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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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Critique -- After

Well, there were 5 of us. Uproarious conversation, hard work. Only three of us read. I was not the most tortured writer. We spent a lot of time on a friend's work. I was the 2nd most hard critiqued. I need to torture Tinne more. Add the stakes, rachet up the tension...

So I'm feeling relatively good about Heart Fate.

May you find what you need today.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


In person critique today and I'm looking forward to it, as usual. Here's something that shows, sort of, what goes on. These are the notes from my last critique. I needed to nail a scene goal later in the chapter, show the stakes of a decision. and, as often happens, what was in my head didn't really make it onto the page.

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May your work go well today.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Celta -- Vows of Honor

I've tried showing how broken Vows of Honor twisted the Holly lives (and I'm still dealing with the aftermath of that in Heart Fate), so when this came through my email, I wanted to "share." (I don't really care for the word, "share" sometimes it's more like "inflict.") So I hope this is a sharing and not an infliction.

May you understand your own vows.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blog Bash

Things have been hectic here and I forgot to post this yesterday...but it's still up.

"What keeps you writing?" So you can see a little article...

May you enjoy your creativity, however it's inspired.

Collaborative Books

I've recently read three collaborative works, (books by more than two authors). One was a round-robin, where authors were given the previous plot and characters and added a chapter. One was episodic with a huge cast of characters and though the authors communicated when writing it, it was more like a ensemble television series, I guess. The third one was where the authors collaborated on each scene. That one was the only one that worked AS A STORY to my satisfaction.

The problem with collaborative books is that, of course, each author wants their own character, so melding the characters and story is difficult to keep the characters equal.

The problem with round robin books like Naked Came The Stranger which was the latest mystery one (I believe), is that motivation flip-flops and the lack of consistent growth/motivation bothered me.

The books were interesting to look at voice and technique, and whether that voice came through (yes) but, again, for me, weren't as strong as regular works.

May your motivation be stellar today!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Week Long Writing Retreat In November

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I've been thinking about this for a couple of years. I used to sponsor t-shirts for it.
360 Virtual tour

May you fulfill a dream today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Singer For A World

Got the Singer For A World proposal out today -- two chapters (about 37 pages in Courier New font) and a single spaced synopsis of about 4 pages in Times New Roman.

I had my mentor take a look at the new synopsis(combined 1/2 of previous book 5 of 5 into the new book 5 of 5). And she gave it the A-ok. So off it went by email. Not following with snail mail this time, tired of working on Luna stuff.

So, big achievement and I guess I'll go eat breakfast...

May you enjoy any end of a project today!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Software Skill Envy

WOW! My map software company examples...it would only take me, like two years to do something as good...

May your reach not exceed your grasp.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Amazon can't get it together

I used to be able to add books to amazon (like Keepers of the Flame). Not any more. I've emailed them. I can't add them. My publisher has to.

I've been assured by my publisher that they've sent amazon the information several times.


May all your irritations be minor today.

Reply to All Yesterday's Comments

Ok, Anonymous...I see you went through my website, and I must tell you that I forgot about Pinky, mostly because the thought of the real Pinky, who just disappeared, still hurts.

I think the ideas are great, and Pinky deserves a new name, but I think Xaran is too big for him, so how about Pataran, and leaving out the x? Might also sound like pawsteps...patar, patar, pataran...

We Jump or Jump Big! Is an excellent tag line for Pinky-Pataran. And "More" is very true for all cats. I don't know that I gave either Fairyfoot or Myx in Heart Dance a tag line, and I haven't reread it...

We jump big! Could be seen as a philosophically smart tag line, they did rise in station, from the gang to the orphanage, to Mitchella's, then to a GreatHouse...We Climb High is a good line too.

I have recently re-read HeartMate (I usually work so hard on the books that I don't reread them again), and Danith was the only one who had a pink aura, so the pink aura is out.

And you all should have figured out that Antenn will be an architect. I'm setting up his HeartMate in Heart Fate, or rather introducing/mentioning her Family.

A ten or twenty year "hop" may be coming...if the series reaches that long. I haven't decided how I'm going to handle the generational "hop." Years will have to pass, but luckily everyone on Celta is amazingly long-lived, so the current generation will be in the prime, but the oldest of the old (I'm thinking Tab Holly here, which, as he is Tinne's mentor, has shown up in Heart Fate) will have passed on to the Wheel of Stars.

Laeve Hawthorn, the oldest and coming up on 17, may be the first, just to stay with the current generation. I have no real plot about him, he has no secrets, but he has experienced what it is like to nearly kill a HeartMate. I see him as a very honorable young man, the best of the Hawthorns and a Grove, also, I believe.

So upcoming books: Heart Fate (sold), Tinne and Lahsin (and, no, I'm not going to tell you how I'm going to work that, and I won't be answering questions/guesses).

Then the next two are up for contract and since my editor made encouraging murmurings when I met with her at RWA in July:

Heart Change, Cratag Maytree and D'Marigold. Oddly enough I've had Marigold's story in my head for a long, long time, since before I was published. Her story ties into T'Ash and Danith's...

Another Heart Book, title unknown, protagonist is an older female explorer who will return to Druida to claim her HeartMate, a younger man, an actor. These people are already mentioned in Heart Fate, and I just know a little about them.

The up and coming youngsters:
Laev Hawthorn
Antenn Blackthorn
Vinni T'Vine and Avellana Hazel

Though that's their age order, I see Antenn's story as being last.

Then there are the children...
Rulea Eve Elder
Nuin Ash
Dani Ash
Two more Ash Children
Two Holm Holly Children
Vinni's daughter and Saille Willow's Son (I sort of remember saying something about this in Heart Dance)
And no, I don't know that there will be any Ash/Elder marriages or Holly/Elder marriages. I hardly know these children, and the series might not last that long.

I do have ideas for novellas: 1) Heart and Soul, a prequel set on Nuada's Sword when it discovers Celta. Mutiny...Despair...Discovery...this already is plotted 2) Claif Clover stumbling around in the Southern Continent looking for good wood for the family furniture company 3) an erotic novella if I ever want to go in that direction...

Catheryne, I don't put my ARCs up for sale. Occasionally I donate them to contests. Heart Fate won't be done for a couple of months, and right now I don't know what shape Keepers of the Flame is in. I may never want to see Keepers of the Flame again, let alone make the changes from all the edits to match the final on the computer to the published copy. Keepers of the Flame will have at least three cut scenes going up, only one of them is more fun than interesting...I was really sad to cut the scene with Koz...

Now, I've spent a lot of time on this, and I'll save it for myself in my Celta file, where I keep all my notes. However, when the time comes to write the next generation, I will probably copy all the scenes I have concerning the individual into a file and reread them and Pinky will get the glory he deserves.

Thank you all for your interest in my books. May you enjoy whatever you are reading today.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Website Update

Finally did the update and it's live. The READS pages have something from Keepers of the Flame and Heart Fate.

I like the prize this month.

smooches, and may you have no bumps in your road today,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Walking Away

This time last week... ;) I was getting ready for the Colorado Gold conference.

This week has been little computer time and mostly downstairs hard copy time, fulfilling something my publisher requested that I do which I find...less than wise or productive. Which is why it's gone slowly, I suspect.

Also, the bee sting did seem to wipe me out for two days. I'd thought I'd never have another one in my life (I used to get several a summer when I was a kid, and I haven't missed them).

But now I have to buckle down and get this task done, go back to Singer for a World proposal, and then am under a lot of pressure to meet a (now) short deadline for Heart Fate. A story I've enjoyed writing...so I can only hope that continues.

I'm not sure how I could have managed this differently because I DO want Keepers of the Flame to be a good book. The only way in the beginning to have avoided this crunch was not to accept so short a deadline on Keepers of the Flame, or to insist on selling all three books (because adding another subplot to a book I'd already had in mind and much written took a lot of thinking and writing and rewriting time and made it about 130 pages longer). That would not have been acceptable to the publisher. So I would have had to walk away from the series after the first three books, because the publisher would not have changed their minds. I didn't want to walk away.

I spoke to another published author at conference who wants a boost in his career that can only come from his publisher. He is ready to walk away from any deal that doesn't include getting up to the next level. It has reached that point with him that he can give up what he has won from his current publisher. Even if he doesn't sell his work to another publisher at the same price, he has other priorities in his life than writing, and is financially secure.

For most of us, this business is not about bluffing. You have to be ready and willing to walk away if you don't want the deal that is offered, and that usually takes some thought ahead of time to prepare for any emotional fall-out.

And for most of us, the writing career is not serendipitous. You have to think where you're going and what you want.

May you know where you're going today.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Writer's Quote

Couldn't resist.

"Critics are like brushers of noblemen's clothes."
George Herbert

illegitami non carborundum (not sure of the spelling, high nerd that I am).

May you suffer no undue criticism today.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Feeling Bad

I got a bee sting yesterday (long story), and though I don't have the sensitivity to them like I did as a kid, it HURT. I did sleep, but I also walked around funny so now my entire body aches.

So though I will work today, I'm going to take a hot bath and go back to sleep and tackle work at noon.

May you feel excellent today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Publisher's Fire Drill '07

I don't think I kept track of my publishers' fire drills this year, and I like to differentiate posts on the same topic, thus the title.

Anyway, due to strange and unusual circumstances beyond my control, I am working on the full ms. of Keepers of the Flame again. And, again, I hope to be finished tomorrow. But I DO have other things I must do tomorrow.

Still not quite recovered from the conference and last night's poor sleep, so I'll be taking a bath and hitting the sack.

I guess I'll just say that in all the conversations I had with published authors over the weekend, we'd finally shake our heads and say, "This is a crazy business." Or "This is a hard business."

It is, both crazy and hard. So, when you first sell, try and keep that honeymoon blush as long as possible, deliberately hold the delight close. 'Cuz it will rub off all too soon.

May you write well today.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Conference Meltdown

All right, RMFW conference was really good. However, after intense immersion in conference etc., and facing a problem with one of my publishers that I can't seem to handle, especially not Sunday afternoon, I am in meltdown. Me in conference meltdown is not a pretty sight.

So, I'll say, the conference was good. I'm exhausted, but will be better tomorrow, so letting you know I at least survived.

May nothing ruffle your feathers today, and, I guess, I hope the Broncos win. The game might be on even as I type.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

RMFW Day 1

Had an excellent day yesterday, much speaking about writing with kindred souls. Some interesting info imparted and received. Good whining about publishing with other authors.

This will be quick and dirty since it's on my roomie's computer. For unknown reasons my computer won't connect to the internet even with an ethernet cord (that say's it's connected) and pages will not load.

So I guess I'll have to take it in next week or so and figure out what is wrong.

I made a quick tour home and to my catsitting this am, and now want to head on down.

Take care and may being with friends please you today.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Most Important Day of the Year

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First, update. I finished revising and putting together my pages for my proposal for Singer for a World, but I am not completely happy with them, so my mentor will be looking at them today.

Friday, the first day of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Conference, used to be the most important day of the year for me for several years. This is the day where people can read their work before an editor or agent (now the work is actually sent ahead of time, but I believe they still read). This is where an editor or agent could request my work...or pass but pitch it to someone else (I had both happen)...or, of course, smile and do nothing. But in any event it was THE DAY. Usually I was totally stressed and once I think I had an out of body experience since I was on cold pills...

Anyway, I DO think that I'll spend most of the morning preparing for conference -- my bit, giving away PEN awards to members who sold this year, introducing Jasmine Cresswell at the banquet, moderating the first sale panel and doing a panel and my freewriting workshop. So I'll get my notes together and my clothes and probably take off. I'll be staying on site, but I usually run home in the mornings at least to feed the cats. It's close.

I always like a new t-shirt for the Friday of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference (now that I don't need to read). I usually go with Shakespeare (and I can't find my Shakespeare tatt shirt).

But I saw this and couldn't resist.

May you please your inner child today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Writing Days

The thing I miss most about working a day job is interacting with the people of course -- though I was an introvert and kept to myself mostly. The next is the "buffer time" travel time on bus between work and home and home and work. Now work is at home. No reading before the day begins...or the work day will NOT begin...

Sometimes when I have a long deadline (ha, ha not lately) and an easy wordcount and am inspired, I can finish my workday in an hour and a half. Very cool. Then, of course, I mess around on the web and do a little research and errands and housework, etc. Maybe even play games. So the 1 1/2 hour workday as compared to the 8 hour workday is cool.

Sometimes I have VERY long days -- 14 hours of brain cracking, eye straining copy edits. Then those 8 hour workdays feel sweet.

And sometimes like yesterday I have things planned out and going well and anticipate getting my work done in a timely fashion of about five or six hours and next thing I know it's ten and counting. Those are the days that happen most often.

All sorts of stuff: writing, revising, promo items I need to approve, emails I must answer, a blog I promised somewhere else - 1200 words! not me baby, 600+ and let me know if it's too short. Books I've promised to read for a quote, conference workshops to organize or proposals for workshops to work on. More email. Website to update, which means doing the home page, new pics, new excerpts, something cool for the WORLDS page, and the Free Your Artist page which takes a good 8 hours by itself if done right. Making copy edits on the computer look like those on hardcopy.

There was a break for walking to the bank during the early afternoon (hot!), and one for shopping in the evening and gassing up the car (all out of cat food). So, again, those 8 hour workdays look good.

And there are shorter days of HARD writing, where the words don't come and the pages are crap and though I only worked four hours my mind feels like a meltdown.

And all my wordcounts are daily wordcounts, that's 7 days a week.

So, as a general thing, I'd say that I work at my writing and publishing career at least as hard as those 8 hour day jobs.

May you enjoy what you're doing today.

Proposal Pages

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I am trying to get back to being more informative on Writing and Publishing instead of just talking about my own path.

A proposal is usually a certain amount of pages and a detailed outline (synopsis). Most published authors sell on proposal. I HAVE known authors to sell on paragraphs or even on pitches.

My easiest two book sale was Heart Choice and a "blind" book. That means Berkley wanted two "Heart" books, one they knew of, Heart Choice, and the other they had no clue of -- what I call a "trust me, baby," book. Which I knew would be Heart Quest.

Luna proposals are usually 50 pages and a synopsis. My Luna proposal, as negotiated with my editor at lunch during RWA, is at least 30 pages and a synopsis. The page length of the synopsis was not mentioned since I already have one. Otherwise, I'll ask my agent to see what the minimum amount of pages could be. The synopses are what slow me down. It can take months for me to figure out a plot. The pages actually go much faster for me.

So. I am working on the proposal for Singer for a World (current title but may not remain the same), the last Luna book in this series.

Yesterday I cleaned up the first scenes, 13 pages of my heroine Jikata, a full chapter. I knew I'd had some of the second chapter, but, of course, had mis-remembered the amount of pages, 3. This chapter will deal with Luthan, the hero.

I worked pretty much all day yesterday revising those 13 pages and looking at the scene with Luthan. When I finished work, I thought about the upcoming scene with Luthan and told myself I'd get right out of bed and tackle it.

And I did. Ten new pages are written, but will probably translate to more when properly formatted. I'll be wanting to clean them up and make sure they're fine this afternoon. I'm thinking of breaking the scene in two and adding a third scene (of a character you haven't met yet), that is also already written and needs to be revised.

If all goes well, I could have the pages done by the end of tomorrow. That would be pretty cool.

May you know where you're going today.

P.S. Oh, did I tell you that Luna formally ACCEPTED Keepers of the Flame? i.e. paid me for turning in the full manuscript? I'm going to the bank.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Copy Edits Ad Nauseum

Keepers of the Flame is out -- except for about 8 pages that got mixed in with the copies at Kinkos.

Such a mess it was with all the cuts and stets (leave it as it is) and rephrasing. Then I did the corrections in blue and they wanted them in red so when I finally forced myself to do the second pass yesterday (5 am to noon), I did them in red.

At least I nailed the end, my editor liked that. I still like the book, which is good. I just never want to see it again, which is bad because Author Alterations will be coming up shortly. I usually hand these off to my good friend and editor, Rose Beetem, but she RUNS Mile Hi Con and is busy crazy in October so I will be forced to do them myself, which means they aren't going to get an extremely keen eye for every comma. I'll be checking the cuts and adds.

Next up this week: Singer For a World proposal is due on Saturday. Since I believe that my editor doesn't quite remember that, I'll send it in on Monday. We'd negotiated 30 pages and a synopsis since this is the End of the Series. The synopsis is already written so a little revision there (and boy, I'll be glad to be able to talk about some of the twists in Keepers), also, I think I have my 30 pages, but I need to clean them up from critique group comments.

And change pursuant to blog comments (the change from cat to Lladranan Songbird). I also need to dig up a research map (small Victorian theater). But I see no reason that I can't make that deadline.

Even considering Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference this weekend (Thursday evening, Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon).

May you finish a project and feel good today.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Seasons in your story

So, what seasons are you writing about in your stories? Due to professional constraints (THEIR profession), Keepers of the Flame takes place the very last of May and through June. Singer for a World will probably be happening now, September.

Heart Fate will take place in the winter.

What determines this and what does it add to the story and how much it adds to the story is up to you -- sometimes.

I had planned on setting Keepers of the Flame earlier, in April and May, but new doctors usually start their careers July 1. That's pretty much summer to me, even in Colorado.

I wanted Heart Fate to be a year later than Heart Dance, and Heart Dance was in the winter. Heart Dance was in the winter for one reason only -- it had to be no more than a month or so after Heart Quest because it would have been Very Slow of a hero, even a beta guy like Saille, to wait around more than a month after he found his HeartMate to go after her. So instead of a lush garden, Lahsin will be working with a dead garden, which DOES make it harder for her.

USE your weather and your seasons and the way that your seasons change in your book. They can affect events. They can affect your entire plot line, atmosphere and characters. Do your characters like the season they are in or are they suffering? What are they doing for fun? Is it usual for them to do that for fun during this season? What obstacles come with the season? What conflict between characters?

The Luna books usually don't take place over more than a month, so I'm usually stuck in one season, and with one weather. That's a little different in Keepers of the Flame. ;)

But In Real Life I woke up today and knew that fall had started. I won't be sleeping with windows all the way open in my bedroom and office until NEXT summer, let alone need a fan. So though the days are going to be gorgeous and summery (hopefully through October), the nights are now nippy and more like autumn.

How does the change of the seasons affect your characters? Their inner and outer conflicts? Your plot? Consider it.

May you enjoy all the seasons of your work.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Additional Reference Book for the Same Matter

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Does this help?

:) Actually I am interested in Stillrooms, those places where herbal infusions, oil extracts, etc. were made. Lahsin is currently sleeping in a building dedicated to such processing and I wanted to know the equipment. She may or may not be using it, but she does know how.

I think one of my modern herbals also has something on this....

May any research you do today spark creativity.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Latest Research Volume

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All right, guess. Why did I buy this? ;)

May you enjoy any research you do today.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Taxa or Idy? Names

I was going through my original writings of Heart Fate and found the old name of my female antagonist. Taxa, no doubt derived from some species or sub-species of Yew, her Family.

But I hadn't saved it to my notes and when I had to name her again, it became Idy. Still not a pleasant name to the ear, but not as ominous as Taxa.

Revised paragraph: I thought I'd used Idy in Heart Dance, and once it's in print, it's set. Now I'm torn, I've been thinking of the middle-aged harsh and arrogant woman as Idy, but I believe Taxa would be better.

Your thoughts?

Make sure you add such things to your overall notes page.

May you find all you need for your creativity today.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


First, I think I forgot to blog yesterday, so to those of you who actually look at this every day, my apologies.

I had a friend ask me about ebooks yesterday.

I am used to the price of ebooks. Yes, they may be shorter, and the ones I downloaded yesterday morning were $6.49. So they aren't really inexpensive.

But, if you're writing for a publishing company that specializes in ebooks like Cerridwen Press, an off-shoot of Ellora's Cave, you get very little (if any) advance but quite a bit (30%, I think) of royalties.

If you're writing for an established New York publisher it does, of course, depend on your contract, but it is nowhere near that amount, definitely under 10% (usually much lower than 10%).

I have an old Casio ppc that I love, that I bought because of its big screen to read ebooks on. Problem is, I like the .lit format, but my old Casio doesn't handle the NEW .lit, which limits me to what I can buy.

So in the area of the publishers releasing books in the new .lit, I don't know the work.

I will admit that sometimes I read ebooks and cringe at the writing. More often than I read NY published books and cringe at the writing (though that happens too). I have a couple of favorite ebook authors and that's it. And, if I try an ebook author and cringe at the writing, I don't buy him/her again.

OTOH, there are ebook authors who have made the jump into NY Times bestsellers, and deservedly so, Mary Janice Davidson and Angela Knight to be specific. I read them on ebook and I read them in print (though I still think Mary Janice handled a plot point much better in the ebook Undead and Unwed than in the print, and that was because our publisher limited that particular scene).

That's my take on ebooks.

May whatever format you read or write in please you today.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Catie Murphy made me -- Nerd Test

NerdTests.com says I'm a Slightly Dorky High Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Ok, I actually can get a globe of the ancient world in 15 seconds (I use it as a BOOKEND, folks!) I can also get a slide rule, and a slide rule for measuring concrete, and, HEY, though they didn't ask, an abacus. Doesn't mean I can use any of the above, but I have them in my office.

And, yeah, I've been reading about a real historical event. I am currently fascinated with my new favorite movie, Apollo 13. Just got "Lost Moon" by James Lovell et al. and read it yesterday. Very dry.

Going back to re-read A Night to Remember soon.


Guess I am a Dorky Nerd.

Writer's Card

Well, I went back to the metaphysical fair yesterday since I wanted a piece of jewelry and had a reading since I was there (and picked up a few tumbled stones...sigh...I can't resist, got a really nice bloodstone).



And also that the "Writers" tarot card is the Ace of Swords, which, I guess, I didn't know.

Naturally, I focus on the negative but it was such a positive reading that I will go back to her if she comes to the fair next St. Pat's day ;) (they are 2ce a year).

May your best hopes for the future manifest.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

September 1

I'm up and hobbling around. I went to the local Metaphysical Fair (where I've been buying jewelry from my jeweler who doesn't have a shop for years), and got a chair massage and he really worked me over. So the muscles haven't quite warmed up and I'm hobbling around.

But the first pass at the copy edits are done. I still have my mentor's comments. I handled most of her big problems before I submitted the ms., but by the time I was done with my own cutting I just wanted the sucker out of the door, so I didn't look at her line edits. Then. Now, of course, I need to.

My editor was very cognizant of my chapter hooks and so I've been moving them around, trying to make them better. The thing is, I formatted the ms. in the format my editor likes and I can't really judge the page length of the chapters myself this way.

I am hoping to be all done with this by the time Tuesday rolls around and I can get back to Heart Fate.

May you enjoy the holiday.

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