Archives - October 2003
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October 27, 2003

Saw Elvis today / Tax info

He was at a red light next to me. Las Vegas-style sunglasses and pompadour. Looked pretty good; I think he may have had a facelift and seems to be working out a bit. Thought I'd let you know.

I was posited this question today by email:

If you buy software or equipment that you only use for your writing, can you deduct it as a business expense on your taxes?

YES. I've been claiming an "artisan" business for over ten years now. You need a CPA or certified tax preparer. Even though it will cost you, you will save 10x that amount. Basically, the IRS changed its small-business rules years ago to allow artisans a measure of leniency. Before, we were just small, home-based businesses. Those rules are different. They say you must start turning a profit within x number of years. The IRS realizes that most artisans NEVER turn a profit, and for some strange reason, they cut us some slack. You need to find a preparer who is up-to-date on this. Do not try to cheat the IRS by nickel-and-diming them; only take deductions you can safely take.

Here are things I deduct every year:

All computer equipment, computer furniture and supplies, including ink cartridges and paper, writing-related software

Books on writing, dictionaries

Trips that are book-related. Rent car, hotel, air fare, meals...

A percentage of:

My house mortgage and house insurance
All utilities, including phone for internet hookup

My internet service, web server account (davidkilpatrick.com). I could also write off mileage and such, and my cell phone and home phone line, but I really don't use them that much for such, and it is a red flag for audits. So are "business lunches." As my calls to L.A. and New York increase with these movie things, I will begin writing these off as well.

I save thousands every year. You'll need to specify a place in your home as your "office." Get the square footage of this. They use this to calculate the % of write-off for all your utilities and mortgage (or rent). You don't need a business name or account, or a DBA or corporation. You are a sole-proprietor. If you start claiming it now, you can go back a certain amount of time and write off older things that you now use for your writing. Like if you bought a computer two years ago, you can write off that cost this year. Be sure and KEEP EVERY RECEIPT and copies of all your bill stubs, etc. Get a folder and put it all in there. Make it religious.

*****

October 24, 2003

Elephants Review

Sometimes I despair over my writing career. The success ebbs and flows like the tide, with the good times coming in every seventh wave. At the low point, I inevitably receive a review like the one below that reminds me that my ultimate objective as a writer is touch people at the deepest depths of their souls. It is my job, and should be the job, of all writers.

From my friend DaGoddess, her review of In The Way That Elephants Do:

Touching, thought-provoking, and beautifully told, the story of Noah, and that of mankind, is one that will linger in your heart and your mind for a very long time. In The Way That Elephants Do by David Kilpatrick is a deeply moving epic tale of one elephant's life. Although the story is told from the perspective of an inquisitive and nomadic pachyderm, you're drawn into his world with ease. Danger, love, history, the world, and the connection between humans and animals are deftly combined in the portrait of Noah, the Wanderer. Noah tells his story to a boy, one of the few "Keepers" who can understand his tale. The story isn't just about him, it's about elephants, man, our relationship through history, and it's done in a way that our history books will never allow. History, the good and the bad, is revealed without revision. No excuses for bad behavior, only the understanding that this is simply how we humans, and elephants, are. There is something here that rings so true and pure. Moving, even haunting, without ever becoming preachy. Perhaps the story of Noah, and of all elephants, isn't that different from that of humankind. Perhaps the story flows so well and with such clarity because it's told simply. Maybe it's the honesty and the "no excuses" manner in which the tale is related. Or, possibly, the magic of this story is in the relationship between man and animal and our desire to be the chosen one. The one to whom this story is told. Because of the way the book is written, the reader does become the chosen one. We're taken into Noah's confidence as one who will understand. I can't imagine the months of research put into this book. I don't know how David does it, but he blends the history of man and animal seamlessly into a thought-provoking tale that turns the way one views the world on end. Man's stewardship of animals is examined, and exposed - warts and all. Our failings and our successes, painted in loving strokes on the canvas that becomes one of the best books I've ever read. I will never look at animals the same again. I bet you don't either.

Thanks a million, J.; It was my honor to touch your soul.

*****

October 23, 2003

Nice review blurb from Jonah Lissner over at The Best Pulp Fiction Online:

Special thanks to author David Kilpatrick (UNDERCOVER WHITE TRASH, LA STALKER) and his new book LA STALKER. Davidís ad is running at the Affiliates & Sponsors section. You canít miss it, and you shouldnít miss his book either if you like a great hard-boiled detective story. Click through his ad and see why the critics are raving about LA STALKER.

Full review coming soon.

Taking five days off from work to finish the L.A. Stalker screenplay. Someone in Gollywood is clamboring for it...hmmmm.

Be sure and get your UWT gear from CafePress! I'll work on the graphics and such as I get more involved with it, and will be offering more products like mouse pads and such. I'm also working on the graphics for the L.A. Stalker products...stay tuned.

*****

October 21, 2003

Good lookin wimmin

Saw a story recently in the news which reported a new study on the most beautiful women in the country. My own city, Fort Worth, was rated #2. Imagine that. The next-to-most beautiful women in the nation live here. I'd have to agree. Dallas rated #4, which caused quite a bit of stir around there. The guys who did the study say that Fort Worth's women are more "natural" as opposed to Dallas wimmin who are more artificial and plastic. Lots of big hair and makeup for them, girl-next-door for us. Interesting. I guess this study points out that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. It also points out man's obsession with the objectification of women. It also shows that women are still rated on their looks alone (even though the study did factor in education and such). Thousands of years of feminism down the drain. But the most important thing this study proves to me is:

Some guys have really cool jobs.

Imagine getting PAID to ogle women and rate them. I can see the study group around a conference table covered with their surveillance photos, drinking coffee and discussing fake boobs versus natural, nice asses and great hair and gorgeous eyes...all while the time clock is ticking away. Most men do this for free.

I'm gonna contact the magazine that did the study to see if they have any part-time positions. Maybe field agents or something. I can ogle and judge with the best of them. I wonder what the qualifications are. Testicles? I have those.

I'll keep ya posted.

*****

October 19,2003

L.A. Stalker movie?

Major Hollywood-type development in the life of the L.A. Stalker screenplay...more to come as the drama unfolds. All I can say is David will be a busy and happy beaver for the next few weeks.

*****

October 17, 2003

Screenplay blues

I've been writing a screenplay for L.A. Stalker for awhile now. After writing novels, I figured writing a screenplay would be easy. After all, a screenplay is only 120 pages max, and 75% of it is dialog. I'm good at dialog. Very little inventiveness in terms of describing the action. In a novel, I'd write: Bob sauntered into the room, the hardwood floor creaking beneath his boots. The smell of cigarettes filled his nose. Out of the corner of his eye, movement... In a flash he saw her. The same thing in a screenplay would be: Bob walks into the room. The director would be responsible for coordinating the action and setting the mood of the scene; they don't like the writer telling them how it should be done. Screenplays are minimalistic writing.

A piece of cake for a guy who has written about 1200 novel pages, right? NOT. I have found that writing a screenplay is difficult. Writing a screenplay is a lot like writing a short story with a pre-determined word limit, as if for a contest. Or maybe it is like an obituary. The writer must decide what to leave out, and every bit left out hurts the story to a degree. Adapting LAS to a screenplay has been just that: omitting parts of the novel to save space. I am on page 78 of the screenplay, yet I'm not even 1/3 the way through the book! And I've already eliminated two complete subplots. Now I see why books rarely translate into good films. Too much is left out. So why are screenplays only 120 pages? Because one page of a screenplay translates approximately into one minute of screen time: a two-hour movie. With rare exception, that's the most American audiences will sit still for.

Speaking of L.A. Stalker, check out Jonah Lissner's new site, The Best Pulp Fiction Online. He is reviewing the book now. This site is just getting started, and it features an array of self-published and established authors who specialize in what used to be called "pulp fiction" like noir detective stories and such. Keep on top of this one; lots of free reading for the devotees of the genre.

*****

October 14, 2003

I don't ask for much

My drive to work is about 15 minutes. On my way in, I like to listen to music. Usually high-energy music to get my blood pressure up. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there are five rock stations. Among all of them, I rarely can find a song. 75 minutes of air time, and not one freaking song. The "personalities" in the a.m. are too busy interviewing NASCAR drivers or pro wrestlers or Dallas Cowboys to play a song. Or playing sophomoric games like See if you can get your grandma to say 'money shot' for tickets to the Marilyn Manson concert! Maybe they are giving the ubiquious Lasix testimonials that fill the airwaves. Maybe they are talking non-stop about television like the dolts on 102.1, our "alternative" rock station. I guess this corporate station pays them to plug their TV shows. How can three adults sit around all morning and talk about Survivor? How can anyone listen? Just shut the f*** up and play some Audioslave, thank you.

I'm sure you're wondering why I just don't pop in a CD. Well, I don't have a CD player in my 1988 custom 4x4 cattle-guard-on-the-front Suburban. I do have a nifty analog radio with cassette player, however and a CB radio that works reeeel gud... My cassette player is broken. I need to replace it with a CD/MP3 player, but I'd have to get new speakers, too, due to the increased wattage (5 watts vs. 20+). I can't fathom paying more for a new stereo than the Blue Book value of the truck itself.

In protest, I have started listening to an oldies country station. Their Horse and Rodeo Report comes on at the same time as my drive to work. After that, there's the Ranch Report, which talks about pork bellies or hog futures and the price of horse feed. I don't know shit about horses or pig bellies, but it is still more interesting than the discussion about what happened on Will and Grace last night.

I'm from Texas, but I've only ridden a horse twice. The first when I was about 14. The thing behaved at first, then took off through the woods at breakneck speed, slamming me into every low branch and tree as he went. I made it back to the stable, bruised and embarassed. My next experience was when I was about 18, when my cousin Michelle and I took her horses on a ride out in the desert near San Diego. She went her way and I went mine. I was riding bareback on my sweaty horse, the sun beating down. The horse was nice. I got into it, even thinking of that America song: "I've been through the desert on a horse with no name..." dingity dingity doo... At about the one mile point, Mr. Nice Horse promptly sat on his ass. Gravity took over, and I slid neatly off his back onto my own ass. He galloped back to the house, leaving me alone in the freaking desert. It was a long walk back. So I guess I've got bad horse kharma; a bad thing for someone who lives in a town billed as "Where the West Begins."

So just give me some Judas Priest and a horse burger, you f***ing shitheels; I don't ask for much.

*****

October 12, 2003

Chicago, Mom and Snickerdoodles

Just got back from a wonderful and much-needed vacation. Went to Chicago by train to visit some of my wife's relatives. A special thanks to Lola, Carol and Cynthia and their husbands for showing us a fantastic time in the Windy City. Great food, great baseball (Go Cubs!), lots of love and a Sting concert to boot. All were special surprises for us. We stayed in Oak Park at a B&B and saw the works of one of my heroes, Frank Lloyd Wright. A tormented genius and an American treasure.

The train trip via AmTrak: Sleeper cabin this time. Nice and private and quiet. In typical David fashion, I fell off the upper bunk and whacked my head on the heavy glass door with a resounding thunk. But I'm okay; I later whacked the other side of my head on the luggage rack, equalizing the concussion. I love train travel and feel it could be, SHOULD be, a viable alternative to air travel. However, it will never be unless they can work out some problems. First, AmTrak has to go. We need some private trains out there to take their place. Customer service needs to be reborn and the smart-ass, burned-out attitudes of the crew must be replaced. Second, they need to explore new technologies to smooth out the ride. Too much sway and bumpiness. I felt sometimes that I was riding in the back seat of a school bus. The tracks themselves need to be improved radically, or the cars need to be able to adjust to the poor conditions of the track; at times, our car leaned as much as 20 degrees. I felt like we were in a boat at sea. And last but not least, the American law needs to be revised to allow passenger trains the right-of-way instead of freight trains. We were often stalled on the tracks for hours waiting for a freight train to get ahead of us.

Chicago was great; a bustling city that needs months to explore. Maybe we'll go back to see more. Sting live at the Amex-sponsored concert was great. I'm no big fan of his, but he was good ( I think Fields of Gold is one of the best love songs ever written). So was Jonny Lang. If you've never heard this electric-blues guitar-playing kid, you need to check him out.

Left Chicago and visited my mother, who lives in rural country in the next state. Even though I'm 41, my mom is still my mom. She's still full of energy and verve and it is always a joy to visit her. Being still her little boy, she made me my favorite cookies, Snickerdoodles, and sent a tin home with me. I have devoured them. Between them and the malts, cinnamon rolls and chocolate mousse, I think I have gained 20 pounds. We came home yesterday to give us a day to recover, but the trip was so pleasant, and the stay at my mom's so relaxing, that we really don't need it. Unlike most vacations where you come home more tired than when you left, this one was an exception.

*****

October 2, 2003

Just when you thought it was safe to order that Moo Goo...

Surfing around tonight for some new blogs to view. Found this one that is, well...interesting. It solidifies my belief that one should never send their food back while dining in a restaurant. The blog is called "The Masked Waiter" and is the diary of, you guessed it, a waiter in London who dispenses his own brand of justice to non-tippers and other impolite patrons of his establishment. Here's a few choice clips from his recent entries:

I treated tonight`s culprits to some laxatives in their soup, some snot in their curry, and some pancake rolls which had been rolled on the ground.

I figured out a way to bottle up my sperm for my missions. I will need to add water to it otherwise it will just dry up into a crust.

I coughed up a big mouthful of phlegm which I dutifully spat into some other scum`s chicken curry. There were so many non-tippers tonight that I actually ran out of my bottled urine!

I took a couple of her prawn balls in batter and rolled them about in my boot. Hope you get some kind of fungal infection from it!

What you do is squeeze the tip of your nose until the blackheads ooze out. Then wipe them onto the scum`s prawn crackers.

So there you have it. Words of advice for all my fellow diners out there:

Twenty Percent.

p.s. I think this really may be Trailergänger's secret site...

*****

October 1, 2003

Weasels in uniform

During the Reconstruction era, we folks in the south had a name for assholes like this: carpetbagger. A person who takes advantage of a situation to reap monetary gain. A user. An opportunist. A profiteer. Chief Moose's new book on the D.C. sniper case is just that: exploiting those who have already been harmed by making money from their pain. Moose was already working book deals before the sniper was even caught. He took every opportunity to grandstand in front of the media during the crisis. I shouldn't be surprised a book deal came so soon. (I'm also not surprised there is a co-author; I doubt if he wrote even one word.) I'm sure a movie is in the works, too. Now, don't get me wrong; all of us should sieze opportunities when they arise. Especially those like me who are seeking publicity. But for a sworn law enforcement officer to do this is reprehensible. My own profession's code of conduct doesn't allow for this; what we see and hear on the job stays there. It doesn't appear later in books and movies. Believe me, I have seen a hundred cases interesting enough to write a book about them. But those stories will forever be where they are safe from the prying eyes of the public: in my head. I have an obligation to make sure the victims of violence and their families keep a sliver of privacy after the case is over. If I were to spill this info in any form, I could be sued and maybe even prosecuted. Police officers seem to be immune from this. From FBI profilers to guys like Moose, the bookstores are littered with true crime books that give intimate details of crimes. Real people were involved in these crimes, and they have a right to their privacy. No one has the right to air every detail of the crimes that took them away from us. If your sister were raped and brutalized, would you want the cop who investigated the crime, or the prosecutor who took it to court, to write a book about it a year later? Complete with photos of her wounds and medical reports of her injuries? That is exactly what Moose's book does to those people who were killed by the sniper. Think about this the next time you swing by the true crime section at B&N.

*****

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