Saturday, March 31, 2007

Using the Government to Achieve Goals

By Keith Fisher

It’s that time again. The time when I try to convince the government that I made less last year than they think I did. It’s a problem aggravated by having to cash in an annuity in order to make ends meet.

After hearing Rachel Ann Nunes talk about taxes for writers in the 2006 LDStorymakers Writers Conference, I decided to look into tax deductions.

As you might have guessed, the first step is admitting I’m a writer. Not that I’ve been keeping a secret, but now I have to let Big Brother in on the news. So I typed, Digital Preservation Specialists/Freelance Writer on the occupation line. That’s when I remembered Connie’s blog a few weeks ago. Like her, I can always use a good visual image to spur me onward so I listed Freelance Writer/Digital Preservation Specialist.

In going over the issues with a friend who prepares tax returns and is a law student, I found I could use schedule C and list all the write offs from my writing business. And I can do it every year.

My friend said the Self-employment tax form isn’t necessary because I didn’t make over $400.00. That means I can list all my expenses on Schedule C; Toner, paper, copies, the website, Membership fees, and the cost of the writer’s conference. The list can be endless. Of course I will need careful documentation.

One thing though, if you use this form, then check box number 2 and list the accounting method as accrual. Also, check it out with your tax person. I don’t want to catch the blame for your audit.

By the time I get this solution thoroughly researched, I’m sure it will be too late to file and perhaps the government will have forgotten about me. And they said I’m not a fiction writer . . . the real version? Congress will change the tax law just before I file. The IRS will laugh at my return; they’ll add it to their wallpaper, stamp the word sucker on my forehead, and attempt to squelch my uppity aspirations of being an author. May-be I really am a writer . . .

Friday, March 23, 2007

Just Happy to Be Here

By Keith Fisher

I’ve been knee deep in the writer’s conference today and I need to post this tonight before I fall into bed. If you missed the conference today, I’m sorry for you. It was great! I attended a class about grammar and punctuation that left me self-conscious about my writing. I’m not sure if I should’ve used a comma up there or not. Okay let the chips fall where they may and since I won’t have to time to run it past the group for editing, the chips probably will fall. They’ll fall from the Internet and leak out of your computer screen, oozing onto the floor. Okay, maybe we’re not talking potato chips here.

I only have a few minutes so I’ll get right to the point. Rachel Ann Nunes, (pronounced noon-ish for those who are uninformed). Anyway she talked about the state of the LDS market. It was a good presentation and left us with hope that the market will be good but we have to work hard and learn the craft and keep writing.

At one point during her presentation, she compared our niche market with the national market and I asked the question: Why won’t national market publishers print LDS books? The answer was a good one, she said, because LDS fiction tends to try and convert.

I’ve got to agree with that, God’s stated purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. If our need to write was given as a gift from God, then we should help to fulfill that purpose with that gift.

To be fair though, I think I can understand the fear of being converted. One of the things I would never do as a missionary was force someone to listen.

But I have another question and an observation: I hate to admit it, but I have been reading some of Dean Koontz’s books lately and I’ve noticed very strong overtones involving another church. He puts far more references to the other church in his books than the LDS references I put in my books. Other authors put less than I do. What’s the difference?

If we refer to the LDS church in our books, the moral family values are shown. Love of God and keeping the commandments are like innuendo. But it’s as it should be. As I said, If God is the source of our writing desires, then we can’t help express our love for him.

I am curious though, What would happen if one of us wrote a demons and monsters book with a character that is a worthy priesthood holder, who is not necessarily a Mormon missionary? In the story, the character would banish the demons and monsters and everyone would be happy in the end.

I said this would be short but I guess I was wrong. See you tomorrow at the conference.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I’m Sorry Teacher but My Dog Ate my Homework

By Keith Fisher

Okay I didn’t finish part two of the two-part blog. I was caught napping (I mean editing) when something, (Cooking Dutch oven for the whole Fourth Grade), sneaked up from behind and hit me on the head.

Then I was roped into Judging at a Dutch oven cook off, I gave a talk in Church, and I still haven’t prepared my lesson for Priesthood meeting.

Starting Monday, (afternoon, because I work Sunday night at eleven and I’ll be sleeping Monday Morning). I have to get myself organized for the LDStorymakers conference. I was foolish enough to say I’d help with the Mix & Mingle. So, part two may not get posted next week either. (I’ll probably be writing about some totally sage thing someone says at the conference).

Through all of this, I finished another novel, (Now I’m napping, I mean editing.) It’s going to be terrific. If you read it, you will cry. It is the story of twin brothers who . . . well I don’t want to give anything away until I get it re-written. Perhaps I’ll have a stack of volunteer readers by then.

You know, not that I’m Rambling, but during the time period above, I made copies of Eternal Tapestries, (you know the cover I put on this blog?) Anyway, I gave those copies to the ward RS book club and I’m on pins and needles, waiting to hear what they think.

I hope you’re waiting with baited breath for the second part of the other blog. It may get hairy. Well, not really, but I got your attention didn’t I?

It’s Saturday night and I know you have been wondering why I didn’t post early this morning. (See above). I am excited about the conference coming up and I hope to see you there. Look for me, I’ll be the guy with the Dutch oven burn on his arm. I felt like a newbie with a Dutch oven, but that’s another story. Good luck and good writing.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Do You Feel Inclined to Censure

OR . . .

"I promise I’ll be a good writer just please, don’t burn my book!"

By Keith Fisher

This is the first part of a two-part blog that is intended to incite the expression of opinions. I'm on my soapbox again and I would like to hear your opinions, but please keep your comments within the parameters of the spirit of the blog.

In 1933 Nazi youth groups, encouraged by Hitler, set out to burn books in Germany. The books they burned were subversive by their own standards, not conducive to the doctrine of the state.

I have been told that in 367 AD, in the interest of purity of religion, Athanasius, a Bishop of Alexandria ordered the Egyptian monks to destroy more than 95 percent of a legendary library that had been built for thousands of years.

These were not the only groups guilty of this act of abolition in a quest for absolution. Many have repeated this atrocity throughout the centuries, to the extent of the loss of irreplaceable volumes of the history of man.

Recently, I was reading a book by author, editor, and publisher, Sol Stein. After reading his non-fiction books about writing, I looked forward with great anticipation to reading one of his novels.
In the forward of Stein’s book, The Magician, the author talked about the history of the novel, and discussed at length, the banning of his book by several school districts in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Immediately, my hackles were raised. I thought back to a time in my youth when there were several books on the "questionable list" Such books as Catcher in the Rye, the Great Gatsby, and Breakfast of Champions, to mention a few.

I thought of the television episode of Mash when the characters were driven crazy by the desire to see a banned movie called The Moon is Blue. When they finally saw the movie, they discovered the questionable material was really nothing, especially by today’s TV standards.

History shows that when you attach the word "BANNED" to anything, it only increases the desire of consumers to experience it.

I was torn between my intellectual side and my spiritual side. On one hand, I was appalled that anyone would ban a book. After all, isn’t banning the first step to burning? On the other hand I read further in the Magician and I asked myself, would I want my kids to read that book?

I turned to my neighbor for his thoughts. He is a sociology professor who has taught in both LDS and state institutions. I recited for him, my dilemma. His response is telling, he said, "I have asked my students to read materials that I wouldn’t want my own children to read." As an educator, his task is to teach his students about different cultures and some of them reflect a different set of standards than does the LDS culture.

For now, I can control what I, and my children read. You might say I’m banning books in my family. But the evidence is in. Children are better adjusted if they are allowed to keep purity of mind and heart for as long as they can. It’s true that naiveté is a factor, but my heart tells me they are better off learning certain things later in life, when they can deal with it in an adult way.

On the other side there is the parent who bans LDS fiction and non-fiction from his family. The parent is undoubtedly convinced that his children will be brainwashed by those blankety-blank Mormons.

Continued in my next blog

Saturday, March 3, 2007

A Spot on the horizon

By Keith Fisher

Recently, I was reminded of the old hiking trick of finding a landmark on the horizon and making that your goal. Then when that spot is reached you find another one. Reaching goals in little chunks is a tried and true method of reaching a larger goal.

While perusing the Authors Incognito group page I discovered the book covers created by authors that were planning ahead. (Elizabeth and Darvell.) I admired their work and realized I could use this idea in mapping my success.

I created my own book cover for one of my books. I turned it into a jpeg then I set it as the background for the desktop on my computer. Now every time I turn it on, I’m reminded of my goal. It’s my inspiration, a goal I’m working toward. It helps me persist in achieving the large goal of becoming a successful author while I work on all my other projects.

My book cover is like a refrigerator magnet that is designed to inspire me to greatness. It’s a positive image I can focus on. It’s different than a picture of my overweight body placed on the refrigerator in an effort to loose weight. It’s my spot on the horizon.

I know a publisher will probably have other ideas for the cover, but for now, it helps me stay focused.