Friday, September 27, 2013


Today’s the holiday you've waited for all year…

Yep, it’s Ask a Stupid Question Day!
Believe it or not, this special day was created by a group of teachers in the ‘80’s… you know, back when big hair was found to have adverse effects on the brain.
Anyway, these kind-hearted, big-haired teachers wanted to encourage kids to ask more questions in the classroom. Apparently they had tired of saying the same old mantra — 

There are no stupid questions.

How many times did we hear that one?
Did it ever work?

That’s because we students had our own mantra, and it went like this —

There are no stupid questions

just stupid people who ask questions.
But all of that is part of the past, and now there’s a day set aside just to let our stupid selves SHINE!
And I’m planning on making the most of it, so here goes…

If reality shows are “reality” then why do they hire writers?

How fast do hotcakes actually sell?
Why are softballs hard?
Why do caregiver and caretaker mean the same thing?

And while I’m at it slim chance / fat chance, slow up / slow down? I mean, what the H?
Then there are those words of irony abbreviation and monosyllabic. Really?

And what kind of sicko came up with the word lisp anyway?
Why isn't phonetic spelled with an F?
What do Greeks say when they don’t understand?

Pluto and Goofy both dogs. What gives?
Why is it a heck of a lot easier to get rid of brain cells than fat cells?

And if there's an exception to every rule, is there an exception to that one?

WOW, that feels good!

You MUST try this at home.

Shine on, people, shine on!

PROMPT: Do you have any stupid questions?

A stupid question would be a fabulous way to begin a brilliant story. What stupid question would your main character love to ask?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Now You’re Aware

The British author Samuel Butler once said —

“Life is a quarry, out of which we are to mold
 and chisel and complete a character.”

I’m pretty sure your character has been well-molded by now.


Break it.

Yep. September is Mold Awareness Month.


They meant the other kind of mold?


PROMPT: if you want to create, you've got to break the mold. Check out this list of 35 Questions That Will Change Your Life and start revising the moldy old you today!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Easy Money

What if money really did grow on trees?

When I was growing up, my father informed me regularly that it most certainly DID NOT.

But I could never get my head around this fact.

The trouble?

My family owned a nursery.

So… um…Dad…


So there.

PROMPT: Take a money tree and create a really awesome math story problem. After all, it just so happens to be National Math Storytelling Day

Did you hear that, boys and girls? Math story problems are no longer listed on the Geneva Conventions as forms of torture! Now they're a Holiday

Party on.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Playing Dirty

A CREATIVE writer at work.

Now this is the news we've all been waiting to hear!

The University of Minnesota has discovered that if you happen to be writing your next novel about Ping-Pong balls…

DO NOT rid your desk of those paper piles, cat hairs, and banana peels.

Here’s how the study went down in the hallowed halls of the Psychology Department —

One by one, students (a.k.a. guinea pigs sans fur) were taken to a small room and asked to come up with 10 unconventional uses for Ping-Pong balls. For half of them, the room was made to look like the habitat of a neatnik with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. For the other half, the room looked like last week’s leavings from a slob convention.

While the students who worked in the neat room reported just as many Ping-Pong uses as the slob squad, their ideas were sadly not as innovative.

So if you were thinking of hiring a cleaning lord — Save. Your. Cash.

And, Grandma, if you’re listening —

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Cleanliness may be next to Godliness…

But clutter and the Creator?

Clearly BFFs.

PROMPT: Do try this at home — head to the messiest part of your house, hand your main character a Ping-Pong ball, and write what happens next.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Books?

A book is a loaded gun in the house next door.
Burn it.
Take the shot from the weapon.
Breach man's mind.
Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?

 ~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Yep, it’s time for one of my favorite celebrations of the year —

Banned Books Week!
So let’s take a moment to honor some of the big baddies that have been removed or restricted from libraries or schools across the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen has been banned by some schools because it has descriptions of trauma and injury that are just too… well, realistic. Yes, you can get banned for good writing.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has been banned for being too depressing. Gee, genocides usually are.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl contains mild profanity. It is also anti-authority and anti-aunt. Apparently SOMEbody’s aunt got her knickers in a twist over it.

The first Where’s Waldo by Martin Handford reveals a topless sunbather’s partially exposed breast. Perhaps the entire series should be renamed Find Frontage (trust me, it’s a LOT harder to locate than the big W).
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell has been banned for encouraging children to engage in socially unacceptable behavior (like looking for breasts in the Waldo series, perhaps?). It is also said to promote gambling and profanity.

By the way, my 4th grade teacher spent weeks of class time reading this one to us (with pretty apparent delight)… Yeah, I know — that explains a lot.

The sweet picture book And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson made the top of the Banned List in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010 for the shameful act of telling a true tale. Back in 2000 at New York’s Central Park Zoo, two penguins hatched an abandoned egg. The problem? The penguins were both male.
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein has been given the ax more than once for encouraging disobedience and (gasp!) messiness.

And finally, there’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig, a charming book about a donkey who collects pebbles. Well, this one has been banned in some schools and libraries because it portrays policemen as pigs. 

And yet —
Nobody seemed to mind that the story’s main character was actually…

an ass.

PROMPT: Read a banned book this week just to celebrate your freedom to do so. Then get to work on authoring your own awesome list-maker. Oops! Did I just encourage deviant, defiant, disobedient behavior?

Yep. (Says the soon-to-be-banned blogger)