It’s a Party at the RWA!!!

Hey everyone,

Okay, so after last year the bar was set pretty darn high for the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta. I was actually a little nervous that it wouldn’t be quite as magical as my first time.

BUT THIS YEAR WAS EVEN BETTER!

Where to begin?

Well, I was able to meet a few pretty cool people…

Nora Roberts.

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

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Kieran Kramer

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Cherry Adair and I even joked around before the Literacy signing!

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Speaking of the Literacy signing…I got to hang out a little with Shea Berkley before things started to get crazy!

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What can I say? We’re pretty classy ladies.

I loved every second of the literacy signing, especially when some of my AMAZINGLY AWESOME fans showed up to my table! I can’t tell you ladies how much that meant to me. Seriously. It was so wonderful getting to meet you!

(Pictures unavailable. I was too busy geeking out)

And then…well, then I really lost my mind.

Because I got to meet Ally Carter!

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I am a huge Ally Carter fan. Huge. I love everything about the Heist Society series, so meeting her in real life was…unspeakably awesome. And I mean that literally. I think all I managed to say was, “I love your books!”

I’m thrilled to confirm that she is every bit as awesome in real life as I imagined.

Here’s the funny part: all of this excitement happened before my 50 Shades of YA panel. That’s when the awesome kicked up to a whole new level!

Jennifer Estep, Erica O’Rourke, Nina Berry, Alicia Condon (our editor) and I had so much fun discussing the limitations imposed upon YA authors when discussing taboo subjects like sex, drugs, and rock and roll alcohol. They were absolutely brilliant and it was a pleasure and a privilege just to sit next to them.

But I must admit, I didn’t have high expectations for attendance at our panel. It was at 8:30 AM!

In my experience, authors don’t tend to do well with morning hours. We avoid them. At all costs.

So I sort of assumed that there would be a handful of bleary-eyed writers chugging down coffee while they half-heartedly listened. And trust me, I would have been thrilled with that.

It was a full room.

Totally packed.

And afterwards, Katie McGarry and Kady Cross introduced themselves to me. Because they were excited to meet me! Which still strikes me as hilarious because…have you met them? They are made of AWESOME!

So I’m trying to play it cool and not just blurt out, “I think we should become best friends FOREVER!” when they glanced over my shoulder and whispered, “Did you know that Jay Asher was here?!”

Yep.

Jay Asher, New York Times Bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, attended the 50 Shades of YA panel.

*Insert geek out here*

It gets crazier. He saved a seat for me at his table so that we could chat before Kathy Maxwell brought the house down with her luncheon speech.

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Just in case you were wondering, Jay Asher is a ridiculously nice person with a great sense of humor. Oh, and he can dance.

Time sort of moves funny at a writers conference. I tried to enjoy every second to the fullest, which means that I slept little and lost my voice by the time I left the conference. But some of the highlights include:

I had dinner with Tessa Dare, drinks with Julie James, Tracy Deebs, Emily McKay, (and some other lovely people whose names are evading me right now) and a slumber party with the fantastic Hannah Jayne.

And then I partied with most of these people after the RITA awards!

Here I am with a whole bunch of awesome YA-ers! (Back row, l-to-r) Bria QuinlanHolly BodgerAmy DeLuca, Jay Asher, Darcy Woods, Me, Cecily White, (Front row, l-to-r) Jennifer McGowan, Kim MacCarron, and Shea Berkley.

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It was a great night. I mean, you might think authors are a pretty staid bunch…but that goes right out the window as soon as the music starts playing. And okay, so maybe there were a few line-dances. But that just made me feel like I was in What A Girl Wants (Remember that movie? Back in the good ol’ days when Amanda Bynes seemed like she had it all together) and this was just the big group dance number!

And I definitely had a few pinch me, I must be dreaming moments with my friends.

Unfortunately, three hours later I was suffering from either an allergic reaction or a bizarre case of food poisoning. I’m not kidding. The lovely Cecily White and a romance-writing stranger found me shaking and vomiting in the handicap stall in the hotel bathroom. This is so not the kind of information you really needed to know about my RWA experience, but I’m mentioning it because I think it shows the extreme kindness of the writing community. One thing I picked up on quickly was that every woman there was ready and willing to extend a helping hand.

Even if that meant spending their last night at the conference tracking down Sprite and saltine crackers for me.

I feel like the media often portrays women as back-stabbing, passive-aggressive monsters who will do anything to eliminate their competition. That could not be further from my experience at this conference. I’ve never felt more supported, both creatively and personally.

These woman accepted me for me. Even if that included quoting One Direction songs at random intervals, much to Tracy Deeb’s chagrin.

I need to thank my lovely roommates Andrea, PJ, and Lisa for making the conference such a great experience. And to all the authors it may seem like I’ve forgotten; trust me, I haven’t. I love you ladies!

The next morning I boarded my flight to Ashland, Oregon. It was only a quick trip, but I was able to see my family–and meet the most important man in my life!

Smiley Riley with Auntie Marni!

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I can’t wait to make up stories with him!

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And then I caught a flight back to LA for the Teen Author Reading Night where I met Eve Silver, Jessi Kirby, EJ Altbacker, Francesca Lia Block, and Cecil Castellucci!

It was a fantastic evening that deserves it’s own blog post. But I seriously need to get back to my writing. See, I have these characters making out on a couch and–

I’ve already said too much!

More later!

~Marni

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Going to My Happy Place!

Hey everyone!

I am headed to the happiest place on earth! And for those of you thinking, Um, Marni? You live in LA. Can’t you go to Disneyland whenever you want? 

That is NOT my happy place. I’m way too afraid of rollercoasters to go on most of the rides. My friends have given up on trying to talk me into them too. Mainly because I agree to do it with them…and then I begin panicking during the safety checks. Somewhere around the five hundredth, “Oh my god, I can’t do this! No, I seriously can’t do this!” an employee looks at me and asks, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

That’s when I yell, “HECK NO! I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS!”

And I unbuckle my harness and totally abandon the person next to me.

My happy place doesn’t involve metal rides of death. But I might try to summon the courage to go on a ride if that meant I could attend the Romance Writers of America conference. Because that conference, my friends, is the happiest place on earth.

It’s just…magical!

Of course, I want to be fully prepared for the magic so I need to keep this post short. *Glances warily at half-packed suitcase*

But if you want to see me at the conference in Atlanta, (drumroll, please) you can find me HERE:

Wednesday, July 17
5:30–7:30 p.m.
2013 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing
Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atrium Ballroom A–C (Atrium level)
*This event is open to the public and there is no entry fee.

But wait! THERE IS MORE!

I am also on a panel called 50 Shades of YA where a whole bunch of stellar YA authors will talk about SEXYTIMES!

Thursday, July 18

8:30–9:30 a.m.

50 Shades of YA

Atlanta Marriott, Room: M301/M302

I am so freaking excited, you guys! Talking about YA SEXYTIMES with Jennifer Estep, Erica O’Rourke, Nina Berry, and my fabulous editor, Alicia Condon…that’s a big enough incentive to get me out of bed before 10 a.m.

And on that note, I really gotta go!

I will do my best to keep you updated on all the awesome! So stay tuned in!

~Marni

Marni’s Best Advice for Best Friends

Hey everyone,

So when I began writing Invisible I knew that this was my chance to give a voice to the “quirky best friend.” See, I’ve always taken issue with that role–even when watching my favorite romantic comedies. Most of the time the heroine is so focused on her own journey that she forgets her friend in the process. And I hate the way the audience often forgets right along with her.

Don’t get me wrong; we all love the quirky best friend. She gives inappropriate pep talks and tells our heroine some hard truths. She’s lovable and off-beat and often provides the comic relief.

Need examples? Be warned: almost all of them include slight profanity or adult language. It kind of goes with the territory.

Carrie Fischer in When Harry Met Sally.

Judy Greer. The Wedding Planner, 27 Dresses, and 13 Going on 30 all come to mind.

Zooey Deschanel in Failure to Launch.

Aly Michalka in Easy A.

There are others. So many others. But I can’t provide Youtube videos because apparently my QBF’s don’t usually get even that much attention.

I would love to hear your picks for QBF though. So feel free to leave them as a comment!

But back to the book! Insta-fame and a super sexy Notable boyfriend (*Waves happily to Logan!*) have added some strain into Mackenzie’s relationship with Jane. And it was important to me that the girls were equally responsible for that growing rift.

That’s how it works in real life. Nobody thinks to themselves, Wow, I’m doing a stellar job destroying all of my friendships. And I am 100% to blame for all of it. Woohooo!!!

Instead it is usually a mix of, I can’t believe they said/did that! How could they do that to me?! It’s like they don’t know me at all!–and my own personal nightmare–Am I blowing this whole thing out of proportion? Maybe I shouldn’t say anything? Maybe I should pretend that my feeling weren’t hurt? Maybe…she doesn’t want to be my friend?

So I created Marni’s Best 10 Bits of Advice for Best Friends!

Hopefully it will help both of us avoid the pitfalls that I use to ruthlessly torture my characters in my books.

1. Don’t expect your friend to read your mind.

You have to be willing to speak up when something upsets you. And this is really freaking hard. I remember being floored when I first read Harry Potter and Dumbledore awarded 10 points to Gryffindor because of Neville Longbottom. But he’s right: It is harder to stand up to your friends. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it though.

2. Keep in mind that not everything is about you.

If a friend doesn’t have as much time for you…maybe they just have a lot on their plate? Maybe they are stressing over family issues, or school stuff, or a new relationship, or something else entirely! It’s never fun to feel left out, but it can be a great opportunity to focus on your own interests. Speaking of which…

3. Don’t trade in your identity.

Let’s face it, it’s never fun to disappoint a friend. So when they want to listen to a band that you don’t particularly like or they invite you on an two week river rafting adventure…it can be hard to say no. And there are times when you shouldn’t say no! Trying new things with a friend can be fan-freaking-tastic! But I don’t recommend losing yourself in other people’s interests.

Marni Example: My friends convinced me to check out Battlestar Galactica and I’m totally hooked. But I don’t have time for it right now and I knew that if I didn’t read spoilers, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my work. So, yeah, I read the wikipedia page. And my friends did not take that news well. They shouted at me in all caps. For days. But I have no regrets. I did what I needed to do and even though my friends don’t like it…they will get over my geeky betrayal. Eventually.

4. Have good intentions.

This rule is the primary one I use to navigate my life. I mess up plenty. I’m human. I learn from mistakes and try to do better next time. But at the end of the day, I’m okay with myself, because even when I royally botch things up…my intentions are good. That’s what matters most to me.

5. Fight fair.

You are going to disagree with your friends. It’s inevitable. And when that does eventually happen–fight fair. No name-calling. No insults. Resist the temptation to use your insider knowledge against them.

Marni Example: If you know your friend is self-conscious about their weight, do not say, “I don’t know why you pretend like you are skinny, when you’re obviously not!” That’s not okay. Instead, you might want to consider using something like, “It has started to really frustrate me when you borrow my clothes. I love you, but it makes me all twitchy when I can’t find what I want to wear in my closet.”

6. Keep the communication lines open…as long as you feel safe.

If your friend doesn’t fight fair…I suggest you shut it down. At the end of the day, you need to protect your own emotional well-being. A real friend should want that for you, too. My rule of thumb: If you would never treat someone the way that you are being treated…you probably aren’t friends.

7. Learn how to apologize and to accept heart-felt apologies.

This goes along with the whole good intentions thing. You don’t have to regret taking a stand, but if someone’s feelings are hurt…that is usually worthy of an apology.

It might sound lame, but even a simple, “My intent was never to hurt you. I’m really sorry if this offended you in any way,” goes a long way with a good friend.

IMPORTANT CAVEAT: NEVER begin a sentence with, “I don’t want to be rude, but–” or “Not to be mean, but–”

You are probably being both rude and mean.

If you honestly don’t want to be those things? Don’t say it. Telling people that you are about to tear them to shreds does not give you permission to go ahead and do it.

So you might want to keep that in mind.

8. Be supportive.

So you don’t get Battlestar Galactica? That’s fine. Maybe you loathe everything about Stephanie Meyers. Plenty of people feel that way, too. But if someone says, “Oh, I can’t wait to go to Forks! I’m going to do a Twilight movie marathon as preparation for my trip and it will be awesome!” you do not get to call them sad or pathetic. You also don’t get to patronize them. If you honestly can’t think of anything supportive to say, I vote you go with this: It’s great that you are so excited about (blank)!

Because it is great! Even though the subject matter doesn’t interest you, that shouldn’t prevent you from being happy for your friend. The fact that they feel so passionately about something is awesome in itself!

By raining on their parade, you’re probably being a bully instead of being a friend.

9. Try not to judge.

Your friend might want different things out of life. Very different things. That’s not always going to be easy to understand–and it can be excruciating to watch–but keep in mind that what would be a colossal mistake for you, might be great for them. 

I’m a huge Pride & Prejudice fan and I try to keep Charlotte Lucas in mind whenever I’m tempted to say something like, “Are you for real right now? Are you out of your freaking mind?!” That’s pretty much how Lizzie responded to Charlotte’s engagement news and (spoiler alert!) it did not go over well.

The video quality here isn’t the best, but I love this scene!

This doesn’t mean I don’t speak up when I think my friends need me. I just try not to be a Judgy McJudgerson. In my experience, “Hey, are you okay? I’m worried about you,” means the most during a crisis.

10. Befriend yourself.

I happen to think you are pretty darn awesome and all of your friends agree with me. But at the end of the day, it’s what you think of yourself that matters the most. Treat yourself well. The people who do the same are the ones you’re going to want to stick with for the rest of your life.

There is some great advice in this scene from The Holiday. It really resonated with me!

I hope this helps!

Sincerely,

Marni