Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bits of Inspiration and Interviewing Hints

Monday, March 26, 2012: I’m writing today from a sparkling clean office—the result of three days of cleaning out file cabinets, cupboards, desk drawers, and bookcases—and tossing or donating a lot of things I’m not using anymore. Is it cleaning time for you?

Thought for Today:

Gracie Allen, who played the scatterbrained wife of George Burns, once called in a repairman to fix her electric clock. The repairman fiddled with it for a while and then said, "You don't have it plugged in." Gracie replied, "I don't want to waste electricity, so I only plug it in when I want to know what time it is."

When I read this I wondered, Do I just call on God when I submit something and pray that it sells? How about praying before we write something, as we write it, and for the right market to send it to?

Interview Hints:

Do you have an assignment to interview someone and you don’t have the faintest idea how to begin? The following hints may help you. (These are explained in more detail in my book "A Step in the Write Direction—the Complete How-to Book for Christian Writers.")

1. Call for an appointment

2. Give reason for the interview

3. Call or e-mail the day before to confirm the appointment

4. Prepare ahead (find out as much information about subject as possible)

5. Send list of questions ahead of time

6. Take time to get acquainted

7. Use recorder wisely

8. Stick to the subject

9. Send thank-you note after the interview

10. Don’t forget, you’re a Christian first, a writer second. Remember the Golden Rule, and treat your interviewee as you’d like to be treated if you were being interviewed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tax Tips

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Tax Deductions for Writers

Advertising (business cards, brochures, fliers)
Bad debts (if someone has owed you for more than two years, and you can show proof
of trying to collect it.
Car expenses (can take actual expenses prorated [gas, oil, repairs, insurance, tags, etc.,
but if you do this you have to keep all receipts) or it’s simpler—and usually better—just to take the mileage deduction allowed by IRS. Keep track of all your miles—to the post office, to the office supply store, to meet a writer for lunch, writers’ clubs and seminars—anything connected with writing.
Commissions—this would be, for example, if you had an agent.
Depreciation—on office equipment or computer that cost over $100 and was expected
to last over a year. (This can be taken over several years or there is a way it can all be taken the first year.)
Insurance—if you rented an office and had insurance; if you have an office in the home,
you can take a portion of the insurance; or if you have separate insurance on your equipment.
Interest—you can no longer take interest as a deduction on your personal Schedule A;
however, if you have a credit card you use solely for your business, you can deduct the interest, or if you have a credit card at an office supply store. Also interest on a plane credit card, if you use it to fly to seminars.
Legal & professional expenses—if you pay someone to do your income taxes, your self-
employment portion may be deducted; or if you pay someone to look over a contract or to try to collect money owed you.
Office expense—this is not office supplies; this is anything you do to your office in the
way of decorating, repairs (carpet, drapes), etc.
Rent or lease—if you rent or lease any business equipment. Be careful here, however; if
you end up buying the equipment then you may have to go back to the first year and show depreciation for the time you had it.
Repairs and maintenance—any repairs on your equipment, or if you purchase a
maintenance agreement.
Supplies—here is where you list all your office supplies—and don’t forget little things
like staples, paper clips, pens, correction fluid, rubber bands, etc.
Taxes and licenses—any taxes or licenses you need for your business. (For example,
Arizona does have a personal property tax on your equipment, but they don’t enforce it. I didn’t even know this until I had an office downtown and registered my name.)
Travel—this is not car expenses shown above; this is such things as plane tickets, rental
cars, cab fares, parking fees, tolls, etc.
Meals and entertainment—if you take a writer to dinner, to a baseball game, etc. Don’t
forget such things as tips, etc. However, only 50% of this is deductible. Your own meals are deductible if you stay overnight.
Utilities—for a rented office, or if you have an office in your home, you can prorate your
(Deductions on the preceding page are placed line by line on your Schedule C for a self-employed person. Those listed below are miscellaneous deductions that go on Part V—Other Expenses. You may have more. These are just some I deduct every year.)

Telephone (you can deduct monthly telephone bill only if you have a separate business
line. Otherwise, you can deduct such things as Call Waiting, Conference Calls, long distance calls, and don’t forget your Internet fees.)
Books and publications—this is a biggie for writers. Any magazine you buy can be
deducted here as it is a possible market or a newspaper you take solely for business. Don’t forget sample magazines you send for.
Printing and copies
Cards and gifts
Bank charges
Camera/tape recorder (these two you may have to prorate if you also use them for
personal use. I bought a separate tape recorder strictly for business. However, any portion you use 100% for business—i.e., film for a seminar, cassette tapes you bought for an interview, film developing, etc—is 100% deductible. And don’t forget repairs on your camera and tape recorder.)
Subcontracting—I sometimes pay someone to type for me
Dues for business clubs
Loss—I sometimes have a loss on books sold

If you have a home office, you can also prorate deductions on such things as landscaping, repairs (air conditioning/heating), exterminating, carpet cleaning, real estate taxes, interest and house insurance, plus depreciation. This gets sticky, so talk to someone before deducting a home office.