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, November 29, 2008

NaNo Winner



4:37 p.m. Friday...and now on to messing with the pages for critique today, the proposal that's been alluring...

May you do something fulfilling today.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday, End Of NaNo, Wordcount as Goals


First, it's Black Friday and I feel the urge to buy something. Now that I've been watching TV again (Dancing with the Stars, the occasional Boston Legal, and most of Eli Stone), I am aware of the sales. And I still need that new TV, and though my brother gave me an old VCR player, I want a new one and a DVD player. But I can't face the crowds so I may just wander down to the tea shop and get a couple of strainers that I need (I have 2 that I've misplaced), and I went to this new local shop with my Mom a few weeks back that had wonderful knit socks (wearing them now, hardly off my feet). So much for Black Friday. I have a terrible feeling that Global Cool will not survive. It opened in the summer, before...

NaNoWriMo is ending in a couple of days and I have 700+ words to do, which means probably this morning. Problem is, when I finish those 700+ words, I won't want to continue on to my full, daily wordcount. I HAVE taken a day or few off...

I think the 200 pages a month is pressing it for me, even as a full time writer. I don't know if it's that I pace myself or think too much, or what. I will say that just the roughing out of a book is excellent for most folks, but I'm not sure I will ever work that way.

Wordcount isn't all (that's my rationalization speaking, since I doubt I will ever in my life win a word war with 3051 in an hour). I HAVE gotten into the habit of thinking when I write, crafting sentences. If it's awkward, I go back, usually if I use the wrong word I will think a little about it, instead of doing **. I rephrase quite often. Not sure whether that really helps the first draft be cleaner or not, since I usually do three, but maybe.

In any case, I don't want anyone who sets their goals as wordcount and "fails" NaNoWriMo or any other writing project to feel a failure or despondent. Catie Murphy was all on revisions and proposals this month (and I'll be getting a proposal out next month, and that is serious thinking/outlining for me and not much wordcount). There was family stuff, etc. And I think 200 pages a month would be daunting for most...except those who have proven they can do it and do it well, like Catie Murphy and Nora Roberts, etc.

I know I spent several days with little or no wordcount sewing together my chapters and polishing them. I am having trouble with Heart Change in that I had this book in mind BEFORE I sold HeartMate which was 7 years ago. I have three terrible events and I'm trying to judge how they go: boom, boom, boom; boom...boom, boom; boom, boom...boom. I've spoken to my mentor and writing buddy about this but am still fumbling.

That's it for now, if I write more, I may not want to get to the book. May you go at your own pace today.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Recall all the friends you've made today, the imaginary as well as the real life ones. Eat, drink, give thanks and dearly love those friends.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This quote was one of the cycling ones on the Denver NaNoWriMo page and it struck me.

"The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life -and one is as good as the other."

Ernest Hemmingway

Enough said, may inspiration for your creativity come to you easily,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NaNoWriMo & Day - Night of Writing Dangerously

I actually posted on My space:

Well, you can all tell that I hang out at blogspot instead of here, but they don't have emoticons and music pics, so I'm here (and will probably copy this over to http://www.robindowens.blogspot.com ).

I am participating in the National Novel Writing Month and slogging along, keeping wordcount on old envelopes, computer files, here and there (which is why it took a big leap last week, I found some stuff). Anyway yesterday was the Day - Night of Writing Dangerously for the Denver metro area of Nanos.

It was in a gorgeous Chinese tearoom, the Seven Cups, with lots of wonderful tea (I had the premium Keemun since I'm a black tea fiend)...and right now I'm having some special Darjeeling that I bought at my local store, Urbanistic Tea and Bike Shop...

A beautiful place with wonderful people all plugged up to laptops. I think there were about 30 of us in there during the day. Excellent day all around, but I am glad to be fiddling around home today (I think I've gotten about 40 words done while reviewing chapter 23 of Heart Change).

And while listening to this music (gongs, chimes, etc. that I got while doing the Summoning Series -- Garden of Serenity) I thought the morning was perfect, even without the sun and not quite above freezing.

And I'm confident that I'll make the 50K of the NaNoWriMo...so, it's been good.

May you enjoy Thanksgiving week, and have a kind day.
Robin (feeling Blessed)

Monday, November 24, 2008

I am HERE Today

Today is the "Night of Writing Dangerously" for the Denver Nannos. I have been here since 11:30 am and have gotten good work done (Passage! Sex!), and will be here for a while yet. I'm not sure when I'll leave. I'd like to experience the evening ambiance and don't really want to drive during rush hour.

Now the trees outside the window are black silhouettes against a darkening bluish sky and night is falling.

I did well, but someone during an hour long word war did more than I will today. Of course I did have a rather fidgety child next to me most of the day, and the place we are is absolutely beautiful...a Chinese teahouse, all pale yellow walls and dark mahogany furniture. Why didn't I know of this place before?

Anyway, I enjoyed my stay here and I'll definitely be doing NaNoWriMo next year.

May you be pleased with your surroundings today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fantasy and Literary Endings

Image hosted by Photobucket.comFirst, I'm sorry to say I don't recall who did this graphic for me. I think she belonged to Site Fights. Apologies.

I've been thinking about this topic for a long time (since my editor wanted me to kill off various people in Echoes In The Dark). I've had conversations with editors, agents, readers, writers and am still stumped...or think that there are two diverging kinds of thought.

I think it depends on Fantasy vs. Dark Fantasy/More Realistic Fantasy. Or maybe the definition of Epic Fantasy (in my mind).

I am of the opinion that if characters suffer through terrible events and triumph they should be rewarded. Of course there is a cost, but there's a reward, too.

I know that there are other authors who will set up a sympathetic character for a thousand pages and then kill him/her off. That's not me. In fact, I'm not sure I could write a story like that, even if the character had to go. I didn't want the animal companion to go, either, and I softened the scene, then took the softness out because it was too syrupy (probably still too soft for many people).

There's no denying that real life can be very dark, and so can fantasy. But what happened to rewarding our characters? I don't get it, and I don't get why a book is more important if it is more "realistic"...less optimistic?

No one can say I totally write fluffy. I will point them to Heart Choice and Heart Quest. Those definitely had darker tones in the book. But my characters still made it through and triumphed and were rewarded.

I guess I'll just repeat that I don't get why happy endings are not acceptable in fantasy.

May you have all the happy endings you want.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Romantic Times Echoes In The Dark Review

"At last the final Summoning is at hand! The story's focus is split between two Exotiques as they must face their fates and discover potential love. This saga has allowed Owens to explore a variety of archetypes and emotions. The results have been enthralling, and this final chapter is explosive and satisfying." Jill M. Smith, Romantic Times

Pretty darn kewl, huh?

Happy dancing with bored cat....

Here's the Summary:
"Summary: Shipbuilder Raine Lindley's summoning from Earth went horribly wrong, placing her in abusive hands instead of in the hands of those who needed her. Finally rescued, Raine and nobleman Faucon Creusse's task is to produce a ship capable of carrying an army to fight the Dark.

World-famous singer Jikata is abruptly summoned to Lladrana by the aging but powerful Singer. Jikata's four-octave range is the last vital piece needed for the Exotiques' battle to save the sentient planet Amee. Six women from a different world and the men who love them are now the last hope to save both Amee and Earth! (LUNA, Jan., 560 pp., $14.95) HOT"

—Jill M. Smith

Hmmm. I didn't think it was that hot, but **shrug**, if it sells more books...
May you enjoy your day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm Not Sure How It Happened

For once, I wanted to keep "law" out of my book...but I set a scene in JudgementGrove...just to introduce some new characters, then next thing I knew I was setting up a legal case for a book a while down the line and one of the characters that was going to be mentioned in passing was front and center.

That happens when I try and keep my background out of a book, next thing I know, it's got a scene about the rules or laws of Celta...urgh.

But, naturally, I like the scene, and we'll see if we keep it...

May you follow your bliss today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Promotion v. Writing

Well, I spoke to my agent yesterday so though I've been up two hours I haven't gotten a word written that wasn't promotion, and I'm tired and hungry...ok, whine, sorry.

But I figured I'd better take care of a couple of promotional things since even though I got up before 6, it was going on 8 am on the east coast. Sometimes having an "extra" two hours is good, sometimes not when I have to do something early my time to make it reasonable back there...

I'm thinking I'll saunter down to Heidi's Deli and get pie. Or maybe to Common Grounds or Cafe Caliente, the Cafe is newish and I haven't been in it yet (ok, not that new, but it's been closed when I considered going in...).

Then I'll have to get back into writing mode instead of rah-rah-rah mode.

A little disgruntled because I'd love to just write. Sigh. And sometimes promotion is a whole lot easier than writing (not today), and I still have a list of things I must do.

I've heard that Echoes in the Dark got a Top Pick from Romantic Times, since I don't have a subscription, I don't know. I did get the Publisher's Weekly review and since it has spoilers I won't post here. But I got the impression that if I'd done wholesale slaughter they'd have been more happy with it.

That's it for today, may you pursue your dreams, whatever they might be.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I got an email from my Berkley editor for ideas for the cover. So I sent her Signet D'Marigold and made some pics of Cratag. Of course the program DOES have men with scarred faces, but not like the sort I envision Cratag having.

It appears like Heart Change will be the title. ;)

So here's Cratag.
Photobucket Photobucket



I liked the armor, though I never thought of people having armor on Celta....huh.

May you enjoy all the characters you meet today.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Broken Links, Mended Lives


I started a story for this anthology (I was invited to submit and I won't be going through the "blind" process). Whether I'll finish it or not, I don't know.

The anthology is for RMFW members only, so if you belong and you have a short story 2500 - 5000 words long, do submit. Here's the link (also above).

May you think outside the box today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Latest Pic

Hee, hee, hee.

May you enjoy your scenery.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Bells (Hours) of Celta

I was getting confused and a little apprehensive that I might not have kept my hours/bells straight, so I went through all the books and listed them. So here they are as follows, with things to think about.

Transition Bell and Third-Bell in the am had been the same, but I can probably make Transition Bell about 4-5 am Celtan time since I have in my notes that there are 28 septhours in a day...so all of my ages may be totally messed up -- everyone a lot older, but I figure that most people won't care too much. ;)


MidMorning Bell
NoonBell – Midday Bell

MidAfternoon Bell
WorkEnd Bell

Evening Bell (a prayer bell, too)
MidEvening Bell

Third-Bell (in the am)
Transition Bell
Week'sEnd Bell

Sunset Bell (which would, of course, vary). Straif Blackthorn was the only one to use this and he is more used to the natural order of sun progression than artificial constructs of time -- and let's not get into Dufleur Thyme...I had a VERY involved scene that I trimmed with the party on Nuada's Sword about the difference in times...because Celta was discovered in the summer, the Celtan New Year starts (in our terms) on November 1...etc. It made my head ache and I figured would just drive my readers crazy.

May you know where you are today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jumping through the scene

Not only do I write out of sequence. I get bits and pieces of a scene and write them, leaving spaces between the pieces then sew them up. Particularly if there's an interesting part that I know I might forget.

So this is how this morning's work looks...I'm about to mend now.


Again, this is a writing process that might or might not work for you.

May you enjoy your work today.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Re-read the post about a "squirrel" being frightened in my back yard (mundane thing). Ahem, it was a skunk. So that makes more sense.

Take care and may your day be pleasantly fragrant.

Process -- Rough First Drafts -- NaNoWriMo

One of the authors I was on a panel with at Worldcon said and I think he was quoting someone else, too) that when authors get together they talk of two things, process and publishing. Because it's different for everyone.

Today I woke up with scenes for one of the book proposals that I'll be working on, and not Heart Change. Due to family circumstances, I did not write yesterday or the day before, so I am lagging in the NaNoWriMo and this new book (Phantom Quartz), doesn't count.

I write out of sequence, then sew together, and sometimes write chronologically, and figure out stuff as I go along. That's my screwy process. So I don't write dirty rough first drafts, like NaNoWriMo advocates (ok, this sounds like rationalization), but right now I need to break chapter 13 up into about 4 pieces, so when I read it to do so, I will polish. I can't imagine writing a completely unpolished first draft. I think my brain would explode.

Anyway, when I DO re-read and polish, those are not the days where I make great word count -- a phrase or sentence here and there -- (more rationalization). So it's going to be tough making up wordcount (but I anticipate doing so). I'll just have to put my butt in the chair more often.

And my Mom called and I need to be over at her place and I've been going back and forth with my agent about whether my Luna books (other than Keepers of the Flame) are out of print or can be found new.

Whew. I've been whining a lot to other folks, so hope this doesn't sound like it.

Bottom line: Your process is probably unique, so cherish it, and if it doesn't fit other's expectations, that's ok.

May your day go smoothly,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Inspiration, Finish One Start Another Immediately

PhotobucketI met a woman at the retreat (I don't think she'll be reading this, and if she does I don't plan on being uncomplimentary) who had great success with her first book...several years ago. It came pouring out of her, she said. And she had some local success with a play that did the same and was performed.

I know she was there to figure out how to do this on a more regular basis, and I don't think I helped her by telling her about Connie Willis. I know Connie fairly well, and she once told me she needed a "critical mass" before a book was ready to write. Whether that is still true or not, I don't know. But I do have a suspicion that she practices her craft every day. And I'm pretty sure she writes even if the work doesn't pour through her.

Bottom line, and every writer from me to Nora Roberts and Stephen King is that you can't wait for inspiration. If you want to be a full-time, employed writer, you write every day. (Ok, I occasionally skip a day or a week, but I know in my bones that I am under deadline and CAN take a break and write -- sometimes the doubting me doesn't think so, but I have past evidence) When you reach author stage you have deadlines, and unless you are a great talent like Douglas Adams, you don't listen to them whiz by. So you can't depend on the muse or inspiration.

Also, it's been my experience that as a writer is finishing one book, other ideas temptingly slither through her/his mind. Good. Sketch them out and the day after you finish writing and/or revising FOR PUBLICATION, pick one and start on them.

Heavy advice for this morning, but I woke up several times during the night and still seem to be on Eastern Time. On the mundane front, I knew there was a skunk eating from the feral cat food dish, but it seems as if something frightened it. In my backyard.

So, that's me, and I got up because I had a couple of lines I needed to insert into the book about Vinni T'Vine's Flair to explain something, so I'm off. Then I think I'll look for petite robes on ebay. This drawing a bath and getting dressed to write, then undressed for the bath seems counterproductive.

May inspiration flood you today (and me, too!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back Home ... Retreats

I'm back home and did some errands and visited one of my favorite restaurants. Today was one of Denver's approx. 65 gray days, I think I saw the weak sun for about 5 minutes an hour ago. Sunset is in about 10 minutes... 4:48 or so...

Here is a pic of my dining room window looking out on the backyard taken last month. Mostly dead and barren now.

I liked the retreat, but I think it was too long. I think I'll be limiting my time away to no more than 10 days...maybe with an extra travel day. I don't have any more long trips until RT in April and I'll keep that under a week.

Tommy is looking better on the expensive venison/duck/anything-but-chicken food. His coat is good and he's gained weight, also another TMI benefit I will refrain from mentioning. He's been close all last night.

I think I'll put my bit about worldbuilding that I did for the master class up, soon, when I find it.

Right now I need to put some words on paper. Lost most of yesterday, with only 300+ words and none today, so I am falling behind the NaNoWriMo schedule.

May you be happy at home,

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Totally Insane Plot

From the Denver NaNoWriMo blog page plot generator.


Um, now, let's see. A coupla centuries in the future there's this family, see, of ten very gifted sisters called "The Flying Squirrels" who were once an acrobat team but our heroine is now a supermodel. One of their number goes on an interstellar trip and gets in trouble and sends out an SOS. The whole group answers and finds buff guys in tights and their true loves (not mutually exclusive).

I think this has been done only a few hundred times.

But it's a fun device. May you have fun today.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Those New Celtan Characters

As I reread the blog and the comments, it occurred to me that that particular book might be something like The African Queen...in general character archetypes.

Let me know how you feel about this.

I can smell the gardenia blooming. May you enjoy the smells of your household today.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Blog Tour -- Dark Magic

DARK MAGIC by Cheyenne McCray
Jake Macgregor has his hands full. As San Francisco’s Captain of the Paranormal Special Forces unit, he and his team are facing a powerful enemy that threatens to bring down the city. With the weight of the world already resting on his broad shoulders, the last thing Jake has time for is romance. So why—after a long, hard day’s fight against evil—are his nights filled with dreams of Cassia?

Cassia is a D’Anu witch whose birthright ensures power and honor beyond imagination. It also forbids the one thing Cassia wants the most: the love of mortal Jake Macgregor. When she intervenes in a skirmish to save his life, the consequences are inescapable—even though the magic they make together is too luscious, and potent, to resist…

May your day be magical,

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Buying Books

I am pleased with the election results and the hope that we will all work to get this country back on track economically. Because, of course, when the economy is tight other things like a massage or expensive books can be thought of as a luxury.

Not sure what libraries carry my work, but I would think less than I like. And while for some, books might be crucial, as many books as they bought a couple of years ago might not be. On the other hand, I usually think of my books as good value for the dough.

I worry about my friend who is a massage therapist. She's going away to take another course in Thai massage to try and make herself more marketable, have more services to offer.

May you worry less about your finances today.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Heart Fate Excerpt -- Reading

This is the excerpt I used for my Mile Hi Con reading. It is right after Lahsin's (heroine) Passage and Tinne (hero) sensed she was having a hard time and came and stayed with her. Strother is a dog.

An itching came at the back of his mind, someone probing for him. He had to leave. G'Uncle Tab be concerned, and it was nearly time for Saille Willow's training.

Tonight was one of the nights that he was supposed to spend in T'Holly HouseHeart. He'd looked forward to the serenity of that, but now he didn't know.

He wanted to stay with Lahsin.

Just being in her presence eased some soreness within him.

That might be a dangerous sign that they were becoming too close. Close enough that he was in danger of more than caring.

He looked around for a memo sphere, didn't see one but there was a writestick and papyrus on the bedstand table. Lahsin's pretty penmanship showed notes on Passage. Tinne didn't read them, but turned the papyrus over and wrote: "No self-defense training tonight. Rest. See you tomorrow evening." He hesitated long over the closing, then scrawled his first name.

When he opened the bedroom door Strother rose from the place he'd been lying across the hall. He inclined his head gravely at Tinne and trotted in gracefully. The bad leg was Healed, moving as strongly as his other three.

He was tall enough to look over the bed. His nose wrinkled. **Smells not like herself. Scared sweat.**

"Passage," Tinne said. The emotional upheaval over Strother might have sparked it.
Strother gazed at Tinne. **This is a good person.**

"I think so."

The dog nodded, studied Tinne from wary eyes. **You are a good person, too, despite you have a cat Fam.**

Tinne bowed. "Thank you."

A half-smile formed on Strother's muzzle. **Famcat did not stay with you when times were hard. Came back afterwards. I tell her that. Not loyal like a dog.**

With a chuckle, Tinne shook his head. Strother was more intelligent than he appeared.

Strother studied Lahsin. **She might be a good FamWoman.** Tinne heard loneliness in the sentence. **I could help her. I am big and strong and tough and mean to bad ones.** He lifted and rotated his once-crippled leg. **My leg is good now. I could leave, but that would not be loyal.** His gaze slid to Tinne. **She helped me. She fed me. She took me to D'Ash.**

"She paid for your Healing with her skill."

The dog snorted. **Pay, pay, pay. Humans obsessed with pay. Doing what feelings say to do is more important.**

Tinne stared.

**Cats think of this 'pay' stuff, too.** Strother's lip curled.

That was true.

**My feelings say to stay and become Fam to Lahsin. I like her very much.** He hopped onto the chair Tinne had vacated, curled up and watched Lahsin. **She will love me. That is best.**

May you enjoy time with friends today.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Wonderful News!

Amazon's 10 Best Romances of 2008


Heart Fate is #6!

Wowie Zowie!

May you have excellent news today.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Visiting Cat

She comes in the morning for breakfast. This is today -- the rain has gone away but the sea is still nicely rough.

May you enjoy the view.

Writing With Others

PhotobucketNow that I've been through a couple of retreats -- a week long one here last year and one at Fairplay in August -- I know that I like to write with others in the room. That doesn't mean talking, it means hearing the click of fingers or feeling the energy, or whatever. And I like it best when writing is all that's going on. No classes I feel guilty missing if I'm writing.

I believe this has come about since I write mostly alone and live alone and have for a while. It's not like going to the coffee house because at the coffee house others are there to meet or chat or whatever and can distract me.

Just writing with others.

May you enjoy your play or work today.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

New Celtan Characters

I was thinking this am and writing notes about the series when I discovered that I wanted at least two more Celtan characters of the younger generation. The heroine came first. She's going to be a Licorice -- of the public librarian Family, and I figured out how and when I'll introduce the boy.

So, another rubbing hands, heh, heh, heh moment.

May you enjoy an-ti-ci-pation today.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Short Story

It's rare that I write a short story (ok, nearly never), but I promised Linnea Sinclair to do one for an anthology for Romantic Times convention. I cleared it with my Berkley editor, and have had an idea in mind as part of the backstory of Heart Journey.

It isn't done, but I started it this am and plan to finish it this evening, after I give my last class "Survive to Write, Write to Survive, How to hang in there until you're published, practical tips."

So I'm going to be a tease. Do not read further if you don't want to be teased, because I will not be posting the full short story on my website until after Romantic Times in April.


Zanth's whiskers twitched. The smell was incredible. Incredible and wonderful and with the scent of great Flair magic.

He padded warily through the night and the bushes that rose high above his head. He'd never been out of the city of Druida before. Here on his FamMan's southern, overgrown estate there were creatures that might try and make a mouthful of him. But he was a canny and clever cat, the pre-eminent cat of Druida, and therefore, of course, the whole world of Celta.

The bushes loomed and rustled with animals and midnight noises. He placed each paw carefully, flexed his claws. There was treasure up ahead and he meant to have it.


May you enjoy something new today.

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