The Mobile Writer’s Retreat is dead.

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Whew, what an April it has been so far, and not a good one. As many of our blog followers know, our mom, Nancy, likes to do a lot of her binge writing while she’s camping in her trailer. It helps her get away from distractions and she sleeps like a baby. Last week, she and her partner left on an epic cross-country trip that would have taken them several months. We were looking forward to tales of her travels and lots of new material. But sadly, it was not to be.

Four days into their trip, in Wyoming, they ran into a unexpected April snow storm and a freak gust of wind tipped over their trailer (or as we like to call it, the Mobile Writer’s Retreat). Thankfully, no one was hurt but the trailer is totaled. They gathered what belongings they could and limped their way back to Oregon. She is home now, taking stock and recovering. We are happy to have her back with us.

Hopefully, we’ll have better news next week. Things are slow here but as always, we have high hopes for future endeavors.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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Book Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Lake Silence CoverLake Silence by Anne Bishop

3 out of 5 stars.

Today on the blog, Anne reviews Lake Silence by Anne Bishop.

I am a big fan of Anne Bishop and I have read every one of her ‘Others’ novels, so I was excited to get my hands on a copy of Lake Silence, her latest novel. For me, this book did not quite live up to the rest of the books in the series. Lake Silence introduces us to new characters and a new location in Anne Bishops universe. We are introduced to Vickie DeVine, an emotionally traumatized divorcee who takes over a resort on the outskirts of a remote town, Sproing, and its nearby lake. She also comes to know the area’s shape-shifting residents. Set against this backdrop, Vicki is drawn into a murder investigation and a plot to take away The Jumble.

My main problem with this story is that, apparently, none of the humans who live on this continent occupied by supernatural apex predators seems to have learned anything from a recent great purge of humans by these very same apex predators. They are always shocked and surprised to find out they are really interacting with supernatural beings. They have learned nothing of caution in the last year. My other problem with this book is that Vickie and the bad guys often come off as caricatures instead of real people.  It made them predictable and that did no favors for the plot.

Still, the book had some promise and so I stuck with it until the end. I also enjoyed a few of the supporting characters. I probably would not recommend this book to friends but I would direct them to the rest of the books in the Others world.

It is spring break in our neck of the woods. Hopefully, we can get back on the wagon and knock out a chapter or two in our current works-in-progress.

Happy Spring!

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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Story Fodder in the Great Northwest

Flavel House Museum[1]

The Flavel House, Astoria, Oregon

As writers of horror, we take a lot of our story ideas from our surroundings. Our neck of the woods is chock full of creepy places. Today, we met up in Astoria, Oregon. Astoria is home to The Flavel House, now the site of the Captain George Flavel House Museum. The home is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of the Captain and his daughters, but by all reports, they are harmless ghosts. Our mom, Nancy, would kill (no pun intended) to gain access to the upper areas of the house but tours restrict you to the main floor.

What does all this have to do with our writing? Well, Flavel House will most likely serve as inspiration for the home of one of our more loathsome characters we’ll be using in a future horror novel. We will probably take a tour or two and take pictures to give us an idea for the lay-out and for historical accuracy as our story will be set during the heyday of Flavel House. We’ve done this before with the park surrounding the Astoria Column, the Grand Canyon Caverns, and Creek House to name a few. When writing fiction collaboratively, it helps if each of us has a synchronized vision of every aspect of our shared world. If we can bring in real world locations, it helps immensely to get everyone on the same page.

This week, Nancy has been down at the beach and has managed to complete the first twenty five chapters in our second round of edits for The Oculars. The three of us will be trying to schedule an in-person meeting as well to discuss the way forward on our current projects.

As always, thanks for sticking with us!

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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February 2018 Wrap-up

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Not my photo, but you get the idea

This last week of February has been less than productive for the three of us. After weeks of unusually warm weather, Mother Nature remembered that it is still winter here in the Pacific Northwest and blasted us with unusually cold temperatures and snow. The result, school was cancelled and/or delayed on and off for the entire week. Add in one busted computer and assorted family obligations and you get not a lot of writing getting done.

As for next week, Nancy is leaving tomorrow for her writing retreat at the beach…finally. Eric should be getting his computer back from the repair shop, and Anne’s kids should be back in school (fingers crossed).

We hope to make some progress this week on our current projects. As always, thanks for sticking with us.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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The Cost of Doing Business

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Writing collaboratively as we do has presented us with a few recurring costs that we did not anticipate when we began our writing journey. After we finished our first manuscript five years ago, we made a collective decision to register as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) within our home state of Oregon. We are family, but we also wanted to ensure that each of us would be dealt with fairly and that we would share both our profits and our costs. This would, we hoped, minimize hard feelings and stave off a possible break-up of the family band. So far, it’s worked, but it also comes with a higher price tag.

Some costs of running our business:

  1. Annually, we are required to register our business license for a fee of $100.
  2. Oregon has an annual flat tax for businesses, whether or not you made any money, of $150.
  3. Stock on hand – Printing costs average approximately $5 per hard copy book plus shipping fees.
  4. Business cards
  5. Bank fees (Although we’ve brought those down to a minimum, in the first six months we kept a close eye on our bank account for random fees, and there were quite a few.)
  6. Mailing fees as needed.
  7. Advertising fees, if you choose to go this route. We stayed around $25 to $50 per site when we opt to advertise.
  8. Cover images (We generally photograph and create our own covers but for several of our books, we used stock photos.) Around $10 to $15 dollars per image with permissions for use.
  9. Tax software (You can do your own taxes but business taxes can be tricky.) This year, combined state and federal tax software came to $87.
  10. Stationary as needed. (Notepads, pens, envelopes, printer paper, etc.)
  11. Event fees if you choose to participate, depends on the venue.
  12. Swag (We went with tasseled book marks with one of our covers and our website information.)
  13. Annual website fee is $35 as we opted to keep our blog free of ads.

We know we are most likely forgetting a few costs you could incur such as professional editing services or a cover designer but you get the gist. You can, of course, eliminate or minimize most of these through the choices you make, including not registering as a business. And of course, we didn’t include our coffee fund in the list.

We hope this gives you a snapshot of some of the costs of writing. We do believe it is worth it. As for our current projects, Nancy has started her round of edits on The Ocular, while Eric finishes up the last few chapters. Anne finished our business taxes this week.

Winter finally noticed Oregon, so as we write this, we are watching the snow fall outside our window. Stay warm!

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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The Ocular Update

The Ocular

Finally, we are getting somewhere! With only seven chapters to go, we are getting very close to the finish of our first round of edits and rewrites on The Ocular, our latest paranormal thriller / horror book. It will still have two rounds of edits to go and then we move on to formatting, cover design, and writing the synopsis. Although, we will try and knock a couple of those out while we work on the others.

Our mom, Nancy, is on the mend and she is planning a beach writing retreat sometime in the next two weeks. Eric is the workhorse these past few weeks, and Anne is maintaining our social media and battling writer’s block. If she doesn’t kick it soon, her partners are going to do something drastic.

We are really pleased with how things are going and hopefully, we can keep our forward momentum. As always, thanks for sticking with us.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy,a nd Eric

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Book Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

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It’s book review time again! Today, Anne will be talking about A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne.

3 1/2 stars out of 5

A Plague of Giants marks the start of a new fantasy series by the author, Kevin Hearne. I started reading this book before seeing the author’s note at the back revealing that he wrote this book based on the old tradition of nightly serial storytelling. That explained a lot about how he laid out the tale. The plot follows multiple characters, weaving their stories together to finally form a comprehensive whole that includes giants wielding fire, a heroine who wields water magic, a young man who gains the ability to communicate with animals, and a host of others.

I enjoyed the book but will admit it was a bit of a slog to get through the first half. If it hadn’t included a map and a Dramatis Personae, I would have been hopelessly lost on who was who and what was what due to the short chapters and quickly shifting viewpoints. It was much smoother on the back half and I was glad I stuck with it. I think the author did a good job in fleshing out his magical/mythical systems and the particulars of each of the various countries, but, due to my own confusion, I gave this book 3 1/2 stars instead of 4 out of 5. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

As for the Litzos, our mom Nancy is recovering from the flu and a resultant bout of pneumonia. We’ve completed more chapters on the rewrite and first round of edits on The Ocular. This week, we plan to keep plugging away at all our projects.

Super Bowl is over and it’s back to work. Congratulations, Philadelphia!

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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