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

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Almost Too Much Awesomeness for One Blog Post!!

Hey everyone!

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?

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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!

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I look forward to meeting you all in Atlanta!

AND THEN…

I received this COMPLETELY AWESOME package from KTeen!

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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!

AND THEN…

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.

*Grins*

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!

Marni’s Vlog!

Or for the direct link to YouTube: 

And on that note…it’s time for me to get back to writing!

Love,

Marni

Living in the City of Angels!

Hey everyone!

I moved to Los Angeles!

And even though I’m approaching my two week anniversary in my new place, it still doesn’t feel real. Everything came together so perfectly for me.

Here’s what happened:

It all started with my signing event in Pasadena with YA superstars Brigid Kemmerer and Nina Berry!

Brigid is on the left, Nina is on the right, and I’m in the middle of an awesome YA sandwich.

We had a wonderful time at Vroman’s bookstore! But I have to admit, I definitely geeked out when my best friend since preschool and her older brother showed up!

Gwyn has seen it all, including a rather embarrassing rattail/mullet hair disaster. I still can’t believe my mom wanted me to have that haircut.

Even as a clown, Gwyn is cooler than me. It’s just not fair, I tell you!

So having her at my book signing really meant a lot. And after the books were signed and cupcakes were consumed (Mmm…cupcakes!) I had an absolutely brilliant idea!

I was taking Gwyn to the RITAs.

For those of you who don’t obsess over the Romance Writers of America conference, let me explain.

The RITAs is like the Emmys. The Golden Globes. The Oscars.

EXCEPT EVEN BETTER!

Everyone dresses up in sparkly gowns and…it’s magical.

Just…trust me on this.

I teared up at the event. Not even kidding. It’s a very good thing that Gwyn was there to hold my hand through the whole thing, because I was so nervous during the award part.

I’m not sure I could handle the excitement if I was ever nominated. Honestly, I would rather have a RITA than a Pulitzer.

Anyhow, Gwyn took me to her apartment so that she could get dressed up for the event. And as I was admiring her super pretty bedroom and her view, she mentioned that she was moving into her boyfriend’s place. Which meant that if I wanted to rent the apartment, that could be easily arranged.

!!!!!!!!!!!

A week later she picked me up from my dad’s place and I moved in.

She pulled up in a limo! Okay, I’m lying. This is from our high school graduation party. 

Gwyn also laughed pretty hard when she discovered that my romance novels outnumbered my clothes.

By a lot.

So now I have a new home in the Hollywood Hills.

There have been a few changes. I had to buy prescription sunglasses, which I never thought I would need back with I lived in Portland. And yesterday my route home from the coffee shop was blocked off by the police. Apparently a suspicious package needed to be checked out by the bomb squad.

I’m loving it though.

Even the domestic stuff. I have a kitchen that I actually use.

Turns out, I’m not a culinary failure. I totally made a couscous-bean-snap pea-barley stew thingie. And it was delicious!

This is what independence tastes like to me! 

Anyhow, I should probably get back to work. I have some editing left to do on Invisible before I can return to work on Chelsea’s story!

Before I go, I’ve got one more thing to share…

My short story for the Magical Mayhem anthology is now complete…and the book can be purchased on October 1!!!!

The last time I wrote anything magical, I looked like this:

Uh oh, Elementary School Marni thinks my blogging time it up!

I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks of it!

Sincerely,

Marni

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