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!


Willamette Writers Conference 2011

Hey everyone!

Okay, I’ve been anticipating the Willamette Writers Conference for a long time now. I used it as a reference point on the horizon when I was struggling with homesickness in Australia. I could flip open my agenda and point to the first week of August and know that I would find people there who would understood me.

There’s something about being surrounded by other people who also see people who don’t exist that I find…comforting.

Which might sound funny since The Sixth Sense scared the hell out of me.

Haley Joel Osment and I both must like pens way more than pencils.

I was so excited to go this year that…well, my enormous grin never faded.

I’m surprised TSA wasn’t afraid I would spontaneously combust.

And when I got there I was allowed to hang out in the VIP room with all the agents! Unfortunately I didn’t snap any pictures of it (I was trying to play it cool) but it looked classy to me. Well, definitely by college standards. No PBR here.

It was all fancy french cheese and crackers.

I can actually report back every single dish on that table because I was that determined to absorb every detail. Which sadly includes the baby corn, olives, and spinach and polenta squares.

But I’m guessing you guys don’t care about any of that.

So here’s something you might like to know: the WWC attracted some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Seriously. I could not have asked to spend my time with a nicer, more interesting group of agents, managers, producers, oh, and writers!

So typically I was already in the wee small hours of the morning before I called it a night.

And that’s why I drank copious amounts of coffee throughout my panels.

I had so much fun! I love giving advice to other writers. And I love talking about YA fiction. Nothing else I’d rather do.

Now this is where you probably want to hear the details…but I’m too tired to go into it. I thought I had the energy when I started blogging. All of it drained out of me though. There are just too many of them for me to even know where to begin.

However, I am thrilled to announce that one of my very good friends now has an agent. Way to go Katherine! It really can/does happen, people!

Anyhow, the conference has made me seriously consider making some huge changes, like moving to LA and trying to break into TV.

On the one hand: terrifying.

On the other hand: thrilling.

I guess we’ll all have to just wait to see what happens. In the meantime, I need to get back to work on my books for KensingtonTeen, fly to Houston and finish college.

But right now I need more sleep!



I’m Going to AFRICA!

Hey everyone!

It’s official! I’m going to be leaving for Africa on December 13th!

Specifically, I’ll be going on safari in Kenya and Tanzania. I have no idea what to expect. I’ve travelled to some pretty amazing places but I think this will be the winner as far as off the beaten path trips go. I can’t wait.

But that’s what I have to do this week:


The wedding isn’t until Saturday but I have a family dinner tonight and the bachelorette party tomorrow. Oh, and apparently there is something happening Sunday night too (although I’m not sure if my presence is required). Then I have three days of babysitting before I fly to Portland!

Most of which will be spent glancing from my laptop screen to my empty suitcase and groaning.

So originally I had planned on being finished with my rough draft of FAUXMANCE before the conference. That way I could sit on panels with Laurie McLean and Grace Ledding and say really cool things like, “oh, yeah, this latest novel came together for me in about three months. No big deal.”

But…yeah, that’s not going to happen. Unless, of course, the whole novel suddenly explodes out of my fingertips and I spend the flight to Portland banging away at my computer watching my page numbers spiral from 170 to 200 to 250 and then, at last, oh yes! 265!

That’s the dream, right?

Still it’s not like I can get kicked off the panel for being unable to meet my own absurd deadlines. No one is going to escort me out, right?

Security Guard: Ahem, Miss? You’re not allowed in here. We read on Twitter that you’ve been watching Burn Notice and White Collar at your grandma’s house instead of writing. And that can of Pringles you’ve been eating did not fuel any amazing scenes the way you claimed it would.

Me: Uh, I’m sorry. I’ll get back to work, officer?

Security Guard: Don’t try that on me! I deal with your kind all the time!

Me: Um…Oregonians?

Security Guard: You procrastinators are all the same! You make great promises and then what happens? NOTHING! It’s all: hey, man, sure I’ll file the paperwork after we interrogate the suspect. But then nobody does! So now payroll is breathing down me neck and you want to know whose fault it is? Procrastinators who muck everything up!

Me: (backs away slowly) I’m sorry! I’ll get back to writing! I didn’t mean to cause any trouble.

Security Guard: Oh, yeah? Well, it’s TOO LATE NOW!


Actually…I think I’m done with this blog post. Once I create a security guard who enjoys yelling at me that’s generally my cue to get back to work.

Plus, I don’t think I’ve finished off the Pringles. Yet.

More later!


Christmas in July

Hey everyone!

So…I know tis not the season yet. In fact, the only people who seem to have been infected with holiday cheer are the people selling Christmas ornaments and twinkle lights at garage sales. If I had a penny for every time I saw an ugly candy cane pin or Santa Claus necklace…I could buy a grande drink at Starbucks with the earnings.

So wonderfully tacky.

And yet even though we’re in the month of fireworks when Old Navy insists that I need a new wardrobe for upcoming camping trips…I’m secretly in December.

You see, I’m working on a holiday themed novel so I need to get into the feeling of the holidays. Which ought to include carols except…most of them annoy me. Maybe because I’ve gone on too many trips over the holidays where reggae versions of Here Comes Santa Claus played on an endless loop. Let me assure you it did not put me in a jolly mood.

The exact opposite of jolly, to tell the truth. I began contemplating the many ways I could destroy the plastic Welcome Santa that belted out holiday tunes at anyone unfortunate enough to go near the damn thing.

Nevertheless here I am, in July, fa la la la-ing as I edit away. I have found that singing usually helps curb my impulse to bury my head in a blanket and screech, “OH MY GOD, THEY’RE GOING TO FIND OUT I’M A TALENTLESS HACK AFTER ALL!”

It’s really a shame I don’t have any musical ability. I’m trying to belt out All I Want for Christmas is You when my mom isn’t around to hear it. The only concern is that I may inadvertently upset neighbors into filing a noise complaint.

Considering that sort of happened at school once…I feel the concern isn’t entirely unjustified.

I’m actually enjoying my Christmas experience. Which is kind of funny because as a Jew I usually have a hard time getting into the spirit of things. When I was at my friend Gwyn’s house I always had a blast decorating the tree and admiring our handiwork. But at school…I felt left out. To be fair, there aren’t that many good Channukah songs out there.

Which is why the first time I saw Candlelight by The Maccabeats I may have teared up. Just a little.


But for some reason Christmas in July is really nice. Maybe because I’m choosing to listen to the music instead of being bombarded by Christmas everywhere I go.

So if I appear even more oblivious than usual, it might have something to do with the fact that I’m pretending it’s December.

Although there are a few other reasons I’m excited about December.

Reason #1: I will have graduated from Lewis & Clark College.

Reason #2: I might be spending the holidays in Kenya/Tanzania.

Reason #3: AWKWARD will be closer to its release date!

Clearly, lots of excitement in December. But I’m looking forward to a wedding that’s only a few weeks away now! Especially since I can certify that the dress will be 100% sequin-free. Sadly, the same can not be said of my mom’s rugs. And the first week in August I’m flying to Portland for the Willamette Writers Conference where I’ll be on a panel with Laurie McLean and Grace Ledding.

That’s going to be even better than Christmas in my opinion!

So I’ve got lots to look forward to…just as soon as I finish writing this freaking book.

Sigh. So true.

That’s all for now, folks!


The More Things Change…

Hey everyone!

I distinctly remember where I was at this time last year: editing and writing like a fiend. I was also majorly freaking out. See, I was about to attend the Willamette Writers’ Conference and my manuscript wasn’t finished and something appeared to be wrong with my nose since the frigging thing wouldn’t stop running and I had to keep telling people that I had no back up plan if this whole “writing thing” didn’t work out!

Every now and then I would consider my chances of finding employment at the local frozen yogurt place.

Skim to none.

And here I am one year later. I’ve got a rock star agent, a four book deal with Kensington Teen and people don’t ask about my back up plan anymore. I’ve traveled to Thailand, Cambodia and Australia. I’ve even discovered the wonders of allergy medication!

But in the summer it feels like my life has stayed the same.

Which I actually find quite comforting. I’m still spending it pounding away on my latest manuscript. I still babysit for the same family.

The kids still make fun of me.

I even dogsit for the same pooch!

Norm an’ Bates!

So much has changed for me and yet it’s only when I start rattling them off that I find myself nodding and thinking, oh yeah, I didn’t just imagine that. It really happened. To me. Wow!

You might remember in my last blog I mentioned that I was anxiously waiting to hear something? Well, I’ve heard.

I’m going to keep things nice and vague so that I won’t get in trouble.

Basically there was a big opportunity I was hoping to get, but it’s not going to work out right now.

The funny thing is that I’m not even upset. At all. Technically, what I got was the nicest sorry-we-can’t-do-it-right-now/rejection a girl could ever hope to receive. I had sort of expected that getting turned down would put me in a week-long funk that might involve copious amounts of raw cookie dough.

Instead, I’m actually enjoying that right now that project is one big question mark filled with possibilities. And some of those very real possibilities are the stuff that Marni fantasies are made of. Best of all, I have a sneaking suspicion that next summer (while slaving over yet another manuscript) I will ponder all that has happened since this blog post and shake my head in disbelief.

As my agent Laurie McLean put it: onward and upward!



Hey everyone,

Okay, so you probably know about by now since you’re reading this post here…whatever. I’m still excited about it. In fact, I was so excited to see who would be the first friend to comment on my website that I stared at my Facebook screen for hours.

And it took people forever to notice.

(Laura F. You were the first non-relative! You get *FIFTY Marni Points!)

Or maybe it only felt that way. I’m lacking in the patience department. Don’t believe me? There is a Very Important Meeting that a Very Important Person is having about me tomorrow and I roughly calculated the number of minutes until I was likely to hear about how it went.

1,680 minutes was my conservative estimate.

I’m sure my super agent Laurie McLean really appreciated that I did the math for her. And then excitedly tweeted her with my calculation. To be fair, I have yet to tweet a revised countdown. I see this as a step in the right direction.

Anyhow, as soon as I have clearance to share about this meeting, I’ll be sure to blab blog all about it here.

So keep checking in.

In other news…I went shopping for Formal Attire. Since I’m going to be a panelist at the Willamette Writers’ Conference from August 4th to the 7th, I have to look classy. Impressive. Mature. Or at least, you know, not fourteen. People tell me all the time that someday I’ll be glad that people think I’m a solid seven years younger than I am, based solely on the cheerful plumpness of my face.

But how should someone even respond to that? “That’s nice of you, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to look like a wrinkled old crone. Maybe I’ll have better luck in my next lifetime?”


Anyhow, I spent this 4th of July putting money back into the American economy. Which earns me *FIFTY Patriotic Points! Or it would if that factored into my decision at all. But it didn’t. My aunt’s discount coupon was about to expire. That earns me *FIFTY Thrifty Points!

I’m having too much fun with my points system.

So back to real news…I sort of messed up my mom’s home computer when I tried to link my laptop to the printer. This story does have a happy ending though. You see, after I spent hours trying to fix the bloody thing, I called in a computer repair guy. He was so impressive! He was working on three computers at once and he was able to work printer magic too! I half expected him to turn to me and say:


Alas, he did not.

But because of his ability to communicate with machines due to his own robotics fix things, I printed out pictures of celebrities I can easily picture playing my characters if it were a movie. I’m going to do a storyboard/collage so that I can visualize it in a whole new way! I’ve also been editing the book (Even though it’s not complete yet, there is a method to my madness!) and I’m getting a really good feel for my characters.

Between the website, the collage, the editing, the family in town, and the babysitting…I’ve been pretty busy lately.

But I’ve made room for one last thing: SEQUINS!

My close family friend is marrying my cousin’s half-brother (we set them up!) and my aunt is making her wedding gown. The material is just stunning. There is only one problem: it looks like a sparkle factory blew up and this beautiful off-white lace wasn’t able to flee quickly enough.

So I have been pulling out sequins. Lots and lots of sequins.

But when she walks down the aisle in her gorgeous, one of a kind, non-sequin dress, it will all be worth it. Plus I had no idea what to get her for a wedding present since she refuses to do a gift registry.

Now you’re all caught up on the recent SEQUINS of events.

(Gotta love a good pun. Or a really bad one!)

More later,


*Marni Points earn exclusive bragging right but are otherwise meaningless 🙂

*Patriotic Points are best handled with extreme caution.

*Thrifty Points earn more bragging rights. And visits to used clothing stores.