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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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Different Strokes

I was reading a lyrical paragraph in Nora Roberts, The Hollow, that spoke of a paranormal-magical concept (sensing all living things), that I've used myself in my books. So I was looking at this paragraph and it was very lovely, but it wasn't quite right. Not for ME.

Which is really fun. I studied the paragraph, reconstructed it to have a "better" payoff line that was more in my OWN world view.

The fascinating part of this is that it shows the different slants of how different writers consider their magic, their word choice, their paragraph construction.

I hope I'm making sense.

Sometimes when the "editing when reading" bug hits me (in ANYONE'S work), it's just simple word choice -- I'd use something else here, or that sentence is awkward. But this piece made me go beyond that, emphasized the differences (Nora is a fabulous writer), and seeing/expressing that difference is a joy to behold.

All right, I'm tired, I stayed up way too late last night and Tommy woke me up at the usual time. I hope I got the point across, except...Celebrate Diversity.

May your mind be open to lovely, different experiences today.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Stuck -- Book time -- Real time -- Romance

3am Monday morning. I'm up because I slept a lot on Sunday and when I awoke I felt lousy. And I was also stuck. I didn't know exactly what happened next in Heart Change. Well, I had set up X, Y, and Z. Right now it's mostly a fantasy, the plot is all there, so I should concentrate on the romance. Well, they have had their first sizzling kiss, then more plot.

The problem is book time vs. real time. I had this problem in Heart Thief (book 2 with the thief/outcast Ruis Elder and the judge Ailim D'SilverFir), and this is also one of those things I believe might make people think romances aren't believable.

In "real" time, I anticipate Heart Change to take two weeks -- and most people don't think people can really develop a solid relationship in two weeks, especially since the circumstances are only a little out of the ordinary.

In "book time" I think I'm on chapter 10 and I've finished the second day (this is typical for my books). Cratag and Signet have known each other a day and a half. They've kissed, but the romance is progressing slowly, a day and a half, even in book time (100+ ms pages) is too soon to jump into bed with these two characters.

Back to the stuckness. I usually let it stew, and have decided to go with set-up Y, though I hadn't planned on doing that before.

Ah, the tea kettle is whistling, and I hope I made some sense. Book time does not equal real time. By the end of the story, even if it's only a few days, lives must change. In a romance, folks tend to fall in love fast if the real time is only a few days.

Anyway that's my take. May you have a carefree day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Best Advice

I was thinking lately that I've spoken more about my daily life than writing and publishing.

So, if you REALLY want to be a writer, here's the best advice I can give you.

Never quit.

May you have a lovely day,

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Critique today. We were a very small bunch (4) and worked on a historical romance; women's fiction with paranormal elements, romantic suspense (Mentor's Intrique proposal), and Heart Change.

No terrible stuff to be fixed by anyone. I have editing comments and to add a couple of reactions, a bit more anxiety....

Anyway, going to a booksigning of a fellow RMFW author.

May you all enjoy the autumn day.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Research Trip

I went up in the mountains today to do some photos with the new camera of the towns of Idaho Springs and Georgetown which are Steep Springs in Heart Journey. The story starts in Summer but I anticipate it ending in the fall. July-September.

It rained and Georgetown was packed with people to look at the golden aspen. I DO have photos, and figured out how to basically use the camera, BUT I haven't loaded the software yet.

I'm leary about putting that on my desktop, mainly because it still takes about 20 minutes to boot and wordperfect to be available to use. It does not need one more program jockeying for priority upon start up. So maybe tonight.

Major sleet at the top of Guanella Pass...I'd like more sunshine pics so I may go up next week, too. I didn't get photos of Idaho Springs, either. I got a priceless pic, though, that I can use on my website when Heart Journey (current title) comes out.

Exhausted but will be making boxed garlic cheddar potatoes to go with my excellent roast beef (made by the supermarket).

May you enjoy any sort of activity you do in the name of research...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

End of Contest Season

The published romance novel contest season begins in November, with the National Readers' Choice award and the RITA(r) being due by November 30/December 1. It ended on the 15th with the Barclay Gold contest.

So there are only three more contests to be determined: The Maggie (Protector of the Flight is a finalist!), the Laurel, and the Barclay Gold.

So I have over a month to start thinking about which contests I might enter next year. Mostly to continue word of mouth about my books.

May you enjoy thinking of the future today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I am getting (again) my schedule down. Up and turn on the machines, feed the cats, work. Then check email. Break (today it was lunch with Mom). Additional work on writing or promo or whatever in the pm. Today I worked on my website. The Free Your Artist Page always takes the greatest amount of time and thought (or vice versa).

I will be making my plane reservations for SC late October in the next few days, so if anyone has any requests, let me know...

Friday I will be going up to Georgetown to take some research pics, see the trees, and I'll be driving my Mom and me in her car.

That's it for the day. May you have a good rhythm today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Which Pirate are you most like?
Your Result: You Are Most Like Elizabeth Swann!!

You are daring and independent. You hate being restricted and are likely to get in some trouble for your freespirited acts. And yet you still have that civil, proper side of you. People look to you for a great idea.

You Are Most Like Jack Sparrow!!
You Are Most Like Will Turner!!
You Are Most Like Barbossa!!
Which Pirate are you most like?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Aaaargghh! May you go swashbuckling through your day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pacing -- Story Set Up - Style

With the issuance of Heart Fate and finishing the galleys of Echoes in the Dark, I've finally accepted that I may go on too long with the set up of the book in the front and speed too fast at the end. I have been trying to watch my endings, but now I'll be more aware of the beginning chapters.

In Heart Fate I probably didn't need all the testing I put in, and I know I probably should have cut at least one scene of Jikata "learning" in Echoes in the Dark. So I'll watch that more, especially since I'm still in the set-up part of Heart Change. I did work on a scene today that might not be needed in the book, except I want to use a bit from it in the ending. Not sure how that will work out...

In my own defense, I'll say that if I had had a few months to think about each book before turning it in and doing revisions, I would probably be more detached from those scenes in the front that I think I needed and would have cut them.

So, my current schedule is: Heart Change due end of February, out beginning of November (near my birthday next year ;) ). Heart Journey due, I think, in December 2009, and the last due in December 2010. This should be an easy enough schedule that I can work a couple of more book proposals and even books into it.

Well, I'm caught up in my chronological writing of Heart Change, and now can do new stuff in chron order or out.

May today be pleasant for you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Weighing the Scales of Life

PhotobucketConfession time, so if you're not comfortable with that, just skip.

I walked into my bedroom last night, tired after doing a day of Not Much and out of my mouth comes these words and this feeling (yes, this happens to me): What if this (life) never gets any better?

I immediately answer: This is pretty good.

I do that a couple of times, fall into bed and think a little about Heart Change and fall asleep. This morning I have dreams of a doppleganger pretending to be me, and a camera with vital photos that WAS my camera (in real life I got a new one) but I didn't take the photos and I need to get them back before political assassination goes on.

Tommy wakes me from the dream. I think I was making little distressed noises because he ALWAYS wakes me from these sorts of dreams.

But I don't get up, I think about that question I asked myself. First, whoever/whatever promised that life would always get better? And some years back I was in a dreary day-to-day life where I honestly didn't care if my life ended (then they downsized that job and I was simply terrified).

And life can get better.
Life would be better if my house was cleaner and less cluttered. See? I can do that, I can make my life better if I want to.

Life would be better if I exercised. (I believe this from past experience but have yet to get off my butt lately). See? I can do that.

Life would be better if I wrote more stories I liked, different stories than the Heart books (though I like them). See? I can do that too.

Life would be better if I was a New York Times Bestseller (yes, I want this). Now THAT I can't do. I don't have the print run to do it. My publisher can do that if they believe in me (and I think my career IS growing, slowly, incrementally, but growing). You can do that, if you like my books, you can buy them and tell people about them.

But the last section isn't within my personal reach so I shouldn't have it as a goal. I can work hard and write the best book I can with the resources I have (which I always do). You can either like the book or not, but that is the only thing in this New York Times Bestseller scenario that I can do.

I could throw money at promotion (if I had mucho), but even at my print runs, this would not make much difference (this I know).

The best I can do to make my life better is to continue what I'm doing...and try to write faster or shorter books that come out faster...

And I can de-clutter the house. And exercise. And spend more time with my friends. And if Life or Fate or the Universe wants me to have a mate, TPTB will send one my way, 'cause I think I'd have to trip over him.

Well, better get on with writing. That's the philosophy for this year or this autumnal equinox. In seasons following I may or may not burden you with philosophy again. I don't do it often, do I?

And there are more wonders out there than are dreamt of in our philosophies, so think about the wonder of life today. I'm going to buy a couple of chairs so I can work outside in the lovely weather.

May you have a kind day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Writer's Life

Well, I've recovered from the conference, cleaning person came yesterday and I got out of the house and drove to a bookstore and signed "stock" or "inventory." Reminding you all that there is a good amount of Heart books at the Lone Tree Borders.

Am about to go up and take a bath, then grocery shop for food I can eat at home, THEN will FINALLY get back to Heart Change.

What I didn't tell you all (and am getting over the shock of it) was that publisher dumped Echoes in the Dark on me a week ago Friday evening with the request to download and print out the first bit so I could send them chunks to be in their office by the following Thursday AM (essentially 5 days). Full ms came Sat. I put in some 15 hour days...broken by family party, booksigning, the promo stuff I listed during that week...thus the reason the Lone Tree signing was not well promoted by me, and why I didn't work several days on my lecture and ran out of material...the RMFW Memorial Table was ok, but not as nice as I wanted to make it.

A week ago seems like a year past and two weeks ago like five years...I'd have to look at the blog to see what I did.

Anyway, after the Absolutely Necessary shopping trip (naturally, stocked up on tea walked down during a break and picked some up). I'll be back to look at Heart Change, and find out where I left it.

Next big activity is Mile Hi Con where I'm doing a very short seminar about writing software which, of course, I have to research again...or maybe I'll just open Write Way which I bought last year. I have Dramatica which I use when I'm desperate and Power Structure. You will note that most of these are plotting programs, though I think they do have help on character generation...

That's it for me. May you feel fulfilled at work today.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

RMFW Day 2

Well, I got to the conference about 9, and gave the panel on What Genre Are You, then did my 10 things in the first 3 pages and zoomed through it, with a half hour to spare...(due to circumstances beyond my control last week I was unable to prepare as much as I wanted to)...so there were very few questions which I had anticipated having more, but my DEAR friend Janet Lane helped me out by asking questions until others chimed in and we had discussions. Urgh.

Then I went to a wonderful hypnosis, creative visualization session with Lynda Hilburn (ok, when she pitched to the conference I told Peggy to do this one)...in the middle I "went away" as usual from a mountain meadow of wildflowers to return to this octagonal wooden tower with mist outside...anyway, very relaxing.

We didn't have any of our lunchtime similies win this year...and the kickoff speach by PJ Parish was excellent. Gotta go now.

May your day be filled with the pleasure of good friends.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

RMFW -- Day 1

Day 1 of the conference went great. Rained most of the morning but was sunny when I left. I am doing the Memorial table for past members, celebrating the lives of three -- Jack Bickham (who died a while back but WAS a member), Debra Moss and Patricia Werner. I waited until I received some books of Jack's and Pat's from amazon before I left.

Hosted a table on Fantasy and we had a good talk about suspending disbelief. Hung out with some agents later, some friends too, then drove home. I'm not staying at the hotel this year.

Today is the big simile contest (our group usually places because of my wonderful critique partner, Steven Moores who has a knack). My panel with Cassie Miles (mentor) and Christine Goff on genres (and from what I saw in the contest, people NEED to know their genre), and my workshop on 10 things you need in your first 3 pages, is today, too. I'm a little nervous because I included the inciting incident and I'm not sure it needs to come that soon. Still refining the lecture.

May your day go smoothly.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Signing tonight 7pm -- Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Colorado Gold Conference

It's that time of year again and starting this afternoon, I'm going to be gone to RMFW. Since my friend Sharon Mignerey isn't here, I didn't take a room, so I'll be coming home. I've popped home to check on the cats anyway, and I do love my waterbed...

This evening Jeanne Stein will be speaking and we'll have a public signing at 7pm. I'll probably be back home late.

Tomorrow I do a new seminar, 10 things you need in your first 3 pages...and I'm fretting about it.

Anyway that's it. Rainy today in Denver and Dingo is appalled that outside is WET.

May you enjoy your Friday.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Unpublished Work -- Pitch for The Token

I think I've spoken of this before, but I had three full manuscripts finished before I sold my fourth, HeartMate. This came up in the chat, there were some questions about my unpublished work.

Well I was working as a paralegal then (as I did for many years), and my friends at the office were very supportive. One of them insisted that I print out my book (written before I had hooked up with ANY writing/critique group), so I have a bound copy of my first book.

On the whole it is terrible, I recall, wandering POV, little conflict between the hero and heroine, though it was a contemporary, it reads more like a historical, weak plot...poor hero motivation...

But I thought I still had the pitch, and I do:

The Token is a contemporary romantic suspense with paranormal elements; a story of an inheritance and a curse. There is a hidden fortune, murderous traps, a sentient house, and a threatening killer. Both the hero and heroine embark on quests to break the curse. The hero also must overcome his disillusionment with love, and the heroine must convince her new family to accept her, as she accepts and adapts to a new life, and a new love.

May you look back on your past and smile.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I recently saw a review that said Heart Dance and Heart Fate are similar in tone. That puzzled me a little, but I finally decided that "tone" is "style" or "voice" and most of my work would be similar. Some books might be lighter, have more light or dark moments, but it would still be my voice.

So, may you know your own voice today.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Borders Signing TUESDAY 7pm -- Jeanne Stein

We will be signing at the Lone Tree Borders in Park Meadows, 7pm etc.

Love to see you there!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

B&N Readers Club Thread is UP!

I have a thread going at the Barnes & Noble Reading Community
(Romance Reads) here:


If you want to discuss anything...all day tomorrow especially.

Thanks and may your day be sunny and warm.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

As the Story Grows -- Heart Fate

I said a while back that some scenes were set up for stories down the line, series scenes. Sometimes I can integrate these well, and occasionally I can't, and now and then I like to include them to tease the author, such as introduce-a-new-hero/heroine scene.

Of course people walk on stage now without me calculating and that usually means they will end up dead or married off.

Things that changed in Heart Fate: Lahsin was supposed to have a cat. I decided a dog would be better for her and the series, and I had fun contrasting "philosophies" of dogs vs. cats.

The Turquoise House and it's subplot grew completely, (I cut a bit of this subplot so will put some up on WORLDS), many times I'd be writing and the new scene would appear...which was fun, but it also led to a subplot that had to be integrated into Lahsin's life as well as Tinne's and needed to be tied up on its own so it lengthened the book. Also here is a tiny set up for later (clever readers get a hint as to which character will eventually claim it). AND, I have enough "juice" in that plot that can GIVE ME CLUES if I want to use them later on. That's the best.

Tinne's fear and where it came from.

Tinne's creative Flair (though I'd thought of this before I didn't include it before and wish I had).

In a bit I'll post of the threads I needed to pick up from previous books and weave in. One was the biggest of them all...

May you enjoy all the new and old in your life today.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Covers -- Heart Duel, with excerpt

PhotobucketI have stories for all my covers. Note the Heart Duel cover (which is the same all across the web), it is NOT the same on the book. This is the original cover art for Heart Duel, and more vibrant than the actual cover. Also the round diamond is replaced by a boomerang shaped ruby.

Picky? Well, you see, I waited to describe the sword on the cover in the story until I got the art, then, of course, they changed the art on me, so I definitely noticed.


[Holm's] own eyes were probably the same cold pewter hue as T’Holly’s. “I would never have believed that my Family would be so ungenerous as to deny me my HeartMate.” He unbuckled his main gauche, sword, and blaser and placed them on T'Holly's desk. They all had Holly symbols.

His father stared wildly at the weapons, as if trying to gather his wits.

Holm summoned the ceremonial HollyHeir sword from his suite. The intricate hand guard and central diamond gleamed in the summer sunlight. “I see you are collecting swords today,” Holm said.

He looked down at his clothes. With a Word he re-tinted his trous from dark green to black. The coloring wasn't altogether successful. It looked as if he had a scabrous disease. He shrugged. He had failed in everything and was past caring about appearance.

He shucked his vest and dropped it on the desk, then turned and left.

"You can't go into the streets defenseless!" T'Holly shouted.

Holm didn't stop.

He closed the door behind him and nearly ran into his G'Uncle Tab. Something seemed wrong with Holm's vision.

"Here, boy." Tab steadied him. The weapons he carried clanged. "Damn' stupid Lord, stubborn, thick-headed...." he muttered as he strapped a plain broadsword and blaser on Holm.


And you do know that when I transition to the younger generation, the oldest person in the series will have to Pass Onto The Wheel Of Stars? Of course the Celtans definitely believe in reincarnation.

May you enjoy the view today.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Futuristic/Fantasy Soaps...

Chat went very well, I thought. If only the signing at Lone Tree is as successful! There were actually so many people there I had to use the slider on the right side of the screen to see them all (ok, only 2 or 3 more than that, but good for me, still).

So someone asked at the chat: Did Tinne ever tell his HeartMate he loved her?

And I answered (chat is quick, quick, quick, so answer asap): No, he knew she was his soul mate (HeartMate), but she was young and he was waiting to court her but while he was distracted by his mother's wounding in a street melee his HeartMate was married to someone else and later he married too.

And it struck me that this sounded a LOT like a soap. Really, the only soaps I ever watched were reruns of Dark Secrets (of course) and a few episodes of Knots Landing, I think it was called...


May any surprises you get from your work today be swell.

Chat Tonight, Tattered Cover Lo Do Tomorrow Night with Jeanne Stein and Mario Acevedo

Again, reminding you of the chat tonight at 9pm EDT Novel Talk, and that I'll be at the Tattered Cover moderating the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Writer of the Year panel tomorrow night. Books and a little something extra tonight at Novel Talk (link above).

LOTS of gifts tomorrow night including editor/agent appointments, free conference, etc.

May you enjoy yourself today.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Chat tomorrow night. Heart Fate releases today!

All chats are at 9:00PM Eastern Time at:


Wednesday, 9/3/2008
Robin D. Owens will join us to discuss Heart Fate. Door prize: One lucky winner will receive an autographed copy of Heart Fate as well as a surprise! Moderated by CrazyMo.

Yes, as you know I've been getting some feedback, and today I'll check some of the sites for reviews, and whether they're good or not...

Meanwhile my goofy cat Dingo got in trouble last night when I called him. Not sure what but his face is sooty and swollen and he's not his rambunctious self, so he's off to the vet as soon as that office opens. He's learned that outside is not just an adventure but scary. Naieve no more.

May you have a safely adventurous day.

Monday, September 01, 2008

New Vocablulary Word

Enfilade....I found it used while looking for photos of a villa at Lake Como...oh, the stress of research. Used as "an enfilade of arches" what a lovely phrase.

It's a multitude of architectural features designed with a view at the end...(my paraphrasing), for the real term, take a look at the dictionary definition above.

May you enjoy the language today.

Jayne Ann Krentz on Romantic Reads

I will be there on September 9, but today, Jayne Ann is on, if you have any questions for her!

It IS a community, so you'll need to register.


May you enjoy your heroes today.

Dancing Around Bored Cats

Oh, WOW! I was contacted by B&N about this, but I didn't know I was going to be linked with Jayne Castle, i.e., Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick.

Hopping up and down!


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