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, December 26, 2013

Jace in the Social Club, Heart Fortune cut, Celta Thursday

The crowd of men in the corner by the bar had become rowdier, talking loudly, slapping each other's shoulders, full of easy comradery. Here he sat, alone in a stupid booth.

Glancing over, he simply froze, hesitating to make one movement that would catch their notice, like a mouse sensing Zem.

Laev T'Hawthorn and his generation might be the young and up-and-coming movers and shakers, but these men were those well settled in power, a half-generation ahead of Laev, or as old as his father would have been. In their prime. With one GreatLord the age of Laev's late FatherSire – no mistaking that gilt head and those pewter eyes of T'Holly. Jace thought he could pick out T'Blackthorn, maybe that swarthy guy was T'Ash, and the younger Hollys, of course, Holm and Tinne, though he didn't know which was which. These were the powers of Druida and a cluster of fighters.

The realization burst on Jace that he might be near The Green Knight Fencing and Fighting Salon, and these guys had come in after sparring. He drew in a deep breath. They all smelled suspiciously fresh after a long day, with manly scents of soap, the same soap. Yep, he'd stay still.

But freezing had been the wrong thing to do, because it had caught the eldest Hollys' eye, GreatLord Holly, once the premiere warrior of Celta The man swaggered over and leaned on the upright of the opposite side of the booth. Piercing gray eyes under old, heavy lids examined Jace.

Some of the other men followed.

What was Jace in for?

"You look like a man ready for fun," the lord said.

A bubble of wild surprise expanded through Jace's chest, got trapped there. He knew his eyes widened.

"Name?" T'Holly asked.

"Jace Bayrum."

The lord's thick silver-white brows knotted as the man continued to consider Jace. "Laev T'Hawthorn has spoken about you." He thumped Jace on the shoulder. "And here you are."

"Yes, here I am."

The GreatLord looked around, a couple of the men were behind him, one of his sons, but most of the rest were now talking quietly at the bar. "I bet you know some livelier places, Jace Bayrum," T'Holly said. "Hell, I know some livelier places."

His grip was steel around Jace's biceps as he pulled him from the booth. T'Holly looked down at the table. "Soup. Pitiful, son, just pitiful. Let's go get us some raw furrabeast steak, and some rawer whiskey."

"Sounds good," someone else said, then called back. "Hey, we're heading out to someplace with more action."

Weren't all these guys married?

"Great!" another shouted from the bar.

The next few septhours passed in a cheerful blur. When Jace stumbled back through the gate, staggered along the walkway and up the front steps of D'Licorice Residence and through the door, he found the GrandLady herself waiting for him.

She sniffed, then her nose pinched.

He grinned. He knew her better now. She and her daughter Enata were cool, but they weren't as cool as the hostess at that stupid noble club. The Licorice women were fiery under their red and auburn hair. Fiery and passionate.

D'Licorice frowned and said in icy tones, "You smell of liquor."

Jace shook his head trying to get some sense into it, some good words on his tongue. "T'Holly," he said. "Found me at that nobleman's club." He rubbed his upper arm. "The man has fingers like steel."

Glyssa's mother's cold expression cracked. She chuckled. "T'Holly, eh? Come along with me, then." She helped him up the stairs and to Glyssa's room, kissed his cheek. "Welcome to Druida and the Family, Jace."

She turned and walked down the hall to take the stairs up another story. Jace leaned against the wall next to Glyssa's door. That phrase had nearly scared him sober, concerned him more than anything else that had happened all day – the whole week.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yule Gift Giving Scene from Heart Fate (excerpt from the book)

Happy Solstice, Yule!

Soon Tinne and Lahsin ended the ritual, and took the food and drink from the altar and put the victuals between them as they leaned back on the pillows.

A scritching came outside the door. **All saying words is done?** asked Strother, the huge dog. **Flair came and went. Feel better. You done?**

Lahsin stood. "Yes, we are, time for a sharing of gifts."

**I do not need any gifts,** he said with anticipation.

Lahsin opened the door and Strother trotted in. For reasons known only to them, a big, red ribbon tied in a bow was around his neck. He looked ridiculous, but Tinne kept his mouth shut.

He also realized that he didn't have a gift for the dog. He reached to the Turquoise House for a bag of cat treats he hid from Ilexa. Since she was still loafing at T'Holly Residence, engorged on Yule feast, she'd never know that he'd given her treats to Strother. He'd replace them before she found out. With effort, he ported them to a spot behind the pillows.

The dog sneezed, blinked watery eyes. **Too much smoke smell in here.**

With a wave and a little regret, Tinne banished the fragrant spirals of incense, another bit of the ritual atmosphere that had blanketed him and Lahsin together, gone.

"I have gifts," Lahsin said, looking at him and Strother.

The dog sat, his tongue lolled out.

"I do, too," Tinne said. "Gifts between Fam and person, then man and animal first."

Strother wagged his tail and gave an approving look to Tinne. My first gift. He sat straight and watched as Lahsin brought out something wrapped in softleaves. She put it in front of Strother and he pawed at it until a string of beads fell out.

**A Fam collar!** Strother sounded thrilled.

Tinne studied it. The necklace was composed of bright dried berries and larger rosehips of orange and red, accented with dark seeds and a nut or two, all strung on thread.

Lahsin untied the bow and fastened the collar around the dog's neck. "It looks good against your gray fur."

Sure wasn't emeralds.

But Lahsin had made it with her own hands and that was more important than emeralds, though

Tinne's Fam hunting cat, Ilexa, might not think so.

"I've spellshielded the string. It will only break if you get caught and can't get free."

The dog's brows lowered.

"I'll make you a new one if that happens," Lahsin said.

Strother grinned. He trotted to the door and brought a large mass of gray-brown something gently held between his jaws. He dropped it at Lahsin's feet and sat with a doggie grin.

"Mushrooms! Prized truffles! Ooh."

Wagging his tail, Strother said, **I have heard that people consider these tasty.**

"We do," Lahsin assured him. "I haven't seen these in the estate, where did you find them?"

Strother's chest puffed out with pride. **Saw little ones near my den in the glasshouse. Sent them Flair and they grew. For you.**

"Thank you!" Lahsin hugged him.

The dog rumbled satisfaction, then turned his head to Tinne. Tinne brought out the packet of treats. Strother's nose twitched. **Good morsels.**

"Treats," Tinne said.

Lahsin raised her eyebrows at the wording on the envelope: "Special bits for your FamCat from D'Ash."

Tinne shoved the packet to Strother, who gave it a strong sniff. **Good.** He decorated the wrapping with drool.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Celta Thursday, Jace in the Social Club continued (Heart Fortune)

Jace continued to eat the good soup and considered what he'd said about Laev. That lord had gotten Jace just where Laev had wanted him, first to Druida City, then to excruciatingly female Ladies' Tearoom, then to T'Hawthorn Residence – and here, too, though thankfully the man wasn't sitting opposite from him – though if he were, he could've paid the shot. Jace didn't think he'd mind working with the guy, he'd just better keep a warier eye on Laev's manipulations.

The GreatLord did have some good ideas for Jace's leatherwork, but as for the storytelling – Jace figured it would really be Camellia who would make all the decisions regarding Hoku's story, whether it would be published, made into a play, a viz, whatever.

That was interesting. Camellia, not born nearly in status as Laev T'Hawthorn, nonetheless could hold her own with the man, and from what Jace had seen of her own enterprises, a formidable woman.
Glyssa was that, too. Formidable. Ambitious. Pushy.

She'd changed his life, and he was pretty damn sure he didn't like it. Was she trying to settle him down? Get him stuck here in Druida City? He didn't like that idea at all.

He shoved the cup of soup aside, not wanting the last spoonfulls. Of course the beautiful china bowl slid smoothly across the glossily polished table, making no sound. Not like the slight rasp o f a thick pottery bowl across a rough tavern table that Jace was used to.

The crowd of men in the corner by the bar had become rowdier, talking loudly, slapping each other's shoulders, full of easy comradery. Here he sat, alone in a stupid booth.

Glancing over, he simply froze, hesitating to make one movement that would catch their notice, like a mouse sensing Zem.

Note I will post a Yule excerpt from an old favorite on Saturday.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Heart Fortune Cut Scene, Jace at Social Club 3

The hostess walked up and gave him a pretty smile. "How is everything? Your food?" she asked.

He glanced up at her. Yes, she was the same general type as Glyssa and her sister and her mother. Noble. Refined. Bone deep knowledge of roots and ancestors and duty and Family.

This one had figured out he knew Laev T'Hawthorn and was worth her time and nice smile – and that destroyed the comparison again. Neither Glyssa nor her Family cared much about catering to nobles, their values were set solidly into helping all patrons of their libraries. Interesting people with intriguing questions or scholarship were who the Licorices prized.

And he was spending a lot of time trying to understand the Licorices – as if he could understand them, it might give him pieces of himself? Better to haul his attention back to the moment.

"My food is fine," he said. "But not as good as at T'Hawthorn's Residence, or Camellia D'Hawthorn's The Ladies' Tearoom." The woman's brows slightly lifted, her eyes warmed further, even holding feminine interest.

Jace despised himself for dropping the names just to make himself more comfortable in this setting.

She lowered her lashes, then swept them up with a smile that advanced to flirty. Interested in him because of his "connections," not himself. He got the distinct impression that she wouldn't mind a quick fling with him – as long as he introduced her to Camellia or Laev in a personal manner. Gah.

"You don't seem like the kind of man who frequents The Ladies' Tearoom," she said.

Feeling even more irritated with himself since he couldn't leave that damn statement alone, he shrugged. "Laev's choice of venue. It was pretty floral." He didn't intend to explain more.


Before he knew it, a truth was wrung from him. "That Laev T'Hawthorn can maneuver you into some interesting places." Jace looked around. "Like here." He was sure he didn't add that the club wasn't his kind of place, she already believed that and overlooked it. Judging from her, too snobbish and definitely not lively enough.

"I don't belong to any clubs here in the city. I'm usually out of town," he said. "Does Raz Elecampane have a membership here?" he asked. Maybe if that man did, Jace wouldn't feel so out of place – and who was he kidding? Raz came from a noble background himself, as did Del, had a huge amount of wealth.

"T'Elecampane comes in now and then when he's in town," she answered. "But, of course, the club he prefers is The Thespian Club."

"Of course." She was right, Jace couldn't see Raz Elecampane hanging around this place much. He thought about how active the Thespian Club might be. That sounded good. He thought about how emotionally dramatic it might be. That, Jace could do without.

The woman smiled and nodded but Jace continued to stare into his heavy crystal glass of whiskey and she left. Good. TO BE CONTINUED

Friday, December 06, 2013

Celta Thursday - Jace at the Noble Social Club (Heart Fortune)

I was wrong, I didn't post the opening...so this is BEFORE the scene I posted last week:

ace left D'Licorice's by the front door. Imagine, him, Jace Bayrum of Pentref Village going in and out of a GrandLady's house by the front door, as if he belonged. The noble estate itself was one of the few in CityCenter because it was attached to the main PublicLibrary.

A good walk away along the surprisingly empty avenues around CityCenter, was Laev T'Hawthorn's club.

Jace recalled the last time he'd been in Druida City, so many years ago. Young, at loose ends with gilt in his pocket, excited about whatever venture next came along. Nothing tied him down at that time. He'd met Glyssa during that long weekend in the city and that had been the most exciting circumstance of all.

He wished he could recapture those feelings from before. But CityCenter wasn't buzzing like the lower and middle-class district he'd been before.

He reached the club and stared at the stone building with fancily-lit bespelled letters glowing in the dark. Noble Club No. 1. He snorted, a simple name for a social club that catered to the highest strata of them all, the FirstFamilies. He hesitated outside the large wooden door. But his mouth was dry and he wanted a drink. Lord and Lady knew how expensive it would be, but how often would he have this chance to see the inside of such a club?

When he touched the latch, it was smooth and warm and the bronze metal felt like Flair ran through it. With the FirstFamilies, if a spellshield went up and he was caught in it, he'd probably be killed. But it reminded him that stepping into this club could be a once-in-a-lifetime deal. He went through the door.

Under the soft glow of a spell lamp Earth-sun-yellow, an elegant woman stood, eyeing him up an down. She probably knew to the last silver sliver how much his now-battered leathers had cost when they were new – years ago. The amount had been more than he should have spent on them, but he'd needed good protection for wilderness traveling.

"May I help you," she said in a proper, cool tone. One of those that both Glyssa and her mother were master's of. Yeah, she sort of reminded him of Glyssa, but this daughter of a no-doubt noble house had sleek black hair and blue eyes like ice chips. Glyssa had always had that fiery hair, springy in texture against his skin when they loved. No, when they had sex.

No, they made love, but he yet couldn't accept that simple phrase, that thought, and tonight was not the time for self-scrutiny. His mind was not in a good space tonight and his heart was jumbled.

"May I help you," she asked once more, the temperature in her voice dropping another thirty degrees.

He didn't quite lean against her podium.

"This club is for members only," she snipped.

"Jace Bayrum, guest of Laev T'Hawthorn. I believe you'll find me on the list," he said.

The woman pokered up even more.

He was sure of it. Laev T'Hawthorn might the highest of the high, but the man was a player and he wanted to do business with Jace, both for the leatherwork and the storytelling. And for those ends, Laev would be a friendly manipulator, pushing Jace in the direction the GreatLord wanted him to go. Laev had gotten Jace here, hadn't he?

But he probably wasn't in the place and that made Jace smile.

After a scan of whatever type of list she had, the hostess picked up a menu, her manner softening. Not all the way to deferential, but at least to polite. "Please follow me."

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