about bulletins books Maureen Johnson dot com blog f.a.q. contact community
suite scarlett
girl at sea
13 little blue envelopes
the bermudez triangle
the key to the golden firebird
vacations from hell
let it snow

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I am sorry about not posting for a few days. This is partially because I have been traveling back to New York (missing the YA prom in the process--I was supposed to be there), and partially because I thought it would be really smart to step on my computer. It wasn’t a huge step. Just a little trip, a few toes landing on the smoothy-smooth bit under the keys. I thought nothing of it when it happened.

Surprisingly, Gilda (my baby computer) did not like that at all. Especially since I seem to have crushed her disk drive. This amazes me and makes me feel powerful, like Godzilla.

Thank you for the many lovely comments about my first attempt at video blogging. John Green has told me that he wants me to video blog every week now, and that he will make me a Secret Sister.

Do I want to be John and Hank Green’s Secret Sister? YES!

Do I own a video camera? NO!

There’s the rub, readers. I borrowed the camera from Oscar. I explained this to John, and he said, “Oh, just buy one! They’re, like, ten dollars!”

John is notoriously off when it comes to figures, and he makes wild promises. He still owes me a thousand dollars from the time I got up and went out in the cold to get him a snack. Plus, I seem to be in a bit of a breaking streak. Gilda is only the latest victim.

It started when my computer bag broke. It’s pretty new, so I was surprised when the zipper popped out of joint and tore. Then I dropped my iPod headphones and stepped on them. The handle of my favorite mug snapped off in my hand when I picked it up. The bow on my favorite pair of shoes fell off. I broke the head off my precious plastic Japanese lady statue from the World’s Fair of 1939 while trying to put it on my head for a picture for John Green. The zipper on my suitcase snapped when I was zipping it up before going to the airport. And my DVD player is haunted and keeps opening and closing itself for NO REASON AT ALL.

I fear that if I buy the camera, it will explode the moment my credit card is accepted. I even managed to break my credit card a few weeks ago. Or rather, someone managed to break it for me by stealing my number. I found this out when I was blocked from buying a sandwich. I called up the company, and they said, “Oh yeah. We were just about to call you. Did you just buy $780 worth of stuff from NFL.com? In the name of David Jensen?”

Answer: no.

So, my credit card was canceled, and they had to send me a new one. This was clearly not my fault, but still. You can see this pattern developing, right? I’m not sure what to do—toy with fate and buy the camera, or sit in my apartment in a fortress of cardboard boxes and wait until this whole breaking spell is over.

I am happy to take your input on this matter. Like, if any of you are witches, could you maybe do some kind of spell to fix this up for me? In the meantime, let me get to one of your questions.

Anyway, question is: what's the difference between copyediting and proofreading and regular editing and anything else a book might go through prior to publication? I ask b/c I'm trying to figure out a good job for myself to try to get after graduation. :D

Editors, like my editor Emma Lollipop, manage books on a big scale. They buy them. They work with the author to shape and improve the story. Editors have to do many things aside from actual editing, like working with the marketing and sales teams and making sure the author doesn’t melt down and hide inside a cardboard fort.

Copyeditors work with a book or a piece of text once it’s done, checking it to make sure it is grammatically and structurally sound, that it makes sense, and ensuring that there is nothing in there that seems flat-out wrong. Copyeditors can have conversations about things like comma usage that go on for hours and hours and can sometimes end in blows.

Once the copyeditors are done, the changes are made. Sometimes mistakes are made during the inputting. Proofreaders check the prepared or printed copy against the edited version to catch these mistakes.

I did all of these jobs at once time or another. I was iffy at best at the last two. Proofreading bores me to tears, and I spent much of my time drawing pictures of fanged rabbits on post it notes for my friends at work before getting back to writing whatever story I was using work hours to work on at the time.

What was REALLY great, though, was when I was an editor and had an assistant. I thought my boss was crazy to give me another human being to command, but I didn’t breathe a word of complaint.

“Thank you,” I said instead. “I will put him to good use.”

My assistant was a very nice guy who I immediately gave the name Cartography Jones (Carto for short). There was no shortage of actual work, but it seemed ridiculous to waste a fine assistant like Carto on that. I had other ideas.

Every day, I had new demands for Carto. I would command him to go to the conference room, where I would try to hypnotize him (I was reading a book on how to hypnotize people and needed a subject). I cut out pictures of scary cats and marmosets and hid them strategically around his desk, so when he would move his mouse or pick up papers, beady eyes would peer out at him. I would sneak up on him when he was making copies for me in our spooky copy corner and frighten him. I insisted on having conference calls with him even though our desks were only a few feet apart. I had mandatory dancing times. I would tell him to steal me a car. I fired and re-hired him dozens of times a day, depending on my mood. He knew I never meant it. I couldn’t go a day without Carto.

Carto would often start the day by finding something like this peeking out from under his keyboard.

I’ll bet you that if he reads this he will tell you all about the hundreds of post-its I left on his desk. When he would ask for my comments or advice, I would silently hand him notes that said things like: I AM AN IMPORTED CHEESE, which were obviously no help at all. Whenever I actually needed to send him notes, I would make paper airplanes out of them and throw them at his head when he was least expecting it.

When his nerves were jangled by all of this, I made him drink one of the dozens of healing teas that I kept in my drawer.

“What you need, Carto, is a ginger tea,” I would say. “I know this because I am your boss and therefore very wise. Get that down you so that we can race our chairs down the hall.”

It’s probably best that I’m not doing that anymore. Anyway, I have too much writing to do. And a fort to make. And maybe a camera to buy. No matter what, I will be posting more this week—and I look forward to hearing from all you witches out there.

Labels: ,


Blogger waterfallprincess said...

*gasp!* omg, I'm laughing so hard I'm crying! Such a great post and what an absolutely horrible photo! Sometimes when I read here I hope you're making this stuff up and then other times I hope you're not...poor Carto. lol!

Thanks for the laugh. :o)

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you should definitely buy the camera. How cool would it be to be John and Hank's Secret Sister? On a side note: I am not a witch but I am a friend of a person who wants to be a psycologist, and she says to tell you, that it is probably in your head. So your breaking things because you think you are going to break things. That might not be much help.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Ally said...

OMG! i was just looking up the Harrods Caper b/c idk and your myspace popped up and i was listining to my itunes and one song ended and then all of a sudden to songs started play, "Imogen Heap" and "MIKA" and i was like "well she must have imogen heap because shes from londen" and then i paused my music and i found out that you had MIKA on and not me..okay this was funny because i just added MIKA to my itunes today and i LOVE Grace Kelly and it just came out

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I have breaking streaks often as well, but not quite as major as yours. Actually, I think the whole family is this way. We bought a wide-screen TV a couple of years ago, and the bulb or whatever (I'm not a technophiliac) broke within a month. We had to replace it. We bought a digital camera about a year ago, and it wouldn't connect to the computer. We had to replace it. My dad bought a cellphone about five years ago and he lost it. We had to replace it.

We bought a laptop in December--in fact, I'm using it right now--and I'm waiting for it to break. We bought a video camera at the same time (Black Friday Best Buy sales. My dad went at 1:30 in the morning and there was already an enormous line.) and I'm also waiting for it to break, but in the meantime I'm having great fun recording myself sleep.

6:58 AM  
Anonymous Dawn said...

I think you should take the chance, buy the video camera, and become the secret sister of John and Hank Green!!! YAY! I would totally come to check your website every day. Um. Since I do that anyway. :-)

9:44 AM  
Blogger Tobias said...

yay, the tumbleweed has been chased out by Maureen. I want a personal assistant, preferably one who's good at doing assignments etc!

and you are good at breaking stuff. I manged to drown a cellphone in lemonade. then drown one in the washing machine. I broke the lcd-screen of my zen sleek, twice! then I broke the lcd-screen of my samsung (both hard-disk mp3-players).my laptop Sophia is managing quite well though (although I did manage to nearly deprive her of the n-button on her keyboard). and I'm still waiting for my desktop to break...

10:40 AM  
Anonymous kiersten said...

my ex-friend has terrible luck with cell phones. first it got thrown in a pool, then one got stepped on by her horse, then her next phone snapped in half cause she sat on it. then she lost one. me and my other friend are taking bets on how long her new phone lasts. i give it two weeks. i also have deprived my keyboard of keys. poor F3 it never stood a chance to my droping it.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous melissa said...

Go for it. If you buy the camera and it breaks, you can always save the pieces. Then, if you ever get into a tight spot, you can glue them down to a piece of paper and sell them as art. Works every time.

Just for the record, if you were my boss, I'd totally win in a chair race.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

So, now I have a question: why, when I told a friend (who is in magazine publishing as a jr. assistant whipping-boy ) that I wanted to be an editor, did he shreik and tell me that I was better off dead? Perhaps that's one of the differences between magazine and book publishing.

If only my boss were like that, we'd get along much better.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Becs said...

Do you have a digital camera already? They usually come with a video feature. You have to have a decent-sized memory card, but these days, that isn't usually a problem. (Unlike when I bought my camera, wayyyyyy back in the old days of 2005.)

So now that I know the difference between the types of editors and readers and whatnot, I am wondering how you get a job like that in the first place. How'd you get them? Does a writing degree help at all? (Hah.) Do you have to live in New York?

9:57 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Lynn Barnes said...

Well, since John owes you a thousand dollars, and cameras only cost, like, ten, it would be an absolute DEAL if you agreed to cancel his debt in exchange for a new video camera. And he would get a Secret Sister, too.

PS: I went to Harrods this Saturday in your honor. If only I'd gone before the Caper, I would have known to challenge you to walk through an entire floor and start dancing every time the music changed. You can go from classical to hip hop to freaky chanting to pop and then back to hip hop in less than three minutes!

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your posts are so funny. Why are they so funny? Mine never are. *Pout*

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Sasha said...

Hehe. I've derived my poor laptop, Larry (named just this minute) of the right arrow, and one of the control keys. My dad pretty much killed Emily, his computer, by breaking off u,i,o,h,j, and k. He was angry. LOL.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Little Willow said...

Did that cat eat downtown Tokyo?

2:43 AM  
Blogger Becs said...

^ I was thinking more like the state of Texas, but yeah. And I thought my cat was fat.

3:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am happy to take your input on this matter. Like, if any of you are witches, could you maybe do some kind of spell to fix this up for me? In the meantime, let me get to one of your questions"
-Maureen Johnson

Spell for good luck
3peices of losely woven cloth
(in your lucky color)
3peices of white string
tie each penny in a peice of cloth & tie that with the string.
say "In luck I trust,in luck I beleive,
With in this bundle, protection weave."
Then bury the bundle in the ground and say
"Bad fourture's come, but not to stay.
I command it now to turn away."
Turn away from the bundle and don't look back, and leave all back luck with it.

I read it in a book.

And I think you must have been the coolest person to work for there.

3:44 AM  
Anonymous Ally said...

Maureen! I just figured out that there is an Ally in your book Devilish! My name is Ally also and we spell it the same..even though my real name is Alexandria and not Allison. I am Catholic too but I go to a public school. haha I just texted my mom to ask her if she will look for the book when she goes shopping tonight but I think shes going to make me wait for tomorrow seeing as how it is 12:00 at night here..:(

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very funny, as usual, but meanwhile _your_ old boss (and Carto's too) lies dying at Overlook Hospital all stuck full of tubes, looking like Patrick Stewart when he was attached to the Borg.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

^^ I give people and objects names too. My computer is Philippe and my cell phone is Rodolpha-Zena (I call her RZ). My dog, who's real name is Zingaroo, is Roonie. My best friend is Visa. My imaginary cat is Persephone Perpetual, and I talk to her. She's a great conversant. My favorite Playbill (from Wicked) is Incandesca. She doesn't talk. My cousin (who does talk) is Pancake.

And I won't continue, because this obviously isn't my blog.

4:55 AM  
Anonymous Kheria said...

I think you are single-handedly one of the funniest people whose blog I have ever read.
I'll pretend that sentance made sense.

I would love to work for you <3

8:27 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home