Meg's Blog

Free Stuff/The Book of the Passion

You read that right. We’re giving away free stuff!

What kind of stuff, you ask? The kind of stuff that is free.

Just email Allie with your name, age, and home address (the address at which you receive package deliveries) and Allie just might send you an advanced reader copy of the latest installment of Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls The New Girl (which isn’t due in stores until August), along with a totally cool Allie Finkle dry-erase board—the perfect size for a school locker (not that anyone is thinking about back-to-school supplies just yet) for you to write your OWN rules on!

Updated 7/11/08: Sadly, this contest is now over! We have had so many entries that we can no longer accept any more entries! Thanks for entering though!

The Dry Erase board…it comes with a marker and magnets to hang it with! So fun!

(The Book, due in stores August 2008)

If you are the owner of (or a reviewer for) a book review website, a teacher, or a librarian, and you’d like an advanced review copy of Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girl’s: The New Girl, just email me with your name, the name of your website, school, or library, and your mailing address (the address at which you receive package deliveries), and I’ll see what I (or Scholastic) can do!

Thanks for all your excited emails about Kristen Bell as Lizzie Nichols, the Queen of Babble! I agree, I think she’ll be perfect, too. Keep your fingers crossed the project gets the greenlight and we’ll be seeing Lizzie on the big screen soon!

I hope you had a great 4th of July. I spent mine eating (of course) and lounging in the pool (and I did not wait thirty minutes after eating before getting back in the pool, either. Yes, I was living dangerously). While lounging, something bit me (AS ALWAYS), and I developed a disfiguring rash. Probably I have West Nile. Stay tuned.

In gossip news, people are saying Blake and Penn are only together in real life for the publicity but I REFUSE TO BELIEVE IT.

I feel so horrible about what happened with Anne Hathaway and this guy. What can I say except we’ve all been there (well, maybe not with guys who said they were working for the Pope, but whatever), haven’t we, girls? Hang in there, Annie!

I was kind of surprised by how many emails from readers I got this weekend, considering it was a holiday. I thought I’d share a sample of what some people were thinking about during this anniversary of our nation’s independence (all letters guaranteed real and printed exactly as received except when edited for sake of clarity):

Subject: The book of the passion

Hello, My name is Lisa, I am French.

I find your fantastic books, and I would like you ask: How you inspire you?

I by the music, but every time I commençce a book, me not the finity not because I say to myself that he (it) will be invalid (useless)!! You can help me?

Lisa, French.

I know exactly how Lisa feels, because I go through the same thing every single day! I think all writers do (if they say they don’t, they’re either lying or James Patterson).

What Lisa means, in case you don’t know, is that she listens to music to get inspired to write. This works at first, but then she can’t seem to finish the project, because it all starts to seem so useless. What’s the point? No one is going to read what she writes, so why bother.

But if we all just gave up, there would be no books, or movies, or music. Nothing!

So you just have to power through. I can’t give Lisa any better advice than that. The ability to power through the sense of futility is what separates the published (well, that and a few thousand rejection letters) from the unpublished. Bon chance, Lisa!

Meg: My 9 year old niece was reading one of the Princess Diaries books and was very confused and had a buch of “sex” questions for her mother. There are no warnings on this book which looks as if it is marketed for young girls who have watched the Disney movie. It is not fair that she was uncomfortable reading this book and brought it to her Mothers attention. A warning should be on the series to make sure this does not happen to another innocent child who thinks this book is for them and then comes across the nasty adult content that a young child should not read or even know about yet for that matter.

I get these kinds of emails a lot. Actually, in the US the books usually say For ages 12 and up or For Grades 7 and Up somewhere on the back cover and are located in the teen section, not the children’s section. This is usually a tip off that the book isn’t for young children.

But a surprising number of readers either don’t look for the advisory or have purchased the book in another country, such as England, which has only just recently started to weigh the idea of putting reading level advisories on books (in the UK they call this “age banding”). Some people, including many famous authors, are against age banding.

Although in the US we’ve had a form of “age banding” for some time, certainly no teacher, librarian, or bookseller ever kept me or anyone I else knew as a child from accessing a book we wanted but weren’t the appropriate age for (although a a parent once did. More on that in a minute.)

But what’s weird about the “reading level advisory” idea is that they only put the advisories on childrens and YA books. There’s no “reading level advisory” on Jane Eyre, for instance, but guess what? The hero tries to get the heroine to marry him even though he already has a wife yet living! That is some dirty stuff. And at age eleven, when my mom handed me that book, I ate it up!

Jane Eyre, kinky classic. After reading the book, try this hot Masterpiece Theater version!

Other dangerously kinky classics like Lorna Doone (John Ridd fully attempts to feel Lorna up at one point–“For I was carried away so much by hearing her call me “John” so often, and the music of her voice, and the way she bent toward me, and the shadow of soft weeping in the sunlight of her eyes, that some of my great hand was creeping in a manner not to be imagined, and far less explained, toward the lithesome, wholesome curving underneath her mantlefold”–I used to read that passage OVER AND OVER when I was kid) routinely fall into the hands of innocent children, who could be scarred for life over the fact that Lorna had boobs and John Ridd wanted to touch them. (I’m not going to tell you, dear reader, if she lets him. You’ll have to read it for yourself to see. But this is a DAMN good book)!

Obviously, the reader above would consider this “nasty adult content.” And yet Lorna Doone doesn’t have an age advisory on it either.

Hot times on the Doone tonight

The problem with the age advisory thing is that–EVERY KID IS DIFFERENT. One nine year old might be freaked by the mention of a condom (and that’s all there is in the Princess Diaries. No one has actually HAD sex in the books. On screen. Yet). While another nine year old will be all, Yeah, so?

Then there is the fact that most kids ESPECIALLY want to read what you tell them not to (or at least I always did). It wasn’t until another mother flipped out and demanded that Judy Blume’s classic “Forever” be taken away from the kid who brought a copy to school (um…yeah, I think it was me) that every nine-year-old girl in my fourth grade class became determined to read it.

The use of the name Ralph for babies declined dramatically after the publication of this book. According to Wikipedia, Judy Blume said it was nothing personal.

Forever is how, at age nine, we found out about premature ejaculation, a fact we made sure to describe to the girl whose mom freaked out about it. We (okay…I) performed page 96 ( All About “Ralph”) out loud in front of the girl on the school playground in a dramatic reading. And okay, this wasn’t very mature of us (okay, me), but what do you expect? We were nine.

Anyway, when I get letters like this, I just feel sorry for the kid. She was put in a bad situation (from now on, she’s going to be afraid to ask her family questions about sex, because she’s under the impression it’s “nasty,” which is sad). Hopefully she’ll try the Allie Finkle series if she really was that uncomfortable.

Guaranteed boob free!

But I personally suffered no ill consequences from reading “inappropriate” books when I was nine…unless you count the fact that I now write books that some people consider “inappropriate.”

And I consider my doing so a vital service…arming girls for what’s out there, since they start receiving conflicting messages about sex way younger than nine. And because some girls have family members–like the author of that email, and the woman who freaked out about “Forever”–who are the ones giving them the conflicting messages in the first place.

Subject: Writing a Book

I am an aspiring author. At age 13 I have decided to write a Novel this summer. However I have a hard time thinking up original ideas because there are so many ideas already out there! I have kind of a main charicer and one other charicter, but at this point in my story I have to make some critical descisions. I really need help, inspiration, and advice from people who know about writing, and what makes a book seem exciting! One that teens like me will really enjoy! Please help!

Dear Anonymous,

Welcome to the club. When you find out the answers to these questions, please let me know. In fact, maybe we should both call Lisa in France, because we all seem to be in the same boat!

(Hint: I actually addressed the whole How to Write a Novel thing here. If you still have questions, or you want to know how I got published, go here.)

I think we’re both just going to have to trust our instincts—and listen to some really great music—and hope that powers us through until we are able to finish our “book of the passion!”

Ready? OK? Meet you at iTunes!

And don’t forget to sign up for some free stuff, above, okay? Hopefully that will inspire you, too!

More later.

Much love,