To My Fellow Horrible Acne Sufferers

It’s been a long time since I had acne. Thankfully. Because I had severe cystic acne–the kind that looks like open sores all over your face and chest and back–all through college and well into my late 20s. I think I saw the last of it when I was 29, and that was only after two full rounds of Accutane. Accutane is some scary stuff. I had to sign all sorts of waivers and promises to stay on birth control because the drug causes horrible birth defects. Over the course of the two years I used it, I couldn’t wear contacts because my eyeballs dried out. I had to put lotion on every inch of my skin several times a day because it was all so parched and flaking. I felt itchy and sore. But yes, the drug finally worked. And I was incredibly grateful.

Which is why I’m posting this video. Because if I had known when I was younger what Randa and Nina have discovered, I would have changed my diet right away. Acne like the kind they and I had destroys your self-confidence and makes you want to crawl into a hole and not let the world see you. And in my case, unlike theirs, I was also obese in college, so between that and the acne, you can imagine I wasn’t really enjoying my 20s.

If I could go back to the young woman I was and whisper in her ear, “Hey! Look at this!” I would. But until I’ve worked out all the mechanics of time travel, the best I can do is to help any of you who might be suffering from the same problem. Because it is suffering–I know that too well.

Best of luck to all of you! And thanks Nina and Randa for sharing your story and your pictures. I know that was hard!

…which leads to books!

Remember how I said cleaning leads to writing? Yep, I’ve been busy. And I’m still busy, because I’m not exactly done. But I thought you’d be interested in an update and some recent releases, along with the coming attractions …

First, you can get these now:

LOVE PROOF is now out in audio! I love the narration Maria Hunter Welles did for it. And I didn’t announce it at the time (see above, been busy), but there are also audio editions of THE GOOD LIE, DOGGIRL, and REPLAY. I know. It’s a lot. Take your pick and listen away!

Also, I have a new short story collection out. It’s called A FEW STRANGE MATTERS, and it is. A little odd. But sometimes my mind needs a break from longer works like novels, and when I let my mind wander, it wanders. The collection has some contemporary, some science fiction, a little fantasy, some paranormal, and a couple of strange stories from the teen world. You might have read a few of them here and there, but I guarantee there are some you’ve never seen. Possibly because I wrote them under a pen name that none of you knew about. So take a look–I’ll be interested in hearing what you all think!

Now, for the coming attractions:

YES, PARALLELOGRAM 4 WILL BE OUT THIS FALL. That’s all I can say, because I have made the mistake before of giving you a pub date which turns out not to be true. But I promise you will feel satisfied and fulfilled when you read this final book in the series. I’m still working very hard to pull all the pieces together. Thank you for your questions (“When? WHEN??”) and your patience. I hate waiting, too. I get it. It’ll be along very soon.

And to make you even happier about all the time I’ve been hiding out, I’ll also have ANOTHER NEW BOOK for you by December, I believe. It’s fantasy, it’s epic, and it involves a girl warrior. Yessssss …

That’s my report for now. I have to go back to writing. I owe you all some books.

Happy Fall! ~Robin

“It’s Only Scary Because It’s New”

I just did something that was not objectively scary at all. No rational person would think so.

Yet for me it was slightly terrifying. I’ve been putting it off for years because I knew it would scare me.

But I’m not into being limited by my fears, so today I did the thing.

And the whole time, I repeated a line in my head that I heard last weekend in a movie called The Internship, written by and starring Vince Vaughn. It was a sweet and funny film and I ended up watching it twice over two days. Obviously I recommend it.

The plot of the movie revolves around Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson entering a summer internship program at Google. When they first arrive on campus, they’re a little lost, and Vince suggests they ask for directions from the person in this car going by. Only there’s no one in the car. It’s self-driving.

For a brief moment, both men stand there in shock. But then Vince turns to Owen, slaps him on the back, and says, “It’s only scary because it’s new.”

And isn’t that true? About so many of the things we’re afraid of? Until we’ve done it once and can see what it’s about, we put it off and fear it and avoid it. At least I do.

Or at least I did. I’m actively working to let go of that habit.

So thanks, Vince. I needed that. I needed it over and over this morning on a loop inside my head.

Maybe some of you out there could use it, too. Because maybe this is the summer you do whatever that thing is for you.

Be brave! It’s the most fun way to be!

And remember, you can always decide to do the thing now and schedule your fear for sometime later when it’s more convenient.

Come on, gang. Let’s do this.

“Embrace the Suck” In Action

Yes, I’m still here. Why haven’t I posted anything new this week? Because I’ve been embracing the suck for the past six days, finally cleaning my office for the first time in 7 years.

How do I know it’s been 7 years? Because the stuff I’m throwing away is at least that old. Some of it is from 2001. Don’t judge me. I’ve been busy. I’m sure you have been, too.

What finally pushed me to get going and stop just letting it hang over my head was showing my messy office to someone who was visiting me this past weekend. I never show my office to anyone. It would be like showing someone a scab you’ve been picking at for 7 years but refuse to go to the doctor to treat. It’s embarrassing and you know you have no excuse for not doing anything about it, but … you know. Reasons.

Anyway, bless her heart, this friend, instead of saying, “Oh my gosh, it’s worse than I ever could have imagined,” just looked at the situation and said, “Huh. Maybe if you moved those boxes…” That was all. Not, “Maybe if you rented a backhoe” or anything else that might sound reasonable under the circumstances.

So on Sunday, after posting that post I linked to above, I moved some boxes.

And ever since then I’ve been moving boxes and tossing and purging for hours every day and night.

It’s as big of a job as I knew it would be. That’s why I’ve been putting it off.

But I know if I just keep going until I’m finished, even if it takes me another week (which it very well might), I will be happy and satisfied and DONE. Done for at least the next 7 years.

Maybe you need a nudge from someone, just like I did. (Thanks, Bethany!) So allow me to be that nudge: Psst. Just move some boxes. Just throw into recycling that stack of magazines you’re never going to reread. How about boxing up all those lovely books you’ve been storing forever and will never reread, and taking them to your local library branch to donate? Someone else will be so happy to have them. I’ve been doing all this and more. And every day I feel better and better.

Good luck. It’s a big job, whatever your own massive cleaning and purging job is. I empathize. But we can do this. In fact, it’s a kindness to ourselves to do this.

Even though it will, it all honesty, suck.

Embrace it and let’s go!

 

How To Psyche Yourself Up for Whatever Your Next Big Thing Might Be (Part 1)

Here are the categories I’m dealing with lately: planning a new backpacking adventure. Planning a new book series. Planning another new series in a whole new genre. Which right now equals about 15 new books. I’m not even kidding.

And this morning it was starting to feel a little . . . daunting. As in, Can’t do any of them, just have to sit here and think about what I want to do.

That kind of stupor that could easily go on for days.

But I’m going to approach it a different way this time. Because recently I heard a great talk from outdoor adventurer (and mother and wife and owner of my favorite outdoor store Summit Hut) Dana Davis.

Dana has hiked up Mount Rainier. That right there qualifies her as badass. But she’s accomplished many other physical feats, and is currently training for her first Ironman triathlon, even though as she tells it she has bad knees, bad ankles, can’t run, isn’t so hot at either biking or swimming (I can’t remember which)–clearly not ideal when you’re going to be doing all three for miles and miles in one day.

But somehow that sounds fun to Dana.

And that fun is infectious. While it’s possible that some of the people in the crowd the other night might have thought to themselves, “Dang! I’m going to Ironman it, too!” I have the feeling they reacted the same way I did, which was to take Dana’s lessons about training for something hard and think about how we might apply them to some of the upcoming challenges in our own lives.

I think my favorite piece of her advice was this: Embrace the suck. Recognize that somewhere along the way you’re going to have to deal with a certain amount of discomfort, pain, and unhappiness. But if you recognize that ahead of time, really reconcile yourself to it, then when it shows up you can calmly tell yourself, “Yep, here it is. I knew it was coming. Here’s the suck. Let’s keep going.”

What’s “the suck” for me? There are times in every single backpacking trip when it’s as if I turn to myself and ask, “Did you really think this was fun? Are you really doing this on purpose?” Because mountains are high, trails are long, lightning storms scare the crap out of me, mosquitos bite, dogs roll in human feces (don’t get me started on people not properly disposing of their turds), and things just plain go wrong. That is the nature of outdoor adventures. Of any adventure, really.

I see it with my book adventures, too. When I set out to write something new, I know the time will come when my hands will feel like claws from typing for so many hours at a time, my brain will feel completely exhausted and empty, and yet the drill sergeant in me will try to force me to keep going even though all I really want to do is take the day off and watch Pixar movies. There’s a reason why The Incredibles exists. It is there to restore the worn-out brains of adults all over the world.

In a few days I’ll be posting Dana’s full list for psyching yourself up and preparing for something big, but for now I just wanted to whet your appetite for the whole thing.

Until then, you might want to reread a few earlier posts (that’s right, to psyche yourself up for the next big post. See how it works?):

How To Know When It’s Time To Make a Change In Your Life

Becoming the Possible You

The 100 Things You Keep Meaning To Do

Deciding To Worry About That Tomorrow

Stay tuned!

It’s The Feelings That Endure

When I was doing research for my novel REPLAY, which deals with near-death experience and reincarnation, I underwent hypnosis and past-life regression at a workshop with Dr. Brian Weiss, author of Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives.

The experience was amazing, cool, and a topic for another day. Or for a speech like the one I gave last week to a great group of librarians, explaining how that past-life regression was exactly like my memories of my childhood librarians. If you’re a great group of librarians, I’ll come tell you, too.

But the short version is that what I learned during that past-life regression is that it’s the feelings that endure. Not specific faces or long scenes with dialogue, but the feelings you experienced at various moments in any given life.

That’s why I love this beautiful little film dramatizing part of a speech by author George Saunders. As George points out, it’s our own kindness–or lack of kindness–that sticks with us in this life.

I think you’ll like it. Take a look:

For Those Of Us Who Think We Don’t Like Math

Math is on my mind lately as I wrap up the Parallelogram series. (Yes, Dear Readers, Book 4 is coming! There are just so many words.) I, like my main character Audie in the series, enjoy quantum physics but do not enjoy the math. Or, to put it less charitably, cannot do the math.

But I can’t help wondering if I would have had a completely different attitude toward math in school if I’d had a teacher like this. Or at least seen a demonstration like this. Because there’s no doubt Arthur Benjamin makes math FUN. (Although no matter how fun it is, I still think there’s no way mere mortals could do what he does.)

Enjoy!

This Is What Is Possible (Part 3)

This commencement speech by Neil Gaiman about carving out a life of creativity is one of those things I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time, but never seemed to get around to.

Which is why we need people who say, “Here! Look!” and send you the link. Thank you to author and illustrator Guy Porfirio for being that person for me today.

And now I get to be that person for all of you. Here! Look!