What I actually look like when I’m plotting a novel…
Happy Monday, 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…
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.
(You’re welcome, Tracy Deebs!)
Because when we all get together…well…
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.”
I loved wearing a sparkly dress to our prom!
Here I am with Veronica Wolff and Stacey Kade! (Pssst….you should totally buy their books!)
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.
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.
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…
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…
I hated Chelsea Halloway when I was writing AWKWARD.
Hated. Her. Guts.
She was this perfect blue-eyed beauty who could get anything she wanted with a toss of her hair. The kind of girl who effortlessly flirts with boys instead of stuttering, “H-h-hey! So…that thing was pretty cool, right? No? Um…c-c-catch ya later!”
Basically, she was the anti-Marni.
And I wanted to dismiss her as the mean girl.
Except I couldn’t do that because Logan had dated her. And there was no way Logan would have been sucked in purely by a beautiful face. There had to be more to Chelsea than I initially wanted to see.
More than Mackenzie wanted to see, too.
That thought nagged at me the whole time I wrote INVISIBLE. For some reason, Mackenzie brought out the worst in Chelsea.
But that didn’t mean Jane couldn’t see a different side of her.
By the time I finished INVISIBLE there was no doubt in my mind: I had to tell Chelsea’s side of the story.
And yes, I stared outside at the snow in Oregon while I listened to Chelsea’s rants…
I also collaged like a crazy person.
Here’s the truth: I became a crazy person.
Nobody sane has hair like this. Nobody.
I doodled potential plot points…
I created a playlist for Chelsea…
And I ate this celebratory sushi three months later when I finished my first draft!
I swooned over the cover KTeen created for NOTABLE. In fact, I ran around L.A. snapping photos with the coverflats they sent me!
It’s just so pretty!
My neighbors weren’t thrilled about the way I beautified some signage.
But I couldn’t be stopped!
Chelsea insisted that she deserved a star of her own…
I even roped Laurie Halse Anderson into geeking out with me!
Fun fact: Laurie Halse Anderson is the coolest person in the world. She also gives fantastic advice. I would be perfectly happy letting her make all my life decisions. All of them.
If you had told me when I was writing AWKWARD that Chelsea would steal my heart…I’d have burst out laughing.
But that’s exactly what she did.
The two of us just…clicked. The anti-Marni somehow became my imaginary best friend.
And now she is officially sitting on bookstore shelves!
(Psst! You can buy it from Amazon here!)
You would think that at some point the whole publishing part of this process would become normal. But the truth is that I’m living out my wildest dream. (Okay, the wildest dream that doesn’t include an English manor of some kind. What can I say? I really loved Pride & Prejudice.) Most of the time this job feels like something I hallucinated after pulling an all-nighter with my AP U.S. history textbook.
Frankly, I still can’t believe I got away with some of the things I did to Chelsea.
And since I am in Vegas, I had no trouble taking some ridiculous photos for you guys!
Chelsea wanted to check out The Venetian hotel with me. And then she complained bitterly that I had sent her to Cambodia instead of Venice…or Vegas.
But I ignored her complaining and decided to practice my spycraft instead…
Let’s just say that didn’t go quite the way I planned.
Those are real sharks!
Chelsea and I were informed we had the right to remain silent. But let’s just say that this happened…
And then this happened…
I’m kidding, of course!
Even when Chelsea suggests Questionable Life Decisions…this is the craziest I get!
Marni wasn’t here.
Okay, so maybe there was a little power-tripping.
But in all seriousness, I want to give a big thank you to everyone who made this book possible. And that absolutely includes all of my amazing readers!
Your tweets/emails/book trailers/Facebook messages/hugs/fanart/book purchases…they mean the world to me.
And just in case you were wondering…
So usually when I blog I have an Important Opinion I want to share. That’s sort of the point of writing. If you don’t have an opinion, then why put words on the page in the first place? And while, granted, my idea of important might include an evaluation of swoon-worthiness…
Sorry, I lost my train of thought.
Oh, right. My point was that I care about these blog topics and add gifs and…you catch my drift.
But what you see is Marni Bates 2.0.
I am big on honesty. If I didn’t feel compelled to tell the truth, I can guarantee you that my autobiography would be a very different read. I totally would’ve written a very cool scene that’d involve choking someone with a spring roll. Because how much fun would that be to write?!
All the fun!
Why am I bringing this up now? Well, I love the blog post I wrote about skipping a decade in my writing career. It was personal and honest and it came after a prolonged period of contemplation. And I can’t express how much I appreciated all of the comments that people posted. You guys are so incredibly sweet!
I may have mislead you though.
Oh, don’t get me wrong; I faithfully wrote about my road to publication. I just don’t want you to think that I have it all figured out.
Because I don’t.
I still feel like this half of the time:
There is also a fair amount of truth to this…
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
I still have mixed feelings about that quote.
Part of me wants to be like, Are you kidding me with this? How about unemployment and pollution and women’s rights and eternal spinsterhood and being discovered half-eaten by wild coyotes?!
Some of those are legitimate concerns–I’ll let you decide which ones!
Funnily enough, when I was in high school I imagined that someday that quote would hit home for me. That I would nod sagely and say, “Why yes. Now that I have my life in order I understand that I indeed have nothing to fear but fear itself. Monsieur, I would like an order of your finest caviar!”
Nobody actually says that. At least nobody that I know.
Anyone who pretends to have everything under control, well, they are doing just that–pretending.
Parts of my life will always be in flux. I will always be a little messy, a lot rumpled, and undeniably…Marni. I make mistakes. Lots of them. I do my best to evaluate them and move on, but sometimes I question whether I have a learning curve or a flat-line.
So here is the truth, the full truth, and nothing but the truth–I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know where I am going. I don’t know who I will be when I get there.
But I have very high hopes for the journey!
And while I have trouble relating to the aforementioned FDR quote, I’ve always loved this gem from Eleanor Roosevelt: Do one thing every day that scares you.
I’m excited to see where that advice takes me!
So one of the questions I get asked most frequently is, how did you get published? A fun variation on that, which usually cuts to the heart of that matter is, how can I get published?!
Interestingly enough, when I go to writers conferences the question changes. Oh, don’t get me wrong; everyone (myself included) loves to hear about that first book deal! But people tend to be less interested in how I came to have a 4 book deal with KTeen and far more fascinated by my age.
Excuse me, but just how old are you?!
And upon hearing my answer (23), somebody within earshot tends to proclaim, “Holy crap! I could be your mother!”
Um, I think my parents would have broken that news to me by now.
Anyhow, after years of being on the receiving end of stares, praise, open-mouthed gawking, heartfelt congratulations, and lovingly-delivered insults, I’ve come up with some theories for my early success that might just answer everyone’s questions.
So this is how I skipped a decade in my career.
I would like to preface my theory by saying that it is heavily based on the stories I have heard from other authors about how they got their big breaks.
We all wanted to write in high school. Or at the very least, we thought we wanted to write. Maybe we just wanted to see our name on the cover of a book. Regardless, we were fascinated by the idea and we bought journals and imagined all the cool things that we might someday put in them.
And then the worst thing ever happened. The kiss of death for all aspiring writers. We were asked what we wanted to do professionally.
It was kindly asked, maybe by a teacher or a parent or family friend, but suddenly we were put on the spot and our answer wasn’t good enough. We couldn’t tell these people that we wanted to write books for a living! We definitely couldn’t tell them about the stacks of romance novels in our bedroom and how someday we’d love to try writing one of our own!
“Oh, really?” They might say. “And what’s your backup plan when that doesn’t work out?”
“That’s a tough industry. Are you sure you really want to do that?”
“Hahaha! So maybe you’ll teach writing someday? Have you ever considered being a teacher?”
“You might want to take a few business courses in college. Major in something useful.”
“Don’t you need to be in a real relationship before you can write a romance? Those trashy books aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.”
Maybe we heard something else entirely. That we weren’t considered good writers when compared against, oh, I dunno…Hemingway! Maybe someone pointed out that our grammar could use work and that until we had comma splices down to an art form we shouldn’t even consider taking on such a large project. Maybe we were told that to be a real artist we had to come from a tortured past–and that our lack of suicidal ideation disqualified us. Or that to make our writing better, we should make it sadder.
There were rules. Arbitrary ones about adverbs and adjectives and which ones belong in prose and which merely clutter up the works. We were told that we should write “said” instead of “clucked” or “whimpered” because it’s so much cleaner. We were instructed to “show” not “tell” so many times that we wanted to show somebody the door–and maybe give ’em a small shove to hurry up the process.
And at some point, it seemed as if a consensus was reached: we were not worthy of being writers.
We need to be practical. Realistic. Prepared for the harsh realities of life.
So we didn’t write, or if we did, it was a secretive act of defiance and shame. It’s worthless, we told ourselves. Something that shouldn’t be read because we don’t know what we’re doing and anyway it’s just for fun.
That’s what we told the people who bothered to ask.
This is the part where things became really murky for us. Maybe we travelled, or started bouncing between crummy jobs just to pay the bills, or went to college and stopped reading for fun because…
Maybe we got married and had kids and thought, Okay, so adulthood should kick in any second now! Maybe our only goal was to pay off all those student loans before we turned 90 years old.
All those warnings that we should major in something, “practical” might not have helped us find a job, but the pressure still cranked up. If we didn’t figure out something, the plan was to survive on Top Ramen forever. Sometimes we comforted ourselves by saying this:
Some of us tried to be logical–and postpone paying back student loans–by rushing into grad school.
And then something awful happened. Maybe we fell sick. Cancer. Breast cancer. Lung cancer. It’s a tumor, but it might be benign. It wasn’t us, but our mom. Our best friend’s dad got hit by a car and we didn’t know what to say that could possibly make anything better. Maybe our grandpa was barely conscious and we had to say goodbye. Maybe we couldn’t say goodbye.
Maybe we knew this was going to happen. Maybe we tried to stop that person from doing that thing, but it didn’t work and here we are buried neck-deep in the rubble between what could have been and what used to be.
Maybe it wasn’t any one thing, but the weight of our lives started conspiring with gravity to maintain a constant pressure. We found ourselves crying after work. Wiping away the tear tracks and reapplying makeup in bathroom stalls, because if the stress showed on our faces we could kiss that promotion goodbye.
That’s when we started reading again.
Books that made us feel better in high school. Books that made us weep because they ripped out our hearts, but it’s the good kind of pain that reminds us that we’re human. Books that made us smile because we can relate to the main characters and suddenly our daily lives become an inside joke. Books that made us laugh out loud and forget about our problems entirely.
That’s when we thought, I miss this. I want to do this. Why didn’t I do this? What was I so afraid of?
We became time thieves, stealing minutes from work to jot down dialogue in that same bathroom stall. We plotted a particularly difficult sequence in the middle of a meeting. Someone passed us on the street and we found ourselves thinking that our heroine would never wear those clothes.
We drank way too much caffeine.
We searched for people who shared this passion with us, because they might see something that we’d missed. They might suggest something which would make all the difference! And even if they didn’t, at least they wouldn’t dismiss all of our hard work with a shrug and an eye-roll.
We wrote, The End, at the bottom of the manuscript, and it was magic. But we couldn’t decide if it should be in italics or if it should be bold, so we tried every combination.
Our friends read it and some of them had excellent advice and some of them had no idea how to give a critique but were trying their best to be helpful. We pitched agents. We attended conferences. We sent out query letters.
We sank time and energy and money into this endeavor of ours, even though we knew that some of the most important people in our lives probably thought it was a waste.
Okay, so maybe sometimes our friends were right to be concerned.
We gritted our teeth and smiled as people asked if we’re going to be the next J.K Rowling. We crawled into bed and debated giving up entirely when we received form rejection letters.
I am sorry to inform you that…
Yeah, so were we. In fact, we were heartbroken. But we kept sending out query letters or maybe we put it aside and began writing a new book…or both!
And eventually we got the call that changed everything. An agent loved our work! The world was suddenly overflowing with flowers and happiness and sparkly bits of confetti! We danced for a solid week. We imagined giving up our day jobs. We decided to “follow” all of our agent’s clients on Twitter! Heck, we followed everyone connected with the agency!
Then came another wave of rejection. It hurt more than we probably expected, because somehow we thought our agent’s mind control powers would work on the Big Six and the acquiring editors would be all over us within a week.
We worried. We stressed. We sent neurotic emails to our agent and friends. We became on first-name speaking terms with our nearby baristas.
And then we got that other call. The Call.
So-and-so loved it! It’s a small advance, but the royalty rates are great! It’s an eBook only deal, but it will get your foot in the door! It’s going to auction–bidding war, here we coooome!
Maybe our call sounded a little different.
I think you should self-publish this, get a grassroots movement going, and then we’ll show (name redacted) what you have planned to write next!
The stories divulge even more wildly from here. Some debut novels become New York Times Bestsellers. Some go out of print. Some get rave reviews from Kirkus…only to be ripped apart on Goodreads.
Somebody once reviewed my debut YA novel by saying, Awkward is the devil’s way of poisoning young minds.
That same reviewer gave me 3-stars. Go figure!
So if you are wondering why I’ve avoided mentioning myself until now, it’s because my story fits into the one I laid out. The fear that I would never be good enough, that I would never be smart enough; the soul-crushing, gut-wrenching pain of rejection after rejection…those experiences have been present and accounted for in my road to publication.
But there were a few things I had going for me.
I had access to blogs.
More specifically, author blogs. And I read every scrap of advice Meg Cabot ever wrote for young writers. I memorized the most crucial parts and I followed her instructions. I’m paraphrasing, but these are essentially her rules:
1. Don’t tell anyone you want to be a writer–they will only try to talk you out of it.
2. Don’t take writing classes–they will probably kill your soul.
I paid attention to her books. More specifically, I noticed how quickly she wrote them. And I realized that I would have to be able to keep up a steady pace if I was ever going to support myself that way. So I began writing a novel as my high school senior project. (There is more to that story, but I’ll save it for another blog post.)
I was also incredibly lucky to have a supportive mother and a teacher that went above and beyond for me. Jane Claussen agreed to be the advisor on my independent novel writing project. She didn’t really do much advising. She read what I turned in, said that she couldn’t wait to read the next scene, and asked me to write her in as the villain.
I never did.
Actually, she did inspire me to write a character in Jane’s book, Invisible. And I was thrilled to see that the reviewers seemed to enjoy her fictitious doppelgänger as much as I liked spending time with the woman behind it.
Mrs. Claussen and my mom believed in me when it felt like nobody else did.
Another turning point happened during my interview with an alumna from Lewis & Clark College. I was really nervous. I had visited the campus and I thought it might be the perfect fit for me, which meant that I wanted her to pass on a glowing recommendation.
But she asked me what I thought I would regret the most about my time in high school…and I just blurted out the truth.
“I hate my math class.”
She nodded, but didn’t seem particularly impressed.
“No, I mean I really hate it. I’m completely behind and at this point I’m not entirely sure it’s humanly possible to catch up. The only reason I’m in that stupid class is because I know four years of math looks good on my college application.”
That’s when it dawned on me.
“Lewis & Clark doesn’t care about math, right?”
She stared at me in confusion. “Um…”
“I did really well on my AP tests, so three years of math probably won’t stop me from gaining admission, right?”
The alumna looked increasingly uncomfortable. “Well…”
I threw my hands up in the air. “It’s a waste of my time! I could be writing and instead I’m sitting in that classroom trying not to lose my freaking mind! I think I should stop going entirely. Yeah. I am definitely going to drop that class. Wow. That’s so cool. Thanks. So…to answer your question: no regrets!”
My interviewer looked panic-stricken.
I’m guessing none of her other high school interviewees decided to lighten their academic course load in the middle of their session with her.
I was also right: Lewis & Clark accepted me without four years of math.
I spent that extra time writing and grieving the loss of my grandpa. Part of the reason I had fallen so far behind was that in the wake of his death I couldn’t bring myself to care about calculus. I forced myself to keep up with my other school obligations, so I guess my mom was willing to be flexible when I said, “Please don’t make me go to that class today. Please don’t.”
Maybe she could tell that I was seconds away from falling apart completely.
I do have regrets from high school and one of the biggest is that I didn’t start writing sooner. That my grandpa never got to share this journey with me. I remember sobbing uncontrollably when I left a copy of my autobiography Marni on his grave only a few years later.
I don’t know if I attended the Willamette Writers Conference because of my mom, or Jane Claussen, or because I no longer believed in God and figured I should be making my own destiny.
For those of you wondering about the God thing; it’s pretty simple. My grandpa lived a long, full, happy life…and then he died. Which meant that if God existed, he was a total jerk.
A sterling example of Marni Logic.
I paid for that conference with my babysitting money. And because I was way too
cheap thrifty to fly, I shared a ride (and a hotel room) with a woman who was certifiably insane. I honestly called my mom from a Burger King parking lot on the road to Portland and said, “I think I’m going to die.”
She thought I was joking.
She wished me good luck and I spent the rest of the ride making sure that Mrs. Insane-o had access to chocolate at all times so that she wouldn’t randomly decide to stop driving–on the highway!
But Mrs. Insane-o certainly motivated me to meet other people and try to find another ride home (I did! Which is probably why I’m still alive today!) and one of those people heard about a company looking for teen girls to write their autobiographies and passed on the info to me.
When I came back from the conference, I sat outside for a couple of hours by my neighbors koi pond and asked my grandpa what I should do. He seemed to be of the opinion that I should go for it.
So I did.
I was hired to write my autobiography my freshman year of college and by that point there was no turning back. Ready or not–and the answer was not–I was going to be published. My whole life story was going to exposed for anyone and everyone to read. That’s when I ran to the school library and checked out their copy of Ella Enchanted.
Fast forward a year and I was a sophomore in college. I was trying to do publicity for my autobiography and learning pretty quickly that it is hard to make anyone care about your book. I also wasn’t writing for myself anymore. I had decided to take a whole bunch of English courses and since I was in a creative non-fiction class, I didn’t have the drive to work on a novel. Or maybe I was just being lazy.
When I think about that year what I remember most fondly was the English course which didn’t exist. That’s right; I created a 400 level course just for myself. I awarded myself an A and received zero college credit, but it was totally worth it.
I called it, Major Figures in Literature: Nora Roberts.
I read almost everything she has ever written. I immersed myself in her worlds and I ignored a whole bunch of my college assignments in the process. I didn’t care. That’s not entirely true; I did care, but I didn’t want to stop.
Reading romance novels in college made me want to keep writing.
They made me realize that I didn’t feel like myself unless I was working on a project. Sure my characters drive me nuts, but they also make me exquisitely happy. And that’s the life I want for myself–and for all of you!
This job does not come easily. Not for me, not for anyone. You have to decide whether you can finish a novel, tear it apart in edits, send it out into the world for criticism, and then start the process all over again.
But if this is something you want more than anything else in the world, then I vote you skip the decade of denial. I vote you try to make that dream happen now.
If you want to hear about a few other pivotal moments in my writing career, check out my YouTube video on that subject
And if you are reading this thinking, crap, I wish I had pursued writing from the very beginning instead of trying to be rational! I’d like to remind you that those years weren’t lost. You spent them gaining life experiences and testing yourself in a million different ways. And you also inspire me to be bold in other areas of my life, to face other types of rejection and failure.
So thank you!
And because I know this incredibly long blog post should end on a really upbeat note, I just want to say that I have now met some of my favorite authors whose books got me through hard times.
And you know what happened right after this photo was taken?
I met a fan of my own!
This is without a doubt the coolest job ever.
So best of luck and happy reading 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.
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
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
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!
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!
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!
My Hungarian publisher renamed Awkward: Help, I’ve become a YouTube Star!
I love it so much!
My best imitation of the Mackenzie yell.
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!
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,
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?
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!
I look forward to meeting you all in Atlanta!
I received this COMPLETELY AWESOME package from KTeen!
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!
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.
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!
Or for the direct link to YouTube:
And on that note…it’s time for me to get back to writing!
Okay, so recently I was asked if anything surprised me about life as a writer. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I did start my career with some major misconceptions.
I remember thinking that authors must love it when reviewers bring up really insightful critiques of their work. That they would prefer a well-thought out 3.5 star review to an inaccurate 5 star one.
We don’t. We just want you to love us whole-heartedly.
Are we ridiculous for wanting unconditional praise? Yes. Absolutely.
But this is totally how we behave whenever we read the zinger in an otherwise awesome review.
I also thought that being published would in some way reduce my writing-related freakouts…and it hasn’t. When my characters are giving me trouble and I know I have to edit out all my Navy SEALs but I don’t want to lose them, it still feels something like this:
Okay, I’m not that bad. Usually.
There are also a number of lifestyle things I didn’t expect to change for me. For starters this looks like a perfectly reasonable purchase to me now.
I hear you, Mindy. I would so be all over that.
And this is something I would definitely say to my bestie while I complain about going to the post office…
Then she would totally look at me in disgust and say:
It’s good to have people who keep you grounded.
I also never expected to be this tied into social media.
An overreaction or…a perfectly reasonable response? You decide. I can’t.
Last but certainly not least, I thought the process of being published would generally make me cooler/less awkward. But as you can see…
Although for me it will always be pictures of ducklings and baby tigers. I just turn to mush.
I hope this post doesn’t sound negative because there are also so many wonderful things I never saw coming! Y’know, like having Disney interested in turning my debut novel into a made-for-TV movie. And because I have such amazing readers…I am getting a P.O. box so that I can sign anything you want me to (within reason, people!).
Just as soon as I get dressed…
Now some of you have requested that I send you some book-related swag, but I don’t have any. Seriously. I don’t have bookmarks or stickers or anything remotely cool that I think you would want. The closest I come is about a hundred or so coverflats of the Magical Mayhem Anthology:
So if anyone wants me to sign that and send it to them, I can do it! Otherwise, I’m a little stuck in terms of how to increase my levels of swag. If I bought white labels and signed them would you guys like that? I could even try to buy sparkly stickers to give it a little something extra if you want! Maybe some unicorns…
If any of you have suggestions for swag, I’d love to hear your ideas!
Hopefully, that way it will feel something like this…
…without breaking my budget.
But my original point (I swear, I did have one) is that I had a lot of misconceptions about the writing world when I started out. And I think my most off-base notion was that for some people this is easy. They make it look so effortless! They juggle author obligations with full-time jobs/part-time jobs/diaper changes/child-care/political and social activism, and so much more. Here is the kicker: they do all of it really well.
It is both awe-inspiring and intimidating.
Especially since most days I feel like I really accomplished something if I blog.
The truth is that those authors are sweating through their stories just like we are, even if it sometimes feels like they do this:
…while we do this:
Now I’m off to the post office!
For real this time…