My First Blog Tour!!!! And serious amounts of hotness…

Hey everyone,

So, I’m officially participating in a blog tour for Awkward!

Yeah, I’m only a little excited about it…

Blog tours are super awesome. Here’s how it works: I get emailed roughly ten pages of questions. Then I spend the next three weeks obsessing over my answers.

I’d like to send a big shout-out to my friend Laura who helped me through one particularly rough set of questions intended for Logan Beckett to answer.

If it weren’t for her, I might still be staring at my laptop screen muttering “Whales or Bears? Whales are really big and cool. But so are bears! I don’t know! THEY’RE BOTH AWESOME!”

Yes, this an example of an honest-to-goodness work-related freak out.

Which is yet another reason for me to love my job.

Anyhow: I’m going to update my blog here with links so that you can check out my blog tour and join in the fun!

You can read my tips for surviving high school (and college) here:

Marni’s Advice!

I discuss some of my experiences in high school here:

High School Flashbacks!

And you can read a wonderful review of Awkward (and score a chance to win a copy!) here:

Fun times ahead!

And for those of you who enjoy geeking out over hot (potentially shirtless) boys: I hope you’ll drop by my group twitter event on March 15th. A bunch of amazing YA writers (including my friends Brigid Kemmerer and Jenn Rush) are getting together to share pics of some of their favorite hotties.

I predict there will be a lot of this:

And this:

And if you’re thinking um, why aren’t they reading? Don’t you know that there is nothing more attractive than that?!

All over it.

Four words: Hot. Guys. Reading. Books.

Here’s the link: Hot Guys Reading Books!

Oh, and for all you Ryan Gosling fans out there . . . this always makes me smile.

Ryan Gosling Reads Young Adult!

Anyhow, March 15th is going to be a ridiculous amount of fun. I’m hoping it will also inspire YOU to share who you would cast to play the characters in Awkward! So drop me a comment here or send them to me via Twitter!

And if you are feeling extra awesome: you can always send me fan art!

Isn’t this adorable! All pics will completely make my week. This particular masterpiece is brought to you courtesy of My Cute Bookshelf! You can check out the review that had me glowing for over a month here!

So many reasons to be feeling giddy!

Now I better get back to work. Chelsea is yelling at me . . .

~Marni

P.S. This blog tour wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for Shanyn Day and Pamela van Hylckama Vlieg! Thank you so much ladies! I really appreciate it!

How Marni Met Ellen (DeGeneres)!!!

Hey everyone!

Yesterday, my toughest 2012 resolution came true!

I met Ellen DeGeneres!!!!!!

Okay, deep breath. Here’s how it happened:

My lovely (and incredibly talented) friend Nina Berry works at Warner Brothers by day and writes novels by night. I know, she’s pretty much a superhero.

I wanted to find out whether Nina’s as awesome in person as she is on Twitter (Answer: heck yes! You can follow her at @NinaBerry) so we agreed to meet at the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank.

Four buses and a metro ride later, I was clutching my special pass and trying to pretend that I wasn’t an Oregonian gaping at Hollywood in all it’s splendor. I understand that most people wouldn’t describe Burbank, LA as awe-inspiring but . . . that’s how I saw it.

Everyone was super nice too! I showed up to my lunch date crazy early (because I was paranoid that I’d get lost and end up in Compton or something) so I wandered around and met lots of interesting people. I peeked at the gutted remains of the Chuck set . . . and then I chatted with the crew on the set of Are You There, Chelsea who are all excited about their premier. Best of luck, guys! Hope it gets picked up!

I even ran into someone from my hometown Ashland, Oregon! He graduated from my high school two years before me! So completely random.

And at one point I was mistaken for a movie star. That made me feel pretty darn good.

But let’s fast forward a bit to the good parts, shall we?

I met up with Nina at the commissary for lunch and we proceeded to discuss YA fiction and writing and Buffy and about a billion other things. We shared writing pet peeves and had an absolutely wonderful time. Talking to Nina had me wanting to start hunting for an apartment here. So . . . yes, I do think a move is in my future.

Once I finish up with my degree.

But Nina had to get back to work, so I bid her a fond goodbye and continued my wandering.

Which is when it happened.

Okay, so I knew I was “wandering” in the direction of the set of The Ellen Show. But I didn’t really expect to see her. And I figured that even if I did catch a glimpse, I wouldn’t want to interrupt because she’s a very busy woman who probably has to deal with hyperventilating fans every single day.

So I was just going to go over there and chat with her security guard. Honest.

Fun fact: the security guards at Warner Brothers are really nice. I’m sure they are also highly effective at their job. But being on security didn’t prevent them from being friendly and I appreciated that.

Anyhow, I was chatting with someone about California weather when I looked over and . . .  there was Ellen DeGeneres.

And I mean right there. We’re talking about a distance of a few feet and she appeared to be waiting for someone.

That someone was definitely not me.

But I wasn’t about to walk away from this kind of opening. I was too close to my unattainable goal to chicken out. I’ve been mentally preparing myself for this precise moment for . . . oh I dunno, YEARS!

Yes, I know that makes me the most ridiculous geek.

But whatever.

So I walk over with this ridiculous grin on my face. The one I get when I’m so incredibly excited about something my Italian genes make a surprise appearance and I find myself with flailing arms that refuse to settle.

I have a feeling it looked something like this:

So with that euphoric/disbelieving grin plastered on my face, my feet carried me over to her and my brain . . . stalled.

Gone were all the polished pre-prepared speeches I imagined delivering ever since I wrote Awkward. Instead she got this:

Me: Hi! I’m a big fan. I wrote you into my novel. Um, HI!

Ellen: Hi.

Me: I think you’re amazing. And, wow . . . I thought I’d play it cool. I’m not playing it cool.

(Hands start shaking uncontrollably.)

And then Ellen laughed in a really nice way. There wasn’t even a trace of Oh-God-here-it-goes-again. Just a friendly sound that made my hands shake even more because I just made Ellen DeGeneres laugh!

I swear, I was even thinking in italics.

And then I told her a little bit about Awkward but it was a little hard to talk given that I was trembling and all I could think was: Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen DeGeneres.

So I sort of made it sound like she had actually interviewed my fictional main character. Which obviously, she didn’t. Anyhow once we got that cleared up, I mentioned I started a campaign to get on her show. And then she explained that she has only had one other writer on her show before (Jonathan Safran Foer) and that unless Awkward becomes a huge hit, it wasn’t likely I’d make it on the show.

Which just means that everyone should go out and buy a copy of Awkward!

And I nodded because at that point, I didn’t really much care whether I made it on the show or not. I had just told a woman that I greatly admire that she inspired part of my novel. Best of all, she was every bit as nice as I had always hoped she would be. So I thanked her and then asked for a photo.

Then I looked like a complete dork when I whipped out my laptop so I could take it on Photo Booth.

Marni Bates with Ellen DeGeneres. Still can’t believe it actually happened.

Then she had to go back to work so we said goodbye and I proceeded to call every member of my family.

And I snapped just a few more photos for all of you to enjoy:

I’m on Ellen!

And that’s my grand Ellen adventure!

If you want to relive the Get Marni On Ellen Campaign, here’s the music video I made:

And if you haven’t seen the Awkward Book Trailer I made, you should really check it out here!

I should probably get back to my writing now!

~Marni

2012 Resolutions, Awkward, and Ellen DeGeneres!

Hey everyone!

So, I didn’t technically do anything to ring in 2012. No crazy parties. No funny hats. Heck, I didn’t even stay up until midnight. I crashed at 5pm because my jetlag coming back from Africa absolutely flattened me.

But 2012 may very well go down as the best year in Marni History.

For a few reasons, actually. 2012 is the year I will graduate from college. It’s the year that I will make all sorts of big exciting decisions (like where I want to live and what I want to do professionally). It’s also going to be the year I finally learn how to drive!

Unless I can convince someone to drive me around in one of these...

Unless I can convince someone to drive me around in one of these, of course!

But I’m sure when I look back at 2012, the first thing to come to mind will always be that on January 1st, my debut YA novel AWKWARD was released!!!!

HOORAY!!!!!

See, that’s the best way to kick off a year.

It doesn’t feel real. I know that my book is in stores…sitting on shelves in Barnes & Noble just waiting to be purchased…and yet, every time I read a review it comes as a shock that someone else has read it. That Mackenzie, Logan, Jane, Corey, Chelsea and the rest of the gang no longer belong exclusively to me. And I’m thrilled because I’ve wanted to share them for quite awhile now.

So to celebrate the release of Awkward, I created a book trailer!

Feel free to comment and share it with others! The more the merrier!

Creating this video was one of my 2012 resolutions and I’m incredibly pleased that I can cross one thing off the list. Here’s the rest of my goals:

Resolution 1: Get on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

That’s right. I haven’t given up. Sure, I hoped that Ellen would see my YouTube video and call me up right away.
But it’s okay. I understand. She’s an incredibly busy woman. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up the dream. If I had allowed rejection to faze me, I wouldn’t have a four book deal now. In fact, I wouldn’t have even bothered writing Awkward. What’s the point if I was destined for rejection?
Well, now it’s out in stores.
So Ellen DeGeneres: I will be on your show in 2012.
I hope.
Call me.
Resolution 2: Finish college.
I think that one is pretty self-explanatory. I’m definitely looking forward to having that ridiculously expensive piece of paper clutched in my fist. You know, the one that says I’ve got a degree in English. Which should really help me become an author! Wait a second…
Resolution 3: Learn to drive.
But I already mentioned that. Moving on!
Resolution 4: Be more health conscious.
This also seems pretty self-explanatory. Eating better…working out…all that stuff I keep meaning to do, but don’t.
Resolution 5: Write three novels.
A lofty goal, I know. But I have a new idea for a series that I’m super excited about writing. I can’t reveal anything yet, but I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on my progress.

Resolution 6: Be happy.

I feel quite confident that this resolution isn’t going to be hard for me to maintain. Even without the release of Awkward, I’d be happy because my life includes so many wonderful people who inspire me every single day.

So I wish you all a very happy 2012!

Love,

Marni

Marni On Safari: Serengeti-Style!

Hey everyone,

I am in the most beautiful place on earth. I admit, I had my doubts about Africa before I came. Mainly because I had to get a boatload of shots and the woman who gave them to me kept insisting that I would experience all sorts of awful side effects. That part of the process was so freaking stressful and expensive that it made the idea of returning home after finals sound awfully tempting.

But now I am so glad I chose to travel with my family.

On the road in Kenya.

Not that some parts of it haven’t been rough. Yesterday we were supposed to drive from Kenya into Tanzania in a completely doable three hour long journey. Excellent plan. It would have been absolutely perfect if it weren’t for the fact that our bridge was washed out by recent rain. Our three hour drive became fourteen hours. Now, one of the problems with traveling as a family is that everyone inevitably acts half their age. So for almost this entire fourteen hour drive I was stuck behind two of my cousins (24 and 21 years old) who kept punching each other. Hours and hours of listening to:

“Hey!”

“Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!”

“Cut it out.”

Bam! Whap!

“OWWW!!!!”

“You jerk.”

“Don’t be a wimp.”

I think you catch my drift. To top it off, one of my cousins had some gastrointestinal issues. Let’s just say that the lions could smell us coming.

But now I am in paradise.

I am “tenting” at The Soroi (located in the Serengeti, Tanzania)!

Yeah, if this is tenting, I’m down to do this any day of the week!

Here’s my shower:

That’s right: I’m going to be bathing with this as my view:

Right above the freaking Serengeti!

I have wireless Internet too!

So…now I think I’ll leave you with a few last photos while I enjoy the lightning display over the land and nibble on popcorn.

All of these blobs are very happy members of my family.

I’d love to hear about your travel experiences? Have you ever gone somewhere that you never wanted to leave?

~Marni

 

Marni on Safari!

Hey everyone,

I am in Africa! That’s right: I took all of my finals at Lewis & Clark College early so that I could go on vacation with my family. So now I’m in Kenya and even though I’m exhausted, I will do my best to fill everyone in on my most recent ridiculous adventures.

I guess I should begin with my very up close and personal experience with some giraffes on my very first day in Nairobi.

There was some serious kissing!

Let me explain: giraffes love food pellets so much that as long as you put one in your mouth (and keep your lips firmly closed) it’s like letting a dog lick your face. Except, you know…it’s a giraffe!

Apparently they have very sanitary mouths, which is excellent because I was slobbered all over. I enjoying it immensely and would highly recommend the experience. Definitely keep your mouth shut though.

Then the next day I went to a baby elephant orphanage and it was every bit as adorable as it sounds. I got to pet baby elephants–one of which was only four weeks old.

And then my whole family piled into two jeeps and bounced around on rocky roads for five hours until we reached Masai Mara (where I am currently writing this post). It’s gorgeous here. Over 1000km of protected land where I have seen the warthogs and the antelope play. One of the biggest highlights for me was seeing a cheetah on the drive to the hotel. It was about seven feet away from me and without the aid of binoculars I could see every windblown tuft of hair on him. Or her…not too good at distinguishing genders yet. Another highlight was being surrounded by a herd of elephants and today I saw an endangered black rhino as well as a pride of lions!

The cuteness factor here is ridiculous. Even the baby warthogs have me cooing over them. I will prove it by uploading photos…eventually. In the meantime, if you want to follow my adventures I’ll be tweeting the highlights (MarniBates is my handle) at #MarniOnSafari.

I’m running out of Internet time but I’ll be sure to post more soon!

Sincerely,

Marni

The Get Marni On Ellen Campaign Starts Now!

Hey everyone!

Remember that TOP SECRET project I’ve been working on? Well, it’s here.

I have just launched the Get Marni On Ellen Campaign!

HOORAY!

That’s right: the girl who has never campaigned for any position EVER has now set her Santa hat at landing a spot on The Ellen Show!

But I’m going for it, because I have wanted to meet Ellen for quite some time now. Throughout high school (when I was alone…usually) I would have whole imaginary conversations with her.

“Well, Ellen,” I’d say, “I’m okay with being one of the biggest geeks at Ashland High School. Really. Because I went on to do Something of Great Importance which is why you are talking to me now!”

I had no clue what my Something of Great Importance could be . . . but I still had regular interview sessions with her. And putting high school in the past tense (even if it was only in my head) made it easier to handle in the present.

So when I was writing AWKWARD (*Spoiler Alert*) the scene where Ellen interviews Kenzie was one of the easiest to write. I just watched a boatload of her interviews on YouTube for “research” and suddenly I had Ellen in Awkward!

There are a whole host of reasons I wrote her into my novel. And I will admit, the thought that this could be my Something Great of Importance definitely crossed my mind. But the honest to goodness truth, is that for Kenzie to face her fear of the spotlight there had to be someone seriously awesome right next to her onstage. And I knew instinctively that was Ellen.

Ellen always strikes me as sincere. I have never felt like she was capitalizing on a tragedy to score points with the audience. And when she talks to celebrities about the pressures in their lives, she lets them voice the reality of their situations. She doesn’t cut them off or railroad them into a lie or splice scenes so that it looks more controversial. I find all of that truly commendable. If I felt that the news covered subjects with the same amount of heart as Ellen, I’d watch it more often.

And, yes, I think it is absolutely fantastic that she is openly gay. Maybe it’s not fair to idealize celebrity relationships, but when I look at Portia and Ellen it makes me feel good about the direction our world is headed. I was thrilled when they were allowed to get married. I was way more excited about that than I was for William and Kate’s wedding. Because, fair or not, I was able to hug some very important people and say, “See! It is possible to be gay and loved and happy and married and AWESOME!”

I feel very strongly that this is a message that needs to be repeated at a VERY LOUD VOLUME!

Because it’s true.

And I thought that if certain characters were to ever come out of the closet, the Ellen Show is the safest place for that to happen.

So . . . that’s why I wrote her into my novel. And I hope I get the chance to tell her all of this in person.

So please support my Get Marni On Ellen Campaign! Watch my video here: ! And please be sure to “like” it, Tweet it, and Facebook share it!

More Soon!

~Marni

Birthday-ish Blog!

Hey everyone!

I am officially 22!!!!!

I had an absolutely fantastic birthday! Actually, I got the whole Birthday Celebration kicked off early with a visit from my mom. I showed her around Portland, which translates to the two of us wandering around looking at art and drinking copious amounts of Starbucks. My definition of a perfect day.

 

My lovely mom. Without her support, I wouldn’t have my writing career. Or, you know…life.

Then on my actual birthday I went out for dinner with some friends, which inevitably led us to Powells. And then when my friend Laura asked me to introduce her to the world of romance novels…well, things got a little crazy.

See, when I’m excited my Italian genes kick in and I can’t stop making sweeping hand gestures. Which is how I nearly smacked my friend Emily in the face.

To be fair: I was telling them about Tessa Dare’s latest, A Night to Surrender, which was unbelievably good. So when I was explaining about the sheep bombing, I might have gotten a bit overenthusiastic.

Fun side-story: I tweeted about how much I loved this book and then Tessa Dare tweeted me back. And I freaked out. I reacted like a twelve year old Justin Bieber fan at a concert. Lots of squealing. And then I stared at my Twitter screen and repeated, “I am not worthy.”

Erm, so I need to work on that. Otherwise when I eventually meet these authors at the RWA conference, it’s just going to be embarrassing.

Anyhow, I had a fantastic night out with my friends and I spent my birthday in a little cocoon of happiness.

So it was hard to go Isaac’s memorial service the next day…but I’m glad that I did. The service was absolutely beautiful. There were chess pieces surrounding the chapel and  near the end of the service everyone replaced them with a lit candle. So now I have a pawn dangling off my backpack and the memory of being surrounded by the glow of all those candles.

Best of all, I got a real sense of closure from the service. So it’s pretty much back to life as usual for me. Thank goodness!

Now I can focus on important things…like erm, Twitter?

Sigh. Sadly I think the correct response to that is actually “my Henry James thesis paper.”

Then again, I’m discussing (at length) the phallic imagery in Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady so I don’t think it’s going to be as boring as I once feared. Plus now I can discuss male genitalia in public while pretending to be classy. Of course, I think I lost classy points when I grabbed a friend from class in the cafeteria and began crowing, “It’s a penis! I get it now! IT ALL MAKES SENSE! How did I miss that keys are codes for penises throughout the whole freaking novel?”

I’ll be sure to post my thesis here once it’s finished so I can try to redeem myself with all of you classy people.

Wow, Henry James was way cuter than I expected!

Although, after going to see David Sedaris I’m not so worried about my class-o-meter. I feel like as long as I don’t discuss people pooping in their hands, I’m doing okay. I have to say, I really dislike it when people say the crudest things they can think of for a cheap laugh. I’m generally not laughing if that’s all you’ve got.

I prefer really sophisticated humor, like tripping and food-related accidents.

And on that note, I need to get some breakfast!

More Later!

~Marni