Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Taxes for Writers 2016 Version

It's THAT time of year again!

First, I’ll give you links to my standard Taxes for Writers post from last year, and another post on DBAs that you may find helpful.

Second, here are some of the changes to the tax code for 2015 taxes. I hope I got the most relevant ones.

Increased penalty for not having health insurance. Here are exceptions to the penalty:

A new tax credit for getting health coverage through state-run exchanges. You can either claim this with your insurance company to lower your premiums, or can claim it on your taxes.

FSA (Flexible Spending Account) limits have gone up. There are also changes in rollovers. If you roll over into next year the $500 you were previously permitted, you can’t do an HAS (Health Savings Account). (You can still carry over FSA money for specific expenses and those include caring for a relative at home, which is nice.)

Bitcoin income will count this year, back to 2014. (Is that crazy or is it just me?)

401(k) limits have gone up. If you’re under 50, you can contribute $18,000, an increase of $500. For those over 50, the limit went up $6000 to $23.000. Sometimes it’s good to be older.

The income brackets changed. Here’s a 22-page IRS link. Page 5 is the beginning of the bracket information.

IRA rollovers—only one per year.

Standard deductions up (I would hope so, don’t they always go up?), but not much. $100 for single and $200 for married filing jointly.

See the first link below for some odd deductions, in case you’re taking clarinet lessons to correct an overbite, or you give business gifts, or your doctor is treating you for weight loss.

Basic information from:

More information is also here, on myRA, foster care of relatives:

And, of course, here:

Disclaimer: I am not giving professional legal, tax, or accounting advice. The above are what have been helpful to me as a writer, filing taxes, looking at this as a formal tax professional.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Can Short Stories be a Promotional Tool?

In my bio I say I’m a mystery author and I draw attention to the books in my series. I guess you’d deduce from the bio that I’m a novelist. Yes, but I also write short stories, from very short flash fiction on up. Since I’m in the midst of four different series, you may wonder why I continue to carve out spaces of my precious time for short fiction. That’s easy—I love it. I love reading and writing it, and short stories come to me more naturally than novels. I also love to write novels, once I get into them and over the dread of beginning a new one. But some short stories can be wrapped up quickly, giving me instant satisfaction.

Why do I keep writing short fiction for publication, since most of it pays very poorly, if at all? At this point, one reason is because I’ve gotten to know the community of short mystery fiction writers, and feel comfortable answering calls for submissions when they comes. (That doesn’t mean all my submissions get accepted—far from it.)

But another big reason is for promotion. I do think short fiction can help promote a novel writer. How? Several ways.

1) They get your name in front of readers. The more times people see your name in a short story anthology or magazine, the more apt they are to remember it and to recognize it when they see your books in the bookstore or online.

2) They make wonderful gifts. I have a free audio short story on my webpage, “Driving out of Dumas.” ( (Sometimes there are two of them.) It’s there to thank people for looking me up and visiting my page. It also can give visitors a feel for my one of my voices and my style. If they like it, maybe they’ll plunk down money for a book or two. I also give away my own collection (A PATCHWORK OR STORIES) on occasion.

3) They can promote specific novels. I haven’t done nearly as much of this as I’d like, but, for my Imogene Duckworthy series, I’ve started putting out a few short stories featuring Immy. So far, I’ve written three pre-stories about her early life, as a young child. Since, when the novels start, her father has been dead for a few years (killed when she was eleven), I found it fun to resurrect him and have him live in the shorts.
(“Snatched Potatoes” in KINGS RIVER LIFE AT, “As the Screw Turns” in Mysterical-E Spring-Summer 2012 edition,  and
 “Immy Goes to the Dogs” in UNTREED DETECTIVES.)

There’s a secondary character that I’m fascinated with in my second Cressa Carraway book, which will be out in April 2016, so I explored her a bit further in “Streete Crossing” which will appear in Mysterical-E next spring.

The above, using novel characters, is probably the most direct way to promote the longer fiction.

4) Short stories are the best way for me to stretch myself and to try out new styles and techniques. Answering a call for a themed submission makes me write to a topic that someone else has decided upon. Sometimes that’s hard, sometimes it flows. But the hard ones make me think. When I was asked to do a story about what some characters would do and think if they knew the earth was going to end tomorrow, I got to use a crazy phobia of mine that would never work for anything else. (“The Last Wave” in NIGHTFALLS”)

I haven’t ever done much with closed room mysteries, but a trip my husband took on a Mega Bus gave me an idea, not only for a story, but for an anthology, MURDER ON WHEELS, that came out in April from my Austin writing group, plus a couple of invited Texas writers.

5) Akin to trying out new things, I can do stuff that wouldn’t work in a longer form. For instance, I did a story in second person present tense in ALL THINGS DARK AND DASTARDLY (“You Can Do the Math”).

For Michael Bracken’s publication, TEXAS GARDENER, I did a story entirely in want ads. (“Yellow Roses”) Neither of those styles would work for too many pages! But they make, I hope, a fun short read.

One of my very latest publications is a short story, “Heartbreak at Graceland” in MEMPHIS NOIR. This gave me the opportunity to pull off a murder method that had been on my mind for a while.

Here’s a bit about this anthology:
"A remarkable picture of contemporary Memphis emerges in this Akashic noir volume...Something for everyone."
--Publishers Weekly
Here’s my favorite part of PW’s review:
“One standout, Kaye George’s “Heartbreak at Graceland,” pays the obligatory homage to Memphis’s Elvis Presley heritage, setting a powerful and definitely dark narrative in the late rocker’s home.”

My very most recent story is “This Isn’t the Way” and was used for the cover of FLASH BANG’s January issue. See what you think.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Agatha Awards Coming Up!

In the temporary spirit of Blatant Self Promotion, I’d like to appeal to any of my blog readers who will be attending the Malice Domestic conference in May. If you signed up before the end of 2015, you’ve received a nomination ballot.

Just want to let you know what I have that’s eligible.

Best Novel, FAT CAT SPREADS OUT written under my pen name, Janet Cantrell.

 Best Short  Story, I have 4 eligible, all by Kaye George

That’s it, short and blatant today! If you’re going to Malice, I hope to see you there—say hi!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Bit of After Holiday Cheer

I don't usually use this space for advertising, but this is an exception. The first books in two different series are on deep discount all of this month at Untreed Reads!

That would be CHOKE, the first Imogene Duckworthy mystery and DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE, the first People of the Wind prehistory book. They're each 99 cents!

If you'd like to try either of these series out, this is your chance. There are two more in the Imogene series and the second in the People of the Wind series will come out in June.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Another New Year!

At this time of general optimism, I’d like to join in. I found this on Facebook:
(It might have originated here:

We’re also supposed to look back and, since I didn’t celebrate the 5 year mark and this is the 6th year for this blog, I’ll refer back to one of my first posts:

“The Starting Gate
I'm not at the starting gate for my writing career, but with this new blog! (And with another new blog this month, DialogForMurder, a blog of four ((at this point)) mystery writers) I introduce myself there on Friday.

My writing goals for the year are set:

*get more than 2 measly short stories published (should I count the one accepted for the anthology not yet out? maybe not)

*clean up the novel I have just about completed and run it through my list of agents, querying (CHOKE is the name of the project)

*finish writing the sequel to the one above (SMOKE) (confusing, I know, so the titles are subject to change)

*keep querying the finished YA Neanderthal mystery that I've had some nibbles on (if no agent takes me on, continue the process with small presses)

*think about whether to keep sending an older amateur sleuth mystery to small presses, or whether to do a rewrite

The BIG goal, a publishing contract for any of the three series I'm working on!

Oh yes, maybe I should update my website. It's been awhile!”

I’d like to update those projects from 2010.

*short stories—I had had 2 published in 2008 (one was an Agatha nominee for Best Short Story), then the next 5 were published that year, 2010. So I accomplished that goal! I’ve been setting 6 per year since then as a goal and, if you count reprints, I’ve met it.

*the novel being cleaned up was not published that year, but in 2011. It also gained an Agatha nomination for Best First Novel.
original cover
current cover

*I didn’t change the titles, in fact, SMOKE and BROKE are the two sequels now published for CHOKE. I’m working on STROKE. I got attached to the scheme.

*the Neanderthal as YA didn’t work out, but Untreed Reads picked it up as a straight mystery, DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE. It was nominated Best Historical Mystery of 2013. They are bringing out the sequel, DEATH ON THE TREK, in June.

*the older mystery is now EINE KLEINE MURDER and is published by Barking Rain Press. It got a Silver Falchion Finalist award and BRP will publish that sequel, REQUIEM IN RED, in April.

That group blog is long gone and I’ve been in several others over the years. I didn’t get 3 novel contracts in 2010, or even 1, but I eventually got them all published. I’ve also been able to place quite a few short stories and had 3 of them in 2 anthologies this year, 2015.

This has gone on long enough—I’ll post some 2016 goals next week or so. Meanwhile, be on the lookout for a month-long deep discount atUntreed Reads of CHOKE and DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE.  99 cents apiece!

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my readers!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Here’s the cutest thing I’ve seen this year. I think the name of the group is Straight No Chaser.

Let me change my hat to Janet Cantrell for just a moment. Okay, ready.

While I’m doing links, let me tell you about Season’s Readings—a giveaway every day until December 24th at Killer Characters! Take a look at the left hand column for all the giveaways that have happened already!

On our Nose for Trouble Facebook group, we five cozy writers are doing discussions and giveaways from week to week. We and our readers post some awfully cute animals pictures and videos, too. If you have a cute pet, stick a picture up there.

As both Kaye and Janet, I wish you a warm and merry holiday season!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Last Minute Gifts?

If you’re organized, you don’t have to worry about last minute gift shopping. However, if you’re like me, you’re still shopping, and your relatives have gotten used to you being a bit late for gifts sometimes.

If you’re looking for something for a reader or two, or three, take a gander at my novels and short story anthologies. There should be something there to suit every taste, from comfy cozies to killer noir.

You’re always welcome at to browse. There are even two free audio stories for immediate listening, my gift to visitors to my web page.