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, 2013

Dark Panther Cuts - Feral Magic

Dark Panther Cuts - Feral Magic: Much of what I cut in the beginning of Feral Magic was about Dak, the shapeshifter hero, in Ferix Dimension. So here are the FULL first 2 scenes: Ferix Dimension, Castle of the Shapeshifter Dark Panther Klatch, morning

"The baby Chief has vanished, my lord regent," the nursery guard said.

Rage flooded Dak, his scalp prickled as his hair thickened to mane and his claws snicked out of his human hands, not good signs. The guard flung himself on the floor, beyond the desk and Dak's anger-fixed vision. Good. If the man was out of sight Dak might be able to control himself enough not to kill him. The guard was his cousin, after all.

Dak's roar, more panther than human, echoed against the paneled walls of the small, richly appointed office of royal red and gold. He only found his voice after he'd let the grief-fury challenge-to-the-death roar out, then spoke softer than a purr.

"You refer to the Chief, the heir to this throne and all the panther klatches, my late brother's child?"

The reek of fear rose from the guard, instinctively pleasing Dak. The guard whined in submission. "Yes, my lord regent."

"Vanished how and when and from where?" The first heated red wash of anger subsided inside Dak, but he itched to lash out.

The guard gulped, and spoke in a rug-muffled voice, "From the nursery. How, we do not know. We think, we think–"

"We?" snapped Dak.
"The nursery nanny and the guards and I."

"Where is the nursery nanny? The babe was in her care? Why is she not here?" Dak asked silkily, though he knew the answer. This cousin of his, the head of the nursery guards, wanted to mate with the nanny. He sought to protect her.

"The babe vanished an hour ago from his pen in his room. We don't know how. The nursery nanny was in the adjoining kitchen warming milk and meat for the heir. One guard was with her, the other was at his post outside the door. Vaynk and Murst."

More cousins Dak valued.

"The nursery nanny is still having fits."

A poor excuse, and Dak's nose told him the words bordered on a lie, but one he would accept. "What do you and the nursery nanny and the guards under your command think?"

"We think the heir crossed dimensions."

Dak's mind went blank. Only the sound of the guard's shallow breathing disturbed the chamber. Finally, Dak said, "That should not be possible."

"The babe's magic is very powerful. His dam came from a klatch of dimension walkers."

"You choose such a defense!" Dak's roar was back, so rough and loud it hurt his throat.
A pause of a full minute before the guard answered, "There is no sign of forced entry, no magical trace of anyone, the windows are barred, no one came through the windows. No one got past Murst at the door. No sound heard by Vaynk or the nursery nanny. They were gone from the room less than a quarter hour!" More fear-sweat rose from his cousin.

"I do not believe this."

"There was a hint of otherworld tang."

Dak slid his claws from the holes he'd made in the thick wood of the chair arms, forced them to retract. His chest pumped raggedly. He had failed to protect his kin, a babe. Guilt rose to heat him more than his rage.

The babe was gone, unprotected, vulnerable. Anything could happen to him. Terrible things would happen to him if the klatch's enemies found him. Dak must track and find and safeguard the child. Dak's heart would shatter if the baby was harmed.

Then every nerve twanged as he began to think of the terrible consequences of this event. "They will say I killed him," Dak whispered. "That I wanted the throne and disposed of my beloved brother's kit, a babe I love. That is the worst."

Then the blackness of this situation hit him like a dark bolt of magic. "Our enemies will gleefully circulate that rumor. All of our klatch will be smeared and outcast and shunned. We will have trouble courting mates...we will diminish and become a lost klatch." He dropped his voice. "Once a babe has been rumored to be missing, if he is found by unfriends, he can remain...missing." Cold swept through him at this disaster. He could not sit, so stood and saw the lower half of his prone cousin, trembling legs. That satisfied an atavistic need in Dak.

"You will take me to the nursery and tell me everything. You will tell it to the archivist. After that you will get out of my sight along with Vaynk and Murst and the nursery nanny. I must find my nephew."

"Yes, my lord regent."

"I will see the nursery now."
* * *
The nursery was bright with sunlight against the yellow walls and red tiled floor. Cheerful voices of guards training wafted through the open but barred windows. All too surreal.

Except for the odor of piss in the room. Baby piss, female fit-piss, and piss from two men of Dak's klatch. The guards' released bladders when they'd understood what had happened.

Everyone had given reports to Dak. No one gone past the guards. There was no feel of magic, black or white. They told him the babe had been awake, growling and nipping at his cloth dog. Happy.

Unwatched for a quarter hour, then gone.

Dak examined the room in detail, called upon and extended all of his senses until he could see individual motes of sunshine. Not the slightest scent of any intruder on the floor, at the threshold of the door, at the windows.

He lifted the lid of the pen with human thumb and fingers clumsy under his claws that had extended again from fear. Let everyone think he remained angry, better than terror that his nephew would be harmed.

Concentrating on the mat, he inhaled lustily, touched his tongue to spots of baby the scent of his nephew. Grief gripped him and he shoved it away. He could not afford to be distracted. The odors were recent, not more than forty minutes old. Just forty minutes ago all was well with the world.

With a flex of his claws, he let his magic pour to the sensitive tips of his fingertips, gently drew them across the mattress.

The touch of otherworld, a hint that a hole through dimensions had opened and closed and a waver of alien atmosphere remained.

He inhaled with all his senses, let the otherworldness brush each hair on his body, flow across his skin, sink into his bones so he would know that other world, coat his tongue so he tasted the dimension.

If any sense failed, he would remember with others.

He did not like the background information about the strange world that spiralled through his senses. The place seemed too much of pitiful always-human beings, rare shapeshifters, and a lot of metal.

Adrenaline surged as adventure beckoned, fear followed that his helpless nephew was lost in a strange land.

Dak was the regent, but he was also the best tracker in all the world. He would go.

Without looking at the four lined up against the wall, he said, "You, my cousins and the heir's security team, contact Dyr. I step down as regent and name him. He is now regent." Dak's older brother wasn't a great warrior, but he was a wily strategist and administrator. If anyone could prevent a catastrophe, he could. "You take orders from him as of this moment. Tell him everything, every detail you saw and heard and smelled and felt and sensed. He decides your fate. I will equip myself and head to the portal."

The one portal connecting to only two other worlds – and neither of those two worlds was the one he sensed his nephew had slipped into. He stopped at the nursery threshold and swept a glance over the miserable quartet. "Tell Dyr that I will find our nephew, and tell him that he left fur behind, so the child did not cross to the other world as a human babe, but as a panther cub."

Friday, January 25, 2013

News and Bolts

First, I have finished Heart Fortune! It is long and no doubt will be cut. It is with
my editor and Beta Readers. I'm trying to fuggidaboutit for a bit so I will be slightly fresh when I go back to it next week.

Life got in the way and I've mostly handled stuff I'd put off when I could for the last couple of days.

I am working on the next Feral enovella, and will brainstorm with crit group tomorrow...and also working on another project that I hope to announce news about soon, I've given a few teasers in pics, etc. here and on Facebook, where I've sort of migrated to.

Today: Dictation, notes on Feral Two. And, if you are a writer, you will know about research...in this case a name and identity for Dak of the Black Panther Klatch. In October, when I finished the (rougher than anticiptated) draft of Feral Magic, I figured out that Brandy (heroine) is a webdesigner and she has a friend who can get her identity papers. So who and what would Dak be, here?

In Feral Magic, Brandy called him Dakota (which is NOT a name any native American would give to one of their children). Anyway, I went here, there and everywhere on the net, and Brandy's friend had been wanting to infiltrate a few databases and create a special kind of identity, just because he could...and I won't spill those beans, but I will introduce you to: Dakota Smoke, see above pic.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cut Scene from Feral Magic

Cut scene from Feral Magic: I cut about 5K from the beginning of Feral Magic to get the hero and heroine together faster...I'm aiming for more readers than my extremely loyal fans. :)

Here is what the story says currently: Purrs roused Dak near dawn and he tensed, stared at the small, black female cat who'd awoken him. He'd gotten no more than a couple of hours of sleep and weariness dragged at him.

After a disrespectful conversation....

Purrs roused Dak near dawn and he tensed. He'd gotten no more than a couple of hours of sleep and weariness dragged at him.

You are safe Huge Catman, said someone. Dak opened his eyes to a very small cat.

She rose from sitting to all four paws, stretched lingeringly and Dak wanted to do the same. Are all of you so small?

The cat snorted. Those of us who roam free in the city. She moved away a few paces, sat again, lifted her forepaw, spread her pads and groomed them.

Here, the Cats who are as big as you are in a special area for humans to look at and are fed by humans. Another snort. But they are all Cat. As I am all Cat. I sense you are only partially Cat.

Dak's back teeth ground at her slow speech.

She slicked her whiskers with her clean paw, then inhaled lustily. You smell a little familiar. Come along. I will take you to a good human. You will have better luck with her than staying outside in the alleys and streets, Catman who smells like OTHERWHERE.

He rose slowly, shook out his mane, rumbled a low beneath-human's-ears roar at the miniature feline.

Trotting away, she didn't even look back, obviously unintimidated.

He stretched, working the strain from each muscle, flexing each, a warrior's habit. His first few steps hurt his pads, but he put the pain from his mind and caught up with the small female in a few bounds. She stopped at the end of the way, tapped a white looking surface perpendicular to them. Humans call this a sidewalk, for when they are on foot. She sniffed. They have many, many rules. The cat slid a glance at him. Rules Cats of our size can ignore. Rules Catmen can't.
He'd see about that.

A metal box sped by, leaving fumes and dust. Dak jumped.

The cat laughed at him, looking at him with whiskers still quivering, not bothering to hide her amusement. Then she coughed. You must watch for the vehicles. They are dangerous. Her tail flicked. But you have found that out, no?

Vehicles! He'd thought so, but still didn't like the idea of an enclosed box.

She raised a paw as another one went by.

Humans ride in them.

Motorized chariots. Abominable.

The cat had turned to face him, angling her head up. Do not get in one as a Cat. It is very bad. You never know where they will take you. And many who go DO NOT COME BACK! She shuddered, and that made him do so, too, an atavistic reaction.

She ran across the black pavement and Dak followed, fast, though there were no moving metal boxes near them.

A few miles later, in one of the alleys she pounced on a piece of paper. Twitched her ear to have him come over and look at the thing beneath her paw. Note this, the size and shape and colors and especially the texture. If you see anything like this, take it. They are valuable to humans. You may have this one, she offered generously, and maneuvered until it was stuck on one of his claws.

He smelled it, wrinkling his nose as he scented the sweat of many humans. Palm sweat, so this was often touched with fingers and hands. He didn't like it riding on his claw, but trusted the cat enough to believe her that it was important. With a flip of his paw, he stashed it in his aura cache.

Finally they stopped in an alley like the one he'd awakened in.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Novella - Feral Magic

Yes, Feral Magic is a NOVELLA. That's how much time I can spend on this particular project. I plan on a series of novellas with Brandy and Dak. It's an experiment in continuing characters for me, okay?

I DO want you to read and enjoy Feral Magic, but not if you're expecting something long and with a solid Happily Ever After ending. I'm not ready for that, now. And thanks to everyone who bought it, liked it, reviewed it, and whatever else :D !

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Feral Magic Excerpt

I know you can get the first chapter as a sample at amazon or bn.com (and those of you who have Kobo, I haven't forgotten, I asked last week and they have applied to be a Kobo distributor and are awaiting reply).

But here's the hero/heroine meet:

Dak is the hero, black werejaguar, Brandy is the heroine, human:

Purrs roused Dak near dawn and he tensed, stared at the small, black female cat who’d awoken him. He’d gotten no more than a couple of hours of sleep and weariness dragged at him.

After a disrespectful conversation, the cat led him to food. She slunk over to a few bites in a dish set outside a wooden fence. Dak’s nose twitched. He hadn’t eaten for a long time. He stared at the cat. He supposed it would be rude to eat her. No matter how irritating she’d been, she’d helped him. And he really didn’t eat felines. Except after battle with his enemies.

He caught a whiff of something and his heavy mane lifted along his spine. His nephew, Favel!

With one leap he was over the fence…and hit by two small and plump cat bodies.

This is OUR house, go away! said the black and white one.

Go, go, go! said the long-haired black.

I have come for my kit, Dak snarled, putting vibrato into his threat.

The thing. He has come for the thing! the younger, long-haired cat said.

Good. He can have the thing. He is another thing.
Black-and-white cat was older and dominant. Dak sensed that though the two lived together they weren’t family or friendly.

The black-and-white cat lifted his lip to show tiny fangs.

Dak let his growl rumble all the way from his gut.

The damn black cat shrieked. Neither of the small ones backed down. He could admire their courage even as their foolhardiness disgusted him.

Creaking door, stomping feet. The hopeful and wonderful smell of Dark Panther Klatch shit and urine – Favel!

“What’s going on here?” A woman walked out, holding the baby who wore a cloth on his nethers!

Dak bounded over the small cats, sending them tumbling with his tail.

Brandy froze, angled her body to protect the baby. Her heart pounded. The one step back into the house and closing the door would be too slow.

The threatening black jaguar pinned her with his glare. His head was taller than her waist. She’d viewed a lot of photos of wild cats on the internet, and though the cat had a jaguar’s facial features and build, his mane was a lion’s, long and growing nearly halfway down his back.

Huge, bigger than any of the “largest” stats. Longer, heavier. Bigger teeth.

His upper lip had risen, showing really scary fangs. A dangerous, predatory, intelligent purple gaze watched her.

She managed a tiny swallow. She’d known Stanley had been well cared for. But why hadn’t she thought someone – something – would come for him?

The adult version of Stanley tilted his head back and his nostrils flared. His plumeless tail lashed.

Don’t run. Don’t run. Don’t run. Mountain lions. Make yourself appear bigger! Yell! She didn’t think that would work with this beast. She supposed she was lucky seeing him at all instead of being ambushed and killed. She took a step back. Didn’t stumble over the threshold.

He prowled forward.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Voice, Style, and Technique

Voice, Style and Technique

Style can change, technique can be taught, and voice -- well, voice can be refined, but, truly, voice is what people read a certain writer for.

Voice is the primary thing that makes one writer different than another, one storyteller different than the next. Voice is unique (and how wonderful is THAT!) and crucial.

I must admit I was very upset when I saw the 1 star review of Feral Magic on amazon. Now, I get one stars and two stars most every book (if you think I'm going to look to check these facts, you are wrong). But what was bad for me about the review on Feral Magic was that it was a new project I really wanted to take off, and the one star came when there were only two reviews.

I DID read it, how could I not? And what it came down to is that the reviewer did not like my voice, style or technique.

There is nothing I can do to recover from that. There is no way I can convince her that she'd like another book of mine. She will probably never like my work.


I did what I rarely do, asked some critique buddies that if they liked the work and thought it merited more stars, to post. One of them came through and I was greatly relieved.

Each one of my books will be judged by reviewers. Since I put my work out there, that is what I must expect and accept. My writing will be judged, my voice and technique. Every writer who is published must accept that. Sometimes it won't feel fair. Tough.

But I'm not going to stop writing stories I love and believe in, and I will always do, as I have always done: Write the best book I can with the knowledge and resources I have. I am a writer.

Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping, I've tried this really only once and, of course, with software. It was for the first novella I ever did (Road to Adventure in What Dreams May Come) and that scared me. With the publishing of Feral Magic, I'm ALMOST over my fears of novellas.

In any event, here's the map. Some elements (I vaguely recall), did not make it into the novella because (SURPRISE) I had too many subplots and cut one out. :)

Good luck and happy mapping to all who use this tool!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Not Even For Free

Not even for free. Like many of you, I download plenty of free ebooks, and like many of you, if I like the book, I will buy more from the author.

Recently I followed a link to amazon, and hesitated...I liked the description of the heroine. The description of the hero was okay. The heroine's inner conflict was okay, and the outer conflict was acceptable.

But I didn't download it, and I had to consider why.

I think the blurb wasn't good enough, and/or it didn't give me enough that was different from a hundred other stories. I didn't know the author at all, and it wasn't in one of the genres I read heavily in (also considerations). My reading time is extremely limited so I must be picky.

Recently a publisher informed me that they were looking for THREE STANDARD HOOKS, in the story and especially the blurb, to pull readers in for "that sort of book I like."

For instance in Feral Magic I have:
Lost child
Widow (war widow - actually fiancé, but close enough)

One of those could be enough for people who liked "that kind of story." For me, I like widow stories. I like marriage-of-convenience stories. I like shapeshifters. Other hooks that might work on me are telepathic animals, and sometimes ex-lovers reunited. :)

But there just wasn't enough in the pitch I was looking at, or enough different. Feral Magic also has a hero (royal which I used as a keyword), who is from another dimension (which I considered for a long time whether to put in the blurb or not, but I figured it might scare away more paranormal romance readers who don't know my work than grab them).

Bottom line is: You DO need those hooks, especially if you're self-publishing and I really know it, from experiences like the above.

May you enjoy all the worlds you visit today.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Professionals Doing Their Thing

Nothing like professionals doing a great job, awesome to see.

Here are three that I've watched several times:

Actor Robert Carlyle in a 6 minute ad done in one shot:

Dancer Derek Hough challenged (and rising to the challenge) in creating choreography for a 1950's style Pasa Doble:

The Mnozil Brass playing The Green Hornet.

May you have a wondrous year.

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