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Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Welcome to 2007! I’m sorry for the long silence. I’ve been off doing the holidays and running from place to place. But I’m back now, and am officially cracking into the ’07 blog. There will be many things to look forward to from the MJ Workshop this year. I have many things planned for the release of Girl At Sea, including the start of my PIRATE DANCE CAMP SOCIETY, which already has two members. There will be book giveaways and various STRANGE SURPRISES.

Most importantly, I’ve started work on a new book that I think (hope) you will all really like. I am extremely excited about it, and I will be locked inside my house for all of January working on it.

Basically, 07 is going to be a big year, and I spent part of the time off plotting some of the many things that will be going on here.

But let’s talk about the holidays. And let’s start with my gift admission.

I pretty much begged my friends and family to give me a stun gun for Christmas. I got the idea one night when I was making those handmade signed cards, and an episode of CSI came on. I am the only person on the entire planet who has never seen CSI before, plus I couldn’t really get up, as I had cards and ink all around me. So I watched. In one part of the episode, a character leapt out of nowhere an attacked the bad guy with a stun gun and incapacitated him. It made a cool zapping noise.

My eyes lit up. That light was desire.

I am no weapons collector. I do not believe in using violence. I haven’t even owned pepper spray since the squirrel incident. I didn’t want a stun gun to use on a human being. I just wanted one because it looked a lot like a toy zapping gun that I got at the circus when I was four and that my mother took from me because it scared the cat. I still miss that thing.

I figured I had just enough time to start planting the idea in people’s minds.

My agent, Daphne Unfeasible, was the first to turn me down. Admittedly, we had been drinking champagne for three hours (hey, it was the holidays) when I made the demand.

“I need a stun gun,” I said, as we stumbled out to the street. (It’s possible that this came out more like, “I . . . need . . . a sttttungun.” And then I tripped over a dog.)

“No you don’t,” she said, flagging down a taxi.

“I do,” I insisted.

“Okay,” she said. “Why do you need a stun gun?”

“To stun,” I said crisply. “Obviously.”

“Stun who?”

“Bad guys. Thieves. Insider traders. Pirates.”

“You have never met a pirate,” she said dismissively. “And if you tried to stun a thief, you would just end up stunning yourself. I know it.”

It turned out that the taxi Daphne had been waving at for the last minute at the red light was, in fact, a Domino’s delivery car. The pizza guy stared at her, and she turned to examine a mailbox in minute detail until he drove away.

“You can cook with it,” I lied. “You can use it to make toast.”

“No you can’t.”

“You’re just saying that because you are have had too much champagne,” I said. “You’re not seeing sense. It’s the bubbles. They’ve gotten to your brain.”

“No. I am saying it because it is true, and I would say it even if I hadn’t had five glasses of champagne, which I have. The truth cuts through.”

“I can zap jars of water and bring forth colonies of sea monkeys!” I tried again. “I can create life!”

“Again, no you can’t.”

“Maybe not. But I need one. And you are not the boss of me.”

“No,” she said. “I am your agent. And I say you may not have a stun gun. Now get in this FedEx truck. We’re going home.”

I promised to use my stun gun for good, to make toast and sea life. I was denied.

I asked Oscar Gingersnort next. Oscar has fielded many of my recent requests/ideas, such as my total fascination with Vespa scooters after going to Italy. I talked about Vespas non-stop for a month. He successfully argued that if I bought a Vespa scooter for use here in New York, I would probably die within about two hours.

“But they would be a good two hours,” I said.

“No,” he said. “They would be two hours spent going 30 miles per hour on something that sounds like a blender when it runs. And then you would get hit by a truck.”

That was fair. And his explanation as to why I couldn’t keep a miniature pony in my apartment held water as well. But I honestly thought he would immediately see why I should be allowed to have a stun gun.

“Oh no,” he said, when I posed the question. “That wouldn’t be good.”

“Of course it would!” I said. “I don’t really want to stun anyone. I just want to have it. You know. In case of emergency.”

“Why do you want a stun gun?” he asked.

I explained that I saw it on CSI. He shook his head.

“I could use it to restart a car battery if it stalled!” I said. “Imagine, a car stalls in the snow. I zap it back to life with my STUN GUN!”

“Cars are not like Frankenstein,” he said. “You can’t just zap them to life. You think a stun gun is a magic wand, when it is, in fact, a dangerous weapon. You think it looks like something from Harry Potter, don’t you?”

Is it so wrong to want to be like this?

I refused to give him the satisfaction of admitting to that last one, or even explaining the whole circus-zapping-gun connection.

So I turned to one of my less responsible friends, J.W. Krimble, he of the five hour ride home on Thanksgiving.

“Oh no,” he said. “There is no way I’m letting you have a stun gun.”

“Why not?” I said. “You’re highly irresponsible. Why should you care?”

“I care because the very first thing you will do is knock on my apartment door, and when I open it, you will stun the crap out of me just to see how it works. And then you will stand over my twitching body and laugh. Then you will stick light bulbs in my mouth to see if they light up, because you have a very poor grasp of physics.”

He was right about that, I had to admit. I hadn’t realized my true, base desire. I would have definitely marched to his door with a stun gun and a lightbulb the minute I opened the package.

“I would not do it often,” I said.

“I don’t care. You will never have a stun gun, not as long as I live.”

Like the Vespa and the miniature pony, I hadn’t really thought it through. So that was pretty much the end of that.

Instead, I received many lovely and wonderful gifts—including Lil’ Poxy. I also received some totally fantastic e-mails from you guys. I have to address a few of the things that I’ve received in the last few days.

ONE: I got an e-mail from a REAL Jane Elizabeth Jarvis, which is the full name of the main character in Devilish. This is incredibly exciting to me. I KNEW she was out there somewhere! Jane Jarvis can now join me in the People Who Accidentally Share Names with Fictional Characters Club (PWASNWFCC).

TWO: The first winner of the Girl At Sea Holiday contest has received and read the book, and she has sent back the following report:

“I absolutely adored it! I really like had you slipped all that history into it without giving the reader a brain freeze.”

She also wrote up this nice blurb:

Girl At Sea mixes ancient history, adventure, and romance to create my favorite novel by Maureen Johnson. Clio, with her wit and stubborn personality, is a realistic portrayal of a teenager, and is therefore easy to relate with.”

There it is. The VERY first review.

THREE: I also received this fabulous piece of news from five superreaders from New Jersey:

“I just wanted to let you know that every girl in my school has read at least one of your books. My friends and I even have our own book club discussing only your books. :)”

I am beyond thrilled. All five writers of this note are hereby inducted into the GIRL AT SEA PIRATE DANCE CAMP SOCIETY—which I will explain more about later this week. (Your PIRATE NAMES are on the way.) They go on to ask:

“We were wondering if you'd be interested in comng to a Barnes and Noble or a Walden Books in our state to do a signing.”

I add this, because I will be setting up dates for Girl At Sea appearances soon, and I wanted to explain how this works. The answer to this question is almost always, “Yes!”

Here’s the trick: like a vampire, I cannot enter without being asked. I need to be invited by a store or a school. I like getting invitations, and I accept as many as I can. It usually comes down to time and distance.

If you would like me to visit your school, ask your school librarian or teacher to drop me a note here at maureen@maureenjohnsonbooks.com. (They can also go here, but it is easier just to drop me a note, and I can take it from there.)

About stores . . . I’d ask the manager. Stores often book events months in advance, but if you express interest (and if you are this highly organized and have a group of people who want to see a certain author), I’m sure they’d look into it.

As GIRL AT SEA’s release approaches (that’s in June), I’ll be talking about this some more. But it certainly can’t hurt to get any requests in now.

There’s lots more to come, but for tonight, I must sign off. And don’t feel too bad for me about the stun gun. They are actually quite dangerous and have been condemned by Amnesty International. And I really would only end up stunning myself, not performing Harry Potter-like feats of zapping wonder.

But I haven’t totally given up on the Vespa. I’m prepared to ride on a blender, especially if it is pink, with Lil’ Poxy strapped on to the front. What a wonderful sight that would be.

If you have other ideas for me for 2007, please note them in the comments below so that I may give them due consideration.


Blogger Justine Larbalestier said...

Happy new year!

Hmmm, stun guns . . .

I am proud to know such a famous author!

1:59 AM  
Anonymous Sydney said...

heyy. i just finished reading your book 13 little blue envelopes it was amazing i think one of the best books ive ever read except what happened with keith? but anyway i had to do a project on your book(we had to write a letter to a hollywood producer and make a movie poster) well i think that you should consider makeing that book a movie! i cant wait to read your other novels.

sydney shima

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Expecto Patrostun?

I attended, then instructed, at Dance Camp for years. I never taught any pirates, however.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Emmaco said...

I, too, have been denied a stun gun by my friends and family on the grounds of safety, legality and other baseless objections. I admit I was planning on stunning people, but only evil people like the ones who shove old ladies over in the rush to get on the train. Or ones who are rude about books and authors I like. "Why do you want to read a young adult book when you're an adult?" Zzzzzzt.

Thank-you for answering my Christmas question last post!

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is Lil' Poxy?
ANd how do u join the Pirate Dance Camp Society thing?

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Bianca said...

MJ,I have to tell you something:


I love crime dramas usually. (been watching Law & Order since I was 7!)I love the classics, like Miami Vice,and I have the slightest little obsession with Crossing Jordan.
I DO know how you could get your CSI-stungun fix.
CSI's franchise sells MINI MORGUE KITS for children (ages 9+!). I have seen them. I find them a bit sick. but I'm sure in the standard forensic kit they sell, you get a stungun :) so good luck with that.
and I will DEFINATLY be asking local managers and librarians to drop you a note. after exchanging emails for this long,it'd be cool to really meet you!

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great website that sells very affordable stun guns is www.stungunsecurity.com Check out this website if your curious about exactly how they work, stun gun laws and all pricing information.


They also have a blog with tons of information.


4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


By far one of the best websites for personal security products and super fast order processing and shipping.


8:23 PM  
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