I asked a friend to come up with some questions for my 'Smashwords Interview' and these are what he came up with. I've written my answers to each of them. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/reneepaule
You have written five books - one for children - and have a sixth in the pipeline on the human condition. What drives you to write?
What makes a flower grow, a heart beat or the sun shine? I don’t know the answers to these questions or to what drives me to write. I only know that I’m driven and that the ‘drive’ grows stronger with each book.
Many people who read your books are looking for answers yet your books provide none; isn’t this rather a contradiction to being a self-help book?
No it isn’t. If I provide answers to questions people have then some of them will listen to me and I may be wrong - it has never been my intention to become a ‘guru’. Self-help means just that; we need to help ourselves and not rely on others to find solutions for us - which leaves us none the wiser; our strength can only be found within. We must look for our own answers and I can only show you how I’m looking for mine. Having said that, I actually have no answers - just fewer and fewer questions and this has made my heart less heavy to lug around.
What age group are your books aimed at, if any?
When I wrote ‘On The Other Hand’ I thought my audience would be in my own age group (over 50s). I was surprised to discover that younger people like them very much too, so my answer is from around 15 or so upwards.
Why did you start to illustrate your books after ‘On the other hand’ and how did the idea of ‘Dilly’ come about?
I never thought about illustrating ‘On the Other Hand’. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know I had the ability to draw so it never occurred to me - I wasn’t artistic in my youth. When I was writing ‘Just Around the Bend’ an idea popped into my head of a ‘thought bubble thinking’ and I decided to draw it - it was just a bit of fun. From then on Dilly - a thought form that thinks - became a character in his own right and he was good at demonstrating points that I made in the text. I use ‘he’ when I talk about Dilly but I really don’t think of him as either masculine or feminine - it’s just for the sake of convenience.
You do your own illustrations; how do you decide what aspect to illustrate? Your earlier books have fewer illustrations than ‘Stepping out of time’, which has 27; one short of the previous two books put together. Why is this?
Sometimes the Dilly illustrations pop into my head before I’ve even written the point I want him to demonstrate, and sometimes the ‘point’ comes first; I have no hard or fast rules about this and let the illustrations develop as and when they want to. For this reason I can’t really answer the second part of this question. I can tell you however, that the images for ‘Stepping Out of Time’ came to me so quickly that I began to wonder whether my next book would be in comic strip format - as it turned out it was to be a children’s picture book.
Why did you write a children’s book and do you have plans to write more of them? Again, an idea just came to me and I shared it with a friend and we decided to write and illustrate this book together. Yes, I have plans - and ideas - for more. Our children need to learn to think independently (outside the proverbial box) as much as we do. They learn from us and will become the future leaders of our world, so it’s important that we teach them not to be afraid of it.
The latest book you are working on; is this in the same tone as your previous books; will it have more or less illustrations?
I don’t believe that my tone changes, so my answer to the first part of this question is ‘Yes’. To date, I’ve not yet made any illustrations for it or designed the cover, so I can’t answer the second part of this question yet.
Is there much more that you can write about on the human experience before you run out of ideas?
I’m far from short of ideas. If anything, there’s a problem writing them down fast enough before I forget. Because the genres of my books are ‘self-reflection’ and ‘observation’ it follows that my ideas will only run out when I do! But, who is this ‘I’?
If you had to sum up your books in a ‘Hollywood pitch’ for example, ‘Sci-fi Meets Supernatural’, how would you describe it?
‘Beds of Nails and Other Comfortable Places’.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I can’t answer that question - I may not be around.
Your books have no mantras to repeat, no exercises or meditations to perform and no means of tracking progress made; in fact, on the face of it there is nothing for the reader to do. How do your books work, how do they help people who read them to help themselves?
Oh but they do have a mantra to repeat - ‘Who am I?’ Ask it and keep asking it. There are three ‘do’s in this question and this ‘doing’ has got us into enough trouble already. There really is nothing to ‘do', as such. We make life so complicated when it should be simple. My books aim to help people to think differently and to let go of all that holds them back from being the best person they can be - from becoming a responsible and mindful person in society. I’m told that my books are both a mirror and a lens, and I believe that to be true. If my books teach anything at all then they teach us the truth about ourselves - steering us inwards - and this is all too often a difficult place to visit.
Autism. A mystery to some. A way of life for others.
A cause for all since it is now the fastest growing and most common disability in the US. 1 in every 68 children are diagnosed with Autism. Many of these kids will rely on their parents to some degree, depending on severity, all their lives, with estimated costs between 5 to 7 million dollars in services and care over their lifetime. Many of the services those living with Autism require are not covered by insurance. It is an expensive and difficult lifelong diagnosis to navigate.
Authors Ginger Scott and Kennedy Ryan started LIFT 4 Autism a few years ago as a charitable initiative rallying the romance reading community in April, which is Autism Awareness/Acceptance month.
All proceeds go to this year’s charitable partner Kulture City, who is doing amazing things for Autism families. Discover more about them at kulturecity.org. Specifically, LIFT will benefit Kulture City’s lifeBOKS program, which provides families with free kits to curtail wandering, a common and potentially life threatening challenge. Proceeds will also benefit Kulture City’s tablet program, which provides iPads to improve communication for non and limited verbal children on the spectrum to families who cannot afford them.
HOW WILL WE RAISE FUNDS?
Browse all the amazing items up for bid here: charityauction.bid/lift4autism The auction will be LIVE and open for bidding Monday, April 24 - Friday, April 28.
To self-publish ... or not to self-publish - decisions ... decisions.
I'm almost finished with this book. Co-written and illustrated with G R Hewitt, which has been fun. It's a lovely little 39 pager in full colour. Its messages are simple; don't believe everything you hear and don't allow fear to control your life. With these messages in mind the illustrations show the life cycle of a Goat's-beard plant (Tragopogon - for the botanically minded) so there are some lovely nature lessons in it too. Target audience - age 4-99.
All the best
Tax Fraud Awareness
The IRS, taxpayers and tax preparers share a common enemy: identity thieves. We all have a part to play in the fight against tax-related identity theft. Your role starts by learning the mechanics and warning signs. From there, taxpayers can take proactive steps to protect their data online and at home.
Understand How Tax Fraud Happens
Dishonest individuals may steal taxpayers’ personal and financial information from sources outside the IRS, such as social media accounts where people tend to share too many details or bogus phishing emails that appear to come from the IRS or a bank. Once they obtain an unsuspecting taxpayer’s data, thieves may use it to file fraudulent federal and state income tax returns, claiming significant refunds.
Paperless e-filing facilitates these scams: Thieves submit returns electronically, based on falsified earnings, and receive refunds via mail or direct deposit. Sure, the IRS maintains records of wages and other types of taxable income reported by employers, but they don’t usually match these records to the information submitted electronically before issuing refund checks. By the time the IRS notifies a victim that it’s received another tax return in his or her name, the thief is long gone and has already cashed the refund check.
In addition to refund fraud, thieves may use stolen personal information to access existing bank accounts and withdraw funds — or open new ones without the taxpayer’s knowledge. Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and their ploys more complex, making identity theft harder to detect.
Recognize the Warning Signs
Taxpayers are the first line of defense against these scams. The IRS lists the following warning signs of tax-related identity theft:
Your electronic tax return is rejected. When the IRS rejects your tax return, it could mean that someone else has filed a fraudulent return using your Social Security number. Before jumping to conclusions, first check that the information entered on the tax return is correct. Were any numbers transposed? Did your college-age dependent claim a personal exemption on his or her tax return?
You’re asked to verify information on your tax return. The IRS holds suspicious tax returns and then sends letters to those taxpayers, asking them to verify certain information. This is especially likely to happen if you claim the Earned Income tax credit or the Additional Child tax credit, both of which have been targeted in refund frauds in previous tax years. If you didn’t file the tax return in question, it could mean that someone else has filed a fraudulent return using your Social Security number.
You receive tax forms from an unknown employer. Watch out if you receive income information, such as a W-2 or 1099 form, from a company that you didn’t do work for in 2016. Someone else may be using the phony forms to claim a fraudulent refund.
You receive a tax refund or transcript that you didn’t ask for. Identity thieves may test the validity of stolen personal information by sending paper refunds to your address, direct depositing refunds to your bank or requesting a transcript from the IRS. If these tests work, they may file a fraudulent return with your stolen data in the future.
You receive a mysterious prepaid debit card. Identity thieves sometimes use your name and address to create an account for a reloadable prepaid debit card that they later use to collect a fraudulent electronic refund.
Take Preventive Measures
You may wonder how many taxpayers file electronic vs. paper returns. “There are 150 million households that file federal and state tax returns involving trillions of dollars…. More than 90% of these tax returns are prepared on a laptop, desktop or even a smartphone — whether they’re done by an individual or a tax preparer. This is a massive amount of sensitive data that identity thieves would love to get access to.… With 150 million households, someone right now is clicking on an email link they shouldn’t, or skipping an important computer security update, leaving them vulnerable to hackers,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a recent statement about the Security Summit Group. (See “IRS Creates Security Summit Group” above.)
How can you actively safeguard your personal data online and at home? Here are four simple ways to thwart tax-related identity theft:
Another simple way to prevent someone from filing a fraudulent return is simply to file your return as soon as possible. The IRS begins processing tax returns on January 23. If you file a tax return before would-be fraudsters do, their refund claims are more likely to be rejected for filing under a duplicate Social Security number.
Join the Fight
The deadline for filing your 2016 return is fast approaching. The IRS expects more than 70% of taxpayers to receive a refund for 2016, and it’s on high alert for refund fraud and other tax-related identity theft schemes. You can help the IRS in its efforts to fight tax fraud by watching for these warning signs and safeguarding your personal and financial information.
Additional resources for business accounting tips are available here