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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Thursday, January 31, 2008


I have a friend who sends me these daily, sometimes I chuckle, sometimes I do, indeed LOL. One of my readers said Ilexa, Tinne's FamCat, was too mean so I've made her a bit more loving, but the dog steals the show this time.

May you laugh out loud today.



Working hard, update soon, feeling good about Heart Fate.


May you be organized today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Resource Blog -- Word Choice

I had originally planned this blog to be a resource for writers on writing and publishing. It's become more personal. Probably because it's a daily thing. Planning articles and advice takes time, easier just to say what's going on maybe with a soupcon of advice.

Two "advice"s in that sentence. I DID use the thesaurus but only "recommendation" appealed to me and it doesn't quite fit. If this were a manuscript, I'd reword the sentence, but since it's not, it will stay.

Did several chapters yesterday, cutting two lines per page, slow going. This morning I got up at 4 and did a bit more, changed one scene from five pages to three and feel like I should have left it, but, oh, well, every little bit counts.

I plan on continuing to do the two lines bit until I am bored out of my mind, then will look at the sweeping cuts others have given me.

Not really sure how long my editor will let me go. It WILL be trade paperback, but if I run long, Berkley shrinks the font. And it will probably come out in mass market next year. Still, there's only so much I can do in the next couple of days, and I want to clean up some problems, too. Urg.

Try not to wait until the last minute to finish your book. There, good advice.

May you go forth and do great stuff today.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Editing -- Cutting

Well, I've started. The book is not tight, so I'm working on that first, which is time intensive. My mentor liked the book, cut one group scene (which she loathes), and said she thought another scene was setting up a villain (wish I'd thought of that before!) since so much importance was attached to it, so I can cut a lot of it.

Janet Lane is my toughest critiquer and that ms. is still out...pant, pant.

Just took a break to go to my mentor's and get my ms. Her building is in rehab and walked up to the 6th floor, then to the bank. So, now, I really want to get back to work. Long days ahead, I think. But I can spend longer days on editing.

May you have an easy work day.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Heart Fate

I've gotten out arcs of Heart Fate to my beta readers -- five, the most ever. I've done one, two and three, but never four or five.

Heart Fate is not an action packed book, much more about relationships. I've heard back from one of my readers who was looking at it from an emotional trauma POV and she loved it. But she likes relationship/character books best. So my mentor, the person who loves plot, will be a good balance.

But of the five I've heard back from two with favorable comments.


I had critique at my house yesterday and ran the arc across town, so that took up all of the day.

Today I did brunch...and printed out the book to look at myself, but haven't been able to force myself to look at it. My indulgence (cleaning person) comes tomorrow and neither of us like me to be in the house... so tomorrow pm for sure I'll be working on it...hard copy.

As for Beta Readers, I consider them very, very important. Most important is critique group, but when we meet once a month, that doesn't help for most of the book. And seeing sections once a month doesn't always let you see how a story scans.

I ran out of ink on my own copy, but I have a backup -- but printing out 2 copies...and mailing express...very expensive. Sigh.

May you enjoy your rest today.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

No release

PhotobucketYes, as I was drawing closer, closer, closer to the end of Heart Fate I was expecting that "WOW! I'VE DONE IT!!! THE BOOK IS FINISHED!!" exhilaration, champagne in the blood feeling.

And I didn't get it much. Right now, it's a quiet pleasure, I managed to make it through the ordeal and out the other side.

Actually the real feeling was OMG, nausea, this is WAY too long. How am I gonna cut 74 pages in a week! Actually, I think there are scenes that can be cut, some set up scenes, maybe two can be combined that I included near the end today. Maybe I cut one of Lahsin's Passage fugues. All options. I'll let my beta readers take first whack at it.

I still need to tinker with it, add a bit of motivation, yes, ADD. A little bit here and there.

I'm really considering whether to keep scenes that set up for books down the line. There was one scene I was thinking of including but didn't write that would set up for the next book.

And there's a lot of worldbuilding stuff...this is how Flair works...

Well, it's done at least and I did do stickers all over my engagement journal. But I do miss that really exciting moment. I don't think I've had it since Heart Duel.

Love to all,

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tinne -- My Pics to Editor

I use City of Heroes a lot to visualize my characters, though there are, of course, great limitations. There aren't as many men's faces as women, and the costumes don't always fit my imagination. Sometimes the people are only an approximation of my characters (like Dufleur), the best looking one is Alexa from Guardian of Honor, I think.

Anyway, Tinne here is so-so. I DID want him in fighting robes, they just aren't quite like these and they are dark green, not black, guess that didn't show well, or make as much as a statement. I also wanted him in a place that looked a little like FirstGrove in Winter. That was a challenge since all my characters are level 1 since I don't play them and this setting, Croatoa, is about level 20+, so getting him there and taking the screen shots without him dying was iffy. I think I had to make him a level 3. Looks like they picked up the colors from the character generation background, phooey. I wanted to show the knotwork on the pants.





May you find pics that match your imagination today.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heart Fate Cover

Since I needed it for the ad, I asked for it. Honest feedback is appreciated.

May you enjoy all the images of your day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Writing and Promo

Today I worked on the climax, then I wrote and submitted my first ad for Heart Fate. You may notice something new.

I'm tired and need to go back and work more on the climax, and maybe eat, since I missed lunch and had a light breakfast.

May you enjoy your day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


So, I'm thinking about geography. The climax of Heart Fate takes place in a park. Now, before this morning I thought the park would just be a regular round park somewhere that I'd figure out when I got there.

I got there.

But then I decided that for a plot point, the park should be on a cliff side, which means, of course, north or south of the spaceship Nuada's Sword, which pretty much makes up the western border of the city. So I wrote it in that way.

The city of Druida is a mess because, as I think I said before, I believe I put several settings in the same place. Like any "mayor" I'm trying to slowly straighten this out and make a better city. ;)

Eating lunch, I decided that the plot point might be better off taking place somewhere else, thus the park can go back...somewhere. So now I have to think about where...

When I go back and read all the books (which I already should have done), I think that I'll get out a piece of paper and roughly draw where things are. (BTW, it was fascinating to see J.K. Rowling's sketch of Hogwarts and environs as shown in one of the additions to the movies).

Meanwhile, I'm thinking of putting this small, shabby park somewhere near both CityCenter and an area where lowerclass nobles live.

Decisions, decisions.

And, of course, I have to go back and change what I've written. And re-write the plot point/character growth.

May you have easy decisions today.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I took yesterday off. I shouldn't have, but I did. I didn't even look at emails. Saturday I walked to the RMFW Board meeting at my local library and my photogray glasses weren't good enough to handle the snow-blindness on the way back. A short walk, but a headache that stuck with me the rest of the day. Then I think that I ate something bad.

Anyway, Saturday was minimal work before the meeting, and yesterday was nil. Reread some books: Born in Fire, Born in Ice and Eileen Wilks new one, sorry I don't have the name at my fingertips and I want to finish this so I can drag my you=know down to work. I have been working almost exclusively downstairs at the dining room table which is shoved into a corner.

Snowing again today, and gray, which will make it colder downstairs, but I've downloaded more subliminal music and put it on the laptop, so I'm hoping that will help out. Some NOT subliminal music, The 10 Minute Chakra Balancing (it has 3 time lengths and I think it was actually the 20 minute one), was playing randomly on the laptop as I did the dishes and I liked that very much.

Anyway, that's the NO news. May your day be productive.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Listen to the Radio Segment

I'm a half hour in, but Jane Toombs is worth listening to. DID give a tiny secret recipe and also revealed something in public that only my family and close friends know. So there!

Sun is out and I am cheerful. Made enough word count yesterday to be almost caught up and good progress in sewing the book together. Now I must prepare for an RMFW board meeting -- may get a little writing in before.

May you meet your goals today.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Urgh -- Wrong POV

Ok, so I was going along, stitching my scenes, had done one in Lahsin's POV, set up the next transition in Tinne's, opened the file and it was in Lahsin's POV.

This happens occasionally, actually less often than you might think. I can usually recall what POV the scenes are in, but I've been mixing them around, adding and subtracting, and...well, it WAS only a month ago that I wrote it. But, I dragged it out of my Holds file. I hadn't thought that I would use it...

Sigh. This makes a slower day than anticipated.

***Later. It WAS slow going, but I successfully changed the POV and layered in some of Tinne's emotions that I think made the scene richer.

May your day go well.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Free Online Chat is Available

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/MelissaAlvarez Didn't know this until I tried it myself. It's on the left hand side. You probably need chat software. I'da posted it earlier if I realized...

So no charges apply.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

THURSDAY 11AM EST -- Live and avaliable for questions

The link is http://blogtalkradio.com/MelissaAlvarez and the call in
number for listeners who want to talk with me, is 347-215-8473.

Love to hear from you!

May you (and I) be cool, calm and collected.

Surrender the Manuscript

I took yesterday off, though I did read through and tinker with a couple of chapters. I have to abandon the word count, it's not going to get me where I want to go -- getting the book sewn together, ready for beta readers, and in by the end of the month. So it looks like this is going to be an hours thing. Six-eight hours a day. I may make wordcount, I may not.

Catie Murphy has a wonderful Pirate Flag on her blog/website that says "Surrender the Manuscript" and that's where I am now.

Meanwhile, here's something that was amusing. I obviously answered the questions "correctly."

You're Egypt!

Curator of ancient mystical secrets, your life on the surface is fairly
typical these days.  Though you are in denial about more things than most people.
 Nevertheless, you're trying to convince people that you're safe despite your more
volatile and unstable times that seem to be behind you.  You like cats a whole lot.
 You'd probably really appreciate The Blue

Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

May you enjoy wherever you are today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Up Too Late Again

Got the wordcount done by about 6:30 pm, them answered emails, and messed around on the net.

I've been fighting a cold off and we'll see if I continue to be successful.

The wordcount was rough because I'm reading a literary book for a contest (my bad in saying I'd judge that category, I really don't like literary and especially not coming of age stories). Anyway, the person's style was such that I could fall into the slightly depressing very literary bit without too much trouble in my own writing, which is NOT good for a love scene. So, note to self, do NOT read the literary book before writing...

Guess that's my word for the day...try not to be influenced by others.
May you enjoy your uniqueness today.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Page proofs

Heart Dance mmp page proofs are done, I might scan one to show...though the scanner, as you all may recall, has this gray bar going down it. I didn't work on the page proofs yesterday so I finished up today.

I haven't done my wordcount yet today, so I think I'll sign off to eat and do it, get it DONE.

Errands tomorrow, too, since snow is coming tomorrow night and I'm out of human food and almost out of cat food.

May you make your goals today.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Heart Dance -- World Building -- Heart Fate

I worked 8 hours on the mmp page proofs of Heart Dance, then took a meditation break, then wrote my wordcount, then messing around with email and on the net, 3 1/2 more hours on Heart Dance.

Any copy edits/page proofs/print pages including rough draft printouts, I always try to blast through in 8-12 hour days. I DID go to Common Grounds, did not get one of the large, soft chairs with a table, and those WITH the large, soft chairs outlasted my puny effort of about an hour eyeing them and working, so back home.

As always, the read didn't go as fast as I wanted, and I have about fifty more pages to do, hope to do the rest today after brunch. I had planned on working on my wordcount before brunch but it's late and that probably won't happen, I'll sleep in.

Heart Dance: There were some minor choreography problems, one I finessed and left, the others I tried to fix. Some typos that I caught, but some will have slipped through, of course. Some bad word choices, "shuddered" twice in one line. I'm paying close attention to the timing of it, what day is what and how many have passed. It looks as if the whole book took place in three eightdays exactly.

Haven't run across the centimeters vs. inches thing yet, hope I would have noticed, I do need to recall how long the Ship is and put it in kilometers.

DID realize I've screwed up on my Passages (fever fugues to free psi power) timing. There are 3 Passages. In HeartMate it was said to be at ages 7, 17, and 20. Somehow over the books it's transmogrified to 7, 17, and 27. I've already set up that Passage can be very individual.

So I thought about it and I've come up with a brilliant explanation. :) Passage can also depend upon genetic makeup as to whether your ancestors were crew or in the cryonic tubes of the starships and/or which ship your ancestors arrived on.... :) (I did go back to my notes on the prequel novella I pitched and was rejected on -- Heart & Sword, since Elder, Ash, and Holly ancestors are involved).

Since I'm spending a lot of time with Passages in Heart Fate (in fact, that was my wordcount), I'll explain that there. I must admit that I reached a good stopping point in my wordcount and quit. I probably should have gone on, but I wanted to get back to Heart Dance, it was dark, and I wanted to leave a hook that I could easily get back into today.

So that was my Saturday.
May you have a good day today.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Writing and Life Reprise 2? 3? 4?

I've finished judging a couple of contests and am working on a third, this one in the published division. Two of the three books I've read have been good but haven't blown me away.

Since I've entered some contests for this year, I'm wondering if I'm going to get the same reaction to Protector of the Flight. Empathy.

Anyway, I have a big scene to write today, and since the new year I've made my wordcount even if it meant writing at 10 pm. So I feel like I've picked up some motivation, dedication, and, of course, the end is in sight. Still seems like I have a lot of files in my Scenes folder, but they will come together (shaky confidence here).

But I'm not writing this morning. I want to find a portfolio and head over to Common Grounds (no, I did NOT work there Tuesday or Thursday as planned. Tuesday was cold and snowy and Thursday disintegrated on me). I want to get one of the big plush chairs with a table (I think there are only four), maybe by a window though that tends to be cold, might put on an extra layer. I want to read Heart Dance through and make my small changes. Writing later today.

Oh, and Publisher's Weekly Blogging ladies mentioned Heart Dance this week and thrilled me....

May your plans for the day be fulfilled or wreaked entertainingly.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dangling Villains

I had a villain escape in Heart Quest. He was minor, but he's running around Celta if/when I want to have him return.

And I think I'm going to leave a more dangerous villain at large in Heart Fate. Ideas are still murking about in my head regarding this one, but I think an outstanding threat can be good.

Naturally, I have the huge and fearsome Dark in the Summoning books, but in the Heart books, it might be nice to keep some villains in reserve, too.

As a reader, I like a certain amount of threads left undone in my series, so I can savor seeing them picked up and woven back into the overall story. So I'm going with my gut here. I DON'T like cliffhangers, unless the next book is published within a few days of the previous one.

I've got a trilogy in mind with the same heroine/hero, but there would be individual plots wrapped up and an overall bad plot revealed (End of the World), with steps on their own romantic relationship, and, of course, personal growth tied up in each book.

The last time I left a real dangling thread out there was Heart Duel, and it took me a while to wrap it up, and I'm dealing with the final consequences in Heart Fate. After this, that thread will be no more, thus the idea of a continuing villain...I think someone is about to go quite mad...

Or maybe not. That's still in the future, after all.

May you enjoy your day and wrap up all the dangling threads you want to!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Writer's Strike T-Shirt

I feel passionately about the Writer's Strike, but I am not going to preach. I WILL support.

Here's the link to buy your own shirt (and they have special ones for the trek picket day).

When I visited a couple of the sites last night, the amount of revenue that LA had lost due to the strike was about $710,000,000

May you get fair pay for your work today.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Yearly Mythological Mascot

I choose a mascot for the year for my engagement calendar monthly symbolism. Usually this is on whim the previous year.

2007, of course, was the pegasus for Protector of the Flight.

This year will be the sphynx. Also winged, but cat, not horse. 2006 was the centaur, which is mostly portrayed as male, so I wanted female.

I've been collecting images of the sphynx for a couple of years, (and hippocamuses cami?/seahorses for some year in the future) which will grace the pages of my book, but not here because most are under copyright. Since I've been doing this for about 10 years, I've already run through a lot of creatures.

The above photo is mine, taken by me on a trip quite a few years ago.

May you know where you're going today.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Staring At The Ceiling In The Dark

PhotobucketThis is going to be short because the cat will start whining any second for breakfast.

I woke up at 4:45 and turned on the computer to do the blog (that way it's out of the way), and went right back to my warm bed. I have a thermostat on my heat and it's turned down to about 55 in the night.

But I stayed awake to think about the book -- and I think I have all the rest of the big parts blocked out. Not down to my last 8-12 scenes when I can see the end of the tunnel, but feeling that it's taking shape instead of this amorphous fog that SHOULD be condensing.

Thought of how to fix chapter two, another scene with Tinne to show his growth. How the set up the next scene...etc. Work at night.

So may your day work go smoothly.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Quote Today

Each day comes bearing its own gifts.
Untie the ribbons.
- Ruth Ann Schabaker

May you be blessed with gifts today.

What Tarot Card Are You Quiz

At least today:

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

May you enjoy yourself today.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Life Style


I just realized that I didn't post today. I haven't finished my wordcount, either, so I'll have to get back to that.

I've been thinking deeply about my life, my writing schedule, my life. I don't have a family, so I can hole up here in my house and not see or speak to anyone in person for days. I'm not sure this is healthy.

At times in the past, I've gone to my local coffee house for work, and I think that I will have to institute a Tuesday/Thursday out of the house.

As for the writing schedule, the schedule itself has hit the skids, but I am writing, so that's ok.

Anyway it's late and I want to do some work.

So take care and have a good evening.

Friday, January 04, 2008

New Year Writing

I've done my wordcount and a little more. Before today I ground out each word, the pace was slow and I barely made it. Today was much better. I will eat breakfast now and maybe take a bath. This afternoon I will be sewing scenes into chapters, so I may make a few more words here and there.

Still, (and that's a word that I'm going to have to do a wordsearch for to make sure I didn't overuse it) I am pleased for today.

May your work go well today.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Denver Web Cams

At night I think this is aimed at the City and County Building which always has holiday lights on it through the stockshow (late January). So take a look when it's dark (approx 5:30 - 6:45 am)! Denver has always been proud of this and we have postcards...different every year.

Otherwise, it's looking north, and since I just checked it out I'm wondering why the sky is blue about three miles away and it's gray here...

This says it's only good for the incredibly interesting Denver Art Museum expansion through this afternoon, so try it, too!

May you enjoy light today.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 Yearly Word Count


I was bad about keeping track of my word count last year on my journal calendar. I know it's off (lower) just not by how much. I've calculated it by the amount of words in the rough draft of Keepers of the Flame and the chapters and scenes I currently have in Heart Fate. But any scenes that didn't quite make it into the books weren't necessarily counted.

I didn't keep track of miscellaneous writings on proposals, idea bits, etc. much. Nor did I keep track of how much I wrote the retreat week.

So, I'm off and that annoys me. The count I have is: 264,814 which is not quite three pages a day.

May all your ducks line up in a row today.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 Goals -- 2008

This is what I committed to last year at critique group:

Robin: Realistic deadlines and schedule. Goal: 3 pages per day.

The 3 pages of day I'm pretty sure I made, all in all. The schedule is still being finessed.

And I made a mistake about the deadlines. As I'm sure I've said before, realistic goals ARE GOALS THAT DEPEND ON YOU, NOT ANY OTHER PERSON. At that time it was my understanding that *I* would decide my deadlines. Ha. Ha. Ha. Essentially I had to accept a hideous deadline or walk away from the contract and I wasn't willing to quit a series in the middle. So, now I know, deadlines might not be under my control.

I'm still thinking about 2008's goals, the schedule thing sounds like it should stay. I'd like to up my page count, but "FAILING" goals is worse than low goals. As for deadlines, they're already hideous as a holdover from this year...

I DO want to get at least two new proposals out (not including 1-2 Heart Books), more like an urban fantasy trilogy and a couple of contemporary paranormal romances.

May you understand your goals today.

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