Because of the way the writing business works, sometimes I have virtually no income for long periods of time, and then I'll sell a novel or something and get a sudden huge lump of cash. I can't count on that money, though, because I never know what's going to sell and what isn't, or when.
So my wife and I have never depended on my income; we live on hers. When my work does pay off, we don't use the money for groceries or mortgage payments -- we use it for big out-of-the-ordinary expenses like replacing cars, buying new computers, taking vacations, or making investments. Our kids got through college with no loans thanks to my writing money.
These days most of my investments are just buying stocks through my broker, but in the past we made a few more interesting ones:
- We owned 1.5% of a now-bankrupt brewpub called the Olde Towne Tavern and Brewing Co.
- I owned half a magazine, which is now out of business, called Deathrealm. It was published by Malicious Press, a partnership consisting of myself and screenwriter Terry Rossio, who I've never met. The mag was edited by its founder, Stephen Mark Rainey.
- I own half of Beyond Comics, a small chain of comics shops. That's still going and doing fine, but I'm not involved in running it.
I've also been a landlord; at one time we owned real estate in five states, and rented it out in three of them. I don't do that any more; we sold the farmland in Kentucky in 1986, sold the houses in Pennsylvania in 2008, and turned the vacation home in North Carolina over to an agency. Being a landlord sucks.
I don't think self-publishing, or unsuccessful attempts at agenting, or my comic book collection, would count as investments, so that's about it. Not real exciting.
That's it; here's your list of handy exits: