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

Monday, February 26, 2007


First of all, I have a piece of unbearably wonderful news to share. It seems that Devilish, my take on my high school experience (with a few demons added for good measure) has been nominated for the Andre Norton Award. How this piece of extraordinary good fortune came about, I don’t really know—but I am excited all to pieces about it.

For those of you who have never heard of it, the Andre Norton Award is the YA version of the Nebula, the awards given out by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The six books on the finalist list this year are:

MAGIC OR MADNESSS by Justine Larbalestier
PEEPS by Scott Westerfeld
DEVILISH by Maureen Johnson
THE KING OF ATTOLIA by Megan Whalen Turner
LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer

So it’s kind of hard to root for myself here. Personally, I’d have to vote for Scott or Justine. I would probably have to flip a coin over it. I mean . . . Magic or Madness and Peeps! And I’ve heard great things about The King of Attolia and Life As We Knew It. What a list!

Thank you, Norton committee for including me with such excellent company.

Now, let’s get to business. I noticed the following comment on my last post.

anonymous said...
How do you BECOME a writer anyway? You've already talked about what they do.

Fair enough, anonymous. Enough jibberjabber about the eating habits of J. Green, the cakemaking of E. Lockhart, and the bone-breaking of Cecil Castellucci. (But don’t think this will be the last time I will put you through this.) I like readers who say what they want.

Let’s take a second to clarify the question—I think you’re asking how you become a professional writer, or someone who writes for a living. The broader question of how one becomes a writer is not one I can answer.

The interweb abounds with information about this subject, some of it solid and good, and some of it terrible. I’ve already told you how to write a book and a little about the publishing process. Let’s look at the general state of being a writer—habits, behaviors, tricks and tips.

I have broken this subject down into ten elements that I feel are critical for any professional writer. You can go about these in any order you like.


This is an absolutely essential first step. People forget things easily in our information-rich world. You don’t want people asking, “What’s this person about? Is she an oral surgeon? Is she a lion tamer?” The books will tell them that you are a Serious Writer.


This is the true mark of a writer. Everyone does it. Those who say that they do not are lying.


Because you won’t have health insurance. My mom’s a nurse and can write prescriptions. This helps. You should make similar connections.


If you’re a writer, everyone at the publishing company (and pretty much the world at large) already assumes that you’re two sandwiches short of a picnic. You might as well enjoy it.


Look, no one is going to take you seriously unless you show them that you are a force to be reckoned with. You are a Writer, dammit! People owe you respect! If anyone says anything bad about you or your book, go after them and tell them that they are wrong! Take everything personally! Go to their houses, steal their hamsters, leave threatening greeting cards on their doorsteps. Wax insane on your blog about your enemies, both real and imaginary.

Oh wait. No. People hate that. Just go back to point number four.


Writing is solitary. It’s good to have a few outside interests that get you away from your desk. That means that internet surfing, blogging, “researching,” and Googling do not count. Step away from the keyboard.


Wait . . . you’re saying YOU wrote the worst book/story/play/paper in the world? Because I thought I had. And you, guy over there. You’re saying YOU wrote the worst one? We can’t all be right.

Get in line, Charlie! Every writer claims this, usually at some bleak midpoint. This is pretty much a requirement. Dwelling on it is a great way to use time that you would otherwise fill with tedious writing.


Writers make excellent friends. They will listen to your long, sad stories about how you suck and have no health insurance—and then match them with their own stories about how they suck and have no health insurance. A conversation like this can go on for hours! Blog about the time you spend with them, until someone sends you a comment and tells you to . . . wait. Nevermind. Just get some writer friends.


Writers are always supposed to be thinking, even when their minds are empty except for the sound of softly chirping birds. Practice your thinking face in your spare time. It helps to touch your chin lightly.


You’re going to fall and fail. Keep getting back up. No, I don’t want to hear any excuses as to why you can’t. Just keep getting back up. Also, make sure you make those friends in the medical profession. They can provide useful medications when the getting up is hard.

There you go! I hope this helps. I invite other writers to add to this list, in case I have missed something.

Labels: ,


Blogger Justine Larbalestier said...


Those ten steps are so very very true. I can't think of anything you've missed.

But, I thought I was Cary Grant? Why are you mixing me up with you (Jimmy Stewart)?

And who is each of the Marx Brothers?

You have confused me! Now I will never be able to write again.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Maryrose Wood said...

MJ, Justine, Scott -- I am rooting fervently and exclusively for each of you!

I have another tip for would-be writers:


Real life exchange between me and my son, yesterday:

My kid (reading my work-in-progress off the computer screen): Why is that word red? You must have spelled it wrong.

Me: No, it's a joke.

My kid: What is?

Me: The word. I made it up, so the computer thinks it's misspelled, but it's a pun. Wordplay. A joke.

My kid: Is it funny?

Me: Uh, yeah. Yes. It's funny.

My kid: How do you know?

Me: I just think that other people will find it funny.

My kid: But how do you know?

Me: I just, I don't know. Personally I think it's funny. Based on my experience, I believe that others will find it funny also.

My kid: But how do you KNOW?

Me: Thank you! That's enough.

My kid: BUT HOW DO YOU -

Me: Homework time!

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy Canoli, you are like a writer prophet of truth.


I have yet to try #5 (being pompous) because I am really, really stuck on #7.

I hope there is no writing rule that I must leave #7.

Congratulations on your nomination.
That's fantastic news. And you totally deserve it and now you can be #5 for a long, long time.

4:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blog about your writers block; how you can’t put pen to page (or finger to keyboard).

Subtly infer that people who claim never to get writers block are soulless commercial hacks. Chuck in something about muses; their fickle nature, the glory of their gossamer threads of inspiration; crap like that.

Empathise with ‘other’ great writers who were also tormented by the true writer’s nemesis.

Bang on for about 2,000 words.

Post the message, then realise with joy that you do know an alternate phrase for “pulsing love muscle”.

4:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I wouldn't know who to choose from that list of nominees. The last two I haven't read, but the others are spectacular! :) I think I've got the whole bit of never thinking I'm any good as a writer down pat. Perhaps I'm too good at it. I really enjoyed reading this list...you're a genius. As long as you, Scott, Justine, John, and Holly are still in the writing world, I think my chances of publication dwindle that much more. ;)

6:51 AM  
Blogger Nik Perring said...

Congrats on the nomination and thank you for the laughs. Reading that certainly kept me from the tedious job of writing! Very funny.


3:00 PM  
Blogger Quillers said...

This is hilarious! Thanks for the tips. I hadn't thought to have my picture taken with books. And thank you for using my idol, James Stewart to illustrate some of the points. He's made it all much clearer for me.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i absolutely adore jimmy stewart, not to mention you, so reading this blog is quite an enjoyable experience.

and thanks as ever for the invaluable insider tips....

10:28 PM  
Blogger Little Willow said...


I love this list, especially because it features Cary Grant.

Oh, here are two more pictures for:


Dun dun dun!

Sold out!

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey IT's me Anonymous! THank you for letting me know how to be a writer! NOw I think I will go sttar stealing hamsters!

P.S. I'm a pirate and my name is Erendira

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations!! You're in mightly fine company.

As for your list, I've got #s 4 and 7 mastered. Next up: #9

Thanks for the laughs. Much needed for someone who isn't sure #10 will work this time around

8:30 AM  
Blogger Phillipa said...

Brilliant stuff. I just had my first book published and I recognise all of these signs. You've had me laughing out loud (and you get free health care in the UK, so that's one consolation!). I never look at Amazon, or play.com, or on-line bookstore rankings....

6:09 PM  
Blogger Lisa Asanuma said...

Haha. Thanks for the list! I've been looking forward to buying your books. When I get money, that is. When that will be is questionable.

6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok so i know this is pretty much off of the subject of your ten steps, but i just finished reading 13 Little Blue Envelopes and i pretty much thought it was the best book i have ever read. but i have to ask if there is going to be a sequel to that. i liked the romantic fact of keith and ginny but i was sad to see it end so abruptly. well i thought i would just give my thoughts. thanks for listening.

6:37 PM  
Blogger hesitant scribe said...

A most enjoyable list - thank you so much... you've made my day!

9:19 PM  
Blogger hesitant scribe said...

A most enjoyable list - thank you so much... you've made my day!

9:20 PM  
Blogger Courtney Pippin-Mathur said...

hilarious to the tenth degree, thanks for the laughs.

4:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I ever decide to become an author, these tips will be infinitely useful! Although, that's not why I was leaving a comment. I just wanted to say that I'm exuberant because I'm going to receive an ARC of Girl at Sea from the HarperTeen First Look program. YAY!

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi me again I just love tip #7 thanks for the laughs!!!


7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got both #4 and #7 down to a fine art. And since I live in the UK and we get free healthcare, that means I only have seven of the tips left to master. I think 'Get some writer friends' needs to be next though, because my current motivational slump is bordering on crippling... I guess I'll just have to keep coming back to your blog whenever I need a happy-boost. You always make me chuckle. Thanks for that :)


4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think i should point out that an extremely important part of writing is procrastination. It's all the more literary if one waits until the very last moment to write it.
hee hee.


8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

erendira, dats enuff of ur comments go 2 bed lol
i think the tips were gr8 cus i miyt be a rita
how old r u erendira??

~spy4lyf~ u.k*

*see rite wher ur frm ppl!!

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its me agen
i actually wanna be a Vet but i miyt rite on da side my teacher says i shud cus my stories r so gud
no1 in my stupid class has read harry potter or da alex rider bks or even meg cabots or sophie kinsella or wotevas bks..
o i also go 2 a girls school in leicestershire wher ther r NO cute boys..how am i suposed 2 liv??


12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent tips! And I agree with anonymous, procrastination is a true key to being a great writer. Not only do I constantly procrastinate when it comes to my books, I do it with everything else as well!! Homework, housework, responding to emails and letters, it is all put off! When it comes to my books however, I do not put it off because I have something better to do. I put it off until I can decide specifically want I want to happen!!!! Right now, I am stuck on one part of one book because I don't exactly WANT to go forward, nor can I figure out how to phrase it... Life as a writer can be so hectic... Even if most think not!!


P.S. Congrats on the nomination! Good luck (you have some excellent competition!)!!

7:05 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

THAT'S why I haven't been published yet! I need to set up my camera and tripod right away and get that picture of me in front of books done and STAT!

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point #5 is okay as far as it goes, but don't you feel that you really need special instructions to cover dealing with negative reviews on Amazon?

2:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was just too funny. John was right. I love Jimmy & Cary! Actually, then there must be tons of writers! HA!

4:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forget to mention, on number two, that once one finds a bad review on Amazon, one must immediately fill in fifteen good reviews with different usernames, emphasizing on how the writer is also an amazing humanitarian and as gorgeous-slash-handsome as an underwear model.
Otherwise, my eyes have opened. I see, now, that all I need to do is get out that camera of mine and snap a couple book pictures to have complete control of my writerness. AMAZING!

11:21 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

Hi !

I read Devilish for the Cybils and enjoyed it, so when I saw Camille at BookMoot raving about your Blog I had to come over. This is a brilliant list - must get my photo taken of me in front of some books, though !

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha, I'm definitely sharing these with my writing class. And definitely going to go take that picture- maybe I can get my story published. . . if I ever can finish it.

Just to add, especially for student writers, or writers with another job:
Blame everything on writing. You didn't finish your paper because you had a brilliant story idea. You didn't finish the proposal because you just had to write that poem. You haven't slept in the past four days because you came up with a fantastic idea for your novel, wrote it all, then realized it didn't work, so you had to change it all to make it a separate story then go back and revise the original to work. . . .

7:17 AM  
Blogger Tina Chaulk said...

Great list. So much truth in it. And congratulations on the nomination.

4:58 PM  
Blogger John Wright said...

It is funny because it is so, so true.

Unfortunately, I have only mastered step five as yet.

Warmest congratulations on your nomination. From now on, you are allowed to sign every letter, email, bookjacket and traffic ticket with the words: "World-Famous Author Maureen Johnson Nominated For A Prestigious Award."

That is what I did when I was nominated for the "Plumbie" which is awarded annually for the best science-fiction literature that supports, encourages or honors the field of plumbing. It's a famous award. Really. I was nominated for my novel "The One-and-One-Quarter-Inch S-Trap Sink Drain Blockage of Mars".

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was hilarious!

11:20 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I have to say, I dont have time to read this post right now, but I will, I Promise :D.

What I wanted to say, was that me and my best friend have started a book-reviewing blogspot. We both read your book, 'The Bermudez Triangle,' and loved it. She wrote a review for it @

Please check it out and comment and such if you have time. We would be really, extremely happy if you could mention the site in a post or some other place for us. We need readers and we want to have people to recommend our favorite books to and be able to warn readers against really bad ones(trust me, yours was good).

Please and Thank You always,

2:45 AM  
Blogger Oloryn said...

Now I understand Scientology. Ol' Elron missed the last paragraph of step 5.

2:28 AM  
Blogger foolery said...

Two years late to say congratulations for your nomination, but congratulations just the same.

I have a lot to do to cover this list, but I want to ask you, since you are the published writer and I am merely a silly blogger:

Where do published writers stand on the issue of LISTS?

; )

Stumbling this and passing it on. You made my day -- thanks!

-- Laurie LaGrone @ Foolery

p.s. I found you by Googling Tony Orlando & Dawn. This may or may not be significant to your career.

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Auds at Barking Mad said...

I happened to pop in here via a tweet of Foolery's. I see she's right above me up there in comment land.

The awesomeness of this post is defined by how amusingly true the 10 steps are.

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Auds at Barking Mad said...

D'oh! This post is two years old. It's awesome, just the same, and still very accurate.

Now to catch up on the last two years!

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

chaussures puma stores offer you the most popular fashion shoes, including the puma basketpuma puma BanXie and shoes. All the puma product factory direct sale, special processing, create the most inexpensive puma stores.National Weather Service Meteorologist Jason puma CAT said this week's temperatures will mirror seasonable averages of highs around 71 and lows about 42 degrees ...

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nike tnEnter the necessary language
translation, up to 200 bytes winter, moves frequently in Chinanike chaussures showing that the deep strategy of the Chinese market. Harvard Business School, tn chaussures according to the relevant survey data show that in recent years the Chinese market three brands, Adidas, Li Ning market share at 21 percent, respectively,

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Puma shoes , Ugg Boots , nike max shoes, NIKE AIR MAX TN ,nike max shoes ,PUMA CHAUSSURES, NIKE SHOX Torch ,puma Ferrari F1 ,PUMA DRIFT CATmens clothing men's sweate, cheap columbia jackets, lacoste sweater, ralph lauren polo shirts,ski clothing. Free Shipping, PayPal Payment. Enjoy your shopping experience on mensclothingstore.Us

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

trade chinalacoste polo shirts
chaussure puma femmewedding dressestennis racket
cheap handbags
MENSCLOTHING mans clothing
cheap ugg boots
converse shoes

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ralph Lauren Polo is the most famous sports shirt.Burberry Polo Shirt is the most well-known in France jerseys. The north face jacket is a winter essential goods.Columbia jacket and spyder jacket let people have more choice of clothes. Different brands have different design styles, but all it attracts us.
cheap tennis racquet
tennis racquet discount
cheap tennis racket
discount Tennis Racket

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Modern tennis racquet in the manufacturing sector have been in use for close to the aerospace industry and military-industrial material products. Over the past two decades, metal materials and chemical materials to upgrade the high level of tennis racket manufacturer has laid a solid foundation. In today's big brands have more than tennis: Head junior tennis racket,Wilson tennis racquet, Wilson tennis racket,Head tennis racket,Babolat tennis racket......
ed hardy clothing
ed hardy clothes
ed hardy shirts
ed hardy t-shirts
ed hardy sunglasses
ed hardy mens
ed hardy womens
Wholesale Handbags
Cheap Handbags
Womens Handbags
Cheap Purses
Designer Handbags

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lacoste polo shirts
north face jackets
cheap handbags
cheap purse
women's nike shoes

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your blog. Thank you. They are really great . Ermunterung ++ .
Some new style Puma Speed is in fashion this year.
chaussure puma is Puma shoes in french . Many Franzose like seach “chaussure sport” by the internet when they need buy the Puma Shoes Or nike max shoes. The information age is really convenient .

By the way ,the nike max ltd is really good NIKE air shoes ,don’t forget buy the puma mens shoes and nike air max ltd by the internet when you need them . Do you know Nike Air Shoes is a best Air Shoes . another kinds of Nike shoes is better . For example , Nike Air Rift is good and Cheap Nike Shoes .the nike shox shoes is fitting to running.

Spring is coming, Do you think this season is not for Ugg Boots? maybe yes .but this season is best time that can buy the cheap ugg boots. Many sellers are selling discounted. Do not miss . Please view my fc2 blog and hair straighteners blog.
.thank you .

I like orange converse shoes ,I like to buy the cheap converse shoes by the internet shop . the puma shoes and the adidas shoes (or addidas shoes) are more on internet shop .i can buy the cheap nike shoes and cheap puma shoes online. It’s really convenient.
Many persons more like Puma basket shoes than nike air rift shoes . the Puma Cat shoes is a kind of Cheap Puma Shoes .
If you want to buy the Cheap Nike Air shoes ,you can buy them online. They are same as the Nike Air shoes authorized shop. Very high-caliber Air shoes and puma cat shoes . the cheap puma shoes as same as other.

polo shirts

ralph lauren polo shirts
chaussure puma

chaussure sport

chaussures puma

puma CAT

ed hardy clothing

ed hardy clothes

ed hardy womens

ed hardy sunglasses

ugg boots

cheap ugg boots

4:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

we have lots of polo shirts
Abercrombie Fitch clothing
Abercrombie Fitch hoodile
ralph lauren shirts
Columbia Jacket
north face jackets
spyder ski jacket
polo shirts
polo shirt
spyder jackets
spyder jacket
mens spyder jackets
spyder jackets for cheap
spyder ski jacket
womens spyder jackets
ralph lauren
spyder jackets cheap
spyder jackets for men
cheap spyder jackets
north face jackets
discount spyder jacket
ralph lauren t shirts
ralph lauren polo shirts on sale
discount ralph lauren polo shirts
ralph lauren shirts
ralph lauren polo discount
ralph lauren polo sale
ralph lauren polo shirts
ralph lauren polo wholesale
north face jackets
north face jacket
Columbia Jacket
ralph lauren jacket
Abercrombie Fitch hoodile
Abercrombie Fitch clothing
abercrombie fitch
abercrombie fitch

welcom to our store.

9:56 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home