About Me

Funny, even though I know I’m infinitely fascinating, it never occurred to me to put a bio up. But I shall rectify that now.
I was born 50-odd years ago in England, to an American father (working civil service on a base there) and an English mother. I grew up in Stanmore, a little village in Middlesex County. So little I usually just say “Harrow” which is a nearby town—it’s much more likely someone’s heard of that.
My dominant influences, as much as I can remember them were Dr. Who, British kids’ books (Anthony Buckeridge, Enid Blyton, Richmal Crompton), comic books and animals. I was fascinated by the animal kingdom and knew from childhood that some sort of zoological career was my destiny. Though in hindsight Dad buying me Justice League of America #30 when I was six had much more of an impact on my future than any of the natural history books I read. It introduced me to a world where everything was a 100 times more amazing than life in elementary school. Flying through space, working magic, outwitting villains, mind-controlling people—what’s not to love? It gave me a love for the more-than-ordinary that never wavered.
justiceleague30
Come 1969, my father landed a job on Eglin AFB in Florida so we upped and moved stakes across the Atlantic. Our destination: Fort Walton Beach, a small, very conservative tourist town on the Northwest Florida coast (variously known as the Panhandle or more specifically the “Redneck Riviera.”). The culture shock was intense at times: I vividly remember asking for tea when we stopped for dinner after getting off the boat and they brought me tea … cold. With ice in it.
I went from sixth grade through 12th grade in FWB, graduating in 1976, the bicentennial year. My commitment to science never wavered. I did, however, get a new passion when I took a theater class in 11th grade and my life changed as much as when I read that first comic. I was a rather withdrawn kid, but Jo Yeager was an awesome drama teacher and her classes were warm, friendly and fun. Looking back, I think that’s when the plant I had been began to flower.
After graduation I went off to Oberlin College for the next four years. More flowering followed, but my enthusiasm for a science career began to wane. By graduation, it was gone; whether it was my taste changing or more exposure to the field, I don’t know.
During senior year I’d begun work on an Arthurian fantasy. Looking at graduation with no particular career plans I figured well, why not try being a writer? So I did. My parents, who had anticipated me progressing through grad school until probably my Ph.D., were gobsmacked and not happy.
Much to my surprise, I liked writing. And I was even good at it, for a rookie. Of course that’s a long way from making a living at it: I sold my first story in the early 1980s for a big $10, and maybe one more in the decade. So I spent the era working a variety of grungy jobs and branching into nonfiction. I sold several articles to Dragon and more to a variety of trade magazines. Enough to help me stay afloat, but not enough to be a full-timer.
In the late 1980s, I began working as a stringer (freelancer) for one of the local papers. After a couple of years, I decided it might be possible to freelance full-time, so I quit my day job and tried it. After a year, I was job-hunting again. The two fatal weaknesses were me (back then I just didn’t have the discipline for the gig) and the paper cutting its budget big-time so my steady stream of assignments dwindled away.
Fortunately I landed on my feet. Instead of jobs I hated I wound up working at Waldenbooks (sibling to Borders) which I loved and as newsletter editor for a local construction-industry group, plus freelancing on the side. That kept me going (if not flush with cash) until 2000, when I began work at the Destin Log as a full-time reporter. Where I still might be if I hadn’t met TYG in 2008 at a Mensa convention. After moving up here in 2010, I began freelancing while I tried to find a job—and I’ve been full-time ever since.

TYG and I married in 2011. An even bigger moment than finding that awesome issue of JLA.
(Cover by Mike Sekowsky, rights with current holder)

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18 responses to “About Me

  1. Thanks for following my blog.

    • Fraser,
      I read your article titled, “If my husband has a mortgage on a house he bought before we were married, is it half mine.”
      I would like to share my situation and get your opinion. How can I write you? Do you have an email where I can reach you?

      Thank you,

      Joannie Palecek

      • Joannie, I’m simply a writer who takes publicly available information and recycles it–I’m not an expert. It’s unlikely I can help (and illegal for me to offer a legal opinion without a law license).

  2. Jim Langley

    Some time ago – can’t tell from the byline – you wrote an article about LP Linear Programming in eHow. http://www.ehow.com/info_12195571_disadvantages-linear-programming.html
    I found it interesting, but something tells me you are not the original source of this expertise. (?)
    Do you have a book or reference that would lead me to more detailed information? Most seem to dive immediately into the background math. My interest is in understand the gray area between effective use of LP and extrapolating its value past the point of breakage.

  3. Jim Langley

    Thanks. and Thanks for prompt reply

  4. Lovell Montiel

    can i ask your email? send you an email.

  5. EmCami

    Outstanding subject matter, helpful and easy reading material, and a fellow Yeoman to boot…

  6. William Sutton

    Mr Sherman,
    I am confused and would like to see if you can help me. I found, on-line, an (undated) article you wrote: “Income Tax Deductions on Selling Properties at a Loss” by Fraser Sherman, Demand Media.

    http://homeguides.sfgate.com/income-tax-deductions-selling-properties-loss-76046.html

    In it you introduce the article by stating:

    “When you sell real estate for more than it cost you, you pay capital gains tax on the profits. If you sell at a loss, you can take a tax deduction. Your personal home is an exception, though. If you sell it for less than you paid for it, you don’t get a tax deduction at all.”

    But then, two paragraphs later you state:

    “If you sell a vacation or second home at a loss, you’re entitled to a write-off. You subtract the loss from any capital gains income you have and report the result on Schedule D. If you don’t have any gains, just report the entire loss on Schedule D. You can deduct up to $3,000 of your loss on Form 1040 for this year. If you have a bigger loss, you can carry it forward to next year, take another $3,000 off and continue for up to 20 years. If you’re married filing separate returns, you can only deduct $1,500.”

    (Almost) all articles I can find, and from what I can dig out of the IRS documents (including a couple you include in your article as Resources or References), indicate that a vacation or second home is personal-use property and as such while gains are taxable, losses are not taxable. [See below.] The only exception seems to be if the second home was used as an income generating (i.e. rental) property.

    Please help me understand your article.
    Thank you, William Sutton
    ———————————————————————————————
    Ten Facts about Capital Gains and Losses
    IRS Tax Tip 2013-28, March 7, 2013
    The term “capital asset” for tax purposes applies to almost everything you own and use for personal or investment purposes. A capital gain or loss occurs when you sell a capital asset.
    Here are 10 facts from the IRS on capital gains and losses:
    1. Almost everything you own and use for personal purposes, pleasure or investment is a capital asset. Capital assets include your home, household furnishings, and stocks and bonds that you hold as investments.
    ……..
    4. You may deduct capital losses on the sale of investment property. You cannot deduct losses on the sale of personal-use property.

    ——————————————————————————————-
    Topic 409 – Capital Gains and Losses

    Almost everything you own and use for personal or investment purposes is a capital asset. Examples include a home, personal-use items like household furnishings, and stocks or bonds held as investments. When you sell a capital asset, the difference between the adjusted basis in the asset and the amount you realized from the sale is a capital gain or a capital loss. Generally, an asset’s basis is its cost to the owner, but if you received the asset as a gift or inheritance, refer to Topic 703 for information about your basis. For information on calculating adjusted basis, refer to Publication 551, Basis of Assets. You have a capital gain if you sell the asset for more than your adjusted basis. You have a capital loss if you sell the asset for less than your adjusted basis. Losses from the sale of personal-use property, such as your home or car, are not tax deductible.

    ——————————————————————————————–
    Like-Kind Exchanges Under IRC Code Section 1031 [As further specifying a second home is personal-use property.]

    FS-2008-18, February 2008

    WASHINGTON — Whenever you sell business or investment property and you have a gain, you generally have to pay tax on the gain at the time of sale. IRC Section 1031 provides an exception and allows you to postpone paying tax on the gain if you reinvest the proceeds in similar property as part of a qualifying like-kind exchange. Gain deferred in a like-kind exchange under IRC Section 1031 is tax-deferred, but it is not tax-free.

    …….

    Both properties must be held for use in a trade or business or for investment. Property used primarily for personal use, like a primary residence or a second home or vacation home, does not qualify for like-kind exchange treatment.

    ——————————————————————————————–
    Publication 551 – Main Content [Personal-use property vs “business” property]

    Table of Contents
    …………

    Partial Business Use of Property

    If you have property used partly for business and partly for personal use, and you exchange it in a nontaxable exchange for property to be used wholly or partly in your business, the basis of the property you receive is figured as if you had exchanged two properties. The first is an exchange of like-kind property. The second is personal-use property on which gain is recognized and loss is not recognized.

    —————————————————————————————————————————————–
    Publication 550 (2015), Investment Income and Expenses [Personal-use property vs investment property]
    …….
    Chapter 4. Sales and Trades of Investment Property

    Table of Contents
    …….

    Investment property. Investment property is a capital asset. Any gain or loss from its sale or trade generally is a capital gain or loss.
    …….

    Personal use property. Property held for personal use only, rather than for investment, is a capital asset, and you must report a gain from its sale as a capital gain. However, you cannot deduct a loss from selling personal use property.

    ——————————————————————————————–
    Publication 537 (2015), Installment Sales [Specifying what is Personal-use property]

    Table of Contents

    What Is an Installment Sale?
    ………
    Personal-use property is any property in which substantially all of its use by the buyer is not in connection with a trade or business or an investment activity.

    • Simple: one of us is wrong. It’s possible it was me. Given the time since I wrote it, I honestly don’t remember–the fine points slip away from me unless I go back and refresh my memory. If you think there’s a contradiction between my article and the IRS, I would definitely defer to the IRS.
      Sorry I can’t be more help.

  7. I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your talk on Batman’s history on Saturday. I’d like to invite you to join a Yahoo group that I moderate, Silver Age Reviews. It’s devoted to discussing and reviewing comic books in general, and those published between 1956 and 1972 in particular. You can see a partial archive of our past reviews at http://silveragereviews.blogspot.com and if you’re interested in joining, send me an email. (Writing reviews is not a requirement of membership, but they’re always welcome.)

  8. Tom Somers

    I read your article on Arbitrage here:
    http://budgeting.thenest.com/gains-arbitrage-betting-considered-taxable-income-32940.html

    Do you just have to report the net amount won on the arbitrage wagers, or do you have to report the winning wager as winnings and the losing wager as a loss?

    Thanks!

    • To the best of my memory, it’s net. But even though I’ve written a lot of finance articles, I’m a researcher, not a tax pro–definitely double-check the IRS link at the bottom of the page to be safe.

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