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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Barnes & Noble 1099-MISC Received 01.31.2012

I still haven't seen my Amazon 1099.  Hopefully I'll get it tomorrow.

Good Ole Boys, a Love Story, to Be Free Five Days Around Valentine's Day

My debut novel, Good Ole Boys (a love story), will be free the four days leading up to, and including that fifth day, Valentine's Day 2012.  I debated over this mid-month placement.  But in the end, I felt a love story should be hyped close to Valentine's Day, so that's what I did.

The publicity this affords me as a newly published novelist (my five other e-books are all nonfiction) is a boon.  And at no cost to me.  You can't beat that price.  IMO, a free fiction book that snares a happy fan should have more fiction titles to entice them.  Which means my prequel novel needs to be uploaded by February 10 or thereabouts. BTW:  the prequel is a standalone piece.  I've taken the wonderful grandfather from my debut novel and given him his own story.

As any of you know who have read my earlier posts, this is my Grand Experiment--the whole Indie-publishing route is not one single path, clearly marked and easily navigated.  There are myriad choices that each of us must make and follow to suit our unique individuality.  So what I feel good about may not be for you.  But I'll share my steps just to show you the possibilities.

Let's make one thing crystal clear:  I am ALL Indie.  I am one-hundred-percent Indie.  I will not be following in Amanda Hocking's footsteps.  Just not for me.  I applaud her and those that find what they want in publishing their books, whether traditionally or Indie.  However, I will not find what I want in the traditional publishing world because I'm spoiled in this wonderful world of Indie-publishing.

I have total control.

I have total freedom.

I have total reign over my personal publication schedule.

That's my choice.  My decision.  It works for me.

I respect what your dreams tell you to do.  For how could I possibly know what is in your heart and not yet in words?  And vice versa.

Do what works for you.

Remember to extend your emotional and verbal support with a sincere smile to your friends and family by really listening while they share their utmost yearnings.  Don't be a dream-killer, not for your own or anybody else's.  After all, every success cannot be rationally explained.  Plus I believe in dreams.  And that miracles do happen.

Still Awaiting my 1099s

Granted, my mail delivery is not due for another four hours.  But it is the last day of January and I've put off mailing in my tax forms (and getting a nice refund) for these thirty days because I thought I'd avoid any problems if my math did not add up to Amazon's or B&N's.

I'll let you know later this afternoon what I find in my mail box.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

One for the Money Movie, Book by Janet Evanovich

LOVED IT!  Both the movie and the book.  It has been a while since I've read the first installment in the Stephanie Plum, Bounty Hunter, series by Janet Evanovich but I'd say the screenplay stuck pretty well to the original book version.  And the cast, all wore their characters well.  The on-screen chemistry between Stephanie (Katherine Heigl) and Morelli (Jason O'Mara) comes across really well.  And Lula!  What a home run outta the park!

I understand Sherri Shepherd made a vision board about three years ago staking her claim to play the part of Lula whenever a movie was made from One for the Money.  She was great.  Grandma Mazur, Stephanie's mom, Ranger, Vinnie, Connie--all were plum perfect.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Several months ago, over books in my local big-box store, I ran into a fellow Janet Evanovich fan.  She shared with me how she has a summer ritual where she rereads the entire Stephanie Plum series, from book one to the current episode.  Sounds like a grand plan to me.

As an author, I'm ecstatic to see movies made out of some of my favorite authors' books.  I'm open to my own becoming movies too, down the line.  Like the J.D. Robb series, so looking forward to seeing those up on the big screen--and hopefully with such charismatic casting fortune as I witnessed today in One for the Money.

AMC was handing out One for the Money bookmarks--a good marketing strategy.  I'm anxious to see what the movie brought in this first weekend.  And I'm proud to have placed my vote with my purchase of a ticket today.  My particular theater was not full by any means, but I purposely picked the first showing and it was during church so that may account for the empty seats.

Still, the box office revenues will tell . . . .

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins

I just finished reading this book.  It gives a good overall view of the main elements used in writing.  I love acronynms and she gives us a few that will serve me well.  She also has a way of explaining things that simplifies why we do what we instinctively do, and yet still could not tell another how we do it.  Except now I can.  Her insights are useful.

Plus her examples were fun to check out which I personally enjoy when accompanying the instructive text.  Samples seem to make it more vivid for me.  This book was a fast read and only 206 pages--if you continue on to her recommended reading section.  I have ten handwritten pages (both sides) full of her tips.  My typewritten version is eleven pages long.  So lots of noteworthy stuff. 

Having ingested her book, I am now left with the desire to carry on with some of the other books she notes at the end.  And to compile lists.  About eleven of them.  You know, the shortcuts that we authors just love to have on hand.  Like for instance, for me, it is having Baby Name books from which I can choose my characters' names.  Which I should narrow down to selections I actually like and would possibly use.  Such a condensed preapproved character name list would be of great value to me.

A book that prods me to action is always a good thing.

I don't want to give away her book contents here, but one quote I would like to leave you with.  On page 147, Ms. Collins states:  "Novelists as a rule hate rules."  Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Three-Hundred-Five Days and Counting

It has been 305 days since I uploaded my first e-book on Amazon, the one that started this Indie-publishing dream for me.  And it has been forty days since I launched my sixth e-book (with way more coming) to Amazon.  I am happy with my progress so far, during this initial year, placing half a dozen e-books into the ether known as Amazon.  Five of them within B&N's PubIt! system.  My debut novel, Good Ole Boys, remains exclusive to Amazon until mid-March, which accounts for the difference in my offerings between the two sites.

Because this is fun, those 305 days do not seem that long.  Yet it has been in a way when you consider it is just sixty days shy of one year.  I feel sorry for those unhappy people tied to a job they absolutely hate, where they are unappreciated and locked into a seemingly never-ending cycle of dread and drudgery.  It takes some confidence and a truly inspiring dream to break out of those chains but, oh, how it is worth it when you find where you truly belong. 

Doing without a steady paycheck--expecting one every first and fifteenth of the month--still takes some imaginative solutions at times.  One month I may juggle bills.  In the longer term, I may seek a McJob.  Currently I am between those "day job" happenings or even having that monthly shuffle technique.  This is my "sweet spot."

And I wouldn't change my new career and the new life that came with it.  I don't know if I can count it toward growing up or older or just being wiser or, my personal favorite, being where I am meant to be, but I worry so much less now than when I made a consistent salary three times that which I presently live on.  Not to mention how utterly, joyfully, happily ecstatic I am operating in total freedom to do what I love and get paid for it.  After all, I spent all those early years enjoying my writing attempts without being paid one shiny new penny.

Until mid-2011, as I became a paid author.  Or back in mid-2008, when I became a paid freelance copy editor.  Both I count as miraculous dreams-come-true for me.

Reminding myself I have enough money for today is truly comforting and puts me in the present with the right mind-set.  Plus, I know for each day I stand firm, I am one day closer to that elusive "overnight success."

FYI:  Avoid those living-in-the-past moments as it is usually accompanied with regret or only-if thinking or otherwise somewhat hopeless in that things today cannot be as great as the "good old days."  Stop that negative thinking now!  And if you are just wishing, daydreaming about your future, and not putting some action behind it, well, you might as well be watching TV or a movie and enjoying someone else's life for an hour or two.  For you are seeking a temporary escape not a life-altering change.

Among the otherwise sage nuggets Daddy often shares, one thing he told me that I found to be particularly wrong for me was, "Don't burn your bridges."  The opposite is my truth.  When you are driven, really consumed by an idyllic life-in-the-making, no matter how irrational or long-term, burn those bridges.  Step out, take some calculated risks--and your responsibility for their resulting consequences--daily accruing whatever actions, both small and larger, toward that ultimate goal.  It shows your faith.  It confirms your forward momentum.  It speaks to the Universe (my God) and sets those unseen forces in motion with us.  

Don't discount what you cannot see . . . .

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Andy Rane's Blog with "The Same Six Questions"

This morning, having bumped one of my four threads within KB’s Book Bazaar, I had the happy accident of posting just a couple minutes before “Come Meet Indie Authors.”  Since the Book Bazaar has 405 page loads, and each of those contain 25 threads each, I have not read all of them, not near half of them. So this was my first encounter with this particular post within the Book Bazaar.

For those of you unfamiliar with KindleBoards or Kindle Boards (whichever is correct, although the internet shows both versions), this particular one, the Book Bazaar, is for self-promotion.  I check it daily.  And each week, as my placement among my fellow authors differs and changes, I can do some market analysis and compare my book’s hits against another.  I compare my Week Three hits to some other author’s Week Three hits, for example.  If he has higher numbers, I see what genre he’s writing.  Or check out his title--is it catchy or entertaining or imaginative?  I try to see what it is that he (or she) is doing that could be bringing more people to their thread.

Now, remember, just because you have more hits does not mean more sales.  Still, getting someone interested enough to click on your link is a good thing, right?  I do this all in the vein of marketing, hoping to find what works to pique a potential reader’s curiosity.

So this morning I find that a blog can be among the Book Bazaar’s self-promo.  This particular one, “Come Meet Indie Authors,” works off Andy Rane’s blogspot, found at http://andyrane.blogspot.com where he poses the same six questions to each author and, if I understand his process correctly, two are highlighted within his blog each week, and then are posted within Book Bazaar.  He states it is a first-come, first-serve operation.  It is free publicity to us Indies and I’m all for that.

However, his “submissions” are closed until late February.  Still, I am posting this blog to let my other author friends know and plan ahead.  Plus, it is a great writing assignment for each of us to get to know ourselves a little better.  A little encouragement, a little insight into what makes us authors.

Besides, as I’ve posted about earlier, we are all basically nosy.  We love to see inside another person’s life.  So, here’s my answers to Rane’s Six Questions with an intro.  And I’ll hopefully be supplying them to him at the end of February.

~ ~

Hi, Andy!  I am a freelance copy editor for a big NYC publishing house when I am not writing both fiction and nonfiction and Indie-publishing same under my DBA, Living the Dream Publishing, plus blogging at LivingTheDreamPublishing.blogspot.com--which caters to authors, newbies or established, with helpful grammar tips and such for even the traditionally published, but leaning more heavily with info and instructions for the Indie-publishing author.  In my previous career, I worked for attorneys, but I took my attention to detail and grasp of English grammar and came on over to the creative side.  Love it!

The Same Six Questions

1. Have you published a book yet?

Yes, six e-books to date.  All Indie-published by me.  Five are found at both Barnes & Noble and Amazon, with the sixth, my debut e-novel, Good Ole Boys, being exclusive to Amazon until mid-March 2012.

My nonfiction e-offerings are:
  1. A Copyediting Checklist for Novelists
  2. Before-You-Indie-Publish Checklist
  3. Living the Dream Checklist:  How to Quit Your (Current) Day Job
  4. Words Rule the World ~~ A Collection of Quotations, Volume One
  5. How To Indie-Publish:  Tips, Instructions and Inspiration
Of course my debut fiction e-book is Good Ole Boys, a story about love and relationships.

Its e-prequel is coming out soon, as well as a Southern e-cookbook.

I hope to have more fiction e-books uploaded later this year.

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I should have known since childhood or during my teenage years when I was fixated on reading more than being with my friends, when I asked for a Dictaphone for Christmas one year and when I easily composed a short mystery for my seventh grade English teacher who gave me kudos in front of my classmates.  I misinterpreted it as a calling to be a secretary which quickly morphed into a legal assistant position.

3. What was your first lengthy piece of fiction (say, >1000 words)? What was it about? When did you write it? Do you still have it?

It was that homework assignment mentioned above.  And I wish I still had it.  I regret that I don’t.  But I do remember it was about finding whatever was hidden behind the fuse box, which our heroine stumbles upon one night as the lights blow out in a storm.  In her attempt to open the cover in the dark, she instead pulls out the housing, finding the whatever stowed behind it.  Amazing how the mind works, huh?  I remember that all these years later.

4. When was your first indication, "I can do this (write)"?

Always.  With every book I’ve read.  Sometimes my reaction was "I can do this better."  And I’m carnivorous, a cannibal to the written word.  It is not unusual for me to read 365 books in a year.  I don’t get to every year as sometimes I do have to resort to a day job on top of my own writing and my freelance copyediting projects.  Still, even during those periods with the three jobs taking the bulk of my time each of those days, I can easily read one book a month, while daily inhaling articles and blogs and emails about the writing craft.

I guess I brushed off all that early bravado as being too naive, too impractical to become a career in which to support myself.

However, I first called myself an author—albeit an unpaid author—when I completed a short story of 6,000 words, submitted it to a contest, and failed to win.  (Which in hindsight was a good thing.  I now focus strictly on writing novels, or nonfiction, not contests. Makes me efficient, prolific even.) 

In high school, I was an Honors English student, loving the whole school process and learning new stuff, enjoying homework and writing term papers, happily engaging in the research and carrying around heaps of composition books.  Which skills all translate easily into a writing career.

5. If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which would it be?

I’ve completed three novels, started another eight, but only have one Indie-published to date.  So, limiting myself to my sole e-novel as of this writing, Good Ole Boys, I would choose Holt Seville first and, if allowed a second, Pops, his grandfather, who was such a cantankerous, loveable character that I gave him his own novel, the soon-to-be-released “Good Ole Boys:  The Prequel.” 

6. It's a dark and stormy night...you're alone in the house...there's a knock at the door...you open it, look out, and proceed to scream like a little girl. What's on the doorstep?

Since I don’t submit those Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes entries so they would have no reason to be on my doorstep, I guess it would have to be my all-time favorite novelist, Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb, standing at my door to say she elects me to carry on her standard.  Either that or Ryan Gosling and Johnny Depp both asking to portray the male lead in the movie based upon one of my books.
~ ~

Monday, January 16, 2012

Watch for Debut Novel, The Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers, by Fantasy Writing Team of Jeremy Hicks and Barry Hayes

Superb and seamless writing by coauthors Jeremy Hicks and Barry Hayes in The Cycle of Ages Saga:  Finders Keepers, a fantasy--their first installment of their saga and their debut novel.

As an avid reader, I am always ecstatic to find really great authors who pen fast-paced, intelligent works of literary fiction.  Well, here you go.  You’ll find all that and more in The Cycle of Ages Saga:  Finders Keepers by Hicks & Hayes.  A well-developed cast of characters--as distinct as each of us; some you’ll love, some you won’t; flawed and internally conflicted to make them fully alive--sucks you in along with the compelling story.

Plus these gifted and talented coauthors have injected throughout their plot and subplots some well-placed humor, a few rhetorical devices, with plenty of action and fight scenes to lure in the male readers, in addition to a love interest to snare the females.

The coauthors are currently seeking an agent while the book is awaiting review by a prospective publisher.

I hope to soon report an anticipated release date.  Meanwhile, read more about the coauthors below.


Jeremy Hicks spent several years as an archaeologist before teaming up with his long-time friend and coauthor, Barry Hayes, to realize a creative dream.  The Alabama-based writing team of Hicks & Hayes created an original fantasy environment known as Faltyr, wrote a screenplay (The Cycle of Ages Saga:  Finders Keepers) to introduce it and then adapted it into this novelization.  As co-owners of Broke Guys Productions, they have written three other screenplays, including the first sequel to The Cycle of Ages Saga.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ree Drummond's Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

As authors, we can read other authors' books, watch a million movies, camp out at the library, all in the name of research.  What a grand career we are in. 

So, under that guise, I have listened, so far, to two-thirds of the inspirational audiobook written and narrated by Ree Drummond entitled Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, a love story about how the author met, dated and married her husband.  This is The Pioneer Woman from the website of the same name, with her online collection of all her loves:  photos, recipes, family, movies, homeschooling.  She can even be found on TV with her cooking show.  And her true-life love story should make everyone jump for joy that true love exists, that men like Marlboro Man live and breathe, and that they apparently love their women, happy flaws and all.

Ree did the taping on her audiobook.  She seemed to be sticking straight with the script, although I would be dubbing in more afterthoughts, side notes, laughter, crying, what-have-you.  I'm impressed she held it together when narrating her personal story, including recalling her propensity for Lucille Ball-like incidents, her own mistakes.

I'm not completely through the taped book, but it is uplifting, even while wrapped in reality.  Of course, I'll finish listening to the audio today, and may have to do so over and over as I try to separate myself from the sheer joy of the story to be objective enough to see her writing techniques.  Even if I'm not capable of that distancing, it would be no hardship to hear the whole wonderful how-we-met rendition over and over.

May we all share in such happiness, love, life.  Have a good one, everybody!

P.S.  Per a quick internet search, the movie rights to Ree's love story have been bought.  I hope we get to see the movie soon, but . . . there is no guarantee how fast that will happen.  Still nice to know it is being considered.

P.P.S.  I finished listening to the audiobook the other day.  My first leg of reading was the more fairy-tale events leading up to real life.  So the story has its sad moments, its tense moments and, even as a blog reader knowing she has four kids, the oldest is female, you get caught up in the story events, like guessing the sex of their first child:  "I just know it's a boy."  Plus hearing or reading about a "three-week honeymoon in Australia" sounds wonderful, doesn't it?  Wait until you hear the details of their honeymoon.  It just goes to prove that things on the outside, or on paper, are not what they seem.  Still, good reading.  Realistic.  Honest.  And proves true love, that magical, mystical, blissful, passionate version we thought was meant only for romance novels, can exist in real life and wins out over "small" things like not having a dishwasher with your first infant, or having money troubles, or going from a city life to a working ranch where there are no days off, no ice days or other such weather-related cancellations, no sick days, no ten-holiday-a-year benefits.  I said it before.  I'll say it again.  Inspirational.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Your 2012 Mission Statement--And a Free Fun Generator to Use

I subscribe to the Nightingale-Conant AdvantEdge Newsletter and the recent one had a fun link to a Goals/Mission Statement generator.  Here it is:  http://www.nightingale.com/mission_select.aspx?promo=INLACx394v2.  You'll need to copy and paste that link into your browser.

The program walks you through short little lists such as your greatest strengths and some associated actions plus your personal and/or business goals.  Then you narrow it down by choosing the top three of two categories.  The system then makes it into a paragraph which flows nicely (or at least mine did).

The Bible talks about writing it (your goals, your desires) plainly so that he who reads it may "run"--accomplish same.  See Habakkak 2:2.  I'm not sure "he" here, the one who reads it, means allowing just anyone to take a potshot at your dreams, but is more about writing it down, clearly, so clearly and plainly that a stranger could understand what you meant.  It is important however to put it in front of YOUR eyes, for sure. 

There is the Old Testament story (see Gen. 30:25-43) of the black-and-white reeds placed in the watering trough for sheep, where they also mated, that produced, yep, you guessed it, black-and-white offspring.  Note that sheep are supposed to be the one of the stupidest animals on the planet.  So I doubt they were doing one hundred affirmations throughout their day about the black-and-white babies they were supposed to give birth to.

Those sheep probably saw the reeds as they drank, maybe three times, maybe eight times, however many times daily.  Who knows.  And they probably just glanced as them.  I don't know if they had the brain cells to even question, Why?  Why are those reeds here?  So believe me, we are giving our Mission Statement more notice than those sheep, and we should be getting better results than them.

There is also the parable of the sower and the seed, where we plant, then go about other chores--which proves we have our part and God has His.  That we don't need to be fixated on watching our seeds grow.  Sure, we protect them from floods and ice and fire, and later from scavenging wildlife or just plain poachers.  That may be the "watering" element, above and beyond the actual watering plants need.

One scripture (of others) in the Bible that always confused me dealt with planting your field before building your house.  Maybe pitching a tent or building a lean-to is not what is prohibited here as our first duty.  But in this context, I think it means to take care of our external long-term goals (growing food here, maybe growing future earnings/retirement in our world) and then to focus on our comfort, our permanent home, our internal thoughts.  So that we nurture those seeds in the field by thinking we will reap a bountiful crop--not negating our physical actions with such negative thoughts like "we are dismal failures as farmers."

Just my opinion here.  Take what you need and discard the rest.

The Bible contains admonitions such as this:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Phil. 4:8 ASV.

Guard your hearts and minds.  Be careful what you consistently do.  For there are consequences.

I said all that to say this:  Use the fun generator and print out your one-paragraph Mission Statement.  Gag your internal critic while you are creating this, each time you read it, and in between readings.  Post a copy of it on the fridge.  Near your coffeepot.  On the bathroom mirror (maybe in a plastic sleeve--ha!).  Read it as you contemplate what to have for dinner, as you await your morning caffeine buzz and as you brush your teeth.  You don't need to worry about your conscious brain memorizing it.  Your subconscious takes over.  If you repeat those good efforts daily--or almost daily--your mission statement will take mental roots.

And the collective mind of God that we share (you may call it the collective mind or intuition or other terms) will guide your daily actions respectively.

Keep busy.  Write one book; immediately start another.  For you nonauthors, do what you love.  And keep doing more of it.  As long as you are not hurting others to accomplish it.

Then, come New Year's Day 2013, read your 2012 Mission Statement and compare it to what you accomplished this year.  You will be surprised by your results.

Writing Books I Want to Read

Long ago, and for several years, I had budgeted $30 a month to take online writing classes.  Since that monetary restriction forbids me from taking the more expensive offerings, and I have already participated in many of interest, I am now opting to replace it with a purchase of a book on my craft.

Or to study those unread treasures I already have in my personal library.

I have at least four How-To-Write books I have yet to read--a couple I started so long ago that I've forgotten what I was supposed to have learned.  Therefore, I'll start over at the beginning.  Here's my initial selection for my reading list relative to my writing career:

1.  Sol Stein's Stein on Writing A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies (this one is loaned to me and I really need to be getting it back to its rightful owner).

2.  Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D.'s The Writer's Guide to Character TraitsIncludes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types.  This particular book may not be one of those things you read from beginning to end, but more of a reference material to consult as we authors deem who is worthy to be our villain, or our hero.  I'll get back with you on that.

3.  Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.  I read somewhere that the workbook is good solo, without the need for the companion book.

4.  Brandilyn Collins's Getting Into CharacterSeven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors.

I cannot yet recommend any of the above personally as I still need to read them.  But they were all deemed worthy in articles or newsletters or blogs or other books or by one of my CPs.

As I actually finish reading them, I'll share some highlights from my notes with you.

Happy reading!

Indie-Published Authors, Await Your 1099-MISCs

I am not a tax attorney or an IRS guru, so take the following with a grain of salt.  I'm new to the royalties business, but a quick search of the Amazon Community shows that Amazon sends out 1099s for $10 and more.  See the last of three entries at http://forums.kindledirectpublishing.com/kdpforums/thread.jspa?messageID=46344&#46344 which purports to be answered by a KDP representative.

As for the IRS website, here's a good legal analysis from 2004 where a publisher sends the royalties to the agent who then sends them to the author (after each has taken their cut):  http://www.irs.gov/irb/2004-20_IRB/ar08.html.  Still the author pays taxes on the gross amount, not the amount s/he receives in the end.  In the article, the writer states that in 2004, "the royalties paid by the publisher exceeded $10."  That seems to be relevant from 2004 on through the present.
Per the instructions for Schedule E (referenced on line 17 of Form 1040 re royalties), here's an excerpt found at http://www.irs.gov/instructions/i1040se/ch02.html#d0e477:

     Royalties.   Report on line 3b royalties from oil, gas, or mineral properties
     (not including operating interests); copyrights; and patents. Use a separate 
     column (A, B, or C) for each royalty property.   If you received $10 or 
     more in royalties during 2011, the payer should send you a Form 
     1099-MISC or similar statement by January 31, 2012, showing the 
     amount you received. Report this amount on line 3b.   If you are in 
     business as a self-employed writer, inventor, artist, etc., report your 
     royalty income and expenses on Schedule C.
Based on the above, ignore line 17 of the 2011 tax form 1040, for reporting of royalties and asking for the attachment of Schedule E, Supplemental Income and Loss, and use Schedule C instead for reporting author royalties.  
I'll advise when I receive my 1099-MISC from Amazon and B&N.  In the meantime, I can still be gathering all my other info and drafting out my 1040 and various schedules, forms.  
For the Indie-pubbed authors, await those 1099-MISCs forms--even though we do not attach them to the 1040, like we would for a W-2.  Per the IRS website, we should receive them by January 31.

Ahem.  And I was expecting a refund this year, so I won't be getting it in January.  

Good luck, all!

Monday, January 2, 2012

We Are So Nosy . . . In a Good Way

I had a slow period in my freelancing due to the holidays and took advantage by reading two Nora Roberts books:  The Search (2010) and Chasing Fire (2011).  Both are her mainstream novels, combining suspense with romance.  Pure Nora Roberts.  Longer.  More subplots involved.

But what struck me from both was the "secret language" inherent therein.  The Search dealt with dog training for search and rescue efforts, while Chasing Fire involved fire jumping--those fearless firefighters that jump from planes to land right in the forest/snow/woodlands next to the flaming inferno.  So, obviously, each had its own terms relative to the distinctive profession.

It goes back to an earlier post where I mentioned the six basic needs for humans: 

1.  Certainty/Comfort zone
2.  Variety/Out-of-comfort zone
3.  Purpose
4.  Love/Belonging
5.  Self Growth
6.  Worldly Contribution

These specific language sets within careers, as illustrated in the two Nora Roberts's books noted above, help us fit in, feel like we belong.  Compare that to the secret club that we are not asked to join, and the secret handshake they will not share with us, and the secret rituals held in secret places at secret times, and we feel pretty left out, right?

Listen to any nurse talking to a doctor, and their verbal shorthand helps them communicate.  Plus shows us we don't understand the language they are privy to.  It isolates us.  We are the ones looking in, toward the inner circle.

Aside from careers, it is evidence of a sort within relationships, both the good and the bad.  We listen to the words shared, or the space where the words are withheld, added to the body language, and we determine our own reading of that couple. 

Which brings me to the title of this post.  We are all interested, inquisitive, individually.  Some more than others.  Still, I think it is human nature to investigate, to record, to research, to evaluate.  We want to improve our lives, those of our families, and we gauge how we are doing compared to others.  I'm not talking judgment here.  I'm talking about the search for happiness.  Knowing what we can have influences what we reach for, correct?

Seeing just two couples with a near-perfect working marriage would encourage a jaded person to believe, to hope, to dream.  I know it does for me.

Now, some people are downright nosy in an intrusive manner.  But the nosiness I am speaking of here is more of curiosity, that of a seeker of knowledge, wisdom, happiness.  Tied to a basic human need to belong.  To feel "at home" whether related to a person, place or thing (as in a job description). 

That is just one element of myriad others that makes for Nora Roberts's best-selling books.  She shares with us this behind-the-scenes look at these off-the-main-road careers.  Puts us in a new place (out of our own comfort zone in our actual lives), let's us do a test run (putting us in a virtual reality of this new variety of life), and gives us a nice ending where the bad guy is named and caught.  Plus love wins out (the security factor fed here with these last two items). 

The self-growth listed above is easily accommodated within a novel by the main character's arc--his or her growth to becoming a better person, having confronted their fears or bad memories, and dealt with them, head-on.

Their purpose is confirmed by their love of their job, even a harrowing one, further acknowledged by the very definite service they provide for others.  Here we've tapped two more basic human needs.  That belonging factor is echoed in the catch phrases inherent to these unique careers--like "shake and bake," which will forever take on a new, and still-body-shivering, connotation for me.

Yet I think it is great.  It piques our need to know, need to amass information, as we wander about in the hands and mind of this person immersed in this unusual job.  We try it on for size.  Then we can discard it later, or pursue it with lust in actuality.

I know after I read Chasing Fire, I was ashamed at how little physical enterprise is involved with my career of choice, being an author and copy editor, and vowed to add in structured exercise, now that my manual-labor day job is gone. 

After reading The Search, aside from being a little creeped out, I was reminded how much I love my animals.  And that love wins out again. 

So, as an author, I use that nosiness factor when writing a book for a reader.  I give them a glimpse into someone else's life--their career, love life, home life, hobbies, pets, etc.--to show them what we are all avid to know.  What is their life like behind closed doors?  Is that couple who is showy with affection in public still so at home?  What does that particular career entail?  More than the Occupational Handbook description--for we want details, much more details, the dish, the secrets you share with your best girlfriend.

Isn't that what an actor does as he readies for a part?  To be a fighter, s/he trains.  To be an athlete, s/he trains.  To be a pianist, s/he trains.  To be a bartender, s/he trains.  To be a model, s/he trains.  To be a sniper, s/he trains.  Just imagine the life of an actor.  Each gets to choose the project to work on.  And it is like trying on a job, to see if it fits.  Once the make-believe career is gone as the movie wraps up, then the actor decides whether to continue on with the skill(s) learned.

So can we, just by reading a book.

Do you find it mystical and magical and yet so sensible that our life's six basic needs are ALL mirrored in our favorite reading material?  What a wonderful career we authors share as we arrange assorted letters on a page among other such pages which has the possibility, the gift, of changing a person's life.

Happy New Year!

A belated Happy New Year to you all.  With 2012 in its second day, I'm announcing my January Goals:  to have my Southern e-cookbook live by month-end and my second e-novel, "Good Ole Boys:  The Prequel" uploaded to both Amazon and B&N.  The cookbook draft keeps compounding like daily interest.  I'm gonna get it organized and just limit the page count and what's left over will become Volume Two.

As for my prequel e-novel, it needs a Final Edit and I just couldn't go through another one so near to the last one.  Plus, having three e-books to clean up in tandem with my freelance jobs among the chores along with that thing called "life," was probably too much to accomplish in any December.

So here we are.

A fresh month to attack our goals for this one-twelfth of a year.

I prefer to look at one habit, one (or more) deadline(s), within a thirty-day period as versus over a whole year.  You can lose momentum with a 365-day stretch.  Also your focus.  For me, I find it easier to locate those two, three items to fixate on.

And my day is pretty structured in order to accomplish all I have to do.  Mornings entail some household chores, checking my email--personal as well as business--and what social media I engage in, some writing-related reading, checking sales data, writing blog posts.  Around lunchtime, whether before or after, I work on any copyediting projects I have on hand.  Sometimes until 1:00 a.m., sometimes just until dinner.  Then I break for some "me" time, to watch a movie, to read a book for fun, before going to sleep.

So, mornings are chores, afternoons/evenings are for freelancing work, then downtime before bed.

Writing time is whenever the muse hits.  It can be as simple as a thought that I need to record and, what do you know?  I'm writing nonstop with a brilliant idea that came out of nowhere.  I look up, check the clock, find it is two hours later and I'm still midthought.  So I continue on.  I am assured if I follow my gut, knowing that my heart is in the right place, it will work out just fine.  I need to capture those thoughts before they flee.  And I find, once I do the "me" stuff, the actions tied to my own writing, that I'm so much more focused on the copyediting and the continual learning of my craft. 

I do something really important to me first, then the time spent elsewhere is not interrupted with distractions.

I have no cable, thus watch a selected handful of shows via Netflix or Hulu, with my movie addiction handled the same way.  No more spending precious hours watching TV in search mode "for something good." Works for me.  I get so much more accomplished now.

Let me back up to add:  First thing before I get out of bed (and last thing at night), I ask both my conscious and my subconscious, What should I work on today/tomorrow?  If no answers come right away, I shelve the question, knowing I will get a message, an inkling, soon enough.  If not, I keep to my routine as outlined above.

The answers can deal with spring cleaning as well as my own book drafts.  So watch for the answers, no matter how off-target they may seem.  Your path is found through that task.  Follow it.

So, what's on your agenda for 2012?