It’s a Party at the RWA!!!

Hey everyone,

Okay, so after last year the bar was set pretty darn high for the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta. I was actually a little nervous that it wouldn’t be quite as magical as my first time.

BUT THIS YEAR WAS EVEN BETTER!

Where to begin?

Well, I was able to meet a few pretty cool people…

Nora Roberts.

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

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Kieran Kramer

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Cherry Adair and I even joked around before the Literacy signing!

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Speaking of the Literacy signing…I got to hang out a little with Shea Berkley before things started to get crazy!

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What can I say? We’re pretty classy ladies.

I loved every second of the literacy signing, especially when some of my AMAZINGLY AWESOME fans showed up to my table! I can’t tell you ladies how much that meant to me. Seriously. It was so wonderful getting to meet you!

(Pictures unavailable. I was too busy geeking out)

And then…well, then I really lost my mind.

Because I got to meet Ally Carter!

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I am a huge Ally Carter fan. Huge. I love everything about the Heist Society series, so meeting her in real life was…unspeakably awesome. And I mean that literally. I think all I managed to say was, “I love your books!”

I’m thrilled to confirm that she is every bit as awesome in real life as I imagined.

Here’s the funny part: all of this excitement happened before my 50 Shades of YA panel. That’s when the awesome kicked up to a whole new level!

Jennifer Estep, Erica O’Rourke, Nina Berry, Alicia Condon (our editor) and I had so much fun discussing the limitations imposed upon YA authors when discussing taboo subjects like sex, drugs, and rock and roll alcohol. They were absolutely brilliant and it was a pleasure and a privilege just to sit next to them.

But I must admit, I didn’t have high expectations for attendance at our panel. It was at 8:30 AM!

In my experience, authors don’t tend to do well with morning hours. We avoid them. At all costs.

So I sort of assumed that there would be a handful of bleary-eyed writers chugging down coffee while they half-heartedly listened. And trust me, I would have been thrilled with that.

It was a full room.

Totally packed.

And afterwards, Katie McGarry and Kady Cross introduced themselves to me. Because they were excited to meet me! Which still strikes me as hilarious because…have you met them? They are made of AWESOME!

So I’m trying to play it cool and not just blurt out, “I think we should become best friends FOREVER!” when they glanced over my shoulder and whispered, “Did you know that Jay Asher was here?!”

Yep.

Jay Asher, New York Times Bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, attended the 50 Shades of YA panel.

*Insert geek out here*

It gets crazier. He saved a seat for me at his table so that we could chat before Kathy Maxwell brought the house down with her luncheon speech.

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Just in case you were wondering, Jay Asher is a ridiculously nice person with a great sense of humor. Oh, and he can dance.

Time sort of moves funny at a writers conference. I tried to enjoy every second to the fullest, which means that I slept little and lost my voice by the time I left the conference. But some of the highlights include:

I had dinner with Tessa Dare, drinks with Julie James, Tracy Deebs, Emily McKay, (and some other lovely people whose names are evading me right now) and a slumber party with the fantastic Hannah Jayne.

And then I partied with most of these people after the RITA awards!

Here I am with a whole bunch of awesome YA-ers! (Back row, l-to-r) Bria QuinlanHolly BodgerAmy DeLuca, Jay Asher, Darcy Woods, Me, Cecily White, (Front row, l-to-r) Jennifer McGowan, Kim MacCarron, and Shea Berkley.

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It was a great night. I mean, you might think authors are a pretty staid bunch…but that goes right out the window as soon as the music starts playing. And okay, so maybe there were a few line-dances. But that just made me feel like I was in What A Girl Wants (Remember that movie? Back in the good ol’ days when Amanda Bynes seemed like she had it all together) and this was just the big group dance number!

And I definitely had a few pinch me, I must be dreaming moments with my friends.

Unfortunately, three hours later I was suffering from either an allergic reaction or a bizarre case of food poisoning. I’m not kidding. The lovely Cecily White and a romance-writing stranger found me shaking and vomiting in the handicap stall in the hotel bathroom. This is so not the kind of information you really needed to know about my RWA experience, but I’m mentioning it because I think it shows the extreme kindness of the writing community. One thing I picked up on quickly was that every woman there was ready and willing to extend a helping hand.

Even if that meant spending their last night at the conference tracking down Sprite and saltine crackers for me.

I feel like the media often portrays women as back-stabbing, passive-aggressive monsters who will do anything to eliminate their competition. That could not be further from my experience at this conference. I’ve never felt more supported, both creatively and personally.

These woman accepted me for me. Even if that included quoting One Direction songs at random intervals, much to Tracy Deeb’s chagrin.

I need to thank my lovely roommates Andrea, PJ, and Lisa for making the conference such a great experience. And to all the authors it may seem like I’ve forgotten; trust me, I haven’t. I love you ladies!

The next morning I boarded my flight to Ashland, Oregon. It was only a quick trip, but I was able to see my family–and meet the most important man in my life!

Smiley Riley with Auntie Marni!

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I can’t wait to make up stories with him!

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And then I caught a flight back to LA for the Teen Author Reading Night where I met Eve Silver, Jessi Kirby, EJ Altbacker, Francesca Lia Block, and Cecil Castellucci!

It was a fantastic evening that deserves it’s own blog post. But I seriously need to get back to my writing. See, I have these characters making out on a couch and–

I’ve already said too much!

More later!

~Marni

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Going to My Happy Place!

Hey everyone!

I am headed to the happiest place on earth! And for those of you thinking, Um, Marni? You live in LA. Can’t you go to Disneyland whenever you want? 

That is NOT my happy place. I’m way too afraid of rollercoasters to go on most of the rides. My friends have given up on trying to talk me into them too. Mainly because I agree to do it with them…and then I begin panicking during the safety checks. Somewhere around the five hundredth, “Oh my god, I can’t do this! No, I seriously can’t do this!” an employee looks at me and asks, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

That’s when I yell, “HECK NO! I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS!”

And I unbuckle my harness and totally abandon the person next to me.

My happy place doesn’t involve metal rides of death. But I might try to summon the courage to go on a ride if that meant I could attend the Romance Writers of America conference. Because that conference, my friends, is the happiest place on earth.

It’s just…magical!

Of course, I want to be fully prepared for the magic so I need to keep this post short. *Glances warily at half-packed suitcase*

But if you want to see me at the conference in Atlanta, (drumroll, please) you can find me HERE:

Wednesday, July 17
5:30–7:30 p.m.
2013 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing
Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atrium Ballroom A–C (Atrium level)
*This event is open to the public and there is no entry fee.

But wait! THERE IS MORE!

I am also on a panel called 50 Shades of YA where a whole bunch of stellar YA authors will talk about SEXYTIMES!

Thursday, July 18

8:30–9:30 a.m.

50 Shades of YA

Atlanta Marriott, Room: M301/M302

I am so freaking excited, you guys! Talking about YA SEXYTIMES with Jennifer Estep, Erica O’Rourke, Nina Berry, and my fabulous editor, Alicia Condon…that’s a big enough incentive to get me out of bed before 10 a.m.

And on that note, I really gotta go!

I will do my best to keep you updated on all the awesome! So stay tuned in!

~Marni

By Popular Request…

Hey everyone!

So a bunch of you awesome people have wanted me to sign your books. Just for the record: I totally want to do it for you! I even got a PO Box to make it possible!

The logistics involved are definitely daunting though. You have to send a copy to my PO address and then I have to ship it back…

And the last time I sent a package through the US postal service it reached the intended destination…three months after her birthday.

Good thing there weren’t cookies in there. That’s all I’m saying.

So yesterday in order to fix this problem, I knowingly journeyed somewhere that makes me lose my mind. Seriously. The last time I went there four of my friends had to forcibly remove me from the premises.

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I know it’s ridiculous, but I instantly morph into a preschooler when I’m at Sticker Planet. And the one thought running through my mind becomes: MINE! ALL THESE STICKERS MUST BE MIIIINE!!!!

That’s when my friends usually try to remind me that I need to save my money for the Romance Writers of America Conference in Atlanta (SQUEE!!!! I can’t wait!) and that I don’t actually need fifteen packages of stickers.

And then I remember that since these stickers are obviously an essential part of my writing process, they are technically tax deductible.

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Fake moustache stickers: $5

These expressions: priceless.

The cashiers were like, “Um…do you want to join our valued customer program or something?”

And I said, “HAHAHA…NO! Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how dangerous that would be?!”

That’s when they traded looks and edged further away from the crazy girl who thinks the words “stickers” and “dangerous” belong in the same sentence.

But c’mon…how great is this:

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It’s Jane! And no, sadly, my video trailer will not include all these awesome stickers. But a future one totally will!

And who will look ridiculous then, I ask you?!

Okay, probably still me.

But I did it all so that I could buy these fun labels for you guys!

Photo on 2013-05-10 at 21.59 #4

This way you can have an autographed copy of my books without a logistical nightmare. If you want me to send you one (or more!) I just need you to follow a very simple procedure:

1. Email me at MarniRBates@gmail.com or send me a letter addressed like this:

Marni Bates

PO Box 415

Los Angeles, CA 90078

I know it can be scary sending an email to a stranger with your address in it, so I totally understand if you’d prefer to go by mail. The important thing is that I get an address to send it to!

2. Write your name clearly so that I can personalize it for you.

3. If you don’t want me to address it to you, let me know! I can just sign my name if you’d rather have me do that.

4. Wait for me to send it to you!

That’s it! That simple. And this offer totally applies to my friends outside the US too! *Waves  enthusiastically to all my awesome fans in Hungary and Brazil*

And now I better start packing! I’m going home tomorrow so that I can give my mom a big ol’ hug on Mother’s Day.

But there will still be a vlog post on Sunday and Monday (probably), so stay tuned!

~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

Two Weeks of Awesome!!!

Okay, so I know my birthday is kinda old news now, but I have lots of fun pictures to share! So here’s what happened:

*Opening scene*

Marni wakes up to Birthday Banquet of AWESOME!

 

Anytime I can light my breakfast on fire, I’m pretty darn happy.

Then I spoke to family members and friends and felt very loved. Thanks everyone for all the well-wishes!

And then Gwyn and I went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena where we proceeded to crack each other up for hours.

I pretended that was Chelsea Halloway. This is the closest I managed.

 

Yeah…something tells me Chelsea would be rolling her eyes.

We thought this guy had the most flair:

 

“Does this armor make me look fat?”

This guy had the most anger management issues:

“How could you not say, SPOILER ALERT!?”

This guy was the swooniest:

Um, hellooo Mr. Darcy!

Then we created this brilliant still-life piece entitled, The Gambling Lobster.

 

But I think the highlight had to be when we saw a statue and simultaneously burst out laughing because he was totally doing Psy’s Gangnam Style dance.

For anyone unfamiliar with this reference (*cough* Mom) you can watch the music video here: 

For everyone else…enjoy!

 

We even got the security guard to start singing with us.

Then I had a birthday cocktail after reminding Gwyn’s older brother again that 23 is past the legal drinking age.

 

One sushi dinner later, and Gwyn and I were watching Pitch Perfect in a practically empty theater.

Definitely the right note to end the day on.

But the best part about living with a best friend and loving your job is that every day kind of feels like it could be a birthday.

 

And I definitely got my birthday wish when the election results came in. *Releases huge sigh of relief*

Oh, and I got to see an advanced showing of the last Twilight movie when I went to The Ellen DeGeneres show.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it into the studio audience. But I’ll get another chance for that in March. I can hardly wait!

And today I got some AMAZINGLY AWESOME news that I can’t wait to share with everyone! But I don’t think I’m allowed to share it quite yet. Since I have a hard time keeping secrets to myself, Gwyn and her older brother Owen made me keep editing while they read some pretty darn good books…

This one might by my favorite picture of them all:

It was a lovely, lazy afternoon… until they decided to drag me up a fricking mountain.

Gwyn just shook her head in disbelief and said, “you wanted to go!”

And since she is cooking my dinner, I plan to smile and nod…while I whimper in pain.

Still, the view of LA at sunset is completely worth the blisters. A great time was had by all.

 

I hope you enjoyed all the photos! Keep checking in for that AMAZINGLY AWESOME news I’ve promised to share!

Happy Reading!

~Marni

DECKED WITH HOLLY!

Hey everyone!

The spin-off sequel to Awkward comes out on Tuesday, September 25th.

Also known as this Tuesday! Also known as tomorrow!

*flails arms in excitement*

It doesn’t feel real yet.

In fact, it feels decidedly unreal. And I know I should be more familiar with the concept by this point. I wrote a book, sent it to my editor, banged my head against a wall a few thousand times and voila! It hits the shelves!

(Not an accurate depiction of the writing/publishing process. Obviously. Since I left out roasting marshmallows over candles at 2am when I get stuck. Oh, and my unbelievably awesome support group. Y’all know how much I depend on you!)

But it still amazes me to think of my book, sitting on bookshelves, waiting for super awesome people to read it!

Especially because this book holds a very special place in my heart. Which is not to say that I love my other books less (Oh wow, I have a whole lot more sympathy for my mom now. Having her children demand to know which one of us she would save from a burning house first must have been obnoxious. Hint: it would be me) but this one is extra special.

So I’m giving a behind-the-scenes sneak peek:

I was packing for my flight back to Oregon after spending the past three weeks in my cousin’s little apartment near Rice University in Houston, Texas–when I got The Call.

Marni doesn’t quite know how to blend in Texas.

Honestly, if I was in the middle of a mugging and my super agent Laurie McLean rang me up, I’d probably give the muggers the can you hold this for a moment finger and answer the phone.

Um, I think it’s pretty obvious from the photo why I believe she has super powers…

As it was, this particular situation was a lot less dramatic. Even if I did suspect that the humidity in Houston was trying to smother me.

“Hi Marni, I just got a call from KTeen” SuperAgent Laurie said and I instantly brace myself for the news that every copy of Awkward has been destroyed in a freak natural disaster.

“Uh huh…”

“They want to know if you would be willing to write a spin-off holiday novella.”

At this point in the conversation, I distinctly remember happy dancing like a demented chicken and squawking, “YES! Yes! I’ve never written a novella before but I am in!”

“Great. I will email you everything they just sent me and then . . . oh hang on. They want a spin-off novel.”

The demented chicken dance stopped. Probably because it felt like my heart was no longer functioning properly and all that blood was going straight to my head.

“Uh . . . wow! Okay. I mean . . . wow. I can do that. I’ll just set it after Invisible and then–”

“Actually, they want it released between Awkward and Invisible.”

This is when I started pressing buttons on my phone, convinced that I had misheard her and that my crappy cell phone was to blame.

“But I’ve already written Invisible,” I blurted out.

I could practically feel Laurie smiling patiently on the other side of the phone. “I know. That’s why they want this to be a spin-off.”

“Right. Spin-off.” I mumbled. “Um . . . who do you think I should . . . spin . . . off?”

“It could be anyone.” Laurie pointed out. “Maybe one of the rockstars?”

“But they’re guys!

Laurie waited patiently for me to make my point.

“I’ve never written from a male point of view before! I definitely can’t write a whole novel that way!”

“It’s just an idea, Marni. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

One of my SuperAgent’s most impressive powers is the ability to make me believe that I can do anything. I don’t know how she pulls it off, but when I’m on the phone with her I am willing to agree to just about anything

And four minutes later I was calling my mom and freaking out.

“I don’t know what I just agreed to do!” I confessed sheepishly. “They asked the Jewish girl to write a holiday novel?! Do you think I should tell them this? Because I refuse to write a Christmas miracle. And no way is Hanukkah Harry coming down a chimney to save the day! Do you hear me, Mom? THERE WILL BE NO HANUKKAH HARRY!

I made this point–rather loudly, I admit–in the airport and found myself on the receiving end of a more than a few funny looks.

Looking back, I’m just lucky that airport security didn’t consider this un-American sentiment and try to interrogate me about it.

Okay, I’m lucky for a whole host of reasons. I’m eternally grateful to KTeen for allowing me to write Decked with Holly the way I felt the story needed to be told: with two alternating point of views and no Hanukkah Harrys.

And to my SuperAgent, friends and family members who tolerated my Christmas in July tactic.

A special shout-out to my mom who must have stumbled upon me listening to the Pomplamoose version of Always in the Season three hundred times.

This book may have scared me at first but it was an absolute pleasure to write.

I fell completely in love with a certain rockstar drummer and enjoyed every second I spent in his head. I don’t want to spoil the ending but he does something that made me go all melty inside.

I want to discuss it with people soo badly!

So if you want to buy a copy of Decked with Holly you can do so quite easily here:

Decked with Holly!

And if you also want to click the “like” button, I know for a fact that the author will do a demented chicken dance.

You also might want to read Awkward (if you haven’t already) because it will make Decked with Holly even more exciting for you. That said, I promise you don’t have to read Awkward to completely understand what is happening to Holly and Nick.

Then again, with the awesome discount price of $2.99 for Awkward now is a really good time to get it.

Awkward!

Awkward is clearly still on my mind…

Anyhow, once you read the books I sincerely hope you will tweet me with your thoughts. I absolutely love hearing from people! Oh, and whenever I get fan art I call up every single member of my family and I brag about it to them.

One time someone messaged me that I was tied as her favorite with Justin Bieber and I geeked out.

Watch out, Biebs. I’m stealing your fan base!

My point is that I really do love to hear from you so I hope you’ll consider tweeting me at:

Twitter!

Or you can message me using my Facebook fan page:

Facebook!

I will absolutely see your messages in these places!

And if you feel like leaving comments on Goodreads, I probably will be too confused to respond but I will do my happy dance.

I have even bigger news coming your way soon so . . . I should probably stop writing before I give it all away.

Sincerely,

Marni