about bulletins books Maureen Johnson dot com blog f.a.q. contact community
suite scarlett
girl at sea
13 little blue envelopes
the bermudez triangle
the key to the golden firebird
vacations from hell
let it snow

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I try to be very honest with other people—especially you, readers—but lying to myself is totally acceptable, and I do it well. I tell myself some whoppers, and I believe them, because I am just that skilled. Or stupid. Whichever.

One lie I am very good at telling myself is that I blog regularly. “I just did it!” I will say. “Look!” And I will point at the screen.

And someone will look and say, “Well, no, this is from two weeks ago . . .” And I will say, “Look . . . a SQUIRREL!” And then I’m gone. Out the door, out the window, if necessary.

I usually have perfectly good excuses for why I haven’t blogged. I have to write books and stories. That takes a lot of time. I have to read and answer a lot of e-mail, and have meetings with people, and return phone calls. I travel a lot, so I have to stand around in lots of lines. And read. And eat. And sleep. And, of course, there’s the Abba shrine to polish.

And before you know it, that blog I think I JUST WROTE is two weeks old.

But I have been reading your e-mails, comments, tweets, and Facebook messages, and it seems that many of you would like me to blog more. This is a wonderful thing for me, as it means YOU are reading. YOUR requests cannot go ignored. I am lucky to have readers such as you.

Your requests are very important.

Important or not, I still fall down on this particular job a lot.

So I was in the shower the other day, washing my hair (I have all my good ideas when I am washing my hair—maybe I have a button on my skull that I accidentally push that controls all the thinking) . . . anyway, I had this idea. “Why not blog every day in April?” I thought. “Even if it kills you? Why not make that the goal of April? Not killing yourself, but blogging every day.”

Such a simple idea. I’ve had thoughts like it before, but this time, it felt Right. After all, I just finished Scarlett Fever, and Suite Scarlett is about to come out in paperback on May 1st. So I saw a tangible goal for myself . . . blog every day until the official release of the paperback.

So I stuck this little thought of mine up on Twitter (I can Twitter every day just fine, because that only takes about 20 seconds). I told everyone I was getting ready for Blog Every Day April. I hadn’t realized that Blog Every Day April sounds like a real thing, like an organized event. I started getting replies back from people saying that they too wanted to do Bog Every Day April. I got a note from YouTube celebrity Alex Day saying that he was going to Vlog Every Day in April.

A few hours later, my little idea from the shower had an acronym: BEDA. (Or VEDA, if you are vloging.) People were asking for rules! So I am now giving the OFFICIAL rules, and the manifesto of the thing I just made up.


1. Blog every day in April.


I commit to this idea and am determined to create something EVERY DAY in April, including weekends. Every day, I will find something to say. I embrace the reality that there is always something to talk about, if you are willing to take the time to look for it.

I ___________________ promise to blog every day in April.


Q. What’s the point of blogging every day in April?

There’s always value to signing on to a project and seeing it through. But I think blogging every day in April has many potential benefits. If you want to be a writer, for example, this is a great idea . . . because you have to get used to the practice of writing every day, whether you think you can or not.

And I think April’s a good month for it. April is often a busy, crazy, transitional month. It’s when taxes are due (in America). It’s when school is just reaching its peak and people are just seeing the summer ahead. It’s when rain comes and flowers grow, and there’s candy, and it’s also only 30 days long! BONUS!

Q. Are there punishments if you mess up and don’t blog for a day?

I am not one for setting up punishments, because I believe that the punishments will administer themselves. At least in my case. If I mess up a day, LOTS OF PEOPLE WILL LET ME KNOW, and I will feel the tweak of failure. You can set up any punishment you like, if punishments help you! But I am a great believer in getting up again and trying the next day.

May I also suggest setting up ENCOURAGEMENTS? Here are a few ideas.

- Why not blog with a friend, or make a NEW FRIEND and read each other’s blogs every day?

- Why not promise yourself a small prize of some kind? A book, for example? (I could suggest a Suite Scarlett paperback, because the timing is excellent . . . but you see the idea here. Some small token of accomplishment.)

Q. I don’t have a blog! And if I set one up, no one would read it.


Yes, I saved a surprise for the end of this post!

I have opened a NEW BLOG SITE! On Ning! Which is just another type of blogging site, like this one, but with MANY COOL FEATURES!

For at least a few weeks or months, I’m going to post all my blogs on BOTH sites, just until enough people know it’s there, and I get all the kinks worked out, and get it hooked into my main wesbite . . . blah, blah, blah, technical stuff. So you can read BEDA here OR there. It will be the same blog!

But the difference is . . . on the other site, YOU CAN PARTICIPATE if you want! On the mj Ning blog, you can become a member (which takes about ten seconds and is free, easy, not an invasion of privacy, etc.) Here are just a few of the cool things:

- When you sign up, you can start your own blog there. You can also upload photos and videos!

- Members can friend other members . . . so you can easily find a blog buddy!

- There are forums to chat on. And there is a live chat at the bottom of the page going on at all times! I will occasionally pop on this chat—sometimes announced, sometimes unannounced!

So why NOT sign up? Why NOT join BEDA?

Anyway, I am doing it. I have sworn now. It’s official. Every day in April. Want to sign on? Have ideas? Let me know!

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 20, 2009


The great thing about going away to write in a castle with nine other writers—if you are me—is that they can be counted on to blog about it while you sit in a corner and finish your book and eat things you find on the floor, whether or not they are food.

You might, if you are me, Twitter a little when the castle internet decides to work. (I am turning into a Twitter fanatic! It quiets the hamsters in my mind.)

But anyway, just yesterday I finished SCARLETT FEVER, the sequel to Suite Scarlett. And just in time, too, because I have lots to do to get ready for the paperback release of Suite Scarlett on May 1st! But I should really talk a little bit about the castle.

BUT BEFORE I DO! I must tell you where you can SEE ME this week, at the TEEN LIT FESTIVAL in NYC!

Tomorrow! Friday, March 20: “I love you, New York” Teen Lit in the City. Speaking with Coe Booth, Paul Griffin, David Levithan, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Rita Williams-Garcia.

The New York Public Library, South Court Auditorium, 42nd St and 5th Ave, NY NY, 6-8 pm

Saturday: I will be at the New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age event. (Suite Scarlett made the list of 100 awesome things!)

Sunday: I will be at the BIGGEST YA AUTHOR SIGNING EVER! 4pm! Books of Wonder! BE THERE!


Now, if you’ve read any of the other accounts by Holly Black, Cassie Clare, Carrie Ryan, Sarah Cross, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Sarah Rees Brennan, Ally Carter, Diana Peterfreund, or Robin Wasserman, you might be pretty up to speed. You might also notice, if you looked at the pictures, that I am not generally in them. That was because I was sitting in the writing room more or less the entire time, finishing the aforementioned book and eating the aforementioned things off the floor.

But I was there! And this is how the trip went for me.

First, I was coming from London, which means that I had one of the shortest trips to make. It takes about 50 minutes to get from London to Dublin on a plane. Once at the Dublin airport, I was supposed to meet Robin Wasserman, who had scheduled to come in on a plane from Paris just fifteen minutes before me. From there, we had booked a fine hotel in Dublin—in fact, our hotel was so fine, it was listed as a TOURIST ATTRACTION. We were smug about our plan.

For some reason, I had decided that the only suitcase suitable for this trip was the REALLY BIG ONE. I usually do not bring the REALLY BIG ONE when I go to the UK because it does not fit into Oscar’s car. Oscar has a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny car. It is a sportscar. It has two seats and no trunk and no backseat. I bought a MUCH SMALLER SUITCASE to go in this car.

But Oscar offered to take me to Gatwick early in the morning. So the night before, we did a trial run to see if the really big suitcase could actually fit. I got in the car, and the massive suitcase was shoved on top of me. It created a wall that split the car in two, and I couldn’t see Oscar or out of the windshield, and Oscar had some trouble shifting, but we figured it would work.

So that morning, I was stuffed into the car with the really big suitcase and rode alone to Gatwick unable to hear or see a thing. I got to the airport extremely early. Exactly thirty minutes before my flight was scheduled to board, I had a well-timed breakfast, a look at my e-mail, bought my in-flight coffee, and went to look for my gate.

I was puzzled as the screens changed, because it LOOKED like what they said was: BRITISH AIRWAYS, 10:15 FLIGHT TO DUBLIN, CANCELED.

I laughed. I was seeing things.

Except that I wasn’t. There was one British Airways flight canceled that morning, and that was the 10:15 to Dublin. British Air didn’t really have any good reasons for the lack of an airplane. I showed them my actual, quite real ticket, and they approved of it highly, and got a little vague when I asked them how I was supposed to get to Ireland. I had visions of things going much like they had just two weeks before, when I bought an actual, real ticket to go to Denver, and United Airlines decided to send me to Tulsa instead.


What British Air decided to do was make us all walk to the South Terminal, stand in a bunch of lines, and eventually put me on a flight much later in the day leaving from a different airport. So they gave me a coach ticket to that airport, and a voucher worth ten pounds to buy food.

“Can I use this at Heathrow?” I asked. “I mean, I’m going to be there for hours.”

“No,” she said. “You can only use this here, and you can only use it today.”

I reached over and took my two pieces of paper and examined them.

First thing first . . . I didn’t want a snack or a coffee, but this little voucher was my . . . my prize. My thing that I got instead of a seat on a plane. So I rolled my bags over to the Costa Coffee. I stood around for a minute, seeing if there was anyone I could give it to, but no one came along. So I started buying things.

I took a smoothie. I took another bottle of water. I like to have a lot of drinks around—the problem was, I was about to go to Heathrow and go back through security, which means they would take them all away, and I ALREADY had a large bottle of water in my bag that I had purchased past security. You can only drink so much before you just explode. The three bottles I had now was already pushing it. I took them to the counter. They came to four pounds fifty. I still had much more to go. I took some chocolate wafers from the container next to the till and added them.

“How much now?” I asked.

“Five pounds ten.”

More wafers. More wafers.

“Six pounds . . . seven . . .”

“I’ll just have all the wafers,” I said.

The woman behind the counter was Italian, and I could see from the way she was looking at me that she thought that “all the wafers” was just another one of those annoying expressions in English that she would have to get used to. When in fact, “all the wafers” was just me scooping all the wafers from the container and pushing them forward. I didn’t exactly know what I was going to do with all these wafers, but they were going to be mine.

I walked out with a bag of liquids and wafers.

The ride from Gatwick to Heathrow takes about an hour, more or less, but we got stuck in massive midday traffic. I had my liquids and wafers, all the precious things I had acquired.

“These,” I said, clutching the bag, “these things are mine.”

I was also worried about Robin, who was already wandering the Dublin airport waiting for me. I had the hotel information, and she had no way of knowing where I was.

So I got to immigration in Dublin. My passport is pretty full at this point, and it shows a lot of trips between the United States and England, so the passport people sometimes (understandably) give me a bit of a hard time when they see me, and they ask me piercing questions about my life. They do this to make sure I am not doing something illegal. I am pretty good with this, because I do it a lot. This time, I was asked who I was staying with in Ireland.

And my brain was thinking, “Well, I am staying with friends, but not friends who LIVE here, well, except for Sarah Rees Brennan, SHE lives here, but she is from everywhere, and I am not staying at her house, I am staying at a castle, and if I say I am staying at a castle, they will think I am a deluded American, and what she really wants to know is if I am intending to take up some kind of RESIDENCE here with some Irish people and drain the system dry, which I am not, I am coming to write and then go home, and by home I actually mean back to England which is sort of home but not really, and she probably wants to know what I have to say for myself because she is staring at me . . .”

What came out was, “I have no Irish friends.” That is actually what I said to passport control.

So eventually I got to Dublin. Robin had made her way to the hotel and talked her way in by pretending to be me, which is apparently pretty easy. (Because for the next 24 hours, the staff referred to Robin as Ms. Johnson and to me as Ms. Wasserman, and even swapped our names, so she was Ms. Robin Johnson and I was Ms. Maureen Wasserman. It was very confusing.)

Robin, for some mysterious reason, had just come from Paris, and hadn’t slept in two days. I hadn’t had much sleep either. So after wandering the streets and getting some food, we decided that the most awesome thing to do would be to go back to our awesome, swanky hotel, put on pajamas, and watch Irish television. Also, we had been told that the VIP style awards were being held in our hotel that night, as a testament to its swank factor. We asked what these were, and were told that they were for “style” and for naming the “most stylish person.”

“What?” Robin asked. “You mean like when the PRINCE sends his servants to roam the land to look for the fairest maiden?”

And they said yes, something like that, but with more text voting.

So we also spent a good while speculating on that, and wondering if we should crash said awards in our pajamas. We also ate wafers.

The major discovery of that night, however, was a button on our phone that simply read: “Delighted to Serve.” It was NOT room service. It was NOT the concierge. It was some weird, other button that just promised service.

I immediately pressed it.

And THERE, I pause, because I have to go out and see TIGER BEAT, the YA band! Libba Bray is singing! I am rocking out to THAT!

I look forward to your comments/complaints/questions as always.

Labels: , ,