Monday, April 14, 2014

Tax Day Confessions

Once again, I managed to file my taxes before April 15th. Barely! They went electronically last night.  Yay! The feds and state confirmed acceptance of the electronic filings today. Yay!

I actually don't mind paying taxes. I don't always agree with everything the taxes are used for. But then I accept that we live in a democracy and I am not the center of the universe. (At least most of the time I accept that) I do believe that I and my community receives lots of benefit from taxes, and I am willing to pay something to help those who are less fortunate than me.

Though I am fairly happy to pay taxs, I hate doing my tax return. Though I've been doing my own returns for 40 years, it seems to get harder instead of easier. I suspect it's a combination of life being more complicated and me not being able to remember as much any more. All the nuances of the latest way to do deductions become mind-boggling. And it changes every year. It's at this time of year I always wonder whatever happened to the flat tax movement? Forget all the paperwork, just have everyone pay a flat percentage and be done with it.

Before I became a full-time writer, I always filed early in February to beat the rush.  That's because I always knew what my tax liability would be and I planned my withholding with the knowledge of that. I usually didn't pay or get a refund unless something major happened like losing a job or getting a bonus.

However, since becoming a full-time writer in early 2013, I've had no clue what to expect. Yes, I have a business plan with plenty of assumptions about income and expenses, but they were only assumptions and, though the expenses were true, the income was not. Add in insurance payments, retirement savings withdrawals, and a host of other stuff that is confusing to deal with and I admit that somewhere around September I went into overload and that always results in forget-about-it- I-don't-want-to-know mode.

That's when magical thinking replaces responsible watchfulness. My magical thinking says: "If you ignore it somehow, miraculously, everything will turn out okay." I didn't really expect that elves would show up in the middle of the night and make everything okay. I do write about magic, but I'm not good enough to wield it on tax day. Consequently, this type of thinking allowed me to stop doing my bookkeeping for the last three months of the year.

Of course, when the new year came around and I started receiving all those 1099-misc reports, I knew the elves had not shown up and I'd have to go back and catch up on the bookkeeping. I told myself that in February...and in March...and at the beginning of April. Instead of dealing with it like I should have, I put it off. Fear mostly. Fear of having to pay some extraordinary amount I didn't have.

Last week I faced up to my responsibility. The Keep Calm picture above was pasted to my computer screen. I took an entire week to reconstruct the last three months of 2013. And I gave up 3 more days of writing to work on the tax return and all of those lovely forms. Fortunately, Turbo Tax makes it a little easier. But still that was a full 10 days I could have been writing.

The end result wasn't nearly as bad as I feared. The guilt for falling behind in my bookkeeping was a lot worse. Getting behind in my word count was enough to make me consider self-flaggelation. So, I'm on the straight and narrow again. Dedicating an hour each day to bookkeeping. I'm also considering hiring an accountant for the 2014 tax year. That will probably keep me on task too. While I'm great at rationalizing, or ignoring, my commitment to myself, I rarely try providing the same irrational thinking to someone else. :)

So, if there is anyone who is still wrestling with their return, you have one more day to deal with it or file an extension. Take my word for it, magical thinking does not get it done.

Keep Calm and Have a Happy Tax Day.

Ohm.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fun Video From Rapid Fire Reading

Had a great time at the Rapid Fire Reading Event sponsored by NIWA and the Another Read Through Bookstore in north Portland.  Below is a video of me reading from Healing Notes, followed by author, Athena, reading from A Murder of Crows.  You can check out additional videos from the event as linked below this one. Enjoy!

Maggie Jaimeson and Athena


Ripley Patton

Tonya Macalino

Pam Bainbridge-Cowan (along with Q&A with all authors)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rapid Fire Readings - Need Some Romance and Women's Fiction Peeps!!



For people who love reading AND supporting an amazing local bookstore, this is THE afternoon event of the weekend to attend. Saturday, March 29th from 1:30-3:00 at ANOTHER READ THROUGH Bookstore in North Portland.  The store owner, Elisa, moved to Mississippi Avenue early this year and has expanded her selection and the events she sponsors. We want to help celebrate having a wonderful store in North Portland. 

Along with the readings, there will also be a SIGNED BOOK RAFFLE and a Q&A SESSION with all the authors. If you live anywhere near Portland, please take time to stop by.

Also, if you are a local author, come introduce yourself to Elisa, the owner of Another Read Through, and to NIWA. If this goes well, Elisa and NIWA are considering making this a quarterly event. Ripley is coordinating it and would love to talk with you about how you and your book(s) could be featured in the future. 

WHAT HAPPENS?

The reading features five authors from five different genres. Each of us read for only five minutes. After everyone has read there will be a Q&A session with all the authors. I can personally vouch for every one of these books. They are well-written, exciting, page-turners that may even make you think.  Of course, there is also a giveaway--a SIGNED BOOK RAFFLE.

Take a look at the five genre offerings below. There is bound to be something new you want to check out.

YOUNG ADULT PARANORMAL

Ripley Patton will be reading from her very popular Young Adult Paranormal series, The PSS Chronicles. I have to tell you, these books are AMAZING! The whole idea of a mutation/disease called PSS is brilliant. You really want to learn more about this book and this author.



TRULY SCARY THRILLERS

Pam Cowan, author of Something in the Dark and the new Storm Justice series will be there. If you like James Patterson or Lisa Gardner you will like these books. These are gritty, scary, psychological page turners.



CYBERPUNK FOR MODERN TIMES

Tonya Macalino will be reading from Faces in the Water, the first book in her Shades of Venice series. This is not your 1980's cyberpunk. It is brought forward with that blending of dream and reality, senses and perception at its core. It blew my mind and will definitely appeal to some of the SF fans out there.


 

PURE FANTASY

If you prefer PURE FANTASY, come meet Athena, author of Murder of Crows. This is the first in a series.  I believe Publisher's Weekly captured the story best. "Murder of Crows is a fantasy flush with romance, intrigue and desperate choices."  It is those desperate choices that kept me turning pages.





WOMEN'S CONTEMPORARY FICTION

You probably noticed a bit of a theme above with all the titles dealing in the paranormal in some way. I'm definitely reading from a completely different genre--one that is in the hear and now. My Sweetwater Canyon series crosses the boundaries between Women's Fiction and Contemporary Romance. Kristen Hannah helped me tag it with "Romantic Women's Fiction" about five years ago, when I was describing the series to her.

I'll be reading from my second book in the Sweetwater Canyon series,  Healing Notes. This book looks at the topic of rape--how both victims and those close to them look at it and deal with it, how the legal system comes into play when prosecuting rape, and how there is no one playbook for how to manage relationships moving forward. Though the story is couched within a growing romantic relationship.