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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My AWKWARD Pubversary is Here!!!!! Oh, and Happy New Year!

Hey everyone,

So here’s a fun author fact: a book’s official release date is often referred to as “pub day.”

This is not because authors tend to go straight to the nearest bar and order way too many cocktails while they brace themselves for reviews. Although I admit that idea has some merit. But most of us wake up on pub day and sprint to the nearest Barnes & Noble so we can find our books on the shelf.

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“Hellooo!!!!!”

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(My pub day for DECKED WITH HOLLY. No drinking was involved in the making of these photos.) 

But to the best of my knowledge there isn’t an industry term for the one year anniversary of  a book.

Until now!

Because tomorrow marks my AWKWARD pubversary!!!

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That’s right: exactly one year ago I was a college student freaking out over her debut novel.   One year ago maybe five people (excluding my relatives) had read AWKWARD. 

One year ago I feared my debut would look a lot like this:

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Or this…

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Honestly, I think if you’re not afraid of getting this response there might be something wrong with you.

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(Nervous author in the Serengeti. My resolution was to avoid being eaten by a lion.)

And now that I look back over everything that has happened this year…I’m kind of speechless.

Here are just some of the highlights:

AWKWARD was published!

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I laughed really hard when I saw this in my own hometown.

I met Ellen DeGeneres!

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My mom opened a fabulous quilt store in Ashland, Oregon called Sew Creative. And she drafted asked me to be a bobbin in the 4th of July parade for her.

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I created some pretty awesome art projects at Southern Oregon University.

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“Now who could have done that, I wonder?”

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I was going for a Statue of Liberty meets Starbucks meets heavily-caffeinated Marni look. I think it worked…

I failed to get my driver’s license…

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“I swear, I wasn’t driving over the speed limit!”

I graduated from Lewis & Clark college!

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Certified college graduate and everything!

I went to the Romance Writers of America conference!

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Jackpot!

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I also got to hang out with all of these incredibly talented authors!

My short story EPIC REVENGE was published in the Magical Mayhem anthology!

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I found out that Disney wants to option AWKWARD as a made-for-TV movie!

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DECKED WITH HOLLY was published and I seriously improved at making book trailers!

AWKWARD is going to be translated into Portuguese, Spanish and Hungarian!

(I don’t have a picture for this, but I am super excited)

And I finished writing my first draft of Chelsea’s book, NOTABLE! I’m almost finished with my first round of editing too. So that feels pretty darn great.

Honestly, this has been the most amazing year for me. And the best part has definitely been you! The love and support I have received is just…incredible.

So thank you for the best pubversary a writer could ever wish to receive!

As a sort of pubversary present you can win a copy of DECKED WITH HOLLY from the lovely Kathy at her blog I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

Giveaway here!

She also asks me some fabulous interview questions that I hope you will all enjoy!

And don’t forget to check out all the other stops in my DECKED WITH HOLLY blog tour for even more chances to win!

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Tour Schedule
Week One:
Dec. 31, 2012 – Kathy @ I Am A Reader Not A Writer – Author Interview
Jan. 1, 2013 – Karielle @ Books a la Mode – Guest Post – Author Top Ten
Jan. 2, 2013 – Krystal @ Live to Read – Review
Jan. 3, 2013 – Aeicha @ Word Spelunking – Guest Post
Jan. 4, 2013 – JennRenee @ JennRenee Read – Review
Week Two:
Jan. 7, 2013 – Tara @ Hobbitsies – Guest Post
Jan. 8, 2013 – Kailia @ Reading the Best of the Best – Review
Jan. 9, 2013 – Hannah @ The Girl in a Cafe – Author Interview
Jan. 10, 2013 – Emilie @ Emilie’s Book World – Review
Jan. 11, 2013 – Rachel @ Parajunkee – Guest Post
And on that note, I hope everyone has an extraordinarily awesome New Years!
Much love,
Marni

 

 

 

THE COOLEST PLACE ON EARTH!!! (aka the RWA convention!)

Hey everyone!

Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin. I am having the best time of my life at the Romance Writers of America conference. I mean, I was a little worried that I had built it up too much in my head. Seven years is a long time to fantasize about what it might be like, and I was bracing myself for disappointment.

It has exceeded all of my expectations.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a talk by Simone Elkeles (author of Perfect Chemistry) before I headed off for the Literacy signing.

Now that was insane.

(Picture is from the signing last year. I was too busy geeking out to take any photos)

It was essentially an enormous convention hall full of my all time favorite authors.

And I was free to romp among them!

I geeked out.

Hardcore.

It was quite possibly one of the best moments of my life. I started wandering the rows of authors, grinning like a loon, as I stalked located my all-time favorites.

It was actually quite challenging because I kept getting distracted by all the amazing authors around me.

For all you romance fans: I was able to chat with…

Victoria Dahl (known for her kickass Regency and Contemporary books. Also for her hilariously awesome tweets).

Tessa Dare (known for her hilarious historical romances. I mean, the sheep bombing! Inspired.)

Julia Quinn (Her romance novels are what hooked me on the genre. Absolutely amazing!)

Julie James (one of her characters is known as the Twitter Terrorist. Need I say more?)

Jennifer Estep (a wonderful writer in my KTeen family!)

 

…and Susan Andersen (Awesome author. Nicest person you will ever meet!)

All of them were absolutely wonderful.

AND THERE WERE SO MANY AWESOME PEOPLE!

I’ve got to say that I still think meeting Tessa Dare was the highlight of my RWA trip so far. I was waiting in line at her booth and she glanced at me and yelled, “Marni Bates!”

Then she ran around her booth so that she could give me a big hug.

I’m not even kidding.

If anyone starts talking smack to me about wasting time on Twitter, I’m going to point out that it allowed me to become friends with Tessa Dare.

She’s totally going to win the RITA for A Night to Surrender. I know she doesn’t think she’s going to get it, but she is wrong. Her novel completely deserves to win.

I’d also like to mention that all of my Twitter friends have been awesome in real life. I met my fellow KTeen author, Brigid Kemmerer, last night and I can’t wait to spend more time with her at our signing at Vroman’s on Saturday!

I know it only just started, but I never want to leave.

Seriously.

If spending the rest of my life in the Marriot with super-agents Laurie McLean and Pam Van Hylckama-Vlieg was an option, I would totally sign up for it. I can’t express how amazing it feels to be in such a supportive atmosphere.

And now I need to find New York Times Bestselling author Stephanie Laurens so that I can give her an ARC of Decked with Holly. Because she asked to read it.

Geeking out so freaking hard!

More later!

~Marni

California Scheming (aka Marni’s Airport Adventures!)

Hey everyone!

I am heading to Los Angeles today!

Which means all of you get a very funny airport story.

So I had to wake up at the ungodly hour of 5:15 today. Okay, so it was supposed to be 5:00 but my alarm clock was a little, erm, easy for me to dismiss.

Maybe I just need a crocodile to come with my alarm clock like in Peter Pan. That might be effective!

Anyhow after scurrying around my room like a crazed person (or a slightly neurotic person who absolutely has to get to an airport at least an hour before her flight) I managed to shove my enormous suitcase into the car and drive off into the sunrise.

My trusty suitcase. It’s been with me since high school.

Well…my mom did the driving because I failed the exam last week. But that’s another story…

I looked kinda like this. Except, you know, not so blonde and significantly more freaked out. Then again, it was Friday the 13th! 

Where was I?

Right.

The airport.

My mom dropped me off with a big hug and a grin as she told me (and I quote): “Give Tessa Dare a kiss from me.”

Um…right. Because that’s a great way to put one of my favorite authors at ease when I meet her at the Romance Writer’s Conference.

Not that I’m geeking out about attending or anything. Who me? Nah.

I’m totally playing it cool.

But my mom’s mission of making me laugh (at 6am no less) was a success and I hurried over to the check my bag with a big ol’ grin on my face. That’s when I discover my checked bag was roughly 7 lbs overweight. Probably because I stuffed almost all of my Decked with Holly advanced reader copies inside of it.

Coming to stores soon! AIYEEEE!!! So excited!

And unless I wanted to pay an extra $100, I had some major rearranging to do.

Let’s just say that airport security was significantly less excited to see twenty copies of Decked with Holly than I was when they arrived.

Still, I refused to let a little problem like an overweight bag get me down. I greeted TSA very nicely (Word to the wise: never piss off people that can give you a full body search) and made my way to the gate.

Where I sat all by myself.

Because there was nobody there.

I’m talking ghost-town levels of nobodiness. You know, when you see tumbleweed roll across an empty road and you think, wow, that place is dead quiet.

Yeah, that’s the Medford Airport at 6am.

But being of the nervous/neurotic temperament, I started freaking out when it looked like the flight was supposed to be boarding within the next fifteen minutes, and I was still completely alone.

Okay, so I took a few dozen photos with my ARCs of Decked with Holly first. 

Which is when my lovely new TSA friends pointed out that I had booked a 7PM flight.

Translation: I woke up at 5:15 for nothing!!!!!

Oh, and instead of picking a convenient time for my best friends’ parents to pick me up from the airport, I had scheduled the worst time possible!

*Headdesk*

So I had to walk back to the baggage counter, site of my earlier display of book related idiocy, and explain that, yes, I understood that I royally effed up.

Then I called my mom who had a good laugh at my expense.

Gee, thanks, Mom! Don’t think I’ll forget that the next time you ask me to be a freaking bobbin in the 4th of July parade!

But a little computer magic later…and I’m waiting to board my new flight.

One that should get me to LA exactly when my friends’ parents expected to get me.

So…nobody needs to know this ever happened, right?

Well, except for all of you!

I’ll be sure to update my blog lots to capture all the RWA madness that is about to happen.

Good times ahead, folks…

Oh, wait. New announcement. My flight is delayed and the likelihood that I’ll be making my connection looks pretty grim.

Sigh…

Love,

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