Friday, March 29, 2013

Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow. Really? by Michele Chynoweth

Michele Chynoweth

How many writers yearn for the ability to quit the “day job” and focus only on writing? Many. But few writers have that option.  So, how do you handle sticking with a job out of financial need? How do you avoid feeling discouraged? Author Michele Chynoweth offers encouragement for anyone struggling to make it all work while reaching for the dream. ~ Dawn

Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow. Really?

This saying has always struck me as fascinating and challenging. I have always worked for a living but not doing what I “love” to do – namely, write novels. I have always had to work to help pay the bills and provide for my family (which has now grown from three kids to five with my new husband!)

So how can this statement ring true when I can’t possibly take the leap of faith to test it out? Have you ever wondered?

If you’re like me, writing on the side while your day job pays the bills, hoping to make that leap one day, you’re probably frustrated that you’re not completely fulfilling your calling yet. I don’t need or even want to be rich and famous (anymore!).  I’m just talking about the proceeds from book sales being enough to pay the bills. (These days it seems the only way that will happen is to get on the New York Times bestseller list, unfortunately by writing something like Fifty Shades of Grey - not something, of course, that I want to write!)

So what is one to do?

I’ve tried everything – both as an author who was self-published and now as one published by a traditional, albeit small, Christian publishing house. I’ve tried marketing, public relations, conferences, book signings and most recently, speaking engagements.  In fact, I recently entered a big speech contest – and most importantly, found myself hearing my own voice, in delivering my speech, encouraging others, in so many words, to “do what you love” and if not money, at least true happiness and fulfillment would follow. Here is an excerpt:

“Think back to when you were ten years old. What did you want to be when you grew up?  Are you living your dream today? When I was ten my big dream was to be an author. But eventually my dream faded as life took hold.  I graduated from high school, then college, started a career, got married, had three kids, got divorced, lost my job, remarried, acquired two more kids, got a new job…all while putting dinner on the table each night by six o’clock.  

Most of my life I’ve listened to other people who told me that following my dream would be irresponsible, selfish. But even though I buried the dream I never really lost it, and several years ago a wave of desire hit and I started to write on the side.  My new husband encouraged me to get published, so I did. My first novel is called The Faithful One, a modern-day Bible story based on the Book of Job.  I could see myself walking down the red carpet to receive my Oscar for Best Screenplay based on an Adapted Novel!

Needless to say, that hasn’t happened…yet. But what has happened is this: At a book club meeting on my first novel, a man said ‘you know, after reading your book, I’m thinking about going back to church.’  After a similar meeting on my second novel, The Peace Maker, about a woman married to an abusive alcoholic, a young woman took my hand and said, ‘It sounds like you used to be married to the same man I am. Can I call you?’ And at a book signing, when I was grumbling that I had only sold a few copies, a young boy came up to my table and said, ‘Wow, you’re an author! I want to be one too. How did you get started?’

I came to realize that success truly is about more than riches and red carpets and that my dream of becoming a novelist wasn’t so selfish after all.  I was helping other people. In his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,  Deepak Chopra writes ‘everyone has a special purpose in life, a unique gift or special talent to give to others, and when we blend that special talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exaltation of the soul, which is the ultimate goal among all goals’.”

If it seems like slow going, take heart – there are obviously a lot of us in the same boat! Meanwhile, I’m saving every dime I can so that one day – hopefully soon – I can quit my day job and write full-time so that the money will follow – so I can continue to fulfill my calling, writing modern-day Bible stories that help people better understand God’s messages in the Old Testament as it relates to them today.

I believe we just need to stay on course, keep sailing toward that distant horizon, and most of all, enjoy the ride!

Click to reach Amazon.
Michele brings Bible stories to life in a modern-day context so her readers can better understand God's messages as they relate to their lives today. Her modern-day Bible stories include The Faithful One, based on the Book of Job, and The Peace Maker, based on the story of David and Abigail in Samuel 1. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, is married with five children and lives in North East, Maryland.

To learn more, please visit the following links:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Man's Perspective on Writing Romance by H. L. Wegley

H. L. Wegley
When I started drafting my first novel, Hide and Seek, I ran headlong into a big problem. My heroine was a woman. Showing what was going on inside her head, and her resultant reactions, would be difficult. And showing romance from a woman’s perspective, well … my wife just laughed when she heard I was taking on that challenge.

My initial approach was to minimize the problem, make my heroine very unusual, not a typical woman. I opted for a woman, let’s call her Jennifer, with a 200 IQ and one so beautiful that her beauty gave Jennifer another whole set of problems, stalkers and other sorts of unwanted attention. This created a yet another problem. Most women could not identify with Jennifer. While they might put up with her for one book with an interesting plot, minimalism was something I could not continue using if I wanted to have women readers.

It was time to learn to think like a woman. So how does a man do that, particularly where there is a lot of romance in the story?

The answer starts with acknowledging not only the basic differences between men and women, but also the extent of those differences. In my first draft of Hide and Seek I wrote a scene where my hero meets my heroine for the first time. I split the scene showing half in his POV and half in hers. My women test readers thought the guy was either immature and silly or perhaps even immoral. They thought the woman was neurotic or, at a minimum, overreacting. What an inauspicious beginning!

So my problem of writing romance became a double-edged sword. On one sharp edge, I had to portray my male protagonist in a way that appealed to women. On the other side, the woman had to seem real, likeable, a person women enjoyed identifying with.

From my test readers and my understanding of men, I learned that the strong male responses of my hero must be toned down, only showing a subset of his thoughts, the ones women want to see. The bare truth here is that most women handle the fully exposed male mind about as well as a 25-year-old man handles re-runs of the Golden Girls. The good stuff women want to see is present in his mind, but the other things residing there can cause a lot of misunderstanding.

The other side of the sword, showing what happens in a woman's mind and how she reacts to words, actions, and situations, was an intractable problem for me. I needed help, transcending what a test reader can provide.

I was polishing my fourth book. More than half of this story comes from the heroine’s point of view. It was time for me to learn to write a woman's thoughts, actions, and emotions, including a lot of romance. Again, my wife rolled her eyes and laughed. I understood why.

The way I saw it, I had two choices. 

One was to read a lot of books written by women and study the heroine’s point of view—a long process. But I had taken up writing fiction after retiring. My years of writing are limited, and I certainly didn’t plan to get a PhD in women’s psychology before writing a romantic novel. I needed a short cut, a really short one.

I met an author-editor, a woman, at a writing conference and scheduled a session with her to help me through a couple of problem pages in my WIP. Immediately, I saw that she was a person who could help me. 

I hired her to do a thorough, in-depth critique of the entire manuscript, with special emphasis on the romance scenes. When she sent my MSS back to me, it had detailed comments throughout, explaining what my heroine should do, feel, and think, and explaining how I had made her sound neurotic or immature at times. I learned more in the month of rewriting this manuscript than I would have learned in five years of reading other people’s novels.

The editor who helped me is Christina Berry Tarabochia.

For the writers who may be reading this article, if you struggle with writing romance, especially characters of the opposite sex, my recommendation is to find someone who will critique your book deeply enough to show you the problems in the way you portray the opposite sex. Pay them—it’s well worth it. You can learn a lot in a short period of time.

It would've been interesting to put in this post some of the before-and-after scenes from my heroine’s POV, but it would've simply become far too long. I’m sure it would have gotten some laughs.

Dora here. What about you?
Have you encountered a particular challenge in your writing?
How did you overcome that challenge?

Purchase Link
A computer security breach within a US defense contractor’s firewalls leads investigators, Lee Brandt and beautiful, brilliant Jennifer Akihara, onto the cyber-turf of terrorists, where they are detected and targeted for elimination. Lee leads them on a desperate and prayer-filled flight for survival into the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Will Jennifer’s pursuit of truth about the conspiracy, and the deepest issues of life, lead her into the clutches of terrorists, into the arms of Lee Brandt, or into the arms of the God she deems untrustworthy? 

H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 46 years enjoy small-group ministry, their seven grandchildren, and where he pursues his love of writing.
The Weather Scribe
A climate of suspense and a forecast of stormy weather

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Which Tax Deductions Apply to You as a Writer?

It's tax season again and, if you're like me, the procedure boggles the mind. To help you struggle through the task of giving the IRS their due, I asked Danica Favorite the following questions about deductions:

"For a writer doing their own taxes (as opposed to having an accountant), what are some legitimate writing deductions we might miss? Are there deductions we might think are legitimate but aren't?" - Sandy

I'm so glad Sandy asked this question, because I think it's a great question. And I think my answers might surprise some people. There are a lot of legitimate deductions a writer can take for his or her writing business. But there are also a few deductions writers take that aren't deductible. I'm going to share a few of the most common.

The first thing I want to address is what you CAN deduct. The IRS standard for what is deductible for your business is what is REASONABLE and NECESSARY for your business. So what's reasonable and necessary? That's something the IRS does not define, but as a business owner deducting that expense, you should be prepared to explain how it's necessary for your business as well as a standard business practice among writers.

Here are a few suggested items you might be able to deduct:

·         Ink, paper, mailing supplies, and other office expenses.
·         Research materials
·         Conferences and other writing related education
·         Professional memberships
·         Advertising
·         Transportation Expenses
·         Meals and Entertainment
·         Business gifts
·         Legal and Professional Service
·         Other writing tools
·         Utilities
·         Computers and other equipment. NOTE! These should be depreciated and only in the proportion of business use. Care should be taken to determine the amount, if any, personal use can be attributed to these items

One thing I'd like to point out as a commonly missed deduction are your transporation expenses. When you take trips to the post office to mail things related to your writing business, or you're going to meet another writer for critique, be sure to track your mileage!

As far as deductions that people think are legitimate but aren't, I'm going to give the most commonly abused deduction by writers (at least in my experience). Business clothes. Unfortunately, the IRS has very specifically stated that the business clothes you're buying to wear to conferences are not deductible. A lot of writers try to claim it, but it's not legitimate. I know some writers have said, “but I claim business clothes every year.” But there's a problem with that logic. If the IRS chooses to audit those returns, that deduction will be disallowed, and the writer will be responsible for paying penalties and interest on the additional tax levied based on that mistaken deduction. Remember- just because you've deducted something, doesn't mean that it's a legitimate deduction. Even if you've gotten away with it in the past, the IRS has the right to take a look at previous years' returns and change them.

Another deduction mistake is taking a deduction for the entire cost of an item that is used for both personal and business expenses. For example, many writers want to deduct the cost of their Internet service. This is a legitimate business expense. However, if you have the Internet service in your home, and the rest of your family uses it, then part of it is personal use. So you need to apportion the amount of business use and only deduct that amount on your tax return.

As you can see, there are a number of great deductions you can take for your writing business. Just remember that they need to be reasonable and necessary for your writing business. Keep in mind that you need to only deduct the business portion of your expenses, and be cautious about deducting anything that the IRS doesn't allow.

What business deductions do you take for your writing business? Are there any that you're thinking of adjusting?


Danica Favorite works as an online moderator for a major publisher where she connects readers and writers with new fiction releases. Having spent time in the corporate world teaching tax law and preparing taxes, she much prefers fiction to numbers. You can connect with her at

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It’s all In the Packaging by Linda Wood Rondeau

Linda Wood Rondeau
If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up. Take a bubble bath.
~ Linda Wood Rondeau, from
I Prayed for Patience God Gave Me Children

I couldn’t understand it. I had mimicked her stance to perfection. Yet, when I swung at the golf ball, it sailed far to the right or far to the left, never the fairway where her drives landed nearly every time.

I contemplated quitting golf until I realized I’d been standing wrong. Kathryn stood five-foot two. I was five-foot eight. Her swing worked best for her short stature but was wrong for a taller person like me. With the help of a golf pro, I adjusted by stance and began to see more successful drives. What was golden for one became lead for another.

Paul had a message to give the world. “Jesus saves.” Yet, he changed his stance depending on where he was and to whom he delivered the message. For the jailer, he’d forego the opportunity of escape. For the tempest tossed seaman, he endured shipwreck. For the Greeks, he appealed to their belief in an unknown God. For the Hebrews, he reminded them of their heritage. He truly was all things to all men that he might win some.

As writers, we have a message to drive home. Some of us write romance. Some of us write humor. And still others use imagination as a platform to dispel myths and bring home truth. Whatever genre we choose, the next step to sending our message is in the marketing. As in all other areas of our lives, the technique we use is dependent upon the person we want to reach. Some are speakers, some send out postcards, some advertise on-line, and some spread the word through the voice of others. In most cases, the writer will choose a variety of marketing avenues to get the message of his/her product to as many people as possible.

As I thought about these techniques, I am reminded that God treats us the same way. He will use whatever method he can to reach us with his Truth. Sometimes he whispers gently in our ear. Sometimes he takes the hard-line approach, slapping our rigid behinds with a proverbial two by four. He will be all things to us.

To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings
(1 Corinthians 9:21-23 NIV).

So what unique "stance" do you use to share your story? Leave a comment and let us know.
About the Author
I Prayed for Patience
by Linda Wood Rondeau 

Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel, The Other Side of Darkness (Harborlight), Linda Wood Rondeau writes stories of God’s mercies. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, Linda now resides in Jacksonville, Florida.

Linda’s best-selling Adirondack romance,  It Really IS a Wonderful Lifeis published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas and is available wherever books are sold.

These books are also available in ebook format along with her other ebooks by Helping Hands Press: I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children and Days of Vines and Roses. Songs in the Valley is scheduled for release this fall by Helping Hands Press.

Readers may visit her web site at or email her at  or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.  
Days of Vines and Roses
by Linda Wood Rondeau

About I Prayed for Patience: God Gave Me Children
Parenting is the hardest job in the world. God knows we are frail and forgives our mistakes. What’s more, He stands in the gap, making up for our deficiencies. “I believe God invented parenting to show us His wisdom, grace, and mercy as our Father,” says Rondeau. Parents are also God’s children, experiencing the same chaos, misadventure, and heartache as their charges, humorously demonstrated through a compilation of vignettes, quotes, illustrations, and witticisms.