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Monday, September 07, 2009


Hello, everyone! I write to you from England, where it is 4 in the morning. Why am I blogging at 4 in the morning? Because my body decided that it would be fun to wake up at 3:00. I hung around in bed until 3:30, and then just gave in to the challenge.

“Fine,” I said. “Have it your way, body. You won’t think it’s so funny around 6am.”

My body ignored this and demanded a bowl of cereal and a cup of tea. So here I sit, poised in front of my computer, with several hours to go before sunrise! Exciting!

Now, you may have noticed that I have been A LITTLE BEHIND on the blogging this summer. This isn’t because I’ve been napping on the job. QUITE THE OPPOSITE. My silence was caused by the fact that I was working overtime on an exciting new project WHILE working on 13 Little Blue Envelopes 2. Plus, I was DOING STUFF.

But it’s all to the good, I assure you. And I will be able to tell you about the EXCITING NEW THING this week. And I’m not waiting just to be annoying. There’s going to be a general announcement made, and I have to stay in step with that. But I am BURSTING to tell you. Maybe that’s why I’m awake at 4am.

Anyway, since I’m up, I felt like it was time to do a blog! So I went on Twitter to ask if anyone had any questions they needed answered. I’m not sure you should take my advice on any occasion, but I can say without hesitation that you should not take the advice I dispense at 4am. Will that stop me from giving it? Of course not!

It's always time for ADVICE!

rawrlol asks: What does one DO at 4AM?

One writes a blog and gives out advice.

Elenisilelf asks: why are there no cute boys in any of my classes?

Possibly you go to MY former high school? Look around you. Is it all girls, in all directions? Are they all dressed head to toe in fireproof navy blue polyester?

Diamondelight92 asks: should i buy a snuggie or a slanket?

Wow. This was a hard one. I had to do some research before I could make a call.

The Snuggie is pure informercial magic. It unabashedly goes for the “are you too stupid to live?” audience, which I appreciate. It takes some serious chutzpah to get out there on national television and say, “You know what are hard to figure out? Blankets.” You can’t make a statement like that without VISION. That they offered a free booklight with every purchase was simply another sign of their genius. Because what does “blanket too hard” imply if not “serious reader”? I can smell that copy of Chicken Soup for the Snuggie Soul from miles away! This is why we, as a nation, immediately saluted them. We know our kind of greatness when we see it.

The Slanket people come at it from a totally different angle. They know that we all, even if we won’t admit it out loud, want a Snuggie or a Slanket. We want one very much. We all KNOW it’s just a backwards robe and that it makes you look like an insane, lazy cult member, but it’s still AWESOME! We want to drape ourselves in sleeved fleece and recline, slack-jawed, on the sofa. If offered one for free, we will greedily accept it. I wish I had one right now, to write this 4am blog! If only I could get over the shame of ordering one!

The Slanket people have tried to figure out a way to make this okay. They have done this by filling their website with weird, quasi-hip descriptions and by giving small donations to eco-friendly causes. They are the thinking person’s Snuggie. And while I like the concept to giving money to charity, and I prefer the colors, I feel this makes the Slanket too self-aware.

I feel I’m going to have to come down on the side of the Snuggie, though you really can’t lose either way. And now matter what you choose, one thing will always be true . . . if you buy a wearable towel, the Snuggie and Slanket’s bastard cousin, you are clearly some kind of an a$%&*#e.

lalibrarylady86 asks: What are Bacon Bits really made of?

Many bacon bits are, weirdly, vegetarian. (Bac-o definitely are. You have to check the labels brand by brand. An easy rule of thumb: if they are crunchy, like fish gravel or Pop Rocks, they are vegetarian! If they are kind of quasi-moist and chewy, they are real!) The fake ones are made of soy or textured vegetable protein, often flavored with soy sauce and colored with red dye. In all cases, they make delicious cupcake toppings and are wonderful to toss at weddings in lieu of confetti.

VoraciousReader asks: Pls do not think I took your 'follow me' button overseriously but am also visiting UK atm and also up at 4 am. Advice?

Would you like to come over? Perhaps I can start a 4am club!

Failing that, if you are in London, I would go and stand in line for the FIRST LONDON EYE RIDE OF THE DAY! I mean, why not?

EJ_Hope asks: What is more appropriate in a literary work - tongue in cheek, sarcasm or in you face comedy?

There’s no answer to this. There are no rights or wrongs or appropriates. What’s important is a strong, clear, distinctive voice that tells its own truth in its own way. Also, vampires. Have you tried vampires? They are like Bac-os, but for books!

springtosprung asks: I have lots of fears that keep me from doing things i wish i could. social interaction is top of the fear list. any advice?

While I would normally encourage the development of a Fear List (I have written several of them myself!), I can see the problem here. While most things (jellyfish, the sun, birds, butterflies, shelving, water slides, etc.) are out to get you, other people generally aren’t. the one thought I always find reassuring—whatever you are going through, whatever weird feeling or problem you have, you are not the only person who has experienced it.

KWMomo77 asks: My whole family thinks I am going to be a literary great but, SMeyers crushed my dreams. HELP.

How has Stephenie Meyer crushed your dreams? And why is it that your family thinks you are going to be a literary great? The one thing I notice left out of both these statements is YOU. Nine times out of ten, the only person who can raise you up or keep you down is YOU. So while it is great that your family thinks you will do AWESOME, you are the only one who can make that happen. Likewise, it’s actually really hard for other people to keep you down—especially people you don’t know who have nothing directly to do with your life.

Unless, of course, Stephanie Meyer comes into your house at night and deletes your files. This is the problem I have with J.K. Rowling, who has been my nemesis for some time. I have told many stories of how she sneaks up on me, eats my snacks, follows me, and crashes through my windows. Of course, I don’t have it NEARLY as bad as Alan Rickman, who is trapped in her basement, forced to survive on jam and swim with her dolphin, Fatso. Even so, I thrive DESPITE Rowling’s attempts to bring me down. ARE YOU READING THIS, ROWLING? YOU’LL NEVER WIN! (And kudos to the brave people who fight to FREE ALAN RICKMAN.)

sushiitrain asks: how do I deal with my crippling tendency to procrastinate when I have so many things to do?

The best thing to do is to spend a few hours on the internet researching personal organization software, downloading free trials, and learning how to set them up. I find that the only thing better than an actual, physical list of things to do are about thirteen different computerized versions of the same thing, except with long, complicated menus and functions and lots of choices of colors and themes. This is what I do and it has LITERALLY NEVER FAILED ME!

koriannespeaks asks: How do you get a hamster in your brain?

Hamsters cannot live inside your brain. This would kill both you and the hamster. Hamsters control your brain remotely. They can do this from up to 500 miles away. So don’t worry if you can’t SEE the hamster who controls you! Trust in the fact that that hamster is there, bending you to its will, even if that will is that you wake up at 3:30am and write an advice blog. TRUST THE HAMSTER.

ASmilingVillian offers: I think they're talking about you, but it's hard to tell

Certainly not me! I never respond to critics! I only respond to YOU, the hamsters, and the moonlight. But I do like how CRANKY this guy is! I also like how he’s extrapolating based on one incident involving one person which was generally acknowledged by everyone, everywhere to be COMPLETELY NUTS! One person doing one thing somewhere does not a TREND make! But why let that stop you, article writer? If there’s one thing we can always use, it’s another article complaining about the internet . . . on the internet.

But wait . . . am I responding to a critic using Twitter? I mean, he said nothing about me, and I’m responding in a blog. But I did get this link FROM Twitter. And I am responding. OH NO! I am going DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE!

Whatever the case, I think that in the future, we will solve all internet disputes with dueling cat videos. This way, EVERYONE WINS!

Ah! It is sunrise over England! I see it creeping over the horizon with its rosy fingers. So I bring my advice to an end. I must now run into the streets, heralding the morning and waking the inhabitants with my morning song. Look for more from me SOON. Maybe even TOMORROW.

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Anonymous Faith said...

At long last! Oh how I have missed your sanity-questionable blog entries. Update more than once a month, MJ! We long for the silliness and advice you dispense.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Ha, this definitely looks like a 3 AM advice blog. It's lovely! I can't wait to find out about your EXCITING NEW THING. : )

10:10 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

Dueling cat videos certainly seems like the best way to solve all, not just internet disputes, but ALL disputes.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I did not know Alice Hoffman was that crazy.

I bet 13LBE2 has vampires in it. It does, doesn't it? Yes, I thought so.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Lindsey said...

This advce was very helpful and informative. Unfortunately, I have nothing clever to add. I smell popcorn. Good bye.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Christian the Heretic said...

Maureen, Metropolis is such a strange movie.

Kudos for choosing the picture you chose.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous reinix said...

oh dear. i actually read (and am responding to) this on my phone... which isn't even a smartphone or anything. just a regular ole' messaging phone... simply 'cause i was too lazy to open my netbook or get up and go to my desktop. also, i would be reading a book... but i have no booklight with me... heh. i guess i should've bought a slanket. okay, i lied. i actually have a booklight' but it's in the livingroom. i don't wanna venture there at the moment.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, I started reading this at 4am. That's an amazing coincidence, I think. Love the regular blog posting, but miss the Cary Grant pictures.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

woot! New exciting thing :D

3:37 PM  
Blogger lalibrarylady86 said...

I love your challenges! And the in-depth research and reporting you do to make sure we truly understand the pros and cons to owning slankets, snuggies or wearable towels.
Thanks also for my education on Bacon Bits. I wonder if the red dye will stain the wedding dress. Perhaps will give snuggie to bride to wear for prevention of destruction to dress. The hamster in my brain and I will discuss.
Thanks for the wonderful, random start to my day!

7:05 PM  
Blogger eugenia ! said...

Advice involving snuggies? PURE AWESOME.

Sorry I think that I've used up my witty comment quota for today (which is 0 by the way). x]

7:32 PM  
Blogger Aly said...

I actually have an opinion on the slanket vs snuggie question, which officially makes me a loser... but I'm sure I'm a loser you're jealous of, because to have an opinion I have to have personal experience. Yes, I own a snuggie. When we learned they were selling them at the store and not just on tv, my roommate and I bought one a piece. At first snuggies are great! That is, until you realize that they shock you constantly with static electricity (normal blankets don't typically do that - at least not mine), make it impossible to switch positions without exposing your back and making you colder and angry, and are made of something that really can't be called fleece and isn't all that warm. Slankets, I've heard, are similar, though also more expensive - as a poor student, I haven't met anyone with a slanket so far.

HOWEVER, the other day I went on my annual back to school shopping excursion. This is traditionally taken two weeks after we move back into school. After two weeks, we found, you generally realize what you've forgotten and what you can't live without. On this excursion I decided I couldn't live without a SNUGGLE WRAP. It was $6! Like the snuggie and slanket it has sleeves... however, it also covers you front and back, comes in real fleece, has purple, blue and lime green polka dots (there are other patterns, too!), and... un-snaps to become a regular blanket so you can hide it when your friends come over! Score!

In the snuggie vs slanket battle... I think snuggle wrap wins.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would gladly wake up to come to your 4am club (even though i do not like getting up in mornings). I would be forced to bring my fuzzy Hogwarts blanket with me, though.

9:24 PM  
Blogger kira902k said...

I just spent a VERY long time reading this because I had to read all the posts you linked to as well (which were very enjoyable) but now I have a very large headache.
I hope you got some sleep after this.
And I love your advice.


3:25 AM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

4am advice blogs are my new favorite thing ever.

4:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for that advice...
it was inspiring.
but sadly, I don't think I have a hamster who controls me from up to 500 hundred feet away. The doctors say it may be a cactus...or a fern... but it keeps running away before we can lure it in with tempting promises of carrot sticks and spam. I fear I only have a few more hours to live... *cough cough*
You give the best advice Maureen, what should I do?
I've missed your monthly postings, also.

4:54 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Wow. Who writes the descriptions for The Slankets?!? I MUST meet this person! Thank you MJ for pointing that out in this blog - I have bookmarked the Slanket page so I can go back and read when I'm not supposed to be working. Perhaps I'll use one of these descriptions as a prompt for my next blog. Hmm, which should I choose?!? Perhaps the Royale Slanket - wand and spaceship not included! Good to know!

7:39 PM  
Blogger Shannen said...

Oh wearable towel... will you never learn?

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The suspense is killing me.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Also, vampires. Have you tried vampires? They are like Bac-os, but for books!"

You mean some are vegetarian?

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooraaay for blogging! After days of slogging through copies of Spanish writing guides (that provide helpful page numbers to the English version of the APA Manual--oh wait, you can't read English? Only Spanish?--This is where my hero song starts), I needed to know what a Slanket is (soo killer. If I were a guy, all that talk about knights would go right to my head and I would buy fifty slankets for all my homies and start a slanket gang to kick the crap out of the snuggies, which sound like the uncomfortable situation that happens every now and then when your undies are too tight) and also that wearable towels are this season's must. Also, bacon bits? I'm going to make a smoothie . . . mm. PS, I've kept checking bookstores around and they seem to like your books a lot, except for Suite Scarlett, which I have yet to read. :( Bad bookstores. Bad.

5:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hhahaaaaa returned to facebook after reading this blog . . . ads for Slankets next to everyone's updates!

5:18 AM  
Blogger Loes said...

Joining your 4AM club! (it's only about 3AM here now, but that problem will be fixed soon)
Anyway, I've just read your novel 'Girl at Sea' (it's called 'Zomer, zee en zoute zoenen' here in the Netherlands - the Dutch translator seems to like alliterions) and totally LOVED it.
Please consider the possibility of writing a sequel :D

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Nikki said...

Angels fall down by Skillet is possibly the prettiest song EVER and can't wait to hear about the new exciting thing in CAPITAL LETTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

12:12 AM  
Anonymous blissfullydazed said...

You wrote a blog at 4am, from England, and philosphized about Snuggies vs. Slankets and mind-controlling hamsters. I love you.

1:00 AM  
Blogger skylines said...

I'm joining the 4am club. usually at 4am I'm staring at the ceiling and amusing myself by flipping through the "cover art" section of my ipod as fast as I can. hmm.

thank you for introducing us all to the mystical qualities of the slanket. and enlightening us all about those evil, evil hamsters.

5:38 AM  
Anonymous Jasmine said...

I don't know if you've heard about this, MJ, but I just wanted to say--you were right about the jellyfish:

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Maureen,

Because of your novel 13LBE, while i was at the london airport this summer and noticed that one of the duty free stores was Harrods i practically SCREAMED! I never heard of Harrods until i read 13LBE it was so funny cuz im from Connecticut and noone knew what Harrods was except for me :P
In any case, i think it would be great if in one of these blogs u tell us more about the sequel to 13LBE like when do u think you'll be done and when would it come out approx?


Diana :)

1:34 AM  
Blogger Logan said...

Fear list. I tried that once and the list itself went on the list. Everyone is afraid of something, I suppose...Thanks for writing.

7:45 PM  

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