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, October 27, 2008

Writing Quotes: The Wisdom of Albert Einstein

I'll admit it. I find Albert Einstein fascinating. This controversial genius's opinion was sought out for everything--science, religion, politics, love.  I won't pretend to understand all his scientific discoveries, but his wisdom, when taken from quotes, is quite something when you apply it to writing. 

Need help with setting up or resolving conflict?  Love?  Working on plot?  Character development?  Here are a few great Albert Einstein quotes to help jump start your writing day:


Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love? Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That's relativity.
-Albert Einstein

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
-Albert Einstein

The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.
-Albert Einstein

Truth is what stands the test of experience.
-Albert Einstein

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
-Albert Einstein, (attributed)

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.
-Albert Einstein, (attributed)

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices, but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thought in clear form.
-Albert Einstein, quoted in New York Times, March 19, 1940

Thursday, October 23, 2008

FaceBook and Twitter, Oh My!

Well.  I did it.  

I just signed up on Facebook, thanks to an invitation from one of my sisters-in-law.  (Thank you, Anonymous.)

I'm also on twitter.  

Because it's just not enough to be on MySpace.  

Who wants to be my friend?  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

That's Some Makeover...

This takes the cake.  While our national economy is going haywire, the Republican National Party has spent $150,000 in clothes and makeup for Sarah Palin and her family.  

One hundred and fifty thousand dollars.  In two months.

Obviously, one would want a makeover before going into the national spotlight...but $150,000 worth?  Since late August?  

$150,000 would pay for my family's health insurance premiums for about 8.7 years, if and only if, the premiums don't go up on us.  Which you know they will.

I better go eat some cake...  

Actually, I better not.  

I can't afford to get sick.  

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stayin' Alive has Perfect Beat...

In 1977, I was a high school freshman.  The movie, Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta, was a huge hit.  Some of the kids in my class had parents who let them watch it; I was not one of them.  
It didn't really bother me.  

I had the beat of the music dancing around in my head.  You could hear the movie soundtrack everywhere--on the radio, in stores, on tv, in ice skating and roller skating rinks, and more. The Bee Gees wrote the songs for the movie.  Their songs breathed life into disco (though I can't help but think John Travolta had quite a bit to do with it, too...), and the disco era was bigger than ever.  

But, like all good things, it soon faded away.

Until now.  

One of the Bee Gees songs, Stayin' Alive, is back here to stay.  In a University of Illinois medical study, doctors have found the disco beat of Stayin' Alive near perfect for administering CPR. The American Heart Association recommends 100 chest compressions per minute; Stayin' Alive has 103 beats per minute.

If you'd like to go down memory lane and listen to Stayin' Alive, while keeping the beat with John Travolta's walk in the beginning of the movie of Saturday Night Live, then take a look at this YouTube video.

Keep this song in the inner lining of your brain.  You never know when you're going to need to remember it...  

Friday, October 17, 2008

Five on a Friday: The Books and Writing Edition

1.  Great news for one of my critique pals...Chris signed her first publishing contract!!! Wahoo! Our critique group has had the privilege of reading the evolution of Chris's manuscript--in the near future, you'll be able to read her book!  I am so proud of Chris's dedication and persistence to seeing her dream through.  Go on over and congratulate her!  

2.  P.J. Hoover, another critique buddy, is ramping up for the release of her first book, The Emerald Tablet.  For all those in the Austin, Texas area, you're invited to her book release party!

Date: Sunday, October 26th, 2008
Time: 4:00 pm
Place: BookPeople
Books, Fun, Games, Prizes

3.  I'm starting to get back the critiques from my latest submission and am so excited to get back to revisions.  There is specific stuff to wrap my hands around and it makes my job easier to rewrite.    

4.  The great discussions over at readergirlz this week in celebration of YALSA's Teen Read Week.  If you want great writing tips and fun discussions about books, go follow these links:

5. Beth Kephart's books.  Oh, my goodness.  Talk about poetry in motion.  And versatility.  Beth is a National Award finalist and has written non-fiction, memoirs, and YA (Undercover, House of Dance and Nothing but Ghosts (to be released June 2009).  I'm reading one of Beth's non-fiction books, Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things that Matter, and savoring every word.  No boring non-fiction text here.  It is beautifully written, a lyrical treat.  If you're a writer, this book will help you analyze the dance of friendships and help convey the emotion, the power of friendship, lost and gained, onto paper.  Go read it.  You'll want to read her other books, too.   

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Birthday Party Ideas Needed

Ten-year-old birthday party for girls.  For three friends.  No sleepovers.  According to my daughter, all my suggestions are too babyish.  Any ideas?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Five on a Friday

  1. Gas is $2.95 a gallon today!!!

  2. I cleaned out my kitchen closet and found my favorite hat.  Perfect for bad hair days and attitude problems, this pumpkin colored hat reminds me that LIFE IS GOOD

  3. Yesterday, I had about fifteen children, from the ages of four to eleven, in my yard.  Thankfully, I found plenty of cornstarch and let the kids make oobleck -- a cornstarch, water and food coloring mixture.  The kids had the best time playing with this stuff.  In case you're wondering, this is an OUTDOOR activity and occupies a lot of time.

  4. I had a good writing week and was able to tighten up a few chapters of PB.  My critique group gets this on Monday.

  5. I found a mouse in my coat pocket.  Before you get totally grossed out, let me assure you it was a plastic mouse.  After I calmed down, I was on a mission to hunt down the child who planted the darn thing in my pocket.  Of course, all of my little ones denied it.  Turns out, my husband was the culprit.  This little plastic critter has been providing my family with much entertainment and laughs this week.  Now I need to come up with new prank.  Any suggestions?
Have a great Columbus Day weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

readergirlz "Night Bites" On-Line Author Chats Start Monday, October 13th!


Sept. 18, 2008 (Seattle, Wash.) – In celebration of Young Adult Library Services Association’s (YALSA’s) Teen Reed Week™, readergirlz (rgz) is excited to present Night Bites, a series of online live chats with an epic lineup of published authors. 

The chats will take place at the rgz forum, Oct. 13-17, 2008.

Playing off of YALSA’s theme of “Books with Bite,” Night Bites will feature five themed chats designed to appeal to an array of literary tastes. Sure to suck in even the most reluctant teen readers, the complete Night Bites schedule is as follows:
  • Monday, Oct. 13: Multicultural Bites with authors Coe Booth (TYRELL), An Na (THE FOLD), and rgz diva Mitali Perkins (SECRET KEEPER)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 14: Verse Bites with rgz diva Lorie Ann Grover (ON POINTE), Stephanie Hemphill (YOUR OWN SYLVIA), and Lisa Ann Sandell (SONG OF THE SPARROW)
  • Wednesday, Oct. 15: Contemporary Bites with Ally Carter (CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY), rgz diva Justina Chen Headley (NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL), and Maureen Johnson (SUITE SCARLETT)
  • Thursday, Oct. 16: Fantasy Bites with Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (THE GOOD NEIGHBORS), rgz diva Dia Calhoun (AVIELLE OF RHIA), and Tamora Pierce (MELTING STONES)
  • Friday, Oct. 17: Gothic Bites with Holly Cupala (A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT), Christopher Golden (SOULLESS), Annette Curtis Klause (BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE), and Mari Mancusi (BOYS THAT BITE).
It all happens at the rgz forum beginning at 6 p.m. Pacific Time, 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Oct. 13-17.

See you there!

Remember to Nominate Your Favorite Books for the Cybils!

Remember to put in your votes for the Third Annual Cybils Awards. You have until next Wednesday, October 15th, to nominate a favorite title.  

Here are the rules.

Come on.  Nominate your favorite title.  Click on one of the links to the nine genres below and leave a comment. It's that easy.  

Thank You!

French Writer Wins the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature

We all knew an American author wouldn't win the Nobel Prize this year.  What with the revelation from the Nobel Academy's permanent secretary that American writers were too concerned with following American popular culture to qualify for the prize AND that American authors are just too ignorant to know great writing.  

The prestigious prize goes to French novelist, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Cl├ęzio, an “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization.”  Here is a list of his books.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Five on a Friday: The Grateful Edition

  1. I won a fantastic t-shirt from Cynthia Leitich Smith's Tenth Anniversary Giveaway!  Angela from Pickled Pixel Toe sent me the cutest t-shirt (see the side photo from her site).  It is made of awesome.  

  2. THANK YOU, Cynthia and Angela!!!

    The t-shirt is soft and loose-fitting.  Perfect for revisions ...because we all know comfort is key to good writing.  Plus, I told everyone in the family to leave me alone when I wear this shirt.  Think that'll work?

  3. Fresh bread baking in the oven.   I make awesome bread and focaccia.  My children's neighborhood friends swarm to my door when they smell the bread.  I even put whole wheat in it.  And the kids still eat it.  It's that good.  Not that I'm bragging...

  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules by Jeff Kinney.  My reluctant reader just finished these two books and is upset the next book isn't out until January 2009.   Jeff Kinney, write more of these books!  You're making my child want to read!  (Edited to Add:  If you want to read Day 1 of the first book, go over here.)

  5. I remembered to call my oil company to top off the oil tank while the prices were low ($3.6990 a gallon#@$@%!!!) instead of getting gouged later on.

  6. My children's smiles.  Oh, they make me melt.

Enjoy your weekend!!

Poetry Friday: Nikki Giovanni and Hip Hop Speaks to Children

Back in November 2007, I discovered poetry slam.  I found it raw and dynamic with an earthy beat.  

I was fascinated when I discovered distinguished poet, Nikki Giovanni, embraced poetry slam. I have to admit, I felt validated listening to poetry slam, and it was encouraging to know that Nikki Giovanni approved of this poetic form.  I didn't feel swallowed up in an identify filled with children, grocery shopping, laundry and all things a stay-at-home mom is supposed to do.  While I don't listen to poetry slam a lot, whenever I do, the cadence, the strength emanating from the words, makes me feel powerful and free.

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, an activist, a Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech, and Grammy-nominated poet.  She has been awarded 25 Honorary Doctorate degrees and is a recipient of a multitude of awards and honors.  Last year, Nikki Giovanni was at the forefront of national news with her moving Virginia Tech convocation address, meant to heal after a horrific killing spree that shocked the world.

Nikki Giovanni has written many books of poems--for adults and for children--celebrating truth and the power within oneself.  Her latest anthology of poems, Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat (received from the publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.), is a collection of 51 poems from a variety of notable poets--Gwendolyn Brooks, Gary Soto, Langston Hughes, Calef Brown, Maya Angelou, W.E.B. DuBois, Nikki Giovanni and more.  There is even an audio cd of 30 of the poems, performed by the poets and well-known artists--such as Queen Latifah, The Sugarhill Gang, The Tribe Called Quest--so the child can hear the rhythm and beat of the poems and learn how to deliver a poem.

Children (and adults) will learn about stories in rhythm from this book and as Nikki Giovanni writes in the Introduction:
"Thirty years ago, kids invented a new sound.  They took old music, added their own new poetry, and found a way to have their creative voices heard.  The Hip Hop Nation was born, sharing a courageous story of their hopes and promise with the world.  And the world evermore is glad.

Poetry with a beat.  That's hip hop in a flash.  One part story, one part rhythm..."
Here is a link of Ms. Giovanni performing one of her poems from the book--Ego Tripping.

Children will be empowered by poems like Doubtless by Steve Ericson:
"When I was seven,
I looked to heaven
and dreamed
of going to the moon
but pretty soon
somebody came along
to change my tune.
They put me down.
Bang! There my dream lay
on the ground.
Thank God, eventually
I came around
and dreamed another dream..."
There is even an excerpt from Martin Luther King's powerful speech--I Have a Dream, which still now, resonates hope for people.

This is a book meant to be read aloud with your child--whispering, chanting, hugging these words, their power, their strength, their inspiration.  Some of these poems are better suited for older children, ages 9 - 12 and up.  But, no matter what, these poems will create conversation--of curiousity, of need--and that, I believe is a good thing.

Imagine my smile when I saw the Rapper's Delight in this book.  I danced to this when I was in high school.  What still hasn't changed in all these years is I still can't say the words to this song without tripping over my tongue.  Try it...

"I said a hip hop the hippie to the hippie
the hip hip hop, a you don't stop
the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat
skiddlee beebop a we rock a scoobie doo
and guess what America we love you..."

What I love about having the audio cd with the book, is you can hear the rhythm and the beat of the words, and it will help a child with the delivery, the enunciation, the flow of the words.  All key as the child is gaining skill in reading and speaking.

Curious what Rapper's Delight is supposed to sound like?  Want to get an idea of what people dressed like in 1978?  Check out this YouTube video...

Listen to Nikki Giovanni talk about Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat in the YouTube video below:

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

readergirlz Night Bites: Coming soon on October 13th

This beautiful graphic was designed by new readergirlz diva,
Holly Cupola!

Writing Tip: The Multi-Faceted Character: Character Motivations, Part II

Last week, I wrote about fleshing out character motivations.  This week, I'm going to step it up a notch and write a little on how to create a complex character.  

Multi-faceted characters make a book interesting.  These characters have conflicting issues they need to deal with, their wants and needs change over time, and they can be confused with changes they experience in the story.  Kind of sounds like most people, doesn't it? 

Let your characters have complicated lives and have two desires in conflict with one another.  One desire makes a character too plain.  Say you have a girl character who wants a dog.  There are plenty of children out there who want a dog.  How are you, as a writer, going to distinguish this character?  You could have the child earn money for the dog.  Beg her parents for a dog.  Advertise her services as a dog walker so people pay her money to hang out with their dogs.  It's hard to picture this girl, isn't it?  She kind of melts into the background.

But, what if you add another desire, that pushes conflict, to the mix?  What if the girl wants a dog...but rather than proving she's responsible enough to own a dog, she wants to steal a dog?  She doesn't want to keep the dog.  She wants to return the dog back to the owner and get the reward money so she can help her family move out from the car and into a home and her life at school will return to normal.  

Do you have an image of what this girl is like?  I bet this is giving you all sorts of ideas for what her family and friends are like, dialogue, her values, her attitude, her actions, her emotions.  But, you've got to stop and think of your own story.  Because, this book has already been written.  And it is called, How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor.  Check out the first sentence of the book:

"The day I decided to steal a dog was the same day my best friend, Luanne Godfrey, found out I lived in a car."

I bet this is something kids are going to want to read to find out what happens next, don't you? 

Ack! I just realized I only have an hour left before my babysitter leaves, so I need to get some writing done.  Before I go, I'll leave you with a link to Character Arcs from Through the Tollbooth.

This is the fourth post in my Character Development series.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nominate a Favorite Book for the 2008 Cybils Awards...Now!

It's time to put in your votes for the Third Annual Cybils Awards. You can nominate a favorite title until October 15th.  

Here are the rules.

To nominate a 2008 title for a specific genre, click on the link and leave a comment.

Here are the nine genres:  
  1. Fantasy and Science Fiction
  2. Fiction Picture Books
  3. Graphic Novels
  4. Middle Grade Fiction
  5. Non-Fiction MG/YA Books
  6. Non-Fiction Picture Books
  7. Poetry
  8. Young Adult Fiction
  9. Easy Readers

I'm a panelist on the Non-Fiction MG/YA Books Committee.  Please stop by and leave your nomination!