Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Guest post from Kathleen Kaska

Please help me welcome Kathleen to my blog today! Her latest mystery was released yesterday, the first in a brand new series--how exciting! Here's a bit about her, an excerpt, and a synopsis leading into the story.

Now, here's Kathleen Kaska:



My new release, Run Dog Run, was the very first mystery I wrote. I finished the first draft fifteen years ago. It came close to being published several times, but no cigar. I finally put it on the back burner and let it simmer for a few years. The manuscript has been revised and updated so many times I almost have the thing memorized. Two years ago, I updated it again (for technology changes faster than automobile designs) and sent it out. Black Opal Books sent me a contract, and there you have it.

The story takes place in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin. If you’ve never been there, you should treat yourself to a trip in the springtime when I wildflowers are in bloom.




Excerpt from Run Dog Run:

She’d been foolish and gone off alone, now she might have to pay the ultimate price…
The rocks along the bottom of the creek bed seemed to disappear. Kate felt the ropy, gnarl of tree roots instead.
The cedar break. She was approaching the road and soon the water would pass through the culvert. She knew that she would not make it through the narrow tunnel alive. Her lungs screamed for air. With one final attempt, she grabbed hold of a long cedar root growing along the side of the creek bank and hung on. Miraculously, it held. She wedged her foot under the tangled growth and anchored herself against the current. Inching her way upward, she thrust her head above water and gulped for air. But debris in the current slapped her in the face, and leaves and twigs filled her mouth, choking her. Dizziness overcame her ability to think—exhaustion prevented her from pulling herself higher.
She must not give in. Fighting unconsciousness, Kate inched her way up a little farther, and at last was able to take a clear breath. Her right arm hung loosely by her side, the back of the shaft had broken off in the tumble through the current, but the arrow was lodged in her arm. Numb[KK1]  from cold water and exhaustion, she lay on the bank as the water swept over her, and then, as quickly as it had arrived, the flow subsided and the current slowed. If she could hang on a few moments longer, survival looked promising. As thoughts of hope entered her mind, Kate feared that her pursuer might not have given up the chase. Perfect, Kate Caraway, just perfect. You screwed up again, she chided herself as the lights went out.

Synopsis:
After five years in Africa, researching the decline of elephant populations, Kate Caraway’s project comes to a screeching halt when she shoots a poacher and is forced to leave the country. Animal rights activist Kate Caraway travels to a friend’s ranch in Texas for a much-needed rest. But before she has a chance to unpack, her friend’s daughter pleads for Kate’s assistance. The young woman has become entangled in the ugly world of greyhound abuse and believes Kate is the only one with the experience and tenacity to expose the crime and find out who is responsible. On the case for only a few hours, Kate discovers a body, complicating the investigation by adding murder to the puzzle. Now, she’s in a race against time to fine the killer before she becomes the next victim.
Animal rights activist Kate Caraway travels to Texas for a much-needed rest. But before she has a chance to unpack, her friend’s daughter pleads for Kate’s assistance. She has become entangled in the ugly world of greyhound abuse. On the case for only a few hours, Kate discovers a body, complicating the investigation by adding murder to the puzzle. Now, she’s in a race against time to fine the killer before she becomes the next victim.

Bio:
Kathleen Kaska is the author two awarding-winning mystery series: the Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series set in the 1950s and the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, which includes The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. Her first two Lockhart mysteries, Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Her latest Sydney Lockhart mystery, set in Austin, Texas, is Murder at the Driskill. When she is not writing, she spends much of her time with her husband traveling the back roads and byways around the country, looking for new venues for her mysteries and bird watching along the Texas coast and beyond. It was her passion for birds that led to the publication The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story (University Press of Florida).
Run Dog Run Kathleen’s her first mystery in the new Kate Caraway animal rights series.

Books are available through Black Opal Books, Kathleen’s website, and Amazon.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

TAXES FOR WRITERS 2017



I learned of yet another writer whose tax preparer gave her wrong information! It's a shame that ignorance of what taxes mean to writers is so widespread.

So, once again (sorry it's a little late this year), I'm posting to inform all of you writers that you CAN deduct expenses--and for many, many years. Below is my standard post and at the bottom is a link to changes for this year.

I put the topic in caps because this is important! You don’t want to miss out on what is, as Lucy says, “only” your “fair share”.

Some writers, even a lot of tax accountants, think the IRS hobby rule applies to writers. It doesn’t have to, if you’re serious about your writing.

To begin with, take a look at this IRS publication: http://www.irs.gov/irs/article/0,,id=186056,00.html
If you’re starting out as a full-time writer, you don’t have to declare income 3 of the last 5 years if you satisfy some requirements.

The important points from this article are, for you, as an unpublished writer (not making any money), or even a published one whose income doesn't cover expenses:
**Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
**If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond your control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?
**Do you have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
**Do you expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?

You can report losses on a Schedule C for quite a few years before the IRS will take a look at you. See this article, which elaborates on the above:
http://taxsolutionsforwriters.com/2014/02/16/a-special-provision-for-writers-in-the-tax-law/

It’s important to be keeping records of submissions, classes, time spent, and to conduct writing as a business in every way you can. Also, of course, keep track of what you can deduct. Write down your mileage every year on January 1st!


This article goes into exquisite detail: http://www.eclectics.com/articles/taxes.html
This one includes some forms to help you keep track if you don’t already have some that you like: http://www.artstaxinfo.com/writers.shtml

AND, changes for this year: https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/2016-tax-changes
The main points for me are that the filing date is 4/18 and the mileage is 54 cents/mile.

I hope this helps. Don’t lose out on loss deductions that you’re entitled to. And may you someday be declaring a profit! I made my first profit after filing as a writer for 12 years. A whole 3 figures.

Image from static.irs.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mystery Thriller Week and My Sad Valentine

This is my first post of 2017. We’ve been having a rough time over here. Hubby, who has Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, two conditions that no one on earth deserves, had a major setback in January. He grew so weak from malnutrition, due to his swallowing difficulties, that he had to have a feeding tube put in. On Friday the 13th of January, of all days. The 13th has always been our lucky day as we were both engaged and later married on the 13th. Our luck isn’t holding lately. The hospital stay did a lot of damage and he’s now having to learn to walk again. He had home rehab for awhile, my choice, so he could collect his mind, bring it back to wherever it had gone in the hospital. That happened and he’s now in a rehab facility. I’m not liking any of this.



There are a couple of bright spots keeping me going—and distracted from all this.

Mystery Thriller Week



I’m not doing as good a job promoting this as I could if I weren’t spread thin right now, but consider this an attempt! I’m doing 3 Power Hours, beginning today. Each one is 10-11 am Eastern Time and each one involves a giveaway from a different series. Today is CHOKE, the 16th is EINE KLEINE MURDER, and the 17th is DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE. I would love you to come chat!

Here's a great place to sign up to win prizes!
https://mysterythrillerweek.com/fans-readers-sign-up-here-for-contests-mystery-thriller-week-updates/

I’ve also been lucky enough to net a ton of reviews and interviews. Here are most of them:

  
DAY OF THE DARK anthology: Eclipse Stories

I got a ton of excellent submissions for this. Too many, in fact. I had to turn down some very good stories so that the paperback will be printable. Wildside Press will get this out before the August 21st total solar eclipse. I’ll keep you up to date on this.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Holiday Slow Down, But…


If you follow my blog, you’ve noticed how much it’s slowed down lately. This was partly due to my thumb surgery in October, then another part due to the disappointment of the election results in November. Following that, due to the bustle of getting ready for the holidays.

Things will speed up very soon!

https://mysterythrillerweek.com/

 I’m also getting ready for something else, and this event is getting more and more exciting as it gathers momentum. That something else is Mystery Thriller Week. It was, I think, put together by Benjamin Thomas and Vicki Turner Goodwin. You can find the preliminary posts here.
The best place to find information is the web page. Click on the logo above for that
I’m not on Twitter much, but it’s #MTW over there.

Reviewers and interviewers will make it easy for a bunch of mystery writers to get ourselves before the public so they can get to know our books. For this event, I chose to promote the first novel in each of my Kaye George series. I have 3 one-hour slots lined up, all from 10 to 11 AM, on February 15th, 16th, and 17th. I’ll give away CHOKE on one day, EINE KLEINE MURDER another day, and DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE the third day. I think I’ll concentrate on them in that order. I’ll also have some interviews and reviews being posted leading up to the event.



In other news, I haven’t quite finished my shopping for my family yet. Or maybe I have. After I set aside a time (do this!) to go through what I’ve bought, I’ll know. Also haven’t done Christmas cards, but I did get our family letter printed.

Many of you know that my dear Hubby suffers from both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Some of you know that the Parkinson’s has gotten worse. That’s “normal” for the disease, of course. Not at all normal for us! So now, in addition to the adult day care (Grandpa’s Program) that he attends 3 days a week, we’re having a home health aide come in 3 times a week to help get him showered and dressed, and to make sure his PT is being done more regularly than I’ve been able to get it done.

Last bit of news for this week. I decided to put together a short story anthology that I’m calling DAY OF THE DARK. It’s inspired by the total eclipse of the sun coming up August 21st, 2017. Wildside Press has agreed to get it to publication in time! I’ve gotten several submissions already, but the deadline is 1/31/17. (Yikes, it’s almost 2017!) Here’s the details from the announcement I sent out. Feel free to ask me about this if you’re interested!

In order to get this out in time for the eclipse, the deadline for the stories will be 1/31/17. Length should be 3000-5000. Please turn them in standard format, double spaced, TNR 12 point font, 1 inch margins, with formatted (not tabbed) 5 point indents. Entries should be sent to me at kayegeorge at gmail dot com, attached.


I’d like some mystery elements in each story and, of course, to be based on “eclipse” in any form you’d like, but these don’t have to be straight-up mysteries. Some genre mixtures would be fun—all but erotica, okay? 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Henery Express Giveaway Train!



Hop on the HENERY EXPRESS GIVEAWAY TRAIN! We’ve got 45 authors joined together for a chance to win $1500 in prizes!

My stop on the Giveaway Train: I’m giving away a cute kitten calendar for 2017 and all three Fat Cat books with bookmarks insert your giveaway prize here). It’s so easy to enter, but please read instructions carefully.

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment below – it’s that simple. (Any comment: Enter me! Or All Aboard! Or Happy Cyber Monday!)

Giveaway closes at 11:59 p.m. on Nov 28. Feel free to share, like, or tag your friends – the more, the merrier!

Winner for my giveaway will be chosen at random and announced on my page on Nov 29. Thanks for stopping by – and good luck! (P.S. Like my page to stay posted on future giveaways and other fun stuff.)

NEXT STOP: Gigi Pandian (http://on.fb.me/1HbkIWH) – visit for another giveaway

FIRST STOP: Henery Press (http://on.fb.me/1lx8Vbg) – visit to enter the first giveaway and to see a full list of participating authors

Fine Print: This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. By entering, Entrants agree to a complete release of Facebook.




Wednesday, November 23, 2016

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!




We’re so lucky. It’s time to count our blessings and I have many.

*Dinner tomorrow with family, including a big turkey and—most importantly, mashed potatoes. OK, even more importantly, grandchildren.

*My faithful readers, reviewers, and fans.

*The mystery writing community—a bunch of the nicest people I could ever have hoped to fall in with. Many thanks for the camaraderie, support, and understanding.

*Living in a country that is still, in spite of many failings, a good place to live. It’s way better than being in Syria right now, for instance.

*My health (for my age, as my doctors always say, bless their hearts).

*My thumb surgery, which will alleviate my pain and make it more useful so I can write more books.

*The beautiful place where I live, which will recover from the current drought and wildfire smoke and be beautiful again because, again, there are grandchildren here. AND another set not too far away.

*The fact that, as Hubby and I often marvel, we have three children who are all healthy and happy and like each other and even like us.

*The corollary to the above, that we have seven marvelous grandchildren, each one a delight in their own way.

I hope you have a wonderful Turkey Day, or as one movement wants to declare, Mashed Potatoes Day.



Images from Morguefile.com


Friday, November 11, 2016

Moving On and Not Moving On. Yet.



I’m going to post a personal essay, not related to my writing. This will probably be the only one on this blog unless other unforeseen things happen.

I’m a liberal, a progressive. With over half the voters in this country in shock, the majority who voted for Secretary Clinton, the atmosphere in this country has turned toxic to us. Many of us worked hard for her victory, which, the polls assured us, was imminent. Some of us donated money, made phone calls, went door to door, even did texting campaigns. Others of us spoke up whenever and wherever we could. We worked hard. And this has hit us hard.

Beyond the loss, this is what has elevated my dismay. Some are using their victory to spread the messages of hate and violence. I’ve read of school children being taunted and beaten up for their dress or their race. The KKK is openly celebrating. These things would not have happened a few months ago. Those of us who are mourning are grieving for the loss of civility as well as the dream of electing a capable woman president who would have worked for the ones being tormented.

But that’s not why I’m writing this blog today. It’s self-serving, certainly, but I hope these words can help some others who are grieving. My therapists have always said that the antidote to my depressions is writing. So I feel I have to write about this in an attempt not to slide into a pit so deep that it will take months to crawl back out of.


There are many calling for action, saying it’s time to get over “this” and to move on. I’m glad they’re able to do this. But many of us can’t.

We are grieving the loss of a bright future, one we were looking forward to. The sunshine is a bit dim. The birds don’t sing cheerfully, but annoyingly. In the state where I live, Tennessee, many votes went to TP. I know that some of my neighbors voted for them because they displayed signs in their yards. I don’t want to speak to them for a good long while. I wave when I see them and keep walking. Going to the hairdresser, chatting with the grocery checkout people, even sitting next to people in church—it’s all awkward. I don’t know if they voted for the ones who have wounded me and my friends or not. This will prevent me from “getting over” this very quickly.

Here’s the main thing I want to say. Everyone has to deal with this tragedy in ones’ own way. None are the right way for all and none are the wrong way for those doing them.

Some will quickly spring back and go into action. I know one woman who has vowed to do a good deed every day and has already stared by contributing to causes that will benefit those who may be disenfranchised in the near future.

Others will get through the anger and the grief in a few days and will recover enough to function normally.

Still others will take longer. Many writers I know are unable to write now on their projects. Many have posted long, eloquent essays on their feelings, their actions, what they see as consequences of hatred for so many. Others point out catastrophes that may happen in the near future, such as the actual repeal of Roe v Wade, which will send women back to coat hangers; the repeal or gutting of the Affordable Care Act, which will actually be a death sentence for some and will cause others to emigrate; stripping of hard-won rights for gays—several I know are moving abroad and I probably would, too, if I were them; persecution of many races, cultures, and religions in this country which was founded by emigrants for emigrants (to the detriment of the natives, to be sure, who will also not gain anything but will probably lose even more).


Those writers have poured out their battered feelings, most of them better than I can. But this is my therapy here and now.

I went to bed on November 8th in denial, even though the numbers were telling me the story. I awoke to anger and stayed there several days. In fact, that part isn’t gone yet. I’m still in the grieving stage, crying whenever I’m alone and giving way to hopelessness and despair. This is melodramatic, you say? Then you don’t suffer from clinical depression, lucky you. That’s the way we get, melodramatic. It’s certainly not what we want to be doing!

I want to say, to those of you who are still suffering, that you need to let the process take the time it needs. You need to let yourself heal at your own rate, no matter how long it takes. When you come out on the other side, the sun will sparkle and the birds will cheer you with their trills and warbles.

It’s my hope that everyone will be over the stun and shock and depression by January. And that we will all work together to make this country a better place. I plan to support a few causes. I would like to do more, but there’s only so much cash. My choices are Planned Parenthood, NARAL, RAINN, and the Sierra Club.

Here’s a list that I won’t vouch for, except the ones I know.

And here’s a site validating the grief.

I wish for healing for everyone.
Luke 23:34

Weeping Angel phot by at Morguefile.com
Hole phot by at Morguefile.com

Statue of Liberty photo by at Morguefile.com