The Awkward Adventurer… (Part 1)

Hey everyone,

I’ve learned something important about myself: I suck at blogging when I travel.

Seriously. I’m the worst at it. Every now and then I think, “I should share these adventures with the world!” and then I come up with a reason to put it off.

Which means that now you get the highlight reel from my trip across America!

Where to begin….

LOS ANGELES:

I was too excited to sleep the night before the trip, so I felt like a zombie by the time the shuttle picked me up. And then I met a real zombie!

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Okay, I met an actor who plays a zombie on The Walking Dead. That’s pretty much the same thing, right?

Vincent M. Ward now has a copy of NOTABLE. Chelsea probably doesn’t watch The Walking Dead, but Jane is totally geeking out over this.

Still, I couldn’t wait to trade L.A. in for New Orleans. After weeks of stressing over a new writing project, a change of scenery needed to happen.

There were crazy eyes, my friends. And those crazy eyes were attached to my face. It’s never a good thing when you look into the mirror and say, “Why hello! Don’t you look like a serial killer today!”

So the timing for this adventure couldn’t have been better.

Especially since I stayed in a mansion with two awesome writing buddies: Cecily White and Noelle Pierce.

Yep. A mansion.

Cecily contends that I’m exaggerating about her childhood home.

I think that if water comes from a swan, it’s officially a mansion.

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Right?!

Plus, they have a special scoop for ice cubes. I seriously doubt that even Ice Cube lives in such luxury. These are the kinds of details that I notice after two weeks of self-imposed solitary confinement.

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Luckily, Cecily’s mom seemed to get a kick out of just how much I loved her home. (Especially my bedroom, which included a little step stool so I could reach the four poster bed. So cute!)

I’m not allowed to tell you about everything that happened in New Orleans. The three of us  pretty much swore a blood oath. But I can tell you that we spent most of our time discussing characters and plots and writing deadlines.

Oh, and I went from this

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To this:
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I have always wanted to play with the color of my hair. Always. But even though I have no trouble grabbing a pair of scissors and snipping away at 3am, I could never bring myself to alter the shade. So coloring it red was my way of shaking things up!

The next few days are now a blur of awesome.

I had a MacGyver moment that involved rigging up my computer charger at the coffee shop with the help of my shoe.

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I went to an incredible restaurant called Muriel’s with the girls. There were all these creepy old photos and paintings on the walls and I couldn’t shake the feeling that at any minute they might decide to start haunting me.

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Note the super creepy painting behind me…

Here are some other cool photos…that could use much better lighting.

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Andrew Jackson: Vampire Hunter.

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Creepy pictures. Such a creepy pictures!

We sang karaoke at a club on Bourbon St. called The Cat’s Meow. And yes, Noelle filmed our rendition of Call Me Maybe. Have I mentioned that Noelle is a wonderful, beautiful person who would never stoop to blackmailing me?

I’ve truly missed both of them ever since I left New Orleans.

Our last big group activity was a visit to Cecily’s old high school. The girls we spoke with were absolutely wonderful. They asked fantastic questions and lingered to chat with us after the official lecture part was over. So we definitely ended on a high note!

WASHINGTON D.C.

I’m so glad I visited my older sister! She shares an adorable apartment with her roommate and the two of them took me to a wonderful Yom Kippur service.

Just for the record: “wonderful” and “service” are not two words that I usually put together.

But the Rabbi discussed the Jewish holiday of repenting misdeeds in a way that was current, political, and non-partisan. I was impressed.

Still, I spent the majority of my time in D.C. acting like a tourist. I woke up early so that I could enjoy an entire day at The Newseum and I still nearly went back for more! The FBI exhibit was super cool…

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Don’t shoot, G-Men!

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So…that’s intense!

And I loved this section of the Berlin Wall!

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Not that Chelsea needs any encouragement to act up!

The next day I went to the International Spy Museum!

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Even the bathroom signs were made of awesome!

I totally geeked out. And I did my very best to memorize as much information from the exhibits as possible. I’m sure some of it will come in handy!

That’s all I’m going to say for now…

In other news…I took Chelsea to see a whole bunch of national monuments.

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I snuggled up to FDR.

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I joked around with Lincoln.
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I practiced my powerful pose of authority with MLK.
And I met an incredible ballerina who agreed to pose with Notable!
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This photo always makes me smile!
Here are some more…
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I totally got into my role of photographer.
But perhaps the best part of my trip to D.C. was actually my ride to the airport. That’s because I was able to catch up with a good friend from high school. Danielle and I laughed and joked all the way to Dulles International and I boarded my flight to Boston with a very happy heart.
But you will have to stay tuned to hear about those adventures!
More later,
Marni
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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