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!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Virtual Time Suck is Not My Friend

The internet is a virtual time suck. 

Sad to say, it offers too much of a temptation for me. With a few clicks on the keyboard, I can discover endless sources of research for my WIP, catch up with my friends on their fantastic blogs, find great writing advice, not to mention all the social networking on Facebook and Twitter, and I don't even have to get out of my chair.

Pretty pathetic. 

I must resist this temptation that makes me confuse work and play, if I want to finish my manuscript.

I'm sure you've all noticed a slowing down of posts and hope you all understand that I need to take some time to focus on my work.  

I wish I were strong enough to go cold turkey, but I'm not. I'd miss you all too much and need a little diversion, every once in awhile. I'll post something on a weekly basis and more if I can, but I have this mental goal of finishing the revisions on my manuscript before the NESCBWI conference next month, and need to get this done.

I'll stop by and visit your blogs when I can and visit you on Facebook. Please don't be insulted if you don't hear from me regularly. 

I'll be much better when I can say I'm done. 

Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kate DiCamillo's New Book:The Magician's Elephant First Chapter Here

Kate DiCamillo's new book, The Magician's Elephant will be out this September, and what a release it will be! A ten-city book tour and 500,000 copies for the first print run. 

Want to find out what all the excitement is about? Click on this widget, courtesy of Candlewick, to get a sneak peak at the book's first chapter.

fAiRy gOdSisTeRs 2nd Annual SCBWI Summer Conference Scholarship

If you don't believe in fairy godmothers, what about fAiRy gOdSisTeRs? Check out this incredible act of generosity and kindness...

fAiRy gOdSisTeRs, iNk (FGI) announces its 2nd Annual SCBWI Summer Conference Scholarship!

FGI is offering a $1,500 scholarship for a SCBWI member to attend the August 2009 conference in Los Angeles. FGI awarded the 2008 scholarship to Linda Lodding of the Netherlands.

To apply for the 2009 scholarship, submit a 250-word, double-spaced essay describing what you hope to accomplish by attending this year's summer conference. Send your essay to: fairygodsistersink@yahoo.com

The application deadline is April 15th, 2009. The winner will be notified May 15th, 2009.

fAiRy gOdSiStErS, iNk. is a small, benevolent squadron of Santa Barbara children's book authors who believe in the magic of passing forward lucky breaks, bounty and beneficence, as so many have done for us. We are: Thalia Chaltas, Mary Hershey, Valerie Hobbs, Robin LaFevers and Lee Wardlaw.

If you would like to share some fairy dust of your own to help send a writer to the 2009 Summer Conference, FGI welcomes your donations!

For more information about the grant and/or making a donation, please visit the FGI website or email Lee Wardlaw at author@leewardlaw.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Writing Tip: A Podcast with Beth Kephart

Set aside quiet time and listen to Beth Kephart's interview with Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. This is an absolute need-to-do, if you want to add dimension to your writing. Your manuscript will love you for it.

Writing Tip: Nathan Bransford on What Do Your Characters Want?

This is brilliant.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Create Your Own Luck

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 hard, be 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?

Note: In case you recognized this post, I had to post it again in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy your day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

readergirlz: Support Teen Literature Day Contests!

Dear readergirlz, the time has come for a contest! Actually, five weeks of contests!

Here's the deal: each week from now until Support Teen Literature Day on April 16th, we'll be awarding a package of books to one winner. To enter, you just comment at the readergirlz blog (comments on older posts count - a point for each comment!) and get an extra ten points for taking up the week's challenge. Get ten more any time by becoming one of our blog followers!

Report your post at the readergirlz blog with the URL (and get eleven points!). We'll keep track of the comments and urls and award the winners each week. Books! Prizes! And you'll be supporting teen lit and hospitalized teens across the country.

This week's challenge:

Post the Operation TBD trailer on your blog (trailer below). Spread the word about Operation TBD!

Remember, for your posts to count toward the contest, you must post at the readergirlz blog. Hope to see you there!

Thank you, readergirlz diva Holly Cupala, for putting together all this code!

Friday, March 13, 2009

UNDERCOVER Book Giveaway Winner

Thank you, everyone, for your interest in UNDERCOVER by Beth Kephart.  

I've put your names in a hat...drumroll....

Come on down. Send me your snail mail address to hipwritermama @ comcast dot net, and I'll send you a copy.

I'm sorry I can't send everyone a copy, but keep checking back. There will be more Book Giveaways in the near future.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Writing Tips: Links

Scott Westerfeld's writing advice: Hairy Fruit

Cheryl Klein's take on voice: FAQ #9 (I Think): Questions about Voice

Writing Tip: Bringing Emotion to Verse with Lorie Ann Grover

Lorie Ann Grover, readergirlz diva and author of YA novels On Pointe, Hold Me Tight, and Loose Threads, is here today to share her secrets on how she brings emotion to her verse novels. Lorie Ann is quite the artist in being able to create tears and smiles in her work in verse. She chooses her words carefully and they dance across the page and leap straight into your heart.

Lorie Ann kindly agreed to share a bit about her process...
I bring emotion to verse novels by playing the featured scene through my mind. I watch it over and over, and then I pour the writing out. I seize every sensory facet and then work to keep the word count tight, almost cryptic. Most importantly, I challenge myself not to hold back thoughts or secrets. It's the willingness to divulge the darkness that makes the content connect to the reader. And that is the challenge.

Want to learn more? I had the opportunity to interview Lorie Ann almost a year-and-a-half ago and have to share one of her answers:
I love the tightness of verse. Emma says my entries are like photographs. I enjoy capturing intense emotion and surrounding it with white space. I have the kind of mind that sees the large picture and breaks it down to the minute.

If verse doesn't come naturally, write prose first. If you want to experiment, take a paragraph of your prose and then divide it into verse. Look for natural breaks, rhythms, and points you'd like to emphasize. Think of it as shaping a sculpture. There's no wrong. This is your own heartbeat creating shapes. Then, read the final verse structure aloud. Is anything gained? If so, try more. If not, it was an interesting exercise.
Ready to write?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Which I Embarrass Myself...

and find myself writing the first chapter of a new book. 

Who knew humiliation would be a good thing?

Monday, March 9, 2009

UNDERCOVER Book Giveaway

Look at the book cover. Isn't it gorgeous? I wish Harper Teen would put stick-on tattoos of this design inside the paperback. Are you listening, Harper Teen? 

I love this book so much, I'm giving away one hard cover copy of Undercover. (This will get me off my butt to mail out the prizes from the 30 Day Challenge.)

All you need to do, for a chance to win, is write a comment about a memorable book that touched your heart by Thursday, March 12th, 11pm EST. Did it make you cry, think, grieve, yearn, etc.?

What are you waiting for? Comment away.

Writing Tip: The Art of Emotion with Beth Kephart

Last week, I invited Beth Kephart, author of YA novels Undercover (Come back later for a Book Giveaway Contest!), House of Dance, and the soon to be released Nothing But Ghosts, to stop by and share her thoughts on how to create emotion in our writing. Beth kindly accepted and I was thrilled. I mean, Beth is a National Book Award finalist, an NEA grant winner, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts recipient, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts winner, a Leeway Foundation award winner, and a Speakeasy Poetry Prize winner. In addition to YA, Beth is written memoir and non-fiction. She offers experience and beauty of words and it is a wonder to learn from her.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Beth's work. While I count Beth as a friend, I'll let you know there is no bias here. Beth's writing is simply stunning and if you want a treat, go over and read her blog. She updates it at least once a day and it is filled with lyrical musings that will make you crave more.

As I wrote in my interview with her, Through the Eyes of Beth Kephart, "Beth has an incredible gift of seeing the little things that matter. I've decided she is a writer with a pure artisanal mindset -- she hand selects each word before painting layers of meaning and imagery onto paper."

Here's what Beth shares with us on how she brings emotion to her work:
You have asked me how I bring emotion into my work, and may I first say what a tremendous question this is, for how, indeed, is emotion achieved on the page? For me it begins in real life, in the way that I live. I feel deeply, always. I live my life on the perpetual precipice of wanting, of wishing, of needing. I want to touch things I can’t reach, like the pink in the sky. I want to be able to do things I can’t do, I want to live longer, I want to see more, and I lean all this wanting directly down onto the page. My characters are reaching, too—filled up with desire or curiosity or loss. They’re not finished people. They’re grappling. Sometimes the thoughts they are thinking are swooshed together in long, circuitous sentences. Sometimes they are yelped out, in a word or two. The surprising image is essential to emotional writing. So is deliberate variation in the structure and rhythm of sentences. So is reading every sentence you write out loud, several times, and if it doesn’t move you, it sure as heck isn’t going to move its readers.

See? Beauty and emotion.

Now go and bring emotion into your work.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Big Thank You

to Sherrie and Beth, for checking in and showing their kindness. It has meant more than you can know. 

I escaped...

Writing Tip: In Which I Escape...

from the slump I'm in.  

Call it the winter doldrums, middle age crisis, the endless repetition of life, the gatekeeper of children whose future teenage spirits pop up at a moment's notice, writers block, fear my protagonist won't figure out a way to persevere. It could be teenage angst, a bully, false friends, school troubles, screams of gossip that follow you down the halls.


It goes by many names and goes under different guises. Perhaps it's the well-meaning parent that suffocates us with good intentions, the friend who wants to keep you hostage, having everything and believing nothing, the mind changer, the time waster, the boyfriend who won't let go. Maybe it's your fear of going away to college, having nothing in the wealth of somethings, leaving your old life to start anew, being afraid to do the right thing, wanting desperately to fit in with a group who makes it clear there is no way you will ever be given entry, even if you were the last person on earth. 

Despair is clever and moves with the lithe maneuverings of an elite covert operation. It invades us, creeping in when we least expect it, isolating us until our wails melt away, holding us down by our limbs, submerging our heads in the comfort of misery, choking us with excuses 




and so what, 


And no matter how we struggle, despair is even stronger, and we sink even lower because no one hears us or sees us or believes us. 

Soon we are zombies living the life despair dug for us, created by others, validated by us.

Except some thread of an idea, a kindness from a friend, a taunt from an enemy, an unexpected call, a memory of an empowered you, the hope of faith whispers so you lean forward to hear it, loosening the ropes that bind you down, transforming into the very lifeline that will pull you out of the muckery that has become your life. 

Are you brave enough to grab on to it? And sweat to pull yourself, inch by inch, out of the the quicksand? Do you dare to survive, dare to dream for a future, live?

Hold on to the  confusion, the fear, the despair, the conflict, the possibilities, the belief, the faith, the dream. 

The conflict. Can you see it? Feel it? Hear it? Smell it? Taste it? 


Write it down.  Build it up, layer by layer. Your characters are going to love you for it.