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

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

HOW I ONCE THOUGHT EVERYONE WOULD HEAR ABOUT MY NEW BOOK.

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The Internet is a great place–my favorite place, actually–but I still need you to help me spread the good news that Awkward is currently discounted to $2.99 and that Invisible will be released in under a week! Need a fun way to broach the subject? I created 6 Decent-ish Reasons to Buy Awkward for that very reason!

Here’s the link to Amazon for good measure: http://www.amazon.com/Awkward-Marni-Bates/dp/0758269374/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366937058&sr=8-1&keywords=awkward+marni

Oh, and there is a giveaway going on over at Teatime Romance where you can win a free signed copy of Invisible! Check it out here!

Love you all!

~Marni

How Did I Get Here?

Hey everyone,

I still can’t believe this is my life.

That’s not a joke or an exaggeration. It stuns me nearly every single day that I get to live out my wildest fantasy–one I was too afraid to even name for most of high school. And every day brings something ridiculously wonderful into my life. A message on my Facebook author page from someone who enjoyed reading Awkward and can’t wait to buy Invisible. A tweet from an author whose work I admire. An email from my fantastic Hungarian publisher. Maybe it will be as simple as reading a line in my new work in progress which cracks me up.

I still find myself trying to understand how I could have gotten here.

My older brother recently reminded me that when I was in elementary school he predicted that I’d be a trash collector. He told me that waste disposal was the logical occupation for someone with dog-poop brown eyes and a lack of common sense. “Hey someone has to do it,” he reasoned. “And that someone is definitely going to be you.”

I remember being terrified that he’d be right.

And now here I am proudly holding this!

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My Hungarian publisher renamed Awkward: Help, I’ve become a YouTube Star!

I love it so much!

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My best imitation of the Mackenzie yell.

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Signed and everything! It doesn’t get any more official!

If you’re curious about my experience with my Hungarian publisher, you should definitely check out the video I made about it!

It doesn’t feel real to me.

My third novel (Invisible) will be released in just under two weeks.

There aren’t enough exclamation points in the world to capture how I feel about that.

And I know that there is someone very important I need to thank for all of this: you! 

Yep.

You.

You are the reason I’m not hauling trash off to landfills right now. You are the reason I will be leading a panel at the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta. You are the reason I will be celebrating my 24th birthday in Las Vegas with a whole bunch of sensational YA authors!

Maybe that’s the hardest part for me to believe. Somehow I found a group of people–intelligent, passionate, unashamedly geeky people–who have supported me throughout this process. Who believe in me even when I don’t.

Remember that scene in The Sound of Music where Maria turns to Captain von Trapp and sings, “For here you are, standing there, loving me–whether or not you should. So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good”?

You guys make me feel like Julie Freaking Andrews.

I think vlog Marni might say it best, so I’ll let her take it from here!

All my love,

Marni