Writing Process Blog Hop!

Hey everyone!

So the ridiculously awesome Clara Kensie and Stacey Kade invited me to join this writing blog hop! You can read their posts right here (Clara and Stacey) because, well…yeah, I’m not kidding about the awesome.

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This is my expression when I see them at a conference.

Okay, it’s question time!

1. What am I working on right now?

I’m writing the second book in a series that has only just gone on submission. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say about it. So please forgive my vagueness. I can tell you that my heroine Emmy Danvers gets into a boatload of danger that involves contract killers, an elite prep school, and a boy with more than a few secrets of his own. Oh, and I absolutely love writing it! I’ve wanted to write this story for the past four years, so it’s a huge relief to finally put it on the page.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?

Oh. I’m not quite sure how to answer this.

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I write humorous contemporary YA. If you’re thinking, “That doesn’t answer the question, Marni. A whole lot of other people write that too,” than I obviously need to distract you. Penguins are adorable. They are the fanciest and I love them.

There is also a penguin named Nils Olav who was knighted in Norway. Making him (by far) the cutest knight in all of history. It’s not even a competition.

Now you know what I bring to the table: penguins and non sequiturs. But mostly penguins.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I love it. Pure and simple. I could not talk myself into writing 70,000 words (or more!) on a topic unless I was absolutely, positively, and undeniably hooked! I write the book that I most want to read at that particular moment. I think I continue on through the holy-crap-writing-so-freaking-hard times because I genuinely care about my characters and I can’t leave their stories untold without being plagued by guilt.

That’s also why I feel incredibly lucky that Kensington Teen gave me the opportunity to say goodbye to my Smith High School characters with AWKWARDLY EVER AFTER. It would have been a whole lot harder for me to move on without that closure.

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4. How does my writing process work?

Well, it usually starts out something like this:

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It starts with a question that I find interesting. Like, what would you do if you became an overnight internet sensation? Or what if someone asked you to fake a very public relationship?

Then I write the beginning and I feel great! Everything is new and shiny and sparkly!

Until it’s really not.

That’s when I pull out my journal and start doodling. (Don’t look at the doodles if you can’t handle spoilers!)

Here is what I made for AWKWARDLY EVER AFTER:

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I’ve noticed that often just doodling names or general topics can unlock the next section of plot for me.

Sometimes my doodles involve photos of famous people, like this one for DECKED WITH HOLLY.

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My doodle for my current work in progress looks like this…

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Intentionally blurred because it reveals plot for Book Two. And because it is my Secret Project of Secret.

Creating these doodles has become an integral part of my process, but there really is no magic short-cut to writing a novel. I have to sit down, take a deep breath (and an even bigger sip of coffee), and keep writing until I reach the end. And when I get to the editing stage, I ask my barista for a triple shot. 😉

And yes, I create impossible word count schedules for myself. I bribe myself with the promise of Thai food. Sometimes I take three or four days off and do nothing but listen to audiobooks. If you see me doing book promotion, it’s a fairly safe bet that the words aren’t flowing too smoothly.

The whole process can be maddening at times, but I still wake up every day feeling incredibly grateful that I get to do it!

The blog hop continues with Celeste EastonLydia Kang, and Kim Meyer! So there’s a whole lot more awesomeness to be read!

And on that note…

*slinks back to the writing cave*

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

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

 

 

 

INVISIBLE has left the laptop!

Hey everyone!

As many of you may have heard, I’ve been working away recently on finishing up my edits for Invisible (aka the non-spinoff sequel to Awkward).

Now editing is not my favorite part of the editing process. Usually I stare at my laptop and say:

 

And of course that inevitably turns into this…

 

 

Why must paragraphs be so sneaky?

 

Luckily, I have a fantastic editor, Alicia Condon, who gives brilliant suggestions. And with her help, I think I successfully pulled off some book-related karate.

 

This is the extent of my actual karate skills.

But it’s over now. For real, folks. I’M DONE EDITING INVISIBLE!

 

This is an accurate depiction of my Starbucks victory dance. 

How did I celebrate? By meeting up for more coffee with romance authors extraordinaire, Maisey Yates and Lisa Hendrix!

Which is kind of incredible considering that Maisey was the very first person I met at the RWA.

Maisey Yates: Made of Awesome.

At the time, I wasn’t exactly acting cool though. In fact, I’m still not entirely certain I was coherent. Probably because every fiber of my being was doing this:

So I was pretty thrilled to see her again, under slightly less intense conditions. And I’m so glad Lisa was able to join us!

Lisa Hendrix: Supernaturally Awesome.

It felt like a mini-RWA conference! Especially when we roped our Applebee’s waitress into a discussion of Fifty Shades of Grey.

It was a night of great hilarity that nearly didn’t end because I can’t give directions to save my life. Seriously. Maisey threatened to shank me and I still couldn’t produce a single street name. I just kept gesturing vaguely to my left and saying, “I think it’s that direction. Maybe.”

So if a young female character ends up abandoned by the side of the road in Maisey’s next book, we will know what inspired that particular scene.

 

And now I’m feeling all inspired to get back to writing. Well, maybe after I watch a few episodes of Veronica Mars

~Marni

 

 

P.S. If you haven’t already seen it, you should totally check out my book trailer for Decked with Holly! 

Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve Got Something Special for YOU!

Hey everyone!

I hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This year I spent mine at home, getting thoroughly stuffed on turkey, and playing board games with my family.

Oh, and I watched this clip from the West Wing. Because it’s just not Thanksgiving for me without President Bartlet.

And yes, I also considered all the things in my life that I’m grateful for–including elastic waistbands for post pumpkin-pie time.

I’m incredibly blessed with amazing friends and family. My fridge is always stocked with food, unless I’ve gone on a late night rampage and consumed everything in sight. And I have the world’s best roommate who kindly overlooks my less endearing quirks and makes sure that creepy old men don’t try to get fresh with me.

It’s greatly appreciated.

 

She also generously overlooks when my post workout dance breaks turn into this… *Snickers*

To be honest, I feel grateful every single day that this is my life. I mean, I get to write novels for a living. I get to fall in love with fictional characters and then share them with other people! I get to spend hours doodling in journals and that technically counts as work!

 

This is how I feel inside almost every day.

So I’d like to give a big thank you for everyone who made this dream job possible!

I’m especially grateful for my super-agent Laurie McLean and her colleague Pam van Hylckama Vlieg.

They are just…the best.

And I’m grateful for romance writers, for crime-fighters, for readers, for tweeters, for librarians and…antiquarians.

This is how I feel whenever someone “likes” my books on Amazon.

And in the spirit of giving, I am sharing my homemade book trailer for Decked with Holly, my spin-off holiday sequel to Awkward. Now we can finally start getting excited for the holiday season!

I hope everyone likes it!

Happy Reading!

~Marni

Secret Travel Plans and Upcoming Events Revealed!

Hey everyone,

I’m back in Oregon for Thanksgiving!

*Happy dances*

Normally, I like to keep everyone apprised of my travel plans before I hop on airplanes, but not this time.

Why you ask?

Because I’m here as a Thanksgiving/birthday surprise for my mom.

Although, apparently what she really wants for her birthday is a new trash can. I’m not kidding. And when I pointed out that the last time I checked never is the right year for a birthday trash can, she insisted that she doesn’t want just any old garbage bearing receptacle.

Oh no, she wants an enormous green one that’s up to Ashland code with a lid that actually closes properly.

“Sounds like rubbish to me!”

Still, when I jumped out from behind a white pillar to surprise her at the airport, her expression was priceless. I was pretty amazed myself…that my family managed to keep it a secret.

I may be the only blogger in the family but none of us are particularly good at keeping secrets.

Which is why I will reveal all my plans right now:

I’m going to be in Ashland until November 26th and then my aunt and I will be driving up to Portland. This is the point where an accurate Magic 8 Ball would insist that I should try again later because it cannot predict now.

One of the best parts of my job is the travel flexibility. I can pretty much work wherever I can get a steady supply of coffee and Internet access. So I’m not sure when exactly I will be returning to LA.

To be honest, part of the reason my travel plans are so open right now is because I’ve got a serious case of tunnel vision going on.

I have a week to turn in the (hopefully) last round of edits for Invisible.

“Damn you, evil paragraph! Why must you ruin everything? WHY?!” 

And the only other thing my mom requested for her birthday–besides the trashcan–was a copy of Notable. I thought that I might be able to appease her by printing out the 2/3rds of it which I’ve edited but…she’s finished it already.

And now she keeps not-so subtly dropping hints that she wants to read more.

Today as we walked together to her fabulous quilt store, Sew Creative, she sighed and said, “This weather is great for quilting. Or reading.”

When I merely nodded, her smile widened devilishly.

“Hint hint.”

Yeah…so no pressure there.

I also have a short story for an anthology that needs to be edited (More on that later! I’m so excited for it!) and I’m organizing two panel proposals for the Romance Writers of America conference this year.

And I have a super exciting Decked with Holly project that I’m hoping to reveal on Thanksgiving!

So stay tuned for that explosion of awesomeness.

It’s times like this when I laugh really hard when my siblings suggest that I get a real job.

Okay, so maybe I respond more like this:

But if everything goes according to plan, most of the pressure should be off in a week or two.

And in the meantime, I get to enjoy a family Thanksgiving in my hometown. I get to go for walks and see trees with actual leaves that are actually changing color. I’ve also found time to snuggle with our dog Rascal and to read romance novels in the hot tub.

So despite the time crunch, I’m enjoying the holiday season to the fullest!

Now I better get back to work.

Happy reading, everyone!

~Marni

I need to learn “AWKWARD” in Portuguese (and other big news)!!!

Hey everyone!

Yesterday I woke up to a stunningly awesome email sitting in my inbox from my awesome KTeen editor, Alicia Condon.

Here was the subject line:

3 Brazilian Rights Sale – Marni Bates

Now, maybe I’ve been reading too many romance novels lately, because I completely misinterpreted what this meant.

At first I thought maybe Kensington sold some books about Brazilian billionaires for another author and wanted to let me know about it.

And then I thought that since they included my name, maybe they wanted to hire me to write books about Brazilian billionaires! (All Brazilians are super wealthy in romance novels. And they wear very, very expensive ties that become disheveled after they rake their hands through their thick, dark hair.)

And yes, I would have a whole lot of fun writing three steamy books about very rich Brazilian men! Except, it’s not exactly what I had in mind for my next project…

Anyhow, I rubbed my eyes and decided that maybe instead of obsessing over the subject line I should do something bold like, oh, I dunno, read the email.

Which is how I found out that Awkward, Decked with Holly, and Invisible are all going to be translated into Portuguese!!!!

I am absolutely thrilled to be translated. It almost makes me want to learn Portuguese. The only thing stopping me is the fact that I’m terrible at learning other languages.

Trust me, the last thing Brazilians want is for me to mangle their beautiful language.

I want to give Brazil a big hug too.

But with some help from Google translate, I’d like to say:

Obrigado por ler meus livros, Brasil!

That’s not all either!

Because today I got another email…

Awkward is going to be translated into Spanish!!!!

Gracias por leer mis libros, España!!!!

I seriously can’t express how excited I am about all of this. So I’d like to give a big thank you to everyone involved in making this happen.

Feliz Leitura!

¡Feliz lectura!

Happy Reading!

~Marni