Merry Christmas & a Prayer for You

Hello everyone! I just wanted to touch bases and say “Merry Christmas” to you all! The Stimpsons have finished ripping and running, and we’ve even got some experimental cooking planned for Christmas Day-pray for us, y’all!

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Merry Christmas from the Stimpson Family

As I reflect on this “writing” year, I’m so grateful for those of you who continue to read and recommend books by lil’ ol’ me. As of today, I’ve written or co-authored a total of 39 books and about 50 short stories.

BLESS THE LORD!

Prayerfully, I will catch up to my age in books this year :)

I want to express my sincere thanks to God for all of you who continue to read the words that pour off my fingertips in the wee hours of the morning. It’s my pleasure to write stories that bring hope, entertainment, and even direction to your lives.

My prayer for you as we close out this year and prepare for 2016 is based on Colossians 1:9-12.

I pray that God will fill you with the exact knowledge of His will through all the wisdom that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way. I pray that your life will bear fruit in every good work so that those who are in need of what you have will be nourished by Him through you.  As you continue growing in the knowledge of God, I pray that you are strengthened with all power according to His glorious might. I pray great endurance and patience for you, always giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light through Christ. 

In Jesus’ Name I Pray, Amen.

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Michelle Stimpson

 

 

 

 

Speed-Writing

A few weeks, ago, I stumbled upon a book entitled “How to Write a Novella in 24 Hours”. Of course, I was intrigued by that title and had to read it, thinking…if I could write a novella in 24 hours, I could write 4 books a month!

Of course, the first draft of such a work would probably require at least a week’s worth of revisions before heading off to an editor. But still…that’s a lot of writing!

Since then, I’ve heard from fellow authors Rhonda McKnight and Unoma Osiegbu-Nwankwor​ about the book’s content. Aside from making us laugh, the book has challenged us to  train ourselves to use our spare moments well. Ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there adds up to thousands of words in just a few days.

Then author Piper Huguley “piped up” (I couldn’t resist) and mentioned how she uses an old contraption called an  Alphasmart to type almost anywhere. I’d never heard of such a device until last week! Compared to the price of a laptop or a table, it’s very inexpensive ($30 or less).

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Basically, it’s an old-school keyboard with a little screen. You type, it saves automatically. When you get back to your computer, it uploads beautifully. The three best things: It’s portable (would fit in an oversized purse, runs on AA batteries that rarely need replacing), it’s a REAL keyboard (no tapping on a flat screen), and because it’s pretty ancient, it provides distraction-free writing (no internet, no pop-ups, it’s just you and the words, baby). Since they’re so old, you’ll have to get one on Ebay or an alternate seller on Amazon. (Be sure to get the Neo version.)

Finally, I told my writing group about my desire to write well in shorter periods of time, and they added me to their Facebook Messenger group so I could do “writing sprints” with them. Basically, either Jackie Castle, Patti Carroll, or Margi Laine will ask if anyone wants to do a round of writing. Each round is 30 minutes. Someone sets a timer, writes “Go” and we’re off.

 

 

Half an hour later, the timekeeper sends a message to stop. We all put up our word counts and congratulate one another.

I got in 647 words this morning in the first round. Then I had a lunch meeting. When I got back, I did another round with Jackie and ended up with another 565 words. Normally, with a lunch meeting and all, I wouldn’t have even thought to write before heading out the door. Mind you, I didn’t get to comb my hair (I wore a hat), but still…I’ve got 1200 words in and don’t usually start creative writing until late afternoon/evening.

Anywho, just wanted to encourage those of you who are writing to keep up the good work and find ways to use your downtime (without robbing yourself of much-needed rest).

Happy Writing!

And for those of you on the other end of all this — the readers–we appreciate you and promise not to publish the first drafts of these quickly written works. We’re still gonna fix ’em up for you!

And speaking of such, Mama B #6 is almost ready for the readin’! If you haven’t pre-ordered, watchu waitin’ on? LOL!

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Running Out of Room for Books! (Repost from BlackChristianReads.com)

It’s happening. I’m running out of room for my books, journals, and professional materials. All available bookshelves are full. Several closets are full of books. My Momma would pop me if she knew of these shenanigans in the Stimpson household…

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The thing is, I’m okay with books covering all the “stacking” space so long as they’re not on the floor. They can be in rows a mile high, and I’m just fine. But I have crossed the line. I now have books on the floor. THE FLOOR! (The horror!)

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But what’s a reader to do? I’ve already given some books away, donated some or organizations, and I’ve even sold some that I really didn’t need anymore to Half-Price Books. (Nevermind the fact that while I was there, I bought more books.)

So I’ve been thinking. Maybe I need to do something creative with all of these books. Build a never-ending bookshelf—or at least one that can hold several dozen books.

Here are some ideas and my thoughts:

I like this one, but I don’t like the idea of having so much weight hanging on a wall.

I have no idea where this would go in my house, but I like it.

Mr. Stimpson would not be happy, though.

This I could definitely do. 

But for real, this is probably what I need for the long run: 

I have GOT to get this under control one day soon. I don’t y’all to have to come dig me out of a book avalanche. Pray for me!

Now I have to ask: Where do you keep all of your physical books? Feel free to post comments and even add pics to the Black Christian Reads Facebook page!

The Co-Authoring Experience

My first experience with co-authoring was with the April Barker and the “What About Momma’s House?” series.

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Honestly, I was too chicken to write the first book by myself. I thought people would read more into it because we’d recently lost my beloved mother-in-law. Though there were some similarities between the Porter family and my own, the reader feedback quickly confirmed that many families struggle through misunderstandings and disagreements following the death of a matriarch.

When I first talked to April about the idea, she was elated. Of course, I was, too. April (who had dubbed me her writing mentor) is a great writer and we both looked forward to bouncing ideas off of each other. The idea of holding each other accountable never really crossed my mind, though I did feel some degree of self-imposed pressure to keep the ball moving as we wrote.

We started with prayer and a chapter outline. Since this book was going to be told in third person with one main character (Katrice) and two secondary characters (Montrel and Patrick aka “Junior”), it was easy to divvy up the responsibilities. We were shooting for a 30,000 word novella with 20 chapters, so each chapter needed to be about 1500 words. The way the outline fell, she’d write a few chapters from Katrice’s POV, and then I’d write the next two – from from Montrel, the next from Patrick. We ended up writing about 10 chapters each. The story was told sequentially, so we fed off of each other, one chapter after another, in order to make it seamless. We started writing in late July, 2013, and What About Momma’s House? was published September 2 of that same year.

The book was well-received by readers (THANK YOU!), and as soon as reviews started coming in, we knew we needed a sequel. We planned a second book, What About Love?, and published December 7. Finally, What About Tomorrow? was released March 24, 2014.

This year, I’ve begun the process of co-authoring again with CaSandra McLaughlin. I’ve known “Cassie” for about five years now through her involvement with  her church club. I also listen to her radio show when I happen to be up and about in the mornings. She’s got a bright, bubbly personality,  she devours Christian fiction books, and she’s somewhat “up” on the latest TV drama, so I knew she’d stretch me!

The Blended Blessings series would prove to be an even bigger co-authoring challenge because when Cassie and I sat down to discuss the idea at a fast food restaurant, a ton of ideas came pouring out. Here’s the official brainstorming page:

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Most of that stuff isn’t even in the book, but the process is what matters! In that hour and a half, we prayed and got direction for the series. The big difference between this one and the previous one, however, was the viewpoint. We were going first-person for the whole book, which meant the voice had to be consistent or readers might get confused. Thankfully, CaSandra and I have similar backgrounds and dialect, so it hasn’t been as big of a challenge as I thought it would be.

We brainstormed on January 10 and I wrote the outline the next day. We followed the 20-chapter outline, for the most part. I wrote the first three chapters, then Cassie wrote the next three, and so on. We both ended up writing more here and there as the plot unfolded. Lo and behold, the first novella in the Blended Blessings series, A New Beginning, was published on February 28.

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TIAFrontOnlyWe wrote book 2 (Through It All) in March and sent it to the editor yesterday (April 4). We met last week to plan book 3, which will probably come out in the summer.

So now that I’ve had this co-authoring experience five times over, there are a few things I’d like to share with those of you who are considering co-authoring:

1. Co-authoring is much faster than authoring alone. I know it seems like, “duh!” but that self-imposed pressure actually caused me to kick it into high gear. I’m already a “writing rabbit” – but co-authoring makes me a writing rabbit on steroids.

2. Have the same vision. Aside from praying for one another, one question keeps us  focused throughout each book: Where is Jesus? The series is filled with all the drama that comes with people’s imaginary lives, but the message of Christ centers the plot as well as the characters. Well, most of them…

3. Create a chapter outline. Both April and CaSandra were new to writing Christian fiction, so an outline was essential to helping make sure we were going in the right direction. As an experienced fiction writer, I did veer off a few times, but when I did, I went back and changed the outline so I wouldn’t lose my co-author. After that happened a few times, I think both April and CaSandra felt free to change things up as they wrote, too. Writing is art, after all!

4. Be clear about finances. With both authors, we set clear expectations. We went 50/50 on the cost of the book cover (whether contracting or just buying the art), editing, and promotions. We also split royalties 50/50. Once a monthly (usually a day or two after Kindle pays), April and I have lunch. I login to the different publishing platforms and open the reports. She pulls out her calculator, and we view the royalties in real-time together. We do the math. I write her a check for half the royalties and that’s it. At the end of the year, I write off what I paid her (form 1099), she reports it as income on her taxes so I don’t get taxed for both of us.

The same will happen when CaSandra and we start to receive royalties. (Woo hoo!) Note: We did order books for a book signing. We split the cost of books, then we split the profits. We’ve decided that after the next signing, we’ll just split the books we have leftover and it’ll be every man for himself with selling the rest from the trunk. It’s just too hard to keep track of every time I sell a book and owe her $4.

5. Co-authoring is a rewarding experience. Up until I wrote with April, I really thought of myself as a loner when it came to art. However, the shared creative experience opened me to the process of mentoring other writers and setting others up for success. I still have my own characters and my own ideas to pursue, but helping someone else give birth to their dreams can be just as exciting. Thanks to them, I’m regaining an appreciation for the awesomeness of this gift He has bestowed upon me.

Be blessed!

New Release – A Change of Heart

Book three in the “A Few Good Men” Series is now available, and boy was it a pleasure to write!

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The inspiration for this book was a conversation with a  relative of mine about a relationship in which two young people were basically “playing house.” Like the main characters in A Change of Heart, our Father graciously intervened. But it was quite nerve-wrecking to sit back and watch them make decisions that put both of their young lives at risk for consequences they weren’t prepared to handle.

I hope you’ll enjoy this novella!

Available on Kindle and Nook.

Print coming soon!

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