Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tax Man Cometh

I'm being dragged away from my work-in-progress by necessity, and I'm not happy about it. Today, I'm doing what I should have been doing right along - Keeping our financial stuff in order. No, my checkbooks are not balanced - they're barely legible. I'm in the midst of transferring the second register into Excel, where it will make a lot more sense to look at. It's almost 6:00 pm and I'm up to September, 2009. My goal is to get through December on the Excel register. It may take a while since half the time I didn't bother entering payroll deposits or ATM withdrawals in the register. That's the trouble with automatic debit. It's too easy to ignore balancing the checkbook and figure if the ATM receipt shows there's money, everythings's okay. Once in a while I do go to the bank's site also to see if any major checks are lurking out there uncashed. Sad to say, I don't go there often enough.

During the week, I'll color code highlights in these registers to reflect whether or not it's a business expense, or household deduction. Then, I'll go through the charge card statements and do the same thing.  I know, lots of people use a separate business charge card to make things easier on themselves, and I did transfer some of my expenses over to a business charge, but I'm still hooked on Amazon and like to gather points there for purchases.

Next Sunday I'll tackle my business checking and savings accounts. They're less intricate, since I like to keep the money I make from my books in them and that's all. The system that works for me is to put into savings whatever I didn't have to collect sales taxes on, such as bookstore signing payouts. The business checking account is for the opposite - books sold that needed to be accounted for to the State of Illinois for sales tax purposes. Fortunately, I got their sales tax payment out of the way at the end of December, since that's when it was due. One less item to worry about.

Anyway, I have a deadline of March 13 to put it into the hands of the accountant, and you can probably surmise from this post that I'm under the gun. I hope all the effort will be worth it in the end after all the writing expenses have been added up and deducted.

Whatever happens is always a surprise to me. That's because, in case you can't tell, I'm no financial wizard. I'll get it done somehow. I know that because I always do. (g)

What about you? Have you finished your taxes? Okay, now you can brag about how great your system is if you feel like it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Just Another Love Story

It's Saturday night. While the DH is out watching a wrestling match, here I am, sitting in front of the TV watching another love story, this one called the Wedding Date. I've seen it before, but can't help watching it again.

There's something about a love story that makes me feel good. The same thing's true about a good romance novel. I love happy endings.

What about you? Have you seen or read a good love story lately?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Calendar, sticky notes, both? How do you remember things?

How do you remember things? Do you keep a calendar? What kind?
I have more than a few, but they're all the kind I write on with pen and paper. One by my desk at work, one by my desk at home, one on the wall at home, plus one in my purse. I also use sticky notes by my desks at work and at home and in my purse.

What about you? How do you remember things? Do you use a typical calendar, or maybe one on your phone, or sticky notes, maybe both calendar and sticky notes?

See Acme - Blog or Website - The Eternal Question

Well, now I notice that it depends which monitor I'm using how the extra pages will be displayed on the top of my blog. My monitor at home shows them all the way across, but the monitor here at work is a little smaller, so some of the tabs went into another row. It's hard to tell how displays will happen for anything, but I'll probably keep it this way anyway. Lots of people are investing in larger monitors lately.

Anyway, today's subject at my Wednesday group blog at today is
Blog or Website - The Eternal Question. Come on over and give us your take on the subject.

Morgan Mandel

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to Add Extra Pages on Your Blogger Blog

If you'd like tabs and extra pages for your Blogger Blog like I have on the top of mine, sign into your blog, go to the top right and Pick Customize, then go to the Dashboard. Go to the Layout tab and look for where you can add a Gadget. On mine, the choice is in the middle after the title, or on the left sidebar. By choosing the middle one, you can get tabs that go across the page. How many depends on your template, but the most you can add are ten. By picking the sidebar, you'll get a list effect.

After that, go back to the Dashboard. If you have more than one blog, pick the one you want to work on. When the list of posts comes up, instead of clicking on one of those, look on the top left for Edit Post (that's where mine is. Yours might be somewhere else)

After you click that, you should get a choice to add a page. When that comes up, fill it out the same same way you would a regular post and click Publish, or Draft if you don't want it up right away.

Ten pages are possible if your blog template is wide enough. Otherwise, you'll probably get less. Also, if your page names are long, you may end up with more than one row. I shortened my titles when that happened to me.

After it's done, you can decide whether or not you like the way it looks. If you don't like the new look, you can always delete and go back to how your blog looked before. I like the idea of having the tabs where everyone can see them right away and be enticed to check out the contents, although I do think my blog has a busier look now. I guess I'll have to accept that for the greater good.

Are you going to add extra pages? If so, let us know how it worked for you.
Morgan Mandel

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What Should I Put On My Extra Pages?

Now that Blogger has added a new feature where blogs can now have up to 10 more pages added to them, I'm in a quandary. What should I put on those extra pages? I'm thinking maybe a bio, book excerpts, some photos. Still, that's a lot of pages to fill up. If I do fill them up, I wonder if I'll even need my website any  more at . It's something to ponder.

Not only that, when will I ever have time to start such a project?

Will you be using your extra pages? What will you use them for?

PS You can access this by going to Layout and picking the first gadget which gives you the ability to add pages.

Small Press Author Does Indie

Hi Gang,
I'm over at Celia Yeary's blog today telling about my experience publishing Killer Career - Small Press Author Does Indie - Come on over and give your take as well at

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Buzz and Am I the Only One Out of Control?

I'm happy to be one of the author/bloggers interviewed at Book Marketing Buzz today.
By the way, Am I The Only One Out of Control Lately? See Acme Authors Link.

Morgan Mandel

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dick Francis Is Gone

I was going to post something about Valentine's Day, but then I heard the news that one of my favorite mystery writers had died. I first read a Dick Francis' mystery many years ago from the high school library. I immediately searched for more of them. As soon as one came out, I had to read it.

I never tired of his characters, many of whom were ex-jockeys like himself. They had an admirable sang froid manner of dealing with whatever life handed out and rising above the evil and/or pain. Here's a link to an article about Dick Francis:

I note that his son, Felix, plans to carry on writing novels. It will be interesting to see how well he does without his Dad's collaboration. Felix has some very large shoes to fill, figuratively speaking. Having been a jockey, I doubt if Dick Francis had very large feet. He may have been small physically, but his stature in the mystery community was great.

Though I never met Dick Francis, I'll miss him.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dann and Raymond's Movie Club Oscar Night

Not too much time to blog, since tonight I was over at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library for another great program of Dann and Raymond's Movie Club by the dynamic duo, longtime Daily Herald film critic, Dann Gire, and renowned author, newspaper freelancer, and musician, Raymond Benson.

The DH and I, along with an estimated a crowd of about 200, were treated to choice film clips, informed comments and quips about current movies and actors nominated this year for the Oscars.

I hadn't seen many of the films, but now I intend to do so, except for perhaps Up. That movie should have been named Down. The short clip left just about everyone in the audience sniffling and wiping their eyes. I don't feel like going through that experience again.

Other than that downer, it was an enjoyable evening.

Have you seen any of the nominated films? Will you be watching the Oscars?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How Much Sleep Do You Get?

I think someone said 7-8 hours is a good amount of sleep to get. If not, all kinds of bad stuff is predicted, such as higher blood pressure, not thinking right, not remembering.

I'm lucky if I get 6 hours of sleep. I can't seem to manage to get more. If I go to bed earlier, I don't fall asleep. If I fall asleep on the couch ahead of time, I can't sleep. It seems the best solution is to stay up until I'm good and tired and then I can sleep.

Unfortunately, that's not the recommended allowance. What about you? How much sleep do you get? Do you think you need more?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tummy Tuck Anyone?

I've still got until Feb 26 to learn all I can from the 30 days of free lessons from , which Adobe offered when I purchased Adobe Photoshop CS4.

Today, I stumbled upon a neat one that does virtual tummy tucks. They show a man with a hefty belly. After a few magic software adjustments, he's looking mighty lean.

Hmm, maybe I'll get out some of my photos and see about a tummy tuck here and there. It's a painless operation. All it takes is some brain strain and a few clicks here and there.

Would you also like to be a patient? Who knows, maybe I could get a whole waiting room going. I promise not to charge as much as a regular plastic surgeon. (G)


Cell Phone or Email?

I can't help but marvel at all the people who walk down the street or drive with a cell phone stuck to the ear. Whatever do they have to talk about for so long?

It's particularly mystifying to me, since I rarily use my  iPhone as a phone. I take photos with it, check my email, and do all sorts of other things instead. The DH and I communicate back and forth on my cell while I'm at work, I'll call other members of the family about plans, or I'll use the phone for long distance calling, but that's about it. I always have a huge amount of units rolled over to the next month.

On the other hand, I'm constantly on the computer using the email feature to communicate with friends, promote my books, arrange book signings, learn all sorts of things, swap jokes, and various other reasons. Somehow email seems more civilized. I'm not demanding someone instantly talk to me. I'm allowing that person to respond when it's convenient, with the understanding that I'm receiving the same courtesy.

Some people say that email has taken away from the personalization of communicating. Maybe, but I tend to believe that even though I don't hear that other person's voice, I'm actually sharing a lot more. I don't know about you, but I tend to reveal more about myself when I write than when I speak.

It's your turn. Tell us, do you prefer cell phone communication over email?  Or, maybe you use them equally?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Facebook's New Design - Do You Like It?

I opened up Facebook this morning and got confused. Overnight apparently a remodeling job was going on. The Daily Herald Business Section this morning said the new design is meant to streamline navigation and also let the games and apps stand out more.

I'm still trying to figure out whether or not I like it. What about you?  What's your take on Facebook's new design?

Friday, February 05, 2010

How Silly Can They Be

Twice in the same day I saw women walking Downtown wearing shoulder bags facing their backs. I also saw women wearing boots with high pointy heels. It's winter in Illinois, snowy, icy and slippery. How silly can they be?

Guys are not excempt from doing silly things. What about putting house or car keys in the coat pocket and leaving the coat in another room at a party? keys have a habit of falling out. Coats have been known to go off with the wrong owners.

When you write, do you let your characters do silly things? Do they do them as a matter of habit or as a mistake? Depending on the answer and the skill of the author, the reader can look on your character as ridiculous or endearing. It's fun to create a quirky character, but the challenge is in not making the person seem too dumb.

What about you? As a reader, do you enjoy it when a character does silly things? What would seem too silly?

As a writer, do you let one of your characters do silly things? On a regular basis? Maybe only once, but it turns out to be once too many?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Please Visit - It's There Somewhere

I'd appreciate your visiting my guest post at Kaye Barley's blog. The topic is It's There Somewhere. Some of you may relate to this one -

If you missed it, you can still come over to comment about whether or not to include politics on blogs at

Morgan Mandel

Monday, February 01, 2010

Never Too Old To Learn New Tricks

I bought Adobe Elements 7 over a year ago, but only learned a few basics. Then, I discovered I needed Adobe Photoshop CS4 to really get things done.

Well, I get 30 days of free videos to learn all this Adobe stuff. Over the weekend, I spent many hours listening to the videos and taking notes. Now, the trick is to apply what I learned so far, before I forget.

Tonight I worked on removing blemishes and whitening teeth. The teeth one is hard, because I don't have a steady hand. Even with the minus tool for erasing, I'm still not very good at it. The remove blemish one I had more luck with.

Also, I had fun doing the panorama one. I did one of Rascal in the snow I may use for a book cover or illustration some day.

What about you? Have you played with Adobe? Or, maybe you've been learning something else lately. What is it?