Monday, February 23, 2015

Lesson Learned: Filing Taxes for a disorganized 2014

Thanks again to everyone that participated in my business's one year anniversary. You know, with that first year came another first: filing taxes on my income. To be honest, I didn't even think about it until right around New Years when my husband started asking questions and gathering documents. For all those months, I never once considered withholding anything or keeping very good track of what I was accomplishing. It felt more like an experiment then a career launch. I'm so grateful that it manifested into the business I have and the financial support I was able to give my family. But I wasn't taking it full-on-business-in-motion seriously until the last quarter of 2015.

The actual filing of my taxes was, to say the least, painful. Even after I asked some other friends who'd been freelancing and writing for longer then I had, I still felt a tremble in my spine at the prospect of properly entering all my info. We managed it (thank GOD for taxslayer), but I did have to pay a little bit back to Uncle Sam. Here are a few things I recommend for any start-up freelancers or hobby writers to do to make tax filing a little simpler. I will be doing all these things this year!

1.) Create a Simple Spreadsheet

After the digging in piles of receipts and bank statement searching, I thought my brain was going to explode. Before my 2014 taxes were filed, I had a swanky spreadsheet set up with Expenses and Income for each month. All the details are there including company/store, amount spent, date, and any notes.

2.) Open a Seperate Bank Account for Writing Income

This is about the only thing my business had going for it early on. We own a house and had opened a business account for our renters to deposit their monthly payment into. As soon as freelancing pay checks started flowing in, I directed them to that account. By keeping those funds separate, I saved myself a lot more searching for information.

3.) Get Files Organized

For years, I've kept bill files organized for my family. Why I didn't consider this with E.G. Moore Freelancing and Fiction is, literally, beyond me. But I've already cracked my file box into shape with its own section of hanging folder for my business. I have it organized to the max: receipts, odesk reports, business account statements, contest and anthology acceptance payments, and fiction.


With these three things, tax time would have been a lot less stressful. I'm still researching other ways to make next spring's round in the tax ring less painful. (If anyone knows freelancers can set percentages aside or pay taxes ahead, please comment or email me!) How was your tax season this year? What tips or tricks do you use to make it go smoothly?


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Business Anniversary Doorprize Winners

Thanks to everyone for spreading the word about my business anniversary, and especially to everyone that left comments. You all made the day feel so special. Now for our winners....

The query and first 250 words critique goes to 
Shari Shwarz!

The Query Helper query critique goes to  
Blair Burke!

Congrats gals! I'll be contacting you via twitter shortly!

Monday, February 16, 2015

1 Year Anniversary Celebration

E.G. Moore Freelancing and Fiction is celebrating its one year Anniversary this month!

I'm fairly new to freelancing. I'd been writing fiction long before I started my business in 2014, and had just finished my first NANO successfully. But for the first time ever, my family would need to rely on my income because my husband was going to school in March. To say I was intimidated is an understatement. My husband watched me try and fail, glued to the computer like a leech between packing boxes and cleaning.

"You're going to do this now?" he whined, gesturing to stacks of boxes and packaging materials. I just smiled at him.

Thankfully, God graced me a few personality traits to help. Self-motivating for one (the need for income helped, too), a passion for writing for another, perseverance like a bee attempting escape at a window (this time, this time, this time), and a nerdy love for learning and researching. The last one was especially useful as I had to just dive into every writing possibility and flail around until I figured out how to swim.

God also gave me about a million people that held my hand or gave it to me straight. Rejections, lessons, even story ideas.

I am eternally grateful to Mridu Khullar Relph. I read her blog until my eyes bled and my brain's capacity halved, and earned a free entry into her 30 days, 30 queries course. It was exactly what I needed, answering every question and opening doors. It lead me to my first published article, several invaluable Yahoo Groups, and countless writer friends on the same journey.

This post wouldn't be complete without a major shout out to my critique partners Libby Webber, Shari Schartz, Margo Berendenson, Kathreen Allen, Renee Vaughn, Shellie Brauner, Jayme Allen, Dakota Byrd, and Nikki Roberti. Also, the peeps in For Pete's Sake Writing Group in Washington, Joy, Chuck, Nikita, Guy, Devon, Jake, Katy, and my email writers response group Amy Conley and Kelsey Vaughn. All these awesome writers offered tid bits or major time to look over my writing, both freelance and fictional.

Also thank you to all my twitter peeps who kept me smiling, laughing, and drinking (tequilla floats!) through the long waiting periods for contests and during writing dry spells. You are awesome! Dido to all those that allowed me to critique their queries as the Query Helper. Even as I helped you shine 'em up, I learned how to make mine better.

Special thanks to Libby Webber and Michelle Hauck for falling in love with Dom, and showing me to be true to my writing and that someone can and will love it! I just got my first full manuscript request on Valentine's Day!

Also to all the blogs, websites, and newsletters that have given me a crash course in the industry without having to leave my family for traditional classroom learning. You're content has shaped my attitude and gratitude for the people in this industry: Hope C. Clark, Literary Rambles, The Write Life, Worldwide Freelancer, and I Write for Apples. Also, the fabulous Brenda Drake for all the posts of success and awesome contests that keep hope alive! And all the mentors that gave feedback, impersonal or personal, especially Gail Nail for answering questions after PitchWars.

I know, I know, its starting to be a long winded awards show speech, but really I wouldn't be where I am without the amazing writing community!


Now to the fun stuff! I'm giving away a couple party goodie bags to celebrate!
To get your name in the drawing, please follow my blog, leave a comment below and include your email address or twitter tag. I'll throw all the names into random.org tomorrow, February 17th and announce the winners!



 Query and First Five Pages Critique
by
Writer and Editor Caitlin Sinead


Caitlin Sinead has a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University and her writing has appeared in The AlarmistThe Binnacle, Jersey Devil Press, and Northern Virginia Magazine, among other publications. She tweets at @CaitlinSineadJ.



1 Query and First 250 words Critique
by
The Query Helper (Me) 
And just in case you haven't read anything about me....


I’m a poet, freelance writer, and storyteller. I’m a long distance member of For Pete’s Sake Writers Group in Washington, active in an email writer’s response group, and a Rocky Mountain Chapter SCBWI member. I’m also a blog assistant and citizen of YAtopia. When I’m not telling “mommy made stories” to my two daughters, you can find me off-roading in my suped-up ATV, swimming, or in a long, plot-refreshing bubble bath.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sun Vs. Snow Afterparty Blog Hop

Hello to all my readers! This post is a fun blog hop for the Sun Vs. Snow writing contest Afterparty! I'm awaiting comments of critique from fellow writers in preparation to enter my picture book in some contests later this year. Feel free to chime in even if you aren't participating in the blog hop; all comments are welcome!


---

Title: UNDER DOGGY
Genre: Ages 3-5 Picture Book
Word Count: 300

Query:

For Mikayla, a trip to the park with Mama makes for an extraordinary day. This time, it’s a brisk winter afternoon, and Mikayla and Mama set out for the swings to play one of their favorite games. With each squeal of “under doggy”, Mikayla transforms into something new: A penguin diving for a fish dinner, a shooting star granting a special wish, and even a bounding “astronaut on the moon, planting a star-freckled flag.” And Mama has a part in each of her six adventures.


In the vein of Sheep on a Ship and Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow, UNDER DOGGY is a picture book with a family hook, and is aimed at ages 3-5. This is a simultaneous submission and you will find the full manuscript of 300 words pasted below.


I’m an SCBWI member. I look forward to hearing from you.


Thank you for your time and consideration,


First 250 words:

I skip and scoot along the icy gray sidewalk,

Holding Mama’s snow-soft hand all the way to the park.

I romp and race to the shiny, black swing,
And plop down on the seat, waiting for…

…Mama.

“Okay Mikayla, are you ready?”
She asks as she holds it steady.

Mama swooshes the swing.
And we both scream with glee,
As loud as we can, “UNDER DOGGY!”

Then I ring and ding, a bell in a tower.
I sway in the frosty sunlight, clanging a banging song for…

…Mama.

She grabs the chains and runs under me.
Giggling again, we both squeal, “UNDER DOGGY!”

Then I shoot and soar, a star in the winter sky.
I shine in the night, granting a special wish for…

…Mama.

She grabs the chains and runs under me.
Giggling again, we both shriek, “UNDER DOGGY!”

Then I bound and bounce, an astronaut on the moon.
I float in the dust, planting a star-freckled flag for…

…Mama.

She grabs the chains and runs under me.
Giggling again, we both shout, “UNDER DOGGY!”

Then I dart and dive, a penguin in the ocean.
I catch some silvery fish, fetching dinner for…

…Mama.

She grabs the chains and runs under me.
Giggling again, we both screech, “UNDER DOGGY!”

Then I fly and flutter, a gull flapping in the fog.
I dodge sails, and land on the ship of…

…Mama.

She grabs the chains and runs under me.
Giggling again, we both scream, “UNDER DOGGY!”

Then I spring and spin, an acrobat in the circus.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mysterious Monday Mentions

Happy Monday everyone!

Today's post is going to be a short-yet-deep list of hints at what's to come in the near future here at E.G. Moore Freelance and Fiction. As I hope some of you noticed, Monday is the day I try like crazy to offer a post of value to my readers and twitter followers. Most of these posts have a fictional slant. The problem with that is that my company's name is, in fact, Freelancing and Fiction. So in the coming weeks I intend to give you a glimpse into my non-fiction terrain. I hope you'll enjoy them and join in the discussion.

In addition to adding freelancer content, I'm also planning a couple of new posts in special regards to fiction contests and changes I'm noticing in the publishing world. I'm really excited about the contacts I hope to make through the research and reach out these posts will require. (Read: possible interviews with up and coming published authors.)

Also, I have a fun post planned over on YAtopia for my second contribution on March 2nd. If you didn't get a chance to see my first ever post on February 2nd, you can go check it out here.

Lastly, I want to throw this out there: I've heard through the grapevine that the query helper might be giving away not just a query critique but something more just before for Pitch Madness on February 20th. Please don't tell anyone (and by don't tell, I mean spread it across the internet like wildfire!) I'm joining in the fun with a rewrite of Dom Sanders, my Tom Sawyer Retelling middle grade novel.

Have a great week and I'll chat with you again around President's Day.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What to do with an antagonist you love

For National Novel Writing Month 2014, I did things a little different. Months before the event actually started, I had already began a young adult fantasy novel and knew the category and genre would need to be at least 70,000 words. So I decided that rather then write an entire novel, I would finish this one and start the second in my planned two-book series. That's exactly what I did. Then on December 1st, I stopped and put it all away for over a month.

New Year's came around and I was terrified. I knew, as most writers do, the draft I'd ignored for over a month was riddled with plot jackalopes and horrible syntax, and the plot was no where near the way I'd imagined it would be. Grief struck me, so I procrastinated. I worked hard, throwing myself into freelancing gigs and my domestic role. (I must admit, my house stayed much cleaner then it normally is for a couple weeks.)

When everyone seemed to recover mid-January from all the festivities and school starting up again, my critique partners and I got in touch and decided to swap some chapters. I was so confounded at the awkwardness of my manuscript that I knew any advice would help get my fire going again. I had the great fortune to enter a few contests and receive feedback on my first chapter from Lori Goldstein (If you haven't pre-ordered her book Becoming Jinn which releases in April, go here now!) and a query critique from Kristine Asselin (who rocks and has just released the cover for Anyway You Slice It). In both cases, their questions and suggestions made me wonder if I'd over worked the manuscript. Utterly confounded, I held back from editing until my critique partners gave me their golden wisdom. They felt the mess as I did.

Anguish. Complete anguish. The gut twisting and mind numbing reality was that my first draft was, well, a first draft that needed a complete overhaul. But how to start and where?

A pattern I noticed was a concern for such a quick transition in the personalities for two of my characters during a two year gap of the plot. The beginning chapter needed so much work, including an understanding of the two main female protagonists. Also, everyone wanted to know the bad guy's story that was continually hinted at. I'd had a deep relationship with this character despite his role as antagonist in the novel. I knew him inside and out, down to smells that sparked memories and the symptoms of his farce to keep power. Even now, as I describe him to you, I'm smiling. Who smiles while talking about a killer?

Then a switch flipped. I needed to tell his story. And it would take a whole novel to do it.

Just like that, the strange tug I'd been feeling dissipated. Of course Rudger demanded his own story. A story only I could write. A story that would create the sympathy I craved for him in the novel I'd already written. He was the beginning of Samana's story.

Have you ever changed a manuscript this drastically? Have you ever realized a character needed their own dedicated manuscript? Have you ever known a character this well? Please comment below. I'll get back to you soon. Excuse me while I go start writing RUDGER'S CLIMB.