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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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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Traveling We Will Go: Virginia, Washington and NE SCBWI

This past week was action packed. The kids were off for Spring Break so we drove down to the  Virginia/Washington D.C. area to visit family. Remember how painful the drive was last year? The travel gods were with us this year and for the most part granted us a smooth ride. We had only one minor glitch, having to do with the lack of gas when we approached NYC and drove over the George Washington Bridge during lunch-hour traffic in a major downpour. Talk about stress! Though I held it together pretty well and didn't nag or yell at The Husband. No "I told you so's" came out of my mouth. I figured the white-knuckled, wild-eyed look on him was enough. Plus, no need to have the girls freaking out. 

I'm certain The Husband will listen to me next time I suggest filling up for gas.

We had the best time in Virginia. We went into D.C. and hit all the great spots, though the kids loved the National Zoo the best. I took a bunch of pictures. Here's one of the Siberian Tiger. 


We also went to Mount Vernon, which Eldest insisted is the best place ever. If you're into history, this is a fantastic place to visit. Everything from the main house...


to the garden house (Middle One is the leader)...

to the fascinating museum filled with a treasure trove of historic wonders, information packed videos, beautiful grounds along the Potomac River and more. 


If you ever have a chance to go to Mount Vernon, do it!

The kids were sad when we left Virginia on Thursday. I had to get back home so I could drive to New Hampshire on Friday for the NE SCBWI Conference

So, are you all ready for what happened next? Did you skim ahead to get to the good stuff? Have you been ready to yell at me for taking so long to get to the conference part? 

Okay. I'll stop torturing you.

Deep breath.

I had a blast. I was so nervous going in. This was my first conference and even though I knew people who would be at the conference, I didn't have anyone to hang out with and when I'm around a crowd of people, I turn into a wallflower. Which would amuse any of my college buddies and former co-workers, but that's another story.

Okay, so I made it to the conference on Friday afternoon and was just about ready to climb up the walls since I had to wait for my Query Letter critique with an AGENT. I've never sent a query to an agent and wasn't sure what to expect. My heart was racing and I knew I was just going to trip and fall, or drool, or forget about PB, or something pathetic during this moment. 

But, I didn't. Even though I wanted to fall off my chair because the agent had such nice things to say to me. Definitely a BIG moment.

Some other highlights include:
 
1. Cynthia Lord's keynote address: Wow. If you ever have a chance to listen to one of her speeches, you must. And bring tissues. She will bring you to tears and then pick you up with laughter. 

2. Floyd Cooper's luncheon keynote address: Floyd uses a technique called on oil wash on board. He paints a board with oil paint and uses a stretchy eraser to erase the paint to draw his pictures. What an honor to be able to watch his demonstration and hear his story.

3. Great presentations by Jacqueline Davies, Eric Luper, and Jo Knowles.

4. Eric Luper gave me an ARC of his new upcoming book, BUG BOY.


I've just realized this post is getting rather lengthy, so I'm going to stop. I need to finish up some revisions!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Blogging from the NESCBWI Conference

I'm here!

I can't even begin to tell you how nervous I am. 

Stay tuned...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Five on a Friday

1. Greek pizza from Sweet Tomatoes. Fresh spinach, feta cheese and loads of garlic slathered on pizza dough and crisped up to perfection. Salty, savory goodness with every bite. Yum.

2. Spring is finally here and the heat in the house is OFF! The weather has been great this past week--lots of sun and fresh breezes. The kids have been able to go outside, run around, ride their bikes and have fun. And that makes me happy.

3. A great story idea. This always makes me happy.

4. 7 more days until the NESCBWI conference. I'm getting psyched!

5. This fantastic video. If you haven't watched it already, you MUST. NOW. Thanks, Beth Kephart for the link. This is BIG TIME Inspiration.

Edited to add one more thing: Cynsations writes about the new Katherine Patterson Prize for YA and Children's Writing. Very cool.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Operation Teen Book Drop is Today!!!

Through the efforts of readergirlz (http://www.readergirlz.com), GuysLitWire (http://guyslitwire.blogspot.com), YALSA (http://www.ala.org/yalsa), and publishers, teen patients in pediatric hospitals across the United States will receive 8,000 new young-adult novels, audiobooks, and graphic novels.

We invite you to celebrate Support Teen Lit Day with us. AUTHORS -- donate one of your own books to your community...BOOKLOVERS -- donate a favorite book -- then join our amazing online book bash, The TBD Post-Op Party, the night of April 16th.

Donate a Book
First, download and print the appropriate readergirlz/YALSA/TBD bookplate. Paste it into the book you plan to donate.

Talk About It
At the readergirlz blog look for the discussion post. 

Drop a Book TODAY! April 16th!
Leave one copy of your novel, with a TBD bookplate pasted inside, in a teen gathering spot in your community. Place it where the book will be found, taken, and read. (i.e. a coffee shop, the park, your school, a bus stop.) Imagine the fun someone will have when they find your donation! This is the same day all 8,000 publisher-donated books will be dropped in pediatric hospitals across the country, and it is the same day authors and readergirlz worldwide will release their own books into their communities just as you have.

Join the TBD Post Op Party on April 16th
We invite all readergirlz and authors to join our online two-hour book party hosted at the readergirlz blog on April 16th, Support Teen Literature Day, from 6 PM-8 PM Pacific / 9 PM - 11 PM Eastern. The chat will be in a thread titled TBD Post Op Party. The readergirlz divas will be giving away books and prizes, and chatting with teens and authors from around the world.

We all know that books give hope. Together, let's show our love of teen lit and ROCK THE DROP.

Read, reflect, and reach out!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Half-Birthday Celebration Expectations

Eldest announced she has a half-birthday coming up. 

I am doomed. 

She has expectations...visions only a wistful ten-year-old could conjure up.

Sigh.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Writing Question: Thoughts on Prologues

I've been toying around with adding a prologue to my YA manuscript. But have wondered whether it was really necessary.

Here are a few links I've found about prologues.

Nathan Bransford has a recent post about prologues

Scott Westerfeld's take on prologues.

Suite 101: When Does a Novel Need a Prologue or Epilogue?

What do you all think? Do you like prologues in books? Or not? 

Of course, I've probably wasted enough time thinking about this when I should be finishing up my manuscript, but, hey, anything for the sake of research. I've put up a poll on my sidebar and would love to get your opinion. Thank you!

Operation Teen Book Drop April 16th!!

Dear readergirlz, the time has come for the final week of THE 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:

This week's challenge: Comment all week over at the readergirlz blog, then drop a book on Support Teen Lit Day, April 16th (email us a photo of your drop to readergirlz AT gmail DOT com, and we'll feature you on the blog!) and come join us at the TBD Post-Op party here on readergirlz on April 16th at 6pm PST/9pm EST!



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

*PS-This week's grand prize is extra big--more books, more swag, more fun!*

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Conundrum of Sorts: Food Allergies and Birthday Parties

I first wrote this post for my other blog, The Rebel Queen. I've had to temporarily close down the blog, since I haven't been able to commit to the time. I don't know what I was thinking, trying to write for two blogs. Kudos to the people who can commit to this on a regular basis. It's a lot of work!

There are a couple posts I wrote for The Rebel Queen that I wanted to share with all of you. This is one of them. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
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I sit here, three birthday invitations in hand, wondering what to do. In case you're curious why, it's because I have a love/hate relationship with birthday parties. I'm not talking about the parties for my children, which while painful at times to organize, are totally worth it in the end because of the smile on their faces. I'm talking about the birthday parties my food allergic child gets invited to. The ones where she's the odd girl out, to belong for two hours in a world of normal, as defined by most people.

When my daughter was younger, birthday parties were oh, so easy. All I needed to do, besides bring a nice present for the birthday child, was to bring my child's cupcake. I made sure it was Ooooh worthy--puffed high with fluffy icing and sparkly sprinkles. And, since parents were allowed at the parties, I could protect my daughter's cupcake and make sure she had her sweet treat when all the other children received their slices of cake. My daughter didn't mind not having the birthday cake, because her friends wished for a cupcake like hers. Martha Stewart would be proud.

Now that my child is older, birthday parties are BIG EVENTS--no parents allowed. Movie theaters, pizza places, dance halls, gyms, and beauty spas--places kids think are cool. Coupled with these events, comes food. Always, food. Pizza, a variety of snack foods and take-out food, ice cream extravaganzas and cake. Food items kids love, but ones that present a whole new worry to me and my child.

Not to mention, I have to alert the birthday child's parents (who I don't always know) to my child's allergies and entrust them with my child's food and cupcake. When the parents want to devote their attention to their own child's day, I've handed them a wrench so they also have to concern themselves with keeping my child safe. And while most parents are gracious and kind to accept this extra responsibility, it isn't fair to them. They want to celebrate their child, and that is as it should be.  

But, it also isn't fair to my child. Because, most times, my daughter gets her food and cupcake after the fact. And while I can understand this and appreciate the efforts the parents make for my daughter on their child's special day, it is difficult for me as a mother to watch my child's face, her melancholy after she leaves a party, when she holds the package of food she wasn't able to eat, or opens up the goody bag and has to hand it over because of something she can't have. For when it really comes to it, as much as I want my child to experience the normalcy of childhood, of life, it eludes her at times, the dividing factor being food.

I resent the power of food, the way it slowly eats away at her confidence and her feeling of belonging. It shouldn't be this way. But, it is.

When it comes to my other children, it's a no brainer if they get invited to a birthday party. As long as it works with the schedule, my children can go. And that's the way it should be; childhood fun should be easy. But, when it comes to my middle child, I sometimes grapple with the decision of whether I should allow my child to go to a party. And I dread that. All because of food.

Lest you think me a total curmudgeon, let me be clear. I love birthdays. I think birthdays should be celebrated big time. In my family, we do it up and have week-long celebrations. We love planning birthday surprises, presents and ways to make the birthday person feel special.

It also makes me happy when my children get invited to birthday parties or over to their friends' homes. My children are welcome to invite their friends over, too. It's not uncommon for us to have anywhere from six to fifteen children playing in my yard. I love it that my children are social, developing solid friendships, learning about the care of other people and of themselves. Friendships are very, very important. A dance of give and take, of commitment and compromise.

That's why it makes it so hard when I'm confronted with a decision of whether or not my middle child can go to a birthday party. I want my daughter to enjoy the celebrations of friendship, yet, there are things I need to do before I can allow her to attend a party. I need to do my own research on a place, sometimes calling the party place, ie: beauty spa, to find out what types of ingredients are in their products and how they handle food allergies. I need to call the parents to find out what kinds of foods they plan on having and make sure I plan the time to prepare similar foods so my child can have it at the party. 

It is never carefree--trying to balance being cool and calm to the other parents while knowing that I've created an imposition to them--because I want to keep my child safe. On bad days, this can just be the thing that puts me on edge. 

And, if I believe the dangers outweigh the fun factor, I need to explain to my child why she can't go to a party, deal with her tear-filled pleas, come up with an alternate plan to spend the day, appease parents who get upset when my child can't go to the party, and devise a way my child can celebrate with her friend at another time. 

All this for a two-hour birthday party. 

For a child, who is not mine. Because my daughter wants to celebrate with her friend. I do this. For my child's chance at normalcy. In honor of friendship.

I am happy when my child is invited to parties. Because the joy my child experiences from her friendships far outweighs the minor burden to me. And most especially, for the wonderful surprises that are given in the name of friendship, that are more precious than you can imagine.

For the children who beg their parents to make sure everything they have for their party is safe for my child, who are willing to give up food they love on their big day, for the sake of my child. For the parent who remembers my daughter's food/cupcake, and serves it at the same time the other children eat, letting my child take an active part of the celebration. For the parents of my daughter's friends, who call out of the blue, because they want to serve food my child can eat, to make my girl feel like part of the crowd. For the parents who create a special goody bag for my child by remembering not to put in the candy, who go above and beyond on a busy day of celebration for their own child, and make my daughter feel normal.

These are the treasures we keep, that help my daughter know her value. Her worth.  This is what allows me to go on, despite the days when people are not so understanding. For as much as my husband or I tell her it is so, my daughter would not believe it, if not for the incredible people, who make it their concern, to let her know how much she is respected, honored and cherished.

And for that, I will always be grateful. More than you know.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

There She Goes

The training wheels came off yesterday, much to Youngest's delight. She practiced in the front yard, eyes straight ahead, testing the shifts in her balance before yelling for me to let go. 

Today, she's riding her bike! 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In Which I Need a Makeover

What can I say? 

I needed a creative outlet from my writing.

What do you think about this new look?