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!


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Writing Tip: The Song I Can't Get Out of My Mind

My kids and their friends have been watching High School Musical 3 since the DVD release. It's probably my fault since I refused to take them to see this movie and payback...well, let's say I've paid my due.  Not only have I watched/listened to this movie, but my children (and their friends) have amused me with re-enactments of various scenes.  Our household is one big musical and yes, it is fun.

However, I hated the commercialism surrounding the movie. With that said, I have to admit, the marketing move was perhaps brilliant with fantastic name branding, consistent main characters, fun choreographed song and dance, and a dedicated following that spread the word faster than a telephone game, but with pinpoint accuracy. 

Which made me realize that this applies to our writing.  Not that our characters' lives should be a musical, though, it would be satisfying to be able to burst out in song and dance in a moment's notice.  I'm thinking more of how we can add the layers of emotion and other little touches that help the reader identify with the characters and actively participate in the story.

I'll be writing about EMOTION in the next few posts and I hope you'll join me as I explore how to add the song and dance to our writing.

The only problem is I have to figure out how to get this one song from the movie out of my mind.  If you dare, watch it on the video below. The first song is oh, so entertaining--there are two versions in the first 5 minutes of this video. (Note: If you're not interested in spoilers, this shows a pivotal scene in the movie)

In case you're looking for a Writing Exercise: Watch the exaggerated motions and dramatics and see if you can capture it in your writing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Cybils Winners are Here!

The Cybils winners have been announced.  Here they are!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Memories, Books and Love for Valentine's Day

Well, it's here.  Valentine's Day.  We're supposed to be all red and pink and swirly and giggly and confess our love from the top of the universe. 


That's a lot of pressure.  

Valentine's Day.  

These two words filled me with dread when I was in high school.  It was the day when students collected pink/red carnation corsages from their secret or not-so-secret admirers.  My memory is stunted since I don't remember when they were given out.  In homeroom?  By members of the student council?  All I remember is the slight hope of anticipation, the sweat of having everybody know if someone will publicly admit to an interest, and the fall of disappointment.  That's a lot to bear in high school.

Some girls (okay, I'll admit it was rare, but still...) strutted around with four, five, even ten corsages pinned to different parts of their clothing.  Some had one carnation, pinned high so everyone can see it and know that someone out there liked them enough to tell them. Others, like me, walked around with none, avoiding the pity looks.  Funny how a cheap flower, or for that matter any object, can reduce a person to shame or inflate pride in the matter of an instant.

Thankfully, I survived those corsage days (our high school had these to celebrate most holidays).  It helped that I had great friends in high school and we convinced each other that we could make it through these days.  

I often wonder what they do in high schools now for Valentine's Day.  Does anyone know?

Now that I'm not in high school, I realize that Valentine's Day isn't all about waiting, waiting, waiting for someone to confess their love for me.  It's about spending time with my family, enjoying the little things, treating myself, and sharing the love and goodness in my life with others.

I thought it would be nice to celebrate Valentine's Day with all of you and came up with the brilliant idea of the Love in the Air contest with an Interview Prize.  My husband pretty much announced it was a dud.  Why do I not learn from my high school days?  Sigh.  

But, all is not lost.  Eldest had a friend sleep over last night. Even though they snuck a little too much root beer last night and stayed up late telling each other stories, they're awake now.  We'll have breakfast (homemade cinnamon rolls, sausages and strawberry smoothies), go to middle one's tae-kwon-do class and then head over to Harvard Square to celebrate Kids Heart Authors Day. I hope we make it in time for the book signings!

Happy Valentine's Day!

What will you do today?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love in the Air Contest...Interview Prize

I've decided to do a contest in honor of Valentine's Day.

Share a love at first sight or first love story in the comments and I'll enter you in a drawing for an interview (featuring your blog or books) on my blog.  Your interview will be featured in February or early March, depending on a mutually agreed upon schedule.

Deadline is Saturday, February 14th at 11pm EST.


Comment away.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

readergirlz Live Chat with Rita Williams-Garcia Tonight!

rgz LIVE! is tonight, February 12th, 6:00 Pacific Standard Time, at the rgz MySpace group forum. Join us as we talk about No Laughter Here with Rita Williams-Garcia

There will be book giveaways and honest discussion.

See you there!

Cool Book Trailers: Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Have you heard?  Our own Cynthia Leitich Smith has a new book out.  Eternal.  Sounds like a good Valentine read!

Cool Book Trailers: Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman

Have you heard of Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman?  It's a new way of reading that I'm still exploring.  

Patrick, via the Skeleton Creek Channel, will have a live webcast tomorrow, Friday the 13th. Curious?  Go here tomorrow, 6:30pm - 8pm Pacific Standard Time.

In the meantime, check out the book trailer. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why Fourth Grade Math Scares Me...and a Prize

I'm pretty good at math. 

Er, at least I thought I was. But my fourth grader is bringing home math homework that makes me sweat.  For example, check out the last puzzle in the photo below.  Everything seems easy, except, it needs to fit in the puzzle...

So, here's my challenge to you.  

Figure out the answers to the last puzzle below and e-mail it to me at hipwritermama@comcast.net.  If you want to disclose simple tips on the best way to solve this problem so I can explain it to my child without one of us throwing a tantrum, you'll win an extra entry for a prize.  (I tend to overanalyze these math problems and make the process more complicated for my daughter.)
Deadline is next Wednesday, February 18th.

Since this is a meeting of the minds, so to speak, I'll give away something that requires my time for you--a critique of the first three chapters of your manuscript.  

Any takers?

(Added for easy reference)
1. Figure out the answers to the last puzzle below and e-mail it to me, along with your blog information, to hipwritermama@comcast.net under the subject header: math puzzle.

2. If you want to disclose simple tips on the best way to solve this problem so I can explain it to my child without one of us throwing a tantrum, you'll win an extra entry for a prize. (I tend to 
overanalyze these math problems and make the process more complicated for my daughter.)

3. Deadline is next Wednesday, February 18th.

4. Prize is critique of first three chapters of your manuscript.  

5. Have fun!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Inspiration Monday: Look Fear in the Eye

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.
- Dorothy Thompson

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.

Writing fears.  

Oh, yeah.  I've got them.  Especially now that I'm working on what I hope is the final revision on PB, my YA historical novel.

One of my critique buddies, PJ Hoover (who by the way has an entertaining MG novel both boys and girls are going to enjoy, THE EMERALD TABLET) wrote in the comments of Becky's post, "I’m laughing because I never voice my fears. Maybe that’s my fear: to voice my fears and give them life."

I loved that.   

No need to give this thing more life than it needs.

Sure, it's okay to have self-doubt, to question, to worry.  But to let it consume you to the point where you freeze and let your dreams fizzle...that is not right.

You are good enough!  

You are smart enough!  

You have a fantastic idea!  

You can do it!  

I know you can!

And, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Throw out those negative thoughts that slow you down.  No need to have that in your way.

Instead, show yourself what you are capable of. 

Prove to yourself that you can.

Will you let the fear in and dominate your whole existence or will you totally kick it to the curb? Are you going to follow your dream? Or will you always wonder?

You decide.

Now get to work.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Read Neil Gaiman's Coraline, Right Here

Did you know that if you click on the Browse Inside this book link on the Coraline widget below, you'll be able to read the entire book, courtesy of Harper Collins?  I would imagine this is for a limited time.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 6, 2009

2009 New Year 30 Day Challenge Winners!!!!

First of all, I'd like to thank all of the Challenge Participants who joined me in the 2009 New Year 30 Day Challenge.  It was so nice to have company as I worked towards my organizational goals.  

I know it was tough going.  All of us had our own challenges this month and thankfully, most of us were able to continue on.  Unfortunately, due to different circumstances, some of us had to shift priorities and focus on life matters.  For these people, I wish you all the best, and hope you are able to take the time to take care of yourselves and your goals.

The great thing about challenges like this, is it allows us to build up a regular habit of working on something, which leads to consistency and small steps towards our goals.  I think you'll all agree with me that it's hard work.  So, you won't be surprised to hear me say that you are all winners.   

I wish I could send all of you a prize!  Sigh.

Becky Levine!  You've won a Life is Good mug (front of the soft green mug has a daisy and says Life is Good; the back of the mug says Do What You Like, Like What You Do).  Send me your address and I'll forward this along to you.

Jen Robinson, Cinde, and Holly Cupala - Send me your address and I'll forward you a pretty Laini's Ladies Peace card.  You'll be able to tie a ribbon on this beautiful little lady and she'll give you inspiration for "Peace, Believe, Create the Future." 

Congratulations on finishing this challenge!  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

SCBWI New York Conference Happenings

No, I didn't go.

But, if you're curious about what you missed, get the scoop over at The Official SCBWI 10th Annual New York Conference Blog.

And if you want a good laugh, and some inspiration, watch this video. Jarrett Krosoczka delivered the opening keynote for the conference. He created this video, with the help of a few well-known guests...

BOOK BY BOOK: the making of a monkey man from Jarrett Krosoczka on Vimeo.

Monday, February 2, 2009

2009 New Year 30 Day Challenge: FINAL Check In!!!

Wahoo!!  We did it!  We reached the finish line and worked on getting our butt in gear for the year.  I'm so glad you all joined me in my Challenge. You've all be wonderful sharing your progress--it has been awesome.

I didn't organize as much as I hoped, but I've walked away from this challenge with glimpses of neatness in my house.  If anything, it has encouraged me.  My house is small and we utilize every room of the house.  If I can manage the clutter, I will be happy.  Though, all bets on keeping the house organized ended last week when the last snow/ice/rain storm unleashed water into my house.  Pots, bowls and pans are still collecting water and stuff has piled everywhere, but it will all be tackled.    

So, how did you do? Comment away and let me know how you did in this 2009 New Year's 30 Day Challenge. As I mentioned in the first posting for this challenge, I'll end this challenge today, since it keeps things simple with the Monday check in.  

The official 30 Day end date is Wednesday, February 4th, so in case there are any die-hard Challengers out there, who want to stay to the end, just comment here by 11:00 pm EST Wednesday, February 4th for a chance for the surprise Challenge Prize. 

And again, congratulations, everyone, for taking yourself seriously and being true to what you love! Stop by Friday to find out who won the Challenge Prize!