No Blue Wieners (or Zombies) Allowed

March 19th, 2009

Guess what? Her Royal Highness Princess Mia Thermopolis has updated her blog (finally…it’s hard to be a student princess/romance novelist). There’s Ransom My Heart in France and Spring Break news! Mon Dieu.

And if you haven’t voted for Airhead as your choice for Teen Book of the Year at the Children’s Choice Book Awards, what are you waiting for? Vote here!

(Can you vote for more than one book, or vote more than once? Why not? I don’t think anyone is stopping you.)

And I just got this fantastic email from Kathleen Shannon, the Abraham Lincoln Illinois H.S. Book Award Committee Chair:

It is my pleasure to inform you that your book, Avalon High, has been chosen as one of the 22 titles on the final reading list for the 2010 Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award. Your book was nominated for this award by the high school students and librarians of Illinois, and was selected for the final reading list from over 150 total books nominated this year.

Sweet! Go, Avalon High! Illinois is definitely my favorite state right now.

And for those of you who are interested, part three of the Avalon High manga, Hunter’s Moon, will be out in July.

Also, I blogged a while back that I received a copy of Megan McCafferty’s Perfect Fifths, and then I never mentioned it again. That’s because I knew it was a long time until the pub date (although now it’s less than a month) and I didn’t want to torment you, so I thought, “I just won’t say anything until the release day.”

But a few of you have written to beg for hints, so I will say, “I’ve read it…and it’s definitely my favorite Jessica Darling book!” (If you really want to be spoiled about what happens in the book…go here and hear it from the author herself!)

Speaking of which…I am stealing Megan’s idea from her most recent retro-blog entry and announcing that if you have a book or library blog and you want a copy of Being Nikki (not due in stores until May 5) email 
me and let me know. All you have to do is promise to spread the word about the book…and I’ll see if I can get a FREE copy sent to you by the Powers That Be. Please include your mailing address (so we can send the ARC to you) and also the link to your blog.

In other news, we finally added my Facebook page address to my website! I know there are a lot of Meg Cabot pages floating around out there, but if you get to the one with 4,000 friends or something, that’s me (it’s not my fault, I have a hard time saying no).

But I’m reading The Watchmen right now because I thought I should see what all the fuss is about, and there is not a single character so far in that book that I would add as a friend on Facebook, except maybe Laurie…but especially not Dr. Manhattan. Not that I am prejudiced against blue people, but how, if he’s so smart, could he not have known his junk was radioactive?

I’m sorry, but that is the first thing I would have asked him when he showed up after the big explosion in the lab that made him blue. If I’d been his girlfriend, I’d have been all:

“Listen, bub, is your junk radioactive? I want proof before we hook up that you’re not going to give me cancer. Because if there’s a chance I could catch anything from your blue wiener, there will be no nooky with me.”

I mean, do these graphic novel publishers even give these books to girls to read before they print them? Because I think we would have a few things to say about them that clearly all the boys who worked on them never thought of (such as: “You were in a radioactive explosion in the lab? You are not getting any from me, mister.”)

Anyway, a teacher asked me an interesting question at the Judy Blume event that I don’t feel like I answered as thoroughly as I would have liked, so I want to take this opportunity to do so now:

“What’s something teachers can do to inspire more creativity in their students, particularly when it comes to answering creatively on comprehensive assessment tests?”

(Can this be right? I might have misunderstood the question, because to me, this sounds like a dream come true! There was never any creative writing section of any standardized test I ever took in school.)

Anyway, in answer to the teacher’s question, I mentioned that my eighth grade teacher, Mr. G, whom I loved (he taught at The Mission School, Carmel, CA—I based the character of Mr. Walden in the Mediator books on him a little bit), used to give us creative writing assignments as punishments when we were bad in class. The punishments would be things like:

“Give me 1,000 words on the topic I Was a Rusty Old Can of Ravioli Sitting on the Grocery Store Shelf, due tomorrow!”

I used to love getting these punishment assignments! I would write a romance, as narrated by the can of ravioli, about a shy shop clerk who loved a pretty young customer from afar, but never had the guts to talk to her. And then, during a robbery gone wrong, in which he uses the can of ravioli to save her life, he finally wins her hand in marriage!

I would go WAY over 1,000 words…like by ten pages.

And then I would hand my assignment in to Mr. G the next morning, and he would go, “Jesus Christ, Cabot,” when he saw all the extra pages.

Now, there is an argument to be made that giving out creative writing assignments as a punishment might make some kids hate creative writing, and see it as a negative thing because punishment = negative.

That didn’t happen in our class. Instead, there got to be a little competitive thing about it, with some of the guys trying to make their stories the most outrageous and funny, and some of the girls trying to make theirs into smutty romances or whatever. And swapping our stories to see what we’d each written just ended up being the best part of the day, and super fun.


Junipero Serra Mission School, Carmel, CA

(Also, if I recall correctly, Mr. G would give you a choice: write the punishment story, or memorize a certain number of verses of the poem Kubla Khan. Most people chose the story. But since to this day I still somehow know some of Kubla Khan by heart, at a certain point Mr. G must have caught on that we liked writing the stories. But I like Kubla Khan too, so that punishment didn’t work either.)

And it was actually through those punishment stories that I ended up learning how to write dialogue (like literally how to use quotation marks and stuff) and set up a story structure, etc.

Oh, and here’s the thing:

Mr. G didn’t even teach English. HE TAUGHT SOCIAL STUDIES.

But I learned more about creative writing from him and those punishment stories than I think I learned from any English teacher I ever had. Because Mr. G gave out so many punishments (thanks to Andrew M. and the “peep” game…you know, Andrew would start going “peep” and then another kid would go “peep” and soon the whole class would be going “peep” until Mr. G went mental…well. Anyway. You would think we WANTED to be forced to write another story…and maybe we DID).

Mr. G was old school. He was really funny and a FANTASTIC teacher, and actually graded the stories and gave us great feedback on them. At least, he gave me great feedback. I still have all my stories from that class.

I had another teacher I loved, Miss M, who used to do crazy things to inspire us, like completely “wreck” the classroom, so when we came in it would look like a major crime had been committed in the room (you know, there’d be “footprints” all over the ceiling, or “blood spatter” made of construction paper all over the chalkboard, or her desk would be dramatically overturned, or whatever).

And then she’d ask us to write a story on what we thought had happened.

LOVED IT! I’d write a whole mystery in which Miss M would end up falling in love with the handsome detective who came to investigate—who would save her life just as the villainous vice-principal, jealous of Miss M’s superior teaching abilities, tried to electrocute her!

So, you know. Those are just some of my suggestions for sparking kids’ creative juices. It’s not hard! Not like the FCATs.

And now let’s all read about Michael Ian Black’s new hobby, cross stitching.

He insists he’s working on this pattern:

I’m definitely going to ask for it to be considered as a cover design for the new anthology Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier are editing, and that Maureen Johnson and a bunch of other authors, including me, are contributing to. Maybe the zombie part of the cover can be this:

Although personally I like this better:


Photo by Jennifer Andrews at Children Playing With Fire craft blog

But that’s just me.

More later.

Much love,

Meg