Sunday, March 20, 2011

Business Expenses for Writers by Brigitte Thompson

It's tax season which, for most people, is about as welcome as a migraine. With some planning and organization, filing your tax return can become less painful.

I've compiled a list of common business expenses for writers. Of course, this does not include every possible deduction, but it offers suggestions that will help you reduce your taxable income.

The article is an excerpt from my book, Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers.

Expenses Related to the Business of Writing

Psychologist Gael McCarte - The Con

As a psychologist Gael McCarte worked with offenders in Perth, Western Australia. She has fictionalized this experience in her book, The Con. She gives readers a ring side seat into Aussie life, working with criminals, raising kids in Australian elite private schools.

Gael is a Marriage and Family Therapist, forensic psychologist and seminar speaker who is often complimented on her unique story telling abilities, and her Celtic sense of humor.

Thank you for joining us at Writers in Business. With the combination of psychology and crime, your book sounds intriguing. I understand you have fictionalized your work with offenders, but what inspired you to bring this information out as a book?

I had 3 inspiration sources.

My first inspiration was Sandra Fleury. I mention her in the acknowledgements. Sandra's position was to convince churches, business owners and government agencies to give criminals with power tools access to their buildings to make necessary repairs. This 'community service' was part of their sentencing. She was petite to tiny. The vision of restoring the Dufken, a boat used by the first settlers who came to Australia, gripped her. She took it on as a project. Huge, gruff offenders complained, they were hot, they did not like the cramped hull, they did not want to sand. This tiny woman answered, "too bad, too sad, you owe a debt to society, and smile, this is how you get to repay it". That wooden ship rebuild was amazing. And the offenders gained valuable skills, staying at a job they did not necessarily like, being one of them.

I saw an opportunity. Former inmates could utilize their talent in the real world upon their release from prison. Sandra helped me institute the Justice Through Art program to do that. Prisons had an excellent art teacher, Jeff. He actually went into the prisons and assisted inmates to develop their art. He was willing to continue the classes once the inmates were released. Using the same artistic methods, products and style he provided a seamless transition venue from prison to the real world.

My second inspiration was that I left the department before I could add the prison tattoo element to the art. It was an itch I could not scratch. It had to be done. I did it in the book. I would very much like to do it in reality here. Prison art is sought after. The current overwhelming popularity of tattoos has catapulted them into the mainstream. From a business perspective, prison tattoo designs could be a wealth creator, among other things, for their designers. If prisons caught the vision it could not only be cost neutral but end the offending cycle thereby negating the cost of re-incarceration. Sheriff Joe, are you listening?

The third inspiration was the offenders themselves, some of whom were the most amazing people I have ever met. I have fictionalized them but the essence of their tragedies, life stories and even successes are in the book.

Did these experiences have an impact on you personally?

I could not work with this population and not have it affect me. As I portray in my book with Anna, a psychologist, it changes your language, your attitude, your world outlook and increases your cynicism and fear for your children's safety. It bleeds into every part of your life, and personal experience. The stories are the same, young parents, absent father, violence, neglect, trauma, leaving school early, crashing from one tragedy to another finally coming to rest in the arms of the law. A tsunami of broken and abused lives crashes down on you day after day.

What two promotional ideas have you used to market your book?

I advertise the book through my blogs, and Facebook. I write for an e-zine to increase my online presence. I advertise it on different Facebook sites such as Women on Writing, and through my writer's group. I am a long time 'inhabitant' of a political chat room. It is amazing how many others in the chat room are interested or employed working with offenders. I am shameless about promoting the book there as I believe in it. It has cultural and psychological integrity and is fun. I have been offered a radio interview which I am arranging now and a book signing. I will continue to write, interview and promote the book through seminars.

To learn more about Gael's work and purchase her book, The Con, please visit her online at BlogHer. You can also find her on Facebook.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Joelle Charbonneau's Skating Around the Law

During the 1980s, I spent most Saturday nights at a roller skating rink with my friends. We had many fun adventures, but nothing comes close to the stories created by Joelle Charbonneau in her books; Skating Around The Law and Skating Over The Line.

Joelle, thank you for joining us. I'm curious, what was your inspiration for the setting of your two books?

The inspiration for the roller rink setting came from my mother, Jaci Charbonneau. She was an artistic roller skater who appeared on ABC's Wide World of Sports and was even pictured in the World Book Encyclopedia under "Roller Skating. I also played the role of Annie on skates when I was a child.

I enjoyed reading about your November event, Fleetwood Roller Skating Reunion and Book signing. What other creative plans are in the works for promoting your books?

The skating events have been a lot of fun. My release party was held at the Orbit Skating rink during an artistic skating reunion. We then had the November event at Fleetwood, which my husband wasn't as wild about - he fell and broke his arm. I don't know if he'll skate at the next release party, but I'm going to try to get him back on the rink.

Also, in November I was honored to have every member of the USA Artistic Roller Skating team travel to the world championships in Portugal with a copy of my book in their hand. This summer I believe I will be at the 2011 National Artistic Roller Skating Championship in Indiana to watch the skating and sign books. I'll also be starting to do appearances at Roller Derby meets and working with the local roller derby teams to promote the next book, Skating Over the Line, which will come out on Sept. 27th.

Skating Over The Line features the first appearance of the Indian Falls roller derby team and in book three they are central to the main storyline. Derby ladies are lots of fun and I can't wait to see what promotions we can come up with together.

Do you belong to any professional writing organizations? How do you benefit from membership?

The best thing I ever did for my writing career was joining a professional writing organization. The first one I joined was at the recommendation of the only published author I knew - who also happened to be a NY Times Best Seller. She told me to join Romance Writers of America and more important she told me to join my local chapter. I did both. The national organization is a great source of information about the business. They helped me be more professional in the way I approached querying agents and editors.

The local chapter was instrumental in my improving my writing. Every meeting a member (or 2) reads 20 pages of their manuscript aloud which is then critiqued by the attending members. I learn just as much when I listen to critiques of other writers' work as I do when I myself have work critiqued. I don't write romance, but the organization is happy to embrace all genres. Thank goodness for me!

I also belong to Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. They all are wonderfully supportive and provide information that always helps me keep informed about the industry. Like it or not, writing isn't just a creative endeavor. It is a business and the best way to not feel overwhelmed by the business is to learn about it. And wow, what a fascinating business it is!

What are you working on now?

I will be launching a new series next year with Berkley Prime Crime. The first book is titled Murder For Choir and is about a classical singer who turns to teaching high school show choir to make ends meet. During the end of summer regional show choir camp, she discovers a rival director strangled with a microphone cord and one of her students comes under suspicion for the murder.

I'm also blogging at Do Some Damage where I'm joined by other authors who write Crime Fiction - with a capital C. Dark noir, lots of drugs and grisly deaths are in their books. I write crime fiction with a little bitty c. My books are funny mysteries. Yes, there are dead bodies, but there are is a hat wearing ex-circus camel and a randy grandfather.

You can learn more about Joelle's writing by visiting her online at

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Raven and Lain Bower Share their Supernatural World

Raven and Lain Bower are a wife and husband team of writers living in Michigan. They are avid role-players and love to design mythical and diabolical creatures, characters and fantastic worlds together. They are co-creators of Farath, a new epic fantasy world in the works.

Raven's first book, Apparitions, is a ghostly supernatural suspense story now available in paperback and as an ebook. Lain and Raven also wrote the screenplay for The Nano Effect, a dark futuristic suspense movie that is currently under production at Mad Lab Films.

What an exciting genre! Can you tell us about the next books in this series?

Yes, the next book is Wendigo. My editor, Terri, at Under The Moon contracted both Wendigo and the third book in the Apparitions series, Rags Beneath. I was really happy about this and I love working with her.

Are you planning a print book or ebook only for this title?
Both Wendigo and Rags Beneath will be released in ebook first and shortly thereafter in paperback. I'm not sure I'd be fond of the idea of hardcovers again. They're really expensive for readers to buy and as a reader myself, publishers putting out hardcovers before the more affordable paperbacks bugs me. As an author, hardcovers are definitely a harder sell, no pun intended!

The world of ebooks is certainly evolving. When you receive royalty payments from your publisher, how do your ebook sales compare to print sales?
My publisher is very organized this way so we get details on all of it. Sales wise print usually beats out the ebook sales, but I've noticed as time passes more people are purchasing the ebooks.

Congratulations on the screenplay for The Nano Effect being turned into a film. That's exciting news! When will it be released?
Thanks! It's being released by Mad Lab Films. The release date is uncertain but my husband Lain, who co-authored the script, and I are meeting with the director,Michael Baker, this spring to discuss some revisions to the script. So far he's leaning towards filming in 2011.

Have you been involved in any of the set design or casting?
Yes and it's quite an adventure. I'd have to warn, not all directors allow the writer much say in anything, but Michael is awesome that way and really likes to follow the vision.

Was it challenging to write a screenplay versus a novel?
I've written two screenplays so far and both were easier than novels. By far, actually. Storytelling wise they both follow the same general rules but a screenplay runs roughly 80-125 pages whereas a novel in my genres run upwards of 300-500 pages in manuscript form.

I understand you are the co-founder of the WLE, creators of the fantasy realm of Farath. Sounds intriguing. Can you tell us more about it?
Sure. WLE stands for White Lotus Entertainment. Lain and I co-own the company and it's our fondest (and most ambitious) dream to bring the best entertainment in books, games and eventually film to those who love our genres.

Farath is a fantasy world specifically built not only for a vivid and deep reading experience via the books, but also to eventually be a world rife with adventure for gamers and role-players. To this end, we often work with other creative minds and would like nothing better than to be able to hire people and enable them to follow their dreams with us. We haven't reached that point yet, but we're on the way.

How can we find out more about your writing?
You can visit me online at and at my blog.