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!

7 Unusual Sources of Inspiration

Here’s a Reblog from BlackChristianReads.com:

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At nearly every book signing, someone in the audience asks me, “Where did you get the idea for this book?” Of course, my short answer is, “From the Lord,” because, really, my life is quite boring. I don’t watch much television and I probably spend about 65% of my time alone. I have to trust Him to draw my attention to things that He knows will bless people.

While some of my storylines stem from likely sources (family members, co-workers, and my own experiences), I’d say most of them come from single observations made in a moment’s time. Those seeds took root and grew in my head until they blossomed into full-fledged plots.

Here are seven of the my most unusual sparks of inspiration…READ MORE

Three Hair Lessons

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This is my third time returning to natural hair. The first time, I changed my mind about six months into the process. I just couldn’t get over how big my face was (LOL!). I have no pictures from that attempt.

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The second time, I made it through but I was very discouraged along the way because I had no idea what my hair would look like in its natural state once it grew out.  I would look at other people’s natural hair and think, “Will mine will look like hers?” or “When will it be long enough to…?” and “Can my hair do that, too?”

I even called my aunt (who used to comb my hair before I got perms) and asked her if she remembered my original texture. She was like, “It laid down when I put water and lotion on it and brushed it.”

I thought to myself, “I suppose that’s good if I want to wear my hair in ponytails.”

Oh, the anxiety. What if I don’t even like it in the end?

Not until the fall of 2011 did I begin to really “feel” my hair. By that time, I’d gone through enough products to know what worked/didn’t work, how long I could go between shampoos, which conditioners made my hair too soft to hold a twist, and how many days it needed to dry in its twists to look “just right”. My bangs had even been trained to lay down on my forehead. Padow!

Then something happened and I had to take a break from being natural*. No biggie, but it was a nice break.

As of June, 2014, I started my third natural hair journey. But this time, I have no issues. I’m not impatient or anxious. Why? Well, because I’ve learned a few things…

THREE LESSONS FROM THESE JOURNEYS:

1) My hair isn’t exactly like anyone else’s. Even the same texture looks different on my face. Yes, my forehead is a five-head. Yes, I have a full face – I always have. Even when I was a  “po” (that’s what my grandma calls skinny people) I had an extra cheeky-face like hers and my great-grandfather’s. This is my face. God says it is good. I agree.

2) It’s okay to change things up. When I took the break from being natural (natural hair can be hard work, y’all) I actually enjoyed rocking my straight hair. It was kind of fun – except for the time I thought something was crawling on the back of my neck when, in actuality, it was just a loose strand. My daughter cracked up laughing. I cut it short after that.

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3) There’s something to be said about how you rest in the journey when you already have a vision for what the end will be like. Believers – RELAX! (Not your hair, necessarily, but definitely your soul!) Let’s live like we already know what the end’s gonna be because we DO! We WIN for eternity!

In His Love,

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Michelle Stimpson

* If you must know, what had happened was: I accidentally altered my curl pattern one day – left a texturizer on too long while sitting in front of the computer. This was after I had already started cutting on it because it was so thick and big, my neck and arms would hurt from all the different contortions needed to achieve my two-strand twists. I needed a break for real!

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Michelle Stimpson is the national bestselling author of 25 books and more than 50 short stories. Check out her latest books!

Meet Unoma Nwankwor!

A few years ago, I made a Facebook (FB) friend who is one of the sweetest FB friends I have to this day. While I cherish so many of my online relationships, it’s nice to meet fellow authors who are so supportive and always have something sweet to share.

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I’m so honored to know her and introduce to some (announce to others her latest work) to those who love Christian fiction. Be blessed!

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A Scoop of Love

The oldest of the Danjuma brothers, Rasheed was a self-made man. He’d learned at an early age that love and commitment brought with it complications he didn’t want to deal with. His single-minded focus had paid off. He was able to step into the shoes of his absentee father by taking care of his mother and twin brothers. But just when he thought he could stop carrying the weight of his family on his shoulders, he gets a call that could change the trajectory of Rasheed’s life.

Ibiso Jaja, a professional caterer, had gambled on the love of a man and lost. Through the redeeming love of God, she had picked herself up and was now living her dream as the owner of Bisso Bites, a bistro in the heart of Abuja. However circumstances conspire to threaten the bistro and bring her face to face with the type of man she has vowed to avoid. The attraction is instant.

Once again, Rasheed is forced to do something he has done all his life – put the needs of his family ahead of his own. This time however, he crosses path with the sassy, independent, Jesus-loving caterer who is bent on making him see the power of forgiveness and God’s love. Just when Rasheed lets his guard down, a deadly sabotage causes old demons to rise. Will Rasheed continue to pursue power and success or surrender to the light of God’s love?

About the Author: Unoma Nwankwor is a self- proclaimed romantic. She is passionate about telling stories that are uplifting and life changing sending the message of faith, hope and love. Her readers are in love with her unique way of telling stories that capture the essence of her present home base; Atlanta Georgia and her Nigerian culture. Her stories which center on forgiveness, faith and hope have been described as a fusion of faith, romance and African spice.

Unoma is also the published author of An Unexpected Blessing (2013) , The Christmas Ultimatum(2013) and When You Let Go (May,2014).

 Visit her online at http://www.unomanwankwor.com

Click Here to buy “A Scoop of Love” on Amazon

 

 

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