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, April 27, 2017

Celta Thursday, sneak preview of portions of Chapter 1, Heart Sight (yes it has been cut for this posting):

A small artist’s colony on an equally small island had kept Avellana safe for three months. But to prevail upon her to stay, he must finesse the situation.

...He stood and watched her create her holo mural in the small temple....He’d gotten a sweet jolt at the sight of her, as usual, even though those big blue eyes hadn’t been aimed his way. He appreciated how the light touched a streak of white in her medium brown hair, a lock at her left temple that had appeared after her last Passage to free her Flair.

Her old and comfortable clothes didn’t display her curves well, but he knew the feel of her.

Brow furrowed, her hand curved in a wavy motion. A line of textured color deepened the bark of the Ash tree in the center of the GreatLabyrinth. He sucked in his breaths gently, let them out quietly, knowing better to disturb her focus when in the midst of creative expression.

The fact she created a holo for the temple piqued his curiosity. She’d left the dominant faith of Celta two years before, the one that worshiped the Divine Couple, the Lord and the Lady. Avellana had become an adherent of the Intersection of Hope religion. That creed had developed on the starships during the centuries-long trip from Earth to Celta.

He found it surprising that she sat in the middle of CircleTemple. But, on the other hand, she’d only been here on the island for a few months. Not enough time to design and have an Intersection of Hope chapel built, even if she found other devotees.

She stared at her work, finally nodded and added the deep purple curlicue of her signature, then glanced at him. Of course she’d sensed when he’d arrived on the island, stood in the doorway, even if he’d masked his emotions.

“One moment, Muin, while I finish my project, please,” she said coolly.

He did visit her at least once a week when she resided outside Druida City, but she wouldn’t have expected him tonight since she’d be back at her Family home, D’Hazel Residence, the next morning.

With a glance at him, her fingers snapped and all the three-dimensional holographic paintings and murals in the Temple activated. He missed a couple of steps toward her as he staggered through one of the Lady and Lord planting a garden. He swore he could smell the rich herbs, the equally fertile dark brown earth.

A joyful dancing tune began and echoed through the huge temple chamber.....He stared at the two-meter sized, exquisite mural that only Avellana could have done.
She gestured for him to join her by her side and he did so.
Her holo was a perfect lower half-sphere reflecting the actual bowl of the GreatLabyrinth to the north of Druida City. Studying it, she brought her hands from shoulder width together, and the painting collapsed upward on itself until it appeared like a two dimensional rendition, hanging vertically. She stepped back a couple of paces and he matched her strides.

Then she angled the painting to horizontal and pushed it down until it touched the floor and the center round stone, and matched the keystone in size. Muttering encouraging words to herself under her breath that Vinni couldn’t quite catch, she sank her painting into the stone, so the top of the stone showed her work. Long minutes passed and sweat beaded her forehead.

With the lightest brush of his fingers, Vinni touched her temple and whisked the excess moisture away. She chanted a couplet, fast and loud, that rang in his ears, shouted, “Engrave and Set In Stone!” and clapped her hands. Flair surged through the room, knocking Vinni back a step, sending shudders rippling through his body. Secondary creative psi power or not, Avellana matched him in the potency of her Flair.

She moved back to the middle of the temple and crouched down, scrutinizing the circular center stone that now showed her painting. It looked perfect to Vinni. She turned and grinned at him, nearly danced to him, the satisfaction of fulfilled creativity limning her face.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Celta Thursday, Lark Hawthorn Collinson Musings (Heart Duel)

Ethyn Collinson had been the innately gentlest man she'd ever known. And now she understood that it had been the contrast with her Father's unbending harshness that had drawn her to her husband.
His sweet smile, his intelligence, and the strength of his Healing Flair that so complimented her own, all combined in one man, a common man with none of the inborn and taught arrogance that beset those of her own class, had proved to be impossible for Lark to resist.

And now she was contemplating -- when her tumbled thoughts were not being swayed by her so-weak body -- an actual affair with one of the most confident, powerful men on Celta. A man she wasn't even sure she respected. Oh, he had Flair enough, and cleverness, and honor-- She stopped. Ah, that was the quality that redeemed him in her eyes, his own sense of honor. An honor she believed that he would never betray. A following of all the rules and laws that governed everyone on Celta, including GreatLords and Ladies.

And, Lark realized with a jolt, deep in her heart she simply didn't believe in HeartMate love.

She blinked at herself in surprise. It seemed to be a tenet of Celta, a foundation of their philosophy that should have steeped into her very bones with all her other education. But it hadn't. Perhaps it was the fact that her parents hadn't been HeartMates. Nor had her father's parents. Her FatherDam still lived in T'Hawthorn residence, long after her husband's death. And everyone knew HeartMates died within a year of their spouses.

No couple close to her had demonstrated the deep love that the HeartBond was supposed to confer. The closest she'd been to HeartMates was when she'd participated in NobleRituals and HeartMate couples had also done so. She knew there'd been an unusual strength and blending to their Flair, between the two and when they joined the Circle to build the cone of power, but they had been adults and she had been a child, and kept on the fringes of the Circle to protect her from harm, so she hadn't felt it close at hand.

And there wasn't a HeartMate for her. Not in this lifetime. She hadn't experienced any metaphysical connection to another person during the Passages that had freed her Flair, and that was the prime indicator that a person had a HeartMate -- some sort of link during Passage. No, her Passages had been stormy, but controllable, but with no outreaching to touch another's soul. With this knowledge, she hadn't hesitated to marry a fellow journeyman Healer. A man with the potential to be a great Healer, a Downwind man who'd grown beyond the disadvantages of his youth. Ethyn. A man who'd been literally cut down at the cusp of his career by a noble sword when he'd gone to help the fallen in a noble skirmish. The manner of his death had been as great a wound as his death itself, to Lark.
Of course, Holm Holly would believe in HeartMates. His parents, after all, were such. He'd grown up in a HouseHold permeated by the love of HeartMates for each other and their children. And, Lark frowned, T'Holly's sister had been a HeartMate, too, had bonded with T'Blackthorn. And Holm's best friend, T'Ash, was HeartBound to his mate. Holm had been in on that courtship, too, seeing how HeartMates courted and joined, contemporaries of himself.

So he believed.

She didn't.

Then, if she was entirely truthful with herself, there were also the doubts of her own nature. What did she have that attracted Holm so? His conquests of all classes of women, his gallantry and affairs had become nearly legendary. Why would he settle for an outcast from a FirstFamily? A woman who cared little for nobles and their intrigues. How could he prize a Healer, when his own Flair, and that of his Family from the time of the Colonists, had been for fighting?

Oh, yes. Lark could believe in lust, in the sexual attraction that sparked between them whenever they came close to each other. She could even accept that their was some sort of complementary harmony in their natures that let a mental and emotional link easily become established between them, smoothly.

She could admit to those attractions with Holm.

She could even admit that love between men and women could be deep and satisfying. But she couldn't see such a love developing between herself and Holm.

And she simply didn't believe in HeartMate love.

Perhaps for others, but not for herself.

And she couldn't even understand why this thought seemed so odd to her. Didn't she believe that she could be loved?

Ethyn had loved her. She knew that. But she knew the basis of his love had been because she, too, had been a Healer. She knew the trials, problems, and joy of Healing. She could understand him, match him in that.

And Lark acknowledged the power of her own Flair, was confident in it and in the status of FirstLevelHealer.

But did she have such a poor opinion of herself as a person, as a woman, that she didn't know what the Heir to a GreatHouse would find to love in her?


She wasn't even sure who she was as a person other than a Healer. That was the basic tenet* of her soul, the way she defined herself, her image of herself -- Lark, the Healer.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Celta: Ailim D'SilverFir Elder (old) interview. Heart Thief


R: Hey, Ailim.

A: Hello, Robin. It's good of you to meet with me.

R, a little confused: Uh, yes.

A: I'm afraid I'm very disappointed in you.

R, horrified: ME?

A: Yes. I am not at all happy with how you treated Shade.

R: Uh. Not my fault.

Stern look from Ailim: As the author, EVERYTHING in Heart Thief is your responsibility.

R: Didn't you like ending up with Ruis?

A dreamy look comes to Ailim's eyes and her lips shape a faint smile. A: Of course. Though I think you could have spared HIM pain, too.

R, thinking quickly: I believe we have a lack of communication here—

A frowns: Perhaps. It's true I can't read your thoughts and emotions. Probably because you are in Celta's FAR past.

R: Uh, yeah, probably.

A: You know, I thought you'd speak better, too.

R, rolling eyes: My brain connects better with my fingers than with my mouth.

A: I don't understand.

R: I write on a keyboard.

A: Hmmmm. I think I've seen one of those in Ship's History of Earth holo. How archaic.

R, clearing throat: Yes. Well, back to the point. You seem to believe that I have control over all my characters lives. If that were true, you, Ailim, would have no free will.

A, frowning again: You're right. I don't like that idea.

R: I didn't think you would. In any event, Shade made his own decisions and paid the consequences for his actions.

A: I see. As a judge, I'm usually brought in when consequences are required.

R, looking around to make sure no one is watching and reddening a little: I'm sorry about Ruis's ordeal. I'm afraid Bucus and Menzie got away from me.

A raises her brows: Really? Again, I find that hard to believe.

R: Bucus was a bit over the top for some people. As for Ruis's pain, my critique group insisted that he had to redeem himself.

A, scowling now: I didn't expect more excuses from you.

R: I agreed.

A: What is wrong with Ruis redeeming himself over time, in small stages, growing into the VERY honorable man that he is?

R, clearing throat: I'm afraid it isn't very dramatic and doesn't fit in the confines of the book.

A: A very poor reason.

R: Sorry, but you must admit Ruis has his dramatic moments.

A: True and I'm glad you're going to leave us alone from now on.

R: You will show up in other books.

A, very wryly:: I trust you won't be peering into our bedroom again.

R: No. Sorry about that. I also wrote your story – um – more sensually and sexually hotter than HeartMate.

A grins: For that I'm thankful.

R: Oh. Well, you know I had this recent interview and Goldie asked about your background.

A: So you don't presume to know EVERYTHING about me?

R: No. Like I said, you have free will.

A: Humph. You were correct in your detailing of my background (reading interview) : "when her Flair for telempathy developed she was Tested and given several career choices. At the proper age she would have apprenticed and been a journeyman (person?)"

A: It's Journeywoman. (Ailim continues to read) "with a Family that produced attorneys/solicitors, lawyers, judges." I studied with the Klamaths, then was lucky enough to assist the retired, renowned GrandLord SupremeJudge Plantain until his death. "She would then have tested for Master's Laurels in Judgeship and having passed would have started at the bottom of the ladder as a village judge, then worked up to the travelling circuit judgeship that she had just before Heart Thief starts. Her position as SupremeJudge of Druida was based on the type and strength of her Flair and her previous record. Her duties would be to arbitrate and settle disputes." All this is right, so?

R: It occurred to me that I never said in the book why you decided to be a judge. What your motivation was.

A: Must you authors dissect EVERYTHING?

R: So, why did you become a judge? You could have chosen other career paths.

A, tartly: I suppose I should be grateful to know that you didn't "make" me a judge because Ruis was a Null and outcast.

R: Um, no. I don't think so. It was a long time ago I started the story and I don't recall.

A sniffs.

R: Well?

A, looking into the distance: We have Home Study or Grove Study Groups for the education of children. Mother thought I needed to socialize more and placed me in a Grove Study Group of about six girls. One of them was a nasty bully and Grove Study was very difficult for the rest of us...(Ailim shrugs) I suppose that is the reason. No deep dark secret.

R, a little disappointed: Oh.

A: Is that all?

R pulls a sheet of paper in front of her: Not quite. I let it be known that I was interviewing you and got a few more from Pat Henshaw http://patois47.home.comcast.net/...

Ailim huffs a breath: She didn't think I was strong enough. Ha. I'd like to see her go through what I did.

Robin: Really, Ailim, you needn't get huffy.

Ailim, looking down her nose at Robin: You may be able to take amidiversions on my character in stride, but it is a matter of honor to me.

Robin, muttering: Just don't mention Mrs. Giggles. She didn't like HeartMate, liked your story even less, and I truly shudder to think how she's going to loathe a "Healer" story and massacre me over Heart Duel. May as well think of myself as shis-kebob right now.

Ailim chuckles: Oh, I saw the take-off on a Mrs. Giggles review you did off –the –cuff at chat last night. Very amusing, and in her own style. You can always do some more.

Robin, considering: You have a point. Now, on to Pat's questions:

How did she reconcile going against her sworn duty as a judge, particularly since she worked so hard to get there, in order to bask in the peace and love that Ruis offered her? It was the one question that I wanted an answer to when I was reading the book. True, I could think of quite a few answers, but it's not the same as getting an answer from Ailim herself. Love, I don't think, is enough. I wanted her to decide to do something about the laws and to see the flaws in the system in order to be on his side. I wanted her to be more of a crusader, I guess.

Ailim: Laws are rules written to benefit the majority of the culture, HOWEVER, those who have the ultimate power in enforcing the laws must take into account the unique aspects that apply to each individual case. I DID see the how the system could be abused and HAD BEEN abused in the most wretched way with regard to Ruis. I felt that the concept of JUSTICE for Ruis was more important than keeping to my oath to uphold laws and a system that had not protected him. I hope I would have acted the same even with a person I didn't love. But I still believe in the Rule of Law, because I don't think there is anything else that is better to supercede the rule of law. Any system is still a system that can be abused. Now this excellent question has been asked, perhaps it IS time to draft some laws that deal exclusively with the treatement of Nulls.

Regarding a crusade to change the laws and system, that wasn't necessary. If the laws had been properly followed and administered, Ruis would have been protected from the moment he was born. The problem in this instance, as many, is that people broke or ignored the laws and it was easy for them to justify such action by rationalizing that Ruis was a Null and therefore inferior and/or of a lower moral standard than themselves.

Yes, I wish I could have moved more quickly, but at the time I thought that taking on the entire First Families Council, especially when I was unknown to them, would not have brought the result I wanted – clearing Ruis. I didn't think they'd just believe my word. Further, due to the SilverFir debt and loan they were predjudiced against me, too.. I tried to work behind the scenes by talking to individuals, my colleagues, retired judge GoldenSeal and others, as well as some nobles I thought would support me in a power struggle with Bucus T'Elder. If you didn't see that in the story (grins) that fault lies entirely with Robin. I WAS working on it.

Robin, sighing: Oh yeah. Naturally, I thought I'd done that, but guess a couple of more paragraphs here and there would have taken care of it. Sorry.

Pat: If she could give Ruis any flair, what would she give him? Why?

Ruis with Flair? (Ailim laughs, then just shakes her head.) "I can't imagine him with Flair. He'd be a totally different person, not the man I loved. So the question is moot

2) What advice would she give young women who are searching for their HeartMates?

Ailim: Concentrate on yourself and becoming the best person you can be and following your own path. Your HeartMate will happen or not.

3) Now that she and Ruis are together how will she work to get Nulls more respect?

Ailim: I think Ruis demonstrated by his own actions that Nulls are worthy of more respect, but when a Null is born, procedures will be insituted to make sure they are never abused as they were.

4) With time (as we've seen in the first two books), the First Families will be dying off or merging. What does she see as the future of the FF? Does she see the civilization getting more democratic or the FF dwindling until there is only one ruling family?

Ailim: I believe that the middle class will ever gain more power as it becomes larger. We do have other Councils, the Noble Counci, the GuildCouncil,....I think, however that the power in Celta will probably always be with those who have the most Flair – whichever Families, Class, Guild or organization that might be.

The FF came to the planet because of intolerance. Given how everyone thinks of and treats Nulls, could the population be going in that direction again? If so, what does she see herself doing to prevent this?

I am hopeful that all of Celta witnessed the results of intolerance and that it will be at the forefront in everyon'es mind for generations to come.

6) How is she getting along with her new fam?

Ailim sighs: Samba accepts me and I accpet that she is an integral part of Ruis' life. Unfortunately Samba has my Fam, Primrose puppy, firmly under her paw.

7) What is she going to do with her horrific family to make peace and keep the unit together now that one of them has betrayed her?

Ailim grins widely: I have turned over the SilverFir Family to my heir, Caltha, and all the problems. Caltha doesn't seem to be as soft-hearted as I. Menzie has been banished to an estate near the one we are hoping to give to Donax Reed when he marries into the Family. Menzie IS being watche.d

8) When she and Ruis have children, how will she raise a Null? (Surely genetics would give this a 50/50 chance, so she should be prepared, right?)

Ailim: More questions about children! Hmmmm. I should imagine that the general education of a Null would be the same as others – but I think Ruis should be the teacher and perhaps Ship should house any Nulls that are born to anyone. That said, Nulls should also be integrated and socialized with all levels of society.

9) Given Ruis' background and his befriending the Downwind boy, how will he and she work to improve the conditions for children there? How can she use her power in the courts to reclaim at least some of the children?

Those are the questions that occurred to me last night in my half-awake state. If I think of more, I'll email. ;-)

Thanks for this opportunity to ask--

Robin, pressing: Then what about your children?

Ailim looks started. "Children, plural? Do you know something I don't?"

Robin smiles craftily: I AM the author, give me a few prerogatives. Answer the question, Madam Judge.

Ailim: The children will be what they are meant to be. (She frowns) I WOULD like one of them to show an interest in the history and technology of the Ship, whether that child has Flair or is Null, doesn't matter. (Lowers her voice) Ship may never be able to fly again, but there are the smaller dagger ships. (She waves a hand) and the vastness of space. Both Ruis and I love ancient "space music" and the idea that Celtans not be planet-bound appeals to me – to both of us – perhaps to the children also.

Robin nods: A good thing to breed into the line.

Ailim: I am running out of time. Are we finally done, I hope?

Robin: For the moment.

Ailim inclines her head and puts her hands in her opposite sleeves: Merry meet, then.

Robin, automatically: And merry part.

Ailim flashes a beautiful smile: And merry meet again. Thank you for Ruis.

She disappears in a swirl of silver-shot skirts.

Robin mutters to herself. Free will or author's decisions? (rubbing hands and smiling) Ailim will be the first of all my heroines to have a child..

R laughs and turns off the computer.

Friday, April 07, 2017

T'Ash Interview 2: Re: Vengeance Tatt (HeartMate Reissue Cover)

Robin: Hey, T'Ash, I didn't know you had a tattoo.
T'Ash: (smirking) You thought you knew everything about me. Ha!
Robin: (in a small voice) ha ha. (clearing her throat) Tell me about your tattoo.
T'Ash: (raising an eyebrow: You've never heard how the vengeance stalk marks one?
Robin: Uh, no.
T'Ash: It does.
Robin: Do tell.
T'Ash: (staring off into the distance at the starship Nuada's Sword): The tattoo is a matter of Flair, of psi power. I believe it first developed on the generation ships. (He shrugs). You can research that better than I, you are more interested in it than I.
Robin: I 'spose. It was sorta sprung on me.
T'Ash: Now you know what it feels like.
Robin: Tell me more about the tattoo.
T'Ash: When a person formally dedicates themself to the vengence stalk, the tattoo appears, stinging, on the body. Mine is black and red. It is an aspect of the god Arawn, god of vengence. He holds a heart, which means he holds the heart of the one who has sworn revenge. The heart is not then available to give to a mate until the stalk is done.
Robin: Huh.
T'Ash: Is that all?
Robin: Um, so, uh, you had it on the vengence stalk.
T'Ash: Didn't I just say so?
Robin: Yes.
T'Ash: (scowling and looking away, mutters) It also showed up when I went berserk, during the fights with the gangs in HeartMate. No one saw it, but it burned on my arm. I think. I did not look. I was fighting.
Robin: Of course.
T'Ash: I have never felt it since. Never gone berserk since. I will not do so again. (glaring at Robin) Right?
Robin (too heartily): Of course you won't. You got a happily ever after ending and will continue to have one.
T'Ash (narrowing his eyes): I think I see that you have something bad in my future. (putting his hand on his blazer sheathed at his hip). You'd better not hurt my Family.
Robin (llicking her lips): Uh, well, you wouldn't want things TOO perfect, would you?
T'Ash: Yes:
Robin: Oh. Well, I may have, uh, an idea, but you will all survive. I promise.
After a dirty look, T'Ash stalks away.

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