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Friday, April 11, 2008


Several of you have written in to tell me you HAVE YOUR SCARLETTS! Please tell me how it goes for you. I am writing the second one NOW (well, now I am writing this blog, but when I am done, that it what I will be doing). It’s good to know what you think! Do you have questions? Comments? I NEED TO KNOW! I am very servicey like that. You can also chat about it on the excellent forum set up and run by the members of Scarlett's Eleven.

Some others of you have written in to say that your local store didn’t have it yet, and in some cases MILDLY INSULTED YOU for asking for it so soon! They may be waiting for a shipment, or the box may be in the back of the store, unopened. But should they sass you, put on your most charming smile and say, “I can assure you, good shopkeep, that the book is indeed released. The author herself told me so.”

Because I totally did.

So, I’m back from both Italy and the UK now . . . but things are still crazy around here. I leave tomorrow for THE WEDDING OF DAPHNE UNFEASIBLE, of which I am a part. Daphne, in her agenty wisdom, has asked me to creep down the aisle behind her in the guise of a “maid,” and even give a speech.

But! I have something very important I need to talk to you about today. I need to talk about YOUR FRIENDS.

When I was a high school-sized mj, the most commonly heard phrase around Chez Johnson was, “MAUREEN! GET OFF THE PHONE!” It echoed off every surface. It came out of the heating vents. The towels whispered it. The cat could say it in sign language.

Everyone wanted to know what I was doing on the phone.

I was ALWAYS on the phone. I spent enough time on it to last me ten lifetimes. Perhaps many of you are the same? Perhaps you hear the same cry from your parents/other authority figure/cat? (Feel free to substitute being online for being on the phone. I didn’t quite have that opportunity. If I had, it would have been apocalyptic.)


Let me tell you A WONDERFUL SECRET OF GROWING UP in the hopes that I can enable your behavior and provide you justification for your actions!

Those friends I spent ALL THAT TIME ON THE PHONE WITH? Almost every single one of them turned out to be totally and completely awesome. I swell with pride when I think of the things my friends do every day. One example: Betty Vox, the person who ran the prom with me down a Philadelphia street in heels? Betty now runs the department that monitors and tries to prevent domestic violence for an entire state. Betty prevents people from being abused, even murdered. The same Betty who ran down the stairwell with me because I accidentally let fly a VERY NAUGHTY WORD in front of a nun—that’s the same Betty who’s thrown herself wholeheartedly into every case, and has even thrown herself into harm’s way. Betty has stared down killers.

Proud? Oh yes. I’m ridiculously proud of Betty. I’ve known Betty since I was eight years old, so I shudder to think of how much time we clocked on the phone. Years of my life. And you know what? Some of that stuff we talked about then is stuff we are doing now. Betty talked a lot about her views on social justice and violence. We talked a lot about how our school viewed the subject of contraception, or how we should view ourselves as sexual beings. We tore that subject up. We talked about our views of relationships various people were in--some of them very unhealthy. All that info started the ball rolling.

Want another example? Look at me and Daphne. One minute, we’re two idiots bumbling around college together. Then we’re two idiots bumbling around London together, living on cereal and breaking into our own apartment through the window above the trash cans because we can’t figure out how to open the seven locks on the door. Then we’re . . . AGENT AND AUTHOR! And then bride and maid! YEARS of hairbrained planning and wasted time and idle chatter . . .now bloomed into a joyous professional relationship.

And that’s just two of my friends. When I look around at them all, I just can’t believe how excellent they are.


Yes! Your friends! The ones who are always late for algebra, lost your lipstick, are always fighting with their brother/sister/boyfriend . . . but you love them anyway and have to talk to them sixteen hours a day or you’ll DIE? Those are the ones I mean. The ones you can’t live without. The ones you know in your heart are special. Those long phone conversations/chats/cat texting . . . that could all be the foundation for something bigger and more amazing than you currently imagine.

So when your parents say, “Are you EVER going to get off the phone/get offline? Don’t you know you are wasting your life?” You can say, “Au contraire, revered parental figure. I am building a FOUNDATION for a lifetime relationship. For I may now be in high school, but will not be forever. Someday, we will look back on this moment, and we will see in it the start of something great. We will laugh. This moment, now . . . this seemingly irrelevant conversation about [INSERT TOPIC HERE] that we have been having for twenty hours . . . this is where we start our empire.”

And by this point, your parental figure will be backing toward the door, stunned by your cool and weirdly stilted response. Just keep making more crap up that sounds like that, and I promise . . . problem solved!

Blind them with your STRANGE RHETORIC

You think you need more ammo? I hear you, and I provide. I have another friend to tell you about . . .

One of my friends, Peggy Banaszek, is running for State Representative* in Pennsylvania from District 182. That’s Center City, Philadelphia.

I’ve known Peggy since the age of fourteen. Peggy was that person in high school who was always smiling—not because she was crazy, but because she actually liked pretty much everyone she met, and thought school was fun. Some of you would say that is the technical definition of crazy, but I assure you, Peggy is all about the sanity.

Peggy was the loose model for Nina Bermudez in The Bermudez Triangle—the tireless and even-tempered president of the student counsel who attended specialized programs in student government, plowed through every class, and skipped sleep to help her friends. In real life, Peggy was a mathematics major at Mount Holyoke who cheerfully worked THREE jobs to pay her way through school. For Peggy, a glass of wine and a DVD box set of The West Wing is a big night out, and budget reports are enjoyable bedtime reading. Seriously. Peggy does this and she SMILES. She LIKES it. It is in her nature. I have known her for many, many years, and she has always been this way.

We are also still making fun of her for that one time she turned to us in social studies sophomore year and said, “Where are you guys thinking about getting your first suits from?” I’m serious. She really did that. And she will never live it down.

And really, there is just no one more competent. Peggy has been working very fancy jobs since the moment she graduated. I mean, she can count to like a billion, balance a budget while standing on one foot, and is compulsively honest.

It boggles my mind to think of it, because I feel like we’re all trained to believe that all politicians are rotten and barely human and the whole process is a fiasco wrapped inside of a sham. For the first time, I feel like I can really say, No! No, it’s not! I seriously know this candidate! I can provide pictures of us doing hilarious and strange dances at the prom. I know her record is clean because I am in the record! I know it back and front!

In fact, I am a staff member on her campaign! Have been for months! Oh, you may think that I spent all my time coveting Vespas, dancing to Abba, and making jello molds in the shape of Ana Metronic’s head . . . and you'd be mostly right . . . but I also do things like edit campaign letters.

In order to become state rep, Peggy has to first win the Democratic primary on Tuesday, April 22nd. Normally, no one pays any attention to primaries, but this one will be HUGE. This is the big one in Pennsylvania in which Obama and Hillary are squaring off. So we are hoping for a MONSTER TURNOUT!

So that day, I will be on patrol on the streets of Philadelphia with TEAM PEGGY, getting out the vote! If you want to meet me and hang out, feel free to do so! I will stick a VOTE PEGGY button on you and we can sing some Abba songs and talk about Vespas. All are welcome!

A quick summation of today’s points:

1. Scarlett is fully at large! Your comments are needed and welcome! If I get enough of them, I will devote a whole post to answering them.

2. I (hopefully) have provided justification for the many, many hours you spend in electronic or telephonic communication with your friends.

3. VOTE PEGGY! Come on out on April 22nd!

Now I have to go and finish writing this speech for Daphne’s wedding on Saturday (which I will blog all about, of course). It’s going along really well so far. Daphne, if you are reading this, YOU HAVE NO REASON TO BE NERVOUS!

ALSO: If any of you are TEXAN LIBRARIANS, I will be at TLA next week. You can see me SEVERAL TIMES on Wednesday, the 16th. See the bulletins page for the details!

* If you are a John Green fan, you will know that he also has a friend (Daniel Biss) who is running for state rep in Illinois. Which begs the question: do ALL YA writers have friends who are running for state rep?

No. I think it is just the two of us. But it does go to prove my point. Friends make good! They even end up running stuff! Well, hopefully.

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Anonymous Allyb said...

Hahaha. I love your blogs.
Ergh, my booksotre doesn't have it yet either. But, I bet it's going to be totally awesome.
Go Peggy! I would so vote for her.. if I was there and old enough to.
Off to spanish homework..
(I hate talking on the phone. It's all about the texting. Lol)
OMG! My word verification says "tanmj" baha

5:56 AM  
Blogger Trish Doller said...

My stepfather ran for state representative in Ohio, but I'm not sure parental units qualify as "friends" and while at the time I was a young adult who wrote, I was not a YA writer yet. So I'm not sure that counts. Still, the process has left me skilled in stuffing envelopes, eating barbecued chicken, and canvassing neighborhoods (useful only if I ever decide to branch into burglary). Anyway, now that I've completely lost the plot, if you see a spike in Suite Scarlett sales in south Florida, I might have something to do with it.

6:05 AM  
Blogger Melissa Walker said...

Aren't friend evolutions just the best? I just had a beer with my former-delinquent-now-District-Attorney friend, and I felt just like a proud parent! A peer parent. Or something. Anyway, yay for that stuff.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I LOVED SUITE SCARLETT!!!! No questions yet. I'll probably think of some when my brain is less frazzled by school.

I'll be at TLA, but I probably can't get into to all the events. I'm sure I'll be stalking both your signing booths, though, if I get in town on time. ;D

10:36 AM  
Blogger tallysextra said...

should amazon have shipped it yet? 'cause i am about to call and yell at them.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Caillie said...

i loved SUITE SCARLETT! remember me + Spencer= long lasting marrage only to be ended by one of the weasley twins, lol.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Tali said...

I know this doesn't have much to do with this post but I just found your site and I wanted to say that I read your book 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and lovedd it!!


6:47 PM  
Anonymous Hillary! said...

I was putting a hold on books I want to buy Friday at my local Borders on the inernet, and the thing told me Suite Scarlett was in the store but that since it wasn't technically out till May I had to wait a few weeks! I'll just harass them when I get there, they know not to make me unhappy, seeing as how I'm always there. I'm like Cyd Charisse and her coffe shops, only I haunt bookstores.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Kiersten said...

I can haz swete skarlit? YES I CAN! I'mm getting it either today or tommorrow depending on the mood of my parental figure. Good luck to your friend Peggy. I would vote for her if I was a) eligible to vote, b)lived in center city, or c) had transportation. But it's the day after my birthday so I may be able to come out for moral support (and pin).

11:14 PM  
Blogger Aella said...

I know exactly where you stand on the telephone thing. You'd think Medeia and I working on the blog together would be enough, but noooo. We have to awe telephone companies as well with our intense and lengthy phone conversations. This post was right to the core of things that are Aella.

Oh yes! I don't feel like a hypocrite commenting on your blog anymore because I've finally read one of your books! I could hardly wait to comment, because I loved it so much. Rest assured that I will be on the lookout for your other titles very soon (*cough* today *cough*).

1:12 AM  
Blogger Reese said...


I don't have any questions. I'd just like to mention again how amazing I think the dedication was.

1:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG Maureen you have got me down to a t. That is what my friends and i are always doing. But my friends live long distence from me. So we tend to get yelled at when phone bills come in. But than a few days later we are back on the phone. Or AIM. Either or. I would so go vote for Peggy but a)I'm not 18 and b) while I live in PA I do not live in Philly so I can't vote for her. But if I could I so would. Let me know when she runs for the state and than I will be old enough/live in right area.
Good luck to her, and I will tell everyone I know who lives there to vote for her.
Must be off to bug my local bookseller to get Suite Scarlet in sooner.

2:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

....cat texting?! since when do felines text?

ok, wow. you crack me up mj, seriously. yes. you do. wow. i am at a loss for words so i'll spit it out: have fun at daphne's wedding, don't drink too much, and i WILL get out over spring break at some random point to get Suite Scarlett at the nearest B&N.

how was Italy?


2:39 AM  
Blogger Kate? said...

So uhhhh. Where in center city will you be? South Broad Street?

3:32 AM  
Anonymous Diamond D said...

I didn't know C. Catso Fangola spoke sign language! What a talented cat.

I do have a question for you. Did you actually make jello molds in the shape of Ana Metronic's head?
(Please say yes.)

Also, my prom is coming up and there are some rules about dancing:
-No moshing
-No floating (No one I've talked to actually knows what this means. We're guessing crowd surfing.)
-No breakdancing

BUT, there wasn't anything said about punch dancing!
(See Footloose for an example.)
So it goes without saying that my friends and I will be channeling Kevin Bacon all night long.

4:36 AM  
Anonymous khy said...

That is wonderful phone advice. I will probably be putting it to use soon.

And tell Daphne Congratulations/ Happy Wedding or whatever you say to someone for a wedding.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Maureen:

I was at a bookstore on Wednesday to pick up Suzanne Fisher-Staples The House of Djinn (a must-read for all those who read Shabanu and Haveli . . .) and THERE IT WAS . . . Suite Scarlett (which I could not even eyeball at ALA Midwinter, as you'll remember, because it had been STOLEN!) I said (out loud), "You've got me Johnson, I'll buy this too!" (and then looked around to see if I had been caught talking to myself again . . .). I loved it! I especially love the quirky Martin family and how much they do for one another. I can't wait for the next installment! Laura-in Kzoo

7:56 AM  
Blogger itokro said...

Is Suite Scarlett only out in America?

A while ago I tried to find your books in Britain - I visited every bookstore in Cambridge before being told they'd have to order them specially and get them shipped over from the US. And yet yesterday, in Guildford, I saw a copy of 13 Little Blue Envelopes just sitting on the shelf in the bookshop. Does this mean you are published here after all? Or is it just the magical effects of proximity to the London office?

1:34 PM  
Anonymous JK said...

Ok, I got Scarlet in the mail yesterday! And of course I imediately sat down to read it. Maureen, it was amazing. I can't wait for the next one. It was funny, and entertaining, and I couldn't stop reading until I got to the end. There is only one thing that bothers me. In your acknowledgments there is one part that goes like this: "And if you don't like this book, please blame them and pretend that I had nothing to do with it."
Maureen, do you seriously believe that someone could NOT like your book? (or any f your books for that matter) Well, if you do, then I must tell you, you are wrong. (not to be rude or anything)

4:53 PM  
Blogger Jenn H. said...

I loved Suite Scarlett! It was such a fun read and very true-to-life. I could empathize with Scarlett throughout the book. I also loved the other characters. Especially Spencer---more Spencer would be great!

I am a Texan librarian and I will be at TLA on Wednesday. Sadly (but also happily) I won't be able to come see you since I am competing in the Book Cart Drill Team competition. Come watch all of us get crazy!

7:16 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

Don't have Suite Scarlett yet. I'm pretty much waiting until i can find a lovely job that will furnish my addiction to buying books! :)

texting is my LIFE! but i talk on the phone or internet as well! i have almost constant conversations with my friends. they continue from texting to internet to phone. ITS GREAT!

I have been in the maid position as well. it's a GREAT time! It was my brother's wedding. :)

9:53 PM  
Blogger balexa said...

Suite Scarlett isn't out at my local bookstore yet, but I plan to use every single excuse there is to get myself to Borders so I can wait anxiously for your book.

I think all cats should learn to speak sign language!
How many books will there be in the Scarlett series??

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey mj, still waiting for chapters to get Suite Scarlett in store, but meanwhile I was thinking of 13 little blue envelopes and wondering if you are considering writing a sequel...just one? please? just to see what happens next! I would die to read it!

So are you??

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when's the contest going to happen? We all love the book and are totally looking forward to a Scarlett-related contest! How much longer must we wait?

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my friend is currently extrimly mad @ u because 1 shes is not scarletts 11 2 you didn't answer her "very nice" email so @ school we call you The-auther-that-cannot-be-named and its slightly annoying (sorry shaylaluna if ur reading this) so I suggest u answer that I wasn't allowed to enter thanks to moi mother but I am begging you to sell the free alan rickman shirts also my friend and i are aginst borders because for my b day when you first said it was out(Im using small words cause I have issues spelling)she went to get it and they didn't have please repliy to this :^)

3:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey this is kim.

my dad is having surgry tomorrow. please pray for him.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Ariel Zeitlin Cooke said...

Dear Maureen,
I'm sure you don't want to hear about how I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes in one swell foop yesterday and want more more more on those characters. I will definitely read Suite Scarlett and I know that's what you want us all to be talking about. But damn, I really want a sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes! And you are a wonderful writer. I'm so glad you are prolific.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Paula said...

I really like your new site! it looks great!
I too spent too much time on the phone with people who are pretty awesome today.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous SBTom said...

Brother John liked his political friend enough to eat a blenderized Happy Meal (tm).

I visited Philly this past weekend, Central City and Drexel/UP City. It's my new favorite city in the world.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Wynne said...

I love how I left a comment and your blog REJECTED it >.< In a good way though.

I read this after I had spent my day at B+N juggling reading The Other Boleyn Girl, the Thriteenth Tale, and texting Alex. Not literally juggling however. I am like Bella from the Twilight series in that I am lucky if I do not fall while standing still (which has actually happened to me. More than once >.<)

Anyway, an elderly couple in front of my table kept glaring at me as I picked up my phone (on silent, so it wouldn't bother anyone), and I wanted to say, 'It's alright! We are texting about books. Nintendo and the Twilight movie too, BUT MOSTLY BOOKS.'

I tried to project but either they didn't hear me or didn't believe if their minds heard.

I saw Suite Scarlett on my way out, but I had no Cash. T.T There's alway next week...

9:14 PM  

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