November 30, 2015

Tax Deductions for Writers

Tax season is fast approaching. I hope you’ve been saving your receipts and keeping detailed records because I have a list of tax deductions for writers. 

NOTE: These are for the US. Check with your country and a tax pro to see if you can use these as well.

- Self-publishing costs

- Laptop/Computer

- Software

- Ink/Printer

- Postage to mail out queries, manuscripts, SWAG, etc.

- SWAG (any promo items)

- Business cards and postcards

- Ads (Any advertisements you pay for in print and online.)

- Cover artist expenses

- Branding and logo design costs

- Memberships

- Subscriptions to writing magazines

- Books

- URL registration and web hosting

- Newsletter hosting fees

- Conference fees

- Class and workshop fees

- Expenses for events. (Book signings and book launches.)

- Travel expenses (If you have to travel for research or to attend conferences or do a tour.)

- Business lunches (When you’re interviewing someone or with a client.)

- Research expenses (If you hire a researcher.)

- Editing expenses (If you hire an editor.)

- Publicist/press release group expenses

- Legal expenses (If you hire an attorney to look over contracts.)

- Tax preparation expenses

- Health insurance (Self-employed writers can deduct “100% of their health insurance premiums.”)

- Office Supplies (paper, pens, even office furniture)

- Phone, fax, and email expenses

- Home office space (within requirements)

*For more info on how to use home office space as a deduction (especially if it’s in your bedroom), read this article by Writer’s Digest.

NOTE x2: You may not qualify for all of these deductions. If you’re not sure about one, consult a professional.

SHARE: Tax deductions for writers you know about and I’ll add them.

November 23, 2015

3 R's: Rank, Ratings, and Reviews

When you publish your first book it can be easy to get sucked into the 3 R’s: Rank, Ratings, and Reviews.

1. Rank

All books published on Amazon have a ranking. The higher the number, the lower your book is, which means no one has bought your book in weeks or months. Don’t worry. I have been there. Most authors just starting out and with smaller fan bases have been there. It’s normal. Unless you’re a big-time author or have a big publishing house pushing your book, someone buying your book every hour of every day. And the rank changes hourly.

Watching rank numbers can be depressing. I know it is. Especially if you’re doing everything you can to get your name and book out there and your rank is only dropping.

So what do I recommend? Don’t stress about it. If you’re doing everything you can, then there’s nothing else you can do. Just remember: rankings fluctuate.
TIP #1: One thing you can do to raise your ranking? Put your eBook for sale. 99cents is best. Then promote it EVERYWHERE. Your rank will rise. But be warned that it usually drops again when the sale ends.
2. Ratings

We all want 5 stars for our books. None of us want 1 star. That’s just the way it goes. No one wants to hear that someone hated something they slaved over. We’d rather get praise. But not everyone is going to like our work. The quicker we learn that and realize that ratings are just one person’s opinion, the better we will be.

3. Reviews

Reviews are great...if they are favorable. If they are brutal, we want to hide and cry and eat a gallon of ice cream. But then again...even bad ones can bring sales. Many readers are actually intrigued by bad reviews and buy the book to see if they agree or not. That’s probably why so many people read 50 Shades of Grey. Or at least that’s my theory. Curiosity was the other driving force for the success of that book.
TIP #2: Remember what I said about ratings being one person’s opinion? The same goes for reviews. If you get a nasty one, just tell yourself that you didn’t write your book for that person. And that’s fine because we can’t make everyone happy.
Now if you solicit reviews from reviewers, you could get golden reviews from them or reviews with low ratings. The fact is a reviewer from a review blog/site may not be as interested in your book as a reader who buys your book would be. So solicit carefully.
TIP #3: Do your research to make sure the reviewer takes your genre, and check the reviews they’ve given recently to books similar to yours. This can give you an idea of how they might treat yours.

Want to get more reviews? Try Amazon’s Top Reviewers.

QUESTION: What do you do when your ranking is low? How do you deal with bad ratings and reviews?

November 18, 2015

15 Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas

There were many, many Christmases when I didn’t have money to get anyone gifts, so I’d make homemade gifts. Even if I had to buy something, I could use it for several people’s gifts. And I always started in October or November.

Many people may think homemade gifts suck, but they are actually better than gifts bought at stores because they mean more and can be cherished. Every year my mom crafts Christmas gifts for all of us (kids and grandkids) and we all love them.

NOTE: I know that not everyone is crafty and can do these things. This list might give you ideas of what you can do with your skills.

1. Write a flash fiction piece with a loved one as the main character, or a poem about your loved one. 

2. Make jewelry. (Bracelets, necklaces, earrings.)

A shell necklace I made for my sister 2 years ago.

3. Decorate a picture frame with anything. (Shells, dried flowers.)

4. Paint a ceramic or picture.

5. Paint and decorate a wooden jewelry box.

6. Make flavored olive oil.

7. Carpenters – make a birdhouse or bookcase.

8. Quilters/Knitters – quilts/afghans, pillowcases, place mats, dollies.

A quilt my mom made from my sister-in-law a few Christmases ago.

9. Potpourri/satchels

10. Candles

11. Perfume, bubble bath, lotion.

12. Collage – put pictures of you and your loved one in a frame.

13. Scrap book/photo album.

14. Desserts – cookies, pie, etc.

15. Cloth dolls (girl)

QUESTION: Have you ever given or received handmade gifts?


30 SECONDS is on SALE for 99¢!!! 

When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he's made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He's determined to protect her at all costs.

The Mob's death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart's life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she's dodging bullets, she's falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?


Sale ends Nov. 20th!

November 16, 2015

Writing About: Autumn

Autumn is my favorite season and I love writing about it. If you ever want to write about this time of the year, check out these pointers:

1. Change of Season

Leaves are changing pretty colors—oranges, red, and yellows. The weather is becoming chilly, the days are shorter. Don’t miss the opportunity to describe the colorful foliage and the crispness in the air as nothing says autumn more than the colors of nature and the feel of the temperature gradually lowering.

2. School

In the United States, kids go back to school in the autumn, so if your main character has children or works with kids (perhaps he/she is a teacher), this time will impact his/her home and work life.

3. Cool Temperatures

The heat of summer has passed (at least if your characters don’t live in Florida), and the temperature is dropping to a nice degree that could prompt your characters to open their windows. I know I take advantage of the nice autumn temperatures as often as I can in the Sunshine State.

4. Holidays

Halloween – Now is the tome to honor your passed loved ones, to decorate your house with spooky knick-knacks, and to pick out costumes with your kids to go trick-or-treating/ Your characters can do all of those things too.

Thanksgiving – Let your characters gather for a Thanksgiving feast at their parents’ or grandparents’ house. Food, football, laughter, and maybe a little family drama make this holiday what it is. Explore all of those things with your characters.

5. Football Season

In the U.S., autumn is the time for NFL. Maybe your hero and heroine bond while watching a game or they go on a date to see their favorite team play. These would be a fun scene to write.

6. Food/Drinks

Each season has its own menu. Here are some of the goodies associate with autumn:

Food – apples, pomegranates, squash, turkey, pumpkin pie/bread, cranberry sauce, carrot cake, gingerbread cookies.

Drinks – apple juice, spiced cider, spiced hot tea, pumpkin-flavored coffee.

7. Autumn Fun

There are many things your characters can do during this season such as:

Game hunting, hayrides, walk through haunted houses, apple picking, fairs/festivals, visit pumpkin patches, go on a ghost walk, trick-or-treat, go to a loved one’s grave, and Halloween parties.

Let your characters enjoy a couple of these to bring the season to life in your story.

8. Pumpkins

Pumpkins are the popular vegetable for autumn. They can be made into stew/soup, added to special pizza and ravioli, and used for countless desserts including my favorite pumpkin white chocolate chip cookies.

If one of your characters is a baker or chef, he/she can make many of these. And if your MC is a mom or dad, he/she can go to a pumpkin patch with their kids, carves pumpkins, and roast the seeds for a healthy snack.

9. Shorter Days

Daylight Savings happens in autumn when we turn back out clocks an hour. The days will grow shorter, which means it’ll get dark earlier. Darkness is always great to utilize in stories to add suspense and autumn can be an eerie season due to Halloween, you can use the dark in your story.

10. Clothing

Summer clothes will start to disappear and quarter sleeves, light cardigans/sweaters, a scarf, and darker colors (browns, purples) will start to appear in everyone’s wardrobe. Dress your character’s accordingly. And keep the setting in mind as slightly thicker layers will be needed further North than in the South.

Check out these posts for the other seasons:


QUESTIONS: What do you like most about autumn? What do you like least?

November 13, 2015

Author Interview with Patsy Collins / Firestarter

Today I have Patsy Collins as a guest for the release of her new book, FIRESTARTER. She’s dishing about her handsome hero and fireman-attracted heroine. Let’s get started!

Hi, Patsy! Please tell us about your current release.

Firestarter is a romantic comedy with a hot fireman and a few flames!

Blurb - Alice has a fantasy. It starts with being rescued by a hunky fireman, involves the kiss of life and ends in him not needing his uniform. At the New Forest Show, Alice is offered an innocent version of her dream. Reluctantly she turns down fireman Hamish's invitation.

Despite Alice's blameless behaviour, boyfriend Tony's obsessive jealousy kicks in. Hamish wants to take Tony's place, but a hoaxer ensures Alice already sees far too much of Hampshire Fire Service. The threat of an explosive sprout surprise, her mum's baking, sister Kate's mind boggling pep talks and the peculiar behaviour of Alice's boss Miles provide distractions.

Is Alice really in danger? What is Kate up to? Can Hamish possibly be as perfect as he seems? It takes Alice masses of wonderful food, disgusting wine, smelly mud, red footed crows and steamy Welsh passion, but she finds the answers. And rethinks her fantasy.

Title: Firestarter
Author: Patsy Collins
Genre: Romantic comedy
Release Date: 5th November 2015


1. How did you pick the title for your book?

At first, Firestarter was just the working title to save the document but the more I wrote the more saw how appropriate it was. There's the firemen aspect and the challenges they face, there are passions which set hearts ablaze, a cosy fire in a cute Welsh cottage (and the action heats up there too!) and ... there's stuff I can't mention for fear of spoiling the plot!

2. Why did you choose the setting for Firestarter?

It's mostly set fairly close to my home or in places we visit fairly often in our campervan. The van acts as my mobile office and allows me to do a lot of my writing 'on location'. The locations actually influenced the plot line in places - especially when it comes to scenes featuring wildlife. (Some of the characters volunteer in a wildlife sanctuary.)

3. I wish I had a mobile office! Did you do special research for Firestarter?

Yes, as well as learning a lot about birds and seals I also had to research firemen - it's a tough job being a writer! The local fire service were very helpful, as was my friend Suzy Jones whose son is a fireman. She gave me useful insights into their camaraderie and life off-duty.

I also had to eat vast amounts of yummy food, particularly cakes. 

4. Who doesn't like to eat cake? What would women find irresistible about Hamish?

Not much ... unless they happen to like men in uniform, or to be fond of broad shoulders and muscular thighs. I suppose his sun-bleached blond curls could be considered attractive and his grey-green eyes and cheeky grin definitely are. So is his sense of humour, loyalty to his friends and caring nature. Oh and he's nice to animals, can cook and gives a really thorough massage.

I may have developed the very slightest crush.

Patsy in her campervan office.

5. I think all female writers fall for their heroes. ;) What would we find in Alice's purse if we went snooping?

Chocolate, lipstick, mobile phone (cell phone), cash, chocolate, keys, family photos and chocolate.

6. Are any of your characters based on real people?

 I'm going to say 'no'. I think that would be wisest.

7. What is Alice's biggest weakness?

Firemen! She'd say that's not true, but the poor girl is in denial. She's also very fond of chocolate, cake and clothes.

8. Firemen are mine too. :P Is Hamish a bad boy or a gentleman?

A gentleman - and a hero. Not that I'm biased or anything.

9. Neither am I. Haha! What are a few things we would find in or on your desk?

Dictionary, musket ball, glass goat, model Scotty dog, scrap paper, notebooks, pens, cup of tea, cake.

10. Your advice to new writers.

Write what interests you. Create stories you'd like to read yourself, about characters you want to spend time with. It takes a long time to write a book and you want to enjoy the process. 


Patsy Collins lives and writes on the south coast of England. She's the author of hundreds of published short stories and four novels. When she's not writing she likes gardening, photography and cake eating. She shares her home with her husband and head with her characters. 


Thank you for hanging with me, Patsy! I enjoyed getting to know your fireman. ;)

Please leave a comment for Patsy. :)

November 11, 2015

Unicorn Hunt / Realms Faire

Unicorn Hunt hosted by L. Diane Wolfe

You are charged with tracking down the unicorns!

Every day the week of November 9-13, a new blogger will host a photo. (See Diane’s site for list of bloggers and prizes.) You will have to find the unicorns in the image, much like the famous “Where’s Waldo?” Leave a comment stating how many unicorns you find in that image. The most correct guesses out of five, wins. Grand prize include gift cards and books.

Five images - many unicorns - only one winner!

Grand prize: 

Ebooks - 

Hot Pink in the City by Medeia Sharif
30 Seconds by Chrys Fey
One Good Catch by Heather Gardner
A Lizard’s Tail by Bish Denham
The Circle of Friends Series by L. Diane Wolfe

And -
$20.00 Amazon or ITunes gift card

How many unicorns do you see?

Happy Hunting!

For more fun and games:

I'm a wench!!! :D

November 09, 2015

Write Your Next Book

What should you do after you finish editing your first manuscript?

What should you do after you send it out to agent after agent, editor after editor, and wait for good news?

What should you do after your book is accepted and you’re waiting for it to come out?


Write your next book.

Don’t waste this valuable time.


While waiting for Hurricane Crimes to come out, I sent 30 Seconds to my editor (I was lucky to have this one finished) and started working on my next book.

Writers don’t take vacations.

After I finished writing the last book in my unpublished series, I told myself I was going to take a vacation from writing for a while. Did that happen? NOPE! I immediately started planning and researching my next piece (which is on the backburner), as well as editing all of my short stories. I just couldn’t turn off my writing switch. I think that’s normal for most writers. We are obsessed with writing, even when we aren't writing. Some would call it a curse, but I believe it is a blessing. :)

So what are you waiting for?


Write your next story.

Even if you change focus from one story to another, don’t stop.


QUESTION: What are you working on right now?

November 06, 2015

Blogger Interview with Pat Hatt

I hope the cat doesn't mind this quick promo...

30 SECONDS is on SALE for 99¢!!! 

When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he's made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He's determined to protect her at all costs.

The Mob's death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart's life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she's dodging bullets, she's falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?


Sale ends Nov. 20th!


I’ve got a treat for you today
that no one can beat at their bay
Welcome, Pat Hatt!
It’s the rhyming man with a cat.
He’s come here to chat
about his blog, he sure has.
Sit back and relax
Or else the cat will spaz.

1. Hi, Pat! Please tell us about your blog.

It's Rhyme Time is pretty much what you would expect, everything rhymes. I go off on anything and everything. Sometimes it's just life happenings. Other times it is just random things. Then others I'll rant. I usually make it fun though, at least I hope so, poking fun at everything. I don't think there has been a topic I have shied away from yet. One word can spur a whole new post.

I started it back on Jan. 30, 2011. It was a means to advertise mainly and I was plainly ripping off the cat in the hat at the time. Due to the antics of my cat I figured I would use that. Then slowly it took a life of its own and Orlin had his own persona on the blog dubbed, obviously, the cat.

Where as many started to get an audience for their book, I started to just see what could be done while fitting in the odd link. The books stemmed from the blog and not the blog from the books.

2. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the Cat, can you explain this catty creature?

The cat is the persona I took on and it stuck. It sets me apart from others in my own unique way. I've had some think it was a cat blog, others think it was a poetry blog and many just think I'm nuts, but most come back because the cat has to have his say. And I seem to be able to get away with any and all topics because of the cat.

3. The cat is a little batty. What was your very first blog post?

The First Is Always The Worst But I'll Quench Your Thirst - it was rather meh and totally random as can be.

4. Why did you start rhyming?

I just knew I needed something different and for some reason a rhyming cat sounded fun. So away I went and I have rhymed every post since. I'm not sure I'd call it a career though. Don't you need to get paid for it to be a career? So my blog and nearly 100 published works (shameless plug) were all because of a Savannah cat that acts like a dog, loves to pull armpit hair and can open the front door. He sure opened a few doors for me.

5. What are the top 5 most-viewed posts on your blog?

Besides the first one I haven't the foggiest why they are my top five.

6. Do you ever get tired of rhyming?

Nah. I can shut it off and on with ease. Besides, I've got ten non-rhyming novels written. So I get plenty of non rhyme writing in as well.

7. Share your number one tip to bloggers just starting out.

Enjoy and explore the blog community. If you don't interact your blog will never make an impact.

Hyper Round:

1. Favorite time to post blogs? 7:00 am
2. Blogger or Wordpress? Blogger
3. Do you host guests? Have indeed at my feed
4. Where are you when you’re blogging? Arse pillow on the couch


Pat Hatt can be found in the East Coast of Canada. He hates writing these things but doesn’t mind talking in the third person. He dabbles in a little of this and a little of that, not afraid to attempt something new.

He is owned by two cats, one of whom has his own blog, It’s Rhyme Time. Yeah a rhyming cat, who knew? He would be considered a both person when it comes to cats and dogs.

He is also quite the movie and TV buff. As you can probably tell does not take himself seriously and has more stuff in his head than is needed. Thus the novels, short stories, adult books and kids books as just one more form of release.


Thank you, Pat, for entertaining us.
We all appreciate your fuss.
Please leave a comment for the cat.
If you don’t, you’ll end up as a mat,
for his litter box, you know.
So you better plug your nose.

(I tried to channel the cat, I hope I didn't splat.) :P