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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.

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?

Yes.

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.
Posted: April 21, 2017, 1:20 am
INTERVIEW WITH AILIM SILVERFIR ELDER

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.
Posted: April 14, 2017, 8:47 pm
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.
Posted: April 7, 2017, 6:20 pm
I've posted this before, but I'm working on a seminar on Character Worksheets, so here it is again:

Robin: Hey, T'Ash.
T'Ash: Greetyou.
Robin: Tell me a little about yourself. Why don't we start out with the physical?
T'Ash: GLARES. Why?
Robin: I need to know more about you so I can do your story justice.
T'Ash: SNORTS. Huh. I don't care to talk about myself, to be--
Robin: Vulnerable.
T'Ash: SPITS.
Robin: Really, T'Ash.
T'Ash: GRINS. Like that, are you? Sort of like Danith?
Robin: (uncomfortable) Come on, T'Ash, please? CLEARS THROAT. The basics, including physical?
T'Ash: Can't you see?
Robin: WINCES. Puh-lease?
T'Ash: SIGHS HEAVILY. My name is T'Ash. Head of the GreatHouse Ash. It is who and what I am. I am less than 2 meters tall and of a wide build, both inherent in my genes from my family and because I am not only a jeweler, but a smith. My eyes are blue. Light blue, I suppose you would say, and to be precise, the color of a sky-crystal. My hair is fine, thick and shoulder length, I don't pay much attention to it. I am 37. Sometimes I feel old.


Robin: Any distinctive physical marks?
T'Ash: You mean scars. Yes, I have scars. From my Downwind boyhood, from the vengeance stalk. Blaser scars, knife scars. I have hard, working hands with callouses, but am not any sort of beast, my body hair is light.


Robin: Shoes and clothes size?
T'Ash: Shoe size. Large. Clothes sizes, large, need built shirts for my shoulders, but all nobles have their clothes built.


Robin: What are your favorite clothes?
T'Ash: Why should this matter? None. I like the embroidery on my cuffs, showing I'm T'Ash. When I was a child, I never anticipated being T'Ash, it was beyond the realm of possibility. My oldest brother Nuin would be T'Ash.


Robin: CLEARING THROAT AGAIN. Have you been married before?
T'Ash: You jest. I slake my needs in the willing bodies of tavern wenches, pay them well. Noble ladies and their seductive glances make me wary, they do not charge a price up front, so who knows how much they will soak you for? Never married because I was busy walking the vengeance stalk, re-establishing my GreatHouse, rebuilding my Great House, practicing my Flair with gems and making my reputation as a jeweler and my shop, T'Ash's Phoenix, a success. I have been extremely busy. I -- I must admit I crafted a HeartGift during my last Passage, many years ago, 17. I briefly touched my HeartMate then, so I know one soul is made for mine. Why should I settle for anyone else? So, I wait.

Robin: Good idea. Any children?
T'Ash: I am not a libertine. No.
Robin: How about your father?
T'Ash: What of yours?
Robin: Let's not.
T'Ash: See how YOU like questions? SIGHS. Father was Nuin, as all the first sons of Ash GreatHouse are named Nuin T'Ash. He had the responsibilities of the head of a Thirteen First Family, the head of our own family. His Father, FatherSire Nuin, had retired, being bedridden. Father's Flair was for Storms. Lightning. Thunder. He could predict, cause, deter. That's what he did when called upon by the Noble Council. He taught my brothers and me to fight. He paid more attention to my brother Nuin, of course, teaching him the things he should know to be House Head. I loved Father, he was hard but fair. Father's dead, he perished with Mother and Nuin and Gwidion. I, the youngest, survived.

Robin: And your mother?
T'Ash: MOUTH TWISTS. Mother was Jasmine. And she smelled of jasmine, not the Earth plant, but the hybrid Celtan. What a scent. It haunts me sometimes. She made perfumes, light things, she didn't have a great Flair, but was a daughter of a GraceHouse. But my father loved her. They were HeartMates. She chose to die with him. I think she could have 'ported from the window. I guess the firebombspell, the explosion, smoke and fire was too quick for the others to 'port out. I don't know. Rue, the bastard, said if the fire gained a touch on you, it would eat you. I don't know if that happened. I don't know why they couldn't escape. Father would have checked on my brothers, Nuin and Gwidion, then me, first, before 'porting to the HouseHeart or outside, where I watched. I can't recall, now, how quickly everything happened. Except in dreams. Ah, Mother. Father loved Mother. Nuin loved Mother. Gwidion loved Mother. I loved Mother, too.

Robin: How about your schooling?
T'Ash: You have a stupid list. Why do you wish to know? I was schooled at home by FatherSire, Father, Mother and tutors until I was six. Then. Do you mock me? It is true I grew up Downwind, so I learned to survive and be smart on the streets. I can protect what I own. My Flair had just blossomed before the destruction of my family. I had undergone my first Passage, so I knew a little on how to develop it. And I had the book, the history of the Ash family, I had been reading it when Rue and his scruffs took the Great House. So, I did go to a drunken old woman who was once a GrandHouse lady. I paid her precious pennies to give me a smattering of manners, to help me with my speech, even though I continue to lapse into Downwind shortspeech now and again. You would be wise not to ever hint that my education is lacking. I have mastered my Flair, and it is powerful. I weathered three Passages. I can smith weapons, I can quarry stones and shape them, I make excellent pieces of jewelry, all with my Flair. I learned most of this on my own, but for two years I apprenticed with a glistensmith on the edges of Downwind. He was a scruff, a scroungy, stingy master, but he knew his trade and I learned it. My reputation is great and will get greater. My work is sought after. I can turn down commissions and craft what I please. Don't forget that.

Robin: Any previous occupations?
T'Ash: When I was a youth Downwind, it was whatever I had to do. Steal. I didn't do much begging, I came into my size in my early 'teens. Nor did I whore. When I was young and nubile, I scuttled around like a frightened mouse. By the time I was older and tougher, I had other means to me than selling my body, even then I had an affinity for stones. I made divination dice, polished and imbued cheap jewelry and amulets with charms. Things of that sort.

Robin: Your skills?
T'Ash: IMPATIENT LOOK Haven't you been paying attention? I am the best with stones, my Flair is great, I rarely lose a fight. I can design and create new patterns for jewelry and weapons and divination dice. I am a tolerable shopkeeper.

Robin: What was the worst thing that happened as a child?.
T'ASH: SCOWLS. You know. I don't need to say it again.

Robin: Then the worst thing that happened as an adult?
T'ASH: CONSIDERING. I would like to say my last Passage, but that was not so fearful to me as the last two fights that I was in on the vengeance stalk. I went berserk. I deeply fear that. I hate the idea of all that uncontrolled violence within me. Let's not talk about it.

Robin: Your best childhood memory?
T'ASH: I've been having trouble with my memories, even the good ones. I will have to think on this. Waking up on one warm and sunny day, my Nameday? Having all of my wishes fulfilled? A picnic in the grassyard and games later. My Mother holding me. My Father placing his hand on my shoulder in pride. He did that once.

Robin: What about your best adult memory?
T'ASH: Hard to say. Triumph when I got my title and my GreatHouse back, when my family's murderers were dead or banished and I was vindicated before the entire Noble Council. That was sweet. I also felt good when my shop was a success and I knew that my Flair for jewelry was prized. Or when I saw the last layer of armourcrete go onto my new Residence. All very good memories.

Robin: What does your best friend think of you?
T'ASH: BLINKS. My best friend, Holm Holly, thinks that I am too staid lately, that I don't take enough chances or risks. That I have ordered my life too much. I like it this way. Adventurous lives are frightening lives. But most of all they are dangerous lives. I cannot have danger in my life because I haven't yet refounded my line.

Robin: What of money?
T'ASH: I don't think about money too much. My annual income is such that I don't need the annual noble gilt allowed to me, don't want it. I prefer to earn my own through my Flair and my pieces. I charge much and receive it. My jewelry is worth it.

Robin: Who was your most recent lover?
T'ASH: LOOKS ASIDE. I don't have a lover. I visit the taverns when the need is upon me. It doesn't matter which woman I have. I'm not celibate. Well, perhaps this last month or so. Sex is overrated, a physical release and nothing else. I know what a HeartMate marriage consists of. I will wait.

Robin: (glad the sex stuff is out of the way) What is your least liked social situation?
T'ASH: Noble society social events, not rituals, particularly if there are a lot of ladies. I am not comfortable around ladies, I know I am not smooth and do not express myself well.

Robin: Do you have a pet peeve?
T'ASH: AGAIN STARING.
Robin: (feeling really foolish)
T'ASH: A peeve? Something so trivial? A pet peeve. Ha! Zanth smells. He likes killing sewer rats and prowling Downwind, and when he comes back he reeks of this awful odor. Though he is not really a pet, he is my Fam.

Robin: SPEAKING FASTER. Your favorite food?
T'ASH: I like cocoa. In anything.

Robin: Least favorite food.
T'ASH: Internal organs of any animal. I ate too much of that when I grew up. Any sort of spoilt meat or vegetables or fruit for the same reason.

Robin: You hate people who.......?
T'ASH: I hate people who abuse others. Are bullies, or evil and kill for the sake of killing or for ambition or greed, like Rue and Flametree killed my family.

Robin: You respect people who......?
T'ASH: I respect people who stand up for their rights. Who fight for what they want. Who endure and survive.

Robin: What was your favorite vacation?
T'ASH: What's that? I love my work.

Robin: Tell me about your best friend and how you met.
T'ASH: FLASHING A GRIN. Holm Holly. I met him when he got caught Downwind during his second Passage. I was in a tavern looking at my beer. He started a fight. T'ASH LAUGHS. Zanth took a couple of pieces out of a couple of scruffs. T'ASH SLANTS A LOOK AT ROBIN. You tell THAT story when you tell his story.

Robin: Maybe, come on, let's hear more.
T'ASH: BEGINNING TO FIDDLE WITH SOME JEWELRY WIRE IN HIS HANDS. Holm's emotions were too strong and influenced me to also flash Passage. I helped him, saved his life, during those innumerable death duels of his. He helped me on the vengeance stalk and before the council.

Robin: Do you have a pet?
T'ASH: A pet? Don't let Zanth hear you call him that. He is a Fam. A mature cat of common origin, but very large, some genetic strain there, I think. He is sentient, and my familiar and my family. He is a tom with an attitude. I love him.

Robin: You live in?
T'ASH: PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO WHAT HE IS DOING WITH BEADS AND THE WIRE INSTEAD OF THE QUESTIONS. I live in my rebuilt Residence.. T'ASH Residence>

Robin: And before that?
T'ASH: I lived in a guest cottage on the Holly compound before my Residence was built, but I spared no expense on the construction and it happened quickly with top-rated Flaired magecrafters. Before that I lived in a shack Downwind. Before that at my master's when I was an apprentice. Before that -- why think of this? Any hole I could find.

Robin: What do you admire most?
T'ASH: SERIOUS. I most admire whole GreatHouse families, with extended family members working together to perpetuate the line.

Robin: What would you never do?
T'ASH: I would never cheat, do something dishonorable, betray a friend. Why do we have to speak of this?

Robin: What do you want most?
T'ASH: I would most like to find my HeartMate and continue my life and my line. I want her to love me.

Robin: When working through a problem, you talk to.......?
T'ASH: Zanth. Even if I don't talk to him, he talks to me.

Robin: What do you procrastinate about?
T'ASH: Dealing with society women. I do not place myself in situations where any lady is expecting me to do anything whatsoever.

Robin: What do you dislike?
T'ASH: Asking for favors or exchanging services with the Thirteen First Families. You have to be careful, or you will lose more than you gain.

Robin: Your overriding need?
T'ASH: My overriding need or want is to win my HeartMate! She is here. I can have her and her love, and she will be the mother of my children and my line, the Ash GreatHouse, will be assured. This is important because no one has loved me for a long time. Or no human. Cats love in a different, more selfish manner. This is important because I am the last of my line, a line that began on Terra, before the generation ships, continued on the ships and on Celta. It must continue. I cannot let it die, to do so would be to betray my murdered family and all my ancestors.

Robin: What obstacles stand in your way?
T'ASH: I'll not let anything stand in my way. I will change the mind of my HeartMate, make her love her by my HeartGift. I am tired of talking to you. Too much talk and not enough action. Bide well. STALKS OFF.

Robin: SIGHS, BUT IS STILL SURPRISED SHE GOT SO MUCH OUT OF HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Posted: March 31, 2017, 3:58 pm
This cut portion came from the press conference by GraceLord Equisetum regarding the Traditionalist Stance and the Intersection of Hope Religion. He'd announced he didn't believe their Cathedral would be built. Note, Tiana is the heroine of Heart Fire and a priestess of the main Celtan culture which celebrates the Divine Couple, the Lady and Lord/Lord and Lady.

"I think we should call the Intersection of Hope people, 'Hopefuls.' I know it's a quality that my mother has," Tiana said.

"Hopefuls," someone considered.

"Hopeful for what? Someone else's death?" GraceLord Equisetum said.

Tiana tilted her head. "Our grove study educational system obviously failed you. The Hopefuls believe in taking responsibility for their life journey and helping others along the way. They don't wish ill on anyone. Why would you think so?"

He opened his mouth and she wondered if he'd link the Hopefuls to the Black Magic Cult, as he had years before, but this time he didn't have the panic to excuse himself for any misconception. Still, whenever he'd looked at her, hatred had burned in his eyes. When he'd ruined her Family, he hadn't prospered as much as he'd anticipated. Would he make the same mistake?

His gaze shifted to beyond her. Casually, she angled to follow Equisetum's gaze. There, standing in the doorway was Antenn and another man, taller and older and with a full head of steel gray hair.

Equisetum shut his mouth.

Tiana pushed, she wanted this done for once and all. "Why would you say that the members of the Intersection of Hope faith would want someone else's death?"

The GraceLord stood there, caught. And she realized that he couldn't admit to a mistake. Yet another noble with a flaw engendered by birth and wealth and status.

He couldn't say that he mispoke, couldn't apologize, couldn't retreat, couldn't return to rational thinking. A very dangerous man. The atmosphere seethed with negative energy radiating from him and Tiana knew she'd made a mistake, too.

Posted: March 24, 2017, 12:39 am
Still working on Heart Sight, but I got the cover from my editor yesterday:

Posted: March 16, 2017, 4:47 pm
I'm not sure how many of you know or use Pinterest, but I have extensive pics relating to my books (and works in progress) there: https://www.pinterest.com/robindowens/

Most particularly you can see all the series I did (and stories/novellas/books) I'm contemplating in chronological order. I also use Pinterest for visual information I want to access while writing my stories.

Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again.

Posted: March 13, 2017, 4:45 pm
Celta Thursday, rough draft scene bit of Heart Journey, and, no, I did not compare it to the final:

Steep Springs, Celta, 407 Years After Colonization, Late Summer, Afternoon

Helena D'Elecampane, Del, rode into the mountain town, hot and dusty from the frontier. It had taken all day by stridebeast to wind up the rough road from the plains to the town and was now late afternoon. After two months in the wilderness, she was longing for a long soak in a private hot spring, a good meal, and a bedsponge. And her HeartMate.

Not necessarily in that order, though it would be another couple of weeks before she arrived in the capital, Druida City, to meet and claim him.

She'd felt him during his Third Passage a while back, which made him younger than her, by how much she wasn't sure, but it didn't matter. She'd liked his mind touch and would no doubt like his physical touch....

"Hey, turn down that music!" A man shouted from the street, and she reluctantly thumbed off her saddle flexistrip player. From his scowl, the guy didn't appreciate the sophisticated sound. Del loved jazz. It was a music that only a few enjoyed.

**Stup has no taste,** said her fox Fam, Shunuk, raising his nose. He was riding on a pad behind her saddle. **Smells bad, too. Eats mostly vegetables.**

Del snorted. "There are a couple of jazz clubs in Druida. I heard places are admitting Fams. A good reason to visit the big city. We can stock up on new holobooks and vizes."

They'd watched all she had dozens of times. Maybe she could see a play or two. "Druida will be fine."

**Many busy people,** Shunuk said, watching a man hurry down a street.

"Yes, and a lot more there," Del said. "Too many people for us."

**Foxes are doing well in Druida.** Shunuk grinned.
Posted: March 4, 2017, 2:41 am
Celta Thursday, something simple. I've been giving Multiplicity more thought (the new town going up in Heart Sight) -- and know more than will come out in the book -- but this is Dri Paris' and Blush Hawthorn Paris' new house in Multiplicity.
Posted: February 9, 2017, 5:34 pm
Before my family problems occurred, I started a story that I am hoping will be part of an All Fam collection for a minimal price ebook-print book. Zanth Discovers a Treasure, Pinky Becomes a Fam, and this one, Baccat Claims His FamWoman:

Not the time for a civilized, respectable, intelligent cat to be out. A proper cat like himself, Baccat, who embodied great enough attributes to become a Familiar Companion to a human who would treat him right and care for him.

Autumn had faded away with spitting sleet and winter threatened frost, and worse, snow.

His only slightly hardened pads shriveled with cold as he trotted light footed along the cold sidewalks in the overcast night.

Right now he slept in a dirt hollow under thick bushes behind the Turquoise House, another intelligent being, though quite immobile. But before Baccat could ask the House to let him stay inside, last summer when he he had landed newly on the streets of the city, the House had gathered a Family with two cats — one the small Pinky and the other the very nasty Ratkiller.
Posted: February 2, 2017, 10:29 pm
Occasionally I wake up with bits of scenes in my head with regard to stories I'm contemplating. Today was like that, so here's an excertp:

Before Rand Ash called for another drink — an ale this time to save his precious coin, the real entertainment of the evening strode in and ordered the best liquor in the place.

People moved away from this guy, too. More due to his attitude than his height. Unlike Rand, what muscles the man had were sleek, formed over a strong, lean build.

Rand stared, like every other person in the tavern, at the man with gray eyes and white-silver-blond hair, dressed in materials so expensive that the amount he’d paid for his threads would clothe everyone in the place for a decade. Most people saw a noble or two now and then, and knew of noble fashion, and this was the latest.

T’Ash reflected on the books he’d read, the one he’d escaped with when he’d run away from the fiery inferno his home had become to the streets of Downwind, his most prized possession since he was six years old. He thought of the lessons and old noblewoman had given him about the great nobles, the FirstFamilies. He frowned as early gossamer memories wisped through his mind. And he examined the guy, the man’s aquiline features, noble features.

Yeah, he nodded, he could guess who this guy was. Especially since the man looked flushed and nervy and T’Ash sensed fluctuations of great Flair from him. That meant the nobleman suffered through Passage, the dreamquests to free the psi power of Flair. Except the fighting Family of the Hollys didn’t. Didn’t stay home and suffer through Passage. They went out prowling, looking for challenges. Fought deathduels.

Yeah, Rand could guess the man’s name and pedigree. Holm Holly, heir to GreatLord T’Holly himself. Holm HollyHeir as he’d be styled.
Posted: January 28, 2017, 3:43 am
Heart Sight cover copy finalized: Journey back to the planet Celta with award-wining author Robin Owens in this novel about shadowy enemies and unimaginable psi power.

Muin “Vinni” T'Vine has been the prophet of Celta since he was six years old. A unique and lonely child, his strong psi power made most people wary of him. But now that he's older, he's ready to marry and protect the girl who he's known was his HeartMate for years.

Avellana isn't as fragile as Vinni believes . . . nor as compliant. She fights to be considered Vinni's equal and a strong member of her Family and community. Both of them have kept Avellana's main power secret for over a decade.

But rumors of her strange psi talent are spreading, and Vinni is experiencing premonitions of danger--even from the highest people of the land--to Avellana. When the whispers become threats, Vinni and Avellana must discover and defeat their secret enemies before they can finally claim happiness together
Posted: January 23, 2017, 6:56 pm
Here is the link to the newsletter that went out today, it includes a wish for you, notice of an anthology coming next Month (2/14, Valentine's Day) that includes a Celta story, and current works in progress.


Also, if you look at the archives, you can find a couple of stories. 🙂
Posted: January 6, 2017, 12:36 am
Scritch, scritch, scritch. Whoosh. Flop.

Jerking to sit, Artemisia followed the sound...and her mouth opened in surprise as she watched a Familiar companion opening swish back and forth in the bedroom door. Her FamRacoon, Randa, waddled toward her, and she let out a sigh. She had a Fam, another blessing.

Randa hooked her claws on the long comforter that draped over the elevated bedsponge and climbed up. *Greetyou, Famwoman.* The raccoon's muzzle lifted and her mouth stretched in a smile, showing little pointy teeth. She hurried over to Artemisia, stopped to sit and clasp her paws together as she stared at Artemisia's body under the covers.

Artemisia patted her lap. "Come on."

Randa ran up the angle of her body and snuffled under Artemisia's chin, leaving a slight wet smear. *Love you, FamWoman!*

"I love you, too."

"Today we make my room and my place and my toys and all my stuff?"

"Residence, have we ever had a raccoon Fam?" Artemisia asked, not quite sure what Randa would need, but petting her Fam was nice, though when she moved her feet, Randa got distracted and attacked her toes. Laughing, she played with the young raccoon. It didn't matter that claws were shredding her old comforter, though she slyly spellshielded her pillows...

A horrible, long crreeeaaakk interrupted them and Randa ran up into Artemisia's arms and they both watched paper stretch, then crack as an old door in the far bedroom wall opened. A door to a room that Artemisia didn't even know was there. But she was the only one inhabiting the third floor and only used three rooms.

And they both sneezed as a cascade of dust rushed into the room. Artemisia hopped from the bed, snapping, "Third level housekeeping spell."

Suction pulled at her hair and her nightshirt, rattled and spun her knick-knacks. Randa cheeped and buried her long nose against Artemisia's neck.

When all the dust vanished and everything gleamed, Artemisia walked across the thick but faded Chinju rug to the dim open hole.

*Smells good. I think it will feel good on my pads!* Randa said, scrabbling and ripping Artemisia's thin cotton shirt. She'd have to get sturdier sleepwear. She put the raccoon on her paws and Randa shot into the dark room and chittered at her. *It is nice and dark even when your room is light and makes me sleepy, and it has a little window just for me and a wonderful tree branch outside the window and my own tree!*

"Wow," Artemisia said, examining the tall and narrow tree dubiously.

"We have never had a raccoon Fam," the Residence finally said. "But I have housed cats and I have data from the starship Nuada's Sword about raccoons on ancient Earth. I have also accessed and added to my ResidenceLibrary all information recarding the animals that the Public Library contains."

"Wonderful," Artemisia murmured, stepping into the small room. I was more like a narrow closet than anything.

"Our new Fam will need toys–"

*Yes!*

"And indoor climbing trees like cat Fams prefer–"

*Yes, yes!*

"And we can move a no-time food storage unit and Fam dispenser into this room, along with a mattress and bedding."

*I will mostly sleep with my person,* Randa said, then added, *though it will be good to have my own bedsponge.*

"Raccoons can also use litter boxes."

*I will go outside.*

"Even when winter comes?"

*Yes.* The young Fam stopped and sat on her haunches, looked over at Artemisia. *This room is perfect!*

"Thank you, Residence," Artemisia said.

*Thank you, Residence!* Randa repeated.

The window opened and Randa sniffed hard. *My tree smells good and my room smells good and my FamWoman smells good. I am a lucky coon.*
Posted: December 8, 2016, 5:53 pm
My newsletter went out yesterday , along with a few paragraphs about real places I use as inspiration, like Dumbarton Oaks, which BalmHeal Residence/Estate is based upon.
Posted: December 2, 2016, 12:26 am
I am working on the geography of Druida City that sits on the Varga Peninsula. First mention of Outside The City: Excerpt from Heart Thief (outside Northgate -- the north guardhouse of the city walls):

Ruis savored the myriad smells of the land outside the city, heavy with verdant growth dying in the autumn. The ground gently sloped down and was cleared of everything but fields fading from a brilliant green to green edged with brown.

With a new appreciation for life, his gaze scanned the undergrowth, bushes, and trees that marched across the land, blocking the sight of the Great Platte Ocean in the distance. Yet the scent of the sea drifted to him along with the fragrance of turning leaves.

He thanked the Lord and Lady that he lived. And he enjoyed every sensation — the green and purple and brown of the landscape before him, the distant sound of birds and other winged creatures, the touch of a freshening breeze drying the sweat from his skin, as well as the hum of the city that vibrated through the stone wall behind him. The wall that still carried the heat of the fall day.

Posted: November 19, 2016, 8:56 pm
I am on retreat this week and I have a netbook with extremely limited space and amount of Celta stuff. Here is a cut bit from "Heart and Sword" in the collection, Hearts and Swords, this takes place on the starship Nuada's Sword on the voyage to Celta. Kelse (hero and Captain) is talking with the Bridge Crew:

"We will be landing the ship?" asked the Lieutenant.

Kelse blinked. "What other option is there? I don’t believe a space elevator can be built."

The young man glanced at his fellows, looked back at Kelse. "We could set the ship into long-term orbit and send people down."

"That would take some time, and fuel, and good piloting skills."

"We have more than one pilot of the dagger ships."

Posted: November 10, 2016, 10:50 pm
Celta Thursday, original cover of Heart Fire that I fussed about (the landscape). I don't think I ever posted it because I didn't want people thinking there were great crevasses in the Varga plain. Most people I showed it to (my critique group) were: What landscape? What cathedral? What crevasses...
Posted: November 3, 2016, 8:48 pm
The story all Celta HeartMate fans have been waiting for! Vinni T’Vine meets his destiny!

Muin (Vinni) T’Vine has been the prophet of Celta since he was six years old. A unique and lonely child, his strong psi power made most people wary of him. Now that he’s grown, he’s ready to marry and protect the girl who he’s known was his HeartMate for years.

But Avellana isn’t as fragile as Vinni believes . . . or as compliant. She fights to be considered Vinni’s full and equal partner, and a strong member of her Family and community.
And both of them have kept Avellana’s main power secret for years.

Whispers of that strange psi talent have spread and Vinni continues to experience premonitions of danger — even from his own Family — to Avellana. Whispers become threats and they must discover and defeat their secret enemies before they can finally claim happiness.
Posted: October 27, 2016, 8:19 pm
Here is an age/people list for Heart Legacy (and Heart Sight, a few months later, my work in progress). Year 424 after Colonization:

Lahsin Holly is 35
Muin (Vinni) T’Vine is 30
Draeg Betony Blackthorn is 24
Avellana Hazel is 24
Dani Eve Elder is 20
Nuin Ash is 20
Loridana D'Yew is 18
Aurea Holly (Tinne and Lahsin’s girl) is 17 (Passage? Death Duels?)
Jasmine Ash and Abutilon GWYDION Ash are 17
Dontea Ash is 13
Elwyn Clover is 12
Cal Marigold is 7
Dalmatia Clover is 7
Marin Holly is 10
Lena Marigold is 4
Watson Clover is 2
Posted: October 20, 2016, 9:43 pm
I had Family Stuff yesterday, so I didn't post on Ghost Maker release day!

Here's the blurb:
Clare Cermak has a gift for speaking to ghosts of the Old West, but in the latest from the author of Ghost Talker, she may soon join their ranks...

With Clare’s health fading, she and her partner—the love of her life—detective Zach Slade, head to Manitou Springs, Colorado, in search of the only healer who can help them: the ghost of Sister Juliana Emmanuel, whose healing skills live on in the afterlife.

Unfortunately for Clare, the nun’s ghost is elusive, and the town is teeming with spirits who all want to speak with Clare—newer ones, street kids who've been killed and want their bodies found and their murders avenged.

Now, with the help of Zach and Sister Juliana, Clare must find the killer before he strikes again. But to do so, she will face an evil that could destroy everything she and Zach hold dear—including their love..

Posted: October 19, 2016, 7:42 pm
My entire notes for Nuin Ash's story (at least 3 down the road):

Nuin's Story
FirstSon and Heir to T'Ash and D'Ash
Doesn't have a good handle on his Flair. It's erratic.
Maybe he isn't a pure Fire mage, everyone assumed he was a Fire Mage but he wasn't tested. DON'T BELIEVE THAT.
Maybe he likes being a fire mage and told his father he didn't need the testing stones. HUH!
What he has to do in his is accept who he is in addition to a fire mage.
Maybe he isn't a flashy fire mage, he is something more quiet
NOPE, LIKE HIM FLASHY...

And maybe I'll play with Black Desert Character Creator so I can visualize him.
Posted: October 15, 2016, 1:23 am
Celta Thursday: My current ideas:

Stories:

Garrett Primross Detective Stories (4)
1 case where he meets Laev T'Hawthorne (working)
His viewpoint of the events at Darjeeling's Teahouse
1 case down south with the boy he gave the blood transfusion to
1 case getting the elder Mugworts out of the sanctuary and into the city

Ash meets Holm (working, in an anthology if I turn it in on time)
MAYBE: Ash and Holm on the Vengeance Stalk

D. House Becomes Intelligent (working, in a different anthology)

3rd Cat POV story for a collection, Baccat Snares His Person

Novellas:
Script of the Heart (working)
Klay St. Johnsworth, actor, and Giniana Chervil, Healer

Claif Clover in the southern continent (Maybe)

Novels, current order:
Heart Sight, due November 30, WORKING

Heart - Gwydion Ash
Heart - Dani Eve Elder
Heart - Betony-Blackthorn

And that's it, folks.
Posted: October 6, 2016, 5:36 pm
I only have a few paragraphs for that day, and no photo that Zach took and hung, but here's one from Manitou Springs anyway that is always good: In the morning, when Clare and Enzo returned from marketing and her Beginning Yoga session, they found Zach hanging a new, framed picture. When he stepped back, she blinked at the beauty of the photograph.


Posted: October 5, 2016, 3:38 pm