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, October 27, 2012

Cut Scene from Enchanted Again

As I looked through my cut scenes for Enchanted Again, I found a couple of false starts where the curse for Conrad (and Conrad's and Rafe's names) were different. I may put them up if you like.

But this is the scene I teased you with yesterday, those who have the book will note that I did keep a paragraph or two in the current book:

"This is such a stupid idea," Rafe said, getting out of the car parked before a modest condo, knowing his words would change nothing. Conrad was obsessed. It had been barely twenty-four hours since his wife and child disappeared and the man was taking odd steps to break his own curse, as if were real – as if that would bring Marta and Dougie back.

Conrad had mentioned the curse that Rafe’s family supposedly suffered under – the first son dying before his thirty-third birthday. Rafe cared less about the gray cloud that seemed to drape around them than his friend’s peace of mind.

Now that it was confirmed that Marta and Geoff had fled the country to Eastern Europe, Conrad’s attorneys were outraged, the Court was offended, and Marta’s attorneys were...quiet.

Rafe was sure that visiting a psychic was bullshit.

He must have muttered the word because Conrad glanced at him, said stiffly. "She’s the real deal. A true Romani gypsy psychic. I promise you. I got her name a while back."

Conrad had always believed more in the damn "curses" than Rafe. Enough to research them a little, visit a psychic or three, line up experts "just in case." Rafe had ignored his friend’s quirk then. Now it was a real pain in the ass, more, Rafe was worried that some wacko would latch onto Conrad’s hurt and fear and milk it for all he was worth. Which was considerably less than it had been since Marta had wanted a lump sum settlement and Conrad had paid it.

But Conrad still had enough millions to attract leeches of the worst sort.

From the stoop of the house, Conrad turned and looked at Rafe. "I’ll know if the woman’s a fake. I always know."

Rafe believed that, also. Reluctantly he joined his friend.

"There’s a certain something about a woman with psi." His mouth twisted. "Marta had it, a strong gift."

That Rafe hadn’t known.

Conrad knocked and the door, opened. The woman’s welcoming smile dropped as she sucked in an audible breath, made quick gestures with her hands. Conrad started to step in and she shouted, "No!" He retreated.

"You did not tell me you were cursed." Another sucked breath. "And two of you! I want no cursed ones in my house. You stay there. Our appointment is canceled."

Her gaze met Rafe’s and her lips peeled back from her teeth on a third hissing inhalation. "Two cursed. One death curse. Already dead."

"Not quite."

But she was shaking her head, slamming the door.

Conrad pounded on the door. "I paid good money. Good faith money," he shouted.

"Online. I paid, you accepted. There’s already a bond between us."

"Quit yelling!" the woman cried from beyond the door. "One moment. I’ll think. I must think."

"Think fast or I’m calling the fraud squad," Conrad said. "I don’t have any damn pride left, don’t care if people think I’m stupid for being bilked by a fake Romani psychic. Your name and address will be all over the net. No confidentiality agreement now."

"You’d do it, too," Rafe said.

"Oh, yeah." Conrad jammed his hands in his pockets, paced back and forth on the stoop. He glared at the door. "She’s a good psychic all right." His nose twitched. "I can smell the magic on her."

"Magic? Did you say magic?"

"Power, psi talent, you know," Conrad said.

But Rafe didn’t think he meant the correction. He looked at the car, wanting to be in British Columbia snowboarding – anywhere doing anything – other than here.

"Here," the woman said. Her voice was heavily accented now with a cadence Rafe couldn’t place. Romani, apparently. The door cracked open the inch that the three chains on it allowed. A flimsy piece of paper was shoved toward them.

"What’s that?" asked Conrad.


"What?" he grabbed the slip as if it had a magic spell, looked down.

"Name of a cursebreaker. Only one I know. Go, now."

"A cursebreaker," Conrad whispered. "I didn’t know–"

"I would not have given you her name, but I have taken money and must give you good value."

"Right," Conrad said, curling his fingers over the paper.

"There are all kinds of talent." The woman was but a still shadow, showing nothing of herself through the door opening. "You have some. The woman you stink of, more. And the dead one there, more than both of you together, if he lived long enough. Why he was cursed."

"Tell me–" Conrad began.

"Go. Now. Never come back. He who cursed the dead one’s line still lives and still marks him. And that one’s master...No, no, I say too much." The door slammed shut, but not before Rafe heard the psychic mutter, "I must leave. Pack and go today."

Rafe stared at his friend, who was grinning fiercely, fisted hand holding the slip pumping in triumph. "A cursebreaker, yes!"

"Uh-huh, " Rafe said.

"She’s here in Denver."

"No. I am not going with you."

Emotions flickered over Conrad’s face. "You’re a good friend, Rafe. And you’re in trouble." Conrad opened his fingers and looked at the info on it again, Rafe knew he was memorizing it. He tucked the slip in Rafe’s jacket pocket. "We’ll do some research on the cursebreaker before we see her. But we’ve got to use her." Conrad’s deep blue stare met Rafe’s. "I didn’t like her calling you ‘the dead one.’"

Rafe didn’t either.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Excerpt of Enchanted Again

Here's the second scene from Chapter One of Enchanted Again (I'll tell you why I stopped when you reach the end). I read the full chapter at Mile Hi Con (and think I made some sales).

March, Denver, Colorado

Rafe winced as his friend’s fist hit the top of his car. No way to treat a Tesla. Rafe said nothing. Conrad had just watched his wife divorce him and the judge give custody of his son to his ex.

Not to mention the fact that former wife, infant son and her attorneys vanished as soon as they’d left the courtroom. No sign of them, hide nor hair.

Rafe dreaded the words Conrad would say pretty damn soon.

"It’s the curse," Conrad said.

Those words. Everything in Rafe stilled. Or maybe his muscles froze and his blood pumped hot. One of the strange things that had brought them together in college, the fact that they both came from "cursed" families. Weird in the modern world.

Conrad fumbled his key chain. Rafe jostled Conrad, snagging the door opener when it dropped from his fingers. "You're riding. I'm driving."

Grumbling, Conrad shambled to the passenger side. As soon as he was strapped in, he repeated, "It’s the curse."

Rafe stopped checking the rearview for the progress of the huge SUV inching out into the lane behind him. He looked at Conrad, who was as pale as the white shirt he wore with his gray suit. "You can’t believe a guy you saw once," Rafe said.

"The guy was my father, and he was right. We Cymblers love and lose. Lose our sons, too. Soon after we find the kid again as an adult, we die. Has been happening for generations. He left a family tree. You saw it."

"You shouldn’t believe an alcoholic."

"That’s brutal, Rafe. You’re just in denial of your own damn deadly curse."

Rafe started the car. "I’ll get you home and we’ll check in with the private investigative firm I hired to keep track of your wife."

"Wait. Rafe, just wait a damn minute." Conrad sounded drunk. He hadn't been sleeping well, Rafe knew that, and Conrad was probably hanging on to the last shred of his control. Hell, the man was desperate.

Rafe flexed his fingers on the steering wheel. Nice machine. He preferred Italian, but this electric vehicle was excellent. "What?"

Conrad said, "I’m thinking we need to try more unusual avenues to get rid of our curses."

"What are you talking about?" The SUV was finally gone. Rafe reversed.

"I’ve got the name of a curse breaker." Conrad tapped the nav and a map showed up.

"That’s the way."

Snorting before he grimaced, Rafe said, "This is stupid."

"Humor me." Conrad's voice cracked.

"Yeah, right." Rafe waited a beat. Conrad said nothing more. Rafe could understand pride. "Okay." He scrolled the map so he could see the whole thing, then back at the route. Rafe hadn't been in Denver for a while, but he was good with maps.

A lot of cops were in the vicinity and they eyed the hot red Tesla roadster. Rafe drove carefully to the street.

Before he could say anything, his cell rang with a familiar tone. "That’s my detective. Pocket of my jacket. Put it on speaker." A cop was tailing him, watching. He’d mind his manners.

Conrad snatched the phone, thumbed it on. Through the static, Rafe heard, "Davail, this is Herrera at Ace Investigations."

"Yeah?" Rafe asked.

"We lost them," reported the private detective Rafe had hired…just in case.

"Find them. Money is no object." He jerked his head at Conrad, who turned off the phone. Then Rafe accelerated on northbound Speer and kept to the posted, low speed limit on the elevated bridge.

Conrad said, "Thanks, bro. I’ll pay you back." He rolled his shoulders. "Now it begins, the search—” he waved "—everything else. At least I know I’ll live until I see him again. Not like your family death curse. You really think you’re going to last eight months to your thirty-third birthday?"

Rafe ignored the fast clench of his gut. "For sure. Don’t worry about Marta and Dougie. We’ll find them. This P.I. firm’s the best."

Conrad shook his head again.

A few minutes later they’d pulled up and parked in front of a brick Victorian house, complete with turret. The place was tucked away in a quiet cul-de-sac.

"This is such a stupid idea," Rafe said.

Conrad said stiffly, "She’s the real deal, a gypsy and a curse breaker. I got her name a while back from a Romani psychic."

All right, I actually wrote a scene where they visited the Romani psychic but cut it since this seemed closer to the start of the action for Rafe. I loved that scene. So I'll stick it up tomorrow.

Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again,

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mile Hi Con Weekend!

Yes, it crept up on me. I will be there, today doing Steampunky Improvocation (improv games for all), at 5 pm.

Saturday Noon:
Genre Mashup/Genre Busting
D. Boop (M), W. Hammond, CJ Henderson, R. Owens, C. Vaughn

Saturday 2pm:
Taking Your Work Series-ly
C. Berg (M), S. Brust, S. Hoyt, R. Owens, J. Stein

Sunday Noon:
Author Reading
Carol Berg & Robin Owens

I'd love to see you! It's always a GREAT time.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Need Title Input

I need title input. I've titled my contemporary panther shapeshifter novella Wild At Heart. I know this rather echoes the "Heart" books, but that's why I chose it. My other title, Cat Fancy, sounded like a cat food to my readers.

Soooo....Wild At Heart and more "Wild" titles (I'm thinking the next is Wild Streak).

Or cat names? Could be Big Cat Names. "The Tiger Will Get You" (only, right now the white tiger clan are villains...)

In any event, let me know what you like, and if there are any "Wild" titles you want to contribute (or Cat titles), I will give away a free electronic ARC of Wild At Heart for those that make the short list...(max of 5).

Many thanks!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Question for Readers

I have two Regency historicals, one with paranormal elements (telepathic twins), and one not.

I've been thinking of putting them out under a pseudonym because they aren't much like what I write now (no animals!), so would you rather see something like that under my name, or should I go with a pseudonym? I really don't want to upset my regular readers, but I do have some name recognition.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Taking Critique

I sent the full novella of Wild At Heart out to my critique group over the weekend. Even as I pressed the "send" button, I KNEW what I wanted.

I wanted everyone to say "THIS IS WONDERFUL, DON'T CHANGE A THING?" I think in all the years I've been going to critique group, I've heard that maybe twice.

But people DID love it. AND THEY DID FIND AREAS THAT CONFUSED THEM. And that is critical for a writer. It wasn't a big job (which is good, because I have a cold and little energy).

Now most of my critique group had already seen chapters 1-3. This is what I got back from one of them: "You did a great job incorporating the changes from critique."

That pleased me almost as much as hearing the story was good, itself.

May you be happy with your work today.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

File Icons

I've started using icon files so I can spot a folder I want right away, and because I like them. So here's the current list. You can see I started with a castle for Heart Search, Laev T'Hawthorn's story, Heart Secret has a door opening. "Klatch" is the Wild At Heart cat shapeshifting series I talked about yesterday and Lightfolk is my Mystic Circle series. And, yes, I still give each Heart book their own file, mostly because the way wordperftect orders Master Documents. If I stuck them in a series file, I'd break all the links.

Just an indulgence and something to talk about. That said, if you have a recommendation for a good freeware/shareware icon-making program, let me know.

May you enjoy the sights of today.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Brain Stop

Brain Stop. I'm almost finished with the novella currently titled Wild At Heart. No, it is not set in Celta. It's the shapeshifting hero (panther) and heroine who had a near-death-experience and can talk to cats, set in Denver. Here's the taste again:

So I was transcribing dictation something like: "As they reached the living room- dining room, Brandy saw the dimensional portal sensor glowing red...."

I wanted to insert this into Chapter 8. Opening wordperfect, I clicked on Chapter 8 and it began: "Glyssa waited until no one walked the hard earth of the camp pathways before she went to the cleansing tent. The waterfall in her pavilion took more water than she was comfortable hogging."

My. Brain. Just. Stopped.

Two stories, two universes colliding.

I panted. Eventually, the rational side of the brain stated: This is the default working folder, which is, of course, set to be HEART FORTUNE.

Much staring, then a political ad came up on Pandora (is noting sacred?) between Duke Ellington's In A Mellotone and Mendelssohn's Song Without Words and jolted me out of the freeze.

I no longer have the luxury of working on one book at a time. I MUST get more work out there, and published electronically, but I prefer to work on one story in the morning and the other in the afternoon, or alternate days.

This clashing of worlds hurt my head.

But today I am in the mountain of Denver, ready to battle a tiger (evil villainess), save a baby, in the climax...then the hero and heroine have a climax of their own.

The novella will run under 30K words, shorter than any of the stories in Hearts and Swords except Heart Story itself. Hopefully I will finish it today and it will be published near December. I'd like to do a series of novellas with this hero and heroine.

That's it for me, now on to brain-testing work.

Friday, October 05, 2012

What's that white stuff?

What's that white stuff? Snow? I knew it was cold and had turned the heater on, fed the cats, and went to dress I didn't realize it had snowed....

Here's a pic outside the ofc window, and, yes, that is my "official" Romance Writers of America Badge with the award pins (except for the 2 Rocky Mtn Fiction Writers Writer of the Year pins which are on my RMFW badge...)

May you enjoy the weather today.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Raccoons to Mtn Lions

Raccoons to Mtn Lions. Today I am on working on another project, and researching here:

May you enjoy the autumn today.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Fox Info, Current Research

I'm working on Heart Fortune and ran across this article on "October Crazies" for foxes.

A lot of good info out there!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Discrepencies...Maroon Lake in Enchanted Ever After

Discrepencies...Maroon Lake scene in Enchanted Ever After:

All right, I didn't have time to check out Maroon Lake in person earlier this year (after the spring weather would let me in and before cars were forbidden).

First, the water is more shallow than even I expected...but it's been a drought year. Enchanted Ever After did not take place in a drought year, so that's okay. :)

There is no path completely around the lake like there is for Bear Lake in Rocky Mtn National Park, but I think I'll be all right (you judge below):

SOUND! I would definitely have added more sound...the rushing of the stream was evident (even in the drought year), near the beginning of the path. And the slight breeze had the aspen rustling at all times.

Otherwise, I think I'm good. Especially since the time was October, not September...

And here's a tidbit...my heroine, a full human, Kiri Palger, has been transformed into a waterfolk. Lathyr, a full merman, is her mentor, friend, and soon-to-become lover. Jenni Mistweaver Emberdrake and her husband, Aric Paramon are also there, but not in the scene.

And several hours later, in the bright noon light that Lathyr was becoming accustomed to, Maroon Lake appeared ahead of them. They drove as far as they could, then walked to the lake, where the hoary and tough-looking naiader Lathyr had spoken with earlier, Stoneg, rose from the water and changed from legged to human. The naiader clothed himself in falling-apart jeans and a flannel shirt.

He turned to Lathyr and Aric and Jenni and said, "Go, walk around my lake or something." The naiader scowled and got even uglier. "I don't like Firefolk and I don't like mers." He smiled widely at Kiri. "I like humans just fine. And I like very new naiads who come from humans."

Kiri tilted her head. Lathyr didn't know what she might be sensing from the guy, but he remained wary. She stepped close and kissed Lathyr on his jaw. He liked that—the affection rolling from her warmed him.

He stared grimly at the naiader. "Why are you doing this?"

The naiader snorted, and that told Lathyr the older one had spent some time in his legged form or even human.

"I pay my tithe to the royals." He waved a webbed hand, his nailclaws looked dark and gnarly and sharp. "Pink crystals. Fresh mountain trout—Rainbow and Cutthroat." Finally a smile, showing Waterfolk teeth. "And when the Water Queen asks for a favor, like showing a brand-new, full-grown naiad around my lake—" he reached out and tugged a long strand of Kiri's hair "—I do that, too."

The Water Queen. Very interesting.

Kiri laughed, patted Lathyr on his shoulder. "Go on, enjoy the day and the view. Stoneg reminds me of my late grandpa. Crusty."

Stoneg appeared pleased.

Lathyr bowed. "Thank you for helping us."

Again the naiader snorted, but put an easy arm around Kiri's shoulder and said in an almost-gentle tone. "We'll practice your changes and breathing and illusion, huh?"

May you enjoy the day (it's as cloudy as at Maroon Bells here, today).

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