On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cutting Scenes

I had in-person critique group yesterday (and one today, too, happened to be back to back this month), and mentor suggested I cut a short (1 page) scene between Laev and Cratag...unless I needed it for something else, but I have a later scene with Cratag that probably doesn't need it (I write out of sequence and I'm always ahead of my critique groups anyway), so it's going away.

I may put it on the website after Heart Search comes out, as I often do if whole scenes get sliced -- I was always sad to see scenes go, which is one reason I have the READS page.

Now to work!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mind Spinning Word Counts

I think I have Genista's story set in my head in it's entirety. Currently it stands at 14390 words with lots of bits and pieces and a solid first two chapters (draft form).

I've worked a little on Walker's story and it is at 3360 words.

Arbusca Willow's story is finished at a being-revised count of 14199.

I'm most nervous about Heart & Sword, which I've anticipated writing for years and now am doubtful that I can do it the justice it deserves. I have about 315 new words (chapter 1), and outline, and an old "Captain's Log" that I had originally intended to include in Heart Thief, but my skill was not there. So, perhaps, a raw word count of 2219.

So I am standing at 34K+ for the four stories -- and, yes, my mind is spinning.

Now to move on to Heart Search for critique tomorrow...I'm on chapter 13 and crit group is on 5-6.

May all your ducks line up and stream before you with joyful noise!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Linking Stories

I've been working on Genista's story and since the outer plot is somewhat like Heart Journey and the upcoming Heart Search, I've figured out a way to link to both. It will take place about 3 months after Heart Journey -- about ten months after Heart Fate, 2 years after she miscarried.

Like I said, the location will be Gael City, and the hero is an ex-warrior with a limp... ;) This is so fun!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Genista's Story

It's the week of Halloween, of Samhain, the Celtan New Year. And Genista Furze's (Tinne Holly's ex-wife's) story.

I left her walking away from a temple in Druida one winter evening, a man walking beside her. He's no longer in her life and she is under an assumed name in Gael City, working as a clockmaker/repair person/sales clerk. Mysterious goings on, I hope!

May you enjoy this magical week, Halloween, and the true coming of autumn.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Character Failure

I began reading a book by a new-to-me author and was pleasantly surprised. Then I got into the story and something began to bother me. The heroine was succeeding too easily -- there was little conflict or tension.

She had to pass a test of stealth by creeping into a building (I am changing specifics so you won't recognize the story). She passes. Oh, she is spotted -- but it's ok because it's the hero who falls in with her plans. She finds the secret panel. She steals the evil technological device and doesn't get caught. She returns to her base and destroys the evil device -- all goes really well. In fact, since it's the beginning of the book, you KNOW that the device doesn't blow up in her hands -- though by this time I was hoping it would and stick her into a coma at least...

There were a couple of bumps -- she made a stupid mistake in putting on a radiation suit before dealing with the device...and apparently she underestimated the timing on the device and it almost blew up. I actually didn't get that because I was skimming, I think, or didn't realize how close her call was, because I didn't get much reaction. And then, when she was apologizing to her mentor because it was too close a call, the mentor says SHE also had underestimated the timing...so absolutely no consequences.

Now, I like to be nicer to most of my characters than I should be (Tinne Holly is an exception, I tortured him for years, and he had the worst day EVER in the history of all my characters). But this book really brought home the point that there needs to be conflict and suspense -- failure and consequences. Sometimes I don't quite get a lesson, until I see the LACK.

So I am grateful for the author for showing me what not to do..., and, hey, I feel like an easy read, so I think I'll also give the book a second chance to see if there is more conflict.

May you understand lessons without having to make the mistakes today.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Displeased with myself

I am displeased with myself today. I didn't look at my schedule closely and missed one that I moderated, which got me off to a bad start. I don't think I handled the reading well, yesterday. I rambled too much.

Also, I said something to a reader (not one who read my work) that made her defensive and I HATE when that happens to me, so I will have to hunt her out and apologize to her. I hope I can find her, her badge was turned over so I don't know her name.

I hate being gauche or a snotty author. That's just not supportive or professional. Since I said the stupid thing in front of another author, I must apologize to her, too, though since she is supportive and professional, she will forgive me. ;)

The problem is gossip and being the butt of stories. I don't mind telling stories on myself, but being remembered for one gauche moment is not good.

Maybe I'm being too thin skinned. Yesterday and today have been overwhelmingly gray. And I found a mediocre review of Heart Journey on the web from someone who usually loves my books, so that was a downward slide, too.

And now I'm rambling here.

Just remember. Neurotic writer = oxymoron, and each one of us can have our very stupid moments.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Mile Hi Con Appearances Today Through Sunday

October 22, 23 and 24th 2010
Hyatt Regency - Tech Center
7800 E. Tufts Ave.
Denver, CO

ALL my books will be on sale at Who Else Books in the Dealer's Room.

Today I will be reading from Heart Journey (and maybe Enchanted No More) at 6 pm. in Wind River B.

Tomorrow I will be Speed Dating (an Author) from 12 pm - 2 pm in Mesa Verde B.

Sunday I will be talking about Building the Ensemble (spin offs/secondary character books) room 3 pm to 4 pm in Mesa Verde B.

I hang out a lot at the art show, but the pockets are not plump this year so unless something really, really grabs me, I probably won't be buying much.

I also probably won't be attending most of the writing panels, but others for research ideas, interaction with folk (and friends, for whom this is THE event of the year).

If you're local, I hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cat & Fennec Fox

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I couldn't resist. May you love your friends today.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I was asked to contribute to Romantic Times (January) on my favorite website. I actually decided to talk about webcams I use around the world, especially for research (do you all recall those screenshots of Old Faithful I posted?).

Since both computers crashed with all my bookmarks, I went looking for sites -- Kew Gardens (at which place my characters in Enchanted No More spend about 2 SHORT paragraphs), Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone (currently being moved). Windsor Castle (off line now), etc.

I decided to look for Anglesey, the island off Wales where my father's family comes from, and happened to hit it at this incredible minute, sunset after a storm with a rainbow.


So here it is. Recall that if you use the link above, there may be a time difference. ;)


May you enjoy the world around you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Heart Collection

I don't think that I announced what the (current) title of the Heart Collection of stories will be. My editor and I agreed that it would be Hearts & Swords, and that each story will have both ;)

Anyway, the longest one will probably be Heart & Sword which has always been the title of the novella I wanted to write about the discovery of Celta by the colonists on the starship of Nuada's Sword. :)

Currently I'm calling Genista's (formerly Genista Furze Holly, Tinne's wife) story Heart & Soul.

Arbusca (Blush) Willow's story is simply Heart Story (or I suppose it could be HeartMate and True Love or something).

Today I figured out a title for "The Clovers Get A Noble Title," and wrote a little on it: "Walker Wins His HeartMate and Sword." I'm not totally certain that Walker Clover will be the hero, but I think it will work. As you may or may not know he is the Ashes baby-wrangler.

Any comments are appreciated.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Process: Out of Sequence

Everyone writes differently, and every book gets written differently...at least by me, it does. I've been cleaning up Heart Search for so long IN SEQUENCE that I was afraid all the joy was wrung from it. But this morning I woke up with an opening to the Black Moment (when the relationship breaks and all seems lost).

I literally spent hours last night figuring out the scenes for the next two chapters -- I rarely do this, so it takes me a long time when I do. I also wasn't sure WHO would be the one, Laev or Camellia, who would be the most resistant to love...i.e. cause the black moment.

But when I woke up, I knew and things felt right. And I've written some words out of sequence, so, WHEW!

May you find joy in life today.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

(First) Book Signings

I have a friend whose first published story is coming out in an anthology today. I, of course, am going, along with most of our mutual friends.

You can count on everyone to come to your first book signing, even acquaintances who will never read your book will come and buy it.

Never base numbers for SECOND BOOK signings on those of first book signings or the first signing of your first book. By then, people feel if they show up they are obligated to buy your book (this is not necessarily true, I'd have LOVED people to just show up at a couple).

By this time, I sign with a couple of other people or not at all. Not my critique group, even. Not folks in my writers' association. They think I don't care, or (heaven forfend) I don't need the money, and, let's face it, I'll have another book out in nine months, year, so if they don't see me now, they can catch up then....

I care PASSIONATELY about people coming to my signings. Buying, hell yes, but just showing up, too. And it is hideously humiliating when folks don't show. So...I don't sign by myself. I always have another author to sit with me so we can talk...usually about publishing, sometimes about writing.

And most of the time it is two veterans of the publishing wars talking about it. So see what folks (who usually are interested in publishing more than our books). Sure, we don't totally let our hair down in public about publishers, but any general question we'll answer. And, yes, you need an agent.

May you enjoy your outings today.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Learning New Tricks

As I said before, I am slashing and cutting and pasting Heart Search. Hopefully for the better. It really isn't often that have to move around so much, so I've been struggling to figure out how to handle this.

I've decided to cut what must be cut, but instead of making a new file with the out-take and lose it, I'm just putting it at the bottom of the chapter. That way, by the time I reach that point, I can decide whether to delete the bit or carry it over to the next chapter.

**Sigh** I know this sounds like a simple idea, and I'm sure many writers have figured it out before. But it just occurred to me. So many years, and still learning. OTOH, it beats staring at the ceiling and wondering what to do.

May little fixes come easily to you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weaving Threads

I do some weaving threads in from past books, and quite a bit of set up for future books in my Celtan HeartMate series. Some subplots inch along over the course of several books, like the one begun in Heart Duel and ending in Heart Fate.

I started a new one in Heart Journey that will continue for a couple or a few. ;)

Still these threads, even if they are only a paragraph here and there, take time and space to weave in a book, and I'm always weighing what I should leave in or cut, and how subtle I am.

This is a concern that those of us who write series must always address. The standard advice is not to include anything that doesn't pertain to the present story, but that doesn't work if the present is fulfilling a set up in the past, or a scene is setting up something in the future. It can be frustrating as you count every word.

So, those of you who enjoy multi-book subplots, thanks for noticing the threads.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Favorite Work & Least Favorite


I get this often. What is my favorite book that I wrote? Answer is ALWAYS, the one I just finished, in this case, Enchanted No More.

What is my least favorite? The one I'm working on now.

However, as I was working on Heart Search, I needed to look at Heart Dance and began reading and was favorably impressed with myself! =:0


I always considered Heart Dance a simpler story in a close setting, not as great in scope as some of my other works, and for that reason perhaps lesser. I was wrong. I apologize to my work. ;)

It's boosting to read stuff that you wrote and think is good, even when you think you're slogging now.

May you be enthused about your work today.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'Castle' Does Steampunk -- Spoilers

If you're interested in steampunk or one slant on what it is, go to ABC.COM and watch last night's "Castle."

A disclaimer: as a depiction of a writer's life, even a multi-millionaire writer's life (I am squeaking by) the tv show of Castle is ludicrous. In the first season he "wrote" in one episode for about 5 seconds. NOW we never see him writing on the show (though apparently during the summer he finished a book). We see him 'writing' for two seconds in THE OPENING CREDITS.

However last night the investigation led to a Steampunk club and it was AWESOME. I am pleased to say that I think I clued in about a minute before it was shown. Not much, but enough to give me an ego boost.

And Castle was SLOW on figuring out what the club was, but I think that was the explanation for viewers. If he were real, the moment the door opened he'd have known. He's a writer with a flexible mind.

But the GADGETS (mechanical arms, goggles, the pennyfarthing -- bicycle with a small back wheel and large front one) were, again, AWESOME. Also fascinating was a section where old-fsshioned dueling pistols were taken to a shooting range and shown to be very inaccurate due to the non-rifling of the barrels. Which I knew about already, too.

I know ABC.com puts up shows, because I watch them. So again, if you want to see a slant on steampunk to wrap your head around it -- all the vigor of the Victorian era with none of the repressions and industrial drawbacks -- go watch Castle.

There was also a wonderful bit for Nathan Killian, when he transforms from easy-going writer to tough guy. Wonderful body language, the way he stood in the doorway and wouldn't move....very cool.

So, go forth and be enthusiastic.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lost In The Plot

Every book is different, and somewhere a portion will trip me up. In my first books, I usually had problems at the third turning point. Occasionally I will have to rework the first chapter, or the middle of the story is actually the last that I write.

With Heart Search, it's the setup. Getting lost in setup (first quarter of the book), is rare for me and I struggled with it. So I've been cutting and slashing and rearranging and it's a much better story...it's just taken time and today was a ten hour day...with few new words.

But the new words were good. ;)

May you enjoy your work.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

**Whispering** no, I am not working on Heart Search (though I did this week). I am not working on the Heart Collection, though I added a new beginning (again) to Heart Story, Arbusca Willow's story, yesterday.

An opening came to me last night for the 3rd book in my Luna contract. The proposal is due sometime next spring. I have the first scene done now. Not critiqued and as polished as I can get it on one sitting, but done.

I feel good about it. I usually nail 3 out of 5 beginnings, and the other two are pure misery (see above with Heart Story). Usually if I can ditch the awkward stories, I do. Sometimes ideas just can't be saved.

As for this one, probably to be entitled Enchanted Ever After (not my idea/choice), my editor might not go for the opening, so I may have to cut it, but I'm happy with it now.

And I really do love "Oops." as an opening line. ;)

May you enjoy your work and play.

Friday, October 08, 2010

One the Spot Plot

All right, this is the quick 3 minute writing I did during Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' conference with my friends.

For the beginning, the audience gave us: Crime Scene Cleaner. I, of course, was doing sf/f as a genre.


She sloshed through the blood, ruining her suede knee-high boots. This was NOT how she thought her new job of sanitary inspector of space station twelve would be like.

She was getting even with Joe. Just because she'd pointed out that he'd messed up her best red trench with backwards runes, she'd gotten stationed here.

Wait! She looked at the cuff of her coat. Maybe it was the runes themselves that put her in this crappy job.

The golden sigils flickered and crawled up and down her arm.

The door opened and Joe entered.

Revenge would be sweet.

And, hmmm. There was so much going on, Cassie Miles talking about what needs to be in the beginning, teasing from our moderator, Janet Lane, comments from the audience -- that I had to actually finish some incomplete sentences above.

Middle. Joe has become Dan (because Steven Moores had great characters named Dan and Julie and we took the cue from him).


Dan eyed Julie, she was too fragile for this wretched work. She should be taken care of like a rose. A long stemmed rose.

"I love this job. Hand me the blood sucker," she said....
Then I hopped up and said (my turn to explain) The middle! Urgh, the middle! That swamp, that morass...

But there is an architypical plot structure that will lead you through the middle like stepping stones of solid ground across the swamp.....(and so on for 3 minutes).


Those chemicals and baskets went up with a radical swoosh. Julie tottered on the ladder at the top of the warehouse room.

Dan was down below. She choked on smoke and tears. She could teleport him. Save him. Maybe. Maybe. If she managed to hold onto consciousness this time. If she didn't stay conscious they'd both die...and she loved him. Yes.

Wrapping her arm around a rung, she focused on him. He was moving through the fire toward her. She concentrated and grabbe him mentally and had him, his weight, his mass.

She had him! She transported him. Darkness took her but he held her tight.


BTW, I won. LOL.

May you enjoy any strangeness in your day.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Villains resurfacing...slight spoilers

Since I seem to be on that topic. I know that I let several villains escape. One in Heart Quest, a member of the Black Magic cult. A couple (or several, I will decide later), who are still in Vinni's Residence...., no doubt to be resurrected again when I get to that story.

So may you enjoy your day.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

And the Main Villain Escapes

I recently read a fantasy and it's taken me a while to realize why I didn't care for it. It was the second book on this particular world, and now it appears there will be a series...and not a spin off one with a new hero and heroine each book (like my work), but the hero and heroine who were introduced.

And the main villain got away.

This was a violent book with lots of fighting and dying, and for the villain to get away and the hero and heroine not to have a happily ever after disturbs me. Sure, they've settled into their new home with their family, but...

I guess it made me feel like all their travail wasn't worth a lot.

And the reason I'm writing is to express my feelings in a tangible manner, and if I ever come up against this in my own writing, to recognize it.

So those are my thoughts.

May you enjoy all the worlds you visit today.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Mile Hi Con

I will be autographing and probably on some panels, and doing the Improvocation as always Friday pm. I've been attending long before I was published. ;)


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