Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Third Stop on the Road to RMFW's June Education Event: An interview with author, Robin Owens

Just a few days before the workshop in Grand Junction and tonight we are interviewing fantasy romance author, Robin Owens.

Along with Christine Goff and Mario Acevedo, Robin will meet with workshop attendees to answer questions and critique pages.

Thank you for being here, Robin. We can't wait to see you in person on Saturday.

Please welcome, Robin Owens.

First off, tell us a little about yourself and when/how/why you started writing.

I'm Robin D. Owens (added the middle initial after I sold my first book and the website was not available).  After a relationship bombed, I took a writing course through Colorado Free University and met Kay Bergstrom who introduced me to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.  I've told myself stories (particularly before I fell asleep) all of my life and have been writing seriously since the class, mumbledy-mumble years ago.

I write fantasy romance for Berkley Publishing Group – the "Heart" series, and fantasy with romantic subplots for Luna Books.  I am currently working on my eighteenth contracted book, Heart Secret.

My tenth book in the Heart series, Heart Search, will be issued in August 2011, and the second in my Mystic Circle series will be out – heaven and editor and copy edits willing – in January 2012.

The Heart series is set on another planet called Celta and colonized by Earth people with psi powers four centuries previously.  The books feature telepathic animal companions (cats, dogs, foxes...) as mentors and comic relief...

The Mystic Circle series is urban paranormal.

Rejection letters: How many did you receive before you were published?

Ouch!  Hard to recall.  But I do know that about two months before I sold my first book (fourth completed manuscript), I decided to cut back on my writing.  I'd been working hard on it every evening and weekend for about 8-9 years and was completely discouraged.

You are participating in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers JUNE Education Event, meeting with attendees and maybe critiquing the first 2 pages of their wip. In your experience and opinion, what is the biggest mistake or misconception new writers have? Did you as well, when you were new to the industry?
For writing, the biggest mistake I see made in genre fiction is not having a hook up front and having too much backstory.  I think I actually avoided those mistakes with my first manuscript (never to be published), but made a different error in starting with a dream sequence.  But I've made both mistakes of burying a hook and too much backstory since.  Sometimes it's necessary for the WRITER to put in all the backstory to understand the character and story, but that backstory doesn't need to stay in the manuscript.

For business purposes, the biggest mistake I see is thinking that mastering technique is easy and as a writer not taking advice and/or critique.

How often do you write? Do you stick to a schedule or work it in around life?

I am single and define myself as a writer.  Writing is what I am, not just a job.  I usually write every day, though I understand that time must be taken off to refill the creative well.

When not writing, what do you do?

Huh?  Ok, most of the things I do revolve around writing, other than spending time with family and friends.  I scout settings (recently, Red Rocks for the climax of Enchanted Ever.  Windsor Castle in England for my Summoning series; Cliveden, also in England, for Heart Choice).  I play an online game that lets me create characters down to the length of their noses, and helps with character arcs as well as being a background career for a couple of my own characters.


  1. Thank you so much, Miss Robin, for hangin' with us at our Cafe. For those of you who don't know, Robin D. Owens is one uber-cool lady who hides her fantastic wit behind a deceptively innocent smile. She's also an amazing author. If you haven't read her (and you enjoy romance), you should check her books out!
    K. Onto my questions:
    Miss Robin, I'm interested in this online game/character building you spoke of. Tell me more, please. What is it? Where can I find it? and would I find it helpful to my character building?
    Eighteen contracted books is a huge accomplishment (and hard work). Congratulations on that! Do you feel, at this point in your career, that you still benefit from critique group? (Are you still in one?)
    And how do you edit? Are you a power through the story, then edit the whole? Or are you a more chapter by chapter, write and edit kind of gal? Is there any particular book you'd recommend (on the writing craft or on editing), one that helped you the most in your journey to publication?
    For the record, I find you quite inspiring as an author. I cannot wait to hang with you in the real world this weekend!
    Thanks again for stopping by our cafe!

  2. Hi Robin,
    Your series sound intriguing. Do you find it difficult at all to be working in two 'areas' at once? Do you work on more than one book at a time?

    I, too, would be interested in learning more about that online game/character building activity. Sounds quite helpful.

    The Grand Junction workshop should be really great.

  3. Ok, first, the online game is City of Heroes. Caveat, you buy the game and there IS a monthly fee of 14.99, so it's an ongoing expense...however I noticed that my ebay shopping went WAY down...just goes to show you where I was at. You can get trial memberships, I believe, but, like I said, I use it quite a bit and have been known to send characters to my editors...

  4. Next questions: Critique groups, yes, I am in 2. One I've been in for a long time. I don't have time anymore to do a full novel in critique group, so I also have beta readers.

    Editing. I usually edit as I go along so the rough draft is more or less clean. When the draft is done, I read through the whole thing and send it out to beta readers.

    Books...I have problems with plotting. Books that I like the best (and I'm talking about these at Crested Butte Writing Conference NEXT week), are Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey, as well as Heroes & Heroines. These are the three that I use most often.

    I'm also a sucker for writing software and have purchased quite a bit. I continue to use Dramatica Pro, and Save the Cat when I'm desperate for a plot...

    Marne, it's always a pleasure to hang with you.

  5. Woops, didn't hit the working in a different area. I've been under hideous deadlines this year, but still tended to stay in separate universes. It's usually a relief to switch. Luna books are focused on the growth of the heroine, romances on the relationship between the protagonists.

    However, I really want to learn to do Mystic Circle stuff in the morning and Celta in the afternoon (or vice versa).

    I highly recommend NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and they will be having a summer camp shortly, too.

  6. Hi Robin - as an unpublished but hopeful writer, I'm looking at ways to divide my precious non-day job time to editing and writing new material.

    Any suggestions? I have several requests for fulls and I'm struggling.