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, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! Celta Thursday, Return of ZANTH AND THE TREASURE.

Happy Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for all of you who enjoy my work, and who share such wonderful words and feelings with me. Celta Thursday, a return of the piece, ZANTH AND THE TREASURE (Free Short Short Story set in the Celta Universe)

Celta, 406 Years After Colonization, Summer

Zanth's whiskers twitched. The smell was incredible. Incredible and wonderful and with the scent of great Flair magic.

He padded warily through the night and the bushes that rose high above his head. He'd never been out of the city of Druida before. Here on his FamMan's southern, overgrown estate there were creatures that might try and make a mouthful of him. But he was a canny and clever cat, the pre-eminent cat of Druida, and therefore, of course, the whole world of Celta.

The bushes loomed and rustled with animals and midnight noises. He placed each paw carefully, flexed his claws.

There was treasure up ahead and he meant to have it.

Slithering under the rusted greeniron gate, he wallowed for a few instants in the dirt and dust, spreading his own scent. Notifying all in the area that the mighty Zanth was on the prowl, that this estate, once abandoned, was now his.

He sniffed luxuriously. No celtaroons. He'd cleaned out two nasty nests in the few days they'd been here. There was wolf, far away, but the pack was made of low, unintelligent creatures and no match for Zanth.

He was a FamCat of the highest order, of the greatest nobility. Now he was pampered, and that was absolutely his due. He'd found the boy child, Rand T'Ash, in the slum of Downwind and cared for him, let Rand love him and be a Familiar companion.

Then they grew big enough to walk the Vengeance Stalk. They'd killed those men who'd murdered Rand's Family. Zanth had gotten his Residence and his room and his bed and his velvet pillow.

And his chef.

It was a lie that Zanth was soft and fat. He could still take any feral tom in Druida.

The tantalizing scent came from beyond the ragged gliderway...it came from the road. Not a big road, but one with lots of odors of stride beasts, llamas, a horse or two. And predator and prey animals and carrion eaters.

The lake to the south ladened the air with rich smells of fish and small prey and his favorite, sewer rat.

But even wet rat didn't smell as good as this human-Flair-made-thing.

He sauntered out, nose lifted, reveling in all the excellent new smells, the slight breeze sliding against his fur, the beingness in a new place just waiting for him to put his paw prints all over it.

In a few bounds he found the sphere. Glass with interesting-unique-special stuff floating inside. It smelled of woman and strange places beyond any Zanth had experienced. There was a little tang of the Great Platte Ocean that he recognized, and of Gael City where he'd been, and even a icy wind that caused him to shiver and his hair to raise, the far north. More recently was the gaminess of the Hard Rock Mountains. Slightly buried in dirt, he pawed it out, grinning as his claws dug deep in the rich earth of this new place that would know him.

He rolled the sphere a little way, watching something sparkle inside it. Tasting it, his tongue absorbed some of the Flair that created it and emanated from it and he purred. It made him feel better. A treasure indeed.

**That is MINE.** The snarling shout – mental and physical – stopped Zanth in his tracks. He rolled the globe behind his front paws. It felt good against his heart.

A scrawny and scruffy fox slipped onto the road. Not much like those aristocratic foxes in Druida City. Zanth was as big as this one and had more muscle and mass.

But the last time he fought a fox his emerald stud had been ripped from his left ear and lost. He'd also teleported home with a broken hind leg.

FamMan Rand T'Ash had sworn and had taken a long time to make the new stud.

FamWoman Danith had cried.

**Mine!** the fox yelled again.

Zanth didn't run from fights. He could win against this dog fox. The fox lifted his lip, showing teeth, and Zanth growled back, packing it with power. The fox set his paws and hunkered, ready to fight.

**Go away!** Zanth commanded. **This is my place and all here belongs to ME. All prey, all leaves to chase, and essspesssially this TREASURE THING.**

The fox barked challenge. Zanth hissed and growled until he could only hear himself. Then he grinned because the fox hopped backward. Still there was something in the animal's eyes that told Zanth the fox might pounce if he turned his back, or took his gaze off the fox to enjoy his new treasure.

**Leave the sphere,** said the fox.

The sphere sent warmth into Zanth's middle. He wanted it. He would have it. **This Treasure Thing is Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine!** Zanth switched his tail. That was that. Six "mines" and that pointy-nosed creature should know it was his. Cats never backed down after six "mines."

The fox snapped out a bark. **That landscape globe belongs to my FamWoman. She made it.**

Zanth sniffed. **Then why doesn't she have it?**

**She makes them and lost some. I have gotten two.**

Zanth saw in the fox's mind that there had been three. He reverted to the slum speech of his kittenhood. **ME HAS THIS ONE!**

Again the fox showed a lift of upper lip and muzzle, growled. This time the toughness of battle reflected in his eyes. **Del made it with sweat and blood and Flair.** A shifting of balance of the paws and tail. The stringy fox would fight.

With one strong kick of a hind leg and a demonstration of his own fabulous Flair, Zanth sent the "landscape globe" soaring back into the estate, between the rails of the green iron gate.

The fox narrowed his eyes, flexed his dark, dirty claws.

Zanth matched glares. **I am Zanth, and the bauble is Mine. I will win.** He swaggered forward and his very presence made the fox step back.

**Zanth. I have heard of Zanth,** the fox said.

**Of course.** Zanth smiled with all his teeth. **I have killed many sewer rats, many celtaroons, sired many litters.**

With a long stare, the fox looked Zanth from tooth to tail tip. **You are uglier than I thought.**

Zanth curled his lip. **You are so ugly the twinmoons hide.** They'd gone behind a cloud.

**You are FamCat to T'Ash,** the fox said.

It was a rare fox who could match insult with insult and this one obviously wasn't so smart, though annoying all the same. **T'Ash is MY FamMan.**

The fox darted in and swung a paw. Zanth hopped aside, then hissed and surged forward, back arched, all his hair out. Yes, he was more muscular, thicker than this stupid, scrawny fox.

It hunched it's back and screeched so Zanth had to flatten his ears.

**I WILL fight you!** Even as he rumbled a growl deep in his throat, Zanth's thoughts sped.

In a fight he might lose his emerald ear studs and his collar. FamMan refused to fix them again or make him more. FamWoman would be sad. Tears might drip down her face and onto Zanth's fur like the last time he came back bloodied. That made him feel almost worse than losing his gems.

But he extended his claws. He let battle anticipation sit on his tongue before saying, **I am Zanth and I will win this battle, as I win ALL My battles.**

He paused. He was so clever. Then he said, **But...**

The fox snapped up Zanth's bait. **What?**

**I could pay you for the landscape globe with rabbit.** In Zanth's experience foxes loved rabbit.

His adversary's tongue rolled out and a string of drool hung to the ground. **Real Earthan rabbit or the Celtan mocyn?** The fox asked.

Snorting, Zanth said, **Rabbits. Two. Freshly killed and put in a cold spot where I can get in with my Flair.** A neighboring farmer had done the killing, but Zanth didn't care. If it was available to him and no one guarded it from him, it was his.

**Done!** cried the fox, and he was equally irritating as he kept up with Zanth on the run to the neighbor's cold shed.

Feeling magnanimous, Zanth showed the creature how to manipulate the latch with Flair. The fox took both rabbits while Zanth sat and groomed his paws. The treasure was his and it would last a lot longer than a couple of rabbit meals. Besides, he didn't like rabbit.

Once they were away from the shed and the road, they eyed each other, then the fox nodded and said, **I am Shunuk.**

**I haven't heard of you,** Zanth said.

The fox's tail bristled and flicked, then he was gone in the night, nearly as quiet and stealthy as Zanth himself.

Zanth hurried back to his estate to claim his treasure. He stared at it and for an instant in the twinmoons' light and an image solidified inside the sphere – Zanth's Residence and room and his velvet pillow. He lipped up his treasure and grinned around the globe.

He was the strongest and cleverest and best FamCat – FamAnimal – on all of Celta. Naturally.

Life was good.

Monday, November 24, 2014

CE Murphy Kickstarter: Rosie the Redeemer

A kickstarter by my good friend, Catie (CE) Murphy, urban fantasy and fantasy author. The deets and READ THE FIRST 3 CHAPTERS at --> link:
BLURB As monsters follow the boys home from WW2, Rosie learns she can redeem a damned soul--but will she lose her own in the process?

The war is over...but for Rosie the Redeemer, the homefront battle is just about to begin!

It's July 1945, and handsome young Johnny B. Goode is home from the war. Reportedly shattered by his experiences, he takes a night shift job at the local factory. It's no surprise that the girls there are smitten with the handsome young soldier, but as they start to leave their jobs--and no forwarding addresses--Rosie Ransom begins to suspect there's more to Johnny's homecoming than believed.

When Johnny tries to turn a vampiric bite on her, Rosie kills him in self defense--and sees his soul, pure and uncorrupted, rise into the ether. Within hours, she's approached by handsome, dangerous Hank Turner, who believes her to be a Redeemer--a rare talent who can save a lost soul even after demonic possession has taken place.

Rosie, facing the loss of her factory job as men--and her fiance Rich Thompson--come home from the war, is eager for any future that grants her the independence she's come to cherish as a working woman. If there are monsters to slay, she'll embrace the opportunity. Because without Rosie's help, the scare started by Johnny may turn into a full-fledged nightmare...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Celta Thursday. Heart Choice re: Pinky becoming a FamCat:


Talk around the table lapsed into comfortable silence. Antenn cleared his throat and the adults fastened their gazes on him. His face was one of mulish determination. He lifted his chin. "Pinky wants to become a Fam." He shut his mouth, lips tight, and stared at Danith. She looked astonished.

"There are Fam animals and regular animals," T'Ash mumbled. "Look at Zanth, see how big he is, his brain–"

"He can't be smarter than Pinky!" Antenn didn't move his gaze from Danith. "He wants to be a Fam. He's a little cat, but he's very smart, and there are other cats as little as he is that are Fams." His voice took on a note of desperation and the cat in question, no doubt reacting to his friend's emotion, jumped onto the dining room table. Antenn petted him.
Mitchella winced.

T'Ash raised his eyebrows, but one side of his mouth lifted. "We have a rule in this Residence. No animal on the table while a human is eating." T'Ash looked around at the empty plates.

"Pinky knows the rule!" Antenn's chin jutted. "He wants to be able to talk to me and I want to talk to him, and he maybe wants to talk to other humans and other Fams. Fams who might think he is stupider than they are. Snotty Fams."

Straif coughed and T'Ash joined in, hiding their smiles behind their hands.

This was definitely Drina's fault, Mitchella thought. A day hadn't passed where she hadn't picked on Pinky – hiding around corners and swatting his rump as he strolled by. Hissing at him. Making comments to Straif about the young tom. All that Queen of the Universe Fam's fault.

Danith appeared thoughtful.

"I can pay!" Antenn said.

Staring at Pinky, Danith waved that away. "Gilt isn't important in this matter, knowledge is. I've never actually done a study as to why some animals are Fams and others aren't."

She nibbled at her lip, glanced in the direction of her MistrysSuite. "I don't know whether Princess would like to be a Fam. I don't think so. I think she's happy to just be a cat of the T'Ash household. Though she does communicate to Zanth, on occasion. She might not want to be a Fam, but I don't see why I couldn't give her that choice." Danith held out her hand to Pinky and he trotted over to butt it with his nose. Mitchella noted that he left a smear on Danith's hand, but she didn't seem to care. Probably got slimed all the time, Mitchella thought with an inward shudder. She could never accept that as part of her vocation.

Danith scratched Pinky's head, looked at Antenn. "Does Pinky have any relatives? Any family that might have been Familiars?"

Antenn bit his lip. "I don't know. I got him right after the gang–" He darted a glance at T'Ash.

"Don't worry," Danith said, "we aren't distressed by speaking of the Triad."

But Mitchella saw a fine tension running through T'Ash. After all, the Triad had kidnapped Danith and tried to kill the Ashes several times.

"I only found Pinky. Or he found me."

T'Ash relaxed. "That's what happened to me, too. Zanth found me."

"Where is Zanth?" asked Mitchella.

A smile played at T'Ash's mouth. His eyes gleamed. "Hunting Celtaroons."

By this time, Danith had stood and was examining Pinky on the dining room table.

Mitchella shook her head. There were some things that she and her friend completely disagreed on. Animals on the dining room table was one of them.

Danith's eyes went foggy. She was using her Flair. An instant later, she spoke to Antenn again. "Pinky is a fine cat in excellent health. I'd like to keep him here to study for a couple of days."

At Antenn's frown, Danith continued hurriedly, "I won't harm him in any way."

"You won't let Zanth beat him up?"

"Absolutely not."

Danith bent down and caught Pinky's gaze. A few heartbeats later, she looked up. "I believe Pinky understands that he will stay and we'll explore the difference between Fams and regular cats. Antenn, how did you know he wanted to be a Fam?"

Antenn reddened. "I don't know. A dream, maybe." He shifted in his chair.

Danith just nodded. "All right. Pinky and Princess and Zanth will all be part of my study." She tapped a finger against her lips, glanced at T'Ash and Straif. "Holm and Lark Apple are coming to visit this weekend, I'll make sure to ask them to bring their Fams. Their cats are just out of kitten-hood. I'll have two more Fams to work on – uh, with." She smiled.

Everyone except Pinky looked dubious.

Straif sighed theatrically and looked at Mitchella with a half-smile. "I suppose you think this is all Drina's fault."

"You must be telepathic," she said drily.

"Drina is a snot," T'Ash said.

"Really–" Danith started.

"I'm afraid you're right," Straif said. "And she'll be preening with triumph over the next few days, thinking she's banished Pinky." His eyes narrowed in thought. "It's going to be rough if Pinky comes back a Fam."

Monday, November 17, 2014

For New Friends: Feral Magic

All right, for my new friends, who might not know. I did publish an ENOVELLA about 2 years ago for $2.99 here: http://amzn.to/1yd83sW The ghost books took me in a different direction, but I'm hopeful I'll get back to Dak and Brandy...

A blue moon rises, bringing with it magic and danger to a sleeping Denver.

Brandy Svensson mourns her lost soldier fiancee and struggles to move on. Her own near-death experience has brought her an odd "gift" – she has a telepathic connection with cats. She's coping with life’s changes until the night she finds a lost jaguar cub, just the start of the greatest changes of all...

Dak, a warrior Pantherman, is alarmed when his baby nephew, the Chief of the klatch, vanishes. Dak must find the infant before his enemies do...or be branded a murderer and risk igniting warfare among the clans.

When the cub turns into a human baby, shock and confusion flood Brandy. And when a full-grown jaguar arrives to claim him, then transforms into a man, fascination sweeps through her. Dak's protective instincts are triggered by this lovely woman, and the certainty that he's followed by a killer.

Drawn together in their fight to protect the baby, Brandy and Dak confront the enemy and the final choice threatens. Will the feral magic they've discovered together save or doom them?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Celta Thursday, Heart Fire cut (because too creepy)

Celta Thursday: HEART FIRE, Cut because too creepy (said mentor), Tiana touring TQ after being requested to reside there:

"Do you have tears in your eyes?" TQ asked.
She sniffed. "Yes. I truly am honored."
"May I have some of your tears?"
Wiping a finger under her eyes, she gathered a few droplets, touched them to the doorjamb and saw them vanish.
TQ sighed like the wind passing along his windows. "You are generous. I like the feel of your tears, priestess."
"I hope that you don't want me to shed a lot of them while I'm here," she said, walking again along the corridor, turning right to follow the ell of the house.
"There are tears of joy, yes?" TQ asked.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Belated Celta Thursday: SPOILER FOR HEART FIRE

Belated Celta, sorry, I lost track of the days. I wrote some of the flashback to the night Tiana's Family's house was firebombed in Antenn's Point of View. Here's a bit:
"You're looking out the windows, yes?" Primross asked.
"Yes," girl's voice pitched even higher with tension, with fear. "Artemisia is hiding under the desk, but I can't. I can't. I have to see who would hate us so that they threw a firebomb in our house. Who?"
"And you can see faces," Primross continued.
"Which room are you in?"
"The ResidenceDen in back. I think they are all around the house. I need to check everywhere!"
"Tiana, can you stay calm for now, please?"
A whimper. Antenn sat, his fists tight, his knuckles white. He hated listening to this.

Monday, November 03, 2014



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