Sunday, January 30, 2011

Interview with Michelle Mclean

Today I have an interview with Michelle McLean (one of the awesome members of the blog chain) discussing her NEW BOOK (like hot of the presses, get it now NEW) Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers


1. The first essay type report I can remember doing was on koala bears. I am pretty sure I went to the library and used encyclopedias (like books printed on paper for the youngsters out there) for most of my information. There may also have been a poster board presentation to go along with it. Can you remember your first written essay? Where the ways of researching and presenting the information as outdated as my own?

I’m not sure I remember my first essay. I remember doing a mission report in 5th grade. I grew up in California, so elementary kids always had to do a report on one of the Spanish missions out there. We had to write an essay on it and build a model of whichever mission we’d chosen. I actually really enjoyed it. Since we lived close to the one I chose, we went to visit it, and my dad helped me build a really cool model. And yes, I used those ancient encyclopedias as well LOL I seriously remember thinking the internet was some weird fad that I’d never use, especially for something like RESEARCH. :D Ahhh how times have changed. In fact, a good chunk of my chapter on how to research focuses on how to research without leaving your house :D

2. Up until college I was an undercover nerd. Okay, I tried to be undercover, but I think my honor roll status might have blown my cover pretty early. Still, I tried to be stealthy about my book a day extracurricular reading activities - especially once I discovered romance novels. Were you out loud and proud about your love of books and learning at school - or did you try the stealth approach as well?

Nope, I was in total stealth mode. I would have loved to read during all my breaks but I was too embarrassed and afraid to get teased. I talked about reading and I often still found something to read, but it was usually my history textbook or whatever novel we’d been assigned for English :D Then I’d devour my ‘real’ books when I got home. They didn’t have all these cool YA books when I was growing up. I read Sweet Valley High…those were socially acceptable. But my mother didn’t approve of them so I could only read those in secret LOL Seems like I was always hiding a book from someone :D

3. Cliffnotes. Fess up. Did you ever use them? Were you ever tempted to?

Ha! The few times I was able to get my hands on them I did. Confession – I’m not a fan of most of the “classics.” Snooze……Moby Dick…made it through exactly 2 chapters. The first one and one somewhere in the middle. Luckily my teacher was a huge fan of the book and talked about it so much I was able to ace every test :) That’s not to say I didn’t read my fair share of classics, and I did enjoy some of them. And most of the time I just couldn’t get a hold of the cliffnotes so I HAD to read. But yeah, cliffnotes or anywhere else I could find a summary – total fan :D

4. Finish the essay a week before it's due, or pull an all-nighter trying to get it finished at the last minute?

A little of both. I always tried to do it early. I always had my research and notes done ahead of time. But there were many times when I left the actual writing of the paper until the night before. Especially in grad school when I was juggling school and two babies :) But, if you have good notes and an outline, your paper is pretty much done for you….something I go over in my book :D I couldn’t have pulled off the night before writing though if I hadn’t had my notes and outline already. I don’t know how people do that :)

5. Ever used an excuse for a paper that wasn't ready on time (whether real or not)? Was it the dog ate my homework, or the computer ate my homework, or something even more creative?

I think I always had my paper ready on time. Though, I did take one class in my undergrad days, where I actually had the paper done like a month ahead of time, and then totally spaced the day it was due. I told the professor that I had it done and that it had been done for weeks but I’d left it at home. He’d told the class before there would be absolutely no accepting late papers so I was just sick. But he gave me until 4 that afternoon to have it in his office. I’m pretty sure I’d asked him a couple weeks earlier if I could turn it in early and he said no, so he must have known I really had it done. Plus, he gave me enough time to go grab it, but certainly not enough to write a 15 page paper from scratch lol

Luckily I just lived down the street from the school. I jetted home, grabbed it, and had it in his file box in under an hour. But ugh….nothing worse than that sick feeling of forgetting your homework…at least for me :)


Do you have saved any favorite essays from high school or college - either on paper or hidden away on some poor forgotten floppy disk? What were they and why did you save them?

Yep. I have most of my college papers. Or quite a few anyway. All of my grad school stuff. My mom actually kept a big file of my earlier college stuff. I keep most of what I write, but especially in regards to my papers, I just couldn’t stand the thought of spending that much time on something and then throwing it out :D

In fact, almost every sample essay in my book, with the exception of a few I wrote just for the book, is a paper I wrote for one of my classes. For the most part, I’ve trimmed them down to essay length and changed the language a bit to be more appropriate for high school level, but if you want to see some of my early work, just check out the sample essays in my book :D


Hmmm... if I was grading this interview I would have to give Michelle an A++ - she totally nailed it - even the bonus question!

Now here are some helpful links: check them out to find out more about Michelle and her book!

Michelle's Website
Michelle's Blog
The Operation Awesome Blog
Facebook Page
Amazon link to Homework Helpers