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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Monday, August 31, 2009

Victim's POV

I have been sick, so I haven't posted.

Victim's POV,

You all have seen it, some character introduced and then, WHAM, by the end of a few paragraphs or pages, the victim is dead and the reader knows there is a cruel, nasty and deadly killer out there.

First, if well done, it yanks on the emotions to get the reader interested in the book, it foreshadows that the protagonist or love interest will be in danger, probably from the same killer.

But this is getting to be so standard that I am tired of it. I recently read a new book where this was done, and done well, and the victim was never mentioned in the rest of the book. Her body was not found, the characters never knew to avenge her, nothing. It bothered me quite a bit and I felt myself resenting that the author toyed with my emotions.

So I will let you decide whether to use it or not, and many, many folks have, but unless it contributes a REAL clue to a mystery that you want the reader to know and no one else, I would say skip it. Others may be tiring of this, too.

May you be strong and happy today.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Process of Writing

Every book is different. I'm separating scenes into chapters with Heart Journey and there is one scene that still hasn't quite gelled in my head...or I know what I want to happen but don't know if I have the power of the words to do it.

So I will do the best that I can with the resources I have.

But not today. I may very well leave that scene until the last. I have the climax to write, and the last chapter, and then I might go back to the scene that is bothering me because it is not poetry.

Usually by now, I have written the ending and I might be sewing up the middle or the third turning point, but I still have the end...and I'm telling you this just to let you know that every book is different.

May you enjoy all your own twists and turns today.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book store moving

My "local" independent bookstore is moving (rather forced to) -- Who Else Books formerly of Denver Book Mall. Lots of their friends (including authors Connie Willis, Mario Acevedo, Terry Wright, Christine Jorgensen, me) have helped.

Who Else Books was the second store that I ever had a signing in, and my first real Denver signing, so, of course, everyone came (everyone will always come to your FIRST signing, and maybe even buy books).

I was glad to help out, and I'll be glad to be part of the celebration of the Grand Opening.

Also, when I helped them move, I found: a chapbook of HeartMate (the first few pages) that I often made for Mile Hi Con from 2001-2004. I also did Heart Thief and Heart Duel for a while, not sure that I did anything after that, though I do fliers.

I found A COVER FLAT of the first HeartMate cover, not sure that I have any of those left, a brochure I did, a letter, and several 2002 wallet calendars with the original cover. A gold mine! Yay!

May you be pleasantly surprised today.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Autograph

I recall the first autograph I gave. It was to Beth Anne Stekiel of Beth Anne's Book Corner at a Pikes Peak Romance Writer's tea. I think the tea was about this time in 2001, that is, before HeartMate came out. I had my cover flat and I autographed it and gave it to her.

I was very pleased that I managed to think on my feet when she asked for it, because I'd already decided I wanted to say something about readers (YOU) instead of me...that kind of blessing I try to do.

So I wrote: Booksellers make writers' dreams come true.

It's the same with readers. Readers make writers' dreams come true.

Thank you, and may life give you a special moment today.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Vinni T'Vine

Most people are interested in the young (now a teen) Vinni T'Vine (and he has a HUGE part in Heart Change)...but he hasn't made an appearance in Heart Journey. Until a small scene swam into my mind over the last few days.

I'm using it to continue to illustrate the kind of woman Del is. Vinni makes people nervous. Del stops, but nods to him and eats with him and they talk. He does NOT do a prophecy for her just because of her character.


I think I know how J.D. Robb feels when she brings Mavis in every book (and I do love my Mavis fix, too, but sometimes....) anyway, for those of you who like him, he's there.

May you enjoy all the characters you meet on pages or in your life today.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Five levels of why

Just got in from critique group and to talk about my work, it was obvious that I needed to explain scry "technology." We are up to Chapter 4 in monthly critique (and I am coming to the end of the book), so that's why I love my beta readers.

And we did five levels of "why" motivation with someone who wanted plotting help.

What does the heroine want?
To fit in with her new school.
Because she didn't fit in at her old school.
Because her clothes weren't right.
Because her Dad was a single Dad and never got her the right clothes, never wore the right clothes.
Because her mother left them, and if you wear the right clothes, mother (and other people) won't leave you...

Not sure that made sense...but you can get the general gist. The bottom layer is usually fear, an overwhelming fear that will drive the character on a path until they face it and grow beyond it.

Brain is fried and my head aches from the heat, so if you need more explanation let me know.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Research: Actors on Acting

The above videos and podcasts are FREE, and can be very informative. I watched "Stage Veterans" and have several others for research for Heart Journey.

If you're a reader or theater goer, I think you'd be interested.

If you're a writer, it's fascinating to see that they think a lot like writers do....

May you enjoy your own tribe...or observing another today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Set Up and Surprise

I went back a couple of chapters and inserted a scene to set up for the climax. All the time I was doing it, I was thinking "any good reader who pays attention is going to know this is a set up and will know what's coming." Unlike some set-ups (Heart Change has a couple of twists I think will surprise), I don't anticipate that savvy readers will miss this one.

Mentor informs me that readers LIKE to spot set ups and anticipate. I'm not sure. I think folks like twists, too. As for me, I like both.

I rarely expect to hide a murderer or a set up, always figure the readers will see through what I'm doing.

So I'm satisfied with the scene, it does what it should, maybe I can ramp up the Fam factor to have it do something else (or a third thing, it makes Del realize something, too), but again, it's not really a very "hidden" set up.

Enjoy your reading today.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Signing Thursday Cherry Creek Shopping Center, Denver

Wondered about the craft of adventure fiction? Meet three award winning masters.
Ask them how they do it. Learn about their weekly kitchen table writing.
Book signing is open to public. Let me know if you can attend. Anne


Thurs, Aug 20, 5:30-7:30

Montblanc Boutique

Cherry Creek Shopping Center next to Saks


with Rocky Mt Fiction award winning Writers,

Janet Lane, author of historical adventures, Pamela Nowak winner Willa and HOLT award

and Rita Award Winner, Robin Owens

Learn about Colorado Gold RMFW Sept Writers' Conference.

Book signing is free and open to the public.

May you enjoy the week.

Monday, August 17, 2009

She thought, He thought and POV shifts

I don't do this:

It didn't get any better than this, she thought.

I don't do this either.

It didn't get any better than this.

I like deep 3rd person Point of View, so I do this:

It didn't get any better than this. Driving up a mountainside away from the city as soft evening lowered onto the land -- to a fabulous hotel that had food to make her mouth water from sixty miles away and beds to sink into. Beds to roll around in with the new love at her side. He was mouth-watering, too.

She glanced at him, saw his smile and her entire insides shivered.

Jason smiled, slowly, at Merry. Her blue eyes -- naturally blue -- had snagged him from the moment they'd met. She took the hairpin turn fast and they swayed together in the Corvette. He really wanted to get his hands on the wheel, almost as he wanted to get his hands on her.

So that's a little exercise in deep 3rd POV, consider deleting "he/she thought" and NOT putting them in italics (of course I save my italics for mental telepathy). Also a very quick POV transition, one character looks/notes another, then the switch into the next character's POV, with that one's thoughts emotions to nail the POV switch.

May you enjoy your day.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Research Trip

As I got into Heart Journey, I figured out that my characters aren't only going to be going to Gael City in the south, and Del won't only be riding in from Steep Springs, but a mountain valley and canyon will be a setting.

Soooo, since I didn't have photos of what I wanted, I went out today. It was perfect. Totally gorgeous in the mountains (ok going over Guanella Pass I ate some dust for a while).

So here's a pic that will help me out. I hope.

May you enjoy all your journeys today.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Setting Deadlines

Deadlines MAY be in your control. Most of the time your editor will ask you when you want to deliver the book. Right now, I have a year in-between my Heart books, and have done the same with my Luna books. My Heart books are due in December and the Luna books are due in April. I did that because I didn't want a lot of pressure on me, and felt that was a schedule I could keep, even if everything went bad.

And the way this will work is that I am trying very hard to turn in the next Heart manuscript, Heart Journey, early. I am hoping to get it in at the end of September, all the more time to write the first book in a new world that Out of Balance will take place in. It's contemporary US, but urban fantasy, soooo that needs to be set up and I'm still figuring out what's what.

Sometimes, when renewing a contract, deadlines might not be under your control. For whatever reason, the publisher has a schedule they will insist you keep. At that point you pretty much have the option of accepting a deadline that will stress you or walking away from the deal.

So think about this before you sell, because at the point you're negotiating you need to know your decision.

May you have all the time you want today to do what you want.

Friday, August 14, 2009

War Room Open

That's where I usually am M-F 7:30 am to 11:30 or noon my time, Mountain Time. Eastern time is 9:30 am. ;)

We usually post here: http://community.livejournal.com/toonowrimo if anyone is in the room. It's rather a world wide deal, 24/7. So if you're a writer, come join us.

We all start at a time (say 7:35) and go for 20 minutes/half hour, then report what we've done. Amount of words written, pages edited.

Sometimes it's all business. Sometimes very lively (so I can't recommend readers hang around 'cause not much happens most of the time), but you can drop in and see the time tick by.

And the day is overcast, I don't use an alarm anymore (well, itouch was downstairs getting charged), and I had a restless night, so these words are counting for the first war. ;)

It's also the reason I don't do my blog the first thing anymore. But this has been VERY good for me.

May your work go well today.
Robin (171 words)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Series with Continuing Protagonists

These are hard to do. Mostly because the author gets tired of them or the reader does, and they are hard to keep fresh.

The exception, of course, is J.D. Robb's futuristic mysteries, the "In Death" series. She's kept it entertaining, and if you haven't listened to these on audio, they're great. I think the books are into the late 20s now, and naturally I like some stories better than others. I think some are stronger than others, and one I've read only once.

The reason this series continues to work is the conflicts/opposites between the main characters, a very tough female cop and her very smooth zillionaire husband -- who made his money with brilliance and, early in his life, sticky fingers.

Eve, the heroine, is the driving force of these books, and both protagonists have a deeply troubled past...that Eve doesn't always remember (especially in the first books), so the revelations of their pasts and the clash and mixture of their lives, and the mysteries-suspense have enough going to keep the reader engaged over many books. For that, the pasts must be complicated, deep and troublesome.

The ensemble cast is excellent, too. The sidekicks and friends and the people she meets during her work.

But this can also lead to the main problem I think she might have as a writer, and that is bringing favorites onto the scene in every book. Most are folk connected with the NY police and security department, so it isn't too hard, but some aren't and including them in each book may be difficult.

The books take up a little more than three years "book time," so the relationship is still new.

I also enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse books, by Charlaine Harris, more people come and go in those books (and there are several "in the middle" that I haven't read). This series has more of a continuing arc that can hook a person, and it is set in Louisiana before and after Katrina.

My own series I consider "spin offs" with one couple a book. So, what keeps these going?

1) Sympathetic characters with enough depth in their pasts and personal problems in the present.

2) The characters clashes with each other, what underlying opposite philosophies will continue to clash and be explored.

3) A continuing arc (either personal in the Robb books or personal/plot in the Harris books).

4) Keeping the time period short.

5) Excellent secondary characters (though that might fall under number 1).

6) Heroes (male) that women want in their own lives.

7) The author still likes her characters and world.

Feel free to add, time is pressing me here. But I would say writing such long series (I am contemplating a trilogy with the same characters and that is challenging for me) works best in the hands of a master.

May you enjoy any/all the characters you meet today.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Brainstorming Friends' Books

I was lying awake before dawn and had that "regrets" time. One of the regrets that I had was that I'd broken a "supportive rule."

When brainstorming with a friend, remember it is THEIR book. No matter how you think YOU could change it for the better, the set-up and the storyline, and whatever are THEIRS.

So ask about the parameters and give them help with questions/situations that they want help on.

Most of the time I've been good with this, but a couple of times I really failed, which made the brainstorming process for my friends very tough. In fact neither are still in my life, though not because of this...thus the regrets.

But do recall this "rule." And, yes, some stories won't work, but let them come to that conclusion...and in brainstorming, the story isn't necessarily set, and the writing may completely change the plot, so be fine with that, too.

May you enjoy your own creativity today,

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Break Out Books: Dark and Edgy

I was told that to break out, my next book/series etc. should be dark, edgy and full of action.

One of my urban fantasies (on the back burner) starts out dark and edgy, though I am not sure how long I could keep up the brooding atmosphere.

As for the definition of edgy, I THINK it means more danger for the hero/heroine, and maybe the edge part is moral dilemma. That's my take. Moral questions in doubt. The edge of danger -- physically, emotionally, morally.

May you read or write what you need to today.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Your Own WiFi Network

Yes, I am single. Yes, I have a wi-fi network. I live in a 2 story house, and though this summer has been much cooler than usual, I anticipated using my laptop in the basement.

I can drag around the laptop from the front porch to the dining room table, to the basement to the bedroom.

I also have the new itouch toy, which Apple, in their infinite wisdom, has decided that downloading over a network is better than hooking to another computer via USB port. I still haven't configured my Documents To Go right...but that's for later.

So, yes, I am a happy geek with my network, it gives me more freedom than the huge cable-attached desktop in the office, and I recommend it as a tool for all.

May you enjoy what works for YOU today.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Words of Advice

That's part of what this blog is supposed to be. So I think I'll just bottom line it with things I've said before.

Never give up if you want to be a writer.

Write stories you love and believe in.

Don't judge yourself against your prior work or anyone else's.

Always remember that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have today. Regarding the past, you did the best that was possible then.

Believe in yourself.

That's it for the moment, and all of this advice can be applied to artistry, creativity, vocation and work.

Take care of your own needs today.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

And off in another direction....

Yesterday I had some RL family stuff going on that was so emotionally exhausting that all I did was deal with it.

Today I wrote. Heart Journey is coming along after a two week fiddling around with chapters 17-20. Not sure how much of those chapters will stay or go, and I am dam tired of them, but they are past!

Today was a good day, EXCEPT I started with this scene between Del and Danith D'Ash, with Del getting a kitten for her HeartMate, Raz Cherry. And next thing I know it's gone off on a tangent and I can FEEL myself setting up for something.

Or rather, if I want to use the scene that I've written, it SHOULD be setting up for something.

Like the climax.

Which will now occur in a totally different place than I'd anticipated. Yep, setting up for the black moment and the climax of DANGER.

Meanwhile, I've been thinking about the upcoming story (I was going to add "in my head," but, like where else do you think? Unless you are thinking aloud, maybe, like when talking to mentor), anyway thinking of the story before I go to sleep, and what will happen next. Which is a small trip to the southern town of Gael City.

So I have a good idea of what's going on.

In any event, I know that most of us know that when a tangent occurs, to go with the flow and use it. There is something I call the "unconscious inner child" and others call "lizard brain" where you set up for something that you don't know will happen but your inner storyteller knows. Throw away lines that aren't throw away, but become important.

This particular day, I was aware of the unconscious working.

Be happy with all your inspiration today.

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