More Hours In The New Year

With the holidays behind us, most Americans are now entering a different season. Not one of joy and cheer and peace and family fun—rather the opposite, actually. For the next three months or so, we’ll be going through our records for 2016, compiling everything we need to file our federal and state income taxes.

I have always dreaded tax season. My father, a retired CFO, taught me how to do my income taxes, and I’ve been doing them for years. But they are such a time sink! Every January through March, I’ve had to carve out huge chunks of hours to gather all of my paperwork, add numbers, plunk them into boxes on a series of forms, then redo everything whenever I think of something I forgot to include.

When I met CPA Chris Morris at a writers’ conference in Southern California last spring, I told him I didn’t see much point in hiring an accountant to do my taxes since I had to do all the work of putting together the paperwork myself, and I didn’t need to pay someone to punch in the numbers I had to spend hours coming up with. He said, in a calm, quiet voice, “I can put the paperwork together for you.”

I have to admit, my heart jumped a little at the thought of not having to do all the work of preparing my taxes. “Seriously?” I asked. Chris grinned and shrugged. I took a deep breath and dared to ask, “And how much would that cost me?”

I expected him to quote an amount that was wildly out of my budget. Instead he came up with a total that was way less than what I could earn if I spent all those tax hours doing editing … or working at McDonald’s, for that matter.

“But wouldn’t I have to send you all of my receipts and other paperwork?” I asked.

“You could. Or I could do your bookkeeping throughout the year, and then I’d already have pretty much everything I’d need.”

Ah, there was the catch! He’d surely charge me big bucks for his bookkeeping services throughout the year to save me money at tax time. But when I asked him for a quote, the amount he offered was incredibly reasonable. I wanted to hug him and sign a contract before he could change his mind.

When I told my husband about this “gold mine” I’d discovered, he suggested I figure out how much time I spent each week doing my own bookkeeping. After all, I’m a fairly intelligent person, and I’ve been doing my own business and personal bookkeeping for many years. I don’t really need to have someone else do all that for me.

But when I started adding up how much time I actually spent each week doing basic bookkeeping for my writing and editing business, I again realized that if I hired Chris Morris to do all that, I would have more hours in my day! More time to spend writing, editing, preparing for speaking engagements, directing writers’ conferences. Things that actually earn me money—more than I would be paying Chris.

In addition to that perfectly logical justification—as if I needed more—I would never have to try to balance my business checkbook again. Hallelujah!

Shortly after hiring Chris Morris as my bookkeeper and tax accountant, I decided to form the Christian Editor Network LLC with Jenne Acevedo and Christi McGuire, who had been running my editor organizations, The Christian PEN and the Christian Editor Connection, which became divisions of CEN LLC. I immediately brought Chris on as the accountant for our new company, and he has proven absolutely invaluable—not only with our financial needs but also in helping the three of us partners see one another’s sides as we negotiated countless details of our business agreement. His calm, objective, helpful demeanor, accompanied by his meticulous attention to monetary details, kept us focused on our objectives and enabled us to move forward with this exciting endeavor.

We couldn’t possibly run this business without someone of Chris Morris’s professional caliber. And his fun, witty attitude actually makes dealing with financial issues a pleasure. Imagine!

As 2016 slides into the past and 2017 looms large ahead, I am actually looking forward to tax season for the first time in my life. Because I know I have an accountant I can count on (pun intended) to handle all of my complex financial issues for me while I focus on things I do far better and enjoy a whole lot more!

If you’re interested in checking out the only CPA I know with a cool sense of humor, you can go to and get a FREE copy of his book. With heart, humor, and tax accountant knowhow, it contains everything you could want to know about how to manage the money side of your creative enterprise.

 And if you’d like to meet Chris Morris in person, come to the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference June 22-24 ( or the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference (, as he will be serving on faculty at both events.

What blessings did God provide for you in 2016 that you anticipate reaping the benefits of in 2017?