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
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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

 

 

Almost Too Much Awesomeness for One Blog Post!!

Hey everyone!

Okay, it’s been awhile since my last post. I have some very exciting news that I’m not allowed to share right now though. So I thought if I put myself on blogging lockdown that would make my secret keeping easier.

It totally didn’t.

And now I have all of these things to tell you!

Where to start? Perhaps with the Romance Writers of America who recognized the absolute brilliance of my friend Erica O’Rourke’s book, Bound?

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Erica is one of those authors that makes you curl up into a little ball and say, “I cannot handle the awesome. I. Cannot. Handle. The. Awesome.

At least that was my reaction while I read her books.

So I could not be more thrilled for her (or more excited to meet her in real life at the RWA conference in Atlanta! We will be speaking on a panel with the spectacular Jennifer Estep, the incomparable Nina Berry, and our editor-of-awesome Alicia Condon!) and all the other nominees!

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I look forward to meeting you all in Atlanta!

AND THEN…

I received this COMPLETELY AWESOME package from KTeen!

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Advanced Reader Copies of INVISIBLE (Jane’s book)!!!

I’m going to set up giveaways and post some sneak peeks soon! So keep checking in!

AND THEN…

I got another package from KTeen with the coverflats of NOTABLE (Chelsea’s book)!!!

But if I posted those right now that might be too much awesome. I don’t want to send you into awesome overload all at once.

*Grins*

Except now I feel guilty for leading you on so….

HERE IS THE HUNGARIAN BOOK TRAILER FOR AWKWARD!!!

That’s right. The Hungarians made a book trailer! Which means that if you don’t actually speak Hungarian, you’re not going to be able to understand, y’know, what she’s saying…

But I happen to think the CPR scene speaks for itself! I am beyond thrilled with it!

LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

I am starting a vlog!

This is a brand new venture for me so you should definitely expect there to be a learning curve. But I decided that this would be an exciting way for me to interact with all of you in a way that goes beyond words. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be speaking in my YouTube videos. I won’t just like, stare creepily at the screen or anything.

Not often, at any rate.

So I hope you enjoy my vlog! I also really hope you leave me a question or a comment. Remember: I’m doing this for YOU! Questions about writing, editing, college, high school, life…all of it is totally fair game!

Marni’s Vlog!

Or for the direct link to YouTube: 

And on that note…it’s time for me to get back to writing!

Love,

Marni

The Waiting Game

Hey everyone!

So right now it sort of feels like my life is in limbo.

See, while my fabulous editor is reading Notable I have been doing . . . approximately nothing. Okay, that’s not quite true. I have read a whole bunch of romance novels recently. I sort of went on a Susan Elizabeth Phillips binge. For those of you unfamiliar with her books, she specializes in contemporary romances that have you laughing one moment and crying the next.

And yes, I cried over each and every one of her books I read. Again.

She even got me all teary-eyed over a football-playing hero named Bobby Tom Denton. Seriously. Good ol’ Bobby Tom had me bawling.

And before you suggest that maybe I have a hormone imbalance or something, you should know that my friend Lisa Lin from over at Teatime Romance had the exact same reaction!

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Bobby Tom’s book. Although my favorite one is still This Heart of Mine.

Now if you’re thinking, “Okay, Marni, so you read a bunch of books. What else have you accomplished?” the answer is . . . not a whole lot.

Mostly I’ve been obsessing about the Romance Writer’s of America award (knowns as the RITAs) which will be announced on March 26th.

13 days from now.

Roughly 312 hours from now.

Not that I’m anxiously awaiting the announcement or anything. I have hardly given it a thought! I mean, it’s only the award I’ve been dreaming about since I was fifteen. So…whatever! No big deal.

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Okay, the scary lady is right. I’m totally lying.

It’s a really big deal. And even though I honestly don’t think I’m going to be nominated (I know some of the authors who submitted their work. This isn’t false modesty here. Some fricking amazing books have been entered!) the wait is still totally getting to me.

I know it’s not cool to admit. I probably should be playing off the whole thing or keeping my big mouth shut. But I can’t seem to manage it this time.

Maybe that’s because I also have some book news that I’m not allowed to announce yet. And the combined stress of the waiting and the silence is driving me up the freaking wall.

Although in my case that just means my sleep cycle is all out of whack and I have been hitting the girl scout cookies harder than I should be right now. I also had a dream that I was Jennifer Lawrence and I went ice skating. Not sure if that has anything to do with it, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

So if any of you are also stressing out over the RITAs or anything else you’ve got going on, I would love to hear about it! If any of you have any waiting-related advice, I’m totally game for that too!

And now I should really—zzzzzzz

~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! 

Pub Day on Deck!

Hey everyone!

I had such a great pub day for Decked with Holly! It started with this:

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me! I especially love that Holly’s expression while swooning over Matt Bomer matches my face when I watch White Collar. Huge fan!

Such a lovely way to begin the day!

And then I scurried over to check out two super fun blog posts I did for the release of Decked with Holly.

At Teatime Romance my super awesome RWA buddy Lisa interviewed me about (what else?) romance!

You can read it here!

Then I headed over to the amazing Bookalicious Pam’s blog where she got me to spill all my embarrassing Decked with Holly secrets, including pictures of my Secret Journal of Shame.

The best part?

You can win a free copy of Decked with Holly here!

After happy dancing around my apartment, I decided to celebrate the release like, y’know, a classy writer.

Which meant that I put on mascara, lip gloss, heels, and I rode the bus for about an hour to get to the nearest Barnes & Noble.

Marni Life Lesson #31: Do not wear heels unless absolutely necessary. Especially when you know they will just give you blisters.

But I totally forgot about the shoes when I saw my books on the shelf.

So many people helped me make this dream come true. I can’t express how grateful I am for all the support and encouragement!

There are definitely some perks that come with being an author on pub day. The biggest is that you can act like a crazy person and nobody kicks you out for it.

My friend Gwyn and I kind of took advantage of this.

It started out innocently enough…

THIS BOOK HAS BEEN MARKED UP IN PEN…by the author.

Then I may have done a little light reading.

“And then Santa says…”

That’s when it descended into something else entirely.

“Hi! I’m Marni and I’ll be your author for the evening. Can I interest you in some humorous YA books with a very wry undertone?”

And then I thought: this would be a perfect time to bust out some of my rollerblading moves.

In a bookstore.

Without rollerblades.

Ohh yeahhh…

Now is a good time to mention that I haven’t used any of these rollerblading moves in a pretty long time. So while I was thrilled that we were positioning the books within the triangle of blank space created by my body…I couldn’t hold the position for all that long.

“I’m doing it! Take the picture! TAKE THE PICTURE!”

And when I failed…well, let’s just say I managed to trip all over myself.

“Author down in the YA section! I repeat: AUTHOR DOWN!”

Gwyn and I doubled over laughing, which might explain why nobody went anywhere near us.

Note the complete lack of strangers in the background. That’s because of us.

Then I decked Gwyn with awkwardness! And puns. Lots of puns.

It was an absolutely wonderful day but in a lot of ways the fun is only just starting.

Because now I get to hear what YOU think of the book!

Speaking of which, one super cool way to tell an author what you think of their work is to write a review.

But I know that can be time consuming/intimidating so if you want a super easy way to encourage an author…

“Like” them.

I’m not even kidding.

We notice things like how many “likes” our books have on Amazon and Goodreads.

They Like Me . . . They Like Me Not.

It may seem silly but even doing something that small can have a big impact for an author.

So…if you want to “like” me and/or my books (I’m guessing you probably like me a little already or you wouldn’t still be reading this blog post) it would be awesome if you took a few seconds to let others know!

It’s a little embarrassing to admit but every time someone says something nice, this happens inside me:

So thank you!

~Marni