by Charles Kiernan
Jean is member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and its Published Authors Network and Faith, Hope, and Love Inspirational Chapter, as well as, the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She’s also a founding member of the Capital Region (NY) Romance Writers RWA Chapter.
She holds an M.A. in Public Law from the Nelson A. Rockefeller School of Public Affairs (SUNY Albany) and the Certified Financial Planner®designation. While Jean is as at-home writing tax and financial advice as writing novels, she finds novel writing more fun.
Charles Kiernan: You will be doing two workshops during the Write Stuff Conference. The first of these is Romancing the IRS. I have heard about things called “deductions”, but I am going to guess there is more to it than that. Do I need to be a published author to take advantage of your advice?
Jean Gordon: No, you don't have to be published to benefit from my workshop. Unpublished writers who are actively pursuing paid publication may be able to deduct many of their writing expenses as business expenses for federal income-tax purposes, as can paid speakers deduct speaking expenses. I'll be discussing deductible business expenses and the requirements for deducting them. Also, for anyone, I'll talk about contributing to a retirement plan as a way to reduce federal income taxes. Retirement planning is another of my specialties at my day job. And I'm open to questions on either subject.C: What sorts of questions do people typically have when talking about deductions? Do you find people don’t really know what can be counted as a deduction?
J: The typical questions are: Can I deduct [fill in the blank]? Or how much can I deduct for [fill in blank]? Most people use the standard deduction, rather than itemizing deductions, so they may not be familiar with claiming deductions or keeping records to claim itemized deductions. Recordkeeping is an important part of tax planning. You might be surprised at the number of items an average family may be able to deduct. Many people also are not familiar with the business deductions they may be able to claim for their writing and how to know if they are qualified to claim business deductions. My workshop concentrates on business deductions, but I'll be happy to answer questions on other deductions, as well.
C: Does a writer have to stop writing to retire? That sounds like a stupid question, but perhaps it is not.
J: No, not at all. A fair number of authors look forward to the day they can retire from their day job to devote more time to writing books. Full-time novelists may want to slow down in their later years and write only select books or make fewer speaking appearances. It's good to have a retirement nestegg to supplement writing income, which we all know can be sporadic, and Social Security benefits.
C: Your second workshop is Gone in 60 Minutes Synopsis Workshop. I find that title intriguing. What is meant by it?
J: This workshop is an exercise I developed to hit the key points in a romance novel needed to write a selling synopsis. Handouts will include my completed exercise and synopsis for one of my published books. Once the writer has completed the exercise, s/he should be able to write the actual synopsis in about an hour. I think it could be used by other genres, as well. It requires active participation by the attendees. As an incentive, I'll be giving away copies of some of my books to participants who are willing to share with the group.
C: Oh, a free book, good. What is the elevator pitch for your latest book?J: This is my pitch for Small-Town Mom, which will be out in July: The military gave Eli Payton life. It took Jamie Glasser's heart. Now, can she trust him and God to help her find it again?
C: What project are you working on a present?
J: I'm working on my fourth Love Inspired Romance set in Paradox Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. Here's the lead paragraph from my synopsis, written using my Gone in 60 Minutes Synopsis exercise: After an unforeseen tragedy, midwife Autumn Hazard feels her purpose in life has deserted her. Dr. Jonathan Mitchell Hanlon sees his new position as director of the Ticonderoga birthing center as a stepping stone to achieving his. What neither realizes is that they can’t move forward without each other.
C: Thanks so much, we look forward to seeing you at the conference.