Marni Advice Monday: What You SHOULDN’T Ask An Author

Hey everyone,

Author protocol is a scary thing! I say this as someone who has, um…committed more than her share of social faux pas, both online and in person.

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Um…whoops?

That’s why I thought I’d take some of those experiences to compile this list!

Here goes:

1. Respect personal boundaries.

This is a whole lot harder than it might sound.

I definitely wish it always worked like this…

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Even online friendships take time. Tweeting fifteen, “follow me, please!” messages isn’t really the way you want to get someone’s attention. Trust me on this. You want your favorite author to follow you because they want to chat, not because they feel guilty. The best way to make this happen is to have conversations with them, not at them.

2. Accept that personal safety trumps EVERYTHING.

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*Marni quakes with fear*

I’m not going to tell you where I live. I pay for a P.O box. for that very reason. Most of my author friends are parents who take both their personal safety and that of their childrens’ very seriously. Everyone sets their limits differently. I personally have reached the point where I’m just not comfortable Facebook friending my readers. It’s not because I don’t love you all (I do! I totally do!) but if you’d like to interact with me on FB, I sincerely hope you will “like” my author page.

I enjoy being accessible to my fans. That doesn’t mean I forfeit the right to personal space.

3. Don’t ask questions that sound identity theft-y.

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It’s not uncommon for authors to hear from teenagers who have been assigned a list of questions. Now while I think that it’s great that teachers are encouraging their students to engage with the literary world…some of these questions are inappropriate.

You don’t need to know my mother’s maiden name. Details about my first pet, my first job, my high school mascot…

(Teachers: Please revise this questionnaire!)

These questions put authors in a really awkward situation. We don’t want to come across as rude or standoffish, but if we give out that information to the wrong person–even once–our bank accounts could be emptied.

Which wouldn’t be good for anyone.

So here’s a good rule of thumb: If you think somebody could make trouble with the answer, don’t ask the question.

Oh, and please check out the author’s blog/Frequently Asked Questions tab. Usually you can find what you want to know right there!

4. NEVER quote a bad review at an author!

Not even when you want to know what they think about that really nasty one-star review someone left on Goodreads.

Resist. The. Urge.

Why?

Welll….

a) Bad things happen when authors respond to reviews. In fact, some careers have very publicly imploded this way. Even when an author doesn’t publicly get in trouble, they are often privately reprimanded by their agent, editor, friends, colleagues, etc., who say something similar to this…

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Or at least you shouldn’t share those feelings. Go back to discussing stickers and stop-motion animation book trailers!

b)

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My feedback doesn’t matter. At best, I’ll look defensive. At worst, condescending, snide, rude, arrogant, over-entitled…yeah, not good. The solution to this might seem easy: Don’t be a jerk about it, Marni! But it’s always hard to hear mean things about yourself. No matter how well-intentioned the bearer of bad news, that information hurts.

That also leads me to the biggest reason why you should NEVER quote a bad review at an author…

5. Remember that you have NO IDEA how they are doing.

You don’t. Even if their Twitter feed is all happiness and hedgehogs, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dealing with crippling self-doubt/depression/anxiety, etc.

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This is very true for writers.

Someone very important to me is bipolar and she can’t openly discuss it because of the stigma attached. She is horribly, gut-wrenchingly afraid that if anyone discovers it, her career will go up in flames. Nobody would suspect that anything was wrong just by scrolling through her Facebook feed. Myself included.

So, I repeat: You can’t draw conclusions about someone’s mental health from their online presence.

That’s why I highly recommend airing on the side of compassion and kindness. And leaving bad reviews where they belong–buried deep in the bowels of Goodreads.

That’s my advice for the week!

Stay awesome, friends!

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

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Pub Day on Deck!

Hey everyone!

I had such a great pub day for Decked with Holly! It started with this:

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me! I especially love that Holly’s expression while swooning over Matt Bomer matches my face when I watch White Collar. Huge fan!

Such a lovely way to begin the day!

And then I scurried over to check out two super fun blog posts I did for the release of Decked with Holly.

At Teatime Romance my super awesome RWA buddy Lisa interviewed me about (what else?) romance!

You can read it here!

Then I headed over to the amazing Bookalicious Pam’s blog where she got me to spill all my embarrassing Decked with Holly secrets, including pictures of my Secret Journal of Shame.

The best part?

You can win a free copy of Decked with Holly here!

After happy dancing around my apartment, I decided to celebrate the release like, y’know, a classy writer.

Which meant that I put on mascara, lip gloss, heels, and I rode the bus for about an hour to get to the nearest Barnes & Noble.

Marni Life Lesson #31: Do not wear heels unless absolutely necessary. Especially when you know they will just give you blisters.

But I totally forgot about the shoes when I saw my books on the shelf.

So many people helped me make this dream come true. I can’t express how grateful I am for all the support and encouragement!

There are definitely some perks that come with being an author on pub day. The biggest is that you can act like a crazy person and nobody kicks you out for it.

My friend Gwyn and I kind of took advantage of this.

It started out innocently enough…

THIS BOOK HAS BEEN MARKED UP IN PEN…by the author.

Then I may have done a little light reading.

“And then Santa says…”

That’s when it descended into something else entirely.

“Hi! I’m Marni and I’ll be your author for the evening. Can I interest you in some humorous YA books with a very wry undertone?”

And then I thought: this would be a perfect time to bust out some of my rollerblading moves.

In a bookstore.

Without rollerblades.

Ohh yeahhh…

Now is a good time to mention that I haven’t used any of these rollerblading moves in a pretty long time. So while I was thrilled that we were positioning the books within the triangle of blank space created by my body…I couldn’t hold the position for all that long.

“I’m doing it! Take the picture! TAKE THE PICTURE!”

And when I failed…well, let’s just say I managed to trip all over myself.

“Author down in the YA section! I repeat: AUTHOR DOWN!”

Gwyn and I doubled over laughing, which might explain why nobody went anywhere near us.

Note the complete lack of strangers in the background. That’s because of us.

Then I decked Gwyn with awkwardness! And puns. Lots of puns.

It was an absolutely wonderful day but in a lot of ways the fun is only just starting.

Because now I get to hear what YOU think of the book!

Speaking of which, one super cool way to tell an author what you think of their work is to write a review.

But I know that can be time consuming/intimidating so if you want a super easy way to encourage an author…

“Like” them.

I’m not even kidding.

We notice things like how many “likes” our books have on Amazon and Goodreads.

They Like Me . . . They Like Me Not.

It may seem silly but even doing something that small can have a big impact for an author.

So…if you want to “like” me and/or my books (I’m guessing you probably like me a little already or you wouldn’t still be reading this blog post) it would be awesome if you took a few seconds to let others know!

It’s a little embarrassing to admit but every time someone says something nice, this happens inside me:

So thank you!

~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