Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quotes (and more) for Writers

I love quotes by (and for) writers. Before I bought a laptop, post-it notes with wise words from writer friends decorated my desktop computer. We can learn from them, if we will. We can call on them for encouragement or we can use them as wise counsel. Here are a few interesting quotes for you.

You pay your dues—which takes years. ~Alex Haley

No one knows exactly HOW long but I can tell you with some certainty that it depends on how much you're writing. If you write every day, you'll learn faster; if you're sending your material to publishers, you'll pay your dues a little faster than someone who writes and mails out when the mood hits.

The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea. ~Thomas Mann

An idea isn't a plot and usually doesn't hit us as a full-blown book. I get more ideas than I know what to do with; the hard part is creating a story with a beginning, a middle and an end from that skimpy little idea.

The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense. ~Tom Clancy

Unfortunately, this is too true.

No, it's not a very good story—its author was too busy listening to other voices to listen as closely as he should have to the one coming from inside. ~ Stephen King

This is a wonderful quote by Stephen King and one we should all remember. Who's voice do you hear in your head? Who's screaming at you to watch what you say and how you say it, and telling you that you can't do that? Who are you trying to please?

Nothing leads so straight to futility as literary ambitions without systematic knowledge. ~H.G. Wells

Do we know the correct way to write a novel, short story, poetry? Is that what Wells means by systematic knowledge? Have we educated ourselves in the genre of our choice and about the publishers to whom we wish to submit? There are a hundred different ways we need to educate ourselves in this publishing world.

You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like. ~Phyllis A. Whitney

In a nutshell, learn the rules before you break them, and get used to being pummeled with rejections because that's part of the learning process.

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath

Amen and Amen.

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

Good advice but I might love what you will skip and vice versa so what do we learn from this? Anything goes: write from your heart.

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

Go for it but realize that it might not find a publishing home--ever. How do you feel about writing two, five, eight books and never selling any of them? Is your love for storytelling so strong and fierce that you don't care whether you sell anything or not? Good! Come share whatever drives you with the rest of us.

BWG is where we find encouragement and fellowship. BWG is our support group. The speakers we bring in, the fellowship we experience once a month or in our weekly critique groups, gives us what we need to continue this path we've chosen.

If you haven't submitted something to the newsletter, please do. You may have words of encouragement someone in our group needs to read.
If you haven't submitted a blog post, please do. Your experiences and thoughts might help someone climb out of their writer's block.
Have you paid your dues? Please do. Someone in BWG might look forward to visiting with you each meeting.

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Solomon, Proverbs 11:14

Bayou Writers' Group is a writer's safe place.

Jessica Roach Ferguson is a novelist, writing instructor, and editor/co-owner of Swamp Lily Review, a journal of Louisiana literature and arts. Because of her husband’s work, she bounces back and forth across the Texas-Louisiana line with one fun jaunt to Scotland. She blogs at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tax Deductions for Writers by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Variations of this article have appeared in print and e-publications including but not limited to SpiritLed Writer Ezine, Longridge Writers Group Website, and Romancing the Skyz print magazine.

Writing is more than creating the ‘great American novel’; writing is a Business and a business requires record keeping and tax preparation. Many have already begun gathering information and getting things in order. Most will wait until the last minute then be in a panic. Don’t be one of them, be PREPARED!

IRS rules state that you can claim a loss for business expenses even if you’re unpublished as long as you can “prove you are actively pursuing a career in writing” and as long as the expenses are considered “necessary business expenses.”

Most writers will use a Schedule C or Profit and Loss statement to file their business tax. This form is found in your 1040 forms and instructions book or from your local IRS office. You can file a 1040 form with a Schedule C and still take standard deductions in lieu of itemizing. Use your social security number and your name unless writing under a pseudonym then it’s your name DBA (your pseudonym). The “Principal Business or Professional Activity Code” (711510) is listed in your 1040 book under the Performing Arts section.

How do you prove you’re “actively pursuing a career in writing” and what are “necessary business expenses”? Here are a few examples:

1). Send letters to agents, editors, publishers. Postage is deductible as well as return postage on your SASE. Do this via email? Print out a copy of your email query and their response.

2). Office supplies (paper, ink, envelopes, business cards, etc.) are valid expenditures. If you have an office set up in your home you may be able to claim a portion of your rent or house note and utility bills for the use of this room. Also, long distance phone calls that are writing related are deductible as well as Internet service fees if you’re using the Internet to develop your craft and/or promote yourself and your work.

3). Membership dues, conference fees, hotel expenses, gas mileage and meals are all deductible expenses even for unpublished writers.

5). Fees related to the creation, development and maintenance of your website are tax deductible.

6). Professional fees and services (CPA, Tax Consultant, professional evaluation or critique, attorney fees, etc)

How do you keep track of all those expenses?
Spreadsheets and receipts. Keep receipts in a standard manila envelope or organized by category in a pocket sized file folder. Spreadsheets are easy to set up and easy to maintain. Most programs like Windows come with a standard spreadsheet application. One column (or page) for Income and one for Expenses. What about all those formulas? Simple. Most spreadsheets have an Auto Sum ( feature for the addition of a column or you can manually do this by using the formula =sum(cell+cell) or =sum(cell:cell) for a range of cells. Need to subtract, divide or multiply? Formula would be: =Sum(cell*cell) to multiply; =sum(cell/cell) to divide; and =sum(cell-cell) to subtract.

Additional items that can be written off as expenses for published writers.

1). Promotional expenses (brochures, flyers, press kits, press releases, etc.)

2). Books donated to libraries or given away for promotional purposes may be deducted at retail value.

3). Books bought for research.

4). Dry-cleaning those nice clothes you wear for speaking engagements, book signings or other author appearances.

5). Postage and/or shipping fees for books sent to wholesalers, retailers, readers, reviewers, etc.

6). Agent fees and commissions.

7). Set up costs, cover art, and the charge for producing (or buying) your self or E-published books. Occupational or Resale License fees are also deductible.

Remember, if it falls under “Necessary Business Expense” it is deductible!

Worried about being audited? Don’t. Be careful and be honest.

One more note; IRS suggests that you keep all tax records for a minimum of seven but up to ten years. Remember, tax laws change yearly. For more information visit the IRS website @ or call them toll free at: 800-829-3676 and request publications such as # 334 (Tax Guide for Small Businesses and Individuals who use Schedule C or C-EZ), #535 (Business Expense –this guide tells you what you can and CANNOT deduct), and #552 (Record keeping for Individuals).

For more information on deductions available to you, check out: Tax Tips for Freelance Writers, Photographers and Artists by Julian Block. Julian Block is a nationally recognized attorney who has been singled out by the New York Times as a "leading tax professional" and by the Wall Street Journal as "an accomplished writer on taxes." E-mail him at or telephone (914) 834 3227. His address is 3 Washington Square, #1-G, Larchmont, NY 10538 2032.

Pamela S. Thibodeaux has been a bookkeeper for over twenty years. She is the co-founder and a member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She is the author of the 4-part ‘Tempered’ series from ComStar Media. In addition to the series, her single title novel, The Inheritance and 4 short stories are available from White Rose Publishing. Pam’s writing has been tagged as “Inspirational with an Edge!” and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” All full-length novels are available in print from or through Pam’s website. All titles available in Ebook also from All Romance Ebooks.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Love of Reading - Nature or Nurture?

I recently read a dedication in a book that said, “For my mother, who took me to the library.” What a lovely sentiment, attributing his success as an author to his mother. Then I thought of my own mother and my own upbringing. I love my mom dearly; I can’t imagine a better mother. But I have no memories of her taking me to the library. I don’t recall with fondness sitting on her lap as a youngster listening to her read to me. And yet, I grew up loving books, reading, writing. Where did I get this, if not from the way I was raised? I have to assume I was born with a love for words.

I have several childhood memories related to books and reading. I recall in elementary school, one of my favorite things was when the teacher passed out the Scholastic book order forms. Mom would always allow me to buy one or two books. I would pore over the selections, fill out the form, checking the books I wanted. Then I couldn’t wait till they arrived at the school; the teacher would pass them out, I’d carry them home on the bus, run home and to my room and delve in.

I read everything with printed words. I remember reading every word on the cereal box as I ate breakfast. I read Highlights For Children in the dentist office. I read my Grandpa Drummer’s Field and Stream magazine. Billboards, street signs, the instructions on the forced air hand dryers in public restrooms . . .

And there was my fifth grade teacher, who liked a story I’d written and read it aloud in class. I credit that moment as the first time I knew I wanted to be a writer, even though I didn’t pursue that dream till 30 years later.

In the church we attended when I was a kid, there was a closet of a library with a scant few shelves of books. But every Sunday after the service, I’d find myself there, perusing the titles, and always found something I thought might interest me. Before I even knew how to read, when I was in kindergarten and just learning, in order to occupy myself in the pew during the service, I’d circle all the words I recognized in the church bulletin.

I don’t remember receiving many books from my parents as gifts – oh, surely I did, they knew I loved to read – but I absolutely remember the Christmas they gave me my first Bible; a King James Version, red faux leather cover, tiny print on thin fragile paper. My own Bible! I loved it. I still have it.

And then there was my great-grandfather Umble. He had been a country school teacher, and in his small country cottage, he had a library. I was fascinated with this room, a long narrow rectangle, one wall lined with shelves of books, and his small desk at the far end in front of a window. Great-grandpa knew I loved to read, and despite the fact that he surely had several dozen great-grandchildren, he gave me a few books over the years. Of course, I still have them.

What creates an avid reader/writer? I believe it can be nurture. I started reading to my own sons before they were even born. When they were babies and toddlers, story times were always the highlight of our days. And now as teenagers, they are both voracious readers. But it must also be nature. If someone is born with a love of reading, they will find their way to books.

Angie Kay Dilmore is a freelance writer originally from Pittsburgh Pa., and has lived the past several years in southwest Louisiana. She writes for the children’s magazine market and contributes regularly to Boys’ Life. Angie reviews books for The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog, a literary website featuring publishing industry news, essays, reviews and commentary. She also writes picture books, poetry, and is working on a middle grade historical fiction. You can find Angie blogging at The Trials and Triumphs of a Transplant.