Portland Book Festival 2019

PDX Book Fair

Yesterday, we attended the annual Portland Book Festival at the Portland Museum of Art. It’s been on our list of all-things-book-related that we want to do for quite some time and we were glad to cross it off the list. (Also on the list, visiting Steven King’s house in Maine once it opens as a museum and writer’s retreat.) We did not attend any workshops or talks this time but we haven’t ruled that out for a future visit. The book tents were the main attraction and we wasted no time in getting inside. They proved to be a study in both what to do and what not to do when marketing one’s books and literary services to actual humans standing in front of your table.

Here are a few things that worked for us as readers (as you can see from our photo above, Anne’s youngest son found a couple of books that peaked his interest). Bookmarks and business cards were a great way for us to take information with us when we weren’t quite ready to commit to a sale. It was also a way for us to escape from particularly aggressive sales tactics that we encountered at a few tables. Clear, concise descriptions of the books on offer. We found the authors who led with their book’s genre and then a brief plot synopsis (and we mean very brief) to be a good hook. That allowed us to pick up books that fit our parameters and read their jacket synopsis as needed. “Do you like science fiction? This book might interest you.”

We also encountered a few things that kept us from buying and/or desperately looking for a way to escape. One that springs immediately to mind, we stopped at a table with two gentlemen seated behind a display of books. The books looked mildly interesting with local places named in the titles and the appropriate cover photos. The pitch, “You should check these books out. They’re great! I wrote them.” Friend chimes in, “I’ve read them all and I can tell you they are really good books! And I read a lot.” “I’m a local author.” This continued for a few minutes and we have to tell you, we still don’t know what those books were about. A quick, “this one is a coming of age tale…this one is a murder mystery…this one is a collection of stories about small-town life…” anything along those lines that would let us know what we were looking at would have helped immensely. The other no-no we encountered was the publishing services hard-sell. I get it, Brad, you need to get the word out about your indie-author publishing package. However, a business card and a sheet with a listing of your services and pricing would have been way more effective in getting the word out than the captive audience-car salesman pitch that we were subjected to. There aren’t too many people out there ready to commit to $1500 worth of publishing services based on your five minute pitch. Short, sweet, and to-the-point is the way to go.

We really enjoyed our visit to the Book Festival and as an added bonus, after our tent visit, we hit up a few of the galleries in the Portland Art Museum. We pretty much had the place to ourselves and it was a great way to end our day. We are definitely planning on attending next year although we do plan on saving ourselves some heartache by picking up the entrance bracelets a few days before the actual event. The line to get in was three blocks long but the event organizers and volunteers did a good job of keeping it moving.

And finally, a quick update on our new policy of negative writing reinforcement. So far, so good, with both Anne and Nancy managing to knock out a few chapters. We hope you all are having a great weekend.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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Will Negative Reinforcement Work?

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We sat down together a few days ago for a discussion of our distinct lack of progress over the last twelve months. The topic was nothing new. The same old finger-pointing took place and then we admitted our guilt and set to work concocting a new plan of action for getting our writing kickstarted coming into November. And what did we settle on this time? That’s right, a hefty weekly fine to be paid into the joint account every Sunday if a new chapter is not produced by Friday of every week. It had to be big enough to spur us to action because as our mom, Nancy, stated, “We’ll buy our way out of this if we don’t make it painful enough.”

Will it work? We’ll just have to wait and see.

As for the rest of our writing friends participating in NaNoWriMo this year. We wish you the best of luck. May your fingers fly across the keyboard. (Anne hasn’t ruled out participating yet, as it is still only the 2nd of November. She’ll let you know in an upcoming blog post.)

We hope you had a great Halloween. As always, thank you for your support.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

 

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Where Do The Ideas Come From?

 

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As anyone who has read our books knows, we write about some strange and off the wall subjects.  And where do the ideas for those subjects come from? Well, they come from right out of our heads.

Each of us had had some personal experience with the supernatural. We seem to draw that energy to us, without even trying. We’ve lived in haunted houses, had tiny lights dancing on our shoulders and played with little girls who were not there. Real phenomena or the fevered musings of over-active imaginations? Who knows, although it seemed very real at the time.

So, a combination of real life experience, stories heard from others and irrational fears have helped us create our own dark fantasy world. Ask yourself, have you ever had a brush with the unexplained, unexplainable, or simply terrifying? Our guess is that you have.

The next time you walk through a cold spot in an old house or hear words in a hoot owl’s cries, write it down. You just may have a best seller in the works.

Happy Halloween

Kind Regards,

Nancy Eric, and Anne

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Hobby vs. A Calling

photo of roadway surrounded by trees

These Fall days, with leaves turning gorgeous colors and a nip in the air, one can become reflective. Like the turning of the seasons, coupled with the physical and emotional changes in the world around us, one needs to reassess one’s own internal seasons to see what changes are coming or need to be addressed.

It’s very difficult to not allow the current atmosphere of hate and fear to affect one’s attitude and creativity.  The trees are beautiful but the world is not. Perhaps it’s just another excuse for not getting on the stick and writing, but we are struggling with a bit of creative depression. I’d like to think we will shake it off and pull ourselves up by the bootstraps because hope springs eternal, but it’s tough.

I’m not sure what catalyst we need to get going again. I like to think that the Litzo’s writing really is a calling we can’t long ignore, and not just a hobby we walk away from when it’s convenient. Nancy actually pulled up our latest work in progress and did some editing. Maybe all it takes is one of us to light the fire. Here’s hoping.

Don’t give up on us yet. Thanks for sticking with us. Best wishes for the Fall season.

Kind regards,

Nancy, Anne, and Eric

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A Blog About Our Blog

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Musings from Nancy:

As anyone who has followed our blog knows, lately we have been extremely erratic with the frequency of our posts. Why? Well, that’s a good question with a multitude of answers.

First and foremost, I believe, is the erosion of our enthusiasm for the whole business of writing and publishing. We started out all starry-eyed and ready to conquer the world. Even though we have humble aspirations, we do need some sort of feedback and atta-boys, much like the preschooler who needs a constant stream of assurances to let them know they are doing well.  Money would be nice, too.

Yes, we are grown adults and not toddlers, but we started off our self-publishing endeavor with great fanfare, lots of sales, and great reviews. Then Amazon changed the game about a year after we went live with our first books and we became lost in the crowd. We still get the occasional sale from someone who happened to chance on one of our books, but even with KDP sales and giveaways, we are buried in the search lists. (We’ve written seven and have several more in the works.)

Second and nearly as important is the insidious creep of personal commitments. It’s become just too easy to make the decision to put our writing second or third in the line of things that we need to take care of in our daily lives, usually with only a modicum of urgency. In other words, we are lacking in commitment.

But, in spite of all this, we still have not given up. Writing and collaborating with each other is still our goal. The Litzos have grit and are not easily dissuaded so, we will still attempt to regroup and carry on. Hopefully, we will soon be able to report progress with writing and editing. Thank you all for not giving up on us. We shall try to not disappoint.

Kind regards,

Nancy, Anne, and Eric

 

 

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Writing as a chore…

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Anne’s contribution to the blog this morning –

“Ugh, what is wrong with me?” This question seems to be plaguing me this summer, if not the last few years and is almost solely related to my inability to sit down and finish the Gaia trilogy. Heck, I haven’t even kept up with the blog these last few months. I had one day this summer that I actually sat down and wrote for more than ten minutes and that was while attending a write-in at my local library with some like-minded individuals. It was glorious and gave me hope but had not yet been repeated. This has made me wonder, could the problem be that I have equated writing with chores (and not one very high on my to-do list)? And how do I recapture the joy and sense of accomplishment I used to feel working in my fictional world? What do I do?

I think I’m going to have to get back to the basics. When we first started writing, we promised each other that we would have 500 words down on paper by Friday of every week. I know, I know, it’s barely a blip but when you are starting from nothing, 500 words is an approachable number. And it was! Every week, we sat down with our measly offerings, sharing what we wrote and planning our next installment. Those 500 words grew to a 1,000. By the end of that first year, we’d finished Creek House and Exiles of Gaia. It felt great. I think I need to shrink my writing goals and go a little easier on myself. I will move that mountain, one shovelful at a time, and I will keep you updated on my progress.

Thanks for sticking with us. We appreciate the support of our friends and family.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

 

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The Entire Feast

biryanni dish on round stainless steel tray

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Musings from our mom, Nancy…

I was racking my brain for a new subject for our blog when I realized that one could compare the endeavor of writing and becoming a published author with granny in the kitchen preparing a holiday meal for her family. Neither job is for the faint of heart nor one who is not willing to put in the effort to create a tasty offering.

When feeding a crowd, it isn’t enough just to prepare and cook the main meat dish. One must also plan on including the side dishes. If you’re lucky, maybe your guests will bring a casserole or two. However, when trying to entertain a crowd with your writing, you are solely responsible for adding those extra trimmings.

Writing that bestseller is sadly not enough, for you still have to get your book to the readers. The enthusiasm for your creation sometimes dims when you must keep up with your marketing strategies. For the author, those strategies often include a blog, Twitter, Facebook, and any other marketing tool you can devise. Unlike calling your dinner guests and inviting them over to your house, you must get your invite to read your book out to people in other ways.

And those blogs and Twitter posts are ongoing. It’s almost as easy to get writer’s block on something you need to write weekly as it is on your novel or short story or poem. How many times can you do a mea culpa for being a blog procrastinator before your faithful readers leave in droves? All you can really do is take a big breath and carry on.

For those of you still undaunted enough to keep on following us, thank you. We won’t promise to do better but we will try harder.

Thank you.

Nancy, Anne, and Eric

 

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