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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Oh, friends. How I miss you. As far as I know, by the time you read this, I may be dead. If you want to see what it’s like, witness this disturbing photo collage Justine Larbalestier made of me last Thursday. (Someone got an iPhone. Turns out, it has a good camera, along with an MP3 player, a GPS system, a life raft, and a full-sized kitchen, or whatever else it has.)

Though I am here, I am far—far into the land of Scarlett. It’s amazing the kinds of things that you have to push aside as being “too time consuming” in the final week, like doing the laundry, buying more cereal, and getting out of the chair.

John Green and I keep IM windows open and occasionally say things like:

I am really sick of my chair. What about you?


You know what’s fun? Sitting in a chair, for like, nineteen hours.

Sitting plays a bigger role in writing than you would think. I mean, a lot of people say, “Oh yeah, I want to write a book one day.” And I smile and nod. Some of them will—but a lot of them can’t sit still for more than fifteen minutes if the TV isn’t on.

You have to sit like a champion when you write. Oh, you’re laughing. You think you can sit like a pro. But when it starts to all go rocky, when your characters don’t behave, when the wolf is at the door and the plot is starting to quake like a jello mold on a trampoline . . . . I defy you to keep sitting.

Of course, the other day I was complaining about my chair, only to discover that the problem was that I’d been sitting on my phone charger. For seven hours.

In any case! There are many exciting things to say about Scarlett, aside from the fact that she is almost done! But I can’t say anything YET. I have SO much to tell you, but time constraints today limit me to telling you little snippets of the week. Rest assured, many long entries are coming your way next week, like a swarm of locusts.

- On Friday, a man stood on the sidewalk outside of my apartment and played scales on the harmonica for an hour. Maybe that doesn’t sound bad to you . . . but really think about that. Think about a time you’ve been under the gun and your brain was on fire, and then some MANIAC decides that not only is he going to perfect his basic music skills, but he going to do so on the street, and the chosen instrument is a HARMONICA—something you can make with a tissue and a comb if you really have to.

I have long claimed that the most jarring musical experience in New York was the guy who plays Glenn Miller’s “Take the A Train” on the steel drums during rush hour in Times Square, but that guy has been blown right out of the water. Yes, playing scales on the harmonica in front of my building while I’m trying to finish a book . . . sir, you are the new winner.

Of course, that man is dead now. So let’s all take a moment to remember him.

[Side note: it turns out that some harmonicas are professional quality and they are hard to play. Or so I was told by someone I know who had three “professional harmonicas” in a drawer. Why did he have three “professional harmonicas” in a drawer? That, I cannot answer. I can tell you that I annoyed him immensely by picking one up and IMMEDIATELY playing “Happy Days Are Here Again” on it. I have no idea why this was the song that came out, or why I couldn’t play any others, or why I could play AT ALL. But it turns out that is one of my four or five totally useless superpowers. We all have some.]

- On Friday night, I changed location and worked at Libba Bray’s house, because Libba Bray is a saint. I was there for a group viewing of “High School Musical,” including Libba, her husband Barry, Scott Westerfeld, Justine, and Cassie Clare. I heard them screaming with delight from the living room and cheering “GO WILDCATS.” I was in the kitchen, with the guacamole, hummus, pizza, cakes, and other “snacks” that Libba had put out. TIP: don’t even LOOK at High School Musical for a SECOND while you are writing, not even when you just walk through the other room to get your power cord from your bag. It has MAGICAL POWERS and can sink into your brain even if you watch it for ten seconds!

It’s funny, because you wouldn’t think lyrics like this would stick in your head:

Just keep you head in the game
You gotta get your head in the game
We gotta get our, get our, get our get our head in the game
You gotta get your, get your head in the game
We gotta get our, get our, get our, get our head in the game
You gotta get your, get your head in the game
We gotta get our, get our, get our, get our head in the game

It’s like Cole Porter has been reborn!

And Zac Efron can steal your soul if you look into his eyes for too long.


- On Saturday, I took the book with me to Daphne Unfeasible’s engagement party. When your agent is your friend and you are in her wedding—not even a deadline can keep you in. But she arranged it so I didn’t even have to do any thinking about how to get there, or even stop working until we arrived. I will be giving a speech at Daphne’s wedding—something I am very, very excited about—but it turns out Daphne’s mom is concerned. She pulled me aside and said, “It’s not going to be silly, is it?”

I assured her that I had no idea what she could possibly mean.

- Don’t think I didn’t savor every second of those “Kerry Stunned by Student Tasering” stories. I know when the gods are speaking to me.

But the real reason I slunk out today to post is this . . .


There are some lost dogs out there. Last night, the fence blew down at the home of my friend Rexroth Implausible (the future Mr. Unfeasible). His two dogs, Jake and Dizzy, got out. They had just been bathed, so weren’t wearing their collars. They have not been seen since.

If you live in the area of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and if you see two dogs like this, can you contact me at once? I will immediately tell Rexroth. And if you know anyone in that area, can you forward this post on?

Jake: Black Lab/Dane mix, about six years old.
Dizzy: German Shepherd mix, about five years old.

If any of you help find Jake and Dizzy, I will thank you in the acknowledgements page of Suite Scarlett and send you more books than you could possibly eat in one sitting.



Jake and Dizzy were found--together--by some excellent people at the Dreampower Pet Rescue Ranch, 35 miles away from their home. (There is a suspicion that they may have stolen a car and driven around. These are clever dogs.)


They will be mentioned in the back of Suite Scarlett.

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Anonymous Daphne Unfeasible said...

Thanks so much for putting the word out. My biggest hope is that Jake & Dizzy are together and taking care of each other until they decide they've had enough adventure for one doggie lifetime, and come barking home.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Rex I. said...

You are full of stars, MJ. Thanks.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Meghan D said...

Please don't talk about High School Musical. I hate it!

Good luck with the rest of the book :)

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Jessica-ca-ca said...

Baha. My little brother has a harmonica, but one of the cheap-find-at-the-toy-store-type harmonicas. Of course, harmonicas are only played while you are under a deadline, such as studying for exams. >.<

Good luck finishing 'Suite Scarlett' and finding Jake and Dizzy!

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

Zac Efron creeps me out. (But I can't say I didn't almost fall out of my chair laughing when I read your HSM ramble and saw the picture.)
I hope Jake and Dizzy are found--they look so cute!!

12:21 AM  
Blogger KB said...

Bwha-ha-ha-ha Bwha-ha-ha sitting on the phone charger...:)

12:26 AM  
Blogger the vicious chicken said...

Hey Maureen, I'm afraid this comment has nothing to do with your current post, but it does relate to your last one (sort of): I just wanted to wish you a very happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day for today, 19th Sept! Have a good one, me heartie - Arrr!

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Kiersten said...

This post is full of amazingness. I had to write an essay, biology review paper, and a history project on the same night. It was terrible but I'm sure my experience pales in comparision to your's. Also, high school musical is known for getting stuck in your head. Expecially when your little brother is obsessed with it and watches it non-stop for days. (It should come with a warning lable: highly cheesy/catchy tunes. You have been warned.) Good luck with the wedding and I really hope Rexroth finds his dogs. I would die if I lost my dog.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous kiersten said...

Also, I am mad at John Green for leaving us with a cliff hanger for his new book FOR A WHOLE YEAR! But he is still amazing.

1:06 AM  
Anonymous hillary! said...

That really sux! I had a pure bred black chow that got out too...but he never came home. That's not a good story. But my other chow DID come home! He was Tan, but mixed with mutt. The black is still wandering the streets of centrall LA. I really hope you guys find Jake and Dizzy! BON CHANCE!

2:17 AM  
Anonymous Dawn said...

I kind of found High School Musical...entertaining. Sure, it was cheesy, it was annoyingly unrealistic, but hey...what Disney Channel Movie ISN'T? Maybe I've been watching the Disney Channel so long that my mind has warped just a little into something that has a tiny bit of appreciation for Disney Magic, even at 20 years old.

Best of luck with working on your book!!! I'm excited for it! :)

3:13 AM  
Anonymous Daphne Unfeasible said...

The puppies are found! Hooray! They're hanging out in a ranch-y shelter until Rexroth can pick them up tomorrow morning. MJ & readers, thanks for all your good thoughts!!!

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Ohhh, I totally get the sitting thing, and I am VERY impressed by your sitting abilities! When I was writing my thesis, I spent large amounts of every day trying to sit and type ... only I do not have your talent. So I would stand up and dance while typing, I would do yoga positions in my chair to keep myself from standing up, I would hide my computer mouse in my housemate's bedroom so that I couldn't surf the internet. And that's just one thesis; I can't imagine writing a book! Good luck finishing it, I can't wait to read it.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Hooray for finding dogs! That's ALWAYS good news!

5:33 PM  
Blogger Alisa said...

man i wish those dogs would've come to my house. i wanted to eat some books. *g*

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Keisha said...

YAY for finding Jake and Dizzy! I love places like that! We just had our first no kill shelter open up in my town last spring.

12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

at least justine got some realy good shots of your hair and scalp. really, i do love your hair in those photos. ...that sounds really weird. ....

1:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's totally true about HSM sucking you in. I was flipping channels randomly and i landed on disney and couldn't change the channel for 1 HOUR...........I think Zac Efron has stolen my soul...

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Nikki nikkiriggs@aol.com said...

You are a pro-sitter. I actually can sit like a pro, its keeping my mind from wandering, and my hands from surfing the internet for random facts and things to buy that I have problems with... Ebay is the devil. I'm addicted.

Wow, I've never seen HSM, but I can see what you mean about those eyes being 'soul-stealers'. I sat and stared at them for like 3 minutes before I noticed what I was doing.. Is that color natural?

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes yes it is......hes so lucky! Go watch HSM n HSM2:)

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Jas said...

I'm glad the doggies were found. I've got four, and I love them all dearly, so I'd be heartbroken if they ran away. I don't live in CO, so I wouldn't have been much of a help anyway.
And yes, I know what you mean about HSM. I had to sit though it one evening when I was babysitting my little sister. I nearly shot myself, especially when I came to school the next day and had to sit though a class where half the kids were singing one of the songs. I don't remember which one, only that it kinda destroyed my brain cells. I've thus far managed to avoid exposure to the second, but I'm fearful for when they some out with a third.
I don't think Zac's always been after souls. He was actually in a really good show one time--he guest starred as a young Simon Tam in Firefly when he was, like, twelve or something. It's my favorite show of all time, so he's acceptable in my view.
I have been practicing my sitting lately, although after watching two movies with Mikhail Baryshnikov in them, now all I want to do is choreograph a dance. I haven't been in a dance class since I was five, mind. Perhaps it's a little ambitious.
Good luck with your own sitting. I'm sure it's coming along better than mine.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He really is a photogenic boy, alhtough I am still trying to figure out why he was on the cover of CosmoGirl. It just doesn't look right having a guy on the cover of a teen-girl magazine.

12:43 AM  
Anonymous Iris said...

I know you said that you read libba bray’s the sweet far thing. it was supposed to come out yesterday but barnes and noble said that it wasn’t comming out untl december. i then went to borders muttering under my breath about stupid barnes and noble not having my book when the people at borders said that their computers don’t even register getting a shippment any time soon. did it’s date change or something?

9:13 PM  
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Blogger Chelsea said...

I looked at the acknowledgments in Suite Scarlett after reading this post, and I found that you were true to your word. That's very sweet of you.

I remember when I first got that book and I read the acknowledgments. I was in Jason's Deli, and I could not stop laughing. People stared at me as I choked on my pickle. I blame your wit. :)

I think that if life were an Olympic sport, you would probably win the gold.

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