Wednesday, March 29, 2017


I’ll bet you’ve heard something about a total solar eclipse in North America this year. Science museums, observatories, many cities in the path, and even the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are gearing up for celebrations.  Yes, a total solar eclipse, but something else, too! An anthology of short stories to celebrate this rare occasion. The anthology is called Day of the Dark and contains 24 short stories, all of them with an eclipse theme, and all of them completely different.

To entice you, I’ll dole out something about each story, bit by bit on this blog over the next few weeks until July 21st, the day Wildside Press is releasing the book. That will be, not coincidentally, exactly one month before the eclipse on August 21st.

Here’s a sampling to whet your appetite for this delicious volume of light and dark:

“The Dark Side of the Light” by Carol L. Wright, set in California, and playing off the possible dark power of the eclipse

“Chasing the Moon” by Leslie Wheeler, set from OR to SC along the path of totality and telling four light-ish stories about how the event affects four different groups of people

“The Path of Totality” by Katherine Tomlinson, an enjoyable political satire set in OR

“Blood Moon” by Paul D. Marks, a very dark tale with a lunar eclipse in Los Angeles

These four go from dark, to medium, to light, and back to dark, much like the earth will on August 21st in the path of totality, which is the area where the sun will completely disappear in the middle of the day for one to two minutes or so when the moon moves between the earth and the sun and blocks the light, the warmth, the life-giving rays of the sun.

 photo from Morguefile by steffenbuss

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.

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.

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


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:,,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:

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:
This one includes some forms to help you keep track if you don’t already have some that you like:

AND, changes for this year:
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