I swear I already wrote that!

Happy Halloween!

This week, we will be preparing for our pandemic Halloween celebration. Anne’s family loves Halloween but won’t be participating in trick or treating this year. It will be a strange end to this month, and the start of a very pared-down holiday season. Changes must be made.

A big change for the Litzos is a move to virtual meetings. Meeting in person just isn’t practical anymore and we haven’t been able to coordinate it on a regular basis. So this last weekend, we tried out Zoom for our very first online meeting. With the exception of one teenage photobomber, the meeting went off without a hitch. As well as virtual meetings, we also made the decision to move all of our working documents and materials into a shared Google drive. This will allow us to add material and make changes without the hassle of emailing current copies back and forth between us. We’ve honed our collaboration methodology over the last seven years, so, with well-established assigned color-coding system, we can make changes and updates without confusion or fuss.

After establishing a plan for virtual work, we continued to add to our current manuscripts. Nancy has started on the second chapter of our latest horror novel, Area 25 (previously referred to as The Phoenix Project). Anne finished chapter 16 of Servants of Gaia, lost it, then wrote it again but better (at least she thinks it is). She also finished chapter 17. It was a slow work-week because she is still reacquainting herself with the plot details from the first two books. It’s been a series of checks, rechecks, and backtracks in the hopes of getting it right.

We’ll be checking in with each other on Zoom here in a couple of hours. Ain’t technology grand? We appreciate all of you who are sticking in there with us. We’re slow, but hopefully, not George R.R. Martin slow. Progress continues.

Happy Halloween and kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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Finally, Forward Progress!

We know you’re dying to find out! Were we finally able to break through our writer’s block and get some writing done last week? The answer is yes! Less than a lot but more than none, that’s something, right?

Anne is working on her current project, the third book in our New Mother Earth series, Servants of Gaia. Last week, she was able to add two and half more chapters (14, 15, and a good start to 16). This week, she plans to continue to add new material and to flesh out the chapter map as she goes.

Nancy is working on a stand-alone novel set in our Riverside universe. The story features a character from our horror novel, Creek House, by the name of Jack. He was a child in Creek House, and this book is set 15 years later, present day. After much deliberation, Nancy scrapped our prologue written earlier this year. Of course, she didn’t scrap the prologue, merely set it aside to possibly be used as a later chapter. We can never commit to completely throwing out completed material. You never know when you might need something from the slash pile. She wrote a completely new first chapter this last week and she has the next seven chapters mapped out. It’s a good start to the new book.

We also took the time to set-up a shared folder, so that Eric will be better able to access the files. This will allow him to edit in real time, rather than waiting for us to email him the relevant files.

It’s slow-going but at least we feel like we’ve taken our first steps. And, it’s a hell of a lot better than spending our time doom-scrolling the internet and binging Netflix. We thank you all for sticking with us. We’ll continue to update you with our progress. We appreciate the support.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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Preparations Begin…

If only it were always this organized.

This last week, we spent time getting reacquainted with our neglected projects from last year. It’s been so long since we last looked at them, it felt like starting from scratch. We had to locate all of our scattered notes and make sure we had our most up-to-date material. It’s hard getting back into writing mode.

Anne pulled up the files on Servants of Gaia. She thought that she had a more complete chapter map than she actually did, and that meant a complete review of material that was written last year. (Sad but true, it has been languishing for a year.) She’s updated the chapter map through chapter 14, added in character notes for new players, and mapped out the next five chapters up to chapter 20. She has no more excuses and should be starting on writing new material this week.

Nancy pulled up all the notes and material from our other Riverside horror novel, The Phoenix Project (working title). She wasn’t happy with the beginning and decided to scrap the entire prologue and first few chapters. She’s got a working chapter map ready to go for the first seven chapters and she is also ready to start working on the new material.

Both of these projects have fully-fleshed story arcs but the chapter maps are where we really get the work done. The devil is in the details. It’s much easier when you have a really detailed idea for each chapter. We’ll be continuing to add to the maps as we go along, but at least we know the big picture and how it comes together. That’s what all our planning/brainstorming sessions are for.

You know, we always feel a bit down on ourselves when we let our productivity languish. It’s been a rough year. We really appreciate you, dear readers, for sticking with us.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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Break’s over! Back on your heads!

Picture of Anne’s dog, Schnitzel, just because we could all use a cute dog pic right now.

As you might have guessed from the title of this blog post, we’ve been on a writing break for the last several months. Unfortunately, it lasted a lot longer than we anticipated but since this year has pretty much been a lost cause anyway, we’ll blame it on 2020. The title is a punchline to a terrible joke about a man sent to hell and getting to choose his punishment. He is escorted to a series of rooms, each one worse than the next and asked in which one he wanted to spend his afterlife. He chose a room that looked like an ordinary office conference room, complete with coworkers standing around drinking coffee. But he saw that the floor was covered in a noxious liquid, about a foot deep. He happily chooses the office room, at which point a voice calls out, “Breaks over! Back on your heads!” We keep waiting for the unpleasant surprises, and boy, this year did not disappoint.

We started out this year feeling hopeful and motivated but alas, it was not to be a normal year. And so, this summer, we took a step back to regroup and recover, and gave ourselves a self-imposed deadline of the 1st of October to get back to business. We have plenty of material to work with, with at least three projects partially completed.

We had a meeting to discuss our way forward and we agreed that we will focus on one project at a time, with some writing on the side as time allows. Our main project will be to complete the third book in our science fiction New Mother Earth trilogy, Servants of Gaia. We have about 10,000 words done, and the storyline is well-developed (but subject to change as we go along).

So that’s where we are right now. We’ve got a plan, a detailed plot, and we’re cleaning our desks, gathering our piles of notes, and rolling up our sleeves. We’ll keep you posted on our progress, but for now, wish us luck!

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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June 2020 Wrap-up

Foot Brace

Anne’s New Boot after Surgery

Whew, what happened to June? Not a whole heck of a lot, apparently. We wrapped up the end of the school year while social distancing and Anne had foot surgery. Nancy worked on her garden and yard. We talked a lot but that was about it. These are strange times indeed.

As previously mentioned, we made all our published works available on Smashwords. To date, we’ve sold/downloaded 200 copies of all of our titles. Out of those 200 downloads, we’ve received one review. Just one, not the best return but better than nothing and it was a five star review of our New Mother Earth short story, Gaia Uprising. Thank you, Reader!

This month, we are participating in the Smashwords site-wide sale. All of our titles are free or discounted for the entire month of July. You can pick up an e-copy of Exiles of Gaia for free this month and its sequel, Hunters of Gaia for a measly 99 cents USD. All of our short stories are always free.

We did make one sale on Amazon but we’ve all but written Kindle Digital Publishing off as a bad investment. Amazon’s algorithms have changed so much over the last five years. that you must pay for advertising to even show up in their search engine, and with no guarantee of a return, it looks to be a bad investment. Having done due diligence and looked into other authors’ reports on the results of their Amazon advertising, this seems to corroborate this finding.

We’ll be staying home and staying safe. That being said, we need to find a way to move forward and become productive again. Which is why Anne is in bed, with her leg propped up, writing this blog post. (All mistakes are hers, and if there are any, she blames the pain medication.)

Best wishes for you all in these strange times. As always, thanks for sticking with us.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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2020, Can I Quit You?

The Litzophreniacs

Like most people, we are currently reeling from the events unfolding around us and in the world at large: pandemic, mass protests, economic freefall, you name it, we got it. It hasn’t been the most productive of quarantines as far as our writing goes. Mentally, we are all kind of in survival mode. Every morning brings a new outrage and that just increases our need to hole up in our homes and avoid it all like the plague. (Get it? The plague….)

In any case, our mom Nancy has been working in her yard and garden and focusing on home projects. Anne has been making glass mosaics and binging Netflix, when she isn’t facilitating distance learning for her two boys. Eric has been working at his new job. Unfortunately, he’s on night shift and has had a hard time adjusting to the new work/sleep schedule.

When we last blogged, we’d ported over all our books and short stories to Smashwords. (All titles are still available on Amazon.com) It seems to have been a smart move when it comes to visibility, as we’ve had 178 free downloads since we went live. On the flip side, we’ve made no paid sales and we’ve recieved no reviews. As any author will tell you, a book lives and dies by its reviews, and no review is almost as bad as a negative one. We’ll stay the course. We’ve gone live this morning with a sale on Creek House. You can pick up a copy on Smashwords for the low, low price of $0.99 with a 50% off coupon, now through July 1st. Coupon Code is QA74C.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/510049

Now that we’re catching up with our home projects and we’re running out of shows to binge on Netflix, it might be time to get back to writing. We hope that you are all not just surviving, but thriving, as hard as that may seem right now. Thanks for sticking with us.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

 

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All Our Titles on Smashwords!

Mortuary Fly 2 Smashwords Cover

One of our short stories available for free on Smashwords

March has been a very productive month, not so much the writing aspect of the business, but taking care of the nuts and bolts side of things, as well as working on Anne and Nancy’s new Etsy endeavor, TeaRoseGoods. So, what exactly have we been up to, you ask?

We started off the month by taking care of our business taxes, always a sobering but necessary task. As a licensed business, our taxes are due March 15th, instead of the usual April deadline. Time had run out but we got them finished and submitted in time. The taxes just served to remind us that we really do need to shake things up a bit if we actually want to make any money off of our writing. Which brings us to our next task, Smashwords!

After much discussion, we decided to put our books back up on Smashwords. We offered them briefly on the site about five years ago, but then Kindle Direct Publishing Select and its new program,Kindle Unlimited (KU), came online, promising that with Kindle exclusivity, there would be more access and sales for its indie authors. This did not prove to be the case and in fact, KU has been terrible for us. We still have our books available on Amazon, just no longer enrolled in KU, and now they are all available on Smashwords. This also allows us to offer all of our short stories for free download, a move that we hope will help us with sales in the long run.

You can now find us at:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Litzos

Nancy has been writing a bit on our new paranormal thriller / horror novel, Area 25. Anne is set to start back in on Enoch, our crime thriller. Eric is in his last two weeks of his final semester of his college program. He’s got his eye on the prize.

Thanks so much for sticking with us. We appreciate your support. Come check us out on Smashwords!

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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Side Projects = Sidetracked

Cup

The logo for our Etsy shop, TeaRoseGoods

     We know you’re wondering, “Hey Gang, where have you been for the month of February?” Well, as the title of this blog post suggests, we’ve been working on a few side projects. We’ve done a little bit of writing but nothing worth crowing about.

Anne and Nancy have been setting up their Etsy shop, TeaRoseGoods. As some of you may know, the dynamic duo sell teacups and handcrafted items in the Fall at a number of local holiday and craft bazaars. We decided there was no need for our goods to languish for nine months out of the year, hidden away in our shops and garages and that the best way to get them to market was to put them online. And so, TeaRoseGoods was born. We still have a lot of inventory to post but we hope to have it done in the next week or so. The shop is up and running, and we’d love it if you could check it out at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TearoseGoods.

As for Eric, he is in the final month of his college studies, while working full time. He has promised to come out of hibernation at the end of March, after finals are complete and he’s had time to take a breather.

Don’t discount our writing endeavors just yet. Nancy is heading to the beach to get some writing done. She went a few weeks ago but managed to injure herself and she wasn’t able to work on her laptop. Fingers crossed, this second time is a charm. Anne is planning on getting out to her shop for some writing over the weekend.

We appreciate all the support. As always, thanks for sticking with us.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

 

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Our Collaborative Process

abstract blackboard bulb chalk

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We were kicked out of a restaurant yesterday…politely, but kicked out none the less. We think we may have creeped out our waitress. We were there for a planning and plotting session for our newest project, a horror novel set loosely in our Riverside world. We sat down to breakfast and then jumped right into our collaborative creative process. The talk of murder and demons proved too much for our little old lady waitress and we were subsequently asked to move along to make room for other patrons (which would have worked as a reason if there were more than four other occupied tables in the large, empty restaurant). So, we left, but not without a grumble or two.

Despite our expulsion from the restaurant, we did have a very successful meeting. We have a very specific creative process, developed over the last seven years. (Wow, has it been seven years?!?) We wanted to share a bit about it as we’ve heard from others that collaborative writing can be a fraught enterprise that has broken families and ruined friendships. So far, we haven’t had that problem, mainly because we make our plans ahead of time and we try and leave our egos at the door. It’s worked so far, with eight novels and three short stories under our belt.

Step 1: We start with an idea. In fact, we have a whole slew of ideas we’ve written down over the years that we can pull from when it’s time to start a new project. We then decide who the main writer will be, who will be the main collaborator with the writer, and who will have first crack at edits, etc. It really does help to have defined roles in the writing process. We usually have two works in progress at a time, as that seems to be the max number we can successfully juggle and still get our work done.

Step 2: Once we’ve agreed on the subject, it’s time to flesh out our idea. We call it a story arc. It’s so much easier to craft a solid plot when you’ve at least got an idea of a beginning, middle, and end. Our story arc will identify our main character(s), the key premise of the story, and usually includes a precipitating event to kick things off as well as how we foresee the end of the story coming about. These are all subject to change along the way, we are not rigid in our processes and sometimes a story writes itself. That was what we were working on yesterday at the restaurant. Our story arcs usually run 1-2 pages at most.

Step 3: From the story arc, we build a chapter map. Our chapter maps are just that, a detailed description of every chapter, in order. It is a working document, also subject to much change but because we have it, we are able to pass off our projects amongst ourselves and still maintain some semblance of continuity. Yesterday, we mapped out the prologue and first ten chapters of the new horror project. We’ll continue to add to the chapter map over the next couple of weeks but because we have a very well-fleshed out story arc, this shouldn’t be too much trouble.

Step 4: Write! (Easier said than done, lately.)

We are very excited about our two current projects, one old that we’ve dusted off and the newest one we’ve just started to work on. Over the next month, we’ll also be uploading all our old works to Smashwords (they will still be available on Amazon). We hope the change of platform will breath life into them. They’ve been languishing on Amazon for a while now.  We’ll let you know when those go live.

We hope to have more news soon. As always, thanks for sticking with us!

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

 

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The Upsides and Downsides to Taking a Writing Break

Desk Photo

We’ve kicked off 2020 with a renewed sense of purpose and a new writing plan. Because we write collaboratively, we’ve had to develop our own specific methodology over the last six years. Keys to our past writing successes have been fairly regular business and brainstorming meetings, clearly designated roles for each work-in-progress, and of course, feedback between the three of us. The last two years we haven’t done such a good job with any of them (for a variety of reasons). This has led to a marked lack of progress on all our projects. We’ve let them sit, to our overall detriment, but there have been some upsides.

When you write twisty, turny plots with a plethora of characters and a bunch of made-up locations, it can make for an excellent story but if you stop working on it, you can easily lose the thread and the details. Once that happens, it’s easy to introduce plot holes into your story. Characters and places can be subtly changed, timelines shift, and events get mixed. It’s a frustrating endeavor to pick it all back up, dust it off, and try and catch the elusive bits that made exciting for you in the first place. You cannot stop writing! For once you do, it’s hard to pick it back up. Anne is having to re-read the entirety of our crime thriller manuscript in order to re-familiarize herself with the material. It’s been a while. It’s been slow-going. She’s taking notes, in the hopes of getting the details right and maintaining continuity.

It hasn’t been all bad. For one, it’s refreshing to open an older project and realize that your writing is actually quite good. Did we write that? Maybe we can do this. The re-read has also allowed Anne to identify a few ways to improve on the plot, as well as some fine-tuning of a few place names and descriptions and fixing a few formatting errors. For now, it will be key to keep the momentum going. Because we really don’t want to have to do this all again.

Anne will continue to work on Enoch. Nancy is working on our new paranormal thriller, Area 25. Eric is working with Nancy on the new project. He is also finishing up school, so we don’t expect much writing from him until his program is complete in March.

We appreciate you all sticking with us. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We hope your new year is off to a good start.

Best wishes,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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