On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Warning about galleys/page proofs

Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.comI got my author copies of Sorceress of Faith yesterday, the cover is as gorgeous for real as online...anyway the first thing I did was check something I'd wanted changed in the page proofs/galleys to make sure it had been fixed. It hadn't been.

So I checked other changes made in the galleys. They were fine.

No, I'm not going to tell you what I changed because I'm hoping no one will notice. If they do, I'll address it later.

Now there were several things I should have done to make sure this change went through.

I should have let my editor know it was a very important change to me.

Secondly, now that I look at the galleys (scanned/pdf-ed and emailed), I should have realized that that particular chapter ended at the very last line on a page. That means the deleting of the two words I wanted and adding a bit more explanation (about 3 sentences) could throw off everything and the page count after that...if I didn't delete the same amount somewhere in the chapter. Which I would have done. Shoot.

There were more typos than I liked, too, but that's life. Please note that red spine should really be red spinel (a ruby like gem) don't know how that got missed, but it did, twice.

Still, I am hoping you all see fit to buy Sorceress and that you enjoy it. I like the touches of humor and hope they don't only appeal to me. ;) I particularly like the animal companion, as always. Oh, and Sinafin, the magical shape-shifting entity.

You all know my favorite book is the one just published, right? And the one I hate the most is the one I'm writing? Yes, indeed, Sorceress is a good story. I worked very hard on it.

Love to all,
May all your manuscripts be clean.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Wordcount and Cutting

Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.comI was looking over a scene I'd written previously that had a couple of conflicting bits. At the time I thought I'd tweak it so it all fit but trying to fix it means contradicting a small detail in Guardian of Honor. Even though I'm probably the only one who cares, I can't do that. And at the time I wrote it, I couldn't bear to cut some of the words...or work on it further. Obsessing with wordcount can definitely get in the way of good writing.

So what I do is make my wordcount, finish the book (polishing along the way) and then go back and revise, this usally means tightening. I was a little worried over Heart Quest's word count, but after a major revision it turned out all right.

Moral of the story. CUT! Tighten. Make your manuscript the best you can. If a beautiful descriptive sentence mucks up the rest of the scene or slows the pace, save it to insert somewhere else, but CUT it from where it won't work.

And may you not obsess about wordcount today.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Scene Goals

Image hosted by Photobucket.com This gets back to the contest judging. I didn't care for a ms. though it was technically pretty good, until I figured out this was why, no scene goals....(btw, we have a very gifted, detailed critiquer in our group who only has to look up and say "Scene Goal" and there's a mass shudder...like a wave...we have a big crit group right now).

What is the PURPOSE of a scene? To reveal character. To move the plot forward. But the most effective scene does this by having a character who has a goal, a plan to reach that goal, and is pursuing that goal. Then there's conflict. Something prevents the character from reaching the goal, or the goal is reached but in an unexpected way that makes the character scramble or leaves him/her worse off.

Hmmm...you can use this even passively. Alexa in Guardian of Honor had a goal of staying in bed and hiding from the world the morning after she landed in Lladrana. I have set up something called The Snap which is when your mother world (Earth) calls to you and you get pulled back home. Alexa learned about this and decided to stay in bed and wait. Not a big goal. Not an incredibly courageous and honorable goal. A pretty puny goal.

What happens? People try and get her out of the room (they have their own goals and plans for her -- not nice plans). Alexa stands (lays) firm. She snuggles in and pulls pillows over her head. BUT the night before she bonded with a baby. The Marshalls put the baby outside the door. After a while the baby cries. Alexa weakens and goes (new plan) to comfort the baby. She is nabbed...her plans fail, the Marshalls' plan succeed (for the next couple of scenes where Alexa is just going along, but THEY have the scene goals and she is struggling to understand what's going on).

Now, here's another sceanario. The heroine and girlfriends go to breakfast and you learn something about the heroine. So what? That's background. What does she really want? Why is she where she is? How does she plan to get what she wants? The hero passes the heroine and is a little disturbed by her intensity. What was he doing in the first place? Why is this important? Will he be scared off by her or pursue her? If you don't answer these questions, the scene falls flat, the reader has little emotional investment in it. Your conflict and upsetting of plans draws the reader through the story, hook by hook.

I'm tired, and writing this beforehand at night. So I may very well not be explaining it well. So here's an excellent link: http://www.bronwynjameson.com/article7.html
helpful even for pantzers like me...

May your scenes evolve smoothly today until your characters are totally conflicted. Go WRITERS!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Word About Contests

Image hosted by Photobucket.comNaturally I have contest stories. I've entered contests. I've judged contests. I've been a contest co-chair for a couple of years...

Yeah, I got back insensitive comments. Some I deserved. Some I didn't. If it isn't "Perfect" (that is, has any constructive comments at all) it hurts me. Or did. I don't have to look at scoresheets anymore and now I have reviews and readers comments on Amazon. Oh, joy.

But I think I'll talk about my most frustrating contest experience. It didn't require a synopsis so I entered HeartMate, Heart Thief and Heart Duel (I didn't have synopses for Thief or Duel). HeartMate took first place. Heart Thief was scored the highest by one judge (98 I think). Heart Duel missed finalling by .3 point. Yeah. That's right. And guess what -- one of my judges of Heart Duel didn't like that I didn't go a full third down the page and didn't triple space between the title and Chapter 1, and didn't double space between Chapter 1 and the body of the page. Lost .5 for that...

Everyone who enters a lot of contests has stories like that. Then there's the stories that you win a contest and you get a sale, or don't win, but still charm an agent who saw the entry.

What you absolutely need to know about contests is why you are entering. There are 2 very good reasons. The first is to get feedback when you are a new writer and want to improve your craft -- there are excellent contests with wonderful scoresheets out there to show you how to make your writing better. (Hmm, when I was co-chair we revised the RMFW scoresheet. It's since been revised a couple more times. I'll see if I can find an old one and put it up, RMFW had a great "troubleshooting" type scoresheet.)

The other reason is to get your work before an editor or agent who might buy/represent it. Let's face it, most of the time submission waits seem like centuries (and I spent a year on my first book once). Getting a manuscript to an editor/agent can short-circuit that wait. Sometimes. If they like the book and it's DONE. In this case, the contest scoresheets (like the Golden Heart and RITA) may only have a range of 1-5. No comments at all. As a published author I usually have the choice to receive the scores or not. I don't.

So research who is judging the final entries, whether you've submitted/been rejected from that house, etc. and whether it would be worth your time, money and sensitive feelings to enter.

May your work be first class today.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Writing First Person/Third Person

Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.comA short blog today, I think. I was judging a contest last night (I can judge contests every week of the year, it seems) and ran across some beginning writers and I hope I wasn't too hard on them. One was writing a story in first person and it came to me that I, personally, feel that writing in first person is harder than writing in third.

Since I've never written anything except this blog in first person, I can't say that this might really be true, perhaps I should say that lack of technique may show quicker and be more obvious when someone writes in first person than in third.

I don't have any prejudice against first person, though I do prefer reading and writing in deep third person point of view. I like the variety and it's less limiting. In the Heart books I've only written in the hero and heroine's POV, but in my Luna books I've had at least four points of view for both books (but not the free online serial -- that was h/h only).

So, my advice: if you're a brand new writer, you might consider writing in third person first just to get the basics down. That's MY POV on this matter. ;)

May whatever POV you take today be rich and rewarding!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Writing An Online Serial

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI wrote this originally for myself as a journal entry. It was published more or less as you see it in the online newsletter of Science Fiction Romance, now known as Speculative Romance.http://www.specromonline.com/index.cfm?pg=1

Deb Hale (The Wizard's Ward) was the first Luna author to do an online read, and at that time I emailed the senior editor and told them I'd be interested in doing the same. Their response was not encouraging, so I put it completely out of my mind until my agent called in November 2004 and said they wanted me to do it. I was thrilled, but daunted, too, by several things.

First, the formula is very specific, eight chapters of about 1300 words each. I, of course, am used to writing about 125,000 word stories. My shortest is my July 2005 novella Road of Adventure in the Berkley anthology What Dreams May Come, and that went over wordcount...Secondly, the story had to be turned in by Decmember 15. That was just a month by the time we agreed on the contract. And they wanted a Lladrana (Luna world) story.

I immediately thought about what stories I could do that would be "short" yet tie into the book. I had a story I was thinking about with characters in the same world but not referenced in Guardian of Honor at all, then I had the older couple in Guardian and I could have gone back in time and done their story.

Or I could work with a young couple who get engaged in Guardian. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the last idea. It could be short, the heroine (Marwey) shows up in Chapter 2 of Guardian, and I could set it up to take place close to the beginning of Guardian of Honor and get a good hook from the story to the book (I hope). In fact, one of the first things I wrote in the story was the final line (now the third final line), which I think is an excellent lead in to Guardian of Honor. After that the story began to take shape in my mind.

There were problems, mostly because as I was writing the story, Guardian of Honor was being printed, so there was no way I could "fix" the book to match the story, if need be. Ah, the problems, first, the couple are youngsters -- Marwey is actually a teenager -- in the book. So both the characters sound more mature in the story than the book, and I deliberately don't mention their age in the story.

Next, I went through my ms. of Guardian of Honor and read every scene where Marwey and Pascal appeared or were mentioned (by this time I'd written about 1/2 the story) and realized a horrible thing. The last time we see Pascal, the hero of the eharlequin story, he is flying (winged horse) off to battle. I never tied this up in the book, because it wasn't important (all right, I figured that if I didn't show people lying dead in a pool of blood, the reader would realize they hadn't fallen in battle). What was I going to do? What about those readers who love the story and buy Guardian of Honor waiting to see Marwey and Pascal? Aren't they going to be a little upset if he flies off to battle and we don't know what happened? Oh, yeah.

This was turn-your-stomach what-am-I-going-to-do time for a few hours. Then I realized that I had a character in Guardian of Honor that had a minor gift of prophecy. What if I made THAT guy integral to the story and had him go into a little trance and tell Marwey that she and Pascal will live long and have a lot of children. Worked for me.

The last problem was Marwey's name. Not exactly a pretty name and one I wouldn't usually give to a heroine. Worst of all, it began with "M." I had just finished writing Heart Choice, whose heroine's name is Mitchella. I was working on Sorceress of Faith, the second Luna book, where my editor requested I change my heroine's name from Brandy. We agreed last year that her name would be Marian. So I'd sit down to write the eharlequin story, hit the M key for my heroine and have to STOP and THINK which name it was. ;) The heroines are not at all alike, especially Marwey, but the "M" problem continued.

So I wrote the story, got it back from critique buddies and revised twice, counted every word to make sure each chapter was under 1300, wrote it single-spaced in Arial 12 in loathed Word and turned it in early, telling myself I could continue with my plans for the holidays, and knowing I was brilliant.

Then I got the email from my online editor -- she really knows how to stroke an author, she was so excited to have a Luna story, my story was wonderful, I was brilliant -- but there were a few minor problems and could I call? I did. One of the minor problems was "sexual tension." That is AN AWFUL problem, it means the whole story doesn't work, and usually it is up to the
author to figure it out. Good news, I'm not limited to 1300 words -- which mangled the flow of the story a bit. (And which you can still see).

I fretted, I paced, I drastically rewrote two-thirds of the story. The hero and heroine no longer almost make love in chapter two and DO make love in chapter 3 (these are TEENAGERS I had to find good reasons, huh!) Finally I turned it in (a couple of days early again) and hear on Friday, December 30 5pm Eastern that it is ok. Great Relief, of course my holidays had been
a frenzy of family and writing, and not what I planned at all.

Some interesting things about the eharlequin story. It is work for hire. I don't own it. It is not mine. It's like an original painting. I sold it and it is gone.

Eight chapters of approximately 1300 words (okay, I didn't go over 1500), each chapter must be as "stand-alone" as possible so a reader can enter the story, know what's going on, be intrigued, read past chapters and pant to read new chapters. That means in the opening paragraphs of each chapter there must be some sort of little summary, and the ending must have a good emotional or plot hook.

So it's done, and I'm proud of it (though I didn't get to see any editing after I turned it in and they made a few word choice changes that I could have done better), but it is one of those stories, like my first Heart books, that I don't care if I ever see again, because I worked so hard on it.

Meanwhile, I got excellent feedback and some discussion back and forth as to who was stronger/more right in every chapter, the hero and the heroine. DISCUSSION HERE:


Throughout the eight weeks, for seconds at a time I thought I was brilliant once more...BTW, there is a minor discrepancy between the book and the story I was unable to fix.


Robin (and may you NOT worry about short or long wordcount today!)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Holiday Wishes! Fra Giovanni

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From Fra Giovanni to Friend, 1513

I salute you.

There is nothing I can give you which you have not, but there is much that what I cannot give, you can take:

No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today; take Heaven.

No Peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant; take Peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow, behind it, yet within our reach, is Joy; take Joy.

There is radiance and glory in the darkness , to see it we only have to look -- so look!

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty - beneath its covering - that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.

Courage, then, to claim it is all that's needed; take courage.

And with courage, know that we are all pilgrims together wending through an unknown country, home.

And so at this time I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

Love to all,

Friday, December 23, 2005

Hemingway Quote

Image hosted by Photobucket.comActually if a writer needs a dictionary he should not write. He should have read the dictionary at least three times from beginning to end and then have loaned it to someone who needs it. Ernest Hemingway

I am ambivalent about this. Spelling-wise, I think this is wrong (giving away the dictionary). Learning the language and vocabulary-wise, I think this is good advice, in moderation. Once should be enough. I've also been told that my vocabulary is too "good" for most readers -- so the more casual tone in Guardian of Honor...and let's not get into the controversy of "dumbing down" or the average reading level of most folks.

When I read the dictiionary (and I've been known to do so), I get little story ideas popping into my head. So consider reading it...

May all your words be right for your writing today.



Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.comI woke to a dog barking. I don't think it's the big dog across the street as the yips were too high and I can see this BIG dog walking in its yard from my bedroom window, because it's so large. The barking ended quite quickly, only to be replaced by my cat Diva's insistent, shrill, "Feed me!" yowls. Which I pretty much ignored as I dressed.

I have new Dearfoam slippers that keep my feet warm as long as I don't put them on after my feet are chilled. Something poked me as I put on my paint-splattered, no-waist-string scruff pants. I finally figured out it was one of those rubber coated paperclips that was in my pocket and melted in the dryer to leave wire and plastic. Fortunately, since it was my scruff pants, the white residue of the plastic blends right in.

Then I paid attention to Diva and she increased the volume of her yowls. I tilted my head to hear the big fountain. There is an underlying SPURT-SPURT-SPURT in the consistent flow, which means it's getting low.

So I listened to sounds this morning and got to thinking about aural people (like the culture I've made in Lladrana, and Trif Clover who turned out to be, of all things, a musician). And how aural people say "I hear you," instead of "I can see that."

And I thought about how I always use the word rhythm in my work and I think of the rhythm of words most particularly as Voice. Voice is your style, your phrasing, the way you use words, stringing which syllables together, which is unique to you and no one else.

We talked about Voice last critique group (Sat). We have a new member who is, unlike the rest of us, in her first year of serious writing. A very unique fantasy voice, but still learning technique. Another member who doesn't come often (for reasons we all know but a long story re: an editor, a requested book and many rewrites) was afraid to crititque the first's work because it might hurt her excellent Voice. Well, the pacing was a little slow (and my stuff lacked Action), but the rest of us believed that mastering technique will only accentuate her true voice (or that was the gist of it).

Last night before I went to bed, I listened to an audio tape of Jayne Ann Krentz's Smoke and Mirrors. She's one of my favorite author's and I like that tape the best because it's done by a couple. There isn't often a male voice in my house. The cats run from such tones.

Jayne Ann Krentz's style is VERY different than Nora Roberts', especially when she's writing as J.D. Robb, and the rhythm of Nora's style was in my mind all day yesterday and the day before as I reread three of the In Death books (the ones I found easily).

So I thought about rhythm and words and Voice and listened and-- is that the tea kettle? Yep. Better finish this up.

May your own voice be strong and true today.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Fresh Eyes

Image hosted by Photobucket.com I have a proposal that my best critique buddies have seen A LOT -- we're talking about 5-6 revisions. I'm about to review and revise, and was going to follow one of my group's advice...problem is, I've been rethinking. She said I crammed too many things in the beginning...too many concepts...moved too fast. That is probably true.

But I've noticed books move at the speed of light lately. I asked my mentor, but she said she couldn't tell because she'd seen the d**n thing too often and knew what was coming. I had one of my other friends email me general comments, so I don't feel good about tapping her again.

I need fresh eyes. So I put a little "Wanted" out on one of my loops and will contact one of the generous people (I suggested a trade -- I'm a pretty good, and tough, critiquer) who responded.

I will never give up critique.

So may you write without critique today and may it need very little in the long run!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Playing with Blog 2

Still working on little icons for the blog.

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Yes, occasionally I've used "poetry" in my work -- the bit of prophecy at the beginning of Guardian of Honor, some spells/prayers in the Heart books, and in Heart Quest a very mediocre song. I won't say that genre novelists use different techniques than poets, and aren't good at it, but it's rare that I've found excellent poetry in a novelist's work, and that certainly includes my own. I'm not sure if the mindset or techniques that make a good novelist can transfer to poetry. I'd say writing as writing and all techniques can be learned...but I just don't feel that way today. ;)

In any case, I DO understand that it takes time to craft a poem, or even very lyrical prose, and sometimes I simply don't have the time.

That said, I'm going to insert one of my favorite poems of the season:

The Shortest Day

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the
Snow-white world,
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen.
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.

And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can year them
Echoing, behind us--listen!

All the long echoes sing the same delight
This shortest day
As promise wakens in the sleeping land.

They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends, and hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year, and every year.

Welcome, Yule!

--by Susan Cooper, 1977 http://www.thelostland.com/biography.htm
written for The Christmas Revels

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Sampler of Active v. Passive Language

Image hosted by Photobucket.comA brief sample from my first seminar on writing (getting people ready for the RMFW Colorado Gold Contest -- and you folks who do contests, I think the Pikes Peaks Writers Contest deadline is coming up). A note, it's rare for me to use "tags" that's something after the quotes, other than "he said/she said" and I dont' recall ever using sneer as a tag, but usually will show the sneer as a facial expression...



"You bastard," she said.
He was angry.


"You bastard," she sneered.
He felt angry.


"You bastard," she sneered.
Anger surged through him.


"You bastard," she sneered.
He leapt to his feet. One stride brought him to her. He curled his fingers around her throat.

May you be ACTIVE today, love to all,

Monday, December 19, 2005


Yeah, I know I should be writing. Actually I DID get the resume in and was working on teaching myself XCEL (97) for a part time job I found on the Colorado Judicial Job line... But, you know, this so much more FUN. I was tagged by fellow Luna author, Michele Hauf, a lady I like very much.

7 items for 7 questions. So here goes:

7 Things To Do Before I Die:
-- Visit Machu Pichu
-- Become proficient in a graphics program
-- Write, um, 25 (?) books
-- STAY at Cliveden
-- Walk the Appalachian Trial (but not camp, see below)
-- Have another excellent long-term male/female relationship
-- Parachute from a plane

7 Things I Cannot Do
-- Play an instrument
-- Draw or make acceptable jewelry
-- Camp
-- Touch fish
-- Become interested in the financial markets
-- Vote Republican
-- Write something I'm not interested in

7 Things That Attract Me To Men
-- Physical, Mental and Emotional Strength
-- The all time Sense of Humor
-- Able to speak well
-- Non-judgemental
-- Honorable
-- Extroverted
-- Sense of Fun

7 Thing I Say Most Often
-- Well
-- Yeah
-- Food! (cats' dinner call am and pm)
-- I am WORKING.
-- Let's see what we have.
-- Huh?
-- I'm going out.

7 Books or Series I Love
-- My own, the Luna Summoning Books, the Heart Books (except the one I'm working on now)
-- ANYTHING by Jayne Ann Krentz and most especially her Jayne Castle books
-- JD Robb's In Death Series
-- Yeah, Harry Potter
-- John Dickson Carr's/Carter Dickson's Mysteries
-- Most Linda Howard books
-- Gail Dayton's Rose Series

7 Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
-- Singing in the Rain
-- Ladyhawke
-- The Great Race
-- Front Page
-- The Indiana Jones Movies
-- Back to the Future
-- The Princess Bride

7 People I Want to Join In (Tag, You're It)
-- Deidre Knight
-- Gail Dayton
-- Catie Murphy
-- Hunt Cole
-- Jeri Smith-Ready
-- Liz Maverick
-- Laura Ann Gilman

Almost As Good As Sex

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Why do we write? Because we have characters whispering in our ears. Because we have stories to tell. Because we have points to make. Yada, yada.

We write because when the story has you in its grip, when a scene is blowing through you so you are barely aware of reality, endorphins (whatever) dump into you and a writing high is almost as good as sex. Your task should-you-decide-to-accept-it is to ensure that your craft and technique are available when you're rockin so that your writing will nearly match what's flooding you. And hopefully, when your work is read, that it will sweep others away into another reality.

And qualifiers -- I don't care for qualifiers much: almost, barely, nearly, much. And I prefer not to use them, but writing, though exhilerating, ISN'T QUITE as good as sex; it's rare that what is in my head takes me over to such an extent that I'm not aware of the light through the window or the music playing; and I know that my writing will always fall short of my vision. No qualifier in the last sentence. I am a reader, and I have been swept away. And not at all oddly enough, my books can sweep me away...perhaps because I have an echo of the endorphins of writing what I am reading...and there are books that are more craft than pouring out on paper. I don't read those as often (ever maybe) because I've worked so hard on them.

Love to all and may it be almost as good as sex today.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Promo Items

Usually all authors will have promo items "gimmes" from miniature flashlights to bookmarks/postcards. I do wallet calendars. The idea came to me when I saw some in the RWA goodie room before HeartMate came out (7/01)-- but these had a "standarad photo" and I wanted my book cover on the front. HeartMate came out in December so a wallet calendar for 2002 would be perfect. I wanted something small that people would use over and over again. I worked with Su Kopil of Earthly Charms on this.

I think that I was the first author to do wallet calendars with my book cover on it. So far, I've been doing that for every book. I've sent some to my publisher to send out with their sales people.

For the later books, Heart Duel and Heart Choice, I've been doing a wallet calendar from August-July or something like that, and given them out at the RWA convention. The hardest part is having them SEEN. I usually put one out with the cover, then many out with the calendar part. Usually I have to keep flipping them over, so that folks know what they are. I've done this at my local SF convention, too.

So here's Sorceress of Faith front and back and Heart Choice front and back.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com The color isn't quite right on SOF, there's less yellow in the green. I have a real problem with yellow green...or maybe it's just lima beans. Loathe both.Image hosted by Photobucket.com
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May all thoughts of promotion be far from your mind and enjoy writing today!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


I've been writing slowly and some of the reason is the Setting. I had to find (and print out) the latest maps of Lladrana, Amee, and the Castle. Then take my characters THROUGH the castle and over Lladrana.

Now, I've learned from previous books and from my own reading that readers probably don't follow where the author's mind goes. Setting gets mixed up, even with maps. BUT, I have to know where I am, just in case a brilliant reader who has a perfect memory HAS followed me.

Also, just so I can get it straight in my head so I feel SOLID in my story. The more you're in your story, the more your writing reflects that. So I've been modifying my maps for Protector of the Flight as I did for Sorceress of Faith.

Originally it took me a long time to work out what the Marshalls' Castle looked like, especially the maze. Here's my pitiful drawing that I sent to Luna and they made into the map in the front of the books. I can now modify that drawing on my computer.

So get the choreography right in your head.
May all your character movement and writing be smooth today.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Routine -- Audio Books

Image hosted by Photobucket.comYes, I'm going on about this topic this week. I still haven't gotten mine down. I waited all day yesterday for bro to come over and fix the washer (he didn't), and cleaned and tidied (so that WAS a plus), but didn't write. While cleaning I had my walkman and was listening to Goblet of Fire....so when day turned into evening (the low point of my emotional day, then night, I didn't write either).

Also, my email and website has been spotty. I'm not sure what to do about this except to apologize to you who've left comments which I haven't responded to yet. Furthermore it looked like the Access Romance site was down for about 4 hours on the 14th and apparently that was when my prize was supposedly given away. I like the people at Access Romance but apparently the site is having problems. So I spent some time being frustrated at not getting email (I usually get at least one or two contest entries that say "like your books" and give me a boost...) Don't know how long these issues will continue to occur...

So, again, rationalizations and a failure of routine, and I DO believe in making wordcount every day (but I don't punish myself if I don't, like add "interest" on the wordcount, that is counterproductive for me. Because occasionally I (or you) will miss wordcount and punishing just loads a heavier guilt-trip/goal on myself (yourself) that makes it harder to write. AND WE DON'T NEED ANYTHING THAT MAKES IT HARDER TO WRITE.

Well, the cats believe in routine, too, and I haven't fed them yet today. Diva is sitting on my desk (but not quite staring at me). I think they do know the words "I'M WORKING!"

May your routine go well today.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Character Speech

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I was writing yesterday and kept an eye on my wording. I'm in Calli's POV so she needs to think a certain way. The sentence "I'm sure Marian and...Jaquar are waiting for us..." came flowing out of my fingers. I immediately went back to change "waiting for" to "awaiting." It's more concise. But Calli wouldn't speak that way.

I was thinking like Marian from Sorceress of Faith. Marian is an academic. If there was a simple way or a more "erudite" way to say something, she'd go with the erudite, wouldn't even think about it.

Now, Alexa, in Guardian of Honor, might have said either, and depending upon the particular tone of her POV (casual vs. professional), I'd have used either.

So know your characters. Distinguish their speech, particularly your hero and heroines. I've let some US "colloquialisms" creep in Lladranan POVs that I also keep an eye on. I may cut them all out.

May all your characters distinguish themselves (in every sense of the word) today.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Playing with Blog

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Celebrate Milestones!

Rewarding yourself works...whether it's with a break to play, a special cup of tea (**whispering** a teeney purchase), when you praise or reward your inner child where your creativity comes from, you feel good and that child will probably help you out some more.

So I think I'll reward myself. With a nice, long, hot bath and a book.

Because for the first time since I've been off the day job, I've gotten all my pages done in the morning. Since I'm used to writing in the evenings, I've usually played in the ams, checked email, researched, exercised, STUFF, but today I wrote.

Ok, it took a long time. I'm not completely happy with the horse-stuff, and my Mom called in the middle of my writing. AND I barely made my word count. But I DID, and I took time to clean up the chapter, too, and will be able to link some scenes chronologically, which is good. Milestone met.

Another milestone. My Mom did NOT ask me to come and do something. That is one of my great fears, that much of my time will be eaten up by requests to do something because I have all this "free time." Mom DID mention what she was going to do, and invited, but I said the writing was going well and declined.

So, go Robin! ;)
May you all have something to celebrate today. And I think I'll write a couple more blogs. I do that and keep them in draft so I can use them later...which also leads to you all seeing great ups and downs of moods.


I went walking with my friend Kay Bergstrom (Cassie Miles) for EXCERCISE yesterday and the foremost thing on her mind was plotting her next Harlequin Intrique (out in 2007, the 2006 books are already done). She is a plotter, I am a pantzer, but a problem was really gnawing at her.

Why would a risk-adverse woman knowingly meet with a serial killer? We walked around Washington Park and I threw out angles -- the best thing would be knowing she walked into a trap but planning to save herself anyway. The killer had kidnapped someone -- then I said a pet and we talked about bunnies -- and the killer was going to torture her bunny and kill it if she didn't show up...

Why wouldn't she tell the super-sexy-FBI-hero? Because she's sensible and she doesn't like the way he's handled things so far, and he might not care whether the bunny went to the great carrot patch in the sky.

Kay liked the idea, we finished our walk, went up to her place, she offered tea and I hesitantly accepted (Ok, we can talk for hours and that means less writing time for both of us). We talked about publishing and wondered about how to hit big. My personal fantasy is a TV interview, the title of which is "J.K. Rowling loves reading Robin D. Owens' books!" (I'm sure she doesn't know of me, has never read my work and my work probably isn't in the genres she reads anyway...)

And about an hour later, Kay circled back to the same topic in her book. Obviously, though I liked the pet thing and thought it would add LOTS to her book, it didn't quite fit what she wanted. She decided that it was the hero who was captured ready to be tortured and murdered and that excited us both.

Even if buddies don't give you the exact solution, just talking and brainstorming may lead to your own. And yes, I'm sure we've discussed it before. But another point of this might be that she could have used the bunny thing and made it work anyway OR that she could still use the bunny thing in a completely different book -- OR that if she'd used the bunny idea, it WOULD be a completely different book.

So may plotting come easy to you today,

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Titles, Reprise

First a little background. I'm not great with titles. With the Berkley books I don't have to be because I'm stuck with "Heart." All I have to do is pick a good 2nd or 3rd word. For the Luna books, they began as Exotic Summoning - Castle, Alexa or something like that. But Luna is very picky about their titles and I came up with a list. Guardian of Honor was on that list and I think Sorceress of Faith was too. But I didn't find out that those were the titles of the books until an online chat.

No one bothered to notify me. Urgh.

In these days, when publishers expect the author to do a lot a promo, it's wise to at least tell the author when the title has changed.

So, the third book was Knight Protector. I liked Knight Protector (as you can see from previous entries here). Knight Protector was the highest title in the Templars and I like that, too. But my editor wanted Defender of Trust. Hmmmm. I tried it on a little and came to like it, too.

Then Defender of Trust morphed into Defender of the Flight...and though I would have liked to stay with Honor, Faith, Trust, I could see the reasoning behind this. Calli will be defending or helping the volarans (flying horses).

I'd heard the art was in and yesterday I really wanted to know a couple of things about the cover (you all recall that I wanted a woman on a flying horse?) If there was a flying horse, I wanted to know what color it was and how the wings were attached to the horse (look around the web and you'll see what I mean, are they at an angle or are they straight across the body? It depends when you're talking how to ride the pegasus).

I got the current art (yes it's gorgeous, no I won't post it because it's not done -- hey it doesn't have my name on it!), and it says PROTECTOR OF THE FLIGHT. All over the web I've been calling this book, Defender of the Flight. I'm pretty sure the art dept is right and I am wrong.

It never occurred to me that every month or so I should be asking if my title has changed...since this is the last book under contract (I hope to have 6 in the series, but who knows?) I'll have to work up more titles and if I get the 3 more books, I'll have to remember this lesson.

Because though this book won't be out until February of 07 (hey, it probably won't be done until April of 06), it's never too early to get the word out. People may forget between now and then, probably will, but in 2/07 if they see a gorgeous cover of a woman on a flying horse (she's not really blond, more like light brown hair) and see Protector of the Flight, a little bell goes off...as long as they aren't confused about Defender and Protector...

So may you have excellent luck with determining a title, and may you write well today.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Real Writers Wear Sweats

One day I was at the day job and emailing a writer friend about an emergency (my editors had my job phone number). Now it was noon my time and my friend lives in Florida so it was 2pm there..."By the way," she said, "I'm still in my pjs."

Now, I wear oversize t-shirts to bed. Lounging around in them in a cold-to-save-on-heating-bills-house in the winter is not an option. So I usually have underwear on, a short sleeved very soft sweater against my skin, a cotton turtleneck, and an oversized chenille sweater or sweatshirt, long underwear and sweat pants. Those are my writing clothes.

I am most worried about my feet. Even with two pairs of socks and my isotoner slippers they get cold. One of my crit buddies gave me those foot-warming herbal slippers filled with bird-seed like stuff to heat up in the microwave and I loved them, but I, uh, melted the plastic thread that was used and now I leave a trail wherever I go...and I usually do some of my writing on one of those "kneeling" chairs and the feet are not flat on the floor, but hang over the bottom ledge, so the herbal slippers would fall off.

And I need more long underwear and sweats. I only have one good pair of sweatpants -- thick and wooly, that I bought one night when I stayed late at work and was going to improv practice. I see a visit to ARC in my future to buy sweats.

But I don't have to match my socks...I think I have blue one and a black one on today. The black one is shorter in the leg part.

Of COURSE there's a tie-in to Writing and Publishing. Write in something comfortable. I can't imagine writing in tight jeans. I think all my plots would whine. And I've heard of fictional (and not so fictional) authors wearing "lucky bathrobes/slippers" etc.

May you completely forget about clothes as the muse sweeps you away today.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Procratination & Rationalizations & Guilt

Yes, I suffer from this, as do many writers. And, like many writers, the big one that sucks me in most of the time is Surfing the Net (under the guise of Research). It used to be Games, but I've taken all the games off my desktop and laptop (I have 2 on my pda).

And yes, I'm almost worse with real life than in writing. I greatly respect my contractual deadlines. So I haven't cleaned my house (rationalization: too tired, other social obligations, writing, it's COLD downstairs) or spoken to my brother about fixing the washer pipe and water handle (rationalization: Mom will come over too and I need to clean the downstairs and I want the back porch to fully dry out). I haven't updated my resume for my agency (rationalization: pure yech and ostrich-sticking-head-in-sand)

And yesterday I didn't write. Not only did I NOT make my wordcount, I didn't write at all. Ok, I opened my file and dinked with a couple of words, that's not writing. I DID read a research book, ponder, and went to a holiday party to support and be supported by other writers (and had great fun), but I didn't write and I had plenty of time.

Well, I had been fighting a headache all day long and it got worse when I got home and I went to bed early and slept long, long.

But I believe in writing every day. So I can flagellate myself with guilt for not doing any of the above and call myself a lazy slob, or I can open a new file after I finish posting this and work on the new scene that came to me sometime yesterday/last night.

So you (and I procrastinate), get over it. Don't dwell on the past days of no wordcount. Move on. And if you can't move on at home, take your laptop or a pen and paper and go outside your usual writing space where there are less distractions.

May you write long and well today,

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Fantasy Writing/Jarring Real Life

Friday Afternoon

One minute you're soaring above the Marshalls' Castle on your first flight with a winged horse in the heat of a midsummer morning, the next you're trying to stop the explosive spurting of icy water of a broken water hose.

Yeah, it warmed up in Denver. I thought I had the heater in the back porch where the washer and dryer are turned on warm enough to keep stuff from freezing. Apparently not.

Now for a game we played in improv Good News/Bad news (I always hated that game). Good news is I found it relatively quickly after I went down to get some lunch -- and that I was here instead of at day job. Bad news, I couldn't deal with it quickly because MY HANDS WEREN'T STRONG ENOUGH TO TURN OFF THE WATER TAP. Tried tape (twice), tried running down stairs to turn off the main, ditto result. Tried WD 40. Helped some, I think. Tape again. Stood a while with my fingers over the hole thinking what should I do. Tried a screwdriver through the open holes of the handle. Got it down some. Then the handle broke. More WD 40, a different screwdriver. A pitcher under the leak. Done.

Whew. Guess I'll be doing my laundry in the bathroom sink and tub for a little bit. Also will be
calling my brother (the blacksheep who's handy and always out of work), to come over and help me. Everything's jammed together so we'll have to pull out the heater, then the washer, replace the metallic hose and see what we can do so this doesn't happen again.

Problem is that if I call my bro, my MOTHER will come and the place is seriously a mess. So I don't think I'll do it today (Friday). Today I'll pick up and clean and move things around so the place will be half-way decent for Mom and bro. Maybe my also-handy-in-work-reliable bro might come, too...and did I say that my niece just married a plumber's son? This is beginning not to look so bad, but...

I gotta lot of New Age Meditation music, including Healing, Massage, and Crystal Bowls on my computer and I am going to listen to it ALL! And where's that d**n rum? Oh, yeah, in the back porch...

Love to all, and may your writing world be fascinating and your real world boring today...

Friday, December 09, 2005

December Website Update!

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Yes, my website update is now done for December. New Image hosted by Photobucket.com Exercises HERE: http://robindowens.com/freeyourartist.htm The ecards are snow and blizzards, the Surprise slightly sick...

On my WORLDS page under Heart Choice, I have the list of music I listened to while writing it. Since it was my first attempt at a soundtrack for myself, it only has a few entries, Mitchella's theme, Straif's them, etc...much more music in my personal soundtrack for the books I've written since. http://robindowens.com/worlds/worlds_heartchoice.htm

My contest this month is for ONE Kirks Folly Fairy Wish Well Rubbing stone (both sides are shown) which comes in it's own pink pouch. The excerpt from Heart Choice for the contest is from the last chapter...but it does reveal character...

I haven't gotten Defender of the Flight up on my Reads page yet since I'm still tweaking the first chapter (sometimes I rewrite it after I've finished the book).

The sun is shining today and it looks like the temp will creep up to 41. My office gets full sun and is toasty with Massive Computer on, so I put the house down to 58 or so. Downstairs is cold, so I haven't been housecleaning down there.

I DID get my wordcount done yesterday with that burst of inspiration from the night before. Almost twice my wordcount.

So may you all have a sunny, high wordcount day!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Night Ideas

Last night was one of those nights I woke up at 3:30 am. Since the high temperature here yesterday was 8F above (when I got up, it was -13F), I wasn't about to crawl out of my warm waterbed, dress in my four layers of clothes, and walk a few steps to the office. Furthermore, I couldn't take the glare of the screen in the night. I worked on my mailing list from about 4-10 last night and my eyes hurt.

So what do when night ideas strike? I'm single. That's a big deal in this particular matter. I know some writers who keep a penlight-- one of those pens with a little light in it-- and paper. Others that get up and go into the computer room. I keep a microcasette recorder near my bed that I'd unearthed from the disaster that is my dining room table (all STUFF lands on the dining room table, and that now includes mail, my last year tax papers, most of the galleys of Sorceress of Faith, a camera, and all the office things I had in my gray cubicle at the day job...). However, I checked the microcasette recorder earlier this week and the batteries are dead (I need to keep batteries in the bedroom).

So I went over the plot points a few times in my head for Defender of the Flight -- 3rd Luna book, heard the art is in but being laid out in cover form so haven't seen it -- and I some info for Heart Match, the next Heart book, should I sell it.

Just thinking that you'll remember a scene is VERY dangerous. You won't. You won't remember lines or plot ideas or even STORY ideas unless you have a very, very good memory. Trust me, baby. So "I'll remember later" is not at all as good as jotting even a few lines down, or dictating something....

Which is why I'm ending now, when at least one of the three things I was thinking about is still within reach.

May you always remember what you need.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rough Draft -- Handwritten

No, I don't often do this anymore, but here's an early part of Guardian of Honor. Note the cross outs, the "stet" which I picked up from my copy editor which means "leave it" and most of all the #1. Inevitably, since I don't write in sequence, I have thoughts that I put somewhere else when my mind is speeding and then need to integrate it back into the story. Also here is #1...

Oh, and the actual published pages of Guardian of Honor...which don't look much at all like the rough draft! Actually, I think bits of this are sprinkled through out the chapter...

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May your writing be smooth today.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Dreaded Scene

Every once and a while I have to go back and insert a scene (or, even worse, rewrite the daunting chapter 1), and sometimes it becomes A Dreaded Scene. I know what I have to do, I doubt that I can do it, or I just DON'T want to do it.

However, it usually turns out that the time I've spent worrying about it, or bitching and moaning about it, or dragging my heels NOT to do it is approximately twice the time it takes to actually write/revise the sucker.

This is true. For me, and perhaps for you. (yeah, yeah, yeah, bad rhyme).

So, don't worry about what you haven't written yet. Again, easier said then done, just reminding you.

Love to all and may your writing bring NO worries for many, many days.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Now Taking National & International Members

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Yes, it's true. And maybe you aren't excited as I am, but this is the fiction organization that taught me to write with their excellent critique groups. I'm still in an RMFW critique group and intend to stay there. Forever. (Good thing no one from my crit group reads this...a prophet in her own country...)

The most important thing for a writer is a support group to be there when you soar to the sky or fall flat on your face. A support group lets you know that even though we all write individually, WE ARE NOT ALONE.



RMFW is my support group, and they have been an excellent one.

I was always sad that when people asked me what they should do to become good writers I couldn't recommend RMFW because the person was, say, in Alabama. (If you're an intermediate romance writer the online group of Romance Writers Unlimited is where I'd send you http://www.rwunlimited.org/)

But at the RMFW Holiday Party, it was announced that the membership had voted to open RMFW up to EVERYONE. I think we'll be getting some members from OR and maybe Catie Murphy (C.E. Murphy) will join from Ireland.

Yes, RMFW has a great newsletter. The pubbed authors are excellent at sharing networking advice -- and we have awesome critique groups (online, too!). My best friends in the world belong to RMFW.

So, yes, I'm excited that it's open to others around the world. New friends!

And may your writing go so smoothly today, your critique buddies will applaud at the result.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Change in Blog Posting Time

Since I am now out of a day job (until I get a new resume up and to my agency so they can flog it around -- something I think they should have asked for last month when I gave them notice so they'd have it by now) I will probably be sleeping in and posting later, like 9-10 my time. I hope.

My natural rhythms were once pretty nocturnal -- rising late (10) and going to bed late (2 am) or so. I have, of course, been part of the diurnal workforce for many years, so we will see whether my rhythm has changed. And really, I'd anticipated more 24 hour businesses (brick & mortar) open by this time in my life -- but maybe the net takes care of that.

In any event, I am hoping NOT to be posting early in the am. If so, that means I probably didn't sleep well the night before.

Tying this in to Writing and Publishing is easy. Find your best, most productive writing time, and if at all possible, write at that time. The muse (or the guy in the basement like Stephen King says) will reward you more often if your subconsious knows that THESE HOURS ARE CREATIVE HOURS for writing. There are little rituals you can do to notify your creative self -- lighting a candle, putting on the soundtrack for the book you're writing, changing the light in your room from overhead to lamps...etc.

May your writing time grace you today with excellent ideas.


Saturday, December 03, 2005


I heard the snow first.

Sleeping was difficult and I was resless from emotional turmoil, so once when I woke I heard the smacking-slick-rolling-swish of tires on the well-travelled street in front of my house.

Next I noticed the changed quality of the light. The moon sometimes graces my bedroom windows with silver radiance, but she is a sliver, waxing. And it is winter and plush tapestry pillows are stacked on my windowseat against the cold glass and moonlight cannot spill so bright into the room.

But street lights sheeting off fresh white snow can.

The cats had cocooned me, lying along my body on each side and when I struggled to rise to an elbow, one hissed. My muddled thoughts contemplated driving across town through the wet first snow, to a holiday party, with fresh bread or pie sitting on the seat beside me, ready to be tasted.

My tires would swish, swish, swish.

Use the senses in your writing today!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Word Choice

I have a fox Familiar (telepathic animal companion) in Heart Quest. Well when I was writing the fox, I was also reading books about foxes by experts in the field (in all ways, meaning they were in the field observing foxes for about 20 years). In the general public’s view, foxes make noises and most particularly “bark.” Now the expert used the word “chortle” which he believes is the closest description of a sound that a fox makes at certain times. He can do that. He’s an expert.

You know what would happen if I used the word “chortle”? First my editor would strike it, then the copy editor would strike it. If I insisted, I’d probably not get reader comment (I’m not that important), but most readers would think “Chortle! What a stupid word to use to describe a fox barking…” So, of course, I’m not going to use it. I’ve used bark, and growl and other choices, but chortle (which I don’t tend to use anyway), will not show up with regard to the fox, Vertic.

Again, this is story and not real life. In real life, I can use the word chortle and discuss it or explain it to my listener. In a story, it might make a reader pause…and we all know what I think about giving readers time to pause.

Oh, and a reminder, when writing a rough draft and I keep using the same word three times in a paragraph, I DON’T stop. I just put ** by it, then when I’m revising, I’ll do a search for ** and clean it up.

Word choice is a part of style which is a part of an author’s voice – the words you choose and how you string them together, particularly if you’re writing fast and under deadline, as opposed to writing slowly and crafting every phrase to sing to the reader.

May all your words choose themselves today and be perfect!


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Best Rejection Slip

This has been around the web a couple of times, I think, but it still makes me smile...

The "Financial Times" has quoted the "mother of all rejection slips", translated from a Chinese economic journal. It goes like this: We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity.

May you write with no thought of rejection today...


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