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!

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…

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

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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…

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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:

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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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:

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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.

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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.

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

Here’s a close up:

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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…

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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.

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(You’re welcome, Tracy Deebs!)

Because when we all get together…well…

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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