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the key to the golden firebird
vacations from hell
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Do you ever feel kind of . . . unspooled? You know . . . slightly less than together because you are moving very quickly?

You may not know what I mean, because I’ve read your comments and e-mails, and you guys seem pretty together.

In fact, I think today I’m just going to pay tribute to YOU, the people who leave comments. The unsung heroes of the blogging world. Besides, I have to tell you which commenter is getting the Random Book!

I’ll do all of that just as soon as I finish rambling about myself. Because right now I feel like I’m about six places at once. I’m supposed to be leaving for the UK to go into seclusion in the London Office to finish Suite Scarlett, but I am far from being packed or prepared. There are a number of factors involved. I’ve been busy working, for a start—on Scarlett, and on some other secret things I can’t talk about just yet. My stuff is pretty much everywhere.

Also, I keep stepping on glass.

See, I had this really nice jug that my friend gave me when she moved. It was a special jug, a really fancy handmade one by some amazing artist. I’ve had this jug for two years, sitting on top of a cabinet in my bedroom. The other night, when I went blundering in around two in the morning to get something out of said cabinet, the jug decided it had had enough of its perch and life in general and it dove to the ground. It shattered into approximately eleventy billion pieces, which was nice both for my downstairs neighbors, and for me.

I have a white shag rug in my bedroom, and despite the hour of vacuuming . . . I can’t get all the glass out of it. I find glass. With my feet. I should just call them my “glassfinders” now.

So I keep stepping on glass (this should not be confused with Libba Bray's glass eye) . . . and I also keep forgetting to buy Band Aids when I’m out, so I keep having to wrap my feet in pieces of surgical gauze. I don’t know why I have surgical gauze. I just do.

Also, I skinned my knee. I can’t tell you how. It’s a secret.

Anyway, let’s look at YOUR COMMENTS.

I don’t know why I keep making up these contests where I have to choose things—because you guys always send and write good stuff, so I sit there for hours chewing on my mousepad, trying to pick a winner. Just look at all these good ones I had to choose from:

Totally off topic but, IKEA HOSTEL! 
The web adress says it all. WE NEVER HAVE TO LEAVE!

There is NOTHING off topic about IKEA! I love IKEA! That’s why I keep talking about it. The fact that there is an IKEA you can sleep over at is only going to fuel my desire to go on an IKEA world tour. Cranberry mouse! Round beds! IKEA bathrobes! The Holmenskollen ski jump? Why am I not there already?

jaimie said...
Next time you see Scott Westerfield(sp)try to make him wear a Yoda costume to the next events.

I saw Scott today and I passed this message along. I don’t know what will come of it, but my part is done. I should mention that we had lunch at GOOGLE! Home of The Internets! My friend Winchester Grey showed us around. They have everything at Google! They have all of these amazing restaurants for free, a game room with an air hockey table, massage chairs in the halls, and scooters you can use to scoot down the long hallways.

Remind me again why I’m not a computer engineer?

Oh right. Because I thought Linux was a Peanuts character. And I never did my math homework in high school. Never. Not once. (Except on the bus or in homeroom.) But! I did develop this great trick to hide this fact! Whenever sister would try to get volunteers to go to the board to show the work they had done the night before, I would immediately volunteer. Very, very assertively.

“But why?” you ask. “If you hadn’t done it?”

Because I would then turn and say, “Suzanne and I will do it, Sister.”

This was not how things were done. It was not a partner exercise. But for whatever reason, maybe boredom, she usually allow it. And I would drag my friend Suzanne up to the board. And she ALWAYS did her homework. The entire trick is to expose yourself! Volunteer first! Don’t try to hide it! Bring a friend who knows the answers!

Every once in a while this would backfire kind of spectacularly and she’d throw me a curve ball and make me go to the board and solve the problem on the fly while everyone else would just copy it out of their notebooks. But I like to think that this improved my ability to think quickly under pressure.

I was rambling again, wasn’t I?

Anyway, about Google . . . the creepy part is that they have all these long memos on debugging and testing code in the stalls of the women’s room. They make you work hard there to get all the free food and the scooters. They even make you work while you pee.

Here is a picture of Free Monkey in the lobby.


tobias said...
a quick note: giving something away at random to whoever leaves the best comment is contradictory.
If you would give it away at random it wouldn't matter how good the comment is.

Tobias, I know that English isn’t even your first language. You are Dutch. So it is a little extra embarrassing that you should point this out. Please do not mention this to FREE MONKEY when he comes to visit you in The Netherlands on part two of the FREE MONKEY WORLD TOUR.

agustina said...
Hello, or hola as we say in my country. First Maureen i gotta tell you I love your blog, it´s just hilarious, and I love you, you´re the projection of who I wanna be in a couple of years,you´re fabulous. Why should I get the free signed copy? Because in my country I can´t get a copy of your book, and buying it over the internet would really set me back, since 1 american dollar is like 4 pesos argentinos...

Hola, Agustina! I am very excited to have a reader in Argentina! I just want to say this . . . when you become me, WATCH OUT FOR THE GLASS.

Perhaps Free Monkey can come and visit you at some point? He has many places to go in the next few weeks, but he has never been to South America before.

So who won?

In the end, I had to pick Jessica, who had this to say:

jessica said...
Should it be long and thoughtful? Short and random? 

To be quite frank, I have no idea, therefore, I will explain my love for Girl at Sea.

1. Aidan. I totally fell in love with him, despite the fact that he was sarcastic and mean. What does that say about my choice in men? That just horrible, isn't it?

2. Jellyfish. I've had a fear of the neasty little things since I was jet-skiing in Galveston, TX and I touched one. Not stung, just touched. And I cried. A lot.

1. It is okay to love Aidan. He has many positive qualities too, you know.



Jessica, e-mail me your address and a book is on its way!

Now I have to get back to the packing so I can get to the London Office and finish this book. Oscar has told me that the slug problem is just about solved . . . which is not as solved as I would like it to be.

But I also have my friends The Cat From Next Door and Screaming Old Lady to see . . . and who knows? Maybe another visit from J. K. Rowling? Although I kind of hope not. Frankly, she freaked me out a little.

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Anonymous Dawn said...

Congrats, Jessica! You really do deserve a book because of your Jellyfish trauma. It makes me think of Finding Nemo...I really wonder what it feels like to touch a jellyfish. Not enough to actually touch one, though.

Google! I love google! It brings so much information to the masses. :)

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you get to try one of the scooter thingybobbys? I've always wanted to try one- they are so cool! Oh and just one tiny suggestion, why not try wearing flip flops while crossing the treacherous shag rug of glass?:D


ps. Congratulations, Jessica!

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Agustina said...

Thanks for the advice Maureen, I will definitely keep an eye out for the glass.
Today is the worst day, and since I can�t tell my family because they wouldn�t be interested, and I can�t tell my friends because they would think I�m really pathetic, I�m telling you guys and my goddess Maureen. I have to go to school today (I�m a senior at high school), ignore all that talent I believe to have and be a microphonist at the short film we are producing in film class. Can you believe this? Last year I was amongst the winners of a literary contest the school held and my script from creative writing class was being used by my very obmoxious professor to teach other kids, and today I have to stand with a stick and a microphone for hours, just that, no writing, no directing, not even assisting. What do you think Maureen, did this happen ever happen to you when you got into the writing world? This is really a trauma for me.
I would love to have Free Monkey, and would more than happy tohsow him around Buenos Aires, I am kinda of lonely these days so it would be a nice company.
Well, I gotta go do stuffs, because I actually still have something to live for, nt much, a bit.
So au revoir...

5:47 PM  
Anonymous laurenzo said...

Wow. D'you want to know something crazy? My best friend's name is Jessica, and she totally reads your blog. Plus, she's been to Galveston. I have no idea if she's the same Jessica who won, but if she was, it'd be amazing and a half. :D
Half of what, you say?
Something that is awesome.

I still think that jellyfish are aliens sent down from some sadistic planet to mess with our minds. Because they just look alien-y. Y'know? And any planet that sends down horrid little jelly beasts HAS to be populated by sadists.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am just wondering, how do you fill the void left by your secret brother John Green?

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Kiersten said...

yeah my comment about IKEA hostel is on your blog *happyness* only i didnt win devilish *tear* guess ill have to get it while im at barnes and noble today buying Eclipse, the fifth pendragon book because i bought all of them except this one (how i dont know), and other books with shiny covers that my inner adhd kiersten likes. Devilish was amazing and i want to read it again but my library doesnt have it right now. you have a waiting list!

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Kiersten said...

oh yeah and it randomly hailed the other day. can you say pact with the devil? did you see the lolya covers over at inside a dog? someone did one for devilish. its amazing.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Reese said...

For the record I am obsessed with your books along with Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
Random fact: Since you talk about Scott Westerfeld so much I feel the need to say that my cousin who is an author had dinner with him and his wife... someplace in the world. Neat huh? I know somebody that has made eye contact with Scott!!
My favorite book of yours is ummm well all of them. Every last one except for Girl at Sea but the library is getting that for me.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Baha. Yes, Lauren, I am the Jessica. ^_^

My address is on it's way.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Cei Cei said...

I'm all sad now, I can only read your blog mon - wed when I'm at work because i don't have net at home, so i hardly ever know about the contests.

Anyway,laurenzo i completly agree with you about the jelly fish! they are evil and try to kill me every time I go to the ocean or to my aunties Bewhere FRESH WATER JELLYFISH!

P.S. congrats Jessica

12:10 AM  
Anonymous Hannah said...

I have to say Maureen, while I love you desperately, I'm kind of ashamed of your treatment toward jellyfish. Have you ever MET a Jelly? (Besides the ones that wash up on the beach. Those don't count, they're dying and bound to be a little cranky.)

I say that Jelly Fish should become a new friend of yours! Just LOOK IN THE IKEA CATALOGUE! They are in there!!! If they are in Ikea, they might be worthy of a second glance.

Lovingly but scoldingly,


I have been stung by a jelly before. I live in Oregon and they wash up on the coast line A LOT. Anyway, one time I was playing in the waves and saw something all googly and slimy. Who could resist that? So I went over and poked at it and then it was lunch and I promptly forgot about it.

After lunch I went back to playing in the waves and suddenly I was sliding on something and my leg was stinging like...well, like it would when you step on a jelly. After crying for ten minutes, and mummy kissing it better, it didn't hurt so bad and I finished my day at the beach happily, if not a bit more warily. So one CAN survive it! --And I didn't have to pee on myself.

So while it DID sting me, I maintain that it had a good reason to. I mean, it was in a very sucky situation.

12:44 AM  
Anonymous TheNerdDilettante said...

Once, one of my friends knocked a vase off the refrigerator in my apartment. Even after much sweeping and vacuuming we were still stepping on glass in the kitchen. We solved the problem by moving out. :-)

2:47 AM  
Anonymous Nuwon Wearspants said...

Hi Ms. MJ.

I haven't read Girl At Sea - I feel bad for saying that - but I am asking for it for a birthday present, and I'm sure once I read it I'll love it. I read Key To The Golden Firebird and that was really good. I also am looking forward to reading 13LBE - I feel lame for admitting I've read only one of your books, but it is hard to find them around here - even at my Barnes and Noble.

Anway, I wanted to say you're really cool - and I love your blog entries. I also love all your writer friends. I mean, that you have all these friends that are writers - how did you meet them? That would be an interesting article.


Nuwon Wearspants

4:30 AM  
Anonymous kiersten said...

yeah how do you meet super cool author friends? is new york the center of amazing authors? poor john green. he is no longer in the center of amazing authors. (hes still amazing though)

5:51 AM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Now back to my normal commenting:

Imagine my surprise after winning signed books for the horror I went through with the jellyfish, only to be called into the kitchen by my mother to show me an article in Discover magazine all about exotic jellyfish.

There was one that was literally larger than the scuba diver. And one that glows.

So there's my story of the day. Thanks again for choosing me!

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only how did YOU meet your cool friends, but HOW CAN WE? Do we have to get published to hang with the cool crowd?

8:25 AM  
Blogger Krissi said...

I wish I had a London office (actually, I do, but it's not England London so it doesn't count). Someday... Anyway, I hope J. K. does show up. I wonder if she is superdepressed now that Harry Potter is officially over. If she crawls through your window again, make sure to ask her what she is going to write next. Haha.

Jellyfish are quite scary. I think all humans should stay twenty feet away from any body of water larger than a bathtub.

11:31 PM  
Anonymous kiersten said...

aw but that would be no fun! you can't swim or scuba dive (which is amazing. you should try it sometime. but NOT in england. maureen said its not very fun learning there. they have seamonsters in there. *shudder*) in a bathtub. (unless of course it is one HUGE bathtub)

3:38 AM  
Anonymous Catherine said...

When I was at the beach in Florida last week there was a jellyfish. I ran away. My sister decided to be brave. She grabbed one of those little nets that all little children enjoy carrying around on the beach scooped it up and buried it in a really deep hole. I was impressed, so I let her have the half of my sandwich that I didn't want. Actually, she didn't want the sandwich either. She just threw it away. I took the last chocolate chip cookie as revenge.

PS I loved Girl at Sea. Lovely! Wonderful! Spectacular! Remarkable! Outstanding! Insert adjective of your choice here!

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. MJ (if you don't mind me calling you that),

I just finished reading 13 Little Blue Envelopes-for the 10th time in the last week-and I am in need of going to the library/Barnes&Noble/Borders to get all of your books to read. They sound SO good. I especially want to read Girl at Sea, cuz it sounds so much like 13 Little Blue Envelopes (which I have to say I loved and is DEFINATELY one of my favorite books). So...hmm, just wanted to let you know that. You sound like a really cool person...do you think there could be a sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes? I absolutely loved Keith! He's so funny. As you can probably see by now, I am a BIG fan...tee-hee!! :^)

5:04 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Lynn Barnes said...

This is completely random (and nerdy), but did you realize that Free Monkey isn't actually a monkey? Based on his facial shape and lack of tail, he's definitely an ape (which is not the same thing as a monkey). Shocking!

9:31 PM  
Blogger Tobias said...

To my infinite knowledge, in Dutch there isn't a separate word for monkey and ape. In both cases it's "aap".

And thank you for the compliments about my English. But in all honesty I must admit I looked up the word "contradictory" because I had no idea how to spell it (I cheated)

10:08 PM  
Anonymous ashley said...

I was in Japan, and I totally missed your blog.
and now I am really excited that I might be going to Poland next summer, and will do everything I can to sleep in the Ikea. Their bookshelves save my life, as opposed to the other non-Ikea bookshelves that try to kill us.

2:53 AM  
Blogger S said...

Augh, jellyfish. I was at the beach on vacation and jellyfish were a big concern, as were crabs. Personally, I didn't find the crabs as troubling as the jellyfish, but my friend did. She left the water, screaming, "Fine, I'll just leave you here with all your crabs!" Good times.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous briaphillips said...

Long time reader, first time commenter ( is commenter a word). I really love your stuff and am sorry i don't comment.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Maureen,

Off the topic I know, but I was wondering if anything new is happening with the Bartesville banning/removing bermudez triangle to a shelf? I just switched on the TV a few minutes ago and the crappy tv movie that was on straightaway mentioned Bartesville, Oklahoma, a place I had only ever heard of in your blog. Freaky.
I have been stung by a jellyfish and it was incredibly painful. My advice is watch out for the ones with tentacles or pretty colours. The clear blobby ones are fine. Gross but fine.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maureen! you gots me hooked on i can has cheezburger. i is lolcat luvr now!

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Jas said...

All right, so this really has nothing to do with this post, but I bought The Bermudez Triangle yesterday (the special splash-proof edition), and instead of waiting to go to the beach (because it'll probably be months before I do), so I started reading right away. And kept reading, and reading, and reading, and reading, until I finished sometime around midnight.
Honestly, that lady in Bartlesville is nuts. I thought the Triangle was the best book of yours I've read. It shouldn't be banned--it should be required reading for every confused teenager out there (which is pretty much all of us, I guess).
That mother is kinda exactly like Mel's. Which is sad, because it just confirms that there are people like that.
But that doesn't detract from the story's brilliance. It only makes it shine brighter, which, I think, is the whole point of the story anyway.
These things just make us stronger.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous michelle said...

hey mj,

its interesting to me that this blog has lots to do with jellyfish.. because yesterday i was flipping channels and guess what show was on the discover channel. KILLER JELLYFISH!! i was too scared to watch it but i figured you would be interested/scared to know that there is an entire show about scary killer jellyfish.

also, i have finally gotten my hands on a copy of the key to the golden firebird. actually i stole it from my friend. but this book is incredibly hard to come by for some reason. i have looked in all the random bookstores i can find and my friend finally found it somewhere. i loved it! well, i've loved all of your books so thats not much of a surprise. but.. yay! thanks for writing them

and beware of KILLER JELLYFISH!


12:02 AM  
Anonymous kiersten said...

i also had a hard time finding the key to the golden firebird. i finally found it in my libraary. (yay libraries!) is it out of print or something? (excuse my non-capital-ness. justine larbalestier's blog stole them.)

3:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hah! And if you Google "Free Monkey," you come up at number 11! Yay you! Yay Google! Yay Wonder Woman! Yay your books! Er... yay everything but book banning and other evil things!

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Jaimie said...

Hey Maureen! Its Jaimie! Did he agree?????? No I have never gotten stung by a jelly fish...Come to think of it I havent even gotten stung by a bee... Maybe thats Why I never winn these book giveaways!

1:35 AM  

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