How I Sorta Skipped a Decade (And How You Can Too)!

Hey everyone,

So one of the questions I get asked most frequently is, how did you get published? A fun variation on that, which usually cuts to the heart of that matter is, how can I get published?!

Interestingly enough, when I go to writers conferences the question changes. Oh, don’t get me wrong; everyone (myself included) loves to hear about that first book deal! But people tend to be less interested in how I came to have a 4 book deal with KTeen and far more fascinated by my age.

Excuse me, but just how old are you?!

And upon hearing my answer (23), somebody within earshot tends to proclaim, “Holy crap! I could be your mother!”

Um, I think my parents would have broken that news to me by now.

Anyhow, after years of being on the receiving end of stares, praise, open-mouthed gawking, heartfelt congratulations, and lovingly-delivered insults, I’ve come up with some theories for my early success that might just answer everyone’s questions.

So this is how I skipped a decade in my career.

I would like to preface my theory by saying that it is heavily based on the stories I have heard from other authors about how they got their big breaks.

We all wanted to write in high school. Or at the very least, we thought we wanted to write. Maybe we just wanted to see our name on the cover of a book. Regardless, we were fascinated by the idea and we bought journals and imagined all the cool things that we might someday put in them.

And then the worst thing ever happened. The kiss of death for all aspiring writers. We were asked what we wanted to do professionally.

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It was kindly asked, maybe by a teacher or a parent or family friend, but suddenly we were put on the spot and our answer wasn’t good enough. We couldn’t tell these people that we wanted to write books for a living! We definitely couldn’t tell them about the stacks of romance novels in our bedroom and how someday we’d love to try writing one of our own!

“Oh, really?” They might say. “And what’s your backup plan when that doesn’t work out?”

“That’s a tough industry. Are you sure you really want to do that?

“Hahaha! So maybe you’ll teach writing someday? Have you ever considered being a teacher?”

“You might want to take a few business courses in college. Major in something useful.”

“Don’t you need to be in a real relationship before you can write a romance? Those trashy books aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.”

Maybe we heard something else entirely. That we weren’t considered good writers when compared against, oh, I dunno…Hemingway! Maybe someone pointed out that our grammar could use work and that until we had comma splices down to an art form we shouldn’t even consider taking on such a large project. Maybe we were told that to be a real artist we had to come from a tortured past–and that our lack of suicidal ideation disqualified us. Or that to make our writing better, we should make it sadder. 

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There were rules. Arbitrary ones about adverbs and adjectives and which ones belong in prose and which merely clutter up the works. We were told that we should write “said” instead of “clucked” or “whimpered” because it’s so much cleaner. We were instructed to “show” not “tell” so many times that we wanted to show somebody the door–and maybe give ‘em a small shove to hurry up the process.

And at some point, it seemed as if a consensus was reached: we were not worthy of being writers.

We need to be practical. Realistic. Prepared for the harsh realities of life.

So we didn’t write, or if we did, it was a secretive act of defiance and shame. It’s worthless, we told ourselves. Something that shouldn’t be read because we don’t know what we’re doing and anyway it’s just for fun.

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That’s what we told the people who bothered to ask.

This is the part where things became really murky for us. Maybe we travelled, or started bouncing between crummy jobs just to pay the bills, or went to college and stopped reading for fun because…

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Maybe we got married and had kids and thought, Okay, so adulthood should kick in any second now! Maybe our only goal was to pay off all those student loans before we turned 90 years old.

All those warnings that we should major in something, “practical” might not have helped us find a job, but the pressure still cranked up. If we didn’t figure out something, the plan was to survive on Top Ramen forever. Sometimes we comforted ourselves by saying this:

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Some of us tried to be logical–and postpone paying back student loans–by rushing into grad school.

And then something awful happened. Maybe we fell sick. Cancer. Breast cancer. Lung cancer. It’s a tumor, but it might be benign. It wasn’t us, but our mom. Our best friend’s dad got hit by a car and we didn’t know what to say that could possibly make anything better. Maybe our grandpa was barely conscious and we had to say goodbye. Maybe we couldn’t say goodbye.

Maybe we knew this was going to happen. Maybe we tried to stop that person from doing that thing, but it didn’t work and here we are buried neck-deep in the rubble between what could have been and what used to be.

Maybe it wasn’t any one thing, but the weight of our lives started conspiring with gravity to maintain a constant pressure. We found ourselves crying after work. Wiping away the tear tracks and reapplying makeup in bathroom stalls, because if the stress showed on our faces we could kiss that promotion goodbye.

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That’s when we started reading again.

Books that made us feel better in high school. Books that made us weep because they ripped out our hearts, but it’s the good kind of pain that reminds us that we’re human. Books that made us smile because we can relate to the main characters and suddenly our daily lives become an inside joke. Books that made us laugh out loud and forget about our problems entirely.

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That’s when we thought, I miss this. I want to do this. Why didn’t I do this? What was I so afraid of?

We became time thieves, stealing minutes from work to jot down dialogue in that same bathroom stall. We plotted a particularly difficult sequence in the middle of a meeting. Someone passed us on the street and we found ourselves thinking that our heroine would never wear those clothes.

We drank way too much caffeine.

We searched for people who shared this passion with us, because they might see something that we’d missed. They might suggest something which would make all the difference! And even if they didn’t, at least they wouldn’t dismiss all of our hard work with a shrug and an eye-roll.

We wrote, The End, at the bottom of the manuscript, and it was magic. But we couldn’t decide if it should be in italics or if it should be bold, so we tried every combination.

The End.

The End.

The End!

Our friends read it and some of them had excellent advice and some of them had no idea how to give a critique but were trying their best to be helpful. We pitched agents. We attended conferences. We sent out query letters.

We sank time and energy and money into this endeavor of ours, even though we knew that some of the most important people in our lives probably thought it was a waste.

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Okay, so maybe sometimes our friends were right to be concerned.

We gritted our teeth and smiled as people asked if we’re going to be the next J.K Rowling. We crawled into bed and debated giving up entirely when we received form rejection letters.

Dear (blank),

I am sorry to inform you that…

Yeah, so were we. In fact, we were heartbroken. But we kept sending out query letters or maybe we put it aside and began writing a new book…or both!

And eventually we got the call that changed everything. An agent loved our work! The world was suddenly overflowing with flowers and happiness and sparkly bits of confetti! We danced for a solid week. We imagined giving up our day jobs. We decided to “follow” all of our agent’s clients on Twitter! Heck, we followed everyone connected with the agency!

Then came another wave of rejection. It hurt more than we probably expected, because somehow we thought our agent’s mind control powers would work on the Big Six and the acquiring editors would be all over us within a week.

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We worried. We stressed. We sent neurotic emails to our agent and friends. We became on first-name speaking terms with our nearby baristas.

And then we got that other call. The Call.

So-and-so loved it! It’s a small advance, but the royalty rates are great! It’s an eBook only deal, but it will get your foot in the door! It’s going to auction–bidding war, here we coooome!

Maybe our call sounded a little different.

I think you should self-publish this, get a grassroots movement going, and then we’ll show (name redacted) what you have planned to write next!

The stories divulge even more wildly from here. Some debut novels become New York Times Bestsellers. Some go out of print. Some get rave reviews from Kirkus…only to be ripped apart on Goodreads.

Somebody once reviewed my debut YA novel by saying, Awkward is the devil’s way of poisoning young minds.

That same reviewer gave me 3-stars. Go figure!

So if you are wondering why I’ve avoided mentioning myself until now, it’s because my story fits into the one I laid out. The fear that I would never be good enough, that I would never be smart enough; the soul-crushing, gut-wrenching pain of rejection after rejection…those experiences have been present and accounted for in my road to publication.

But there were a few things I had going for me.

I had access to blogs.

More specifically, author blogs. And I read every scrap of advice Meg Cabot ever wrote for young writers. I memorized the most crucial parts and I followed her instructions. I’m paraphrasing, but these are essentially her rules:

1. Don’t tell anyone you want to be a writer–they will only try to talk you out of it.

2. Don’t take writing classes–they will probably kill your soul.

3. Write.

I paid attention to her books. More specifically, I noticed how quickly she wrote them. And I realized that I would have to be able to keep up a steady pace if I was ever going to support myself that way. So I began writing a novel as my high school senior project. (There is more to that story, but I’ll save it for another blog post.)

I was also incredibly lucky to have a supportive mother and a teacher that went above and beyond for me. Jane Claussen agreed to be the advisor on my independent novel writing project. She didn’t really do much advising. She read what I turned in, said that she couldn’t wait to read the next scene, and asked me to write her in as the villain.

I never did.

Actually, she did inspire me to write a character in Jane’s book, Invisible. And I was thrilled to see that the reviewers seemed to enjoy her fictitious doppelgänger as much as I liked spending time with the woman behind it.

Mrs. Claussen and my mom believed in me when it felt like nobody else did.

Another turning point happened during my interview with an alumna from Lewis & Clark College. I was really nervous. I had visited the campus and I thought it might be the perfect fit for me, which meant that I wanted her to pass on a glowing recommendation.

But she asked me what I thought I would regret the most about my time in high school…and I just blurted out the truth.

“I hate my math class.”

She nodded, but didn’t seem particularly impressed.

“No, I mean I really hate it. I’m completely behind and at this point I’m not entirely sure it’s humanly possible to catch up. The only reason I’m in that stupid class is because I know four years of math looks good on my college application.”

That’s when it dawned on me.

“Lewis & Clark doesn’t care about math, right?”

She stared at me in confusion. “Um…”

“I did really well on my AP tests, so three years of math probably won’t stop me from gaining admission, right?”

The alumna looked increasingly uncomfortable. “Well…”

I threw my hands up in the air. “It’s a waste of my time! I could be writing and instead I’m sitting in that classroom trying not to lose my freaking mind! I think I should stop going entirely. Yeah. I am definitely going to drop that class. Wow. That’s so cool. Thanks. So…to answer your question: no regrets!”

My interviewer looked panic-stricken.

I’m guessing none of her other high school interviewees decided to lighten their academic course load in the middle of their session with her.

I was also right: Lewis & Clark accepted me without four years of math.

I spent that extra time writing and grieving the loss of my grandpa. Part of the reason I had fallen so far behind was that in the wake of his death I couldn’t bring myself to care about calculus. I forced myself to keep up with my other school obligations, so I guess my mom was willing to be flexible when I said, “Please don’t make me go to that class today. Please don’t.”

Maybe she could tell that I was seconds away from falling apart completely.

I do have regrets from high school and one of the biggest is that I didn’t start writing sooner. That my grandpa never got to share this journey with me. I remember sobbing uncontrollably when I left a copy of my autobiography Marni on his grave only a few years later.

I don’t know if I attended the Willamette Writers Conference because of my mom, or Jane Claussen, or because I no longer believed in God and figured I should be making my own destiny.

For those of you wondering about the God thing; it’s pretty simple. My grandpa lived a long, full, happy life…and then he died. Which meant that if God existed, he was a total jerk.

A sterling example of Marni Logic.

I paid for that conference with my babysitting money. And because I was way too cheap thrifty to fly, I shared a ride (and a hotel room) with a woman who was certifiably insane. I honestly called my mom from a Burger King parking lot on the road to Portland and said, “I think I’m going to die.”

She thought I was joking.

I wasn’t.

She wished me good luck and I spent the rest of the ride making sure that Mrs. Insane-o had access to chocolate at all times so that she wouldn’t randomly decide to stop driving–on the highway!

But Mrs. Insane-o certainly motivated me to meet other people and try to find another ride home (I did! Which is probably why I’m still alive today!) and one of those people heard about a company looking for teen girls to write their autobiographies and passed on the info to me.

When I came back from the conference, I sat outside for a couple of hours by my neighbors koi pond and asked my grandpa what I should do. He seemed to be of the opinion that I should go for it.

So I did.

I was hired to write my autobiography my freshman year of college and by that point there was no turning back. Ready or not–and the answer was not–I was going to be published. My whole life story was going to exposed for anyone and everyone to read. That’s when I ran to the school library and checked out their copy of Ella Enchanted.

Fast forward a year and I was a sophomore in college. I was trying to do publicity for my autobiography and learning pretty quickly that it is hard to make anyone care about your book. I also wasn’t writing for myself anymore. I had decided to take a whole bunch of English courses and since I was in a creative non-fiction class, I didn’t have the drive to work on a novel. Or maybe I was just being lazy.

When I think about that year what I remember most fondly was the English course which didn’t exist. That’s right; I created a 400 level course just for myself. I awarded myself an A and received zero college credit, but it was totally worth it.

I called it, Major Figures in Literature: Nora Roberts.

I read almost everything she has ever written. I immersed myself in her worlds and I ignored a whole bunch of my college assignments in the process. I didn’t care. That’s not entirely true; I did care, but I didn’t want to stop.

Reading romance novels in college made me want to keep writing.

They made me realize that I didn’t feel like myself unless I was working on a project. Sure my characters drive me nuts, but they also make me exquisitely happy. And that’s the life I want for myself–and for all of you! 

This job does not come easily. Not for me, not for anyone. You have to decide whether you can finish a novel, tear it apart in edits, send it out into the world for criticism, and then start the process all over again.

But if this is something you want more than anything else in the world, then I vote you skip the decade of denial. I vote you try to make that dream happen now. 

If you want to hear about a few other pivotal moments in my writing career, check out my YouTube video on that subject 

And if you are reading this thinking, crap, I wish I had pursued writing from the very beginning instead of trying to be rational! I’d like to remind you that those years weren’t lost. You spent them gaining life experiences and testing yourself in a million different ways. And you also inspire me to be bold in other areas of my life, to face other types of rejection and failure.

So thank you!

And because I know this incredibly long blog post should end on a really upbeat note, I just want to say that I have now met some of my favorite authors whose books got me through hard times.

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Nora Roberts!
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Susan Elizabeth Phillips!
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Ally Carter!
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Jay Asher, Laurie Halse Anderson and Stephen Chbosky!

And you know what happened right after this photo was taken?

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I met a fan of my own!

This is without a doubt the coolest job ever.

So best of luck and happy reading everyone!

~Marni

My AWKWARD Pubversary is Here!!!!! Oh, and Happy New Year!

Hey everyone,

So here’s a fun author fact: a book’s official release date is often referred to as “pub day.”

This is not because authors tend to go straight to the nearest bar and order way too many cocktails while they brace themselves for reviews. Although I admit that idea has some merit. But most of us wake up on pub day and sprint to the nearest Barnes & Noble so we can find our books on the shelf.

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“Hellooo!!!!!”

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(My pub day for DECKED WITH HOLLY. No drinking was involved in the making of these photos.) 

But to the best of my knowledge there isn’t an industry term for the one year anniversary of  a book.

Until now!

Because tomorrow marks my AWKWARD pubversary!!!

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That’s right: exactly one year ago I was a college student freaking out over her debut novel.   One year ago maybe five people (excluding my relatives) had read AWKWARD. 

One year ago I feared my debut would look a lot like this:

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Or this…

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Honestly, I think if you’re not afraid of getting this response there might be something wrong with you.

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(Nervous author in the Serengeti. My resolution was to avoid being eaten by a lion.)

And now that I look back over everything that has happened this year…I’m kind of speechless.

Here are just some of the highlights:

AWKWARD was published!

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I laughed really hard when I saw this in my own hometown.

I met Ellen DeGeneres!

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My mom opened a fabulous quilt store in Ashland, Oregon called Sew Creative. And she drafted asked me to be a bobbin in the 4th of July parade for her.

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I created some pretty awesome art projects at Southern Oregon University.

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“Now who could have done that, I wonder?”

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I was going for a Statue of Liberty meets Starbucks meets heavily-caffeinated Marni look. I think it worked…

I failed to get my driver’s license…

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“I swear, I wasn’t driving over the speed limit!”

I graduated from Lewis & Clark college!

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Certified college graduate and everything!

I went to the Romance Writers of America conference!

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Jackpot!

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I also got to hang out with all of these incredibly talented authors!

My short story EPIC REVENGE was published in the Magical Mayhem anthology!

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I found out that Disney wants to option AWKWARD as a made-for-TV movie!

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DECKED WITH HOLLY was published and I seriously improved at making book trailers!

AWKWARD is going to be translated into Portuguese, Spanish and Hungarian!

(I don’t have a picture for this, but I am super excited)

And I finished writing my first draft of Chelsea’s book, NOTABLE! I’m almost finished with my first round of editing too. So that feels pretty darn great.

Honestly, this has been the most amazing year for me. And the best part has definitely been you! The love and support I have received is just…incredible.

So thank you for the best pubversary a writer could ever wish to receive!

As a sort of pubversary present you can win a copy of DECKED WITH HOLLY from the lovely Kathy at her blog I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

Giveaway here!

She also asks me some fabulous interview questions that I hope you will all enjoy!

And don’t forget to check out all the other stops in my DECKED WITH HOLLY blog tour for even more chances to win!

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Tour Schedule
Week One:
Dec. 31, 2012 – Kathy @ I Am A Reader Not A Writer – Author Interview
Jan. 1, 2013 – Karielle @ Books a la Mode – Guest Post – Author Top Ten
Jan. 2, 2013 – Krystal @ Live to Read – Review
Jan. 3, 2013 – Aeicha @ Word Spelunking – Guest Post
Jan. 4, 2013 – JennRenee @ JennRenee Read – Review
Week Two:
Jan. 7, 2013 – Tara @ Hobbitsies – Guest Post
Jan. 8, 2013 – Kailia @ Reading the Best of the Best – Review
Jan. 9, 2013 – Hannah @ The Girl in a Cafe – Author Interview
Jan. 10, 2013 – Emilie @ Emilie’s Book World – Review
Jan. 11, 2013 – Rachel @ Parajunkee – Guest Post
And on that note, I hope everyone has an extraordinarily awesome New Years!
Much love,
Marni

 

 

 

Thank You, RWA! I Will Never be the Same.

Hey everyone!

I don’t think I can put into words how much my time at the RWA meant to me. I’m half-laughing and full on crying as I write this.

And we’re not talking pretty crying here, guys.

See, I’ve spent a long time feeling really insecure about my place in the writing world. I didn’t tell anyone in high school that I dreamed of being an author because I was worried that they would discourage me from pursuing it.

In hindsight, I’m glad I kept my mouth shut too. Because plenty of people discouraged me later on and that was tough enough to handle when I knew I was capable of even finishing a story.

I never saw myself as fitting in with the writer-y kids in high school, most of whom were double-dipping in drama club and had no trouble dropping philosophical quotes into every day conversation.

I felt intimidated.

Partly because wanted to be reading Meg Cabot instead of Mark Twain and Julia Quinn instead of Hemingway.

Only I knew it wasn’t cool to admit it.

And when I reached college, my inadequacy only became more glaringly obvious. I thought it would be a good idea to move into the artsy dorm my freshman year. Not so much.

People hated me.

I mean, not everyone in my hall hated me. But most of them weren’t exactly part of the Marni Bates fan club, if you catch my drift. And when I let it slip that I had just been hired to write my autobiography…it only became worse.

Some people thought I was a pathological liar. Not even kidding.

Even the kids who did believe me, perceived me as a dork. And every time I went to an Open Mic Night it was obvious that the kids writing the classy short stories about street gangs were the ones who deserved the book deal.

Now some of this may have just been in my head.

But a lot of it wasn’t.

Leaving that dorm helped, but by that time I had declared myself an English major and once again I was the only person who read romance. Or at least the only one who admitted to reading it.

In my three and a half years at Lewis & Clark I never met anyone who wanted to write novels that ended in happily ever after.

And trust me, I couldn’t ignore it.

Every time someone saw me reading a “trashy” romance novel, I had to bite my tongue. I had to restrain myself from point out that FABIO IS NOT ON THE FREAKING COVERS ANYMORE! If you are going to judge a genre at least have the decency to KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Yeah. That was hard to keep bottled inside.

So I felt like the unsophisticated rube of the English department. And landing a four book deal with KensingtonTeen didn’t change that. Not really.

I honestly think the hardest time for me may have been in Australia. I was writing/editing/obsessing over Invisible because I was trying desperately to meet my deadlines.

I remember quite vividly when one of the trip leaders turned to me and snapped, “Is there anything to you besides your writing?”

Um…yes.

But what’s wrong with being passionate about my job? What’s wrong with loving something that empowers me to try to make a difference in the world?

Which reminds me, if you are hoping to be mocked, just tell people that you try to create social change by writing (insert genre here). Works like a charm.

If I recounted every time someone told me to start looking for a day job or to get a back-up plan or insinuated that I, personally, was unqualified to be a writer, this blog entry would be excruciatingly long.

But I did my best to ignore the nay-sayers. I squinched my eyes shut and dreamed of going to the Romance Writers of America conference. I imagined not being perceived as weird for geeking out over my favorite authors. I pictured shaking Nora Roberts’ hand, getting Julia Quinn’s signature, and chatting enthusiastically with thousands of other writers and readers alike.

That dream kept my going.

And it came true.

I was finally surrounded by other people who shared my love of a happy ending. Who understood that sweet doesn’t mean sappy. That romance doesn’t mean trashy. That a good book can change or save a life.

And they liked me.

They supported me. They made me feel like what I did was of value.

Which is why I’m still bawling my eyes out right now.

So this is my heartfelt thank you to everyone at the RWA conference. To everyone who greeted me, who tweeted me, and who treated me as a friend and an equal.

I will never be the same.

Love,

Marni

Here’s Some Ridiculousness for You!

Hey everyone,

I debated whether I wanted to share my 4th of July photos with all of you.

Part of me was like, “Um…Marni? You’re going to the Romance Writers of America conference soon! You want to be taken seriously. Maybe you should, you know…not share everything.”

And then I realized that everyone who reads this blog already knows how geeky I am! So my parade pictures aren’t exactly going to come as some big shock.

I mean, if I wanted to hide my high geek quotient…I probably shouldn’t have shared my celebrity stalker journals “idea notebooks” here.

A sneak peek at Decked with Holly! That’s Dominic Wyatt on a cruise ship. That’s right: he’s on a boat.

Plus, I totally posted about the time I forced the UPS guy to take a photo with me. To be fair, he was handing me the copyedits for Awkward…

And he was never to be seen again.

Probably because I don’t tend to stalk mail-carriers.

Then there was the time I spent 12 straight hours in the Lewis & Clark computer lab creating these:

I still look back at that night fondly. That whole month, actually. Roughly 94% of the Lewis & Clark people I shared them with, loved it. The other 6% placed bets as to when a cease and desist/ restraining order would be issued.

But I like geeking out with all of you. So here it is:

Yep. I was the “Dancing Spool of Thread” in the Sew Creative parade entry. You can’t tell from the picture but I was wrapped in blue yarn to emphasize, you know, my spool-iness.

I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that it is not easy to dance with a huge cardboard circle around your waist. And that when I absent-mindedly imagined running into old high school classmates, it was not bedecked as a spool of thread.

But I earned so many daughter points.

So it was worth it.

Anyhow, I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July!

Sincerely,

Marni

GRADUATION!

Hey everyone,

I’m done with college.

Finito! Terminado! Finished!

I have to say, it’s a really great feeling. No more homework. No more pretending to be paying attention in my boring SOU class, while I secretly read romance novels.

Or not so secretly, actually. I’m pretty sure the teacher knew something was up when I started grinning. Probably because I was not smiling as he blithely wasted my time ranting about Obama’s first girlfriend.

Yeah. Never again!

Although, it is kind of scary because now I don’t have schoolwork to use as an excuse for procrastinating on my work. Like editing Invisible. Not that I would ever do that. *Blinks innocently*

My actual college graduation ceremony happened a few months ago. And I wrote a whole long blog post on it and then delayed actually sharing it because I wanted to include photos.

Then I saw the ones my family took of my very special day.

Complete and total failure.

First of all, they snapped all of five photos. And nobody noticed that my hair was absolutely ridiculous!

Don’t believe me. Here’s the proof:

I look like Count Dracula.

And nobody said anything!

Here I am with my lovely aunt! You can tell that Count Marnula is speculating about when she’ll be able to drink her blood.

And smiling at the thought.

Actually, that day I was feeling more zombie-like than vampiric. I came down with an awful flu the night before my graduation. I was able to keep it at bay until after the ceremony, but not by much.

Thankfully, my amazing friend Diana W. Rosengard drove me back to the hotel, where my aunt was waiting. She wisely let me nap before taking me out to dinner in the hotel. Honestly, I didn’t have the strength to move any further than that.

But even with the shivers and the sore throat, it was a magical day. And it was really great hanging out with all of my friends for the brief amount of time I was, you know, fully functional.

Still, it was kinda hard to feel graduated when I knew I had my SOU midterms waiting for me in Ashland.

But now all of that is over! Well, everything but the paperwork. I need to transfer my SOU classes to Lewis & Clark, but…c’mon, that doesn’t really count.

So what have I been doing with my time?

Well, my mom just bought a quilt store in Ashland! It’s called Sew Creative and in my unbiased opinion, it’s going to be spectacular.

That said, right now it’s in the work in progress stage. Which means I’m going to be spending this week sanding shelves, painting fixtures, cutting fat quarters, and doing anything else she needs.

I like to think this will earn me tons of daughter points, which I plan on cashing in very soon.

Specifically, July 19th when my mom is driving me very early to the airport.

Where am I headed?

LOS ANGELES!

Why?

Because I’m going to the ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA CONFERENCE!

More on this soon–I must return to my sanding.

Sincerely,

Marni

April Fools! AKA Marni is a Pranking NINJA! Maybe…

Hey everyone,

I’m usually the one who forgets about April Fools day. And I also usually don’t realize I’ve been pranked until about a year after the fact.

Not kidding.

Freshman year, my college roommate convinced me she had a boyfriend. And I didn’t figure out that “Ben” didn’t exist until the summer of my Sophomore year. She even staged a fake “breakup” near the end of the school year.

And like a chump, I believed her.

So this year, I wanted to be the prankster instead of the prankee.

And initially I was quite pleased with my success.

I started off with a VERY difficult act. I confessed on Twitter that after doing some deep soul-searching, I was ready to admit that Luc is hotter than Colin in Erica O’Rourke’s addictive series. (Torn and Tangled have both been released. You should buy them. So freaking good.)

Now for those of you who DON’T follow me on Twitter (Why? How can you pass up my pithy tweets? Okay…my not-so-pithy tweets?) this might not seem like a big deal.

Two fictional guys. Who cares?

Um…a lot of people. And we’re writers which means we spend a large portion of our time obsessing over people who aren’t real. So…things can get a little heated in the Twitterverse.

As in, we have a bet going. And when I am proved right, my dear misguided friend Jenn Rush will have to create a video apologizing for picking Puke…I mean “Luc” over Colin.

Yes, this really is how I spend the majority of my free time.

Anyhow, so I went on Twitter today and I pretended to have switched sides. That I had realized the error in my ways *gag* and was now fully invested in Team Luc.

I tricked a few people. Here are some of my favorite tweets.

@MarniBates Does this mean you are crossing over to the Luc team??? 

@MarniBates yay!! You made the right choice. @jenn_rush & I welcome you! Things are hot & sparky with Luc

And from my fellow Team Colin-mate…

MARNI! SERIOUSLY?! *sad puppy eyes*

Alas, some people were not fooled!

Jenn Rush realized I would NEVER switch teams. And the author who started this mess, couldn’t resist joining in!

Ha! I was reading my @ replies, saw this, and told Boyo, “marni is messing w/them.”

D’awww…they know me so well!

This just inspired me to plan a bigger prank. Something MAJOR. And after a lot of consideration (And a little too much coffee) I realized it should be someone who was obligated to love me no matter what. Someone who wouldn’t hold a little practical joke against me.

Someone other than my mom.

So obviously, I had to get my agent Laurie McLean!

(Love you, Laurie!)

Now this was dangerous for a few reasons. Not least of which is that she sends my paychecks.

Although knowing that we are going to be sharing a room at the Romance Writers of America conference scared me ever more.

I have a feeling that Laurie is well-versed in revenge.

EEEP!

Still, I consulted with evil genius/agent-in-training Pam van Hylckama and we created a plan.

A REALLY good one.

That has serious potential to become a REALLY bad one.

I sent Pam a fake email saying that a movie studio wanted me under contract and that I wouldn’t be able to write any more novels for TWO YEARS!

Then Pam emailed it to Laurie and suggested the she call me…right away.

So here I am…waiting for the call.

And while I initially thought that being the pranker was better than being the prankee, I’ve discovered some distinct disadvantages. All this waiting around is stressful!

Because I keep running through bad possibilities. Like Laurie could call up my film agent and demand to know what the hell is going on.

That would be bad.

Oh crud. That would be terrible!

*Marni panics*

Okay! I can’t take it anymore.

April Fools Day has defeated me. This year…

~Marni

Rush Limbaugh isn’t sorry, I am not a Nazi, and other fun facts!

Hey everyone!

If you read my blog (And I’m guessing you do, because that’s what you’re doing right now…) then you probably remember I posted about Rush Limbaugh recently.

And I said that I was mad.

You know, because he insulted Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke roughly 46 times on his radio show and apologized only for two measly words.

Those words? Prostitute and slut.

He never apologized for telling her to post videos of herself having sex online. I think Jon Stewart said it best when he called that the creme de la creepy:

You can watch Jon Stewart here!

But that wasn’t the point of my post. For any of you who missed it, here’s what I said:

This news story isn’t about Sandra Fluke overreacting to a little name-calling. It’s a very real warning about the kind of gross mischaracterizations and verbal abuse that women face today when they stand up for their rights.

So you can imagine how great I felt the next day when my blog was cited by Geoff Caldwell…and I was compared to a Nazi.

Here’s that lovely little quote for you: Ms. Bates description of “what happened” could not be more misleading if it had been written by Goebbels himself.

I guess, he told me!

Except…he didn’t actually address anything in my blog. You know, about how birth control is a women’s health issue. About how the government has no business playing doctor without a license. About how everyone should have condemned the kind of vitriolic attack that Sandra Fluke experienced.

I’m guessing since Geoff Caldwell couldn’t be bothered to be polite he certainly didn’t have the time to address the substance of my blog.

The only time I laughed about this was when author Nina Berry reminded me that according to Godwin’s Law of Hitler Analogies, I won the argument.

That felt pretty good.

So for any of you who were wondering: I’m not a Nazi. At least I wasn’t the last time I checked. My Bat Mitzvah was a long time ago so…nope. Still proudly Jewish. And, you know, firmly against gas chambers and genocide.

And for any of you wondering who Geoff Caldwell is (or why you should care about him) he’s a guest columnist for the Joplin Globe. As to the why you should care about him part? Well, after reading this lovely message on his blog, I don’t think you should.

If you’re of the left side of the political aisle I strongly suggest you move along to a site more in sync with your intellectual capacity. (Disney or Sesame Street perhaps?) Between having less gray matter than that found in your average toad, having inherited the “government is God” gene at birth, and unable to speak the words “individual liberty and personal responsibility” without triggering a seizure, TheCorner has had to sadly conclude that today’s liberal is quite simply, just unreachable.

Ahh . . . that’s the spirit! Just treat anyone who might disagree with you like crap!

But let’s move on, shall we?

So I had just read Mr. Caldwell’s, erm, commentary, when I saw that Rush Limbaugh had just verbally attacked another woman–this time an author–on his show.

Here’s what Rush Limbaugh said:

What is it with all of these young single white women, overeducated — doesn’t mean intelligent.

I stared at that headline over a video and suddenly breathing wasn’t easy. I turned to my mom in disbelief. “Is Rush Limbaugh talking about me? Oh my god. Young. White. Single. Women. Overeducated. Is this . . . is this about me? But I don’t even have my degree yet!”

My mom told me I was being ridiculous. But then I pointed out that the link to the video clearly said it was an author he was now ridiculing.

That’s when my mom started looking nervous.

“It can’t be about you,” she pointed out wisely. “That makes no sense.”

And she was right. I wasn’t the woman whose hard work was being ridiculed and dismissed based purely on her gender. That lucky recipient was Tracie McMillan whose book “The American Way of Eating” led Rush Limbaugh to call her an “authorette.”

An authorette.

I’ve got to say, Tracie McMillan handled all of this very well. Certainly better than I would have if these barbs had been directed at me.

And make no mistake, calling her an “authorette” was meant to be insulting.

Why? Because it’s insulting!

It’s damn hard to become an author! You have to get an agent and a publishing company–neither of which are easily acquired. And one other thing . . . right, you have to write a freaking novel!

I remember the first time I was interviewed about my autobiography Marni and I saw my name pop up on the television with the title author right in front of my name. I couldn’t stop grinning. I think I may have even busted out my happy dance. It was just…amazing.

So if somebody had insinuated that I was an overeducated (yet unintelligent) “authorette” you can bet that I would want one very large apology. In fact, I would want it super-sized for the additional crack about being single.

That part felt like a really crappy Valentine’s day card:

Feel single and alone? Well rest assured that none of your accomplishments matter either!

Can we also take a moment to unpack the “overeducated doesn’t mean intelligent” part? First of all, I’m not certain that it’s possible to be “overeducated.” That’s like calling someone out for being too smart. If Tracie McMillan had three PhDs that would be awesome. I would think “Wow! What a fantastic message to send to girls! Excelling in school is something positive and attainable. Rock on!”

And I do think Tracie McMillan is setting an excellent example. Judging from this article about her time dealing with sexual harassment while working in a restaurant, she’s also an amazing writer.

But here’s the kicker: Tracie McMillan has a B.A.

Rush Limbaugh insinuated that she was “overeducated” because she has a four-year college degree. What kind of message does that send to women? Better not go to college at all, honey! They might overeducate you!

Rush Limbaugh has not apologized for this verbal attack. Just like he has not apologized to Sandra Fluke for any number of the wildly inappropriate and insulting comments he made about her. So, no. I can’t just shrug and say “Oh, well. He apologized. Time to move on now!”

One of Rush Limbaugh’s mistakes with Sandra Fluke was that he verbally attacked her on his radio show. A mistake he just repeated with another young woman. A mistake he could very well repeat tomorrow with me.

That’s why I hope people will continue to pressure Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers. He’s a misogynist who repeatedly uses his talk show to insult and intimidate women. And no, this boycott is not in ANY way a violation of his first amendment right to free speech. Nor is it censorship. This is about you deciding whether you want to support this kind of hate speech with your money.

Again, I love reading your comments. Just please try to keep it respectful. I’ve already been compared to a Nazi one too many times this week.

Sincerely,

Marni

P.S. If you would like to read Geoff Caldwell’s blog post you can see it here. That said, I see no reason to help his blog receive extra traffic. But I figure that you should decide if reading his post for yourself is something that interests you.

Why What Happened with Rush Limbaugh Matters!

Hey everyone,

So…I promised myself never to blog mad. Again. This, of course, was after I discovered firsthand the way that my anger can obscure good judgement.

That expression…seeing red? Not entirely inaccurate.

That’s why I’ve been so careful only to blog a few days after I’m mad. Although usually by that time, I have something positive I would rather share instead. I tend to let my anger fall by the wayside.

Life is too short, right!

Mainly, I started this Don’t Blog Mad policy because I don’t want to post something online which offends people and which might someday embarrass me.

But this time, I’m breaking my rule.

When I first found out about Rush Limbaugh’s vitriolic comments towards Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, I was furious. For those of you who haven’t been following the story, here’s what happened:

It all began with the Republicans in the House calling an all male panel to speak about upcoming contraception legislation. When the Democrats realized the Republicans had no intention of calling any women to discuss what is most definitely a women’s health issue they asked to have Sandra Fluke speak as their witness. They wanted Ms. Fluke to testify about getting insurance through her Catholic university where contraception was not covered. More specifically, about the health problems that women at Georgetown faced because of this policy.

What health problems? One of her friends lost an ovary because she had to navigate around Georgetown’s objections to her medical prescription.

Now right here: I was angry. Furious, actually. Politicians and academic institutions interfering with women’s rights to consult a freaking doctor and get the medical help they need! I was livid.

It gets worse.

Republican Darrell Issa said that Sandra Fluke was “not qualified to testify” on the issue…leaving it, instead, to the real experts.

Men.

This Funny or Die video really lets the experts share!

House Democrats (under Nancy Pelosi) later convened a forum to hear Sandra Flukes testimony. You know, so she could actually explain why this is such an important issue for millions of American women.

What happened next?

This is the part most people have heard. Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

Those two words have been getting the most airtime, probably because that’s the only part of his three day marathon of misogynistic personal attacks for which he has apologized.

It’s laughable, really, that he claims: I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

Well, Media Matters counted at least 46 personal attacks in those three days. It’s impossible to spew that much hate-filled rhetoric without intending someone to take offense.

Let’s look at the highlight reel of what he said:

1. “Can you imagine if you’re her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke you would be? Your daughter goes up to a congressional hearing conducted by the Botox-filled Nancy Pelosi and testifies she’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope.”

2. “What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid for sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.”

3. “She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.”

4. “The left has been thrown into an outright conniption fit. … The reaction that they are having to what I said yesterday about Susan Fluke — or Sandra Fluke, whatever her name is — the Georgetown student who went before a congressional committee and said she’s having so much sex, she’s going broke buying contraceptives and wants us to buy them. I said, ‘Well, what you call someone who wants us to pay for her to have sex? What would you call that woman? You’d call ‘em as I — slut or prostitute or what– that has sent them into orbit.”

5.  “I’ll happily buy her all the aspirin she wants. … We would happily buy Sandra Fluke all the aspirin she wants. What could that possibly cost? … I’m offering a compromise today. I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want.”

6. “Ms. Fluke, have you ever heard of not having sex? Have you ever heard of not having sex so often? What next that you can’t afford are you gonna go to Pelosi and say we need to buy? Mink? A Volt? A Prius?”

7. “So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

8. “So, if we’re gonna sit here, and if we’re gonna have a part in this, then we want something in return, Ms. Fluke: And that would be the videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we are getting for our money.”

9. “I want to know, who bought — Ms. Fluke, who bought your condoms in junior high? Who bought your condoms in the sixth grade, or your contraception? Who bought your contraceptive pills in high school? Wouldn’t you be just as likely to go broke in high school and junior high as you would be in college?”

10. Limbaugh went on to say that an MSNBC anchor had said that “Limbaugh yesterday squarely aimed his words at Sandra Fluke questioning her virtue.” Limbaugh then said: “I’m not questioning her virtue. I know what her virtue is. She’s having so much sex that she’s going broke! There’s no question about her virtue.”

11. Later on the show, Limbaugh played a clip of congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee condemning Limbaugh’s attacks on Fluke and calling Fluke “a courageous young woman.” Limbaugh then said, “Stop the tape. Courageous. Recue that to the top. Courageous, having so much sex she’s going broke at Georgetown Law. (laughing) Gosh, I love this.”

12. “Here’s a woman exercising no self-control. The fact that she wants to have repeated, never-ending, as-often-as-she-wants-it sex — given. No question about that.”

13. “Did you notice in that sound bite was Sheila Jackson Lee or Maria Cantwell or one of them, talked about the strength that Sandra Fluke had to go before Congress — which is amazing. She’s having so much sex, it’s amazing she can still walk, but she made it up there.”

14. “Here this babe goes before Congress and wants thousands of dollars to pay for her sex. Well, that’s what it is. If she wants her contraception to be provided, that means she wants to have sex without consequences, with no worries, no responsibility.”

15. “[T]he Democrats are putting on parade a woman who is happily presenting herself as an immoral, baseless, no-purpose-to-her-life woman. She wants all the sex in the world, whenever she wants it, all the time. No consequences. No responsibility for her behavior.”

16. “Georgetown’s a pretty expensive school. I don’t buy your argument that’s it unaffordable. Have you ever heard of the term ‘budget’? Have you ever heard of aspirin? Have you ever heard of saying ‘no’? You can’t afford it, you don’t buy it. You can’t afford it, you don’t do it.”

17. “Were these kinds of women around when I was in school?” Limbaugh then said: “Oh, oh, no, no, no. I didn’t know any Flukes. No. Well, wait. I take it back. Yes. Every school had a couple of ‘em. You know, for every 500 students, every school had a couple of these. Now they’re everywhere. That’s what you’re getting at, right? And the two at your school, I mean even with birth control, you wouldn’t go there. That’s the big difference. I mean there were women that you might think you could get a disease, but you didn’t care.”

18.  Reacting to the news that Obama had told Fluke her parents should be proud of her, Limbaugh said, “OK, I’m going to button my lip on that one.” He went on to say: “OK. Let me ask you a question. … Your daughter appears before a congressional committee and says she’s having so much sex, she can’t pay for it and wants a new welfare program to pay for it. Would you be proud? I don’t know — I — I’d be embarrassed.”

I feel sick.

I’ve been watching this play out in the media and I keep waiting for my anger to ebb so that I can blog about it.

But it’s not going to happen.

Sandra Fluke never discussed her sex life with the American public. She testified that women are being prevented from receiving appropriate medical care.

So why am I am blogging about it now? I’m terrified that America is missing Sandra Fluke’s message.

I’m scared that with the preoccupation of his name-calling and his apologies (again, only related to the two words “slut” and “prostitute.”) we are ignoring that the majority of Rush Limbaugh’s unbelievably hateful attacks were based on an incredibly faulty premise:

That contraception equals sex.

It doesn’t.

Really. It can be taken for any number of reasons, including to prevent cysts from growing on ovaries. It can also be used to regulate menstrual cycles to alleviate cramping and to ensure that the female body is functioning well.

Rush Limbaugh was vilifying Sandra Fluke but he was also insinuating that a lifestyle which includes birth control is one built upon reckless, empty sex without responsibility.

Here’s my story:

A few years ago, I had a health scare. I’ve always had an irregular period but since reaching college I would sometimes go four months between cycles. And it made me really nervous. My mom told me to relax and said that there was probably nothing wrong with me. But I mentioned it to some of my friends and the more I thought about it…the more certain I became that I needed answers. I needed facts for my own peace of mind. So when I came home over break, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor.

It started out the way that all my doctor’s visits begin: sitting on a long examination bed while I answer questions that should be obvious but which, for whatever reason, become illusive as soon as somebody asks them. My doctor pulled out various shiny instruments to check my blood pressure etc. and I felt myself getting increasingly jumpy. I started fearing for the worst. Rare disease with unpronounceable Latin names were surely the culprit!

I kept that particular thought to myself.

But it was all pretty straight forward: I explained about my period situation. My doctor took notes on her clipboard. And then she told me that my irregularity might make it hard for me to conceive in the future.

I was horrified.

Here I was, a college student, just informed that getting pregnant might be a challenge…and I wanted to cry. I wanted to bawl my freaking eyes out. Sure, I wasn’t planning on giving birth any time soon. I mean, I still don’t even have my college degree and I’m planning on making a career out of young adult fiction. I’m not exactly in a position to be bringing a new life into the world–financially or emotionally speaking.

But I’ve always wanted a kid.

So hearing that it might not be possible for me? Not easy to handle. My doctor recommended I have some tests performed at the hospital and I instantly agreed. I needed more information. I needed to know whether I was going to spend the next fifteen years of my life obsessing over adoption.

After a handful or awkward hours, the tests were complete. And after a tense week of waiting, the results were in: nothing wrong with my ovaries. My mom’s prediction was confirmed. I was fine. Irregular, of course, but healthy.

That’s when my doctor discussed birth control with me. It wasn’t because I was planning on becoming an over-sexed twenty-something. It wasn’t because I wanted to have wild, condom-free sex in the mountains of Ashland. Although, frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with either of those things if it involves consenting adults who are comfortable with their level of intimacy.

I’m not going to share the outcome of my doctors visit with everyone. It doesn’t matter. That should be between me and my doctor. The reason I’m sharing this story is because when I was terrified about a childless future, I discovered that birth control could make it easier. Simple hormone regulation with the birth control pill could make pregnancy possible for me.

That was empowering. Kids or no kids, I had control over my body, over my future. Now politicians are trying to interfere and take that power away.

Rush Limbaugh intentionally vilified Sandra Fluke as sexual depraved, immoral, irresponsible and reckless. He wanted to make this incredibly brave woman ashamed for demanding access to birth control.

I’m not ashamed.

I’m also not a slut. Nor am I a prostitute. My parents shouldn’t be ashamed of me for speaking up for something I believe in.

Oh, and Rush? You know that little dig at Georgetown? The one where you said “Well, I guess now we know why Bill Clinton went (there)”?

I’m a student at Lewis & Clark College. And, yeah, our most famous alumni is Monica Lewinsky.

That doesn’t make me a slut either.

Now a lot of Republicans have been getting very defensive. They’ve been hollering “It’s not fair! Rush isn’t the only person to ever make an offensive comment! Democrats have made them too! Why aren’t they being punished?”

First of all, I have never heard of a Democrat making 46 personal attacks on an individual in three days. Rush Limbaugh has truly sunk to a record-breaking low.

But what I hope we can all agree on is that this kind of misogynistic language needs to be stopped. No matter the source, it is unacceptable. And in the future, I promise, if I hear about a Democrat making this kind of a vitriolic mischaracterization, I will blog mad again! In the meantime, digging up old stories about Democrats feels like a distraction or an excuse for Rush.

And I’m not willing to hear excuses for Rush.

What I find most troubling is that the majority of the Republican candidates for presidency have  limited their reactions to Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech by simply addressing his language as problematic. They wish he hadn’t called Sandra Fluke a “slut” or a “prostitute.”

Beyond that? I haven’t heard them denounce his sentiments.

I wish all of them would admit that this is a women’s health issue. That Sandra Fluke is trying to make women aware of the rights our government is currently trying to strip away from us. I want the Republicans to be outraged at the nerve of a political body believing it has the right to play doctor without a medical degree.

This news story isn’t about Sandra Fluke overreacting to a little name-calling. It’s a very real warning about the kind of gross mischaracterizations and verbal abuse that women face today when they stand up for their rights.

I want to leave you with this final message from Meg Cabot, one of my favorite young adult authors:

Rush Limbaugh, I lost an ovary to cysts. I’m on the Pill to keep from losing the other one. And that ovary does NOT accept your apology.

Neither do I.

Sincerely,

Marni

P.S. For those of you looking to get involved in speaking out against Rush Limbaugh, I highly recommend you boycott the advertisers who support his show. The first amendment gives everyone the right to free speech. It doesn’t mean corporations have to pay someone to promote their products. And it doesn’t mean that you as a consumer can’t demand that the companies you support condemn this kind of hate-filled rhetoric.

P.P.S. For those of you who are interested in where I got my source material, I primarily used Media Matters. I also highly recommend people watch Rachel Maddow’s analysis of these events. Although you might want to skip the first three minutes.

Rachel Maddow

P.P.P.S. I would love to hear your stories. Please leave a respectful comment below!

Meeting the Monster

Hey everyone!

Well, today something really weird happened: I went back to high school. Now this is not the first time I’ve visited my alma mater, but it always feels strange walking the halls without obsessing over a future homework assignment. I feel a bit like a lurker half the time as I linger around classrooms, waiting for beloved teachers to have a free moment.

But today I ran into a not-so beloved teacher.

In fact, I can confidently say that this specific person made my life a living hell. For those of you familiar with my autobiography, you’ll recognize her as “Ms. T” . . . for those of you who haven’t read it, I believe I described her as a cross between Cruella De Vil and the devil.

I still stand behind that statement.

This woman told me that nobody liked me. That I had no friends. That I was immature. That even my other teachers didn’t enjoy having me in class.

This woman glared at me every single day. To the point that another student turned it into a game. He would say, “Hey Marni!” just to see how long it would take her to rebuke me.

This woman booted me out of a team photograph because I was the only person who hadn’t won an award. She made me stand awkwardly (fighting back tears) while everybody else smiled for the camera.

This woman even left me behind in a Fred Meyers in Forest Grove, Oregon. At night. And she didn’t realize I was missing until I called her from the store. She also didn’t bother getting on the bus to pick me up. She left the task of retrieving one thoroughly petrified high school freshman to the team co-captains.

So, yeah, you could say I’m not her biggest fan.

Something I made pretty clear when I wrote my autobiography. But even though Ashland is a small town, I hadn’t crossed paths with “Ms. T” since Marni was released.

It's me! Sorta . . . I mean, it's a model with my name across her face!

Until today.

I was waiting outside my AP U.S. teacher’s room when she appeared from her lair . . . I mean, classroom. Maybe I looked suspicious, since I was just listening to my music and walking in circles to pass the time.

Regardless, she asked if I needed something and I explained that I was waiting for Mr. H and I think that’s when recognition kicked in.

She asked if she could have a minute to speak with me. The last time we had a private chat it began with the aforementioned string of insults and ended with me sobbing hysterically into the phone as I begged my mom to pick me up from school (I was too emotionally devastated to walk up my hill. That may sound overdramatic, but it’s the truth).

So I wasn’t exactly bubbling over with enthusiasm at the thought of another heart-to-heart, even eight years later.

But I couldn’t help wondering what she was going to say. I knew that she had heard about my autobiography and I braced myself for a lecture. For the showdown of the century.

But instead she said that she heard about the book and that other people told her it was all lies . . . so she hadn’t bothered to read it. And then she said: I truly hope, from the bottom of my heart, that someday you realize none of it happened.

Which is laughable really. I mean, for starters: somebody told her that what I wrote about a private conversation between the two of us was a lie?

Um, how would anybody know that?

Then there’s that one other pesky little detail, what was it again? Oh right.

I told the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.

Then there was that other funny part. You know, where she says none of it actually happened. Really? Because I’m pretty sure it did. I know I’ve got a good imagination but I tend to have a very accurate memory. Just like I remember talking with other kids “Ms. T” has singled out to destroy over the years.

They all had similar experiences to mine, actually.

So . . . no. I don’t think there is anything wrong with my memory.

But that didn’t stop her from yammering on about how she wished me nothing but the best and how she really hoped, for my sake, that someday I would realize how wrong I was.

Here’s the cool part: I didn’t care.

All that power she had over me in high school was gone. It was as if she had snared me with an Imperious curse and it wasn’t until now that I could see beyond it. She went from being, quite literally, She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (or less formally, You-Know-Who) to being just a woman.

Even Voldemort can lose the scare factor!

Do I still think she’s probably a horrible person who continues to emotionally abuse some of her students?

Yes.

Do I wish the school administration had taken action when I told them exactly what I had experienced?

Hell yes.

I know what you’re thinking:

Am I right? Worst teacher ever! (Spoiler alert!) I know some people like him, but I just don't see how his desire to get it on with Harry's mom is in any way redeeming. Sorry.

But the funny part is that if it hadn’t been for her, I never would have become an author. The whole reason I started writing in high school was because I needed a way to process all the toxic things she had said/done to me. I needed an outlet, a way to transform real life into something more bearable.

And here I am.

She no longer has power over me. She doesn’t grade my work and she certainly can’t get away with telling me that nobody likes me. I mean, theoretically, she could . . . but I would laugh in her face. I’m not that petrified young girl now. I don’t have to answer to her. Frankly, the only person I still have to answer to is my own conscience, which does a pretty god job of steering me in the right direction.

So hopefully my inner demons will be as easy to vanquish as this particular outer demon.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with bullying, high school bloodsuckers, or power struggles. Actually, I’d love to hear whatever you want to share! So I hope you’ll leave a comment below. I think hearing other people’s struggles can really help people (especially those whom are currently struggling with a nasty hellbeast) feel less alone.

Sincerely,

Marni

2012 Resolutions, Awkward, and Ellen DeGeneres!

Hey everyone!

So, I didn’t technically do anything to ring in 2012. No crazy parties. No funny hats. Heck, I didn’t even stay up until midnight. I crashed at 5pm because my jetlag coming back from Africa absolutely flattened me.

But 2012 may very well go down as the best year in Marni History.

For a few reasons, actually. 2012 is the year I will graduate from college. It’s the year that I will make all sorts of big exciting decisions (like where I want to live and what I want to do professionally). It’s also going to be the year I finally learn how to drive!

Unless I can convince someone to drive me around in one of these...

Unless I can convince someone to drive me around in one of these, of course!

But I’m sure when I look back at 2012, the first thing to come to mind will always be that on January 1st, my debut YA novel AWKWARD was released!!!!

HOORAY!!!!!

See, that’s the best way to kick off a year.

It doesn’t feel real. I know that my book is in stores…sitting on shelves in Barnes & Noble just waiting to be purchased…and yet, every time I read a review it comes as a shock that someone else has read it. That Mackenzie, Logan, Jane, Corey, Chelsea and the rest of the gang no longer belong exclusively to me. And I’m thrilled because I’ve wanted to share them for quite awhile now.

So to celebrate the release of Awkward, I created a book trailer!

Feel free to comment and share it with others! The more the merrier!

Creating this video was one of my 2012 resolutions and I’m incredibly pleased that I can cross one thing off the list. Here’s the rest of my goals:

Resolution 1: Get on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

That’s right. I haven’t given up. Sure, I hoped that Ellen would see my YouTube video and call me up right away.
But it’s okay. I understand. She’s an incredibly busy woman. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up the dream. If I had allowed rejection to faze me, I wouldn’t have a four book deal now. In fact, I wouldn’t have even bothered writing Awkward. What’s the point if I was destined for rejection?
Well, now it’s out in stores.
So Ellen DeGeneres: I will be on your show in 2012.
I hope.
Call me.
Resolution 2: Finish college.
I think that one is pretty self-explanatory. I’m definitely looking forward to having that ridiculously expensive piece of paper clutched in my fist. You know, the one that says I’ve got a degree in English. Which should really help me become an author! Wait a second…
Resolution 3: Learn to drive.
But I already mentioned that. Moving on!
Resolution 4: Be more health conscious.
This also seems pretty self-explanatory. Eating better…working out…all that stuff I keep meaning to do, but don’t.
Resolution 5: Write three novels.
A lofty goal, I know. But I have a new idea for a series that I’m super excited about writing. I can’t reveal anything yet, but I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on my progress.

Resolution 6: Be happy.

I feel quite confident that this resolution isn’t going to be hard for me to maintain. Even without the release of Awkward, I’d be happy because my life includes so many wonderful people who inspire me every single day.

So I wish you all a very happy 2012!

Love,

Marni