and find out what people are reading.  

Monday, March 24, 2008

Any Good News? Anyone?

It's a beautiful day here in my town.  Somehow, the crispness of the fresh air is making me yearn to hear good news.  So, come on.  Don't be shy.  Let's celebrate spring...and you.  Share some good news and make me smile.

Inspiration Monday: Embrace the Possibilities

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all.  Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach.  Check your road and the nature of your battle.

The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.

-Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Perplexity of the Narrative Point of View

Remember the historical novel I've been writing? I submitted a few chapters to my on-line critique group a little more than a week ago, and have been reviewing the comments over the past few days. Overall, I'm very encouraged with their feedback and am really happy with how the story is shaping up.

One of my critique members suggested I change the narrative point of view from first person to third person. Another member agreed with this. My writing leans toward the lyrical (Nothing like my blog writing...is this a shocker to anyone? ), and I think the idea is to switch the point of view so the overall narration will be lyrical, rather than just through the main character's voice.

And of course to keep things interesting, another critique member urged me to keep this piece in first person. She liked the intimacy of the piece and thought I would lose the lyrical quality if I changed this to third person.

So...what to do, besides pace back and forth? The only answer for me is to write a few chapters in third person and then compare the two POV's.

I have to tell you, I love my critique group. They have given me such great feedback on three other manuscripts, which are all in various stages of revision. I even changed the narrative point of view (from third person to first person) for one of these manuscripts, and the piece is stronger for it. So I don't mind reworking a piece. It's actually fun for me and helps me get to know the story even better.

A couple days ago, I started to rewrite this manuscript in third person. To say challenging, is putting it mildly. However, if anything, it's a great exercise.

Which narrative point of view do you prefer to read or write?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Inspiration Monday: Create Your Own Good Luck for the Sake of Your Dreams

I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
-Thomas Jefferson

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

All of us have bad luck and good luck. The man who persists through the bad luck - who keeps right on going - is the man who is there when the good luck comes - and is ready to receive it.
-Robert Collier

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I think it's only fitting that today's post be about creating your own good luck. What? I'm sure you think I'm off my rocker today. After all, how in the world can we create our own good luck? Isn't it random?

Okay, let me be clear here. I'm not talking about the kind of luck that will help you win the lottery or high stake poker games. I'm thinking about the type of luck that is more tangible, more within your power to achieve. Keep in mind though, that the two steps I share with you today will only work if you keep working toward your dream and keep your mind open...so follow along on your own accord and may good luck follow your every move.

Be Open to New Opportunities:
How many times have you heard of someone who was lucky because he/she just happened to be at the right place at the right time?  Maybe it was pure luck, but it could just be the person was aware and receptive to the opportunity.

There are times when opportunity is disguised in different ways, especially when you least expect it.  Live outside the box and embrace what life has to offer.  Maybe it means networking, working extra hours, being open to suggestions people give you, sending out your manuscript to one more agent, going to the party you don't feel like going to, or even making an unexpected stop to the grocery store. 

When you go about your day, be aware of what is going on around you.  Work hard and pay attention to the little clues.  You may very well find yourself in the position of being the lucky one.   

Turn Lemons into Lemonade (Expect Good Things to Happen):
There are people who seem to go through tough times smelling like a rose.  You might know a person or two like this--the ones who no matter how bad it gets, hold their head up high and emerge in a better position than before.  Luck?  

Failure happens to everyone.  And it really stinks.  Big time.  But, even when rejection or failure happens, when you have the ability to work hardbe open to new opportunities and stay optimistic no matter what, it's easier to bounce back and keep moving towards the dream.  I'm not saying to ignore the pain and disappointment of failure.  Rather, use this as the fuel to get to where you want to go.      

When you expect good things to happen even when you're at the bottom of the pile, you're able to focus and work to discover creative ways to turn those lemons into lemonade.  Otherwise, you're just going to sink to the sludge, and that's no fun, is it?    

Are you ready to work hard and create your own luck?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Writing Tip: That Pesky Writer's Block

Perhaps it's my recent encounter with a pesky tick or maybe it's the funny but gross video below of Enchanted's "The Happy Working Song"....

I've finally come to see the writer's block I've been battling for the past few weeks in a whole different light.  It is just a bug.  And you know how some bugs keep coming back?  I decided that sometimes I need a pesky bug of my own to wage war.  The only way to beat a bug is by going at it full force...

In case you need some help, here are some things that worked for me:

At a loss for the right way to convey an emotion?  Watch some movies or listen to music that convey a mood you're attempting to create.  Watch or listen to enough of these, until everyone around you gets restless for something different, and get yourself to your computer or pen and paper and write away while you're in the mood.

Debating on the right word?  Rifle through your thesaurus and play around with the words.  Turn it into a game and get yourself into your character's mindset.  It's no use if you try it from your point of view.  

Irritated with your characters that nothing interesting is happening?  I have only one word for you--Improv.  It works with actors, right?  So why not in writing?  No matter how outrageous, write out a scene.  Or comment along the side of your manuscript with your impressions of each scene.  

Get your characters to bicker with one another in their voices and something or someone is going to emerge the winner.   Write on.  

Trying to tie up a plotline?  I never thought I'd say this, but organizing it all in writing--whether it be on a bulletin board, chalkboard, stickies, your wall, on your computer, etc.--makes it easier to figure out what is missing.    

Can't find the time to write?  Are kids, your job, significant other, family, friends, or other responsibilities getting in the way?  Block out chunks of writing time and make sure everyone knows they can't interrupt you unless it's a major emergency.  If writing in the daylight hours is impossible, wake up a half hour earlier, or work on your writing when the kids are in bed.  

Even if you manage to cough up 10 or 15 minutes at a time, don't shrug it off.  You can write a few sentences, think of a plot line, develop your character.  It's valuable time, use it to your advantage.  

Friends and family don't understand your anguish?  Commiserate with your writer pals.  Most know of the ill effects of Writer's Block and will offer words of encouragement.  

Or they post things like this, this, this or this, that make you realize other writers feel doubt, worry and wonder...and it's okay.  It's okay not to know.  That's what makes life and writing so interesting.  

Appreciate this incredible community and write so you won't embarrass your writer pals for believing in you.

Can't get in the mood to write?  Sometimes your mind needs a break from the story.  Do something fun and get away from it for a day or so.  Any longer and it'll be difficult to get back to writing.  Trust me, I speak from experience.  

Then, get your butt in the chair and write anyway.  Sooner or later, the nonsense you've written will evolve into something tangible you can work with.  And you'll be back on a roll.  Happy Writing!

Any other ideas?

And if you have a moment, watch this video.  It'll make you look at cleaning your mess (in the home, on your manuscript or whatever else is important to you) in a new way.

Monday, March 10, 2008

In Which I Find Deer Ticks...Again...

Remember last year, when a pesky deer tick embedded itself in my little one's crook of her arm?  Yesterday morning, I found a tick embedded in my knee. I freaked out and my husband, pulled the darn thing out. Later on in the afternoon, I felt something crawl on the back of my neck. When I reached to grab it, I became a little concerned. It was a wandering tick. I thought deer ticks didn't appear until the warm weather, but then again, as my husband reminded me, we do live in an area where deer like to roam. 

I never knew what a deer tick looked like until last year, when little one had one on her.  In case you need a description--the tick body is black and the size and shape of a sesame seed.  As you can see from the picture, there are eight legs.  In case you'd like information on how to remove deer ticks, go here.

This may be gross to some of you, but I had to take this picture of the ticks so you could see the difference in size--one is kind of engorged with blood, the other had no such luck.  The lighting was a little off--the little tick is actually black.  

Friday, March 7, 2008

Some Encouragement....

For those of you who need a little encouragement, here's a great commencement speech from Steve Jobs.  I wrote about this before, but just found it on YouTube.  When you have a moment, take the time to listen to it.  I think you'll find it inspiring. 

I've been going through major writer's block for the past couple of weeks, and this has been wonderful to hear.  

Have a good weekend! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Writing Tip: Know Your Audience

Jacqueline Wilson, an award-winning English author of children's books who has sold over 20 million copies of her books in the UK, believes that children grow up too fast.  I must admit, I haven't read any of Dame Jacqueline Wilson's books yet, but I do agree with her. 

It makes me sad, especially when I look at my children.  I wonder if they're going to be one of those kids that yearn to leave those stuffed animals behind them without a backwards glance, or if they will suffer from Peter Pan syndrome and never want to grow up.  

However, it is something important to think about.  Especially if you want children and teens to enjoy your books.  Think carefully about the age group you are writing for and write for them. Know your audience. Research the trends and the kid/teen speak.  Study how children/teens interact with one another.   Any other ideas?

If you know your audience, you can create the type of characters your audience will relate to. Now you've got to work on your story...

Out of curiosity, I put together a poll to see what people think about whether kids are growing too fast. Go and vote!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Writing Exercise: In Which I Start Decluttering...

to think about what kind of house my MG protagonist lives in. Does he grow up in a stiff plastic-covered furniture type of house? A run-down fixer-upper that creaks with every footstep? Does he live in a house filled with books and clutter so he can't find a matching pair of shoes? Or maybe a house with designer furniture and designer parents.

Lots to think about as I wade through a pile of books.