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


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


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


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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End of January Update


January has been a month of ups and downs.

Ups –

We got quite a bit of first round editing finished on the Ocular and it’s now sitting at almost half complete. Still a long way to go with another round of editing and formatting left to do but we are pleased with our progress.

We had quite an uptick in our Kindle Unlimited pages read. That most likely resulted from our early January giveaway. Now if we can just get a review or two, that would be great.

Downs –

We did not get as much writing done on our other two projects as we had hoped. There were a number of reasons and many excuses. We promise to do better.

Someone in our family, and it wasn’t always the same person, has been sick every day of January. Our mom, Nancy, has been to the emergency room, either as a patient or as a caregiver, every week for the last five weeks…and now she has the flu. It’s been a rough one on the medical front.

Next week on the blog, we review Kevin Hearne’s new novel, A Plague of Giants.

As always, thanks for sticking with us.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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Movie Review: The Shape of Water

Today on the blog, Anne will be reviewing the new Guillermo del Toro movie, The Shape of Water.

5 out of 5 Stars!

First off, I have a confession to make and that is I am a huge Guillermo del Toro fan so I might be slightly biased.

This movie has been described by others as a weird and wonderful fairytale and I couldn’t agree more with that assessment. It had it all! The Shape of Water is a monster and a maiden’s love story set against a 1960s cold war background. Elisa (played by Sally Hawkins) is a mute cleaning lady with a strange backstory working at a government laboratory. Elisa comes in contact with the monster, a aquatic humanoid creature being kept captive by the government. The villain, played perfectly by Michael Shannon, will stop at nothing to keep the creature out of the hands of the Soviets. Elisa just wants to save him, with a little help from her friends. I want to tell you everything, but no spoilers, so I will stop there.

This movie, to steal a phrase, had all the feels. Funny, tender, and yet at times hard to watch due to its raw portrayals of violence, it kept me glued to the screen. I highly recommend this movie.

When we were not off watching movies, we’ve been working on final edits of The Ocular and new material for Servants of Gaia.

We hope you all have a good week. Thanks again for sticking with us.

Kind regards,

Anne, Nancy, and Eric

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