Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Joy Of Learning

The Joy of Learning

"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught."
                                                                                                 - Winston Churchill

Yes, I did just use the words joy and learning in the same sentence!

 I’ve always loved learning though I have to admit school was a disappointment. Maybe it's because I like to work at my own pace, but I always found the traditional classroom setting uninspiring, which is why the quote above resonates with me. 

Unfortunately, for many the idea of learning is associated with school and books and, once school is finished, abandoned unless absolutely necessary. Studies show that 33% of people will give up reading once they leave high school, a statistic which, as an avid reader, I find difficult to understand. Why would anyone who can read not want to?

Whether it is for enlightenment or escape, reading is such a powerful tool. But each to their own and reading is just one way to learn. Nowadays technology provides us with a whole host of visual aids to help educate us and with certain activities, especially those requiring physical skills, training and experience is the only way to go. But how many people are willing to even attempt new activities?

I have an insatiable curiosity which perhaps drives my love to learn—or is it the other way around? Still, I’d be the first to admit that I haven’t studied anywhere near all that I would like to. However becoming a writer has certainly encouraged me to widen the range of topics I’ve delved into, including many that I would previously never have imagined needing to know.

 I’ve taken courses in forensics and criminal law, attended a writer’s police academy (no boring lectures here, but hands-on, fascinating sessions) and learned to self-edit, how to format books and how to use Adobe Design.

Learning does takes time and dedication, time that could be spent relaxing, watching television or socializing. We are all busy. We all need time to rest. And it’s easy to think that if you know enough to get you through day-to-day life, why bother making the effort to do anything else? But one thing for sure, if you never try anything new, you’ll forgo the enjoyment of discovering new passions!

What about you? Do you consider learning a joy or a chore? 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fifteen Tax Deductions for Writers to Consider

 “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.”
                                                                                                                          - Mark Twain

The holidays are over - it’s time to get back to work and, unfortunately for many of us, to confront the annual ritual of tax returns.

Yes, in the US you have until April 15th to file the final version, but remember that if you are making a profit on your writing you may be required to make quarterly estimated tax payments and the next one is due January 15th.  

Not sure what costs you can deduct from all those book sale royalties you have collected? Everyone’s situation is different of course, and laws vary from country to country, but here’s a reminder of some of the possible costs that you may have incurred:

  1. Editing and proof-reading services.
  2. Cover design.
  3. Set-up costs – ISBN fees, copyright registration, distribution charges.
  4. Cost of author copies for direct sales (print) or reviews and promotional purposes (both print & eBooks if gifted).
  5. Stationery – paper, ink, even pens & pencils (if like me you write your drafts by hand).
  6. Promotional costs – business cards, postcards, bookmarks, flyers, banners.
  7. Web-site costs – set-up and maintenance.
  8. Advertising costs– either online or in print.
  9. Travel for research and promotion.
  10. Conference costs including travel and accommodation.
  11. Reference books.
  12. Mailing costs for review copies, giveaways etc.
  13. Subscriptions to relevant organizations.  
  14. Software costs.
  15. Admin/PR assistant (if you are lucky enough to have one!). 

And don’t forget, if you feel overwhelmed by the idea of taxes and want to hand it all over to a tax-preparer, you can deduct their fees too!

This article is for general information only and is not intended as tax advice. Please consult your accountant/tax preparer for specific advice on your own circumstances to ensure adherence to local income tax laws.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Where Did The Time Go?

Time flies when you're having fun - so the saying goes - which means I must have been having lots of fun the last few weeks because I've just realized it is well over a month since I last put up a new post. 

Where did the time go? Mostly on finishing the last few chapters of my latest novel which is tentatively titled Motive for Revenge and is a sequel to Ulterior Motives. 

For some reason when I start a new book the writing process fits easily with the other demands of life, but there always comes a point about two-thirds in when the characters and plot just seem to take over and everything but the bare essentials of life fall by the wayside. It's a strange but wonderful feeling which always leaves me a little disorientated when I do finally finish, as if I've returned home after a long absence.

I like to put the first draft aside for a while before beginning to edit and it is then that reality kicks in and I notice all the things I've managed to avoid while in my other world: the layers of dust, the almost empty pantry, and the neglected social media sites. It's probably just as well that this 'out of reality' experience does only happen towards the end of a book, as I'm not sure I could sustain it for the full length!

So, hopefully, now is a chance to catch up on all those neglected tasks – not a moment too soon given the looming holidays.

And talking of the holidays: Need a last minute secret Santa gift or something extra for a Christmas stocking?
Don’t forget books make great gifts!
 The Anniversary, Ulterior Motives and Silent Lies are all available from Amazon.

The e-book version of Silent Lies is on pre-Christmas sale until 21st December. Only $0.99 in the US and £0.99 in the UK.  Want to snap up a bargain for yourself or a friend? Click here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rio - Exercise Made Easy

As someone who spends a great part of the day sitting, either working or writing, I'm always on the look-out for ways to incorporate exercise into my day. Usually it comes down to either going to the gym or, if I want outdoor exercise, walking, which might explain why I was so impressed with the outdoor gyms ( or Academia as they are known in Brazil) which are a common sight in Rio.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Writing What You Know

"Write what you know" is the general wisdom offered to beginner writers, suggesting you start from your current base of knowledge. While that can be essential advice—especially to non-fiction writers, where expertise is all—as a fiction writer, I prefer to rearrange those four little words to "know what you write," which gives me the perfect excuse for trying new activities or learning new subjects. It all feeds into the fiction pot, if not in the current book, then maybe the next. It may not add much more than a few sentences to the novel, or may even just provide a trait for one of the characters, but there is almost nothing that can go to waste once it’s stored into the memory bank.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Kindle Countdown - Ulterior Motives

Just to let you know that Ulterior Motives is on Kindle Countdown until midnight on Saturday 4 October, 2014. Only $0.99 in the US and £0.99 in the UK.  Or if you are a member of Kindleunlimited, you can read the book for free!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rio de Janeiro - A City of Surprises

What do you picture when you hear mention of Rio de Janeiro?

For me, it used to be the enormous statue of Christ high above the city

seems no matter how far away you are, you can still see the statue

or the famous beach of Copacabana.