About Marni Bates

My autobiography MARNI is in the Louder Than Words series and was on the New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age 2010 List. Kensington Teen then signed me on for a four book contract with AWKWARD being slated for publication Jan 1, 2012. And all of this before I've even graduated from Lewis & Clark College! I have no idea what's going to happen next, but I'm sure it's going to be fantastic!

Helllloooo 2014!

Hey everyone,

I suck at New Year’s resolutions. Once I even managed to mess up my resolution not to make any resolutions!

I’m the total New Year’s resolution cliché. I start out with good intentions. I’m even willing to use positive visualization…

tumblr_mrf02qpACB1rmesz7o5_250

And then I actually try the thing I’ve resolved to accomplish.

Which quickly leads to this…

tumblr_mthbbfGXA71s9q9dro2_250

Because why would a smart person resolve to do this thing?! WHY?! It sucks. It’s hard. I’m not good at it. I don’t wanna…

And this is my response when my friends and family remind me of all those idealistic plans…

tumblr_inline_mvmxwjxozm1rohp4f

Every. Single. Year.

I think part of the problem is that you are supposed to master something by the end of the year. And that is awfully daunting to a girl who still has burn marks on her neck from a 3am encounter with a marshmallow.

I’m not even making that up.

But I realized something about myself recently. Something that I probably should have figured out years ago.

I’m really good at failing.

I don’t mean this in a bad way either. I don’t think that I am a failure. I absolutely love my life, my friends, and my job. But when it comes to making a mess…I’m something of a natural. I once asked my best friend whether she thought I’d make a better assassin or a better chef.

She said that the only way I’d ever kill someone was if I attempted to cook for them.

I think that sums up my culinary skills pretty nicely.

Now normally this is when I’d feel obligated to make a resolution that involves cooking classes. To read recipes when cooking. Heck, maybe even buy a cookbook!

I don’t want to use recipes though. That takes all the fun out of it for me. And I don’t want to feel guilty if I take a cooking class and then can never reproduce the dish without supervision.

I don’t want to feel pressured to prove myself. Especially not in the kitchen.

Which is why this year I am resolved to be more open to failure. I could make some poorly constructed sushi rolls. Or I could have a super awkward encounter with a dance partner while attempting to tango. I could very easily mix up my left and my right in the midst of an ice skating class…and faceplant on the ice.

And if it turns out I actually have a knack for any of those things, well, that’s cool! If not, that’s fine too!

I just want to keep trying new things. And laughing. I expect to laugh a lot in 2014.

So on that note…

tumblr_mugyawEoaQ1stkt30o1_500

 

I hope you have an incredible new year!

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

Portland, You’ve Got Marni!

Hey everyone,

I realized that I haven’t shared much about my awesome new home in Portland with you! All you got to see was nostalgic-Thanksgiving-Marni. And she’s not all that much fun. Trust me.

So let me fill you guys in!

My second day in Portland was spent with a whole bunch of my friends in Ikea.

I’m so lucky that they agreed to help me because Ikea has to be the most overwhelming place in the history of overwhelming places! My friends were like, “What kind of a bed are you looking for, Marni?”

To which I brilliantly replied: “Y’know…the kind that holds a mattress? And sheets? I’m quite fond of those!”

They were the ones who instructed me to try out all the mattresses on my stomach…

Image

 

Because that’s how I roll. Or, y’know…sleep.

Image

 

And they only mocked me a little for taking off my shoes in the store. I thought it was the polite thing to do when testing a mattress!

Somehow we managed to make it out of Ikea in time to make an afternoon showing of the Hunger Games. I thought the movie was absolutely great. Seriously. If you haven’t seen it, you totally should! Although I will admit that during this scene…

Image

 

All I could think was, “I’ve been in that elevator! It’s the same hotel I stayed in for the RWA conference in Atlanta! That stupid elevator nearly made me seasick too!”

So that was a little distracting for me.

Anyhow, the next morning I had a battle of my own to wage. Marni vs. The Ikea Bed.

It was a long painful struggle, but I’m proud to say that I put the whole thing together all by myself! And there is only one loose screw in the entire thing! 

Now if you’re thinking, “Marni, that’s not a big deal. All you had to do was follow directions!” well, yes. It is that simple. I just happen to hate following instructions. It’s partly why I’m a terrible cook. I glance at recipes and growl, “You’re not the boss of me!

So for me to successfully decipher the bizarre Ikea instructions was nothing short of miraculous.

Here is what my room looks like now:

Image

 

Have I mentioned that I love twinkle lights? Because I do. More than just about anything.

Image

 

I was so cold when I first arrived in Portland that I tried to insulate my room by putting a layer of clear plastic on my window. I don’t think it helped keep the heat in, but it’s now a great place to brainstorm ideas!

Image

 

This is Monsieur Mustachio! I can tell whether or not my heater is on by glancing at his magnificent facial hair. 

I’m still trying to get a lay of the land. I’m plotting new bus routes and testing out coffee shops. But this place really does feel like home. It helps that my housemates are completely made of awesome–especially the furry one!

This is Hamlet!

Image

 

He is a total sweetheart. But he also has some very strong opinions about petting time, so…sdjlhgkergvwgnwwwwrtu

I better appease the prince!

Awkwardly yours,

~Marni

Houston, We’ve Got a Problem (RWA, Please Fix This!)

Hey everyone,

So yesterday I received the following email from the Romance Writers of America:

Dear Marni Bates,

Due to the failure to obtain the minimum number of entries (5 percent of total contest entries) required by the contest entry deadline, the Young Adult Romance category of the 2014 RITA® Contest has been canceled.

I’m not going to lie, I’m really disappointed.

Awards are important. And I’ve spent the past hour staring at my screen trying to figure out how to discuss them without coming across as narcissistic. Here’s a sad truth: It requires bravery for a female author to say that she believes her work to be worthy of consideration. It’s a whole new level of scary. It’s the kind of statement that you instantly want to take back before somebody says, “You aren’t a real writer! Your stories are light fluffy things of absolutely no consequence!” because that would make you want to crawl up into a very tight ball in the back of your closet.

Which is why I still feel obligated to preface this post with something self-depreciating.

Not that I expected to be nominated…

Not that I had a shot at reaching the finals…

I’m mostly disappointed that so many of my peers won’t get the recognition they deserve…

And yes, I absolutely believe that gender plays a large role in this. If you want to read an amazing article on what it’s like to be a female YA author, I highly recommend this piece by Sarah Rees Brennan. It’s spot on.

Here’s a small excerpt from her article:

Common Responses To Female Authors Promoting Themselves I Have Seen, Over and Over Again.

“Why do you think you are so great? You are not so great.” (By promoting yourself/talking about yourself or your work, you indicate that you do think you, and/or your work, has some value, and there is so much pushback, conscious and unconscious, to that.)

“Don’t reblog fan graphics/talk about your characters/talk about your MALE characters (what do you think you are, some sort of harlot?)/be so smug about your books as if you think they might be any good. It makes it seem like you think you’re so great!”

“Do you expect PRAISE?” (I don’t! I never do. Most ladies I know don’t, being accustomed to expecting constant negativity. But it would be nice if people didn’t talk about praise as if it is some incredible, celestial prize that a women should never even dare to dream of getting, and the very idea of them getting it is to be scorned.)

“She’s writing romance and that’s girly and it sucks./She’s writing YA and that’s girly and it sucks./She’s writing literature and men write it better and she sucks./She’s writing about a girl and girls are annoying/shallow/not literature.”

So I repeat: Awards are important. Why? It’s a source of validation. And for a whole bunch of us, it means that we will feel valued instead of dismissed. Especially if you write books that end with a happily ever after.
Now I will always love the Romance Writers of America. I’ve met so many unbelievably talented people through that organization. My life is a hundred thousand times more awesome because of the friendships that have formed, too!
But they have made a huge mistake.
The Young Adult community within the RWA first began to feel alienated last year when the organization decided that all books in that category must “focus primarily on the romantic relationship between two adolescents.”
Here’s the problem: YA is all about coming of age. It’s about figuring out your own identity at a time in life where everyone has an opinion about your future. And yes, YA protagonists often navigate complicated romantic relationships, but the happily ever after is usually built on the character’s ability to know what they believe in. Young Adult fiction can also mean just about anything. Historical. Suspense. Horror. Sci-fi. Contemporary. Humor. Drama. There are YA books that include all of those elements…and have a romance too!
So here is the position that most YA writers found themselves in. Do I really want to spend fifty bucks when I’m pretty sure my book is going to be instantly disqualified? Do I want to feel guilty about focusing more on the growth of a primary character instead of an overarching romance?
And for a bunch of people the answer to that was a resounding, “Oh, hell no!” Some of my friends are going to leave the organization because they feel so frustrated/alienated by these policy changes.
Now that whole category has been eliminated.
I know you might be sick of hearing this, but…AWARDS ARE IMPORTANT!
This community is important! This is our refuge when the rest of the world tells us that we are girly and that we suck. So I hope the RWA will remove the problematic language and consider opening the category to late submissions.
I’d love to hear your opinions!
~Marni

Marni’s Thanksgiving Update

Hey everyone,

Thanksgiving and I haven’t always gotten along.

That’s because it was the last day I spent with my grandpa. It was the last time I hugged him. The last time he said my name. The last time I told him that I loved him.

I could have visited him in the hospital, but I didn’t want to see him that way. I wanted to preserve my perfect goodbye.

But for the past six years, Thanksgiving has felt like a game of emotional roulette that I keep losing. Not having him there…it kinda rips me apart. Even when I’m with my family, the ache lingers.

frank and dena

I love this photo of my grandma and grandpa together.

I still miss him. But I think if there is one thing worse than his absence…it’s knowing that I’ve disappointed him. If he were alive right now, he’d be pulling me aside for one of his well-intended lectures. And while I don’t doubt for a second that his love for me was unconditional, I think he’d see me as the biggest dunderhogan of the bunch.

He’d be right about that, too.

This year has been full of major life decisions and I’d give just about anything for one of his hugs. To curl my feet up on the couch and listen to him tell me about Esmerelda the Mouse and Mary-Belle the Beauty Queen Cow. To giggle helplessly at Laurel and Hardy with him. To have him totally freak me out with his shark impression in the swimming pool.

I know that I have a whole lot to be thankful for in my life. I have an incredible family, phenomenal friends, and the best job in the world–writing novels for you! But Thanksgiving is still hard for me.

So what I’m most grateful for is the feeling that my grandpa would be proud of the way I’m facing down my fears.

But right now he’d be telling me to clean my room and get back to work.

I think I’ll take his advice.

Wishing all of you a very happy holiday season!

~Marni

Marni’s Pirates & Plagiarists Playlist

Hey everyone,

So a whole bunch of my writer friends are dealing with online piracy right now.

Actually, that’s misleading. ALL of my author friends are dealing with it. All of the time.

And yes, I’m reporting stolen copies of my books too.

I could rant about how shitty it is to have your hard work stolen. And I could point out that authors do not rake in the kind of money you might imagine that we do. Seriously. If we are lucky enough to get an advance on royalties from our publisher (this is by no means a given!) that money is instantly earmarked for paying the bills. Many authors won’t see a single penny of royalty money even a year after the release date.

Which means that if you want an author to keep writing you should seriously consider, y’know…buying their books.

Just a thought.

But I’m going to try to let my Pirates & Plagiarists Playlist do the speaking for me.

*These songs include swearing. So if that offends you, I’d suggest skipping them!

1. *Sweet As Whole ~ Sara Bareilles

Let’s be real. That’s what we’re thinking.

2. *I Hate Everyone ~ Go Set Go

Self-explanatory.

3. Don’t Ask Me ~ OK Go

Especially if you are directly confronting someone who has stolen your work. I tend to avoid doing that. I just…don’t even want to go near it.

4. My Rights Versus Yours ~ The New Pornographers.

Yep. I’m getting punny.

5. *Sh*t Song ~ Kate Nash

I listen to this on repeat when I’m really mad.

6. Mean ~ Taylor Swift

The title says it all.

7. Brave ~ Sara Bareilles

Let the words fall out…

8. Do My Thing ~ Estelle

*dances happily*

9. Strip Me ~ Natasha Bedingfield

I love this song. I think it’s a great reminder that no pirate or plagiarist can ever steal our voice. They can only temporarily hijack our words.

And finally…

10. Keep Your Head Up ~ Andy Grammer

At the end of the day, this is still the best job in the whole freaking world. So we’ve got that going for us!

Feel free to suggest other songs! I’m always interested in listening to new music!

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

Moving on. Moving up. Moving…OUCH!

Hey everyone,

So something pretty awesome happened yesterday.

I turned in my edits for the last book in my Smith High series!

tumblr_mrhur0SeAM1sdx9uzo1_250

I looked something like this when I sent it back to my editor, Alicia Condon.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m allowed to share about the final book. I’ve seen the cover and let’s just say I got all mushy in the Dulles airport. And then I impressed a whole bunch of travelers with my happy dance.

andy

Hmm…maybe “impressed” isn’t the right word. 

So here is what I can tell you!

1. It’s called Awkwardly Ever After.

2. It’s prom time at Smith High School. So, of course, Mackenzie and (name redacted) are shocked when (name redacted) insists on (REDACTED!)…

3. It answers a whole bunch of questions that you’ve had since Awkward.

And I can tell you that it was an absolute pleasure to write.

It’s also rather strange for me to…move on.

I mean, these characters have been with me for over four years. We’ve chatted on four different continents, travelled to seven countries, and visited countless cities together. They’ve seen me through the good, the bad, and the “meh” times.

We’ve pulled all-nighters together. Confided our secrets to each other. Exchanged tons of advice.

And yes, I know that Mackenzie, Logan, Jane, Scott, Chelsea, Houston, Nick, Holly, Corey, Tim, Melanie, Isobel, Sam, Dylan, Miles, Spencer, Ben, Liz, Amy, Lisa Anne, Chris, Alex, and let’s not forget Fake and Bake, aren’t strictly speaking real.

But they are very real to me.

So writing Awkwardly Ever After felt like I was hugging my friends goodbye.

In a good way.

It’s kind of hard to explain. I guess, it’s like heading to college. You know you’ll miss all your high school friends, but there are going to be tons of new adventures ahead! Really freaking awesome ones!

And I’m completely psyched for the next stage of my journey to begin!

Speaking of which…

I’m moving to Portland, Oregon!

E79Ea-3V16XPJTYWgEI0oihDwbo3EnfUXPKc3E3fwS4

I’ve booked my flight and everything! I will officially be sharing an adorable house with two amazing housemates on November 23rd!

So right now I’m packing up my apartment in Los Angeles and pretending to be an adult. Pro tip: It’s cheapest to ship boxes of books media rate through the post office. Turns out, there is a whole lot I have yet to learn about adulthood.

Luckily, I have friends in Portland who are willing to brave Ikea with me!

And teach me how to drive a car.

And take last minute road trips with me…

It’s going to be fun.

In the wake of all that change, you might think I’d want to avoid making, y’know, permanent life decisions.

But right after I clicked “Send” on Awkwardly Ever After, I went to a tattoo parlor with my friends…

IMG_9331

Fun fact: I was terrified.

I’ve wanted a small tattoo on my foot for years. During my semester abroad in Australia, I penned it with a sharpie every time a lecture failed to capture my interest.

But I’m a total wimp when it comes to pain, so I never thought I’d ever actually do it!

I thought any tattoo expedition would quickly turn into this:

giphy

Everyone was incredibly patient with me. The tattoo artist said that it wouldn’t take long and that it wouldn’t hurt much.

I didn’t believe him.

The worst pain I’ve ever experienced was a bout of seasickness in Australia that lasted for hours. And I’d been deadly serious when I’d asked for somebody–ANYBODY–to shoot me with a tranquilizer gun.

So I was bracing myself for the possibility that I’d spend the rest of my life with a small black “A” on my foot, when the tattoo artist finally began.

IMG_9345

I burst out laughing.

It barely hurt.

Seriously. I think I might have gritted my teeth once. That’s it. At times, it almost felt good. Although that might have something to do with all the adrenaline pumping through my system.

IMG_9370

Oh my god. I can’t believe I did it! I DID IT!!!

Here’s a close up:

1393796_10152363901889196_645198829_n

I looked at hundreds of different fonts before I decided to use my own handwriting. I think it adds a personal touch. And I absolutely love it!

On that note…it’s time to put my Awkward foot forward and become acquainted with my newest batch of fictional besties.

I think you guys are going to love them!

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

The Truth About The Las Vegas Book Fest… (Bum. Bum. BUUUUUUMMM!)

Hey everyone,

Being an author can be pretty lonely. We spend most of our time staring at our laptop screens, trying to listen to the little voices in our heads. And that’s on a good day. On a bad day, the voices aren’t there and we stare aimlessly at the wall before trying to eat the entire contents of our fridge.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Regardless, I think the solitary nature of the job is part of what makes our conferences so much fun.

Sure, we might occasionally wonder this…

tumblr_mtnksoU4jp1syeot2o1_500

And we definitely think this…tumblr_inline_mu982h5YZy1rhignx

But that’s okay!

In fact, I think that’s a huge part of the fun! When I am surrounded by other writers I don’t worry quite as much about saying the right thing. I can debate the virtue of maiming versus killing teenagers without clarifying after every sentence that it’s for a novel. We trade embarrassing stories and bust a move to, well…Bust A Move by Young MC.

23ma42w.jpg

(You’re welcome, Tracy Deebs!)

Because when we all get together…well…

tumblr_ma4ssebvYF1qca7eso1_500

I have so many highlights from the Vegas Valley Book Festival. One of which was getting Vivi Barnes to say, “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.”

Priceless.

I loved wearing a sparkly dress to our prom!

1459864_648583411852809_1502872573_n

Here I am with Veronica Wolff and Stacey Kade! (Pssst….you should totally buy their books!)

1450764_10200448470008692_2106422751_n

Stacey Jay is hugging the floofy part of my dress! Oh, and she is ridiculously good at dancing. Just in case you were wondering.

And that’s not all…

I had a blast speaking on the Choosing the Real Me panel with a whole bunch of crazy talented people. (Lisa Burstein, Ann Stampler, Varian Johnson, Nicole McInnes, Carrie Mesrobian, Daria Snadowsky, and the delightfully wicked Kasie West.)

I’m going to use the “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” excuse here. Let’s just say that as we were leaving the stage, Carrie called me the Ron Weasley of the panel.

tumblr_mvhsz66zVG1risnpzo1_500

It went something like that.

Part of me is tempted to end the post here with a quick thank you to Crystal Perkins for putting all of this amazingness together. Because truthfully, I don’t know how to describe the overwhelming amount of heart I see in these authors. But I’m going to try.

When Katie McGarry spoke about foster kids aging out of the system, you could feel it. You could see both her frustration and her steely determination to write those stories. To stand on their behalf.

I want you guys to be able to see it for yourselves though. So you should check out Dear Teen Me and read the advice that these authors want to give their teenage selves.

I should warn you: I felt emotionally sucker-punched by what my friends have gone through. I am awed by their strength and their kindness. And by the passion that goes into their work.

I’m going to link Lisa Burstein’s post here with a trigger warning for rape.

You should read what she has to say. Because it’s amazing.

So here are the spectacular authors I met at the Las Vegas Book Festival.

BYKZqYkCEAAKBR-.jpg-large

You know how people say that it gets better after high school? I think everyone in this photo can personally vouch for that!

And now I should get back to writing…

Happy Reading,

Marni

P.S. I am obligated to remind you that NOTABLE is now out in stores and that you should totally buy it. And then you should give copies to all your friends. Maybe post some glowing reviews online…

Or not.

Whatever.

tumblr_inline_mu88f1MK8G1qawofo

RELEASING THE CRACKEN! Whoops, I mean…The Chelsea.

Hey everyone,

I hated Chelsea Halloway when I was writing AWKWARD.

Hated. Her. Guts.

She was this perfect blue-eyed beauty who could get anything she wanted with a toss of her hair. The kind of girl who effortlessly flirts with boys instead of stuttering, “H-h-hey! So…that thing was pretty cool, right? No? Um…c-c-catch ya later!”

Basically, she was the anti-Marni.

And I wanted to dismiss her as the mean girl.

Except I couldn’t do that because Logan had dated her. And there was no way Logan would have been sucked in purely by a beautiful face. There had to be more to Chelsea than I initially wanted to see.

More than Mackenzie wanted to see, too.

That thought nagged at me the whole time I wrote INVISIBLE. For some reason, Mackenzie brought out the worst in Chelsea.

But that didn’t mean Jane couldn’t see a different side of her.

By the time I finished INVISIBLE there was no doubt in my mind: I had to tell Chelsea’s side of the story.

And yes, I stared outside at the snow in Oregon while I listened to Chelsea’s rants…

Image

I also collaged like a crazy person.

Image

Here’s the truth: I became a crazy person.

Image

Nobody sane has hair like this. Nobody.

I doodled potential plot points…

Image

I created a playlist for Chelsea…

OvdcDQLBQWQOOyrqwWKP85YEbWqfjzgEy2EtKdhxZsI

And I ate this celebratory sushi three months later when I finished my first draft!

Image

I swooned over the cover KTeen created for NOTABLE. In fact, I ran around L.A. snapping photos with the coverflats they sent me!

Image

It’s just so pretty!

My neighbors weren’t thrilled about the way I beautified some signage.

ZV2QF6jFPDlQ-ad4unl8MQ5CaG7CjhqOrrYXRN7sVok

But I couldn’t be stopped!

JV78Su_gpZqsLqSEWAhti24X4T9wU9XIgaDekxPqA3M

Avn37nQIgF3SNEmZLZOxRp_ffsq_C59GI-an7nkHOzw

72PpJIHtpLyAQTvHH5NE0iB8Q4f2TniAnjrmJ54E4_Y

Chelsea insisted that she deserved a star of her own…

cY43h1RvjEcYNpm8OC1X7DpqkjEV6nnEEApJ970JpXY

I even roped Laurie Halse Anderson into geeking out with me!

JAgwZZn9ssqH9fSCeA_iiM-ouQC0RglrIewsRC3RslY

Fun fact: Laurie Halse Anderson is the coolest person in the world. She also gives fantastic advice. I would be perfectly happy letting her make all my life decisions. All of them.

pPGLIrFYuvNz1bg7KiTrwnvvanjyLTOTAZpjxkmyx_4

If you had told me when I was writing AWKWARD that Chelsea would steal my heart…I’d have burst out laughing.

But that’s exactly what she did.

The two of us just…clicked. The anti-Marni somehow became my imaginary best friend.

And now she is officially sitting on bookstore shelves!

(Psst! You can buy it from Amazon here!)

You would think that at some point the whole publishing part of this process would become normal. But the truth is that I’m living out my wildest dream. (Okay, the wildest dream that doesn’t include an English manor of some kind. What can I say? I really loved Pride & Prejudice.) Most of the time this job feels like something I hallucinated after pulling an all-nighter with my AP U.S. history textbook.

Frankly, I still can’t believe I got away with some of the things I did to Chelsea.

*Cackles wickedly*

And since I am in Vegas, I had no trouble taking some ridiculous photos for you guys!

notable venice

Chelsea wanted to check out The Venetian hotel with me. And then she complained bitterly that I had sent her to Cambodia instead of Venice…or Vegas.

notable gasp

But I ignored her complaining and decided to practice my spycraft instead…

GYKYc0U1jR9GcjukRG8MAsrZZ9c0ppL_VycGQ3sTO3g

 

Let’s just say that didn’t go quite the way I planned.

L7xUPkiymMGlGr0-v1a7QKGdelNY6ejz0ZPA5vLueM8

 

Those are real sharks!

Chelsea and I were informed we had the right to remain silent. But let’s just say that this happened…

GCCa6h3nO8zftDHPt12rQM_IG8odcMM58t9LWmt5Ta0

 

And then this happened…

TwCBSIhPXyDkmsxfEF5zv6_bzpYfBkOKEM-mIwKRHv8

I’m kidding, of course!

Even when Chelsea suggests Questionable Life Decisions…this is the craziest I get!

1385189_10152315345379196_1192111878_n

 

Marni wasn’t here.

935977_10152315346814196_1057450840_n

Okay, so maybe there was a little power-tripping.

But in all seriousness, I want to give a big thank you to everyone who made this book possible. And that absolutely includes all of my amazing readers!

Your tweets/emails/book trailers/Facebook messages/hugs/fanart/book purchases…they mean the world to me.

And just in case you were wondering…

qsFP20EbrjPI5hCxSPJjIWycD49SeYC-z8nM0ZUXBto

 

Love,

Marni

 

The Awkward Adventurer… (Part 1)

Hey everyone,

I’ve learned something important about myself: I suck at blogging when I travel.

Seriously. I’m the worst at it. Every now and then I think, “I should share these adventures with the world!” and then I come up with a reason to put it off.

Which means that now you get the highlight reel from my trip across America!

Where to begin….

LOS ANGELES:

I was too excited to sleep the night before the trip, so I felt like a zombie by the time the shuttle picked me up. And then I met a real zombie!

mNorl-JZsIZi6w3osYCrBZYQoqKdEMlGp_RmjZKpeao

Okay, I met an actor who plays a zombie on The Walking Dead. That’s pretty much the same thing, right?

Vincent M. Ward now has a copy of NOTABLE. Chelsea probably doesn’t watch The Walking Dead, but Jane is totally geeking out over this.

Still, I couldn’t wait to trade L.A. in for New Orleans. After weeks of stressing over a new writing project, a change of scenery needed to happen.

There were crazy eyes, my friends. And those crazy eyes were attached to my face. It’s never a good thing when you look into the mirror and say, “Why hello! Don’t you look like a serial killer today!”

So the timing for this adventure couldn’t have been better.

Especially since I stayed in a mansion with two awesome writing buddies: Cecily White and Noelle Pierce.

Yep. A mansion.

Cecily contends that I’m exaggerating about her childhood home.

I think that if water comes from a swan, it’s officially a mansion.

2013-09-06 23.38.01

Right?!

Plus, they have a special scoop for ice cubes. I seriously doubt that even Ice Cube lives in such luxury. These are the kinds of details that I notice after two weeks of self-imposed solitary confinement.

2013-09-06 23.39.30

Luckily, Cecily’s mom seemed to get a kick out of just how much I loved her home. (Especially my bedroom, which included a little step stool so I could reach the four poster bed. So cute!)

I’m not allowed to tell you about everything that happened in New Orleans. The three of us  pretty much swore a blood oath. But I can tell you that we spent most of our time discussing characters and plots and writing deadlines.

Oh, and I went from this

rsz_364
To this:
363

I have always wanted to play with the color of my hair. Always. But even though I have no trouble grabbing a pair of scissors and snipping away at 3am, I could never bring myself to alter the shade. So coloring it red was my way of shaking things up!

The next few days are now a blur of awesome.

I had a MacGyver moment that involved rigging up my computer charger at the coffee shop with the help of my shoe.

2013-09-07 14.34.58

I went to an incredible restaurant called Muriel’s with the girls. There were all these creepy old photos and paintings on the walls and I couldn’t shake the feeling that at any minute they might decide to start haunting me.

2013-09-07 22.55.26

Note the super creepy painting behind me…

Here are some other cool photos…that could use much better lighting.

2013-09-10_1378835082

Andrew Jackson: Vampire Hunter.

2013-10-12_1381577025

Creepy pictures. Such a creepy pictures!

We sang karaoke at a club on Bourbon St. called The Cat’s Meow. And yes, Noelle filmed our rendition of Call Me Maybe. Have I mentioned that Noelle is a wonderful, beautiful person who would never stoop to blackmailing me?

I’ve truly missed both of them ever since I left New Orleans.

Our last big group activity was a visit to Cecily’s old high school. The girls we spoke with were absolutely wonderful. They asked fantastic questions and lingered to chat with us after the official lecture part was over. So we definitely ended on a high note!

WASHINGTON D.C.

I’m so glad I visited my older sister! She shares an adorable apartment with her roommate and the two of them took me to a wonderful Yom Kippur service.

Just for the record: “wonderful” and “service” are not two words that I usually put together.

But the Rabbi discussed the Jewish holiday of repenting misdeeds in a way that was current, political, and non-partisan. I was impressed.

Still, I spent the majority of my time in D.C. acting like a tourist. I woke up early so that I could enjoy an entire day at The Newseum and I still nearly went back for more! The FBI exhibit was super cool…

2013-09-12_1379027403

Don’t shoot, G-Men!

2013-09-13_1379108031

So…that’s intense!

And I loved this section of the Berlin Wall!

2013-09-12_1379026933 2013-09-12_1379027138

Not that Chelsea needs any encouragement to act up!

The next day I went to the International Spy Museum!

2013-09-12 15.58.14

Even the bathroom signs were made of awesome!

I totally geeked out. And I did my very best to memorize as much information from the exhibits as possible. I’m sure some of it will come in handy!

That’s all I’m going to say for now…

In other news…I took Chelsea to see a whole bunch of national monuments.

2013-09-15_1379218734

I snuggled up to FDR.

2013-09-13_1379101574
I joked around with Lincoln.
2013-09-13 16.11.40
I practiced my powerful pose of authority with MLK.
And I met an incredible ballerina who agreed to pose with Notable!
 2013-09-13_1379101320
This photo always makes me smile!
Here are some more…
 2013-09-13 15.33.40
2013-09-13 15.34.25
2013-09-13 15.34.28
I totally got into my role of photographer.
But perhaps the best part of my trip to D.C. was actually my ride to the airport. That’s because I was able to catch up with a good friend from high school. Danielle and I laughed and joked all the way to Dulles International and I boarded my flight to Boston with a very happy heart.
But you will have to stay tuned to hear about those adventures!
More later,
Marni