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 29, 2015

Celta Thursday, ORIGINAL HeartMate. This was just-messing-around writing. I'd finished 3 books and none were selling. NO HOOK in this very first effort, as of May 16, 1997:

As was his morning custom, Rand T'Ash set down his half-finished first cup of caff and drew a black suede pouch from the cubbyhole of his desk. He spread the drawstrings, and upended the bag. Instead of the ususal four divination dice, six spilled into his hand. A tingle of premonition shivered up his spine.

He curved his fingers over the six-sided pieces of bloodstone and put away the pouch. He drank some of his hot caff to let his emotions flow through and from him and to focus his will and intuition, his mage power.

Uncurling his hands, he stared at the bloodstone dice. He'd created them himself a few years back, an interesting task for a man who used his talents with metals and gems.

Six. Four were sufficient for a daily divination, six were used for major holidays, like the solstices and equinoxes, and all eight to forecast lifetime prophecies.

He took one more swallow of caff and deliberately set the mug down. With a flick of his wrist, he threw the dice. They rolled, spun, landed on one of their six-sides.

He glanced at them. The polished blue-green stones gleamed in the light, the glyphs incised on them taking advantage of the deep red veins, looking nearly like blood. The thrumming of blood pulsed in his temple. He'd never seen this particular configuration before, but he didn't have to consult a text. The dice showed symbols of one of the primary divinations everyone knew. Today you will meet your heart-mate.

He sat down and cradled his caff mug in both hands, then closed his eyes. His heart rate had increased, a shimmering tension had taken hold of his nerves. The ebb and flow of his preternatural talent had changed. Over the last few days, he now realized. The daily divinations had lately intimated something unusual, something he had still missed. Twosday -- Enjoy the moment, for it will pass, Midweek -- Prepare yourself, Three-Moonsday, yesterday, Restructuring is necessary.

Opening his eyes, he stared at the dice once more. Today you will meet your heart mate.

A sigh escaped him, carrying a low moan with it. He was thirty-seven. The sole member of the once great family, a First Family, the Ash. He'd had to fight to survive. It was only in the last few years, when his talents had been recognized and his reputation burgeoned, that he had been able to relax and live life with some ease. Tomorrow he would no longer be alone. An exciting, but frightening thought.

His caff was cold, he no longer inhaled the pungent scent with his deep breaths. He looked around. His workroom, the large desk of gleaming reddwood in sharp contract to the scarred workbenches. On the far wall, behind the protection spell, was his selection of gems and precious metals. And in the corner -- he stiffened. In the corner, hidden by deep shadows, was his walk-in vault. And in the vault was the smaller safe containing his most precious possessions. The necklace.

Stiffly he rose and walked to the vault. After a moment of disarming the spell, he swung open the large door.

The necklace. An item created in three days after his last major Passage. In the delerium of that Passage he'd had visions of his heart-mate. His talent had spiralled out to connect with her in a bond, though he had never felt the link since.

He squatted and placed a palm on the safe, with long-unused words he cast the spell to open it. He reached back until he felt a large velvet case. And the moment he touched it, urgency swept through him. He slammed the safe shut, strode from and armed the vault in mere seconds, and placed the round-cornered box in the middle of his largest worktable, positioned in the sunlight.

Rand watched with disbelief as his hands trembled when he opened the box.

Energy, power, magic spilled from the necklace, driving him back. He raised his hand and felt continuing pulses from the piece. The sexual potency of a virile twenty-year old man imbued the necklace, a man who had spent three days in a sexual delerium of a Passage that finally freed his talent. Rand had focused all of the creative, sexual energy on fashioning the necklace. Seventeen years past, and it still radiated. The erotic tension washed through him and lodged, tingling his nerves, warming his muscles, pooling in his groin. And he knew beyond all doubt, that he would feel the pressure until he took his mate. The tautness was disconcerting, pleasure bordering on pain. Anticipation.

He sucked in his breath. Then looked at the necklace again. Now he only saw how it was fashioned. He frowned. The strands of silver, gold, red-gold wire were not of a uniform thinness, showing nodules in places. The caging and the mounting of the gems was clumsy now and again. That sapphire there -- he shook his head.

The side of his mouth quirked. When his hands hadn't trembled from sexual energy, they'd shaken from exhaustion. He didn't remember eating or sleeping at all during the days he created the necklace. The final gem was a large roseamber he'd spent hours shaping. With the energy pouring through him, he wouldn't have been surprised if it had turned out to be in the shape of a phallus.

He'd made a heart.

His eyes focused and he saw the necklace, beyond its inherent power, and the skill that fashioned it. He saw the style and the color of the gems. And in that moment he knew who the woman was. His mate.

He had never seen her, but he knew of her. Today you will meet your heart-mate. Not today, but tonight. For the first time in several years he had to man his exclusive shop. And now he knew that the customer he'd been teasing with his creations the last few months would come in.

He glanced at the necklace one more time and left it displayed on his workbench. He needed more caff. He could feel power swirling around him, being caught by his inner anticipation, rising.

With one sweep of his hand, he gathered the dice on his desk. Two bounced and fell to the floor. He bent and his hand stilled. Swords surround a vulnerable woman. He picked the glyph of the woman up and the die cracked into pieces in his hand. A woman in danger.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Fire

Celta Thursday: Just squeaking in before midnight my time. Okay, I had originally had the climax/black moment of Heart Fire at the Temple and here is the Cut:

The door flew open and T'Sandalwood strode in. "What is going on here? Your emotions are affecting everyone in the Temple. Including people we are counselling."
He stopped and stared at the disheveled Tiana. She thrust up her chin, swallowed again, pulled a softleaf from her robe sleeve and mopped her face. "It appears that I had more unresolved issues than I believed."
His brows winged up. "I...see."
She swallowed. "Yes. Despite everything, I have realized I'm angry with my parents–"
T'Sandalwood raised a hand. "I know. We all know. Right now we are all angry with our parents." He gave Antenn a sardonic look. "And at our mates. This is not good for the High Priestess and me."
Tiana sucked in her breath between her teeth.
Antenn snorted. "Oops."
"It's not funny," she said.
"No. It isn't. I suggest you go discuss this matter with your parents and finally clear everything up. Please don't return until your emotions are stable."
"I can do that."
"Of course you can," the High Priest said.
"Of course you can," Antenn echoed.
She glared at him as if she thought he was being sarcastic. He wasn't.
Using the softleaf she wiped away continuing tears – most of them from frustration and embarrassment, he figured – then she blew her nose, inclined her head at T'Sandalwood. "I will discuss this with my parents. And my sister."
Once again the door opened and a flushed D'Sandalwood strode in. She glanced disapprovingly at her HeartMate. "I thought this would be settled by now."
"My deepest apologies," Tiana said, sinking into a low curtsey. "I am about to remove myself. I need to speak with my Family...and find forgiveness for them. And for myself."
She rose and looked at Antenn, then speared her fingers through her undone hair, flushing miserably. "I'm not sure I can find forgiveness for you. You've hurt me." She put her hand on her heart, and continued telepathically. You've hurt me for a long time, and now you've...you didn't choose this...timing...wisely and I have made a fool of myself at my workplace.
I don't think so, he replied.
"I'll see you, FirstLevel Architect Moss-Blackthorn, sometime. Not soon," she choked. She walked over to the teleportation pad.
"Hmmph," D'Sandalwood said and left.
Antenn's brain ignited. "Way to go, Tiana! Breaking up with me in the Temple of the Lady and Lord in front of the High Priest and High Priestess."
"Get over yourself. And you work on yourself. Finally."
"Right!" he yelled as she teleported. "I'm not the only one with fliggering issues. But at least mine are all out there for you to see. You find me when you're done pouting!"
A steaming hiss from her rattled his eardrums and he actually heard a "pop" as her body left the space.
He panted and leaned against the wall, let it help him as he slid down to the floor, his knees had gone so weak.
The High Priest stared at him, then slowly shook his head. "Son, you have more courage than I'd thought."
Antenn found a lopsided smile. "Thanks."
"And more sensitivity and intelligence. None of us – my lady, myself, Tiana's own counsellors and friends – knew she had that last seething pocket of negativity in her."
Antenn thought there was nothing wrong with having a little dark in a person along with a lot of light, but he didn't say so. Wasn't sure the priest believed that or not. 'Cause he'd gone lightheaded, mind spinning, his stomach felt a little wobbly, too, good thing there wasn't anything in it.
"HeartMates," he gasped.
"I understand that," the priest stated in a rich voice.
"Something else you gotta' know," Antenn said.
"I'm listening."
"This whole thing has been real hard on Tiana. She thinks she lost a lot of respect and status–"
The priest's brows snapped down. "Absolutely not."
"Maybe not from you and the High Priestess. But I got the feeling that a lot of your underpriestlings and preistesslings," his voice had begun to slur and all he wanted was sleep, "think it was an inferior job you gave her, associatin' with the Hopefuls, and it's gonna smear her career in their eyeses for years. You better fix that." His own eyes closed so he couldn't see the older man's reaction.
"Hmm," the guy said and Antenn didn't know if that meant the priest had listened or not.
Then a soft form alit on his lap, a rumbling purr came against his belly.
**I am here, FamMan,** Pinky said. **We are safe.**
**Tha's good.** Tiana was a softie. She'd come back to him, as soon as she settled down.
A couple of prodding kneads on his thighs. **You can sleep.**
**Guess I will....** and he dropped right down into a deep hole.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Celta Thursday: Heart Fire Original first chapter (change of setting for Tiana and the Priestess)

"I know you want my position, dear," the High Priestess of GreatCircle Temple, the main priestess on the planet, said to Tiana Mugwort.

Tiana was lucky she'd only taken a sip of the hot floral tea and hadn't swallowed or she'd have spewed it out. Of course she shouldn't have expected her ambition -- no matter how masked behind a quiet manner -- to have been overlooked by the savvy woman.

"And despite the rumors, I am not ready to retire within the next few years." The older woman, Ulmaria Meadowsweet Sandalwood, smiled with good humor plumping her round cheeks, kindness showing in her sparkling dark brown eyes. "I may never be ready to retire. Meanwhile, it is time to evaluate you for your next step up this career ladder you wish to pursue, yes?"

Warning! Tiana began to sweat even in the high priestess's office suite that was cool from the large floor to ceiling windows on this curve Great Circle Temple.

Ambition and spirituality didn't often mix well and everyone who'd chosen to become a priestess or priest knew it. With great care, Tiana took a swallow of the hot brew then set the delicately thin porcelein cup down into the equally delicate saucer, handpainted antiques from the lady's birth Family -- a Family with much more clout than Tiana's disgraced one.

That disgrace that was a thorn in Tiana, spurring her need to reach the greatest pinnicle in their religion, one of the highest positions in their culture. Her eyes stung as she glanced around the space that she wanted for her own.

They sat in the innermost, the smallest, sitting room. One that the high priestess used for her most personal office...or her most noble clients needing counselling...or her most challenging problems. This room, like the others, was richly appointed, with the four high windows surrounded by carved stone in patterns of intricate knotwork.

Three rugs layered thickly on the floor. The antique and comfortable furniture, scaled for women, sat in the comfortable room, upholstered in deep amber, appropriate for the season and the gorgeous golden-leafed trees of the sacred grove just outside the window.

Lovingly crafted, as the whole GreatCircle Temple was lovingly crafted.

This building was Tiana's sanctuary, her heart's home. "I don't want to leave here for another temple," spurted from her lips without passing her brain first, appalling her.

The woman's plump hand poured more tea into her own small cup and the scent of it soothed, as it was meant to, even as Tiana's mind raced to amend her words and mitigate her mistake.

But the high priestess continued, "There have always been two paths to the top ranks of the priests and priestesses of Celta. One way is to stay here in the GreatCircle Temple, the other to prove your worth by rising as the priest or priestess of small temples to medium ones, then very influential ones and when the time comes to choose the next high priestess your name is known."

"I understand," Tiana said, pushing her impatience with this conversation, down, down, down.

"First let us touch on the matter of your wish to become the highest priestess in our land."

Tiana swallowed more brew. The taste lay on her tongue like dying flowers.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Celta Thursday: Voyage of the starship Nuada's Sword

Celta Thursday. When I first started book 2, Heart Thief, I wanted to tell the story of the discovery of Celta along with Ruis' story in the starship Nuada's Sword's Captain's Logs excerpts at the beginning of each chapter. They way I write and my technique back then didn't allow this. But I still have the logs. Several versions of the logs. Some of these I used for the story Heart and Sword in the Hearts and Swords collections. Here's the first:

I am awake. I do not know, yet, what dire circumstances have caused Nuada's Sword to Awaken me. I shiver from the aftermath of the fluid in the suspension cubes and the drugs injected into my body which have circulated through my veins for so very long. I brush crust from my eyes and lips and worry. The starships have not made landfall, there is no planet to colonize, what terrible thing has happened? My wife, my beloved Fern, was not Awakened. Will we ever hold each other again? I fear I am lost.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Pic and HeartMate Excerpt

Once upon a time I went to a Cartier exhibit and saw all sorts of wonderful items. They impressed me and I've used them in the years since. AND now there is a Cartier Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum and I went, and saw old friends. Here's a pic and an excerpt from HeartMate (oh, and in the pic, as well as the pig, you can see a bit of the rabbit):

Danith pressed her hands against the stabbing pain in her head. "Zanth. I hear you. I think." Beyond her new, fearsome headache, she didn't want to explore the consequences of this development.


"Yes." She clamped her hands to her head and rocked back and forth in pain.


Danith moaned.

She felt a rough tongue between her ankle and her weaves. Opening her eyes, she saw Zanthoxyl—Zanth—trying to copy Princess's sweet smile, and it bordered on frightening.

She rose and went to the bathroom for a feverfew hurtease. As she pulled out a small soluble vial and swallowed it, she noticed a line of little precious stones carved in the shape of animals. There was a whimsical pink-quartz pig, a graceful purplebird with wings out-stretched ready to fly, even a green malachite cricket. She wanted to stroke them.

Instead she mumbled a swear word. Master and Fam, they were determined to get her.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Celta Thursday, Cut/Alternative ending of Heart and Soul from the collection Hearts and Swords

Celta Thursday, Altenative End/Cut from Heart and Soul in the Heart and Sword Collection:
He held her tightly against his body, whispered in her hair. "I was afraid you'd never let me close, loathe the fact that I'd been hired to keep watch over you – as you figured from the first moment."

She sighed and it only made the fit of her to him better. "Thank the Lady and Lord you were." She spaced her words steadily. "On the whole, the Hollys are a good family." A huge admission that she'd released some of the bitterness to her ex-husband's parents who'd brought the curse down that caused her to miscarry.

Cardus' hand stroking her hair and back stopped and she understood he knew everything about her – yet still didn't judge. His chest expanded under her own as he took a deep breath. "You know that your ex-husband found his HeartMate," Cardus said very, very carefully.

"I had heard." She looked up at Cardus' less chiseled, more ruggedly commoner features. How dear they were, this man who loved her for herself. Not her beauty, not her rank, not her treasures. Respected and loved the woman he'd discovered in the small house in Gael City.

Again his face was frozen in that impassivity that she knew covered deep emotions, but a wildness in his green eyes betrayed him.

"He's a good man. We knew we weren't HeartMates, but my father had something he wanted. Love grew between us once, then died. I am glad for him...but he is not you." She stroked his hard and still watchful face with her fingertips, feeling the slight coarsness where his beard grew. A strong man. A real man. Finally a man for her? "I want you."

"You have me. Forever."

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