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!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 20: Mapping Out Writing Time: Offering an Olive Branch

Thanks, Everyone, for your comments on last week's post. Man, it was a tough few days, trying to keep Spy Girl from obsessing over her hurt. But, as we all knew would happen, Spy Girl survived feeling left out. Nothing like just turning 11 and feeling like your world is turned upside down.

However, a good thing came from all this. One of Spy Girl's friends, L, later told her she was sorry. L and company didn't think other kids would be upset. She promised to include Spy Girl in other group activities.

The pressure is on. I must be sure Spy Girl has fun plans for the next half-day of school. After all this, I'd hate to see her face when I say, "No," when she asks to go into town with her friends. Unsupervised. Sigh.

Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt: Your MC will experience more than her share of conflict and perhaps hurt feelings, before the end of her story. Write a scene where a peace offering is made, either by your protagonist or another character. Is this a sincere gesture? One made from guilt? Or is there a sinister motive behind this? What does your MC feel about this--belief, uncertainty, relief, wariness, etc.? Overall, is the peace offering a good thing? Or a band-aid? Be sure to work in the appropriate conflict and emotion through dialogue and action. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Libba Bray Chat with readergirlz Tonight 6pm PST/9pm EST

Stop by tonight at readergirlz for a chat with Libba Bray! 6pm PST/9pm EST. See you there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 19: Mapping Out Writing Time: Celebrate in Style

Spy Girl had her birthday party over the weekend. Fifteen friends stopped by to help her celebrate. Her birthday theme...a Rockin' Movie Party.

The Jonas Brothers greeted the girls when they came into the house. Let me tell you, the one thing I neglected to purchase were ear plugs, which I should have worn, along with ear muffs.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight to take pictures of the screening room (AKA the living room) before the party, so you'll have to picture it. Tiny lights sparkled along the walls. Blue and green streamers hung along the fireplace mantel, windows and doorways. And the concession table: full-size Skittles and Starburst, blue margarita plastic glasses (Spy Girl arranged them into a pyramid), root beer, lemonade, and of course, lots of popcorn with marshmallows.

Yes, you read it right. Popcorn and marshmallows. Pop a big batch of popcorn. Pour popcorn into a big bowl. Sprinkle salt and tiny marshmallows over the hot popcorn. Yum!

The girls descended on the movie treats and found a place to sit on the rug and sofas. Spy Girl chose Zorro and in hindsight, it wasn't the best movie for 15 girls of varying tastes. I think it was too much adventure for half the girls, who wanted to see a chick flick.

After the movie, I served dinner: pasta and meatballs, garden salad with croutons and my homemade focaccia.

Then, came the karaoke sing-off. Let me tell you, if there is one thing you should have at your disposal during a party for a group of girls, it is a karaoke machine. HUGE hit! We have an awesome machine, with two microphones and camera. Perfect for this group of girls. They sang and danced and sang some more. I loved how some of the shyer girls became rock stars when they had their chance at the microphone.

We also did photo shoots with the Jonas Brothers. Nick, by far, was the favorite, and the girls swooned and shrieked. And I realized my husband, He Who Doesn't Have a Good Name Yet For My Blog, did the smart thing by high-tailing it out of the house.

The girls then danced and sang some more. They were disappointed when their parents came to pick them up. All in all, the party was a success. Most importantly, Spy Girl had a great time.

As for the goody bags, I found these pins....

I also made CD's of Spy Girl's party music and put them in these great jewel-colored cases. Then, I put a CD and a couple cool pins in a green striped cellophane bag and tied them up with a pearl blue ribbon.

Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt: What kind of celebration will be part of your MC's life? Is it a coming-of-age celebration, a cultural or religious holiday, or perhaps a secret society induction? Keep in mind, the celebration doesn't have to be traditional. Remember to share the significance and the emotions it should evoke. Have fun!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 18: Mapping Out Writing Time: Making a Good Impression

Let's face it. Good impressions are important. Some people may claim it's superficial and unfair. Isn't it what's inside that counts anyway?

For the most part, absolutely.

But to get to the inner core, there has to be a certain something that makes someone want to take a second look. I hate to say it, but that's reality, whether we're talking about making friends, getting a job interview, or getting a reader to invest emotional energy with your characters.

I cringe as I write this, because I'm a rebel at heart. But...isn't it true? Good impressions are about conforming to society's definition of a certain norm.

Think about it. Why do people go off and get themselves all dressed up before going to a party or attending an all important job interview or meeting? Why do people study up on a topic before meeting their professor or approaching someone to invest in their business? Why do people agonize on how to write their resume or query letter?

Say it all with me...to make a good impression.

I'm sure the thought of having to conform is downright painful for independent spirits everywhere; however, there's no need to grumble--you can still shine and show your individuality. Good impressions don't always clinch the deal. This is where the rebel lovers everywhere can have their moment of triumph...it's important to show a little of yourself to make yourself memorable.

Within reason, of course. We're not talking body parts or underwear here. So keep it clean and respect yourself.

If you haven't seen Pretty in Pink, you must! It's a classic teen movie.

Think of this as you create a good impression in the beginning of your manuscript. I've got three of my top picks for what I think will help you create a strong beginning. Now keep in mind, this is my personal opinion, based on all the books I've read and enjoyed. By no means am I an expert in this sort of thing. If you like, you're more than welcome to add other things in the comments section.

1. A great hook: For me, this could be through a great opening line or prologue, interesting characters, the setting, instant conflict or emotion that draws me in and makes me want to read on.

2. An Interesting and Compelling Voice: It doesn't matter whether I love or hate the protagonist. That's actually part of what will make me want to read on. What is their personality and inner conflict, why are they likeable or not, what is the tone of their voice and does it grab my attention.

3. A Teaser: Some people have all the luck on understanding the nuances of proper teasing. Because it's all about showing just a little, a little bit at a time, to give the reader an idea of what's to come. Do it wrong, and the reader is just going to get frustrated and give up. But do it right, and your reader is going to hang around until the very end.

What do you think makes a great first impression in the beginning of a novel?

Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt: Read over your first chapter and look at your MC through an objective camera lens. Or ask your critique group or writing buddy to help you. Are you conveying a clear picture of what your character looks like, thinks, believes, acts, wants, needs? Obviously, you may not be able to show all of these in the first chapter, but have you shown enough of your character so readers will want to turn the page to know more?

If you've created a good first impression, congratulations! You're one step closer to a finished manuscript.

If you're finding your character is still missing that certain something, go back and work it. You can do it! Good luck!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 17: Mapping Out Writing Time: Not Fitting In

Today is a half-day of school and it figures I will be without Sophie, my ten-year-old car. Sophie has been working hard to keep us safe. It's time to bring her in to get some work done.

Spy Girl isn't too happy Sophie won't be with us. A bunch of 5th grade girls made plans to go into the center of town, have lunch and shop. Spy Girl wasn't included and she wants Sophie to whisk her away to the movie theater or someplace else where she won't have to run into her friends. I find this so strange since all these girls are coming to Spy Girl's birthday party this weekend.

I'm trying to be cool about the whole thing, but of course I'm a little upset since I don't want to see my child left out. More importantly, I don't want to feed into her disappointment and make her think this is horrible. However, I'm also relieved--I'm not ready to have my just-turned-eleven-year-old walk around town, unsupervised, in the midst of middle schoolers and high schoolers who will be hanging around, enjoying the half-day off from school.

It'll be interesting to see what happens this morning at school, if new plans are made for this afternoon...

Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt: There will be times when your protagonist won't feel like part of a group. Write a scene where your MC doesn't fit in. Is it her choice? Does it bother him? Describe the situation and the other players. Dig deep to find the motivating factor.

Don't be afraid to let your inner teen out and reveal insecurities. Remember to show the emotion and conflict! Be brave!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day 16:Mapping Out Writing Time: 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.

Time for a little pep talk--throw away those negative thoughts that slow you down. No need to have them in your way.

Prove to yourself that you can do it--make the time, write those words, bring your characters to life. Your story needs to be told.

Kick your fear to the curb and follow your dream. Or...you will always wonder...

Hmmm. Think I feel better already.

How are you doing?

Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt: What are your MC's dreams and fears? Write a scene where your protagonist has doubts about his abilities. Is she alone or talking to friends/family? What happens that makes him want to quit or continue? This should be an angst-driven scene. Build up conflict and emotion!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

readergirlz Welcomes Libba Bray for October!

We are thrilled to welcome Libba Bray to readergirlz. Her third novel in the Gemma Doyle trilogy, The Sweet Far Thing, is our October pick! Check out the our interview with Libba, book party ideas themed around The Sweet Far Thing, and our Reach Out project idea--as well as the awesome soundtrack Libba's chosen for the book--on readergirlz.com.

Here's a little about the book: It's been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy and discovered her ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs deep. Now, enemies old and new will stop at nothing to take the magical power bound to her. With the fate of realms and her Victorian world hanging in the balance, her London debut approaching, her friendships on the line, and her relationship with the mysterious Kartik taking a new, forbidden turn, Gemma will face her greatest - and most dangerous - trial yet, one with consequences beyond imagining.

And the buzz...

"A huge work of massive ambition." - Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A rare treat that offers...romance, magic, history, Gothic intrigue..." - People

A #1 Book Sense bestseller

A New York Times bestseller

A 2008 New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

"Boy, it's really long." - Libba's mom

We are psyched to have this fabulous (and, uh, ridiculously funny) author with us this month! Join us all month right here on the blog for discussions and mark your calendars a LIVE chat on Wednesday, October 28th at 6pm PST/9pm EST.

Happy October, readergirlz!

readergirlz Read Beyond Reality: 2009 YALSA Teen Read Week October 18th-24th!

We are ready to Read Beyond Reality with YALSA, rgz! The divas will host nine young-adult authors - eight of whom are nominees for the Teens' Top Ten - throughout Teen Read Week. The week's chats will culminate with an online gala celebration, where Sylvia Engdahl, a pioneer in young-adult science fiction, will be hosted and honored for her contributions to the literary landscape. Watch for signed book prizes and swag from iHeartDaily.com.

*Monday, October 19th: Beyond Imagination with rgz diva Justina Chen Headley (NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL), Alyson Noël (EVERMORE) and Zoe Marriott (DAUGHTER OF THE FLAMES)
*Tuesday, October 20th: Beyond Hardship with rgz diva Lorie Ann Grover (HOLD ME TIGHT), Elizabeth Scott (LIVING DEAD GIRL) and Lynn Weingarten (WHEREVER NINA LIES)
*Wednesday, October 21st: Beyond Daily Life with rgz diva Holly Cupala (TELL ME A SECRET), Lisa McMann (WAKE) and Cynthia Leitich Smith (ETERNAL)
*Thursday, October 22nd: Beyond Our World with rgz diva Melissa Walker (LOVESTRUCK SUMMER), Cassandra Clare (CITY OF ASHES) and Patrick Ness (THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO)
*Friday, October 23rd: Into Our Beyond with rgz diva Dia Calhoun (AVIELLE OF RHIA) and pioneering YA sci-fi author Sylvia Engdahl (ENCHANTRESS FROM THE STARS)

It all happens at the rgz blog, October 19rd-23rd at 6 PM Pacific/9 PM. Eastern. Spread the word with the press release, poster, banners, and trailer.

Do you love YALSA's Teen Read Week? Let it out at your blog through a post or vlog, then send the link to readergirlz@gmail.com with the subject line set up like this: Your name, TRW Tribute. Tell us about your recent release, or a book you love dearly, and then give a shoutout for Teen Read Week. We'll collect all the contributions and post them at the rgz blog in a 24 hour time span on October 23rd, 2009.