Thursday, April 07, 2011

Site Update

There have been a few reasons it's been quiet on the Cat front over the past few months -- the very least of which was having to completely replace my PC after a storm blew our power four times in one day, if that tells you something... -- but it seems I completely neglected to mention here that my website had a facelift back in January/February.

Some of you might've already been to check it out, but for those who haven't there are several changes this time 'round. I know the frames layout was a pest for some of you -- and for yours truly when I tried updating the site while away from my main computer -- so that's gone now. The color scheme's a little warmer too. I really wasn't feeling the grey monochrome anymore, but it's the change I'm least happy with so any feedback on that score would be much appreciated. I hope black text over off-white/cream will be okay for the majority of you, but let me know if there are any problems. However, the best part is the addition of several new free stories!  Some of them are out-of-print shorts, some had very limited distribution, and some are brand spankin' new. PDFs are on the way (if you want other formats, let me know), but in the meantime they're all available to read on-site under the "Free Reads" section.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Cat's Adventures in Taxland (aka An UK author gets her ITIN... at the first attempt!)

I’ve been stressing out over applying for a ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) for… months. And then some. But, like most things, the reality of the process turned out to be far simpler and easier than I imagined. I know it's an issue for many people, so I thought it might be helpful to share my experience.

If you’re a Brit (or any other non-US citizen) writing for an US publisher, chances are you’re going to need one of these sooner or later. Your publisher might have asked you for form W-8BEN already, which you can't complete without an ITIN. Basically, it means that the income you declare as a self employed writer in the UK isn’t already taxed by the time it gets to you, reducing the risk of being taxed twice on the same income. The US has tax treaty agreements with many countries, at various percentages. I can only speak for applications from the UK; if you’re elsewhere then parts of this won’t apply to you, but it might help as a starting point.

Now, the Cat-covers-her-ass disclaimer: I’m not a tax advisor, nor do I play one on TV. I am not a lawyer. I’m just sharing this as someone who managed to get her ITIN at the very first attempt, with the absolute minimum of cost, fuss, effort and angst. I make no guarantees that what worked for me will work for you. If it helps, great, but please don’t take my word for any of it. If in doubt always get professional advice. This post is for entertainment purposes only. ;)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baaaa...

I've heard much mention of that "I Write Like" site over the past few weeks, but I kept forgetting to go and have a play with it myself ('course, these days, the sentence that starts "I write like..." ends with just a handful of choice words and phrases for me...).

I'm not sure what -- if anything -- it says about me and m writing when every different story sample I put in got me a different result. I'm not even seeing a general pattern (...overdone, literary sci-fi, maybe?), but I gotta admit I'm at a loss as to how anyone gets James Joyce out of "Chasing Butterflies". Ulysses it most certainly is not, *laughs* unless someone's messed around with either book since last I checked.

Eeeeenteresting, though.

Current WIP :

I write like
Arthur Clarke

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!




Human Nature:

I write like
Margaret Mitchell

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!




Afterthought:

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!




Chasing Butterflies:

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!




Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chasing Butterflies Release Date

Just as summer actually seems to be starting over here in the UK, my "Summer Lovin'" novella, Chasing Butterflies, will be released on Monday June 28th, from Liquid Silver Books!



Monday, May 31, 2010

30 Days Writing Meme -- Queston Thirty

30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!

Wheeeeeee, it's done! And I didn't slack off or miss days, which pleases me greatly *g*. And stuns me. Though hey... *shifty look* blogger's scheduling feature is my friend.

And on that note, I wouldn't like to commit anyone to a whole month's worth of this unless they actually chose to do so. It's potentially pretty time-intensive, but I think there's certainly a benefit to be gained -- some of the questions really make you look at your writing, your stories, and your attitude to this whole game in a new light.

Writing can be a very solitary occupation sometimes, and it's always fascinated me to know how other writers work, how they approach things, what their tricks and strategies are. I love to learn the different ways they find inspiration, their quirks and idiosyncrasies, and it's comforting to know you're not the only one who thinks their first (and sometimes second, third, tenth...) draft is a steaming pile of crap that doesn't deserve the pixel space it takes up on the screen. Sometimes writers just like an "Oh man, you do that too?!" moment. So honestly, anyone who wants to pick this up let me know and I'd love to read your take on the questions. The full list can be found here.

Thanks for reading along! *g* Now I gotta think of something to do for June...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

30 Days Writing Meme -- Question Twenty Nine

29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?

Wow, this could be another very short one. Answer = All the time. I don't claim to be representative of all, or even most, writers, but... isn't that just what we do? The stories and ideas are always churning away on the back-burner, a constant background noise.

Some of the best advice I've seen out there is of the `treat it like what it is -- a business` variety. That includes not having the luxury of waiting around for the muse to strike, or for some external inspiration to make you think about your work. 'Cause that's what it is, work. I can't think of many professions where you can say "Ah, I didn't feel like it today." I mean, picture it. "Ah, I didn't feel like putting 100% into that brain surgery today." "Ah, I wasn't inspired enough to land this plane safely today." "Ah, I have Accounting Block -- I'll be here on my chaise." It's like any other job. While you're doing it, your focus is (ideally, anyway *g*) on it. And like pretty much every other job, we have a tendency to take work home with us in some form or another. The only difference is that `home` in this case is the distinction between the writing life and the family/home/day job/insert-any-other-obligations-here life.

Yeah, yeah... *g* I know that's not exactly what the question asks, but I had to do something to keep the answer from being one sentence long.

A little caveat though... I'd really appreciate it if that `all the time` didn't include all those ideas that come to me in the shower. 'Cause really, you can't write well on wet paper. What is it with water and creativity, anyway? Something to do with water stimulating the right-brain? Theories welcomed. As would a waterproof notepad...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

30 Days Writing Meme -- Question Twenty Eight

28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there's nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.

Not in any of the published books, no. It just hasn't sat right with any of those stories.

I've seen the issue brought up in several places over the past few months though, especially in relation to mental illnesses. It seems such a pervasive issue these days -- or, more likely, those issues are being addressed and acknowledged, instead of simply being ignored and brushed under the carpet -- and I completely agree. I understand and appreciate the desire to see more characters with such issues portrayed both sensitively and as real people. Mental illness can be so lonely and isolating, and knowing someone else — even a character in a book — has been through the same or similar issues can be a great help.

Honestly, at this point in time I feel it's a subject I'm just too close too, for various reasons. And it's so easy with a subject that's close to your heart to turn into a screechy, preachy know-it-all, or, alternatively, to alienate others. The experience is so unique to every sufferer, that while your portrayal might resonate with some, others can/may take offence, which is the very last thing I'd want to do. And those without experience of it at all might even think it was overdone for dramatic effect. Who was it that said fiction, unlike reality, has to make sense? These conditions often appear to make no sense to the uninvolved onlooker, and translating that to a book that requires at least some logical progression and explanation of motive, is tricky. There is no `getting it right` any more than you can with any other demographic. You can just be as respectful as humanly possible.