Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beware of Self-Publishing Scammers

This is a terrible story and a reminder of the sometimes-dangerous world of publishing. There are many reputable self-publishing companies, but there are also unfortunately some scammers. That is why it is SO important to research thoroughly before signing -- or paying -- anything.

If you are looking into self-publishing, I have been thrilled with my experience publishing with iUniverse and would highly recommend them. iUniverse treats each author as a valued individual and publishing consultants work with you to make your book the best it can be.

Finally, a reminder: if an agent *ever* charges you money to read your work, turn around and run!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Contest for Women Writers Announced at

Today, on the one-year anniversary of She Writes (, founders Kamy Wicoff and Deborah Siegel announce The Passion Project, a contest open to an emerging author and member of She Writes with a nonfiction book project in the works.

The Passion Project enables a hand-picked A-team of writing and publishing experts to choose a book project by a first-time author and to donate their time to its advancement, giving it every possible chance to succeed.

“She Writes was founded on the premise that writing can be life- and world-changing for women, that no woman writer is an island, and that publishing expertise should be available to every writer, not only those who can afford to pay,” said Wicoff. The contest embodies the company’s mission.

The Passion Project borrows its name from a common term used inside publishing houses to refer to a book an editor loves with a passion, even if it’s not a lucrative project. Judges include literary agents Betsy Lerner and Erin Hosier; Brooke Warner, publisher of Seal Press; author and journalist Alissa Quart; and Wicoff and Siegel themselves. The Project’s co-directors, Lea Beresford and Amanda Johnson Moon, are editors who hail from inside of traditional publishing (Random House and Basic Books, most recently).

The winner will be selected on the basis of the merit of her entry, which consists of a cover letter and a 2,000 word excerpt. She will receive thorough and supportive consultations from a team of experts designed to help her prepare a complete proposal for submission to agents or publishers. Entries are due August 1st, 2010, and finalists will be announced and their excerpts posted on August 27th, at A winner will be announced on August 24th.

To enter the contest, and/or to join this wonderful online community for women writers, visit

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Writing Quotes

 The literary journal Crazyhorse recently did a call-out for the best writing quotes of all time. Two of my favorite inspirational writing quotes are:

"I nearly always write, just as I nearly always breathe." 
- John Steinbeck

"There is never a perfect time to write. There's only now." 
- Barbara Kingsolver

Here are the "Top 20" writing quotes according to the Crazyhorse editors. Read on for motivation, insight, encouragement, and proof that you are not alone -- all writers struggle with rejection, writer's block, and at-times finicky muses!

"What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers."
—Logan Pearsall Smith

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."
—Ernest Hemingway

"The poet: would rather eat a heart than a hambone."
—Theodore Roethke

"If there is a special Hell for writers it would be in the forced contemplation of their own works."
—John Dos Passos

"I only write when I feel the inspiration. Fortunately, inspiration strikes at 10 o'clock every day."
—William Faulkner

"If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up."
—Hunter S. Thompson

"The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location."
—Flannery O'Connor

"I write a little every day, without hope and without despair."
—Isak Dinesen

"Write, damn you! What else are you good for?"
—James Joyce

"If I don't write to empty my mind I go mad."
—Lord Byron

"I could claim any number of high-flown reasons for writing, just as you can explain certain dogs' behavior... But maybe, it's that they're dogs, and that's what dogs do."
—Amy Hempel

"Writing is easy. You just sit down at the typewriter and open a vein."
—Red Smith

"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant."
—Winston Churchill

"Always pull back -- and see how silly we must look to God."
—Jack Kerouac

"The end of all our exploring will be to arrive when we started and know the place for the first time."
—T.S. Eliot

"If you're a good writer, these days, you pay attention to the way that people don't pay attention."
—Charles Baxter

"There are three rules to writing a novel and nobody knows what they are."
—Wm. Somerset Maugham

"Writing is finally a series of permissions you give yourself to be expressive in certain ways. To leap. To fly. To fail."
—Susan Sontag

"We put on our stories before our clothes…."
—William Wenthe

"All good writing is swimming underwater and holding your breath."
—F. Scott Fitzgerald

"All I am is the trick of words writing themselves."
—Anne Sexton

What are some of your favorite writing quotes? Comment away! I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interview with Brigitte Thompson, Author of "Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers"

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Brigitte A. Thompson about her wonderful guide Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers. Brigitte is the founder and President of Datamaster Accounting Services, LLC. She has been active in the field of accounting since 1986 and is a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and the Vermont Tax Practitioners Association.

A prolific writer, Brigitte is the author of several business books, contributing author and freelance writer specializing in accounting topics. Her business has been featured in a best-selling book by Paul & Sarah Edwards, The Entrepreneurial Parent, and in Mompreneurs Online by Patricia Cobe & Ellen Parlapiano.

Brigitte lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont with her husband and three children.

Tell us about Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers.

Writers have many important questions to ask about income and expenses, but no single source for answers. I created this book to be that source. It is an easy-to-understand guide to organizing a writer’s financial life.

This book addresses issues writers face daily such as how to deduct travel expenses, determine taxable writing income, and claim home office deductions. Navigating through the record keeping required for a small business owner can be difficult. This book is written exclusively for those of us who earn money by writing.

Readers will also find that each part of this book works together to assist in forming an overall business plan. The chapters take the writer through a comprehensive process that works as a building block towards a successful writing business.

Have you found that freelance writers require a different set of bookkeeping rules?

Many bookkeeping rules are universal such as the requirement to record income, but there are some areas of the tax law that are of more interest to freelance writers. This includes dealing with royalty payments, bartering, personal property and agent fees. My book addresses the universal tax rules as well as the infrequently discussed rules that apply specifically to freelance writers.

Learning how to document expenses and how to track income will give writers the best chance at overall business success.

What are some tax deductions that freelance writers might not be aware of?

There are many tax deductions available to writers. Some expenses are common, such as the cost of purchasing a case of paper or paying for a computer software upgrade. Other costs incurred in the operation of your writing business may not jump out at you as expenses when they could be. For example, consider the following accounts.

Mileage: Trips made in your vehicle to pick up office supplies can be counted as a business deduction if you record the proper information to support it.

Meals: Treating your agent to a restaurant meal with the discussion focusing on your next book can also generate a tax deduction when properly documented.

Shipping: UPS charges and postage used to mail a query or review copy of your book can be a small expense, but it should still be tracked. Those small deductions add up and every penny spent as a qualified business expense will reduce the amount of income tax you owe. 

Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers devotes an entire chapter to expenses, including a comprehensive listing of expenses and detailed information regarding what documentation is required to support each one.

I'm sure you've observed other freelance writers making accounting missteps that cost them time and money. What are some of the most common issues and how can we avoid them?

The most common misstep I’ve seen with writers is not taking themselves seriously as business owners. This can lead to financial pitfalls. Many writers have been honing their craft for years so it’s hard to identify an official starting date for their self-employment. Without this point to mark the beginning, it is easy to put off tracking income and expenses. This can be an unfortunate mistake.

The IRS will consider you to be in business when you are actively pursuing projects intended to generate income and expenses. This means they will expect you to file a tax return to report those transactions. Keeping track of your income and expenses from day one will enable you to pay the least amount of income taxes on the money you earn.

Many people find numbers, especially when related to bookkeeping and taxes, intimidating. Will this book make these things easier to understand?

Yes, my book breaks down complicated number crunching into easy to follow steps. By reading the book, readers will understand why it's important to keep certain receipts and how those pieces of paper factor into the overall success of their writing business. Sometimes knowing the reasoning behind a task makes it easier to complete.

Writers can take advantage of some wonderful tax deductions, but only when they are aware of the possibility and know how to accurately document the expenses. My book explains it all in a reader friendly format.

Why is it important for writers to understand bookkeeping?

Writers are earning money and this money needs to be reported as income on their income tax return. If writers do not have any expenses to claim, their taxable income will be higher and they will owe more income tax.

Understanding what can be claimed as business expenses when you are a writer and how to properly document these expenses will help ensure the success of your business.

The most important thing you can do as a writer is to become organized. There are many books available on how to organize your writing, but this is the best book available about how to organize the financial side of your writing business.

Obviously, your book is a great place for writers to get information on bookkeeping. Are there are any other resources you recommend?

Yes, I recommend writers visit the IRS web site ( to research specific tax issues and the Small Business Administration ( for general business information.

I also recommend joining professional associations for writers such as American Society of Journalists and Authors (, The Authors Guild ( and National Writers Union ( There are many groups to choose from so consider the benefits of membership before joining.

I was interviewed recently by Freelance Success ( which offers an insightful newsletter for their members. There are also online groups for writers such as MomWriters ( offering networking opportunities as well as camaraderie.

How can we purchase your book?

Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers is available through and my publisher ( Any local bookstore can order my book by ISBN-10: 0963212389 or ISBN-13: 978-0963212382. List price is $17.95.

Thank you so much Brigitte for joining us today!

Visit Brigitte's "Writers in Business" blog:

Her website, Bookkeeping for Writers, is:

Tomorrow, June 17th, the VBT-Writers On The Move June Tour continues with Maggie Ball featuring Mayra Calvani!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fantastic read: "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" by Aimee Bender

While at USC, I was fortunate to take the Advanced Fiction workshop taught by Aimee Bender both semesters of my senior year. Aimee is not just a phenomenal writer, she is a gifted teacher who genuinely cares about each of her students. When I entered her class, I was in a "writing rut" -- everything I put on the page felt stale, trite, overdone. Then along came Aimee. It was impossible to sit in her class and not come away inspired. She has an energy about her that is contagious.

Cue the movie montage. Aimee rejuvenated my love for writing, reading, and the magic of language. She introduced me to the zany, intense, beautiful work of Lorrie Moore, George Saunders, Denis Johnson, Ron Carlson. She inspired me to tackle difficult subjects and explore new terrain in my fiction. My writing – and my self-confidence – developed in wonderful ways thanks in no small part to her unwavering support.

Even though it has been a full year since I've graduated from USC, I will always think of Aimee as my teacher. I am happy to consider her my friend, too. A couple weeks ago, I got to see her give a reading at the marvelous independent bookstore Skylight Books in Los Angeles to celebrate the release of her new novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Even if I didn't know and love Aimee, I would give this book five stars. It is an absolute gem. My own personal scale for truly "great" books are those that linger with me after the cover has been closed and the book put back on the shelf. This is one of those books.

If you haven't read any of Aimee Bender's work before, you are especially in for a treat. She has a way of bringing out the extraordinary in the ordinary world. And, when it comes to writing from a child's perspective, Aimee is one of the best writers I have ever come across; in this case, the novel's protagonist Rose is nine when the book begins. I highly recommend The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake to anyone who is looking for an imaginative, entrancing read that delves into the bittersweet complexities of family, love, and growing up.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Want to be a Book Reviewer?

Curled Up With a Good Book is looking for reviewers! What does this mean for you? You can choose a book you want to read from their extensive list and they will mail it to you for free. Then you get to write a review of the book, and, if your review meets the requirements below, it will be published on the Curled Up website!

Their guidelines in general are fairly loose:
·          submitted in .rtf, .doc, or .txt format attached to email, or within the body of an email
·          length between 750-1800 words (4-10 paragraphs, app.)
·          minimum of first-person interjections or qualifiers ("I think" or "in my opinion," for example); relevant first-person anecdotal asides are welcome
·          place the book (and/or author) and draw comparisons within the author's own body of work and within the larger body of other books in the same vein
·          aim for approximately equal parts synopsis and commentary/critique -- including what and *how* the author does best -- or worst
·          accompanied by a rating of 1 to 5 stars (1/2 star ratings okay)
·          copyright 2009 by Your Name for Curled Up With a Good Book - first-run reviews only; may be posted to personal blogs or other outlets following posting to, noted as "originally published at"
·          light editing for clarity & readability

If you are interested in reviewing for Curled Up, please visit their list of titles available for review at, pick out a handful (or more) of titles you’re interested in, email your picks along with your shipping address to, and get started!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Call for Submissions from TAYO Literary Magazine

Call for Submissions | 2nd Annual Issue

“For our culture, by our culture.”

All are welcomed to submit, regardless of ethnicity and age. We accept creative works ranging from: short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, photography, paintings, drawings and digital artwork.

We are tweaking the format for our call of submissions. Please submit to TAYO via online submission manager.
* * *


* Submissions for our online content are on a rolling basis.

* All materials submitted are considered for both the online and print magazines.

* By submitting you are allowing TAYO Literary Magazine to reproduce your work.

* Not all submissions may be featured in our print / online mediums.

SUBMISSION POLICY: TAYO Literary Magazine does not charge a fee for submitting. As such, we cannot afford to pay a monetary sum to any of our contributors at this time. Your submissions go a long way in supporting the arts in the Asian American community, especially through inspiring younger artists, helping them to find their audience, to find their voice.

* We are having an art/photo contest for our front page cover. Please view our online submission site for details! Deadline 07/16/2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Interview with J. Aday Kennedy, author of "Klutzy Kantor"

J. Aday Kennedy was born and raised in McKinney, Texas. On and off as she grew up she lived in Northern California. Aday disliked school and quit in the eleventh grade. However, it did not take long to realize she needed an education. Aday had always been bored by her teachers. When she decided to complete her education she was determined to become a "different" kind of teacher that instructed, entertained and inspired.

In 1989, she moved to Walnut Creek, Ca. and started junior college. After three years she completed her general education credits and was admitted to the University of California at Davis. She earned her bachelors degree in twentieth century European history. After she attained her degree she returned to Texas and researched graduate schools to pursue a teaching credential.

Before she applied to graduate school, she caught spinal meningitis. Due to complications, Aday suffered a respiratory and cardiac arrest and stroke. She fell into a coma. Two hours after the doctors pronounced her brain dead she regained consciousness as a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic.

After several years of intense therapy she grew bored. She had recaptured partial use of her left arm and hand, but one day after another consumed with physical therapy left her unfulfilled. Her cognitive brain function had been unaffected by the stoke. It clamored to be used. Aday began speaking at seminars for registered respiratory therapists on spinal meningitis and patient advocacy. They opened the door to motivational and inspirational speaking engagements, but she wanted to do more.

She found writing classes on the internet. Her creative mind and love for children manifested in essays, articles and children's books. Three years and fifteen classes later she received a picture book contract. Aday had grown into "The Differently-Abled Writer" making her dreams come true a story at a time.

J. Aday was kind enough to answer some questions about her writing life and also share information about her new book, Kluzty Kantor!

What is the best advice on writing you've ever received?

When you have written something let it rest. Do not look at it for weeks before you begin the editing process. Then you can look at it with fresh eyes.

Tell us about your family.

I have three older sisters. Their names are Tomorrow, Yestraday and Taday. Among them they have eleven children. I'm Aunt Squeaky to them and adore them all. I live with my mom, Lee Kennedy and my adopted father, Steve Kennedy. The thought of living with my mom and dad forever horrified me when I was younger, but they are my best friends. Age and circumstances supplied me with a new perspective.

Can you share the origins of your disabilities?

In 1998, I caught bacterial pneumococcal spinal meningitis. It began with an earache. I visited two doctors. Neither diagnosed the disease. Within one week I was rushed to the emergency room; correctly diagnosed; suffered a respiratory arrest and brain stem stroke; descended into a coma; pronounced brain dead and regained consciousness a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic. It was a busy week.

Did you always want to be a writer?

No. When I was a little girl I wanted to be Big Bird. I'm tall enough and my feet are big enough, but my beak and feathers never grew. When I got older I wanted to be a history teacher, but luckily I had a stroke and fell in love with and discovered a talent for writing.

Describe your working environment.

I am blessed to have my house on 4.5 acres of land on a private lake in East Texas. I have only to look out the window to be inspired. I'm a legally blind ventilator-dependent quadriplegic. (It's a great excuse to stay in bed.) When I began to fall in love with where my computer could take me, I found a computer desk that slides over my bed at Ergoquest. I have my goals, inspirational sayings and Herb, my trusting writing bug, attached to the edges of my computer monitor.

Tell us about your children's books.

I have six picture books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing. They are a mixture of humorous fantasy and Christian stories. All include a teacher's guide, send a positive message and are geared to attract reluctant readers.

That is the perfect tie-in to your latest book, Klutzy Kantor! Here is more information for our readers:

Klutzy Kantor
Available for purchase online through and through local bookstores.
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (April 14, 2010)
ISBN-10: 978-1616330511
ISBN-13: 978-1616330514
Price: $10.95

Kantor, a young flying horse, wishes he wasn't so clumsy. The crone Agra tells him that the leprechaun Cobbledom McSweeney can grant that wish, but only if Kantor can answer his riddle challenge. His friends Rabbit, Fox and Bear help by quizzing him on riddles before the fateful day. Will Kantor solve the riddle and end his clumsy ways?

Children learn the benefit of practice and to focus on their strengths.
• Reluctant Reader Friendly
• Laugh Out Loud Funny
• Character Building

What Reviewers are Saying:

The marriage of J. Aday Kennedy's words and Jack Foster's illustrations make a magical combination and a delightful read. - Susan J. Berger

In this story of a Pegasus who is determined to change his klutzy ways, J. Aday Kennedy draws readers in with a charming and delightful story filled with characters they’ll love. I look forward to the next book in the Klutzy Kantor series. - Cheryl C. Malandrinos, The Children's and Teens' Book Connection

J. Aday is holding a contest to celebrate the release of Klutzy Kantor!

Win 1 of 5 Prizes (You get to choose it!)

No purchase is necessary.
You must be 18 to enter.
Prizes can only be mailed to winners in the continental U.S.A.

For More Chances to Win:

* Leave a comment at a stop on the tour and get a separate entry for each.
* Follow J. Aday Kennedy's or Klutzy Kantor's blog for a separate entry for each:
* Blog about the contest (leave link:
* Tweet about the contest (leave link:
* For an additional entry announce the contest on social networks like Live
Journal, Jacket Flap, Book Marketing Network, LinkedIn or another social network
(leave link:

For every 13 participants another winner will be selected. The first winner named will have first choice of prizes, the second gets second choice and so on. Up to 5 winners can be named.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Vote for Blogger's Choice Awards!

This blog has been nominated for three "Blogger's Choice Awards":
  • Best Blog About Stuff
  • Best Education Blog
  • Best Blogging Host
I love putting together this blog and I would be absolutely honored if you would take ten seconds to vote! Thanks so much in advance for all the support. It's wonderful to be part of such an amazing online community!

My site was nominated for Best Blog About Stuff!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Short Story Published in "Bartleby Snopes" Literary Magazine!

I'm very happy to share that my short story "DING!" has been published in the literary magazine Bartleby Snopes, and was selected as an "Editor's Pick" to appear in the forthcoming PDF printable magazine! You can read it this month online at Here's the first couple paragraphs:

The old man baked bread every Wednesday. An early riser, he baked before the sun came up. Even before he did the crossword puzzle--in ink, for he's a brave soul--because he often baked before the newspaper arrived. 

He baked cinnamon bread. More like cake, actually. Flour, sugar, eggs, water, butter, and the secret "starter" ingredient of dough saved from last week's batch. Chocolate chips, sometimes, if he made it for the grandkids (which he usually did, considering he had nine of them.) Walnuts if he brought it to the office. Just plain for him, maybe an extra pinch of cinnamon--but he hardly ever made it just for himself. He could never finish a whole loaf before it grew dry and stale. And it seemed like such a waste to throw half a loaf away. His mother would have scolded him, just as she had when he was a boy during the Depression and didn't clean his plate.

"Eat your carrots, Ollie!" she would say. "Plenty of kids will go to bed hungry tonight and would give anything to have those carrots to eat. So be thankful! Wastefulness is a sin!"

"Cooked carrots are a sin," the young boy thought then and the old man thought now, stirring the thick batter with a wooden spoon. His arm muscles would ache by the time the batter was smooth and ready for the oven, but he still stubbornly mixed everything by hand. To do it any other way seemed like cheating.

Read the rest at

Friday, June 4, 2010

Contest announced! Write a review of 3 a.m. for a chance to WIN!

Give-away alert!

Have you read my collection of short stories 3 a.m.? Did you enjoy it? (I hope so!) I would be really grateful if you could take a couple minutes to write a short review and post it on

In fact, I will be SO grateful that once you post a review, email me your name and contact info ( and I'll enter you in a contest to win a fun writing-related goodie!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free e-newsletters for writers

If you want to be a writer, the more you can learn about the industry, the better! Here are a few wonderful *free* email newsletters for writers. Knowledge is only a click away!

* The Perspiring Writer, editor Ned Burke. This free ezine features writing tips and writing help articles for the hard-working writer. Published quarterly. Runs up to 15 pages. Subscribe here:

* Book Marketing Matters by Brian Jud. Brian publishes small newsbytes by experts for authors who are promoting a books.

* Publishing Basics is Ron Pramshufer’s newsletter. He publishes more substantial articles by professionals.

* Writing for Dollars features opportunities for freelance article and fiction writers. Dan Case is the editor. Sign up here,

* And, of course, Write On! For Literacy publishes a free monthly newsletter! Subscribe at

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Guest Post by Dee Barizo: 4 Tips for a Successful Freelance Writing Career

A career as a freelance writer can be a roller coaster of a ride; it is not uncommon for many freelancers to feel insecure in their jobs. After all, you might have one really profitable week or month and then the next month be wondering if you will make enough to pay your electricity bill. If you want your writing career to expand beyond just a part-time hobby and into a full-time business, these tips for building a successful freelance writing career will help you become more profitable and keep the writing gigs coming your way.

Tip #1: Treat Your Career as a Business

If you want your writing career to become a profitable small business, then treat it like a business from this point forward. Taking your “job” as a freelance writer seriously is of the utmost importance if you want to be perceived as a professional writer. All correspondence with clients, both potential and existing, should be professional, grammatically free from errors, and a sample of what type of writing you are capable of. As a professional writer, always deliver the best work that you can, and never, ever make a promise to a client that you do not intend to keep. Putting your best foot forward allows you to be singled out as a competent writer that is in demand.

Tip #2: Network with Other Writers

Networking with other people who share your passion for the written word is not only a good way to find more work as a freelancer, but is also motivational. Having a circle of writers to share your thoughts with is like having a water cooler to come to and de-stress. While working at home as a writer can be very rewarding, it can also make one feel isolated from the rest of the world.

Tip #3: Create Passive Income

It is important for a freelance writer to have some streams of passive income coming in so that they can concentrate on landing good-paying writing gigs. If you are working full time from home as a writer, consider building passive income by running your own monetized blog or by creating a few informational products or e-books that can be sold over and over again indefinitely. These types of smaller, less profitable endeavors can generate some income for you while increasing your exposure as a writer and giving you something to do in your free time when you are in between larger projects. Pennies, nickels, and dimes add up fast.

Tip #4: Learn How to Earn

And last of all, follow the Pareto Principle. Eighty percent of the sales you make as a freelance writer will likely come from twenty percent of your client base. Learn how to earn by determining which clients have the potential to become the most profitable and enjoyable for you to work with, and give special care to nurturing a positive relationship with those clients. Make notes on how and when you make the money that you bring in as a successful freelance writer, and avoid projects that may be causing you to waste too much time for too little compensation.

Keep in mind when building your freelance career that any tree that bears sweet fruit needs to be nurtured patiently for a few seasons before you can reap the true benefits of sowing a seed. But once your freelance writing career takes off, the hard work and perseverance you have shown will be greatly rewarded with the financial and personal freedom that comes from being your own boss.

Bio: Dee Barizo is a staff writer for The Best Degrees, an online education resource featuring the top online degrees.