Posted by Donna MacMeans Mar 25 2015, 12:18 am in Donna MacMeans, goofy sales tax
Hi all –
I just got back from Houston, TX last night and I could kick myself. I should have bought a pair of cowboy boots (or are they cowgirl boots?) while there as their sale is exempt from sales tax. Go figure! I was in Houston for an RWA board meeting and didn’t have a lot of time to shop, or means to get to a shopping center, but I’m afraid that was an opportunity lost. Cowboy boots are a part of the state’s identity and thus receives special treatment — which makes me think of other goofy tax rules. While I’m currently surrounded by tax returns, I think taking a look at other strange but true tax tales might be fun.
Alaska – When I think of space travel, I think of Texas (Houston in fact) and Florida. I do not think of Alaska. Perhaps they plan to change that by exempting all goods and services related to space flight to include any product launches or items intended to be launched into space – even if it never returns. Seriously? They get a tax break and the right to create space junk?
California – Sales tax is charged on snow in California. Thankfully, not this kind of snow . (Not sure how one collects from Mother Nature). Rather they charge tax on manufactured snow – the artificial kind that’s used at ski resorts to get the right amount of powder. I guess that might cut back on decorating a Californian house with snow for a Christmas party. The process for making snow is taxable.
Maryland charges a tax to flush a toliet. It’s for a good cause, though. The money collected is used to protect the Chesapeake Bay. So when folks in Maryland seek that physical relief, they can even rest easier. LOL.
Washington State legalized marijuna. However, they declared it neither a food nor an agricultural product. Is it a manufactured product? That doesn’t make sense. Still, by declaring it not an agricultural product, the state can charge sales tax for it’s purchase PLUS charge an extra 25% excise tax. It gives new meaning to the term cash crop.
Food is generally tax exempt in all states…except in North Carolina. University students there have to pay sales tax on university meal plans. It supports what I’ve long expected. What is served under those meal plans is not really food.
Now if I had my way, romance novels would be sales tax exempt. They should qualify as a medical expenditure because the stories are uplifting and make you feel good. Don’t you agree? The world would be a better place if everyone read romance.
If you had the authority, what would you exempt from sales tax? Come on, I know you have some great ideas!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Mar 1 2015, 12:05 am in Behind Enemy Lines, Caren Crane, Carol Warfield, Dangerous Secrets, Donna MacMeans, Ides Of March, Jeanne Adams, Red Door Reads, Tiara Wars, Tiny Treats, Tiny Treats 2
Finally March! Can spring be far behind? I sure hope not!
Welcome to the first month of the new, laid-back Lair. As you can see, we’ll be around from time to time, and we’ll also have guests on occasion.
Bandita Jeanne Adams will be in the Lair on March 8th to talk about Spring Books, Springboks, Reeboks and Heading Into Bloom Time (just kidding about the Springboks. Wanted to see if you were paying attention!) She’ll also be giving away a copy of her WWII Novella, Behind Enemy Lines.
On March 17, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the Lair. We’ll have Sven’s special canapés along with other yummy treats and, of course, the traditional green beer. Rumor has it that the cabana boys will all join in the wearin’ o’ the green.
We’re also celebrating the launch of a new anthology, Tiny Treats 2: A St. Patrick’s Day Collection, which features micro-stories that are great for the occasion. Some of the authors will be dropping in. So come join the party!
Caroline Warfield will be back in the lair on March 24th to talk about sex (Heavens!) and her new release.
As Donna MacMeans will be on the road on March 23rd (at least she’s headed someplace warm and sunny) she’ll be blogging on March 25th instead.
Nancy Northcott will be in the Lair on March 26 to chat about books under the bed and other unfinished projects.
Caren Crane is taking part in a special IDES OF MARCH sale by some of the Red Door Reads authors! To get you in the spirit (or spirits?) of the Ides Of March, the authors at Red Door Reads have put titles on sale for only 99 cents! Caren’s TIARA WARS is part of this sale. Check out a list of all the sale titles at www.CarenCrane.com. (And while you are there, please sign up for my newsletter! )
If you want a reminder when we’re here and chatting, remember that you can sign up for the RSS feed. If you have any problem with that, email romance bandits AT gmail DOT come (no spaces) and let us know.
What’s your favorite thing about the month of March?
Posted by Donna MacMeans Feb 23 2015, 12:05 am in Donna MacMeans, Renovation
First, I wanted to say – I’m NOT LEAVING! LOL. I actually enjoy blogging and I don’t think I could express a single thought in 140 characters or less I promise to drop into the Romance Bandits Facebook page on occasion, but if you follow me as an individual on Facebook, you know that I’m not there often. I’m more of a face-to-face interaction sort of girl. So I hope you continue to swing by the lair on occasion. Hopefully, one of those occasions will be on the 23rd of each month, because I’ll be here. (Also, be sure to stop by tomorrow when Morgan Malone will be blogging about her two new debut releases and next month when Caroline Warfield will return to the lair.)
But now that that’s out of the way, let me say that I can totally understand the renovation in the lair. We all need to freshen up our environments occasionally. That was the thought when my husband began our own “small” renovation project. Have you ever noticed how the smallest of problems on the surface tend to have deep roots that take you places you never intended? Yeah, that’s my life. :-).
You may recall, if you follow my Facebook postings, that I had a problem in the spring with mushrooms springing out of the base of the toilet. Let me tell you – if that isn’t freaky, I’m not sure what is. We learned that the mushrooms were the result of a slow leak in the toilet. Slow as in 20 years slow. The wood beneath the tile became swollen. Some of the tiles cracked from the pressure (we thought it was the house settling). The wood decayed and fueled the mushrooms. So we pulled the toilet, pulled up the tile, cut out the bad wood, replaced everything, had to buy new tile because the old tile was obsolete, and $1000 later – the mushrooms were gone. Here’s our new tile.
We’d decided the time had come to pull down the old peeling wallpaper in the laundry room, kitchen, and dining room (and some in the family room where the cat had mistaken the rice paper wallpaper for a scratching post) and paint the walls. I collected estimates which my husband nixed as too expensive. He could do the project himself – once he bought the proper tools, of course. Have you ever noticed that for all the stuff they keep in the basement, men never have the right tools. He started on the tiny laundry room well before Christmas and finished sometime in mid-January and suddenly realized that the quotes were not too expensive for the work required after all The picture to the left is the freshly painted laundry room.
So we had to pack up the considerable glassware and breakables from the dining room, remove everything from the walls, and moved the furniture to the middle of the room so the painters could work. What was quoted as a three day job, took six – with the downstairs fairly unusable while in process. Meanwhile my husband decided to pack up and paint my son’s old bedroom so my daughter could move into it. That entailed doing much the same thing upstairs. Furniture moved into my office temporarily. I could not write in the midst of all that. Could not. Once the painters were done, I was able to put the big furniture and the breakables back, but the carpet cleaners came on the heels of the painters to do the rugs. They did the whole house. Again – could not write in the tiny space allotted.
But it’s all done now…temporarily. Wish I had taken pictures of the place before, but here’s some after. I love the fresh clean look. The picture to the right of the gray top and dark gray bottom is from my dining room. That replaced peeling blue wallpaper with pink flowers. I stenciled the pattern on the left when we moved into the house about 30 years ago. It was on the soffits in the kitchen. The photo on the right shows the new painted kitchen. It’s hard to see, but if you look above the doors, you’ll see the stencil is now gone (sniff). The painting on the wall leading to the laundry room is of the farm where we picked our pumpkins for carving when the kids were little. The farm is gone – but I have the painting
In the midst of all this, we discovered the hardwood floor in the kitchen beneath the refrigerator is starting to buckle. Why? Another one of those *%#! slow leaks. Good Lord. Now I have to find someone to rip up the floorboards and fix the subfloor. Life just seems to be like that sometimes, one unplanned thing after another.
I hope you’ll hang with the Romance Bandits as we freshen up and become more visible on social media. But if you’d rather stay with the blog, I’ll be here in my newly painted writer’s cave. Watch for me to emerge on the 23rd of each month…except for next month when I’ll be hanging out at the Houston TX airport. I’ll be on the blog on March 25th instead… and whenever there’s a new author to bring to your attention.
So how about you? Any remodeling projects on the books? Any stories about small projects becoming a big deal? Tell me so I won’t feel that a curse is hanging over my head
Posted by Donna MacMeans Feb 3 2015, 4:58 pm in Barbara Vey's luncheon, Donna MacMeans, Productivity, writing life
In April 2014, Barbara Vey had a reader luncheon in Milwaukee, WI. Were you there? I know Jeanne Adams was.
Anyway, the night before the official luncheon day, Barbara invited all the authors to the stage where she asked them one by one a question she had specifically prepared for that person. Mine was “what is your typical writing day ” or something similiar. My mind went blank. I’m standing on a stage in front of all these readers and said… “I don’t have a typical day.”
It brought down the house, but got me thinking. Why not? What is my typical work day, and why is it so disorganized? I wish, wish, wish that when I was younger I was more disciplined about writing at a set number of hours at a set time, and that my writing time could not be violated by other priorities. Yeah, right.
Any one who works out of their house knows that the world assumes you aren’t working if you’re home. Kids automatically assume their needs come first. Husbands assume that you’re so efficient that their requests won’t make a dent in your productivity. Ha-ha-ha!
I’ve found that I work best on my screened in porch outside surrounded by nature. I can easily slip into my fictional world there. This is wonderful…unless you live in Columbus, Ohio where cloudy, cold, desolate days rule six months out of the year. So I try to work by a window. It’s not the same but it helps. I’ve told my husband we need to relocate to a warm sunny environment so I can write more. We’ll have to see it that happens. (I’m not holding my breath).
I’ve also discovered that I’m most productive when I’m forced to get up at a set time because someone is coming to the house to do some sort of work. Right now I have four men downstairs pulling down old wallpaper. Maybe this will be a great writing week! Normally, I’m up till 2 am and so sleep late in the morning. I’m watching to see if working earlier in the day results in more pages written.
To my surprise, I realized I’m highly productive away from home, even if I’m in a noisy environment like an airport. Just put on the earphones and I’m writing away. I discovered this when I had to work at Panera while waiting to pick up my son several times a week. The story just unfolded. Of course, I could watch my favorite tv shows, but I was productive. I need to take advantage of that more often.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m an accountant which makes me sort of anal anyway. I’m going to keep track of when I write, under what conditions, and then maybe you can help me create a template for a productive writing day. We can do this! I’m excited.
I’ll be back in Milwaukee this April for Barbara Vey’s luncheon. I’ll be ready for the work schedule question. Lord help me if she asks something else.
Posted by Donna MacMeans Jan 26 2015, 11:45 pm in 50 reasons to love romance, Bandit Booty, Donna MacMeans
Thanks for sharing your reasons for loving to read romance with me! The three winners of the Affaire De Couer calendars are:
If you could visit my website at www.DonnaMacMeans.com and send me your contact information, I’ll send these right out to you. Thanks much!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Jan 23 2015, 12:39 am in 50 reasons, Donna MacMeans, Susan Mallory, writer's life
Last October, I attended a workshop where Susan Mallory challenged the participants to make a list of 50 reasons they write romance. When times are tough, or if the author is having difficulty facing the blank page, they could pull out the list and remind themselves why they wanted to do this. As someone who uses “what if” lists to advance a story’s plot, I know that as the list fills up it becomes harder and harder to come up with new reasons to love writing romance. That’s when the “good stuff” happens.
So I made my list. I haven’t had to pull it out to remind myself why I do this, but I thought I’d share some of the answers with you – as I know you love romance as well. Don’t worry. I won’t bore you with all 50.
1. Fans! Where else can you work where people randomly send you messages from all other the world saying that they love your work! It’s amazing and deeply, deeply appreciated and unlike any other profession I’ve encountered. Romance fans are the absolute best.
2. I love that reading, especially candidates for RITA awards, is considered essential for the job. Reading Research books is essential as well. How cool is that?
3. I can write in pajamas. I can write on my screened in porch. Heck, I write in airports waiting on my plane. I plot while I do aerobics (yeah, I’m the one going right when everyone else turns left. I’m lost in my book world.) And all I really need is a notebook and pen (but I have laptops and iPads, of course ).
4. Speaking of travel, in 2014 I was in Atlanta, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Newark, Jacksonville and New York City – all for writing purposes. Heck, I was even re-routed to Minneapolis airport – twice! Being a published author is like having a passport.
5. I love what I write. I love that my name is on the book. I love that I’m considered i i’ve nteresting at cocktail parties (and funerals…but that’s another story ). My hope is that my books will be around when i am not. My God – I’m immortal!!!
6. I’ve fallen in love with each of the heroes in my books. I think it keeps you young. I think writing keeps the brain engaged and hopefully keeps dementia at bay. Time will tell.
7. Writing causes me to look at the world differently. I look for possible plots in everything I see (i.e. the Charm gates in New Orleans). I look for settings and local sayings and such.
8. Book signings are the coolest things ever!
9. I love that I write in a genre that requires a happily-ever-after ending. No dispressing endings for me. I love that I write books where a hero sacrifices to win the love of the heroine.
10. I get to acknowledge friends, family members, all those that helped me in this journey in every book. It’s like a very public THANK YOU. I think that’s cool.
So what about you? If you were making a list of why you love romance, what would you say? As it’s January, and we all know that January means new calendars :-P, I’ll give Affaire de Coeur 2015 calendars to three commenters. You’ll be able to have romance every month with Affaire de Coeur. So let’s chat about romance.
Photos were provided by freedigitalphotos.net
In order the artists are gualberto107, photo stock, photoraidz, and stuart miles.
Posted by Donna MacMeans Dec 5 2014, 11:45 pm in Christmas windows, Donna MacMeans, Victoria Alexander
Thanks everyone for visiting the blog on Tuesday. Funny how those Christmas themed windows from our childhood made such an impression! The winner of the prize of an ebook of Bound By Moonlight, or Whisky Laird’s Bed or an autographed copy of Victoria Alexander’s latest goes to ….
Congratulations! Now I need you to go to my website www.DonnaMacMeans.com and tell me your choice and leave your contact information.
Merry Christmas Y’all!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Dec 2 2014, 12:15 am in Christmas windows, Donna MacMeans, Victoria Alexander
I remember when department stores would decorate their windows for Christmas…not to sell the latest fashion or piece of jewelry…but to remind children of the magic of Christmas. Yeah – I’m that old
They don’t do that anymore in Columbus, Ohio. Do they do that in your town?
Recently I was in New York City, the marketing mecca of the east coast, and was thrilled to discover that some stores still carry on that tradition. Even though I was there in the middle of November – a whole two weeks past Halloween which has become the equivalent of cutting the starting line for holiday decorating – some of the windows were still covered. But a few were open to the public. You might notice a theme.
Now that I’m back home, I wish I’d taken pictures all of the windows but at the time I just took this one of the library at Macy’s. The ladder moved from side to side and the kids heads moved.
The next one comes from Lord and Taylor – lots of movement here though you can’t tell from the picture. I gather the mice are doing some decorating. The evergreen swag in the center of the picture twirled around in a circle carrying the mice along for the ride. The pages in the books in the top right corner and also on the left (not sure that one showed up in this pic) flipped through the pages. The little swordfish on the upper left would pop out occasionally. Fun window. One problem with photographing windows is that you get some of the reflection of the background in the shot. You can see a couple of street vendor umbrellas (hot dogs!) and some of the building across the street.
This is also from Lord and Taylor. No movement. Just one window in a series about cardinals I like the “Silent Night” quality.
Finally, thought I’d include this window from Lord and Taylor. The ballerinas dashed up and floated down. It was a smaller window than the others but fun.
As we walked around the city, I saw several stores had decorated the entire outside of their building. Wreaths hung in every window, or each window was outlined with lights and topped with a lighted bow – making each window look like a gift.
I happened to bump into Victoria Alexander while in NYC and now have an autographed copy of her latest, The Shocking Secret of a Guest at the Wedding, which I’m happy to send to someone leaving a comment. So, tell me, do the stores decorate in a non-comercial way in your neck of the woods? If not, what’s your favorite decoration this time of year. I’m ready for some Christmas magic!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Nov 30 2014, 11:45 pm in Donna MacMeans, Pardons, turkeys
LOUISA CORNELL – Come on down!
You’re the winner of the November 23rd blog. You have your choice of the LAIRD by Grace Burrowes or one of my ebooks. Let me know your preference by going to www.DonnaMacMeans.com.
Thanks everyone for stopping by!