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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Hello, friends! I’m back in New York, having said goodbye to Oscar, cat friend, screaming old lady, J.K. Rowling, and all of my companions in the UK, and am back in the heaving steam bath that I like to call home.

By now, many of you will have seen this video, which was created for my friend John Green’s birthday. There are a lot of things to explain about that video. Like the clothes. (I wasn’t super-clear on the wardrobe issue.) Or how it even came about. (Sitting around with Scott and Justine, an e-mail, some drinks, a small buffet at Libba’s house, moving furniture, me injuring my knee, and what will almost certainly be a lifelong aversion to Mamma Mia. It’s a whole saga. Another blog, perhaps? Do you guys want the story? Respond in the comments if you do.)

I’m glad to see that many of you could relate to my feelings on revision. Even Meg Cabot chimed in! That gives me hope, because in my mind, Meg can do anything. Even fly.

The storyboard I had created on the London Office wall, the one that looked so neat and lovely there, was carefully removed and transplanted to the New York Office wall. It is not as neat here, as the wall space allotted to it is a bit on the smaller side. But now I have to pack it up again, just as soon as I got it up!

Yes—it’s Dragontrain time! Right around this time tomorrow, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Holly Black, Cassie Clare, and I will all be on a full-service sleeper train, barreling down south to Atlanta.

As you may (or may not) remember, this whole thing started when we were all sitting around in Scott and Justine’s apartment at the wee small hours of the morning. (See, basically all my harebrained schemes start in that exact position.) They were talking about how much fun conventions are, and then someone said that we should all do one together, and then someone else said wouldn’t it be fun if we all took a train down instead of a plane? We all agreed that that sounded classy and civilized, unlike planes which are generally horrible and oppressive.

And then I said, “If you actually set this up, I will go in a Princess Leia/Wonder Woman outfit” because I doubted that it would happen.

Which brings us up to now.

I never welsh on a bet, friends. I have just picked up my Wonder Woman boots. I have to say, they are pretty spectacular. I have a sneaking suspicion that the company that made them specializes in stripper wear, but I have no particular problem with this. They have done a top-notch job on these boots. Hera herself would admire them!

(I will not say whether or not I am already wearing my new Wonder Woman boots. That is totally irrelevant. Let us move on.)

We are also about to test the theory that traveling 18 hours on a train is actually better than traveling 1 ½ hours on a plane.

Maybe I should clarify something, as some of you are visiting from outside the United States . . . trains are not really one of our strong points here. We do have trains. We even have a few very nice trains. But we generally don’t use trains very much in terms of longer trips, largely because it seems insane. This is a big country. It takes a long time to travel around it. I’m coming to grips with the fact that we have chosen a method of travel that will literally take 12 times as long as an airplane.

So why have we done this? What made it sound like such a good idea, round about 2 AM all those months ago? Here are the reasons, as I remember them.

1. Trains are generally fun

I really like trains, personally. I especially like trains in the UK, which seem about a million times nicer than our trains—and by “our trains,” I mean our smaller commuter lines, which generally look like castoff pieces of the trans-Siberia line, circa 1977. I have had some excellent rides on trains in the UK, like my fantastic ride from London to Scotland when I went to live in the castle for a month to write 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

(I am invariably thinking this thought, sitting there in my nice little seat, looking at the passing sheep, thinking how wonderful England is . . . and someone will throw up in the vestibule. But even this doesn’t seem that bad—and granted it is always on the midnight train back from central London. Somehow, it’s not as bad when English people barf in public. I think it may be because, unlike here (where it seems more likely that you have Rage Virus and are about to turn into a zombie), that’s just the English way of saying “We have been drinking tonight!” It’s almost kind of friendly, like you’re being invited to join the experience!)

2. Trains seem glamorous

I mean, come on! A group of writers going on tour together by taking a long, cross-country (well, it’s not cross-country, it’s just, well, south-bound, but it’s still pretty far) trip together. And there’s a dining car and a porter, and we can write, and Cassie and I are sharing a little room and we can tell each other ghost stories!

View of my expectations.

3. Unlimited luggage!

We are already planning on loading down this train something fierce. I really need to step up and start packing like I mean business. None of this “weighing your bag” or having to shove everything you are taking with you to your seat into one small piece of luggage the size of a microbe. I am bringing all my stuff. I may even bring some of your stuff. I am living the dream of travel tip number #2—because I can, can, can!

4. Excellent company

This does not come with the train. This just happens to be excellent company!

5. A chance to see the country

I wonder how many Wal-Marts I will see from the train window?

6. A chance to work without distraction

No wi-fi on the train! Nothing but me, some good writer friends, and the track rolling in front of us.

Pretty good reasons, right?

We will see how it all pans out . . .

Another view of my expectations.

In any case, I have promised videos, and they will be here. But they will not feature Mamma Mia. Anyway, I have to go practice my Wonder Woman spinning in these new boots . . . .

I mean revise. And pack.

(Oh, and I guess I should tell you when I am actually speaking. I will post my conference schedule here later! Watch this space!)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course we want the dancing Mamma mia bithday wishes to John Green story! Please tell us the story!

4:08 AM  
Anonymous Judy said...

We ALWAYS want to hear your stories. That's why we read your blog in the first place.

4:22 AM  
Anonymous Ally said...

Story!!! :) Please.

I've never been on a train or a plane.

4:58 AM  
Blogger Faith said...

i 2nd the "of course we want the story" of dancing to momma mia for john green's bday!

please please pretty please?

5:14 AM  
Blogger Laursie said...

Agreement all around! We'd love to hear the Mamma Mia video story, MJ!

You're right about British trains. They're very neat with nice seats and the countryside spreading out before you in the glorious morning sunshine. And then the little train stations that look the station from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Sigh...DragonCon is going to be so much fun. I wish I could attend.

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Jellybean said...

Full story, full story, fullstoryfullstoryfullstory.

5:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved your video!!! The choreography was fabulous (especially the sock throwing part) hee.

Sure, I'd like the whole story!


6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never been on a north american train before, but I have been on several European ones. They where really cool with compartments exacly like in Harry Potter.
Except the speed trains - those where just like airplains inside and made me feel queesy.
P.S. Tell the story! Did you even need to ask?

7:49 AM  
Blogger alisalindsey said...

trains ARE fun! and you can bring liquids and scissors!

and yes, we want the story :)

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Raelyn said...

So, I basically want to steal your boots even though I haven't even seen them... Because I generally love boots, and yours sound AWESOME. By the way, what's the song playing at the beginning of the John Green birthday video, because it kind of amuses me ^.^ And you can not NOT tell us your story behind it all now that you've mentioned it, that just leaves a person hanging WAY too badly...

8:39 AM  
Anonymous lily said...

ahh.. tell the story. but oh yess. i totally agree on the whole train thing. cus trains just rock. they are just too cool with their awesome tracks and roomy seats, so unlike those stiff bare-back seats on the planes. gotta admit though, eighteen hours. on a train. with four other people. for eighteen hours. thats preeety long. by the way, lurve those boots, [so hott]

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Ammy said...

I think you'll really love going by train. I've travelled halfway across Australia (also a BIG country) by train, and it was absolutely wonderful. There's the cute cabin areas and then the wide open common areas. And the views are amazing.

And then there's always the whole, "This is just so classy" thing about overland trains.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Ronni said...


I'm going to be at DragonCon! I'll look for you guys! :)

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, we want to hear the story! any story you have makes me laugh hysterically--not that I'm laughing AT you, you just seem to have so much fun.

Do you know what happened to Libba's LJ?? When you type in www.libbabray.com, it brings you to this whoole different site. Did she get a new site or LJ??

4:10 PM  
Blogger Miss Hannah said...

I share your idealistic views on trains, in spite of the fact that: 1. I have never been on one, and 2. my husband (who used to have to take a short-ish line from PA to IN several times a year to visit his mother) insists that train rides are terribly boring and rocky. Then again, his train rides were through Ohio, which is notoriously flat and boring, whereas you will be traveling through Appalachia, which should give you plenty of interesting things to see (in addition to dozens of Wal-Marts). All of that aside, I would love to hear the story of how you all came up with the idea for such a randomly fabulous video. I also look forward to hearing some great stories about Dragoncon and the reality of the train ride. Have fun spinning!

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Meghan said...

Please tell us the story! We'd love to hear it.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous hillary! said...

TOTALLY NEED TO HEAR THE STORY! My friends now all think I am crazy and I need a better explanation, because to them that was not a birthday video no matter how many times I point to where it says 'Happy Birthday John!'. And plus you will undoubtedly make more sense than I do.

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Gabrielle said...

I would luuuuuve to hear about the Birthday Video story. I wonder if there are, like, cool stuff on Dragon Train. I mean, it's a DRAGON TRAIN! :D Hope you have fun.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Kiersten said...

I sooooo want to hear the story! I was singing Mamma Mia nonstop the day before scott westerfeld posted your video on his blog. Now I think it's permanently stuck in my head. did you know there's a techno version?!?! I'm now begging my friend for her Mamma Mia soundtrack she got when she saw it in England. ♪♫ *humming* ♪♫

10:46 PM  
Blogger Jez said...

I definately want to hear the story behind that video. Please?

That last picture looks like a transformer. I'm expecting for it to turn into a video any second and the train to turn into a butt-kicking robot

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Mamma Mia, hear I go again..."
And lots of info on Dragan train too pretty please.
Hey will you get to meet Fred and George there since I heard their going too??? (from HP if you don't know).
Jez, I so agree with you about the transformers train.

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Nuwon Wearspants said...

Yes - please tell us the story about the birthday video. I watched it (NERDFIGHTERS!) and enjoyed it very much.

Have fun at the con! Cons are fun..I haven't been to one in a long time. Anyway - please, story time?


2:08 AM  
Anonymous Taylor said...

haha, i loved that video. i frequent the scott westerfeld site, and that's where i first saw it.

"you were there, and you were there--YOU weren't there"

and i'm a compulsive overpacker, too! i always barely make it under the limit. i pack like 2x as many outfits as the number of days i'm actually gone.

i've never commented on here before, only read the posts. i'll have to try this more often...

6:27 AM  
Blogger Isabella said...

Travelling by train sounds absolutely glamourous, as does your Wonder Woman costume. :) The birthday video story sounds interesting... do continue?
Have fun at DragonCon!

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I def. want to hear the Mamma Mia story- that video was hysterical!

3:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's hear more about the Mamma Mia story!! Let's hear more! Let's hear more! Let's hear more! Let's hear more! Let's hear more! Let's hear more! (I am not dancing about my room shouting 'Let's hear more!' right now...)

5:28 AM  
Anonymous taylor said...

oh, and I WANT TO HEAR THE REST OF THE STORY! please, scott didn't give too many details in his blog post either--okay, he didn't give ANY details--and i want to know more! especially about that whole sock thing with scott...

and double-ditto on the transformer train...that's what came to my mind too!

5:46 AM  
Blogger Rebecca (becs) said...

Justine claims she threw your video camera out the train window, but I think she was just trying to throw us off. Please tell me your camera is alive, well, and recording every minute of DragonCon. :D

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been lurkingly reading your (fantastic/amazing/hilarious/wonderful) blog for over a year and a half or more now.

And I've always had one, burning, unanswered question:
Boyfriend? Friend? Colleague?

Please elaborate. At length.

Perhaps an MJ "key" would be good (like Brotherhood 2.0 has). I.e. so you could describe all your characters (including Ms. Fabulous) etc., their relationship to you/how you know them, and other oft-mentioned terms. But Oscar, Oscar I must know of NOW, pre-key, pre-whatever. (Please?)

P.S. Just looked at your WW pic over at JL's blog...fantastic.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Georgiana said...

Trains can be so much fun. My family took one across country twice when I was a teen and I loved it. We met the most amazing people, learned a new card game and got to see just how much the land changes as you go. (This was in the U.S.)

I've been thinking about taking advantage of the Amtrak specials of the week and going down south and coming right back again just to get a differing train perspective.

Have loads of fun!

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Ally said...

Yes, I too wonder who Oscar is..

I love your Wonder Woman costume picture on Justine's site! Awesome!

6:29 AM  
Anonymous Resse said...

I must know the story please!!
about Dragoncon I begged my Mom. She said if I cleaned my room PERFECTLY she'll think about it because we go down that was sometimes anyway. I cleaned the entire house. I snuck my own money into her purse with little notes that say I love you. I SCRUBBED TOILETS!!! To no avail. Give us a nice long blog about it please.

4:53 AM  
Anonymous jayme said...

your blog makes me laugh. a lot.

4:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I SO want to hear the Mama Mia story!! Did you really think you had to ask?? Have fun at Drangoncon. I've been reading Justine's blog posts...LOVE YOUR COSTUME!!!! Those Wonder Woman boots kick butt!


12:05 AM  
Anonymous Kiersten said...

OH MY GOD! Love the pic of you in costume on Justine Larbalestier's blog.

1:00 AM  

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