Two for Wednesday: Fiction by Clark and Singh

Bri Clark: Scent of a WitchMaeve da Paer has lived her life free from the Board of Witchery, protected by powerful clan magic—and by a lie. In desperation, she casts her most powerful spell, one that will end the pain before it begins on All Hallows’ Eve…. Immortal tracker Fionn Hughes is on a mission to restore his honor. But, following the scent of gardenias and honeysuckle, he discovers Maeve, the last Scent Witch. Will Fionn be strong enough to stop Maeve when he finds she plans to cancel her own existence?

From Astraea Press      Kindle US

Bri Clark grew up in the South and learned street smarts while caring for her brother in a broken home. She moved on to a series of bad choices. As a teen, her wake-up call came from a judge who gave her the choice of shaping up or going to jail. Bri ended up co-owning a successful construction business but lost everything in the real estate crash. Now she writes, blogs and shares her Southern culture in Boise, where she’s known as the Belle of Boise for her Southern accent, bold demeanor and hospitable nature.

***

Robert and Elise are strangers who meet at a bar. After one unique conversation, they find that they’re at a similar crossroads in their marriages. The decision they make that night will change their lives forever.

Kindle US   Amazon UK

Hardit Singh was born and raised in Southwest England. He rediscovered his love for reading at university, which sparked his desire to write. The author of crime fiction, Hardit believes that the most important aspect of a book is character. Often this is ultimately what the reader thinks about after closing a book. Mere words can create inspiration and empower an individual. The power that stories harness is what compels him to write.

Emile Zola on the Destructive Power of Creative Work

French Naturalist Émile Zola (1840-1902) is one of my favorite authors. His most autobiographical novel, L’Oeuvre (The Masterpiece), one of the books in his Rougon-Macquart series, provides insight into Zola’s relationship with his childhood friend, Paul Cézanne. In this excerpt novelist Pierre Sandoz, representing Zola, speaks to his friend, obsessed painter Claude Lantier, representing Cézanne:

“I, whom you envy, perhaps–yes, I, who am beginning to get on in the world, as middle-class people say–I, who publish books and earn a little money–well, I am being killed by it all…. Listen; work has taken up the whole of my existence. Little by little, it has robbed me of my mother, of my wife, of everything I love. It is like a germ thrown into the cranium, which feeds on the brain, finds its way into the trunk and limbs, and gnaws up the whole of the body. The moment I jump out of bed of a morning, work clutches hold of me, rivets me to my desk without leaving me time to get a breath of fresh air; then it pursues me at luncheon–I audibly chew my sentences with my bread. Next it accompanies me when I go out, comes back with me and dines off the same plate as myself; lies down with me on my pillow, so utterly pitiless that I am never able to set the book in hand on one side; indeed, its growth continues even in the depth of my sleep. And nothing outside of it exists for me. True, I go upstairs to embrace my mother, but in so absent-minded a way, that ten minutes after leaving her I ask myself whether I have really been to wish her good-morning. My poor wife has no husband; I am not with her even when our hands touch. Sometimes I have an acute feeling that I am making their lives very sad, and I feel very remorseful, for happiness is solely composed of kindness, frankness and in one’s home; but how can I escape from the claws of the monster? I at once relapse into the somnambulism of my working hours, into the indifference and moroseness of my fixed idea. If the pages I have written during the morning have been worked off all right, so much the better; if one of them has remained in distress, so much the worse. The household will laugh or cry according to the whim of that all-devouring monster–Work. No, no! I have nothing that I can call my own. In my days of poverty I dreamt of rest in the country, of travel in distant lands; and now that I might make those dreams reality, the work that has been begun keeps me shut up. There is no chance of a walk in the morning’s sun, no chance of running round to a friend’s house, or of a mad bout of idleness! My strength of will has gone with the rest; all this has become a habit; I have locked the door of the world behind me, and thrown the key out of the window. There is no longer anything in my den but work and myself–and work will devour me, and then there will be nothing left, nothing at all!”

Are you obsessed with your creative work? Do you wish you could be satisfied, living day to day without creating? Do you manage to balance your creative work and your life better than Pierre Sandoz? How do you do it?

Excerpt from Zola, Emile (2007-10-22). Works of Emile Zola (20+ Works) Includes The Three Cities Trilogy (Les Trois Villes): Lourdes, Rome and Paris, The Fortune of the Rougons, Nana, The Fat and the Thin and more (mobi) (Kindle Locations 45022-45029) MobileReference. Kindle Edition.

One for Wednesday: Silk Road by Colin Falconer

Colin Falconer: Silk Road1260 AD: Christian Knight Templar Josseran Sarrazini is a man divided in his soul. Haunted by a shameful past, he hopes to find redemption in a dangerous crusade: a journey from Palestine to Xanadu to form a crucial allegiance against the Saracens at the legendary court of Kubilai Khan–the seat of the Mongol Empire.

Instead he finds solace in a warrior-princess from a heathen tribe. Beautiful and ferocious, Khutelun is a Tartar, a nomadic rider of the Mongolian steppe. Although their union is impossible, she finds in Josseran what she cannot find in one of her own.

Parched by desert winds, pursued by Saracen hordes and tormented by a passion he cannot control, Josseran must abandon Khutelun if he is to complete his journey and save his soul. Worse, he must travel with William, a Dominican friar of fearsome zeal who longs for matyrdom, but whose life Josseran is sworn to protect. Worse yet, he will arrive in Xanadu just as the greatest empire in human history plunges into civil war.

Winding through the plains of Palestine and over the high mountains of the Hindu Kush, from the empty wastes of the Taklimakan desert to the golden palaces of China, SILK ROAD weaves a spellbinding story of sin, desire, conflict and human frailty onto the vast tapestry of the medieval orient.

Falconer’s novels are “based on dedicated research and a profound knowledge of his subject, stories of passion and human frailty drawn on a vast canvas, about the perennial nature of love and the human spirit.” The Australian

ISBN 9780857891082

Published by Atlantic Books   Corvus Books   Amazon.co.uk   Waterstones

Falconer’s novels for Kindle US and UK   Falconer’s novels on Amazon US

Born in the north of London, Colin Falconer moved to Australia in his twenties. He drove cabs and played guitar in dark bars and rough pubs before joining an advertising agency. He then worked as a television and radio scriptwriter, and as a freelance journalist. Since 1990, he has been a full-time novelist. His work has been translated into seventeen languages.

Excerpt from “Dancing in the Middle,” A Short Story by Jansen Schmidt

Welcome to an excerpt from a short story by Jansen Schmidt, “Dancing in the Middle,” which won an Honorable Mention in the Writing on Walls III contest and publication in Storyteller Magazine.

***

Dancing in the Middle

Rosa Gonzales, a ballerina with a secret, is unwittingly involved in a Mexican drug smuggling ring. DEA Agent Damon Whiteside discovers her secret while trying to extricate her from danger. 

“Did you see the new guy in Amy’s class?” Audra adjusted her long lean body to get a better view into the opposite studio.

“Yeah,” I shifted slightly to see across the hall. Smiling, I turned away, embarrassed to be caught checking him out. Taller than usual, with coal black hair and sapphire eyes, Damon was a looker, no doubt about that. “He’s a hunk, that’s for sure.” I moved to the ballet barre and began a series of plies and stretches, all the while covertly watching him in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors.

Audra finished her yogurt and dropped the empty container into the trash. “Well, I’ll let you admire the view while you warm up.” She strolled to the door, pausing briefly in the hallway to observe the ballroom class in Amy’s studio. “Amy’s so lucky,” she said to no one in particular.

After my morning classes, I clocked out for lunch and left for the bus station to pick up the box I knew would be waiting there for me, a routine that Lupe and I had established almost two years ago. I retrieved the box, replaced the lock on the familiar blue locker, and headed back to my car. I only had a few minutes left to grab a bite to eat before my next class. As I neared my car I saw Damon standing near the driver’s side door.

Surprised, I said, “Well, hello there.”

Damon winced. “Rosa Gonzales,” his voice cracked, “you’re under arrest.” He held out his badge and a set of handcuffs. “I’ll need that box as evidence.”

I laughed. “What? You’re arresting me?’ But when his expression remained grim, I realized he wasn’t joking. “Who are you?”

“I’m an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency.” He paused, watching me intently.

“We’re working with an international agency to find a drug smuggling operation out of Mexico. Know anything about that?”

“What?” I asked, taking a step backwards to put some space between us. Another person had approached me from behind, blocking my retreat. I turned around and a behemoth of a man with a shaved head and numerous tattoos took the package out of my hands. At the same time Damon grabbed my arms and brought them behind my back, clicking the handcuffs shut. “This way,” he said, tugging me gently toward a waiting car.

“What are you doing? I can’t go with you.” I whirled around to face him but his grip remained firm. Panic set in as I realized I was in a great deal of trouble.

Damon said with calm authority, “You’re under arrest for possession of illegal drugs, intent to sell drugs, drug trafficking and–”

“Drug trafficking? Are you crazy? This is a mistake!” I shrieked. “Look, I have a class in about fifteen minutes. People will wonder where I’m at. I can’t just not show up.”

“That’s exactly what’s going to happen, Princess.” The giant tattooed man was tearing into the box of homemade toys from my sister.

Damon recited my Miranda rights as he helped me into the back seat. He sat next to me and the behemoth got behind the wheel. I looked at Damon. “What have I done? I don’t understand what’s going on?”

“Like Detective Whiteside said, Princess, possession of drugs, drug trafficking, intent to sell illegal drugs, etc. etc.” The behemoth obviously possessed no mercy.

“I don’t have any drugs. You’ve got the wrong person.”

“Rosa,” Damon said softly, “how much do you know about your sister and her husband?”

“What’s my sister got to do with this?” I asked.

“What’s my sister got to do with this,” the driver mimicked. “Always the same ole spiel.”

“Cool it, Stone,” Damon warned. He looked directly at me. “We know what’s in the box, Rosa, and we know it’s from your sister. What we don’t know is where it’s going. You can make this easier on yourself if you cooperate.”

“Cooperate with what?” I asked.

Damon reached into the front seat and pulled one of my sister’s cloth dolls from the box.

Ripping the head off, he pulled out a plastic baggie filled with a milky powdery substance.

“Like I said,” he paused, showing me the evidence, “We know what’s in the box.”

I gasped. “I had no idea that was in there. I . . . I don’t know what’s going on. Aren’t I entitled to a phone call?”

***

Jansen SchmidtJansen Schmidt started writing theater reviews for local community playhouses about twelve years ago. A previous theater owner, she spent many years involved in all aspects of community theater but her most enjoyable aspect of the theater was and remains being on stage.  An amateur thespian, pianist, singer and dancer, she has performed in many productions in the last twenty years, including A Few Good Men, Much Ado About Nothing, Annie Get Your Gun, Nunsense and Nunsense II, and her first production, a musical melodrama entitled Tumbleweeds.

To purchase Writing on Walls III, go to The Storyteller online store or send a check or money order for $12.95 plus $3.00 shipping/handling to Writing on Walls III, The Storyteller Magazine, 2441 Washington Rd., Maynard, AR 72444. For each additional 1 to 2 books, please add $2.50 for shipping/handling. For international orders the cost is 14.95 per book plus $5.00 for shipping/handling. All international payments must be in U.S. funds.

Thanks, Jansen!

The Other World (2)

Deja Vu BlogfestThe post below is my contribution to today’s Deja Vu Blogfest, co-hosted by DH Hammon, Katie Mills (Creepy Query Girl), Lydia Kang and Nicole Ducleroir. It first appeared on October 19, 2011.

***

Another world intersects with our city world of work, cars, media, shopping. Our ancestors knew it. Few of us do.

This other world isn’t supernatural. It’s not in another dimension. It’s where we came from. It’s still here, but we left.

So sometimes it comes to visit.

The squirrel steals the figs off our fig tree. The armadillo roots up our newly planted rosebush. The deer eat our young crepe myrtle down to the roots. The feral sow, with her thirty-six piglets, feeds in our garbage can. The coyote pack, which we hear howling at night at the edge of sleep–howling until the neighborhood dogs yelp in envy–the coyotes disappear our cat. The panther, en route from Colorado to Mexico, growls at us out of the brush at the side of the road when we take our evening walk.

They’re just saying hello. They’re saying, we’re here whether or not you acknowledge us.

They’re saying, come out of your house.

A deer trail angles across our front yard. When we first moved here, we were shocked every time the deer passed through. It was as if someone’s herd of cows was roaming free, browsing on our grass. Fawns are born twenty feet from our front door. They and their mothers bed down at night on our side lawn.

Now, when I go into a city, I’m ill at ease. Something’s missing. Everyone’s human. Where are the other beings?

There’s a legend in this area that a herd of bison once escaped through a break in a fence. A whole herd of bison. No one ever found them.

They’re here, though, living down in Devil’s Hollow. If we hide in one of the caves tonight, we’ll see them pass by.

By S.J. Driscoll

Two for Wednesday: Novels by Street/Street and James

Alicia Street/Roy Street: AphrodisiacAn ancient secret perfume that can make you irresistible. A suicide note that just ain’t right. A killer called the Monster. Two women running for their lives. And a smoking hot boxer who cares…. Brooklyn sex therapist Saylor Oz and her sidekick Benita Morales, a financial analyst/female boxer, are BFFs who race through dangerous situations bickering, bantering, bungling and sometimes blaming, but always forgiving. Set primarily along the streets of a Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood, Saylor Oz RomCom Mysteries are wacky, sexy, gritty crime adventures.

Winner of a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense

Amazon   B&N Nook   Smashwords

Alicia Street and Roy Street spent many gypsy years living and working in New York City and Philadelphia, Alicia as a dancer, choreographer and teacher, and Roy in theater, visual arts and standup comedy. Romance Junkies called them “a husband and wife writing team that has managed to capture the best in both men’s and women’s fiction.”

***

Nash was bound to Sienna by a blood connection and a deep desire. An Enforcer for the Supranormal community, he protected her from those who coveted her future Angelic abilities–but can he forgive the woman whose faults had devastated his world? Sienna, betrayed by her family, seeks solace in the arms of her reluctant protector Nash, a demon hybrid with a secret of his own. Can she come to terms with her destiny after finding she could be as dangerous as those Nash protected her from?

Pink Petal Books   Available from Amazon for Christmas

Married romance author and Entangled Publishing intern Xandra James has always wanted to write romance books. Even when she was sneaking peaks at the hot bits, too young to fully appreciate them, she dreamt of writing her own. Now, older and wiser, she’s got the opportunity to project her slightly dark and wacky British sense of humour onto others, whilst still writing the hot bits–bonus!


Changes

Guest post by Prudence MacLeod

I have seen a lot of change in my lifetime. This was brought home to me the other day as I was sitting on the boat, waiting for inspiration to strike. It wasn’t happening so I went back to my default, people watching. There weren’t a lot of folks on the boat that trip, so not much was going on. K was knitting and I was re-thinking my decision to leave my knitting behind. Oh, wait there we are.

A big man, mid thirties maybe, walked down to the observation window and stood gazing out at the water. He was careful to stand close to a young girl sitting near the window. He was also careful to keep his gut sucked in as he tried to look cool. “Dude, the girl is about twelve or so and far more interested in that phone in her hand than in a guy older than her dad.” I didn’t say it, but I wanted to. Eventually her indifference caused him to lose interest and walk away.

I returned my attention to the young miss, her pony tail swaying gracefully as she watched her thumbs dance over the phone in her hand. Hmm, the phone; I remember when I was her age the phone was securely attached to the wall of the house. When my daughter was that age we had the magic of cordless phones. Wow.

Ok, what else I wondered. Music. When I was her age I had a record player. As a teenager my daughter had a CD player. I’ll bet this girl has an I-pod with a play-list thousands of songs long.

Cars. When I was a teen we didn’t have a car, couldn’t afford one. Folks who did have them would sometimes get one with a radio in it. Luxury. My daughter’s first car had a CD player in it. Now they have cars with phones, computers, I-pod docking stations, TVs, movie players, and the damned things can parallel park themselves.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Change has happened more swiftly for my generation than any other in history, and the pace is accelerating. I cannot begin to imagine the wonders this young miss will witness by the time she reaches my age. Awesome. I hope I’m still here to see it.

So, how about you? What changes have caught you by surprise, stuck in your memory, or just messed with your calm?

***

Prudence MacLeod is a spiritual seeker, dog trainer, official Reiki Master and interior designer, and a writer with two dozen books available. “I have roamed far and wide for over sixty years in this realm, and I have seen much; some I wish I had not, and a great deal that I would love to see again. Some days I feel like Bilbo Baggins, for I have been there and come back again. No, I haven’t written a book about my wanderings, at least not yet, but much I have experienced, observed, learned, surmised, or imagined, is woven into the tales I have written.”

See books by Prudence MacLeod on Smashwords

Thanks, Prudence!

Aside

Samantha Warren scavenger hunt prizeIt’s day four of Samantha Warren’s 30th birthday Scavenger Hunt. Today as one of the prizes I’m offering a gift pack of artisan-made peppermint moisturizer (2 ounces), spicy-sweet lavender soap (with sparkles!) (2 ounces) and honey lip balm. Scoot on over to Samantha’s blog and answer her questions for a chance to win this prize and be in the running for a new Kindle.

Dec. 8: Congratulations, Na S., for winning the gift pack! Thanks for participating in Samantha’s scavenger hunt.

Two for Wednesday: Novels by James and Kobras

Kristy K. James: The Daddy PactJess Bentley’s husband is murdered the night they return from their honeymoon. Soon she discovers that she is pregnant, and married to the murderer’s brother to protect the baby from her vengeful father-in-law.

Available on Smashwords and Amazon

Kristy K. James‘ first goal in life was to work in law enforcement, until the night she called the police to check out a scary noise in her yard. Realizing that she might someday have to check out scary noises in other dark yards if she continued on that path, she turned to her other favorite love… writing. Since then, her days have been filled with being a mom and reluctant zookeeper (7 pets), creating stories and looking for trouble in her kitchen.

***

There’s nothing like finding a letter on your breakfast table informing you that you have a teenage son you knew nothing about. That’s what happens to international rock star Jon Stone. Jon drops everything to find the boy–and the boy’s mother, the girl he loved so many years ago. She left Jon when his rock ‘n’ roll life became too much for her to bear. Seeing her is like falling in love all over again. Everything seems perfect–until someone sets out to destroy their idyllic life.

Published by Buddapus Ink   Preorder on Amazon   Publication date Jan. 12, 2012

Mariam Kobras is the author of the soon-to-be published book The Distant Shore, a contemporary romance with a twist of suspense. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she lives in Hamburg with her husband and two sons. After studying American Literature and Archeology at Giessen University, she spent several months in Toronto, Canada. Mariam has worked as an English tutor, served as a lay Judge in Juvenile Court and managed the rookie Hamburg Blue Devils American football team. Most recently, she founded the Theater Project at a local Hamburg high school, where she wrote and staged plays. The success of this venture gave her the courage to try her hand at a novel. Mariam is currently writing the second book in The Stone Trilogy

The Devil Made Me Do It

A response to Colin Falconer

Historical author Colin Falconer brought up interesting yet disturbing points in his November 13 blog post, “For Evil to Triumph.”

Colin comments on the recent Men’s Health article by Bill Phillips, “Why Joe Paterno Didn’t Call the Police,” about alleged child abuse at Penn State. The article draws parallels between the failure of people to report the alleged abuse and the controversial psychological experiments of Stanley Milgram at Yale University in 1961.

As Colin describes:

“[Milgram’s] tests were designed to measure the willingness of subjects to obey an authority figure who told them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience.

“[This] was inspired by [Milgram’s] curiosity about how millions of people in Nazi Germany could go along with horrors of the Holocaust, even when it violated their deepest moral beliefs.

“A volunteer was given the role of teacher, and separated from the learner; they could communicate but could not see each other. The ‘teacher’ had a list of word pairs to teach the ‘learner’. If the answer was incorrect, the ‘teacher’ would administer a shock to the ‘learner’, with the voltage increasing in 15 volt increments for each wrong answer.

“The ‘learner’ was an actor; but the ‘teacher’ did not know this. Some test subjects paused at 135 volts and began to question the purpose of the experiment. Though clearly uncomfortable about it, most continued after being assured that it was necessary and that they would not be held responsible for the outcome.

“How many continued to the final, potentially lethal 450-volt shock?… 26 out of 40. Even with their ears ringing with the screams of their ‘victims’, authority won over. They listened to the man in the white coat before they listened to their own inner voice. Ordinary people, good people, thus became agents in immoral and destructive behaviour.”

Phillips notes that “humans are programmed to not question authority…. And men are even less likely to rat out an authority figure when that person is also a mentor.”

Colin suggests, “It seems to me that as human beings we all have a higher authority that we surrender our scruples to.”

My question is, why surrender?

My question is, were these people good?

Ordinary, maybe. Good… maybe not so much.

They may never have been in a situation like this. It was unfamiliar, uncomfortable. The guy in the white coat assured them nothing was wrong.

Things like this didn’t happen in their normal reality. They’d entered an alternate reality, a sort of fairy tale. The guy in the white coat would protect them through this Twilight Zone.

Under these circumstances, I disagree that their “inner voice” told them to stop. I believe it may have told them it was fine to murder.

Those 26 of 40 may have felt they could distance themselves from the result of their action. They could do this by hiding behind someone else. In return, they granted that someone “authority” over them.

By sleight of mind, responsibility could have been mentally transferred to the leader. The authority figure could have become a buffer zone between themselves and the reality of their decisions and actions.

“Obeying” was what the leader received in return. The leader had “power”—to do what? To set up the rules of the fairy tale. And once reality exploded the fairy tale, the result was the leader’s “fault.”

In reality, outside the fairy tale, wasn’t this what happened instead: the followers sacrificed the authority figure to the action they themselves decided to take.

That sort of authority figure is not a leader.

In circumstances like this, the person who’s set up as the authority figure is nothing but a scapegoat.

By S.J. Driscoll

Inspiring Blogger Award

Many thanks to children’s book author Lynn Kelley (Curse at Zala Manor), who granted me the Inspiring Blogger Award along with fellow writers Angela Orlowski-Peart, Debra Kristi, Susie Lindau and Samantha Warren.

I now pass the award on to five bloggers who inspire me:

Kristen Lamb’s Blog about writing, publishing and social media

The Passive Voice: Writers, Writing, Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe

Diekenes’ Anthropology Blog

The Art Department, a blog by Tor.com Art Director Irene Gallo

Postcards from Santa Barbara: a daily painting project by plein air artist Chris Potter

Thank you for blogging!

Transitioning From a Hobby to a Business

Guest Post by Nina Darnowsky Lieberman of Soapmarked.com

This guest post is a followup to my November 21st post, Soap? Nope: Looks Like Indie Publishing to Me, which drew some parallels between the new, wide-open world of indie publishing and the surge in farmers’ markets throughout the U.S. Independent product creators/entrepreneurs face some of the same practical problems as self-publishing authors. Both must learn to take themselves seriously, perhaps for the first time. What are some concerns that come up when you change focus from being a hobbyist to being a professional?

**

Many people get into making bath and body products because they enjoy making things. As hobbyists, we tend to be very generous. We make soap or lotion, knit socks or bake cookies because we enjoy doing it. And naturally we then have an abundance of that wonderful thing we made. We enjoy giving our friends and family that good thing we made, in many cases because it is superior to what they can purchase elsewhere. It’s made by us, we watch the quality, we tailor the item for that person’s tastes.

But then, we get to the point where we have experimented so much and still like making our wee soapies. We’ve probably spent quite a bit to get to this point and may think hey, why not try selling some? It seems like an easy way to recoup some of that money.

Here we commonly hit a stumbling point. Being used to giving away our labor and materials for free as gifts for people we know, it can be hard (in our own minds) to justify the true retail cost of our soaps. There are some magical figure-out-how-much-each-one-costs-and-multiply-by-x, but x seems a lot to us. So we make up a number that seems reasonable and stick to it because we feel guilty for charging what our product is actually worth. This guilt is something I’m still getting over myself, and feel bad sometimes for charging the sales tax (it doesn’t mean I don’t do it; I still owe the state that money and am legally obligated to charge it!!).

I have to look at my products and see that yes, if I were on the other side of the deal I’d pay that much for them… and in many cases at retail stores am getting much less value for my money than my customers are. Not that I’m saying retail items are bad; just that a larger store has larger buying power and so can get their materials for less than I do. So one of their $6 soaps in comparison to one of mine has more profit built into it. Yes, they have larger overheads, but they also have waaaaaaay larger sales volume than me!

Keeping careful track of your expenses is a MUST if you’re turning yourself from a hobbyist into a business. Detail is key. I know how much each ounce of each item costs from each supplier. I know how much I use in each recipe and what the yield of that recipe is, so I then know how much the bars cost. Don’t forget to factor in your time for the labor.There’s a myriad of little details you need to know. Say the materials for one bar of your super special banana bar cost $0.48. That’s not much, right? So you could sell it for $2.00 and make a profit… right?

Nope. Don’t forget about packaging. Oh yeah, that’s another $0.12 per bar. And it takes time to design the label, don’t forget that. Then there’s the wrapping the bar, more of your labor. Researching where to sell it can take a while. Don’t forget about the supplies you need to sell at a market, your own canopy is a great thing to have, and tables, and tablecloths, and then little baskets for displays, or trays, or do you want to invest in wood display boxes? Well, that’s another $100. Then of course there’s your booth or table fee for being a vendor, anywhere from $10 to $200. So that little bar of soap needs to make you enough profit to pay for itself, pay for the labor you put into making it, pay for materials to make the next bar, pay to send your cat to college….

Deductions are also key. Here, more careful record keeping is in order. Do you plan to have a home office? You’ll need to have the space qualify. What about storage of your bulk materials–you do plan to buy in bulk, right? You can sometimes count that space as part of your home office deduction. And mileage, don’t forget mileage. It’s now July 8, and so far this year I’ve driven over 500 miles for markets, to buy supplies, etc. That’s another deduction, and with the way gas prices are going it could be more for 2011 than it was for 2010, which was around $0.50 per mile. For me so far, that’s a pretty hefty deduction. Add mortgage insurance, mortgage interest, and utilities multiplied by the percent of my house that qualifies as a home office and the deductions just keep adding up when tax time rolls around.

Don’t forget your equipment! All those molds and spoons and cool containers can be claimed differently than your raw materials in some areas. Of course, you use them over a period of time, so in some countries you can claim depreciation on them and even spread the aggregate you spent on them into deductions over more than one year in some cases. No, I’m not an accountant but that’s another expense you need to look into.

And please please do not forget to look into whatever business licenses you will need in your area to stay legit. You reallllllllly do NOT want to pay any fines for selling items without charging applicable sales tax, or even inadvertently selling illegally because you needed a license and didn’t have one but were selling away merrily without a care.

Don’t even get me started on insurance! In some areas it may be part of your homeowner’s (or renter’s?) insurance but don’t assume it is. You don’t want to lose your house because of a lawsuit which you didn’t have the insurance to cover.

A business bank account is not a must just yet when you’re very small, but will become one as you grow. Some states may require you to have one. And what happens when you receive a check made out to the name of your business and not you directly? I guess you could just not collect on that money, but being a former banker, I like cashing checks and getting the money from them!

Banks are going to require a DBA (Doing Business As) name from you in many cases, though in some states (a small number) you won’t need a DBA name to open a bank account in the name of your business if you include your last name in your business name, or in some cases your full name in your business name, i.e. Mary Smith’s House of Waxy Buildup or Smith’s Floor Removal Service. I don’t really want to call my business Nina Consuela de Nada Santa Cruz’s house of Soapy things (names have been changed to protect the innocent) and for now am being naughty and using my personal sole bank account as my main business account. Yes, I am advocating using a business account… but for now, I don’t take checks 🙂

And just a word of warning about picking your bank: if you are a sole prop and have a business account with a bank, if you are overdrawn and owe the bank money on the personal side, they can and will take money from your sole prop account to cover the owed funds. They have the right to do this any time… read your banking disclosures. It’s called the right to offset. If you’re a different type of business, like an LLC or a Corporation, they can’t since the funds are owned by the business and not you as a person.

Also, some banks will charge for processing cash in or out of your account. Usually it’s any amount above x in cash per statement cycle (look for the date your statement was cut; it won’t necessarily be the same date the next month but should be the same business day–confirm with your bank if you’re not sure exactly when it cuts). Yes, they can charge you for depositing cash into your own account. Many banks do this to discourage people from bringing in large amounts of cash that will tie up their employees in processing it. Again, check the account disclosures and make sure you understand them. It all comes down to what they give you in writing.

This is all overwhelming. After all, you just wanted to sign up for the local market day or craft fair and bring in a little income, right? Not if you’re going to be a business.

There are a lot of things I haven’t even touched on here, like using social media for promotion…. And there’s the hours and hours spent designing the website, and researching new recipes. Researching new suppliers, testing new recipes, testing new ideas…. You’ve got to love it or it’ll drive you mad in the end.

This post first appeared here on July 8, 2011.

Thanks, Nina!