Sunday, April 01, 2018

Tax Time



It's that lovely time of year again, when writers get hives and start biting their nails. Yep, it is a deadline, but no, it doesn't involve your prose. It's tax time.

I used to get anxiety about it, too, but it really isn't that hard, with a little organization and some math skills (and a good tax guy to make sure you have all your math right).

Some Basic Organization Tips

At the beginning of each year, I start a file with the year labeled on it. Inside the file, I have dividers marked House, Writing, Medical, Donations, etc. I put all the year's applicable receipts in it, sorted by where it falls. All writing receipts, including those for book purchases (my own and others'), office equipment and supplies, income, 1099s from my publisher, writing-related postage, and domain fees, go in my Writing section. If you keep a folder in your emails pertaining to these incomes and expenses, it helps you sort and print applicable receipts at year's end. This includes mileage driven for the purposes of your writing, such as trips to your writers' conferences and meetings. (The IRS publishes the current mileage rate every year. You can Google it to get right to the page.)

If you itemize, you may also be able to write off a portion of your mortgage, homeowner's insurance, and utility bills. Be sure to save year-end totals for these expenses so that you can calculate your home office's portion of these bills.

Be sure your deductions are sensible, logical, and related to your writing, with receipts showing proof of expense. Your pleasant vacation to Hawaii, while it may become good book fodder, is probably not a business expense. Your trip to the national RWA writer's conference, however, is a verifiable business expense, because you're going there specifically to learn about your craft.

Keep a spreadsheet where you can enter the data from your receipts, and you will be able to track your income and losses each year. If you like the quick answers, like me, you will be able to see at a glance whether your year's effort is paying off, and make adjustments the following year accordingly.

Disclaimer

I am not a tax professional, merely an author who has been doing this for a while. Don't take my words as gospel on the subject, just a rough guide. Seek a professional's advice for what is allowed in your state when it comes to navigating the tax season. Good luck!

2018 "Earth Day Giveaway!"

My 2018 “Earth Day Giveaway” Contest is here!

** Permission To Forward Granted **



It’s April, and that means it’s time once again for the “Earth Day Giveaway” contest!  All month long, you can enter to win one PDF eBook or audiobook of your choice of any of my currently released paranormal, paranormal lite, or contemporary romance books (EARTH, WATER, AIR, FIRE, THE SERPENT IN THE STONE, FLASHPOINT, or HEAVY NETTING)! Not sure which to choose?  For details on each book, click here. Enter for a chance to win by clicking this link:

Nicki Greenwood’s 2018 Earth Day Giveaway!

Contest ends at 5:00 PM EST on April 30th.  The winner will be announced that evening on my blog. Good luck, and Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The End!


I'm happy to say I finally finished the first draft of my New Adult novel, which I'd been writing, off and on, for several years. This book is one of my favorites so far, and is a departure from the romance novels I usually write ... but I couldn't ignore it, no matter how I tried.  (And for you writers out there, those are the books you want to finish!)

It's still in drafting stages, but I hope to share some tidbits with you once I have it a little more settled. Until then, happy reading!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Reviews and Gratitude


One of the hardest things an author will do - besides write a book - is try to get an audience. These days, with the glut of available books on sale, low-priced, box-set, or free, it's insanely difficult to get noticed. Readers have to sift through many possibilities, some with great covers and not-so-great editing, some with superb stories and covers that don't hint enough at the treasure within. As readers, it's hard enough to choose which book to read, let alone set aside time out of our busy days to devote to that pleasure.

So, it's with heaping amounts of gratitude that I'd like to turn my attention to my readers. Those of you who have set aside some of your hard-earned time and money to take a trip through one of my books, please know that you are the reason I keep doing this. You are why I keep going back to my keyboard to spin these stories. I am grateful to each and every one of you who have taken the time to share this writing journey with me. I am also more grateful than words can say to those of you who have taken time to write reviews or mark my books "liked" on Amazon or Goodreads. I don't currently have a newsletter, and I'm not out there hustling my books as much as I could be, so the fact that you found me, read my work, and thought enough of it to share that enjoyment with others, is better than any writing award I could ever win.

Thank you, so very much. I hope you'll stick with me, because the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's a romance writer's favorite time of year! Happy Valentine's Day to one and all. Whether you're going out with your honey or staying home with a book or movie, I hope you have a terrific day full of all the sweet things. Cheers!

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Good Habits and the Voices in Your Head

 The Slow Start

I have begun my year as I do most years, with the intent of writing at least one page per day in my current work in progress.  I was sidetracked for about a week when everything at home went sideways because of a basement flood (which we and our more expensive things survived), but overall I have managed to maintain my goal.  I had taken a long break after finishing FIRE because I was burnt out, and I needed to recharge or, as we writers put it, "refill the well."  It took a lot of refilling, more than a year of writing listlessly and not regularly.  Like a muscle too taxed with overwork, my "writing brain" was worn out and in need of a rest.  No amount of pretty stationery or writing goodies could coerce me to get words out.

Then, 2018 rolled over.  I knew it was time to get back on the proverbial horse.

I won't lie.  At first, it sucked.  Writing one paragraph was an effort.  I tend to edit as I go, so that what I put on the page is as clean as I can get it in my head before I type it out.  I have never been able to shut off that internal editor.  My personal best is only thirteen pages or so in one day.  I have learned that in about half an hour I can get out one page of "pretty good" work.  (That's one page, formatted, for those of you who wonder, about 250 words, and "pretty good" means it's mostly clean work that has already had its first pass of edits.)  Some days it's less effort than others, but if I have managed that much for a day, I call it a win.

You First

Over time, this PITA page a day that (to me) was just crummy writing started to become better writing again.  It became less work.  Any writer will tell you, we live with hundreds and maybe thousands of imaginary people in our heads, who have conversations and interactions with one another.  Many of these imagined scenes become fodder for our books, and nothing is more frustrating than when your imaginary people stop talking.  That's what happened to me for more than a year.  NONE of my characters would talk on their own.  I had to make up stuff I thought they might say and do, rather than have that lightning strike of inspiration appear in my head without provocation.  And I really, REALLY missed that lightning strike, because it's the joy that keeps every writer going in the hope that it happens again.

Then something funny happened.  My characters seemed to start trusting me again, as if *I* had abandoned them and they were sulking somewhere in my head.  After a couple of weeks of daily at-the-keyboard effort on my part, they started talking to me spontaneously, instead of me dragging the dialogue and actions out of them.  In fact, the main character essentially told me, "Look, I see you've painted yourself into a corner with this plot thread, so I'm gonna help you fix it.  Here's how," and the scene rewrote itself in my head.

Hallelujah.  Lightning strike.  I was so happy to have that happen for the first time in many, many months. You can call it pre-writing, or plotting, or whatever you like, but for me, the best work happens when my characters are "talking" to me.  They were just waiting for me to do some work first.

Staying on Track

No one can tell you how to do your best writing.  Whether you're a plotter or pantser, storyboarder or Scrivener fan, you know how best to get those words out of yourself.  The common thread is to make what works best for you a habit.  Then, it's not as much work; it's just something you do.  You can always go back and edit the words, as long as you have words to edit.  Just keep at it.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

The Power of Yes



It's often said that to be a "yes man" is a negative thing. This is a person who responds with an unqualified yes to everything you say, no matter how outlandish or incorrect (see sycophant). People say it's healthy to have a certain amount of argument and opposition.

It's true that blind agreement with an opinion is unwise. However, I feel that a certain amount of affirmation toward others is a good thing. In a world of divisiveness and negative press, it can mean a lot to have someone respond to you in a positive way. Don't get me wrong; I don't mean that you should agree with everything others say, but it's not a bad thing to seek and respond to the positive in another person's viewpoint (or at least acknowledge it if you can find common ground). Rather than respond with a knee-jerk need to point out the "wrong" in another person's statement, which promotes the feeling of social difference, try responding to comments where you might share some commonality.

This goes for more than those comments on social media, and more importantly, it affects how you see yourself. Telling yourself "yes" can have a wonderful effect on your self-image and overall mood. Learning to respond to life in the positive promotes a can-do attitude. You're not ignoring the difficulties. There are no rose-colored glasses. There is just an attitude of willingness to try, to see the possible benefits (not only in connection with others, but in your own abilities, when that "yes" is self-directed).

It's hard enough to get by these days when everyone is telling you no. Think how much you could do, and how much we could do together, if you start saying yes!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year! I hope this year brings you happiness and good health. As always, I'm hoping to finish a book, but this year, it'll be different: I'm working on a college-age New Adult book rather than romance! This book's main character first "spoke" to me several years ago, at four o'clock in the morning, and refused to stop talking until I got up and began writing. Those are the kind of characters you want: the ones who tell you their story and all you need to do is take dictation! I'm very excited about this book, and I hope you will be, too. Keep an eye out, because I will let you know as soon as I have news about it!

Enjoy your 2018!