Monday, January 30, 2012

The tax man cometh

Once January comes around, the Toussaint household goes into tax frenzy. We sort through piles of receipts and mileage logs, check registers and credit card statements. The goal is to find all the money we spent on business in the last year.

In 2011, I had a mystery release in hardcover and large print, and I re-released a backlist romance. Those efforts came with expenses: chapbooks, postcards, envelopes, stamps, mailing labels, large envelopes for ARCs and giveaways, plush St. Bernard puppies to launch the mystery, an ISBN bundle from Bowker, and a new book cover - plus author copies to sell at local festivals. I tried a Facebook ad this year for the indie pubbed book. Ca-ching!

Then I looked at conferences. I hit three in 2011: Malice Domestic, Killer Nashville, and Writer's Police Academy. We drove to all of those places, so we kept track of all the mileage. Other receipts I have from the trip include lodging, food, and research books. And yes, all books I buy at conferences and in my genres are research material. Hang onto those receipts, friends! Also for the conference circuit this year, I sprang for imprinted pens. Hopefully those didn't get tossed with all the hundreds of conference bookmarks.

2011 was the year of public speaking for me. I spoke to 2 chapters of Florida Writers Association, one romance chapter in St. Augustine, one beginning writers conference in Jacksonville, a couple times at my home chapter in Jacksonville, and at an event in the Outer Banks, N.C. For some of these I had lodging costs and for all, mileage to write down. Some of these events paid honoraiums, so the record of the payment is a tax document.

I rented a booth at several festivals this year for the purpose of selling my books. Those booth fees, plus the hardware apron I bought to be my money holder, are business expenses.

Then there were professional memberships. I'm in RWA, MWA, SINC, Florida Writers, and McIntosh Art Association. All those dues are tax deductible for writers. Plus reference and research materials - like my RT magazine subscription. Definitely biz related.

I transitioned from a desktop to a laptop in 2011. The new computer, software, and virus protection - all business expenses. I also had a bill come in from my webhost - my multi-year package of hosting was up for renewal - business expense. Also, website updates, which I pay for, these count as business expenses. Toner for the printer and paper for the printer - bought several of each in 2011 - added to the tally.

I also had a few unique office expenses. After I knocked a full glass of iced tea all over my sticky note pile of different passwords, I realized I needed a better system. I bought an old fashioned Rolodex, and I've been quite pleased with it. File folders, binder clips, and even batteries for your computer mouse - business expenses.

If you pay someone to do your taxes, it's a business expense. Don't forget to count that on your own taxes.

On the income side, total up your advances, royalties, speaker fees, honariums, festival proceeds. If you edit for money or write short stories for magazines - all biz income.

I decided to branch out this year and create postcards of my home town. That printing cost is a business expense. Income generated from them must also be tallied.

If I've left something out, please chime in with a comment. Let's all make sure we don't forget a category of expenses.

Maggie Toussaint
Death, Island Style, March 2012 - the artsy lady is accused of killing the dead guy in the surf
Murder in the Buff, March 2012 - murder blooms in the naturalists' garden

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Death Island Style dubbed eccentric and fun

I just got a fab review in from Romantic Times for Death, Island Style which releases March 7, 2012. They rate books up to 4 ½ stars. DIS got 4 stars.

 Here’s the review: "This extremely intriguing story goes well beyond normal cozy plotlines. The beautiful beach scenes and the well-thought-out descriptions make the coastal background come to life. Eccentric and fun, this book is definitely worth a read. "– Amy Lignor, Romantic Times. March 2012, Issue # 337, p. 70.

There's lots of happy dancing in coastal Georgia today!

What's especially wonderful is that my love for the beach translated so well through the pages. Now that I'm in sun avoidance mode, I don't get to the beach very often, but for years, being at the beach was my most favorite thing to do in the whole world.

I'd watch the waves curl and spill, hear the roar of the surf crashing on the beach, and smell that wonderful salt air. Truly heaven on earth for me. I'd sit there and extend my gaze to the horizon, wondering where all that water had been and where it was headed next. We have the Gulf Stream off the coast of Georgia, so the current most likely shifts the water north and a bit east.

But still it was fun to imagine where the water came from. Had it at one time been groundwater far under the soil? Had it rained down out of the sky? Had it wintered in the Caribbean?

The nice thing about the seashore is there is always something to watch. The natural ecosystem of birds, crabs, shells, and marine life all provide interest to me. And then there's people. Hard not to people watch at the beach.

I like to see what people have on and wonder about their backstories. What were they doing that morning? Were they escaping housework to be here? Did they know how badly they were sunburned?

Oh well, you can see how my mind drifts and flows, much like the tides. I'm super excited about the RT review and hope many readers and librarians clamor for this FUN book. Read an excerpt at

Maggie Toussaint
a fun author!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Maggie is on the Amazing Authors Tour

My moment in the sun as part of the #amazingeventauthors mini-blog tour!

When the water is muddy, you can't tell what's coming downstream, what's under your boat, or where the channel is. Muddy Waters are trouble with a capital T.

In my romantic suspense, Muddy Waters, both Roxie and Sloan are awash with troubles and can't see the future. Both know what they want, but attaining those goals seems insurmountable.

Here's the book blurb:

Roxie Whitaker is struggling to make her grandmother’s real estate business a success. When her coastal home is burglarized, her rosy worldview dims. Atlanta security expert Sloan Harding distracts her from her troubles, but is Mossy Bog’s former bad boy serious about her?

Never one to shy away from trouble, Sloan is determined to find his alleged missing inheritance. Sparks fly as he enters into a business arrangement with Roxie to oversee the restoration of his childhood home. With her help, Sloan resurrects old secrets while a dangerous predator stalks them.

With passion and danger muddying the waters, will love see the light of day?

Available in digital or print format:
Kindle   Wild Rose Press and Amazon     Barnes_and_Noble

Here's an excerpt from the book:

“The lost Harding fortune did have a point of origin," Sloan said. “There was no money banked when my grandfather died. My father insisted granddad hid it from him, and from there the story grew.
“No one else believed my father’s drunken ramblings. Granddad wasn’t a rich man, and he could have had unknown expenses that burnt through his savings. But two things keep me from dismissing this outright.
“First, my father was so sure he’d been scammed. He didn’t hold fast to many things, but he never wavered on this. Second, if there’s any chance at all that my grandfather hid any money, it’s mine to find.”
“That’s why you didn’t sell the house before?” Roxie’s blue green eyes regarded Sloan expectantly. “Because you needed to come home to find the truth? To uphold your granddad’s good name?”
There she went again, putting words in his mouth. He wasn’t a saint. He was a Harding. “I don’t need the money. My company is doing fine. I have questions about the past, that’s all.”
“Questions? What kind of questions?”
Why wouldn’t she let the subject drop? Did she expect him to admit his father had been crazy? Or that he harbored serious doubts about his granddad’s sanity? What sane man hid his estate from his heir?
And if said heir searched for the missing money, was he crazy too?
No way was he admitting all that. 
*     *     *     *
Be sure and visit Patsy's blog tomorrow. Here's her link:  
There will be a giveaway on the last day of the blog mini-tour, and the ebook of Muddy Waters is up for grabs. The question from this blog is: What is Sloan determined to find?
      *  *  *  *
Maggie Toussaint
romance and mystery author
Coming in March:
Death, Island Style .. a little fun, a little sun, and a dead body in the surf
Murder in the Buff ... secrets at the nudist colony lead to murder

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cousin Sister

Family trees have unique branches
Last night while we were out and about, we chanced to meet up with my cousin Sister. She has a "real" name, but family members have always called her Sister, because that's what her three brothers called her while we were all growing up. So even though she isn't my sister (she's my first cousin), I call her Sister, too.

This got me to thinking about family names. Besides my cousin Sister, I had an Aunt Bubba, and Bubba is usually a nickname for a male.

We have lots of Bigs and Littles in our family. Big Hunter, Little Hunter, "Savannah" Hunter, and now Baby Hunter. When I named my oldest daughter after my best friend Suzanne, we got Big and Little Suzanne. In an odd twist of fate, Big Suzanne is married to Little Hunter, though their sizes and weights are the opposite of their descriptors.

We have two family members that went by initials: T.P. and T.C. Both men had Thomas as their first name, so you might think we had a family aversion to the name Tom, but T.C.'s daughter named her son for him, and he goes by the "first" name of Tom Crawford.

Oh! I nearly forgot this one. Another first cousin was a second child. She grew up hearing her sister Gay saying the word "Mama" for their mom. So Little Syb called their mom "Gay's Mama."

I also had an aunt named Tootsie.

I've laid a portion of my family tree out there for you. Care to share about the "different" names of your family? A free download to one lucky commentor. The prize drawing will be on Friday afternoon, so it's not too late to post.

Maggie Toussaint

Coming in March:
Death, Island Style - a little sun, a little fun, a dead guy in the surf
Murder in the Buff - murder blooms in the nudists' organic garden

Monday, January 2, 2012

What's your favorite pen?

Are you particular about what you write with? I've discovered the world is divided into two kinds of people: Pen People and Other People. If you're like me, you're a pen person.

When I first began writing books, I did it the old-fashioned way by writing the words on the page. There's something so satisfying about forming the words with your hands. To this day, when I get stuck on a scene, I'll take pen and pad in hand and plunk down on the sunporch until I get it right.

Let's talk pens.

I like a pen that glides across a page. A good pen shouldn't require you to mash the point into the page to get a result. A good pen allows the ink to flow in a smooth manner, no globs or goobers. I had a few mistakes with felt tip pens when I stopped to think. I'd look down and there'd be a dark spot obliterating a key point I'd already conjured from the story ether.

A good pen is lightweight. Coming out of a quality assurance background where I had to sign my name hundreds of times a day, I learned that a heavy pen will wear you out. For me, lightweight is best.

I have small hands, so I like the shaft to be just right. Not too fat, not too skinny. And not too froufrou with feathers or bobble heads on top.

Medium point works best for me, because using a fine point means I need my reading glasses.

And I like a comfy grip. Not too squishy, but indented a little bit here and there.

I get bored with black ink too. I like a good blue and a red, and I've been known to sport a dark green or a deep purple as well. I prefer the contrast of darker inks.

So what's your fav? Gel pens? Sharpies? Pentels? Bics? Papermates?

Do you like the clip-on part? Do you care if the point is retractable? Inquiring minds want to know!!!

Maggie Toussaint
coming in March: Death, Island Style and Murder in the Buff