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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!

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Five on a Friday (A Saturday Version)

PJ does this every week.  And I've often thought it's a nice way to celebrate the good things in the week on a consistent basis.  Usually, I just visit Jules and Eisha and share stuff with them.   But then I thought, wait...I can do both!  So, here's my first Five on a Friday...posted on a Saturday.  Drumroll please....

1.  I fixed the deadbolt on my side door.  As in, unscrewed the whole thing, pulled it apart, and tried to figure out why the bolt wouldn't move.  I kept at it, even though I couldn't fit the pieces together again.  At least not right away.  I was so relieved when I finally got the lock to work and put it together without breaking anything.  

2. We met our new neighbors and they are lovely.  Youngest daughter is thrilled since she now has a new friend who gravitates towards mischief as often as she does.  

3. The children are going back to school after the Labor Day weekend, and they can't wait.  It took awhile to negotiate on school supplies, book bags, and first day of school outfits, but everyone is all set to go now.  Dare I say it will be nice to have some writing time while the girls are in school?

4.  Speaking of writing, progress on my manuscript coded PB is coming along.  I had hoped to finish this by the end of this summer, but kids and summer entertainment duties got in the way.  Though I got in plenty of plotting--thanks to my husband, who helped brainstorm a few great scenes which changed the direction and the ending of my manuscript.  Man, it's good to get the guy point of view.  I've found it interesting how this manuscript has changed since I started it in January--from first person to third, from pure historical fiction to something a bit more mystical.  Curious?  My new goal is to have this done by the end of September.  

5. My children, particularly my middle one, are of the mindset that I must exercise everyday.  So in their overwhelming need to slow down my middle aging process, I've decided to placate them.  Plus, the kids like exercising with me.  So we all benefit.  

Note: By the way, I haven't forgotten about the Character Development posts.  It's actually more work than I thought.  I'll have the posts up after Labor Day, once the kids are in school, and I have time to organize my thoughts on this.

How was your week?


Friday, August 22, 2008

U.S. News & World Report: Best Colleges of 2009

The list is out.  The Best Colleges of 2009.  

Need to figure out how to pay for college?  Here's a starting place for your research.  

Curious about high school and college student feedback on some colleges?  Check out these videos

Good luck to all the high school seniors...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In the Midst of Reading: Breaking Dawn



Sorry, everyone.  I thought I'd have my next post for my Character Development series up by now.  But, I've been busy reading Breaking Dawn.  I'm almost done...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Writing Tip: A Character, a Personality and a Name

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet."

--From Romeo and Juliet (Act II, scene ii)

I fell in love with Shakespeare when I was in middle school. While my friends groaned at the very thought of having to plod through the thick plays, I was consumed with the characters, the tragedy, the comedic, the dramatic, the melodic words, and the strength of the women Shakespeare created. I spent most of my young life imagining myself as the ill-fated Juliet with the wrong name.  

Oh, how I wanted to change my name!  Thankfully, I had other friends who disliked their names as much as I did mine, so we all made up new names and spent much of our middle school to high school lives under cover of a different name, and if I dare to say, a whole new personality.  

Much like the color of hair, and the age old debate of the allure of blondes versus brunettes, I believe a name can hold the same power.  Especially in books, when the imagination takes hold of the written word and the reader is transported to another world.

As a writer, I can't help but remember how transformative a name can be.  I have been known to look through baby name books just to discover the meaning of a name. I try names on characters while I am developing a story and then find myself changing the name to suit the personality.  In my mind, a good name is part of the key to whether I fall in love with a character, whether the the character is the hero or the villain.  

As I've mentioned in a previous post, the perfect character name, whether he/she is friend or foe, has to roll off my tongue in a familiar way. J.K. Rowling is the mistress of creating great names and wonderful characters.

Take the Dursleys. Notice how this last name just rolls off your tongue in a dismissive manner. Cousin Dudley. Uncle Vernon. Aunt Petunia. Do you see yourself liking characters with these names?

Now you have Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Fred. George. Neville. Percy. Hagrid. Dumbledore. Professor McGonagall. The house of Gryffindor and Slytherin (All I could think with this was slithering snakes, and then when the gigantic snake appeared in Book Two, I was pleased). Sirius Black. Professor Snape. Draco Malfoy. Voldemort. What do you feel about these characters just based on their names? And then when you see how J.K. Rowling develops these characters, don't these names make perfect sense?

Names for our characters can provide some hints to the reader:
  • Ethnicity
  • Time Period - research this one well, if a name sticks out during a time period, it will take the reader away from the book
  • Family Background - an interesting way to present a name--what kind of baggage/expectation did the parents hand down the character feels pressure to live up to?  A blue-blood lineage?  Religious hopes?  Hippie dreams?  A love for literature?  
  • Personality - usually used in books for younger readers
  • Nicknames - Dreaded or Liked?
  • Meaning - Go through the baby naming books or websites to find out the meaning of a name.  
  • If a name sticks out too much, there needs to be some explanation to the reader on how it came about.
It's not a requirement to choose a name because of one of the reasons above.  A writer can choose a name, just because.  But, I think playing around with names for my manuscripts is fun. 

Yes, the name is minor, compared to everything else a writer needs to do to develop the character.  However, I believe a good name makes for a memorable character.  A good name helps flesh out the personality and can lead the writer on quite a journey of discovery.

What do you think?

This is the first in a series for Character Development.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

readergirlz on YouTube

Check this out!  Justina Chen Headley and Little Willow filmed interviews with Rachel Cohn, Sonya Sones and Paula Yoo for readergirlz.

My New Favorite Gadget

Have you seen this?  It's my new favorite gadget.  The problem is, it's so easy to use, the kids kidnapped it a couple times to film their own little movies.  I discovered that today, when I downloaded the mini-movies.

I've never laughed so hard.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Reaching for Olympic Gold

Holy Moly!  Have you been watching the Olympics?  The kids and I have been transfixed by the swimming, diving and gymnastics.  

What about you?

Scientists, Physics and the Magic of Invisibility Cloaks

This is so cool.  While the possibility of a real "invisibility cloak" has been around for awhile, scientists are one step closer to making this magical power a reality.  

Imagination is powerful.  

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reading Musts for Writers: Boys, Books and Reading

An article about boys and books made it to the front page of Friday's Wall Street Journal.  It seems boys will only read books if they are really gross...like these books.  I don't have boys, but I'd like to think it wouldn't take gory details to entice them to read.

I also found an article in today's New York Times that is the first of a series of how the Internet and other digital means is changing how people read.  Want to know more?  Here's  The New York Times Web Extra of different articles on reading in the digital age.

What do you think about all this?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Where Are All The Boston Area Writers?

One of my critique pals, PJ Hoover, is lucky. Not only does she write good books (which is because she's talented, rather than lucky), but she's got this awesome writing community in her area that meets on a regular basis (the lucky part).

And it got me thinking.  Where are all the Boston area writers?  Anyone interested in getting a group together starting this fall?  Send me e-mail at hipwritermama @ comcast dot net

Anyone?  

New Ideas Brewing, But...

I have a problem.  I have yet another idea for a new manuscript, and now I can't stop thinking.

New research is to be done because I know absolutely nothing about this subject matter.

A cast of characters needs to be developed, but the protagonist is all set.

The story...oh, man...is it a good story.  It always is at the start, isn't it?   

But...

I have yet to finish the first draft on my YA historical novel I started at the beginning of this year.  I'm about 3/4 there--though, it's hard to say, until the manuscript is done to the point no holes can be picked at.  There are also three manuscripts in different stages of revisions, begging to be finished and sent off.  

All three manuscripts started, because I came up with an idea while I was writing a first draft... See a pattern here?  

Here's today's resolution.  Finish the projects I'm currently working on, and let this new idea brew for a bit.  Sigh.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Character Development

I've decided to focus on character development for my next couple Writing Tip posts.  If there's anything you'd like me to concentrate on, either leave a comment or send me e-mail.  

Poetry Friday: Ah....Love, Sweet Love

Romeo enters the Capulet's orchard and sees Juliet in her window...

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks yet she says nothing: what of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks:
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!

Go here and read more of Romeo and Juliet's famous balcony scene.
Becky's Book Reviews is hosting Poetry Friday today.

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Time to weigh in...Do teens believe in love at first sight a la Romeo and Juliet? At all costs? Or, are they more cynical about love at first sight, or even just love, in this day and age?  

What about you--do you believe in love at first sight?  I'll let you know my opinion on this once I close the poll next week.

Chris, I hope you approve of the questions on the poll.  See what you inspired, after our discussion about this, some time ago?




Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lyrical Writing vs Purple Prose

For all you readers and writers out there, when do you consider writing as lyrical/beautiful?  And when do you define writing as over the top purple prose?  

Let the discussion begin.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Motherhood and Writing: A Time to Relax, Refocus and Re-Energize

I'm back on track after a week-long respite to the Cape.  Okay, fine.  I'm trying to get back into the swing of things.  But technically, I've been back from vacation for half a day and there is a large pile of laundry to be conquered before I can reward myself with writing.  

Isn't this picture lovely?  This incredible view was the perfect backdrop as my reading research kept me in a constant fog-like state.  Not because of boredom, mind you, but because I needed the calm of the ocean to keep my mind from running off with all the new details I've discovered for my manuscript.  

I have to admit, I didn't write a word while on vacation.  Nor did I want to.  I really needed a chance to relax, refocus and re-energize.  The summer months have been busier since the children are on vacation, and while I love having my children around, I've found myself resentful at times since my writing has suffered.

Even though I know I shouldn't make that as an excuse... after all...I keep thinking, if I really wanted to write, I'd make time to do it.  And for the most part, I do.  I write late at night when the kiddies are fast asleep.  But sometimes, I'd like to be able to write, well...whenever I felt like it.  

And I know I sound selfish.  Believe me, I think I'm the luckiest person that I can stay at home with the children--I wouldn't change that for the world.  I don't need the designer clothes, the fancy cars, the expensive wines and dinners.  Yeah, it would be nice every once-in-a-while, but not something I have to have.  However, the need to exert my independence, my identity--so I'm not only a mother, a wife, a nurturer--is so strong, I need to get away from it all, so I can concentrate on my dreams.  Don't you sometimes feel it?  Or am I the only one?  

This past week was just what I needed, food for my soul.  My husband took the kids to the beach and made sure I had plenty of alone time so I could relax and focus on my work.  Thank you so much, Sweetie.  Now I'm all re-energized, I can't wait to start writing.  

But first, there's that laundry pile....