Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Had Enough?

There’s something wrong with me. I love snow. (I AM ducking now.)

We’re not Boston, but it’s been bad here, too. Living in Knoxville, a typical snow is 1 to 1 1/2 inches, which stops the town for a day or two. Two weeks ago we had sleet for two days (about 2 inches), then snow on top of that, about 5 inches. Another snow a week later. Branches and power lines were down, especially to the area west of here where the elevation is higher. Schools and businesses here closed for two weeks. On the plateau (that higher area), they may still be closed. As of last night, some people were still in shelters. They hadn’t been able to live in their homes for over two weeks.

I know all of that. It’s treacherous, killing stuff. The death toll in TN was 30. Most of our problem, though, was the underlying ice and the unusually cold temperatures, so that the ice never melted.

The only time I’ve had enough snow is when we lived in Montana and Minnesota and it was still snowing in April.


Right now, if snow started falling, I would get an unreasonable, irrational feeling of elation. Is it because I’m part Scandinavian? I’m not sure. I wonder if this happens to anyone else.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writers and DBAs

Another post about taxes. It’s that time of year! You probably haven’t finished them yet if you get any income from Amazon, since they say they sent out erroneous 1099s and have only recently sent out corrected ones. If you have income from several countries, good luck figuring out which new 1099 is the correction for which old 1099. Here’s a bit of help. Look at the EIN. I don’t recall who posted this on what list, but I copied it:

83-0417755 = Amazon US, CA, and IN
46-2971461 = Amazon Australia
46-2796183 = Amazon Mexico
98-0429507 = Amazon Services Europe - UK sales
98-0480990 = Amazon Media EU Sarl - DE, FR, ES, IT sales

This is incomplete, as that person doesn’t get income from all possible countries, but maybe this can help you figure it out. This seems to be secret information as I can’t find anywhere that Amazon discloses their EINs.

Now, to my actual topic. If you aren’t incorporated and don’t want to go to the expense and trouble of creating an LLC, you would probably benefit from setting up a DBA. It stands for Doing Business As. If you use a pen name, you would obviously want to do business as That Name. If you’re using your own name, you can use Your Name Writing, or something more creative. Maybe—Your Name Books, Your Name Literature.

Why do you need a DBA? If you want a separate bank account for your writing, you need one to set up a DBA bank account. From there, it’s convenient to create a PayPal account for your pen name or DBA and connect it to the bank account. I find it helpful to be able to take payments to my pen name. Also to pay for conferences with my PayPal account in my pen name. In the past, things have gotten confused when an account for Real Name pays and Pen Name shows up and people say Pen Name isn’t registered. Too complicated!

What you need to know about this is that the rules are very different depending on what state you live in. For instance, when we lived in Texas, I needed to file, for $15 at my county clerk’s office. When we moved to Tennessee, all I had to do was go to the credit union and tell them I wanted an account for my DBA. (I recommend credit unions over banks. It’s much easier to get a small business account with no fees from them.)

This may help you find out what your state requires:
http://dbafilingonline.com/dba-by-state/
Here’s another one, but with limited state information:
http://www.legalzoom.com/sitemap-dba-state-requirements1.html


Good luck with your taxes this year!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Me!


Maybe I should say Happy Trails, since these are My Travels. I’ve been traveling in this space for a little over 5 years. (Reading this made me look. )

On January 4th, 2010, I posted about my journey so farAt that point, I had gotten some short stories published and had written 4 novels, all of them unpublished. I think I had been seriously writing full time for about 8 years. I started getting rejections on my first novel in 2002.




Here are some of my high points along the way.

In February of 2010, I got notice that one of my short stories had been nominated for an Agatha Award! There was much excitement about that!!




In 2011, my first novel, CHOKE, was published and received an Agatha nomination for Best First Novel in 2012.

At Killer Nashville in 2013, it was announced that EINE KLEINE MURDER was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award.



Then, in 2014, DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE was nominated for Best Historical for an Agatha Award.


A few short stories have won awards and found homes in magazines and anthologies, which makes me very happy because I LOVE writing them. Three more will be in two anthologies this year, too.

I acquired a new writing identity, Janet Cantrell, for my Fat Cat books with the Penguin imprint, Berkely Prime Crime last year.  The first one, FAT CAT AT LARGE, debuted as a national best seller, to my complete astonishment.



How lucky can one gal get? Not much luckier than this!

Here’s to 5 more years of Travels with Kaye, wherever it takes me.




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Brian, Brian, Brian

What are we going to do with you?

We invited him into our home most weeknights. We depended on him to tell us the world news that our local stations don’t. They most serve as a local police blotter, weather report, and high school sports information.

I’ll admit, lately I’ve been talking back. The oversensationalism of EVERYTHING is getting old. I’ll also admit, Boston has a lot of snow. But the other places? It’s winter. It’s snowing. I also, personally, think that splatting the reports about Kayla Mueller before anyone had any information was irresponsible and harmful to her family.

But, anyway. One of my points is that we trusted him. He comes from a long line of Most Trusted newscasters: Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Huntley and Brinkley, Tom Brokaw, and most recently, Peter Jennings.

There was one in there, Dan Rather, who was disgraced by falsifying news. Guess what? He’s defending Brian. With friends like that…Only in Dan Rather’s world could a person say, as Dan did, that “Brian is an honest decent man.”

(In 2004, he erroneously reported that George W. Bush had flaked out of his duties to the Air National Guard in 1973, and stood by the story even after critics complained that the documents appeared to be falsified. After two weeks, Rather was forced to retract and apologize for the story, and retired the next year.)

And now we find out that Brian had not, as he and NBC had claimed for many years, been on an helicopter downed by an RPG in Iraq. That story has been claimed by him for 12 years. Then, other discrepancies (lies) starting creeping out. Katrina, etc.

I saw this roll past my TV screen on Feb 7th:
“In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions.

“As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.”

My husband says he thinks there must be a deep-seated insecurity. Some sort of inferiority complex, as we used to say. Writers know about this. With every book we put out, we fear it will be discovered that we’re a fraud; that last book was a fluke; we’re just faking it. Maybe that’s it. But all you had to do, Brian Williams, was report news—actual news—and you would have kept on being a trusted figure with a good, extremely well-paying job.


If this blows over and he starts reporting again on the Nightly News show, I’ll never watch it. How could I believe what he says?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

TAXES FOR WRITERS

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 for you, as a beginning writer (not making any money), from this article are:
  • 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:

This link gives some checkpoints to make sure you’re fulfilling the requirements:

You can see that 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.

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


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 did last year for the first time in 12 years. It was a small 3-figure profit, but maybe someday it’ll be more.



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Audio Book!



I want to let you know, if you didn’t see it on Facebook, that the audio book of SMOKE, the second Imogene Duckworthy mystery, is available now! It was read by Veronica Newton, the same artist who recorded CHOKE.


If you already belong to Audible, skip to the next paragraph. If you don’t and you’d like to, here’s how I think it works. When you sign up for Audible you get a free book. If you make CHOKE or SMOKE your first free one, it warms the cockles of my heart. Full disclosure: Veronica and I both earn a Bounty. C’mon, I’ve wanted to be a bounty hunter ever since I started to read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books.
  
What are you waiting for? Hop over to sample a bit of CHOKE and/or a bit of SMOKE and see if you like them.


PS. Stay tuned. BROKE will be out before we know it.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What’s Your Slogan for 2015?

I used “Off to the Races” for 2014, since it was the Chinese Year of the Horse. This next one, from what I can tell, is the year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram. I’m not crazy about any slogans I’ve come up with for those. (Although the Chinese Zodiac doesn’t actually start until 2/19, so I have some time on that one.)

RAM INTO 2015. LET’S MUNCH THIS YEAR. LEAP WITH THE SHEEP.

I’ve used rhymes for my slogans in past years. KEEP ON REVVIN' IN 2011 was one. Maybe not a good one, but it worked for me. There was also DELVE INTO ’12. (These are used with an exclamation point, of course.) LUCKY 13 could probably only pertain to me, or to others who consider 13 their lucky number. I looked up a couple of even older ones, 2009 was TIME TO SHINE and 2010 was alternately GET ‘ER DONE and YOU CAN DO IT.

Here’s what I do with my slogans. I post them at the end of my daily pages every day as inspiration, motivation, and encouragement. Maybe, come to think of it, these shouldn’t properly be called slogans.

But, back to the problem. 2015? I found some rhymes at http://www.rhymer.com/RhymingDictionary/fifteen.html
How inspirational are the words spleen, teen, bean, mean. Maybe I could do something with keen. Obscene, gangrene? Submachine, kerosene. Libertine, nicotine.

KEEN ON ’15. I kind of like that.

As I left the allergy clinic where I get shots once a week, the receptionist remarked that she was glad to see this year go. I think I am, too, and I was glad to see last year go. So maybe 2015 WILL be keen. Let’s hope so!


Sometimes I just end my pages with ONWARD! That always works. You can’t go back!