Sunday, July 23, 2017
Monday, July 10, 2017
Saturday, July 1, 2017
Sunday, May 14, 2017
In honor of the holiday, I thought I'd share an excerpt of one of the stories from my first book, Green Shoes Mean I Love You. It's about my mother, Linda, and her long held belief that if she went to Hollywood, she'd become Elizabeth Taylor.
The Disappearing Liz Taylor
I asked my mother about the whole Making Liz Taylor Disappear theory. It was probably foolish of me to ask and yet I couldn't resist. At first I thought she meant if she went to Hollywood she would be an actress LIKE Liz Taylor or as famous AS Liz Taylor. This frustrated my mother who explained she wouldn't be LIKE Liz Taylor or ANOTHER Liz Taylor--she would be THE Liz Taylor.
"There's only ONE Liz Taylor!" my mother scolded me. "There's never going to be ANOTHER Liz Taylor!" (tone of voice: My God, who raised you)
"So you would be her, the one and only HER?"
"How would that work exactly?" I asked her.
"What do you mean, how would it work? She'd disappear. I'd be her."
"OK so Liz Taylor would just be gone?"
"No she wouldn't be GONE, she'd be right THERE. I'd be HER. I swear, sometimes it's like you just don't pay attention."
I tried a different angle. "But the first Liz Taylor, Liz Taylor Number One, she would be gone. And you would be there, you would be Liz Two."
"Yes!" (smiling happily at the thought)
"But what happens to Linda?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well Linda becomes Liz Two so who takes the place of the original Linda, up here in Seattle?"
"I'm not sure. That part is a mystery."
"OK so as long as you stay up here, as long as you don't go near Hollywood, Liz Taylor Number One gets to stay Liz Taylor."
"So that's awfully nice of you to stay here so she gets to stay her."
"Yes that's true."
"But if you went there tomorrow--"
"Is she aware of this?"
"I don't think so."
It was one of the most pleasant conversations I ever had with my mother.
Amie Ryan is the author of essay collections GREEN SHOES MEAN I LOVE YOU and STARFISH ON THURSDAY and the Marilyn Monroe biography MARILYN: LOVED BY YOU. To learn more, visit https://www.amieryan.com
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
It's tax time here in the US and because I'm a true blue American, I have a good, healthy fear of the I.R.S. When filing my income taxes, I include my W-2s but I also include my Amazon 1099-MISC. That's fancy tax form talk for the form Amazon sends me (and sends the IRS!) that says how much money I made in royalties from my books, which is taxable income. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the IRS, in case they're listening.
This is also the time of year indies will get a bunch of blurry advice about claiming writing expenses on their taxes. Well it's good you're reading this article because I'm about to save you a LOT of time.
You probably don't want to claim any of those itemized deductions. Any of them. Zilch. Zero. Unless your total deductions are going to be more than your standard deduction ($6200, for a single person like myself), you're just losing money. That's because it's an either/or situation. You can EITHER take itemized deductions OR the standard deduction. Not both.
Once I realized I could EITHER get a deduction of $600 OR $6200, the decision was fairly easy.
If you're a person who already has over six grand in deductions, then you probably do want to add as many items as legitimate business expenses as you can. Build that candy mountain, people.
But beware. Keep it accurate, have receipts to prove your word, and never for one moment stop fearing the IRS.
Different writers will have different expenses. Listed below are things you can safely claim as legitimate expenses:
Book cover art fees
Ads for your books
Ads for your book signings
Cost of all freebie items you gave away
Cost of renting area for book signings
Costs for any food/beverages you gave at these
Your transportation costs to signings and back
Writing classes or events you paid to attend
Transportation costs to get there and back
If you had hotel costs for above, claim them
Website yearly fee
Domain yearly fee
P.O. Box monthly fee if used just for your books
Fees to enter book contests
Cost to buy and ship your book to said contests
Office supplies (keep it honest & keep receipts)
Books you purchased to improve your writing
or how to market your product better
Books you purchased as research for your books
Yes, include cost you paid for shipping
Business lunches, if you had them.
There are other, blurrier items:
What about WiFi cost? You probably use this for your writing and promoting all the time. Be careful. Calculate the % of WiFi you actually use for book related stuff. I was going to claim 10%.
What about purchases like laptops, Chromebooks, etc? Figure out how many years the item will last. If it's three, then claim one third the amount you paid, and be sure to keep the receipts.
Technically, you can claim an amount for a Home Office. If you have an area you use only for writing, you can claim $5 per square foot, up to $1500. Technically. It's my opinion this is a fuzzy area and not one I'm willing to be cute on for the mere $80 it would give me.
Remember, the IRS hates cute.
There you have it! If you already have expenses greater than the standard deduction, definitely claim all your legit writing-related ones. If it's better for you to take the standard deduction, then you're just going to have to make your fortune by selling books.
And keeping your day job.
Amie Ryan is the author of essay collections GREEN SHOES MEAN I LOVE YOU, STARFISH ON THURSDAY, and the Marilyn Monroe biography MARILYN: LOVED BY YOU. Learn more at www.amieryan.com
Monday, January 30, 2017
My friend Jenny told me Steven was rich. Not just rich, but rich rich. This was a detail I hadn't noticed; we were in the ninth grade and he was my first real boyfriend. I disagreed with her. He couldn't be rich: he acted too normal.
"He is, " she insisted.
Jenny often noticed money more than other kids. Her mom was raising her alone and had to budget everything. When Jenny was told she could buy three new notebooks, it meant three, not four, and they had to be the brand that was on sale.
Most of the kids we went to school with came from families with money and we took a lot for granted. I never thought much of my parents' big house until I saw Jenny's apartment. I knew some really nice kids who didn't have money but rarely invited them home to spare them feeling bad and me not knowing how to make it better.
I was about to get a firsthand lesson about feeling bad.
After a week or two, Steven invited me to come to his house after school and then have dinner with his family. We exited the school bus and began walking up the driveway to his house and the driveway was half a block long. That was the first difference.
After a few scenic twists and turns, bordered on each side by landscaped shrubbery, his house rose up, three stories tall. It was a grand, expensive looking house the size of a small hotel. My eyes noted a spot of green to the right of us, and I looked to see a tennis court. We got to his front door and I was distracted again, this time by the sparkling blue water of a backyard swimming pool.
Once inside, I got the full tour, and it was impressive. Each room was so perfectly decorated it made me speak in a hushed tone, as if I might somehow offend the furniture or wallpaper if I spoke too loudly. I pretended I had to use the bathroom so I could call Jenny. In a whisper I told her "You were right, he's rich. I'm calling you from the PHONE in their bathroom. They have a phone in their bathroom!"
"I told you," she said.
I marveled that the ordinary seeming boy who took me to movies was secretly living a whole different life as a rich kid. He was like Clark Kent, in a way, and this gave me a new reason to like him. Other kids with this much money might be jerks, but not Steven.
Later we walked out the side French doors and onto a rich expanse of grass, dotted with apple and cherry trees. We walked down a slope toward the water and he showed me his family's dock. It was 75 feet or so and although docks were nothing new in my hometown, you usually found them at marinas or parks, not in someone's backyard.
"We have to share it with the family next door," Steven said kind of sadly.
At dinner I encountered the heavy feel of real silver. Steven's little sister sat across from me and laughed when I didn't know how to use the silver corn cob holders, objects I had never heard of before that day. Steven's mother sat to my left and eyed me like I was something her son had found at a garage sale.
I was out of my league. I hated the feeling and hated his mother for giving it to me.
When I got home my mother asked if I'd had a good time.
"No," I told her.
I didn't have the heart to tell her why. It would have required explaining the difference between new money and old money and just how much that difference still meant. She and my father worked hard so they could afford a big house in the suburbs and a boat to take on vacation. They could afford to go anywhere, but often had no idea how to act once they got there. It wasn't their fault they'd passed this awkwardness down to me.
I suddenly found my boyfriend less attractive. I didn't want to get used to the way his mother made me feel so I broke up with him a week later.
We stayed friends and got back together several times, but the older he got, the more the money affected him. He began to judge people based on the model of their cars and where they went on vacation and what their parents did for a living. He didn't seem like Clark Kent anymore.
When he was 22 he married a girl who had just finished dental school and whose parents had given her a private dental practice as a graduation gift. Steven's graduation gift from his parents was more modest: a check for ten thousand dollars.
He used it as a down payment on the house next to his parents. No more sharing the private dock. Steven's dad retired from his insurance firm and Steven took his place as partner, a plan which had been in place since his birth.
Today he has three children who are looked after by an au pair and Steven and his wife have dinner every Sunday night with his parents. His kids are still in high school. It'll be a few years yet before their money starts to show.
Amie Ryan is the author of essay collections GREEN SHOES MEAN I LOVE YOU and STARFISH ON THURSDAY and the Marilyn Monroe biography MARILYN: LOVED BY YOU. To learn more, please visit www.amieryan.com