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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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Out of the Closet?

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Writers don't always tell people around them that they have this little, strange habit...it tends to come up around 3 day holidays. You want to stay in and nail some good writing time, families plan mucho stuff.

I've been "out of the closet" for a long time, but still recall what it's like to be "secretly" writing. You don't tell folks. Why not? People will ask how it's going. People will wonder when you sell your book. Why you don't sell it soon (yeah, it took me between 8-9 years to sell, try fielding questions all that time).

Since she's not much on computers, I'm safe in saying that my mother never believed I wrote. I think she thought every time I left a family gathering early with that excuse that it WAS an excuse and I was bored. But I put my time in.

Work folks knew for years that I wrote. My sf/f friends knew I wrote. But I didn't talk about it much except with my Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer buddies. When Those Who Don't Write asked "how my book was going" I'd usually say, I've finished four and three were out on editor's desks...that was the easy way out, then change the subject.

No one really wants to talk about writing for more than a minute or two.

Today I took another big step -- like slamming the closet door behind me. Two strangers I was interacting with asked me what I did for a living. "I'm a writer," I said. Not "I'm a paralegal and I write," but "I'm a writer."

It's scary, but it's fun, and I feel confident about saying it.

So think of your stories today and consider what would be a small but emotionally enormous step your character could take.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Different Books, Different Birthings

I've written 11 books (3 before I got published), and they "write" differently, but usually the pattern is the same. I zoom into the beginning, I get an idea of the end, and lots of scenes in between and write and connect.

My hardest point tends to be the 3/4 mark/turning point because something big must happen and I don't always have that nailed.

A few times what I thought would be a 1/4 turning point turned out to be the middle climax, stuff just had to happen before.

Once I get over the 3/4 point, I am used to getting the rest of the book's scenes in my head, listing them, then writing them.

This did not happen with Protector of the Flight. I zoomed the front (needs more work), trudged to the middle, nailed the 3/4 point to the end, and had some very mushy stuff that had to happen middle - through to the 3/4 point. Urgh. I didn't like working this way. I knew, generally, what had to be in that swamp, but getting it there, then stringing stuff together...urgh.

As usual there were times I didn't think I could finish the book (this always happens). As usual, I thought some bits would go a LOT faster than they did. As usual I am not at all sure the book is good. Amusing in spots, but good? And it's long. Longer than I'd ever written, but since I tend to write wordy, the cutting is not too difficult. Yet.

Books DO get "born" differently, every one. Places where you're usually stuck don't happen, places where you usually fly through get mud-stuck.

I didn't like this process at all, I intend to not do it ever again (the middle moosh stuff).

May all your scenes string like pearls on a necklace today.

Monday, May 29, 2006


I spoke about this before, and it was about a year ago, but it's something a writer deals with on a daily basis, and we're talking about validation and reviews on another loop, so here goes....

Yes, I read my reviews. Yes, I prefer the ones that gush. I dislike the ones I don't think do justice to the book. Yes, I'm a writer who not only studies other people's work, but have some pretty high standards anymore about what constitutes is a good book or bad book.

I was a reviewer once, after I was published. I did three reviews. But in the last I danced around a book that I thought was predictable. I decided I couldn't do reviews and be honest. So I'll talk about books to my friends, and may say a few things about the Huge Stars, and will be anonymous in judging published contests, but you won't ever see me doing stars at amazon or anywhere else.

As for being a writer. Good reviews, fan mail and everything else is a DRUG. If you get three emails today that say they like your book, you need four tomorrow that say your book was the best they'd ever read and they sleep with it under their pillow. You CAN'T depend on this drug.

The only true validation for an author must be an inner validation -- that you wrote the book of your heart the best you could with the resources you had at the time. So I try my best (and fail) to practice this inner validation thing.

May only your story occupy your writing time.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Metaphors for Writing

Writers use all sorts of metaphors to describe the writing process. My friend Sharon Mignerey sometimes thinks of it as a painting (and that she goes from one corner all the way across and I dab a litte here and there). But Sharon draws and paints.

Laura Kinsale recently called it unrolling a ball of golden thread.

Carol Berg calls it driving in the dark with headlights.

I really think of it as sculpting (I'm a predominantly tactile person). I have this pretty damn big block of white marble of a story idea and I start whacking away at it. Then I see veins. I feel the grain. I sense a shape wanting to be free.

Then you sand and buff and polish.

It's never quite as good as when you first hauled the block into the room to work on it, as the original sinuous and breathtaking form you sense inside, but it's as good as you can make it with time you have and your beginning/intemediate/advanced chisel and the fact it has cat hairs all over it....

May your skill equal your ideas today.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Prologues 2 -- Second Book Fears

I've done one prologue in my life. I loved it. It is in a work (contemporary romantic suspense) that I never finished called Willful Deceit. The general theme of the book was Wrongful Conviction, and, yes, a will was forged. I had a BIG editor interested in this book at one time (it was my second) and now that I look back, I probably shouldn't have given it up for Regency Historicals. However, the book itself was flawed. It was my second book.

Coming to the end of my first book (which was very difficult to FINISH), I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to do it again. Think of an idea that excited me enough to write a complete book. Then this wrongful convicition, forged will story hit and I was so enthusiastic in telling a friend about it at lunch that I kept dropping my food off my fork from trembling hands.


And though Willful Deceit didn't make it all the way to the end, it did banish the fears forever that I wouldn't come up with another idea when the first book was done.

May your ideas be plentiful today.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Quick Question -- In Jokes.

Messing around with revisions on Protector of the Flight and I keep wondering about a few paragraphs which are essentially an "in joke." Now do you all like to see this in books that are part of a series or not? Does it irritate you if you're new to the series and DON'T know the joke? Does it make you want to put down this book and go back to the other? Does it make you chuckle?

Inquiring Author Wants to know, and I may post this elswhere, too....

May your writing have clarity today
Robin (off to Ellora's Cave to get Jaci's book as a reward).

Out Of The Darkness

I LOVE talking to Jaci, and her work, whoo-hoo! And her blurb sure has hooked me...toddling over to Ellora's Cave...

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OUT OF THE DARKNESS by Jaci Burton and C. J. Burton
(Ellora’s Cave)

Harlee has lived as a human her entire life, working as a psychiatrist on a secret government project evaluating captured werewolves and vampires. Then one night two strangers jerk her from her bed, blindfold her and turn her world upside down. She is taken deep into the realm of lycans and vampires and told an unbelievable story-that she is the daughter of a forbidden union between a vampire and a werewolf and now possibly the future leader of both their clans.

She doesn't believe them. Vampires and werewolves are the enemies of humans. She hangs onto her humanity, her one and only goal to escape from her sexy and enigmatic captors before she loses her heart and possibly her very soul.

The vampire Adrian's and the lycan Duncan's goals are entirely different-to mate with the fiery beauty and determine whether her dominant blood is vampire or werewolf. One merely desires her. One will claim her for all eternity.

But dark forces turn what begins as a search for identity into a struggle for survival.

May your voice be YOU today, dark and brooding, full of angst, or light and wonderful.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Inner Child and Writing

I firmly believe that the creative process lives in your inner child. That's why try and keep my workspace fun, have different colors and sounds on my machine "Whinnnng (arrow thudding into door) 'Message for you, Sire.').

An outgrowth of this idea (and living alone with Cats), is that when I read and revise my own books and the big moments or turn of phrase still please me, I can act out. Marrec said something VERY hero-ly (had to for a section ending/hook), and I was out of tea, so I got up and strode around like a WWW guy, flexing my muscles, doing the stance, repeating the sentence. ;)

I was coming up to a big turning point, (hopefully) leading the reader to think sex is coming and BANG! (not sex, but DANGER). End of chapter, so I lift my pen and pump my fists. POW! POW! POW!

Yeah. If you like your work, enjoy your story, have fun with it.

May your writing bring you pleasure today.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Finishing the First Book

This is a VERY, VERY big deal. I don't care if the book is a Learning How To Write A Book effort, or that it can never be published, like my The Token. When a person finishes their first book, they know it can be done. They can write an entire story.

First, there are a lot of people who have joined writing groups that don't realize what time, effort, blood, sweat, tears it takes to write a book. There are three chapter wonders who can't finish a book. There are people who get bored with the story and can't finish it.

Coming up on the ending of your first book usually brings fear. This happens with every book, but most particularly the first. What do I do now? What if I send it out and it is rejected a gazillion times, can I live with that? What if it is published and nobody likes it, can I deal with that emotional trauma? What if my father recognizes himself and never speaks to me again? (Ok, many first books are Coming of Age stories in one way or another).

I think I told you of the story of a critique group buddy who had NY editor nibbles on her fun, contemporary story and could not write the last three chapters? I'm not sure what happened to her. We (critique group) gave her excellent support. We would have been there for her, helped with every word as we had before (it was a short book), but she just couldn't do it.

So writing a complete book is MAJOR. I congratulate everyone who has done it. You are in the minority of people in all of the world.

May finishing your scene, chapter, book, well today.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Solitary Writer

Usually being an introvert in a solitary profession doesn't bother me. I get a few emails (mostly contest entries) a day, I have my critique buddies and mentor and good friends. But...when all is said and done, I'm writing here, alone at my computer, by myself, with an occasional lookin by a cat who Wants Something.

And the profession CAN be grinding because of this solitude. We writers all have the same concerns (I'm writing crap. I'll never reach the pinnicle of my last success. No one will like this book. No one will BUY this book. I'm never going to make it as a full time writer...) I could go on for a couple of pages (and when I do free-writing and journaling, I do – one of the ways to get negativity OUT). So though we have the same concerns, and can feel the same, and can sympathize, when it comes down to the nitty gritty bottom line, it's you and the keyboard. And right now, I don't like that.

But it's something we learn to deal with – and I recall one session at a retreat when I took my laptop in and worked in a room full of writers, WRITING, or with my critique buddy at the same table one night. THAT was GREAT.

So, occasionally there are ways around the solitary profession – and, like last Saturday, when I took my first chapter of Heart Fate (Tinne Holly's story) and was told it was excellent and quite different than most of the Heart books (it's angst ridden, that first chapter), you get some bolstering.

When you're blue and disgusted with your stuff – reach out. You should at least have one whining buddy that you can call up and say – gotta whine now – and get soothing noises. Or spill it all in journaling. You'll feel better.

May today be bright and cheerful and your writing incredible.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Learning on the Way

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It's the anniversary of this blog (ok, a week late), and I want to say thank you. With a very few exceptions, I've posted every day, and usually kept on topic. On writing and publishing.

Of course since I'm pretty much obsessive about writing, I can usually think of something to say. For instance, I had three topics this morning, Rushing Your Worldbuilding, Critique Group Massacre In The Nicest Way, Metaphor for a Manuscript...all just to avoid writing on my Work In Progress. So hopefully I can keep the blog going for a while.

Instead you get the anniversary issue, which is just THANKS. Thanks for letting me explore ideas with you, thanks for reading, or dropping by, or subscribing and deleting...and thanks for all your comments that have made me think, and, of course, helped me in my work.

May your characters cooperate today.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

In Print/Characters/Ideas

I remember the first time I got a constructive critique of HeartMate from someone who'd read the book. My immediate response (in my head) was "Wait, wait I can change that...add a sentence or two............" Then it struck me. After nine years of critique groups and four books written, I couldn't change a word.

I still can't even though it's being reissued in August. No copy edits. No galleys. Three cover flats, that's all. Not that I'm ashamed of HeartMate. Never. The book won me a RITA -- though I've grown as a writer and would tweak it...revise forever.

This topic actually came to mind a few minutes ago when I woke up. I got what I thought was a brilliant idea for Protector of the Flight. All I had to do to make it work was add one line to Sorceress of Faith...oops.

Naturally, I HAVE done this. If the previous book was in copy edits or galley stage, I could do this. I recently revised Heart Quest to include a better set up of Heart Match, just one page, and deleting a couple of lines/paragraphs where the previous set up (plot I previously had in mind), changed.

So books can blur in my mind, always protean. I don't think they ever are finished, even in print, in my head. Especially when I continue to write about T'Ash and Danith (and of course Zanth, the telepathic alley cat with Attitude) in other books.

I think I said this before -- when I went to finish a character interview of T'Ash to put on my website for one of my first WORLDs page (well, shoot, the link ain't showing up, see above). I learned more about him than I knew AFTER the book was in print. So your characters, if you're writing a series, do live with you forever, or at least that's the case for me. And they are a little different in my head, than on the page, too.

Of course no work ever matches the brilliance of the idea -- another topic you can think about today. For instance, people tell me they like the interview, think it's funny. I think the interview's sad.

Ok, enough for the deep philosophical stuff about artistry and writing before dawn...

Have a brilliant day.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Sexy Crimes -- Break Out Books

Kay Bergstrom (Cassie Miles), my mentor, and I were talking about how we can break out of niche markets. I'm of the opinion that all it would take is J.K. Rowling mentioning how she loves Robin D. Owens, but that has the odds of the lottery...

Anyway, since Kay writes mystery/suspense/romance for Harlequin Intrique, she said, "I need to think of a really sexy crime for a bigger book."

Off the top of my head, I named one (no, I ain't tellin, since I might want to use it someday), played with it a little, refined it a bit and we laughed. She agreed it was a sexy crime and threw out a couple more ideas.

But, truthfully, it would be HIDEOUS for me if I wrote a mystery and it hit big. I mean, the plotting! **Shudder** Then I'd really have to write mysteries and though I love reading them and figuring out the puzzle, trying to set something like that up might make me bleed from the ears.

Still, I really like my crime -- contemporary NY City, no paranormal, of course there'd be a romance....


Thursday, May 18, 2006


Ask any professional writer and they will say that you can't afford distractions, and that's true. And I believe it, but I've been letting financial distractions eat at me for a week now, and being self indulgent about it, and letting the damn things gnaw and gnaw.

So I need to get over it. And I will. Today.

I don't think I've been a full time writer long enough to learn true coping mechanisms for working through some distractions, so I guess I'll forgive myself and think about how to handle this sort of thing in the future.

Right now, the best I can do (and it helps), is subliminal tapes while I'm writing "Think Positive" and that sort of thing.

So, again, learn to work through this distractions. And do what I say, not what I do.

May your focus be prime today.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Switching Gears -- Changing Worlds

As much as I'd like to pretend it's easy for me to hop from one universe to the next (Heart Quest copy edits to Protector of the Flight edits), it wasn't. Naturally, since I have five books set on Celta, that's the world I'm most familiar with, and can slip into and pull out of. With every book, Celt is more fully developed and set in my mind. The rules are clear. Ahem, I'm not making as much of it up as I go along...

So getting back to Lladrana wasn't easy this time, even though I'd left Calli at a climactic moment. I suppose I realized that THOSE rules needed fine tuning...especially the Snap, which I continue to refine. Like everything, the Snap (when your home planet calls to you), has rules. I just haven't mentioned them in Guardian of Honor or Sorceress of Faith because no one's figured out the rules. And I THOUGHT I knew the rules, then I changed my mind, then I changed it back.

Anyway, it took longer than anticipated for me to immerse myself in Lladrana, and for that I've been irritated with myself.

Not to mention dipping a toe in my Contemporary Urban Fantasy, which has very FEW rules right now...

But I nailed my butt to the chair and shuffled print outs of my scenes around yesterday and managed to bleed some transitions onto the page. This morning it went well, and I intend to work hard all day.

May wherever you're going today be rewarding.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Flat writing -- Rereading Your Work

I reread Heart Quest for the copy edits and I've figured out why I don't care to reread my own work...I've worked on it so hard that any of the subtle emotions that the book may call forth to me as a reader are gone. The writing seems flat (I can only hope it isn't). I can analyze the writing technically, but small events and gestures and dialogue that I've worked hard on just don't bring any response to me.

Which may be why I've liked rereading Guardian of Honor. I thought it was because the book was relatively easy to write, but it's also one that I've painted more in broad strokes than small nuances. Alexa is a warrior, a fighter, a survivor and can be over the top (even now, I find writing Alexa easier than my other characters).

So I read and hope the writing isn't as flat as it seems and that others read and reread my stories and treasure the little surprises and small amusements I try and include. I do rejoice, however, when the BIG events move me, because then I'm reassured that I might have done something right.

And, yes, this whole blog is full of qualifiers, but that's how most writers think about their work...and talk about it so it isn't jinxed and/or someone out there doesn't think you're a pompous and full of crap.

May you experience all the emotions of your work and of fulfilling your creativity today.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Copy Edits. Heart Quest

Well, it's 6:49 am and the copy edits are at FED EX to go out at 7:30 pm. When it's true that a writer can polish a manuscript ad infinitum, I definitely reached the stage where if my editor wanted my heroine to exclaim, Trif DID exclaim. I didn't care to change it.

I'd started on my own edits in landscape 2 pages per each side and gotten about 1/4 of the way through. I finished reading that, then transferred my corrections to the copy edited ms. I think I had a different editor as I could tell this one smoked (and I could tell it on my pages. I suppose my stuff smells like eau de cat). Usually they give me the same copy editor.

Then I glanced through the ms. for any questions left by the copy editor and my editor and answered, fixed them. THEN I glanced at my critique and first readers comments and went through them and fixed what I thought I could...and sometimes this sounded like real crap -- but there IS the galley stage and we should be back on time, now, I hope, so I could get 10 days (I say with incredible optimism).

Page 96 was missing. I printed out a new page 96 and made my edit, but it won't have the copy editor's marks.

I changed 2 characters names. I added some lines here and there, and a 1 page set up for Heart Match.

So, I'm exhausted, and will probably try and take a nap in my sunlit bedroom, then eat breakfast and get back to a climactic moment in Protector of the Faith.

One other thing, Berkley's punctuation is nothing like my own (I am not well-grounded in any punctuation) so if I wanted to conform my ms. to look like the copy edits I would have to change EVERY PAGE. I am not kidding. So usually, when I send out my ARCs, I change the substantive lines, then leave the rest.

BTW, it took $40+ to copy and $51.00 to FED EX.

May your writing today give you a great feeling of accomplishment.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Copy Edits. Urgh.

Brain dead. Eyes fried.

Got Copy Edits for Heart Quest on Sat (noticed Sat evening), and are DUE IN NY on TUESDAY. Many, many hours in, more hours to go. Choreography wonky. Payoffs disappear. Change in number of villains, and, like, do I want someone to escape?

Huh. Decisions, decisions.

And favorite words this book: pinkened (which my copy editor loathes), speared, tightened, throat clogged.

Changed TWO minor characters names – now must hand change and hope I don't miss any. (I'll let them know to do a global change and rely on my friend who edits the galleys).

Already read it through once (on landscape, set up like a book, 2 pages each side, which helps me critique), am now copying my changes to the ms (I send the full back). I'm down to the last 100 (1/4) of the book, but it's messier than usual with the little "mystery" I added. I might get it done before Breakfast for Mom, if I go now and skip my bath (had one late last night, but all that sitting...I yearn for another, and I don't like my hair today).

So I'll be working on this today and tomorrow, and the blog may very well be a mishmash hash spearing and tightening my body until my throat clogs and I pinken....anyway, just don't expect much. ;)

May your word choice glisten today.
Robin (who is about to fall off her chair in exhaustion, and misspelled this about 10 times...)

Author v. Writer -- Author of the Year!

A few years back (I think I only had 2 books out), I was asked at a writer's meeting where I was a guest speaker, why I called myself a writer instead of an author. My brain froze. It had never occurred to me to call myself anything other than a writer. Yeah, so I was published. I guess that made me an author (and I use that now if I have to fill out profession forms and want to be taken seriously). But, truly, a writer writes, so I'm a writer. Anyone who writes seriously is a writer, we're all in the same boat (THERE IS NO SECRET "PUBLISHED" HANDSHAKE).

However, I am Very, Very Pleased to announce that my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, Colorado Romance Writers, has voted me the Author of the Year! I'm so honored and thrilled. This came right out of the blue for me...so I got to go to the luncheon today and blush some, and got a fabulous plaque....

May you feel real enthusiasm for your writing today.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Taste of Darkness

Nina Bangs is one of my favorite people, and her books rock!

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He’d lived a thousand years for this? Reinn Mackenzie was one ticked-off vampire.

Werewolves--furry pains in the butt. Werecats--sneaky whisker-twitching manipulators. Reinn hated them all. But most of all, he hated his job. Guardian of the Blood. What a crock.

The Mackenzie council, in its infinite stupidity, had ordered him to protect the purity of the clan’s bloodline. What purity? They were all just a bunch of bloodsuckers, for crying out loud. Besides, how could he destroy a clan member for mating with someone not on the council’s approved list when the very sight of a certain little werecat revved his engine?

Kisa Evans made it impossible for him to think about anything but the dangerous fantasy of freeing his own inner beast. No matter how he fought the desire to feel the soft heat of her throat beneath his lips, the craving only grew. Kisa might be the enemy, but he longed to show her the sensual pleasure to be found in...


May your dark writing today be as successful!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Did I Write It Or Only Think It

I thought I'd written a scene. When this happens I usually use Filehand Search (see link above), if I can remember words that might apply – like Calli, Marrec, Snap....

I didn't find it. So I believe I only had a thought in my head that I had to change one I'd already written.


But, again, I've been obsessive searching in the past. Really. Torn my office apart for hardcopy notes. Scanned every file in my book folder (this book is filed under Calli, under the folder, Exotic Summoning, under my main writing folder, Ablaze).

A while back I decided that SEARCHING usually consumed more time than actually rewriting the scene...and have I spoken on this topic before? Maybe I should search the blog...

In any case, I now allow myself a few minutes to search (and tend to look at all backups, too), then I move on.

Sigh. I was ready to REVISE the scene, not quite ready to rewrite it.

May you never misplace what you write today.

Favorite Part of the Story

On the sly I've been writing a new book. I think an Urban Fantasy Romance. Decided my opening of my heroine sitting around and brooding about life would only get me in trouble -- as characters who don't have incredible motivation in their lives mean that I have to rewrite first chapters ad nauseum. Now she's evading bullets.

Ahem. I like writing the first part of a book the best, and in this I'm probably in the majority as I am in nothing else in my life. (I'm an INFJ, we're 1%, my Heart books are a niche market...) Most people who want to be writers have first chapters, or first three chapters, or half a book, in their drawer (or on their computer).

Usually my first chapters go well, and are relatively easy to write, inspiration pours through me. I don't care exactly where I'm going.

Currently, I have very little in clues about the world I'm building, and that makes me happy, too. Fun, fun, fun!

Now ending the book on the right note can be good, too, and is probably my second favorite time, if I can pull it off right.

But I love when everything is shiny and new. Shiny.

May every beginning go well for you today.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

WARNING SPOILERS***Timelines, Reading Etc.

Ok, it is late, late, LATE. There is NO WAY I'll be up at 5:45 am and working on the book. Got a lot done today, and that's great, but I kept running afoul of my timeline. I know that Guardian of Honor went from March Fourth (forth!) to May 8th (though I couldn't find my author's copy that deliniated it), but I hadn't read Sorceress of Faith to figure out it's timeline.

So I skimmed Sorceress. First, I wish I'd done a timeline when I was writing it, it would make more sense because the dates are a little mooshy as I wrote them, especially with regard to the time loop. But since it's in print, I kept the dates as written. Ha, ha, ha.

Naturally I discovered a few things...sunlight in one scene about an hour after night had fallen...another scene that I was SURE was in the daytime that must have taken place at night (oh, the joys of non-sequential writing), but at least I didn't describe any real daytime features.

And, that there's a bunch of chapters on single days and long stretches of "one morning the second week she was there...."

I never exactly said the exact date of the return, so I was able to make it the full moon (which I could have included had I done this when writing)...

Then I spent, I guess HOURS, making a calendar timeline. I thought it could be a prize on my website next month (this month is a beanie baby hamster).

Don't know if this will show up a lot, but here it is May 29th to June 29th in a year where May 29th is a Thursday (I'm using a pinkish screen to write on currently)....and, yeah, I'm going to figure out the timeline of Protector!

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May your choreography be clear and your timeline clean today.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Same Time, Same Station

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Just wanted to remind you all that writing everyday and at the same time everyday is important. Really, train your mind/creative self/inner creative child to show up at the page works. The girls in the attic or the old guy in the basement will provide ideas. Panic will diminish.

Trust me, baby.

Yes, it works, but it DOES take a little time. For me, the groove came back after 5 days...morning writing, but I still have to set a good time for afternoon/evening writing. And that is, of course, today. Tomorrow will probably be harder. But, you know, I have the confidence that this continue and that makes up for EVERYTHING.

May your schedule be established and you zoom today.

Monday, May 08, 2006

!!!Exclamation Points!!!

I recently read a book with exclamation points on nearly every page, and on one page I counted five...now, the same old same old warning, if your reader notices stuff like exclamation points, enough to count them, you've pretty much lost your reader.

Yes, I finished the book. No, I don't know if I'd buy another NEW book by this author. And yes, I'd read this author before.

Now, since I HAVE read this author before, I wonder a little about the exclamation points. Did the copy editor put them in and and the author got tired of taking them out? This DOES happen. A bad copy editor can be the pits. But I think I'll dig up the author's previous work and see if this was an issue.

Anyway, I LOVE exclamation points myself, as you have probably noted reading the blog. But one of my earliers critique buddies limited me to 1 ! per page, and it's very, very rare that I have more than one (or even look to see them) anymore. As will other punctuation that is to add extra punch, such as CAPS and italics, !s should be used with discretion so they DO add emphasis when you need it.

Thats all folks!
May your excitement in your writing come out in your word choice today.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Master of Wolves by Angela Knight

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I've been a fan of Angela's since I read her stories in the Secrets volumes. Excellent! I'm so glad that she's doing INCREDIBLY well.

MASTER OF WOLVES by Angela Knight
(Berkeley Sensation, April 4, 2006)

When Jim London's best friend is murdered, Jim vows to catch the killer. Leaving it for the local police to solve is out of the question, because he suspects they are involved.

Jim is more than capable of taking action if they are -- he's a werewolf. Realizing the only way to investigate the department is from the inside, he decides to go undercover -- as a police K-9.

His "handler" is lovely Faith Weston, the only person on the Clarkston Police Department who isn't up to her neck in murder. But Faith has no idea her "dog" Rambo is a werewolf, or that the department she serves is rotten with corruption.
But it doesn't take her long to figure it out.


May all your characters show different aspects of themselves today.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Midnight Secrets

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There's hardly anything I like more than dragons, this one is on my list for book buying today!

MIDNIGHT SECRETS by Jennifer St. Giles
(Berkeley, May 2, 2006)

"When two are born together, one will die by the other's hand..."

This is the Dragon's Curse that has plagued the Killdarens for generations and continues on in this tale set on the Cornish Coast of 1879 England.

Sean and Alex thought they'd escaped the Dragon's curse until in a rage of suspicion and accusation the twins come close to killing each other the night the woman they both loved was murdered. Eight years later, the only thing they agree on is to remain unwed and childless, to never pass on the Dragon's Curse. Then another woman disappears. This time from Sean Killdaren's castle and his reclusive world is shattered when Cassie Andrews, a journalist, goes undercover as a downstairs maid. He can no more ignore her than he can ignore the murderer hiding behind the secrets of Killdaren Castle's stone walls.


May all your world building concepts SHINE today.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Full Time Writer Again

Yes, the original project is over. Yes, they offered me another. Yes, I turned it down. I had to.

I still have mixed feelings. If I weren't behind deadline, I'd know myself better, I think. If I wasn't single and the sole support of myself and cats (family is tapped out due to Black Sheep, so very little help there unless I was desperate, and that means working first) I'd know myself better. Maybe.

The thing is, I'm not a BIG writer, and my money definitely isn't steady, reliable or big, either. I just got paid (the check is on it's way to me), for a book I turned in December 6. That's not exactly something I can count on to feed myself. Last year all my tidy ideas about $$ and proposals and plans were thrown out the window when I had to revise Sorceress of Faith. I've never caught up.

The first week I was a demon writing and working and burnt myself out by Thursday and never quite recovered the rhythm. It was definitely harder trying to write after work.

OTOH, I'm continuing to come up with ideas. Continuing to try and do something major AND continue with my regular stuff.

I have 3 good proposals for Heart Books out (and THEIR contractual deadline is running). I should hear by this time next month. I still LIKE the Heart series, I'm bringing along some secondary characters.

I have the last 3 Luna books to plot and submit as proposals and a twist of the Dimensional Corridor and I could send average American women to a new world....

But all this takes time and it's time that I'm not necessarily getting income.

A thorny question.

May all your thorny questions afflict your characters today.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


I admit that I wrote some pages on a new story last night, not related to the Heart books or the Luna books – not sure if it is a romance or not, but I think so. Anyway, I'd turned off my computer and went to brush my teeth and lines from the second scene came to me. I always have difficulty starting a scene without a couple of anchoring sentences in the beginning, even if I later change or delete those lines.

I knew it would take a while for the computer to load, and that I might get on and write for longer than I should (I know, I know, priorities, but I DO have a day job now).

So I just jotted the lines down in my wonderful journal (don't think I've gushed about my wonderful engagement/appointment/new age journal).

It felt good to write longhand.

Not only that, sometimes my handwriting is pretty and it was last night.
So maybe it's time I sit myself down at a table and chair with pen and paper and write. That's always good to refresh the brain, and something about the pen moving across paper can stimulate the senses and inspiration.

May information flow to you today.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Research II

Research -- Cultural Differences

Getting my culture/setting right is important to me as a reader (and as a writer, too), and can draw the reader out of the story if it's wrong. For instance, the fire trucks in Denver are not red. They are white. As soon as someone mentions a red fire truck I know they didn't do their research...and one of the outlying counties has chartreuse trucks...

Getting the culture right is easier for those of us who write fantasy. As long as we stick with our worldbuilding rules, the reader should be satisfied. I tend to add a little bit to the world with each book.

It's harder for contemporary and historical writers. I've seen requests for slang usage, for geographical information, etc. on my writer's loops. That's a good place to start, but, naturally, always double check.

And the reason I thought of this today was because I bumped into someone. In Denver, when we bump into someone on the shuttle, we say "Excuse me." In London, on the underground it's "Sorry," and the last time I was in Paris, it was "Pardon," I think.

May you add a layer to your world today.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I have friends who call themselves research sluts. Having my library degree, I, too, can pick up almost any book and get swept under by interesting facts. And the web is excellent for research (but check your facts if you can! There's more misinformation up here than you think, and no, that doesn't mean you spend hours surfing....)

So I have two rules of research for MYSELF. 1) Don't do it ahead of time or I'll take time away from writing and delve much deeper than I need to and take time from writing. 2) Do only as much as necessary. I've gotten hit both ways in my work -- not enough worldbuilding, too much worldbuilding -- but, in general, the audience I'm writing for doesn't want minutiae that will slow the pace of the book. I THOUGHT I did as much as I should of the nanotech for Heart Thief, but my editor wanted more (quickly) and that's where the web came in great. I contacted a group, asked my questions and put acknowledgments in the book). With a Healing Circle in Heart Duel, I knew what I wanted, but hadn't ever attended one so I asked a Wiccan community.

And my volarans aren't horses. Have horse-like characteristics, but are not horses. Even my horses don't quite behave like horses. Why? Because Calli and Marrec can speak telepathically to them, work with them mind-to-mind, not have to depend on mostly physical clues.

So that's my take on research and my rules for me. I'd say that as long as your critique buddies or your editor doesn't notice your depth of research, it's right...and yes, if you HAVE a lot of time for research into fabric, etc. it can make a richer world, if you use short, rich descriptions. But publishing in the world I live in is about getting good books out quickly for readers. So like many things, this is a balance.

May all your research be right today.

Monday, May 01, 2006

ONCE UPON STILETTOS by Shanna Swendson

I really enjoyed Enchanted, Inc. and am looking forward to this one, too! Unique and quirky.

ONCE UPON STILETTOS by Shanna Swendson
(Ballantine Books, April 25, 2006)

When we left Katie Chandler at the end of Enchanted, Inc., she had helped her new employers, Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc. defeat Phelan Idris, a rogue wizard intent on stealing spells. By her side, and leading the battle, was hunky wizard Owen. Katie and Owen are still fighting their attraction to each other in Shanna Swendson’s hilarious and charming sequel Once Upon Stilettos, but first they have to track down a corporate spy before the company dissolves into paranoia. Then at the worst possible time, Katie's immunity to magic goes on the blink. At least she's having better luck in her social life, with men falling at her feet everywhere she goes. Has she really become that irresistible, or is it the new red shoes she felt compelled to buy? Polish your fairy wings, put on your magic shoes, click your heels three times, and join Shanna Swendson for a romantic romp amidst fairies, goblins, wizards and gargoyles.
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In addition to writing fiction, Shanna Swendson is a freelance marketing consultant and writer specializing in technology and telecommunications. She is single and lives in Irving, Texas, with her many pet plants, including a vicious attack bougainvillea and a Christmas cactus that has outlasted three homes, three jobs and three boyfriends, yet still faithfully blooms every Christmas and Easter. She’s looking for a man that reliable.

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