Sunday, 26 October 2014

Tattoos, ITINs, Taxes ....

Still trying to find a new tattoo artist - the last one I used was great but the tat parlour was fire-bombed (rotfl) during some sort of turf war and closed. The artist moved to Victoria.

Yesterday I heard about another so I am thinking of seeing what they're like today.

Have to go to the fruit market so I will take a detour and check them out.

Finally got all my paperwork together to send to the US, a least its organised just waiting for one more document to arrive - I can't believe how much trouble I've had to get things.

I needed a certified copy of my license and do you think it was an easy thing to get? No chance!

I sent off the application for a certified copy as I was told to by the RMS (Roads & Maritimes Services) rep.  Waited and waited for a reply. Weeks went by and still no word.  Finally rang to ask what was happening. Was told they had a backlog.

Then waited another week still nothing so I rang again, only to be told they don't do it! The very nice woman I spoke to asked me to re-fax everything and she would see what she could find out. Another week of nothing so I rang again.For some reason they were under the impression I was living in the US despite me having a residential address and phone number in Sydney....lol

After faxes, countless emails and lots of phone calls, I finally got through to someone who would listen to me yesterday on the phone. Went through my story and he said he 'get back to me' - yeah, heard that countless times in the past 6 weeks.

But guess what?

He did.  Got an email from him within 30 minutes. .  Still he did say the RMS don't issue certified copies of licenses but he would see what he could come up with.

 Then late in the day I got another email with a copy of what he had arranged.  The original should be here by the end of the week then I can send everything off.

I have to tell you if you need to get an ITIN from the IRS in America don't expect it to be easy.  I've been told by their agent out here that even when I send everything over they still might reject my documents and ask for more.

She said even she doesn't understand why some applications get knocked back and others get accepted. There's no rhyme nor reason to it.

Ggggrrrrr!

Still it means I will only have to pay 5% tax to the US instead of the usual rate, so I will be keeping everything crossed that they accept my stuff and give me my ITIN first time.

At least once I have my number, I don't actually need to fill out an annual return - my publisher will automatically send the IRS my 5%. Of course if I earn huge amounts then I will need to submit one but I don't think I have to worry on that score.

My earnings are enough to keep me happy without going sky high and into the big tax brackets.

Mind you - I certainly wouldn't knock it back if I earned six figured amounts each year .... lol

UPDATE - I saw the tattoo artist, went through his portfolio and his line work was very good so I got him to do the Sanskrit tat on my wrist that I've wanted for ages. I wasn't as impressed with his colour work.

I have to admit  the line work is fantastic, extremely crisp and clear, especially considering all the fine lines and little circles.. He did a very good job and I love it!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Books, books and more books ....

I've got hooked on a new BBC series - Wallander, staring Kenneth Branagh.  I'm not a great one for television but when I find a gem like this I can't get enough.

On the weekend I decided I needed to read the books.  Years ago I read The Fifth Woman and enjoyed it.  Anyway, I took myself to Parklea Markets on Sunday - needed more white tea leaves anyway.

Parklea Books
While I was there I called into the second hand bookshop - discovered 8 Henning Mankell Wallander books so I got the lot.  There were also a few Dorothy Sayers that I have been looking for so I got those as well. Ended up buying 17 books in total.

Now I am half way through 'Faceless Killers' - and loving it!

My bookcases
Got home and put the new /old books into one of my bookcases - it's getting rather full.  I've only got one full shelf left on the 2mtr one and a few spaces on one of the smaller one. I'm going to have to start looking around the house and see where I can stash another.

I did have an idea of getting a bookcase built along the front of the kitchen bench.  My bench is over 3 metres long and there is enough room to built one the length.

Spoke to my builder son and he said it would be fine to build it there. Of course - telling me is one thing, getting him to build it is another .... lol.

Still the good thing about living alone is I can do what I like when I like and if that means having piles of books stashed everywhere then so be it.

On the subject of books - I'm rather chuffed. Of the 9 books I've had published every single one of them has made my publishers Best Sellers list.  Their top 30 Best Sellers list is updated hourly and I managed to get them all on it with 2 hitting the #1 spot, 2 hitting the #2 spot and 2 more on #3! My latest book that came out last Friday is sitting on the #13 spot.

One even stayed on the #1 spot for 14 days!!

I'm so excited to think that a new author could be so popular.  It may not be the New York Times best sellers list or even Amazon's but it's still a Best Sellers list and I've cracked every single time!

I'm looking forward to the new year when the paperback editions of some of the books start trickling onto the market.  Then I get to put them on my own bookshelves!

Got some great comments about my hair recently. I'm due back to the hairdressers this week - last month I went bright red and I loved it.  Another great thing about living alone - I can have crazy hair colours.  Yes it would be nice to have a male friend but I would have to find one who was modern and forward thinking - not a stick-in-the-mud old grouch, one who thought they were more important or one who didn't treat me nicely .... lol

Anyway, think I will be keeping my hair crazy red for a while, what do you think?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Crazy Weather ....

Crazy weather!

After a warm start to Spring, the weather decided to go slightly crazy.  On Monday and Tuesday afternoons/evenings we had enormous thunderstorms.

From my back door
The one on Monday was the daddy of all storms - at one point it ranged over 700kms long and 50 wide. Watching it get closer and closer was scary, wondering what on earth it was going to do.

Then on Tuesday another storm rolled in, it was no where near the size of Mondays but it was actually worse. The Bureau of Meteorology called it 'a storm of the century' and said that it could be classed as a cat 2 cyclone.

I kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn't get hit like I did in December 2007 when $60,000 of damage was done to my house.

Fortunately my house survived this time unscathed.  Still there was flooding everywhere in Sydney. Even railway stations! The airport was closed.

Raging winds, torrential rain, hail - thunder that rocked the house.  There was even lots of snow on the Blue Mountains as close as Blackheath, just 80kms away, up to 20cm!

What was really weird is that just 12 months ago almost to the day there were tragic bush fires in the Blue Mountains that caused 2 fatalities, burnt 248 houses and had a damage bill of $100 million!

Welcome to Australia - land of weather extremes!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Win an ebook ...

For your chance to win either a copy of A Hunter's Choice or book one - A Hunter's Heart - just leave a comment on my FB page and tell me what is your favourite paranormal creature.




Visit http://suzyshearer.blogspot.com.au/ to read about A Hunter's Choice.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Vets and Taxes ...

Took my handsome doggie to the vets for his yearly check-up this morning.  He passed but has some slight 'crackling' behind his eyes which may be a sign of cataracts.  I'll have to keep my fingers crossed that it isn't. He also has a tiny lump on his tummy but the Vet said to just keep an eye on it.

Because he was so good at the Vets - well he shivered and shook but sat - I took him down to the local dog park.

He ran around like crazy and was soon exhausted. I was going to take him for a wander along the trails but there were signs up everywhere warning that there had been a lot of snakes recently seen.

As I was walking back to the car, a nice guy stopped me and told me to steer clear of the trails as he had personally seen two snakes in the past week.  I thank him and was glad I had decided not to walk them.

As I was heading back to the car, he asked if I would stay a little longer and talk. Told me he like mature women .... lol.

I declined - a) Fozz was exhausted and b) he looked like he was about 35.  Still it was very flattering, not to mention he was tall and very cute.

Came home to find the final edits for my latest book in my inbox so looks like work for a few days.

On top of that I am trying, with little success, to get what is known as an ITIN - Individual Taxpayer Identification Number - from the US.  I wrote back in May and never heard back so started again.  Found one of their agents in Victoria and she has been advising me on the requirements.

Unfortunately the US IRS won;t accept documents signed by a JP instead they must have either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency.  She warned me that they reject documents left right and centre.

Because Australia has a tax treaty with the US - I am entitled to claim an exception on royalties.  Instead of paying 30% tax I will only have to pay between 3-5%. That is if I can get this bloody number sorted.

I don't have a passport so need other forms of identity. It must have a picture so I am now in the process of getting a certified copy of my driver's licence complete with mug shot, plus my birth certificate!

Then I have to hope that the IRS accept it - if they don't I'm up the creek without the proverbial paddle!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Painting .....

Needed a break from writing and, as I had a wonderful photograph, decided to do a little painting.

A friend of mine from the FB photo group posted this amazing shot a few months ago.  I asked for, and got, permission to use it as a painting reference.

You have to admit it is an amazing photo.  The detail in it is fabulous.

So I went through all my photos trying to decide what to paint when this leaf just jumped out at me.  Spent the last few days working on it and I think I'm happy with it.

Posted it on my art blog.

Now I have to decide what I want to paint next.  I have about 45-50 photos from the group.  Each one has something magical about it, so it is such a hard decision.

Then each day more get posted and I find myself adding to my growing list .. lol.

There are some amazing photographers in my group - this is just a small selection of the photos I've got permission to use as reference.

 




Monday, 22 September 2014

Reptle Park ....


Took a trip to the Reptile Park at Gosford on the Central Coast on Sunday.

First weekend of the school holidays so was able to take my eldest grandson with me. We met up with my younger son and his family.

A great day was had by all. The kids had a great time, patting kangaroos, crocodiles and snakes.

We when sat down for lunch this cheeky Rainbow Lorrikeet decided to join us.  He was taking food from our fingers but when we stopped he jumped onto the tray and helped himself.
The little ones loved watching the big salt water crocodile get fed. Lots of 'oohs and aahhhs'.  Later they got to touch a baby one about a metre long and though it was wonderful.
They enjoyed seeing the giant Galapagas Turtles ... although they couldn't understand what this one was doing - thank goodness we didn't have to explain it .... lol.

There were lots of kangaroos for them to pat and even some dingo puppies.  The kangaroos have a special area that is their 'rest area' where they can escape when they are fed up with visitors patting them.

They all bundled together in the sun and rested away from little hands.

Eldest granddaughter was very excited to see an echinda - she was impressed with his very long tongue as he ate his dinner.

Another had buried himself in the warm earth and only had his quills showing.

This Bush Stone Curlew looked like it was too much bother.

The beautiful Tawny Frogmouth didn't even bother opening his eyes when we arrived in his cage.  The children had a hard time to find him until we pointed him out to them.
These three little lizards were enjoying the warmth from the heat lamp in their enclosure.

Very glad these redback weren't actual size - it's bad enough when you find them in the house without having to deal with ones this big!

Love seeing the Cassowaries - they even had an egg, although it was just sitting on the pathway.  Mr Cassowary did check it regularly.


By the end of the day we were all tired, the two younger grandkids fell asleep within five minutes of sitting in their car. Not sure about my grandson, but I know I was quite happy to put my feet up when I finally got home after a perfect day.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Pirates ...

Before I became an author I didn't think that much about pirating, but my views have really changed since my first book was pirated.

Each week I send 'Take Down' notices to various websites - and there are thousands - where I find any of my books available illegally.  I waste at least half a day of my time doing searches then sending out notices.

Sadly, most sites ignore your request and it costs too much to fight them.  However a few sites do comply which is good news.

Today I found another 5 sites with 3 of my books, so sent off the official DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) take down request. The good part is that the sites are hosted by Wordpress who immediately take action by closing the site because they violated the Terms of Service.

On each page that gives book information and the download link they also show the number of downloads of the file in the past 7 days.

There have been over 6500 downloads of the 3 books!

That equates to over $16000 - that's a lot of money that I don't get!

And that was only 5 sites - in the past few weeks I've sent out dozens of notices. That has to equate to a hell of a lot of money when you consider that on just 5 sites I lost over $16000.

Even sadder - they write reviews and give ratings!  My books are rating between 8 - 9.5/10.  What a joke!

UPDATE: Gggrrrr - just found another site - this one had three books on it with 3520 downloads in the past week!

I must lose at least $100,000 a year in pirates at the very least!

UPDATE AGAIN : Got an email from the server who I sent 5 notices to regarding 5 different sites that they hosted. All 5 are now gone!!

Chalk up one to the authors!  Only another 5,876,923 sites to go ..... lol