Robin’s Early Career

We’re still here in northern California, getting ready for Justine’s last west-coast gig tonight at Not Your Mother’s Book Club. (Thursday, 7PM, Books Inc., Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness, San Francisco, CA.) But luckily, Robin had so much fun guest-blogging yesterday that she has returned instantly and without delay. She loves you guys!

So without further ado, take it away, Robin . . .

I guess I’ve made painfully clear my current position on writing. Having written (as in being finished, done, computer off, dancing shoes on): Rocks.

Currently writing (as in sitting in front of my computer bleary eyed and wondering why the magic idea monkey who’s supposed to live under my desk has been on vacation for the last several years, leaving me to make stuff up on my own which, as it turns out, is kind of hard work): Sucks.

But keep in mind I don’t know how to do anything else. (And don’t want to.) So I guess it’s my own fault that I’m chained to this computer, and here, for those of you who are curious, is the story of how I got here. (For those of you who are 100% not curious, you can scroll down to the bottom for my take on the eternal vampire/werewolf question. I’m still working on the unicorn/zombie thing.)

This is the first book I ever wrote:

I was in fifth grade, and it was a truly horrible ET rip-off. It was also only 32 pages long with some really big spaces between the lines, so when I say you guys are ahead of me, with your piles of notebooks and epic novels hidden under the bed, I mean it.

Fast forward a few years, through high school writing classes . . . through college, when I decided I’d never be a Real Writer . . . through to my summer internship at Scholastic, the summer before senior year. And the second book I ever wrote:

Coincidentally, this book also had 32 pages. (With about ten words per page. And, um, some of the “words” were actually pictures.) Still, it’s a real book. With a cover and an entry on Amazon. Thus it was officially the most awesome thing I’d ever done in my life.

After college, I went to work at Scholastic, where I spent most of my time editing other people’s books. (If you had a DragonBall Z coloring book when you were a kid, or were forced to read the rather tedious adventures of the Boxcar Children, you have me to thank.)

Turns out working in publishing is an excellent way to learn about books. Making them, reading them, and writing them. It’s also a good way to sucker your bosses into letting you write some of your own. Even if they’re a little…embarrassing:

Yes, I wrote a ton of those collections of “embarrassing moments from kids just like you and me!” (Spoiler alert: They’re almost all “from kids just like me, by which I mean, me.” I fall down a lot.) I wrote a lot of this stuff — movie novelizations, sleepover activity guides, glossy factoid books about one hit wonders who used to be on the radio and probably now work at Radio Shack…

Fast forward another couple years. In a grand gesture, I quit my job, packed all my stuff in the car, drove cross country, moved to LA, and…went to grad school. Except ignore the grad school thing, because it’s not particularly glamorous and doesn’t actually have anything to do with this story, except for the fact that I figured I was leaving New York and publishing behind forever.

But my grad school was unpleasant. Hideously unpleasant. So to entertain myself, I started coming up with book ideas. Not embarrassing moments collections or movie novelizations or ET rip-offs, but ideas of my own. For the first time in what felt like forever, I was writing for myself again. And for the first time pretty much ever I stopped writing what I thought other people would want to read and just wrote something I wanted. That turned out to be the beginning of the first book in the Seven Deadly Sins series.

I sent what I had to an editor at Simon & Schuster. (Disclaimer: Usually, it’s a good idea to submit to an agent instead of submitting straight to a publishing company, but I lucked out — thanks to my old job, I knew someone who worked at S&S, and, being the extremely fabulous and generous person that she is, she agreed to take a look.) Then I waited. Waited more. Drove myself insane. Along with everyone I else I knew.

Yesterday someone asked me where I was when I got the Call, the life-changing-we’re-going-to-publish-your-book-and-no-this-is-not-some-cruel-joke-Call. I was sitting in an insanely boring European history class, doodling pirate faces in my notebook and wondering why the 108 year old professor was actively trying to put us to sleep. I went outside at the break (this was winter in LA, so picture sunshine and shorts), checked my messages . . . and almost had a heart attack.
Ten minutes later I went back inside, looking like a grinning zombie and thinking, “I’m a writer I’m a writer I’m a WRITER…”

Eventually, I packed all the stuff back into the car, drove back across the country, moved to New York, and started doing this writer thing full time (here’s where the head-banging and the Advil come in), and here I am. For all my complaining — and clearly, I do a lot of it — it’s exactly where I want to be.

Although NY winters totally suck.

Okay, vampire/werewolf: Sorry, wolf-lovers amongst you, but it’s vamp all the way. This isn’t an Edward/Jacob thing, it’s a Spike/Oz thing. I won’t say I’m the biggest Buffy fan in the world — because I happen to know the biggest Buffy fan in the world, and she’d beat me to a pulp with her Angel action figure if she heard I was claiming her title. But suffice it to say, my heart belongs to Spike. Yes, the whole no-sunlight (and no soul) thing would be a drag, but so would locking your boyfriend in a cage for a few nights a month. Plus, maybe he (love of my life Spike) would let me borrow his leather jacket.

PS from Scott:
Spreadshirts, the home of Wearable Extras, has free shipping for the next two weeks. Just use these s3krit codes:

66 thoughts on “Robin’s Early Career

  1. haha great post. Really interesting and funny to read, and yay, my suggestion was used!! 🙂 Which isn’t an entirely original suggestion cuz the women over at The Debutante Ball have been talking about The Call all this week and it was on my mind, lol.

  2. Haha. “it was a truly horrible ET rip-off” The first story i ever wrote was in 5th grade. It was about 45 pages (give or take a little) but it was on small sheets of paper. I remember when i was done, thats when i decided i wanted to be an author. And i still have that dream. Although with school and all its hard to get a story done.

    I FINALLY GOT POWER!!!!!!!! I have been stuck without power for 5 days cause of the stupid, giant, shingle-pulling, gate-ripping, power-gone-for-awhile storm!!! URG! But thats what happens when ya live in the south right?

    But I’m back!!! WEEEE!

  3. 🙂 hey I’m happy you’re guest blogging. Tell Scott I’m reading his Uglies books for the 3rd time. or maybe 4th. lol

    Heyy, and I read “Oops I did it again” in elementary school!

  4. Ahh, vampires. *shakes head* I do like that you frame it in terms of Buffy, and yes, Spike is one of the best vampires of all time (well, for the first four seasons and about half of season five…I liked him and Buffy best before she knew…Because, as he says, YOU HAVE STUPID HAIR. Umm, not you guys. You all have great hair.) But I still like Oz better. He needed to stick around longer. He was a silent driver in a band! He was great except for Veruca!
    …and therein lies a large part of my identity as being completely Werewolf Obsessed. I am.
    ….waning gibbous tonight….

    My fifth grade story was about a superhero that borrowed a lot from 60s Superman comics (and, um, they were about thirty years old when I read them. I’m not that old) and was about 13 pages.

  5. bran-la: Glad you got power back. VERY glad you think I’m funny! (Though maybe that should be vice versa?)

    hannah-la: congratulations, you now know almost all the embarrassing stories of my youth (except the one that follows…)

    serafina zane: this is extremely embarrassing, but I will admit it anyway — I was such a buffy fan that my friends and I used to play the Buffy role-playing board game. And when I did, I usually played as Oz. Because he is indeed monosyllabically fabulous.

  6. I’ve never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. hmmm…. My friends found out I’ve been writing stories on I’m kind of embarrassed. *blush* But any way, that’s cool to see how you got where you are and I didn’t know you wrote the Seven Deadly Sins (never read ’em, but saw ’em on the bookshelves)

    I’m off upstairs to lie down cuz I had to go home 2day cuz I didn’t (still don’t) feel well.
    9th comment! adios! XD

  7. so you have a lot of nohing books published (nothing books just made it up
    I always remember buffy like when i was 5 i was watching buffy with my family im 13 now i wonded if it effected me at all…

  8. Haddy-la, you have this random parenthesis is there and its really driving me crazy. Its liked you used an open parenthesis and you never closed it!!! It bugs me….just had to say that.

  9. I agree. Vampires are much cooler. Except the Twilight type. *shudders* *is scared of glittering, tan turtleneck-wearing vampires*

    Poor, poor vampire legends…

    Um, yeah. My first story…was about…well…*thinks* I honestly can’t remember the first one. But I remember making several “books” when I was 7 or 8. The only one I remember was about man-eating crocodiles at tea parties…

  10. Vampires are amazing I love them too.
    Kudos to anyone who can get themselves to write. I have ideas that I really love but I can never seem to get them down on paper. It’s hard for me.

  11. AH! I read that scooby doo book!!!! I Loved scooby doo!! still do. They were some of my first book(next to Pooh Bear books and arthur books) I was/am very nerdy and am a huge cartoon fan so at that time all my books were branch off of cartoons, like blue clues.
    Hm I just noticed Im always into crime shows. It started with scooby and blue and turned into csi, law and order(svu please), bones, cold case, ectectect….
    as for the vampire/werewolf thing, they’re very much equal to me, and it depends on the variation people give the vampire/werewolf since they’re are so many.
    I think my first book was about a animal of some kind, most likely a knock off of stellaluna since its was also one of my favorite books as a kid…I really didnt start really reading until my sister made me read harry potter in like 3rd grade, and now i spend 13 hours waiting for a book inside borders.
    Im done now.

  12. I LOVED STELLALUNA! I still have it in my room! That’s awsome. I used to like fairytales and stories where the world gets turned upside down. Now it’s turned into Lost and Heroes. Funny how that works.

  13. Isnt it funny how when you remeber things you liked when you were little it always makes you happy? Like one time i was watching TV and this commercial came on about Betty Spagetti. and i was freaking out going “OMG!! I

  14. Wow, i totally entered that when i didnt mean to. ok so continuing….

    “OMG! I LOVE BETTY SPAGHETTI!” I use to play with them all the time. Whoa, did i love Betty!

  15. Hey Robin-Sensei, I liked that blog, it was funny, you should write a book with a character just like you in it. I am trying so hard to write, but I have no time, all my ideas are horrible, and every time I actually start typing something I scream aat my computer and delete everything. Ugh! Why is it so hard to come up with a good and original idea?!

  16. ya the vampire?wearwolf thing to me if its the vampires in Peeps
    Im all for it but other than that I would have to say wearwolf

  17. Oh. My. Gosh. Robin-wa/la/sensei(whichever you prefer?) you are now awesomeness incarnated. You Love Zane and Vampires, and write awesome books. Huzzah. Hm. My first “book” was in 1st grade. It was about a duck named marshmallow, and was about 36 pages long. The handwriting was attrocious though, I still have it. I was so proud of it, *wipes tear*. LoL. Hmmm…Psssh, Pssshh, forget zombies. Unicorns all the way. Even better, as Ryan Ross and Panic at the Disco say, A Unipire! Unicorn and Vampire mixed. Pure genius, rofl. I’m a fan of faeries myself. Not the pansy faerytale ones though, I’m talking hardcore Holly Black/Melissa Marr style faeries. They’re so evil it’s intruiging. Ya gotta love em.

  18. Ha ha ha!!! *general acts of very much excitedness*

    I am with you on the Buffy!!! It’s my favorite show, and I’m a major Joss Whedon fan. If you haven’t seen Firefly, you should. (by the way, nice Spike is awesome, and evil Spike is the coolest villain in the Buffy series, but I’d take Angel over Spike any day. Unless Angel’s evil.)

    I’ve never read any of your books, but the Buffy thing has put you on my “To Be Read Immediately” list.

    I’d like to make my stand on vampires vs werewolves. Vampires are cooler, and whether I like the vampires or werewolves better in a story depends on what they are like in the story.

  19. Robin: Thanks! The username came to me because I’m addicted to reading dystopian novels/short stories. And then I started asking people the question “If you had to live in a dystopia, which one would you live in? Hypothetically, of course.” Ta da!

    Also, I’m going to buy Skinned as soon as I can get to B&N. (Unfortunately, it might be a while. )

  20. . . . .-dies- I just bought my last book for a long tme (Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott) and thus, cannot buy Skinned just yet. When I go in a few months, I will certainly get it!

    But yeah, I’m not allowed (based on my own rules set by myself for myself) to watch/read supernatural romance anymore because it makes me want a relationship that could never happen. . .. Now, this doesn’t count for Scott’s books because nearly everyone is human! -WOO-

  21. wow u like lived the AMERICAN DREAM didnt u? i mean u started off with books like scooby doo (nothing against it) and now ur like a young adult author(btw thats the best kind). ya soo thats really cool. the whole vampire/werewolf thing,ya, vampires r soooooooooooo much better i mean they’re beautiful(depending on the version u read, but im going off of Scott-la’s PEEPS), they’re strong, have night vision,excellent hearing,and over all they r FREAKING AMAZING (except for the minor fact that they suck ur blood and eat u but watever). I also agree that ur very funny. totally gonna read ALL of ur books!!! Do u have any tips on how to start writing a book? coz i have ideas but can never start them. i write poems and songs but stories never come easy. CAN U HELP ME??

  22. hey Lena-la! i noticed that two! (the Midnighters thing). but i dont think he’ll rite another one unless we beg. like this:


    it shoodnt be that hard to convince him. since EVERYBODY wants a new Midnighters. rite? am i rite?

    Robin-la: i LOVE the Boxcar Children! i wasnt forced to read them. my mom got me an 8 pack when i was in second grade for x-mas. i was hooked! i own and have read #1-34. and 96. and a couple of the “special” editions. i cant believe you edited those! it makes me love you just that much more!

    -Lizzy-wa OUT! :mrgreen:

  23. I remember my first book! It was about an evil pumpkin that followed me around. I was about 6 at the time and my brother threw it away when I finished it. *sigh*

    Forget vampires and werewolves! I want a pirate! Arg, Baby!!!

  24. I use to read the Boxcar Children. And then after awhile…i wished i lived like them. Dont ask me why. It was my weird crazy kid brain kicking in.

  25. -sniffles-

    We need another Midnighters. . .With more emphasis on the Metallurge talent because it’s amazing like that.

    Every time Scott considers writing a new novel, an angel gets a new car.

    Every time considers writing a new Midnighters, an angel gets a Ferrari.

    So please Scott, if you care about angels and their luxury sports vehicles, consider writing a new Midnighters. . . .

  26. i read the boxcar children when i was young.

    wait- if you have spike’s coat, does that mean i can’t have it? oh rats.

  27. Robin! you blog too much! how will i ever get my homework done?

    i love you though, and your totally non- glamorous-but-way-more-awesome-than-most-other-author-bio success story!

    writing is awesome. i don’t know where my first book is, but i remember it clearly: i wrote it in kindergarten and it was called “the inormus karot”. (That’s “The Enormous Carrot” for those of you who don’t speak kindergarten.

    Because I’ll totally make the Top 100 😉

  28. Miranda-la: “Ugh! Why is it so hard to come up with a good and original idea?!” — would you believe I ask myself this exact question every day?

    Lisa: I’m all over Firefly. Mal Reynolds has a permanent spot on my top ten imaginary boyfriends list. (Nathan Fillion, sigh…) Have you seen Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long blog?

    TYC Leader: My best advice is that when the “this is crap, I should give up” feeling washes over you, just ignore it and keep going. It’s the hardest part.

    I’m loving hearing about everyone’s first book — keep it up!

  29. sad making 🙁 skinned wasnt at borders bah
    the computer SAID it should be but it wasnt, bleh
    so i ordered it hoping they will find it soon sigh
    At least I was able to get my Panic at the Disco cd :):):) so its 50/50 good bad
    hm I guess I might as well check our school library but darn, I was looking forward to reading it tonight.
    BBAAAAHHH <—Im thinking like Charie Brown impression right there

  30. *squee* She has the words “Edward” and “Angel” in the same paragraph!!! I think I’ll die of happiness!!!! Gaaaaahhh!!!! *melts*

    Okay, serious question: If a unicorn and zombie were to fight, which would win? SERIOUSLY consider this! It is a question of utmost importance, and I have asked many intelligent people what their thoughts on this were. So don’t let me down. Thanks!

  31. Zane: Only having seen a couple zombie movies, I remain confused as to why zombies — extremely slow, extremely brain dead — are always winning in a fight. It seems to me that the unicorn has both its powerful kick and its deadly horn, not to mention a serious advantage on the speed, strategy, and agility front. Plus I’m told some of them can appear and disappear at will. So I say: unicorn.

  32. lol Harry Potter all the way Batmans not my fav. Well actually I dont even like Harry Potter the most(Ron is sooo much better)

  33. That was hilarious! Can’t wait to read Skinned, Robin. 🙂

    I guess I wrote a bunch of stories, for school and myself, before this, but I consider my first “book” to be a 40-page “novel” I wrote when I was ten. It was very highly *inspired* by another book, but it wasn’t too bad. And I wrote it all on a word processor on our family computer. 😀 (it wasn’t that long ago, heh)

    Hope you blog again soon, Robin!

  34. Vampires all the way.
    And, wow, that was pretty much the highlight of my day, reading that. It was pretty hilarious.

  35. my first book was about a rock and a chick.. i think… i know i couldnt spell rock… sometimes i wounder if i can now

  36. thanx for the advice robin. and the whole batman/harry potter thing ya neither coz TALLY YOUNGBLOOD would totally come in and kick a**. haha. but if tally wasn’t there it would totally be batman coz harry only has his wand and he’s too nice to kill anyone but batman wouldn’t care (not saying he’s evil but he’s killed many people) soo ya thats my input.

    Ok robin i have some more questions (sorry if u get annoyed but i need to know these things)

    1st: What is ur fave band/type of music? (personally i like GREEN DAY)

    2nd: Since u live in New York do u like the Yankees or MEts or neither? (i’ll be at a Yankees game tomorrow in NY but i prefer the PHillies but the tickets are gift soo ya. hey maybe u could go to the game just saying i’ll be there)

    ok soo those are two important question but this one is kinda for everyone. Yesterday when i was on this blog my dad came in and was like “What r u doing” so i told him i was blogging on Scott Westerfeld’s blog. and he’s like ” WHo has time to blog?” coz apparently he thinks it’s a waste of time. me personally i think that everyone has time to blog its just that the ones who do have something important to say and the ones who dont either don’t care or have nothing to say. soo ya sorry for the looooong blog but i want to know:

    Who agrees with my dad and who agrees with me??

  37. kristina-la: Personally, I think batman could take out Harry Potter with ease — you knock that wand out of harry’s hand with a ninja throwing star or something, and he’s totally helpless.

    TYC Leader: I don’t really have a favorite band (I like mix cd’s b/c I get bored easily), but right now I’m loving the Decemberists. Definitely prefer mets to yankees, but I’m actually from philadelphia, so GO PHILLIES!!!!

  38. okay first i want to say that i read ur blog for yesterday too, and i abasolutely loved it, your really funny!
    yeah, advil is definately my friend.
    second of all Vampires are awesome!!!! i like everyone i see for some reason, even if they are kind of the bad guys(okay, i like the good guy vampires, especially the peeps vampires and the twilight vampires and a lot more) werewolves are okay, but i would never want to be turned into dog.
    and forgot to put this at the top YOU ARE ABSLUTLEY awesome!!! your really funny and just because your on Zanes side makes you even more cooler, i’m not sure that i like David, he kind of uses tally a few times(i know zane does too, but not as much!!)
    and i just remembered what my first “book” was, it was about this little girl in kindergarten who’s dad was off at war, they moved and somehow(i have absolutley no clue how) he found the family (i made it in fifth grade, before i even knew i liked writing.)

  39. Batman cos Harry Potter 1) wouldn’t see him coming 2) has a huge ego 3) etc. Plus Batman is, well I was gonna say awesome but I was also gonna find a new word …
    O.O Voldemort vs Joker would be so COOL to watch! Joker would prob win 🙂
    Vampires beat werewolves. By an infinite number of miles. Besides, those who have read Breaking Dawn would note that the ‘werewolves’ eg Jake are not proper werewolves but just shapeshifters.
    It was so funny when Jake imprinted on Nessie 🙂
    TYC Leader i think that everyone has time to blog and everyone ought to blog.
    Anyways I will be back when i have that new word …

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