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Tuesday, March 04, 2008


When we last spoke, we were reaching the climax of Zombie Idol, and everyone was a-twitter. I also mentioned that I had some NEWS about the release of Suite Scarlett.

As I sat down today to communicate this news today, I was distracted by the door buzzer. I guess my mind was really elsewhere, because I threw the door open without even checking to see who it was. Maybe what threw me was the fact that she had never used the buzzer . . . or even the DOOR before.

Many of you will be able to guess what came next. I was once again in the presence of my nemesis, Rowling.

“Where is Zombania, anyway?” she asked, pushing past me and heading for my living room.

“That’s not a real place,” I said, following her.

“Says you. I just bought a country. I need a name for it. I was going to call it Fatsonia, after my dolphin, Fatso. But I was reading about these zombies that you seem so obsessed with. They must come from Zombania. I like that name. Zombania. I’m going to make Alan Rickman the king. He’ll like that.”

She threw herself down on my sofa and make it fairly clear that she wasn’t planning on moving anytime soon. Regular readers of this blog understand this fact well. My relationship with Rowling has been a difficult and non-voluntary one. Why she's so interested in me, I have no idea.

“Doesn’t Alan Rickman hide from you because you buzz his house with a plane and hide in his bushes with night-vision goggles?” I asked.

“Not anymore,” she said happily. “Not since I set fire to his garage. He came running right out . . . by the way, these biscuits are terrible.”

“That’s because those are coasters.”

She looked over the coaster she was nibbling on, nodded, and continued eating.

“I’ve installed more things on my roof since we last spoke,” she went on. “I have a J’accusey up there.”

“A Jacuzzi? That’s nice.”

“No. A J’accusey. As in j’accuse! You sit in it, and it incriminates you.”

A J’accusey.

“Get out of my house,” I said. “Seriously.”

She didn’t leave. She never does. She just sat there, smugly snacking on my coasters, and prodding the remote control with her toe.

“I’ve come to give you advice,” she said. “I understand you have a book coming out. Simply Scarlett or something.”

“Suite Scarlett.”

“Whatever. As the most popular author in the galaxy, I am just the person you need to speak to. I was reading on your, what’s it called . . . blog . . . that you had some news about it.”

“I do, but . . .”

“You will tell me this news,” she said. “I am eager to learn more about Sweet Valley Scarlett.”

“Suite Scarlett."

“Don’t interrupt. What’s it about?”

I remained silent for a moment, unsure if she wanted me to speak.

I’ve told most of you what Suite Scarlett is about. I don’t want to bore you by saying it all over again. If you don’t know, you can read about it here or here or here, and you can read the first chapter here.

“The news!” she cried, once I had finished explaining. “What is the news?”

“Well,” I said, “the first piece has to do with the release date . . .”


“All right,” I said. “Here’s the story. Suite Scarlett’s official release date is May 1st. But boxes of the book will start going out in April, and people could very well see it in stores then.”

“You’re saying that if people are dying to get their hands on Sweeney Scarlett . . .”

“Suite Scarlett.”

“Must you keep breaking my train of thought?” she snapped. “Where was I? Oh yes. The book could show up sooner than advertised. There is a very good chance that your friendly neighborhood bookseller will have it in a matter of weeks. You aren’t sure when online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble will start shipping, but there is a chance that they may send the books before May 1st. In essence, you know that the books will be available everywhere by May 1st . . . but will appear on the landscape starting at the start of next month. So pre-ordering it now is not such a bad idea."

She had it. She really did. Rowling was talking sense.

“That’s right,” I said, stunned.

“Of course it is. Now, tell me more about this contest. You said there was a contest as well?”

“You’re right,” I replied. “There is.”

“Share. I want to know all about this book of yours, 20 Thousand Leagues Beyond Thunderdome.”

I didn’t even bother correcting that one. I mean, she had been doing pretty well.


“I can’t talk about the contest yet,” I explained. “The details are still being finalized. But the prize is . . . really excellent.”

“Is it a car?”

“No,” I said. “It’s not a car.”

“It is a boat?”


“Is it a horse?”


“Is it Sting?”

“Sting?” I repeated.

“Sting, from the Police. He would make an excellent prize. I thought about getting Sting to keep Alan Rickman company in my basement. Don’t you think they’d get along?”

“I think you should let Alan Rickman out of your basement,” I said. “Do you really have him? Again?”

“I told you, when I set fire to his garage, he came running right into my arms. I called dibs. I’m helping him prepare for his role as Snape.”

“He’s played Snape five times now. How much preparation does he need?”

“I’ll tell you what he needs—a few hours in the J’accusey with me. rwar!”


“Forget Alan,” she said, over my many strenuous objections to this. “I am taking excellent care of him. I want to know what this prize is. Is it a fabulous adventure in New York?”

I fell silent. I could not, as I said, reveal any details. And she had gotten too close. Too, too close.

“Forget the prize for now,” I countered. “I’ll be telling everyone what it is soon enough. I can tell you about some of the other giveaways.”

“Fine,” she grumbled. “Bore me with details, why don’t you?”


“They’ll be books, of course,” I said. “And I’ll also be giving away some of these AWESOME SUITE SCARLETT SLEEP MASKS.”


“I approve of those,” Rowling said. “What flavor are they?”

“No flavor. Sleep mask flavor.”

“Ah. My favorite. Give me one of those for Alan.”


“Spoilsport. See if I credit you in the next book. Now, let me summarize. You are saying that Suite Scarlett will start appearing in stores in a matter of weeks. You will be giving away books and sleep masks, and there is a remarkable contest with a prize so big, you can’t even talk about it yet.”

“That’s right,” I said.

“And that the name Zombania is free.”


“And that the next time you post, you’ll have all kinds of exciting advice for writers.”

“How did you know that?" I asked. "I didn’t say that. That was in MY HEAD.”

Rowling got up and went to the window.

“When you are me,” she said, “there is no such thing as a brain you can’t access. All doors are open to Rowling!”

And with that, she jumped out of my window, without even bothering to open it. I heard the soft whoosh of a parachute, and she was gone. For now.

I guess I’ll see you next time with a bunch of advice on writing. Got any questions?

Labels: , ,


Blogger Lil said...

That JK sure does pop in doesn't she? Although I do believe you too are gaining access to the brains of others since you knew it was her before the buzzer even rang.

And we might be needing to make "Free Alan" shirts soon... he's supposed to be filming soon and I'd hate to think what might happen if she still has him in the depths of her basement...

Oh, and question...
How does one go about getting a literary agent if said agent isn't already a friend?

3:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, those sleeping masks really are awesome. I've always had a mild fear of sleeping masks because I'm exactly the kind of idiot who would wake up, forget I had one on, freak out because I seem to have gone blind, try to log on to WebMD to diagnose myself, and then realize that I couldn't see the computer. But, I could totally get over that phobia if I won one of those.

As for questions about writing, I'm copying and pasting from a previous post of mine because I'm too lazy to ask again.

Well I guess what I want to know is a little bit more about how you got published. Sure we all listened to your Ask an Agent podcast, but what about you specifically? How many queries did you send out before you got signed? How many gallons of what flavor of ice cream did you consume when you received your first rejection letter? Did someone as talented as you actually get rejected? Did you ever have one of those moments where you said to yourself, "Well, all these agents think my book sucks so I'm just going to take my talents to Burger King where they'll be appreciated. Would you like fries with that, sir?" or do you have some kind of superpower that helped you stay eternally optimistic?

Another not-so-frequently-asked-question: what do you think is wise for an aspiring writer to choose as their college major? Do you think it's practical to choose a major that will help hone one's writing skills, or do you agree with Meg Cabot when she says that we should all go to medical school or choose an equally sensible backup plan?

And last, but not least, the really hard questions: What's your favorite food, and do you believe that diet drinks actually taste even remotely like the real thing? And, yes, this is too relevant to writing.

Due to the longness of this post, I will refrain from discussing the details of my new Free Alan Rickman campain, but you can be sure it involves eating coasters and watching all the Harry Potter movies in succession...for research purposes.

4:06 AM  
Anonymous Danica said...

I am so excited for this gigantic prize. You have no idea. WANT!

If a writer falls in the woods and no one is around to hear him/her, does he/she make a sound?

4:07 AM  
Blogger Reese said...

I have no wise question to ask you. Just a fangirlish squeal about all the happenings....


4:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*gasp* she has Alan Rickman locked up in her basement????????? noooooooooo!!!! he'll never survive!!!! *runs off to stake out jkr's house with night vision goggles* PREPARE TO BE RESCUED!!!!!!

4:32 AM  
Anonymous feign said...

I have one question for you...

Why do I want that sleep mask so bad even though I know I will never use it because if it covered my eyes my sister would have a perfect opportunity to hurt me while I sleep?

5:03 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

That sleep mask is amazing. Props to whoever had the idea!!

Question, not directly writing advice related: What do you think of F. Scott Fitzgerald's method of "title first, book later"?

5:15 AM  
Anonymous Kat said...

What's the prize? Does the winner stay at the Hopewell Hotel and meet the characters from the book? And do they also win breakfast with Anything For Breakfast Guy? (Maybe not...they could have to eat anything for breakfast! Even coasters! JK Rowling doesn't like eating coasters.)

Or is the prize Alan Rickman? Or a J'accusey?

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uhm...you really know Rowling?

i dont know if your joking or not...i dont have time to read your other posts.

but FREE ALAN =)

6:06 AM  
Blogger ambeen said...

Yay, more contests and giveaways! :p

I'm so glad you're posting again, Maureen. I've literally been checking multiple times a day waiting for the Suite Scarlett update, lol.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Renee said...

ok first off I have a friend like JK. Every second it seems as if she is at my door asking question after question about my life. Then the next second she is gone. Almost feels like I dream the whole 10 minutes of her sitting on my couch eating my food.

I am also quite glad for the update! :)

question: What do you think about free online publishing such as wordclay.com and such?

7:17 AM  
Blogger lightforms said...

I stopped reading at Free Alan Rickman. I just couldn't concentrate on anything else. That nutter, JK.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Kayli said...

So how does one win these books you speak of?

AND, since J.K. has free unlimited access to brains, has anyone considered that she might be a zombie???!!! I'm sure the proof is all there.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous HIllary! said...


10:56 PM  
Blogger Melissa Walker said...

I kind of wish the masks had a strawberry flavor. Kidding! Great idea.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suite Dreams are made of... :)

12:45 AM  
Anonymous JK said...

HAHA I'm going to have to say having the same inicials as JK Rowling can get rather confusing.
But I am very excited to hear about this new competition.

3:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. If the competition is something like Win a Day with Maureen or to have lunch with you, I will die! Not really.

I'll just be really, really, excited. =}

3:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what must we do to win these amazing prizes?

4:27 AM  
Anonymous blissfullydazed said...

Fun post. Now, were those corkboard coasters, or plastic coasters? I'm guessing corkboard. They can be mistaken for not only biscuits, but also ricecakes as well.

As for writing, I first of all am uniting with muffinman in asking about college majors for writers. I am VERY unsure about this - should I just go with my original ambition of being an elementary school teacher? (Mind you, when I developed this ambition, my horizons were far less broad at the time. The decision was also quite impulsive. But teachers are good!)

I also have a few more questions. Like, would you condone as a novelist moving to another country that has socialized medicine, considering novelists have no health insurance? Also, is it wise to experience yourself with LOTS of reading of LOTS of novels, both good and bad, to hone and develope your own writing style (not saying overload, but you know)? I'm guessing it is.

And about Alan Rickman - have you or JK seen the Potter Puppet Pals yet? You should.

In closing, sorry I didn't submit those zombie entries as promised. I was too busy having my own brain sucked out at the time, and I've just barely begun to suck it back in. :P


4:44 AM  
Anonymous Haddy said...

jk rowlings website comes in like 10 languges and it must be quite expensive i imagine
ive never read harry potter and i never plan to
and why do you hate her so

5:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maureen, Do you have moments of self-loathing ("Everything I write is wasting innocent data space on the hard drive!!")and how do you get past them to actually write something?

5:32 PM  
Blogger Tasha said...

Your post made me laugh out loud. I really needed a good laugh today and after reading this I think I've laughed enough for three days!!

As for Suite Scarlett I am beyond excited. I have read almost all of your books and they are just amazing. As a matter of fact I'm just reading Devlish, which is really good so far.

Can't wait to see what the big giveaway is....you definitely have be thinking, and anxiously awaiting!

2:34 AM  
Anonymous Nuwon Wearspants said...

That was my favorite Rowling-involved blog ever. =D

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Beth said...

Do you plot your novels beforehand?
Does character or plot come first?
Do you plan each character in biographical detail before beginning?
How long does it take you to write a novel?
Does one have to be a comic genius to write YA?

Sorry for the brevity, university calls...

2:41 AM  
Blogger Jordyn said...

Ok so I left a review (uh, kinda... more like a recommend) of SUITE SCARLETT here.


6:30 AM  
Blogger Heather♥ said...

wow. now I really, really must learn what this big prize is...hmm...

do we, like, get to meet you or something? Spend a day in New York with you?

Because, that would be, oh idk, the COOLEST prize an author individually has ever given away.

You're making me wait here... and I'm not the most patient person

12:59 AM  
Blogger Reese said...

Okay, I can't wait much longer.

This is so exciting!

6:30 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

What writing-related question have you always wanted to answer but never been asked?

And what's the answer?

6:46 AM  
Blogger Hillary said...

OMG that was hilarious. Those sleep masks are awesome. I haven't had one since my dog chewed up my squishy one I had a few years ago and ever since then I've been searching for a cool one. Anyway, I can't wait for Suite Scarlett...it looks wonderful! It would look so good on my bookshelf...can't wait!

8:57 PM  
Blogger limeywesty said...

have you ever considered bars on your windows?
JK Rowling obviously has them to keep Alan remaining in her basement...
I'm all for the 'Free Alan' t-shirts too.

5:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How could you say something like that about JK rowling? Harry Potter Rocks!

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you hate her so much? Is it because she is soooooooooooooooo famous?

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG i'm gonna ask if we can make them, the free allan t-shirts, in art club tommorow! i'll have to explain to everyone the story behind the shirt, but i'm sure will make them. and if not i'll make one anyway.!

1:30 AM  
Anonymous Danica said...

mj, last night I had a dream in which I won this massive prize, even though I'm not COMPLETELY sure what it is. Did you have the same dream? I think the universe is telling us that I need to be in New York with you.

2:47 AM  
Anonymous shaylaluna said...

has jkrowling hidden you in her basement to sheesh you havent posted so i really am getting worried

3:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love you! I want Alan in my basement, and to get there, he has to escape hers!!!

7:13 AM  
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