Overloaded with Awesome!

Hey everyone!

I woke up this morning with an incredibly handsome man in my bed.

Okay, yes, I left my door ajar and my housemate’s cat, Hamlet, seized the opportunity for a snuggle. I looked from him to my bedspread and when I didn’t find cat vomit on it I knew that today really was going to be an absolutely awesome day!

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“I’d NEVER puke on your bed, Marni. Not accidentally, at least….”

In fact, I’ve been having a really great week!

I spoke on a panel at the Lewis & Clark Gender Symposium!

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The topic: Frenzied Fangirling: Gender, Literature, and the Young Adult Novel. 

My Partners-in-crime: Lisa Burstein, Lauren Furnish, and Diana Weiner Rosengard.

The outcome: An afternoon of awesome!

Then I disappeared into my writing cave, emerging only for (drumroll, please)…adventure!

Basically,  I spent a whole day with my friend chasing waterfalls.

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This is the view from Crown Point, Oregon. Our first stop on the journey!

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Horsetail falls!

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So. Freaking. Beautiful.

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This is…I don’t even know. There were so many gorgeous waterfalls! It stole my breath away.

Speaking of theft…it turns out my great-grandfather was a total con man! My aunt is diving into our genealogy and has been regaling me with tales of his less-than-legal dealings. I guess he was kicked out of Mexico for pretending to be royalty.

I like to think this is where I get my love of the absurd.

BUT THE BIGGEST NEWS IS…

I have a new literary agent! I’m now working with Shannon Hassan at the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency and I couldn’t be more excited! She’s absolutely wonderful.

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^—This is Shannon. You can read more about her by going here!

Speaking of Shannon, I just emailed her my new book! I don’t want to reveal too much about it, but I can tell you that this is the first time I’ve finished a project and immediately wanted to spend more time in that character’s head.

So I think that’s a very good sign!

And on that note, I’m going to herd the dust bunnies in my room.

*twirls happily with broom*

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

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Hitting the books!

Hey everyone,

I am hard at work on a brand new book project! It’s super exciting, and a little nerve-wracking, and…well, a whole lot of fun! I think this picture kind of says it all…

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See all those books? Yeah, that barely scratches the surface. I’ve got half a dozen books on a variety of subjects sitting at home. I don’t think I studied this hard when I was in college! Which just goes to show that I should’ve stuck to my guns and majored in spies, thieves, and assassins years ago. (P.S. Colleges should totally hand out  B.A. degrees in badassery. I stand by this statement.)

I’d tell you more about the project, but then I’d have to…

*scans Life Magazine’s Most Notorious Crimes in World History* *gulps uncomfortably*

Let’s leave that to your imagination, shall we?

So right now I’m trying to read ALL the books and write ALL the words and do ALL the responsible adult things, like, y’know, wash laundry before I run out of clean clothes. I also have some super exciting news that I will be sharing with all of you soon! (Really soon. As in, maybe tomorrow!)

But there ain’t no mountain (of things on my To Do List) high enough to keep me from gettin’ to yooooouuuu!

If you send me a letter or a postcard, I will totally respond to it. In fact, I got a PO box in Portland specifically for you!

You just need to mail it like this:

Marni Bates

PO Box 86183

Portland, OR 97286

Cool, right?!

On that note, I think I hear some hardened criminals calling my name. It’s time for me to get back to work!

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

Joining an Art Group!

Hey everyone,

So I recently joined an art group! I wanted something small that would allow me to be creative without putting any more pressure on me. So I’m super excited to be part of the Word a Week project!

Here is how it works:

Every week I will create something that centers around a previously chosen word. Then I will post my picture (along with the artwork created by the group members) on the Word a Week blog.

It is going to take me some time to get the knack of posting from two different places. So if you see a weird post from me that just has a whole bunch of pictures…that’s why!

You can check out this week in art right here!

And on that note, time for me to get back to writing!

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

Helllloooo 2014!

Hey everyone,

I suck at New Year’s resolutions. Once I even managed to mess up my resolution not to make any resolutions!

I’m the total New Year’s resolution cliché. I start out with good intentions. I’m even willing to use positive visualization…

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And then I actually try the thing I’ve resolved to accomplish.

Which quickly leads to this…

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Because why would a smart person resolve to do this thing?! WHY?! It sucks. It’s hard. I’m not good at it. I don’t wanna…

And this is my response when my friends and family remind me of all those idealistic plans…

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Every. Single. Year.

I think part of the problem is that you are supposed to master something by the end of the year. And that is awfully daunting to a girl who still has burn marks on her neck from a 3am encounter with a marshmallow.

I’m not even making that up.

But I realized something about myself recently. Something that I probably should have figured out years ago.

I’m really good at failing.

I don’t mean this in a bad way either. I don’t think that I am a failure. I absolutely love my life, my friends, and my job. But when it comes to making a mess…I’m something of a natural. I once asked my best friend whether she thought I’d make a better assassin or a better chef.

She said that the only way I’d ever kill someone was if I attempted to cook for them.

I think that sums up my culinary skills pretty nicely.

Now normally this is when I’d feel obligated to make a resolution that involves cooking classes. To read recipes when cooking. Heck, maybe even buy a cookbook!

I don’t want to use recipes though. That takes all the fun out of it for me. And I don’t want to feel guilty if I take a cooking class and then can never reproduce the dish without supervision.

I don’t want to feel pressured to prove myself. Especially not in the kitchen.

Which is why this year I am resolved to be more open to failure. I could make some poorly constructed sushi rolls. Or I could have a super awkward encounter with a dance partner while attempting to tango. I could very easily mix up my left and my right in the midst of an ice skating class…and faceplant on the ice.

And if it turns out I actually have a knack for any of those things, well, that’s cool! If not, that’s fine too!

I just want to keep trying new things. And laughing. I expect to laugh a lot in 2014.

So on that note…

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I hope you have an incredible new year!

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

Portland, You’ve Got Marni!

Hey everyone,

I realized that I haven’t shared much about my awesome new home in Portland with you! All you got to see was nostalgic-Thanksgiving-Marni. And she’s not all that much fun. Trust me.

So let me fill you guys in!

My second day in Portland was spent with a whole bunch of my friends in Ikea.

I’m so lucky that they agreed to help me because Ikea has to be the most overwhelming place in the history of overwhelming places! My friends were like, “What kind of a bed are you looking for, Marni?”

To which I brilliantly replied: “Y’know…the kind that holds a mattress? And sheets? I’m quite fond of those!”

They were the ones who instructed me to try out all the mattresses on my stomach…

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Because that’s how I roll. Or, y’know…sleep.

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And they only mocked me a little for taking off my shoes in the store. I thought it was the polite thing to do when testing a mattress!

Somehow we managed to make it out of Ikea in time to make an afternoon showing of the Hunger Games. I thought the movie was absolutely great. Seriously. If you haven’t seen it, you totally should! Although I will admit that during this scene…

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All I could think was, “I’ve been in that elevator! It’s the same hotel I stayed in for the RWA conference in Atlanta! That stupid elevator nearly made me seasick too!”

So that was a little distracting for me.

Anyhow, the next morning I had a battle of my own to wage. Marni vs. The Ikea Bed.

It was a long painful struggle, but I’m proud to say that I put the whole thing together all by myself! And there is only one loose screw in the entire thing! 

Now if you’re thinking, “Marni, that’s not a big deal. All you had to do was follow directions!” well, yes. It is that simple. I just happen to hate following instructions. It’s partly why I’m a terrible cook. I glance at recipes and growl, “You’re not the boss of me!

So for me to successfully decipher the bizarre Ikea instructions was nothing short of miraculous.

Here is what my room looks like now:

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Have I mentioned that I love twinkle lights? Because I do. More than just about anything.

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I was so cold when I first arrived in Portland that I tried to insulate my room by putting a layer of clear plastic on my window. I don’t think it helped keep the heat in, but it’s now a great place to brainstorm ideas!

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This is Monsieur Mustachio! I can tell whether or not my heater is on by glancing at his magnificent facial hair. 

I’m still trying to get a lay of the land. I’m plotting new bus routes and testing out coffee shops. But this place really does feel like home. It helps that my housemates are completely made of awesome–especially the furry one!

This is Hamlet!

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He is a total sweetheart. But he also has some very strong opinions about petting time, so…sdjlhgkergvwgnwwwwrtu

I better appease the prince!

Awkwardly yours,

~Marni

Marni’s Thanksgiving Update

Hey everyone,

Thanksgiving and I haven’t always gotten along.

That’s because it was the last day I spent with my grandpa. It was the last time I hugged him. The last time he said my name. The last time I told him that I loved him.

I could have visited him in the hospital, but I didn’t want to see him that way. I wanted to preserve my perfect goodbye.

But for the past six years, Thanksgiving has felt like a game of emotional roulette that I keep losing. Not having him there…it kinda rips me apart. Even when I’m with my family, the ache lingers.

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I love this photo of my grandma and grandpa together.

I still miss him. But I think if there is one thing worse than his absence…it’s knowing that I’ve disappointed him. If he were alive right now, he’d be pulling me aside for one of his well-intended lectures. And while I don’t doubt for a second that his love for me was unconditional, I think he’d see me as the biggest dunderhogan of the bunch.

He’d be right about that, too.

This year has been full of major life decisions and I’d give just about anything for one of his hugs. To curl my feet up on the couch and listen to him tell me about Esmerelda the Mouse and Mary-Belle the Beauty Queen Cow. To giggle helplessly at Laurel and Hardy with him. To have him totally freak me out with his shark impression in the swimming pool.

I know that I have a whole lot to be thankful for in my life. I have an incredible family, phenomenal friends, and the best job in the world–writing novels for you! But Thanksgiving is still hard for me.

So what I’m most grateful for is the feeling that my grandpa would be proud of the way I’m facing down my fears.

But right now he’d be telling me to clean my room and get back to work.

I think I’ll take his advice.

Wishing all of you a very happy holiday season!

~Marni