A Help to Write or Tailor the Manuscript on Your Heart

Today, I publish my 300th blog post. To celebrate, I share with you the major project I undertook to use many of my 300 blog posts. The project produced a resource soon to release that will help you write or get your manuscript in shape to publish. Below is the story about Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days from the book’s back pages and what professionals in the publishing industry are saying about the book.

Story of the Project

Zoe M. McCarthy was an actuary in her first career, but she always held a passion to create stories. Determined to learn the route to publication, she attended writers’ conferences, joined a critique group, studied books and blogs on writing and the publishing world, and analyzed novels to find out what worked in them.

image by stevepb

When Zoe’s first contemporary romance contracted, her further research on publishing and marketing convinced her she needed to start a blog and post regularly. Because her analytical side gives Zoe a keen interest in the mechanics and methodologies of good writing, a how-to blog on writing appealed to her. In 2012 she began her blog.

After Zoe had published over one-hundred posts, an agent and a publishing house editor, suggested she write a book based on her blog. The idea interested Zoe, and she attended a workshop on the dos and don’ts for turning blog posts into a book. She wanted to share more than the information she’d accumulated. She desired to help writers with manuscripts who didn’t know how to get them ready for publication, writers whose manuscripts received rejections, writers whose self-published novels received poor reviews, and writers who wanted to write the stories on their hearts but needed help to put them to paper. Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30Days was born.

Endorsements for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days

image by geralt

Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

—Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  

—Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! 

—Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan.

—Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling cozy mystery author of the “Myrtle Clover Mysteries,” the “Southern Quilting Mysteries,” and the “Memphis Barbeque Mysteries,” http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/  

Zoe has developed a guiding resource for beginning writers. Her method is designed for brainstorming, shaping, and revising the early draft of a manuscript. General and specific tips are offered for applying rules of writing to enhance one’s story for a workable second draft. By exploring the plot line of Love Comes Softly, writers may examine their own work for stronger plot and characterization. Valuable tools are offered that enable the writer to develop a workable draft in only 30 days!

—Yvonne Lehman, award-winning, best-selling author of 48 novels

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is chock-full of practical techniques. Numerous examples clarify problem areas and provide workable solutions. The action steps and blah busters McCarthy suggests will help you improve every sentence, every paragraph of your novel. If you follow her advice and implement her strategies, a publisher will be much more likely to issue you a contract.

—Denise K. Loock, freelance editor, lightingeditingservices.com

A concise, detailed, step by step resource for all writers.

— Jamie West, editor coordinator, Pelican Book Group

Zoe’s writing blog has always intrigued me. As a high school English teacher, I can attest that her tips on good grammar and her hints for excellent sentence and paragraph structure are spot on. But as an author, I also appreciate her ever-present advice that excellent skills are not enough: you must tell a good story, too. This book clearly shows how to do it all.

—Tanya Hanson, “Writing the Trails to Tenderness,” author of Christmas Lights, Outlaw Heart, Hearts Crossing Ranch anthology, and coming in 2019, Tainted Lady, Heart of Hope, and Angel Heart. www.tanyahanson.com

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools.

–Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Celebrate my 300thblog with me and read how Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Dayswas born from my writing posts. Click to tweet.

Would you tell us about where the book laid on your heart stands in the publishing process—in your mind, in a draft under your bed, in search of a publisher, or in the world of published books?

Buy Link 

Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for her father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie’s reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sport science degree to become his trainer…and then she falls for him.

 Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn’t ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he’s content to be her fist-bumping buddy…but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she’s become a distraction to Shoo’s career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?

Write Book Endorsements That Help Authors and You

image by ClkerFreeVectorImages
image by ClkerFreeVectorImages


Well-written, honest endorsements are a win-win for the book’s author and the endorser.


The Author:

Readers like endorsements because they feel more confident about buying a book when other industry people recommend it, especially those whose work they respect.

Endorsements can increase book sales.

The Endorser:

Even if endorsers are unknown, readers associate them with having expertise in the book’s field or genre and may investigate their books.

Everything displaying the endorsement advertises the endorser’s work.

Where Endorsements Are Used

  • image by OpenClipartVectors
    image by OpenClipartVectors
    Marketing materials – bookmarks, flyers, press releases
  • Book’s back cover/first pages
  • Book’s page on author and publisher websites
  • Emailed book announcements

Writing the Endorsement

  1. Study endorsements on other books. Note the:
  • length
  • structure
  • type of words used
  1. Endorsement length
  • One to two sentences
  • 50 – 200 words

℘ “Beth Vogt hits a home run with her debut novel, Wish You Were Here. Quirky, snappy, and sweet, it’s a story of finding true love that will leave you sighing and smiling.” — Rachel Hauck, bestselling and award-winning author of The Wedding Dress


image by OpenIcons
image by OpenIcons

3.  Endorsement content

  • Open with a hook – a sentence or a fragment.
  • ℘ For A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers:

“A classic! Francine Rivers has proven that she is one of the great writers of the 20th century.” BARBARA KEENAN, publisher, Affaire de Coeur magazine

  • Use colorful, powerful words describing the book’s essence.
  • Include something that provokes curiosity.
  • End with a stamp of approval.

℘ For Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthy:

“Dating on the rebound, meddling parents, opposites fighting the attraction . . . with humor and tenderness, Zoe M. McCarthy puts fun, fresh spins on these favorite themes. No risk involved in picking up this romantic read!”—Becky Melby, author of the Lost Sanctuary Series

  1. image by OpenClipartVectors
    image by OpenClipartVectors
    Option: Personalize Endorsement
  • Include elements that resonated with you.
  • List your reactions; choose the most persuading few.
  • Promote the book in relation to your work.



℘ For Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King:

“Even after having 31 books published … I was able to learn something new about dialogue mechanics from Browne and King. For any author yet to be published, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is priceless.” – Ovid Demaris, author of The Last Mafioso

  1. Information About You
  • Name and title exactly as you want it to appear

℘ Author Zoe M. McCarthy

  • Current book or series titles – maybe two, but remember you’re spotlighting the author’s book, not yours.
  • Awards, affiliations, offices held

℘ For The Road to Testament by Eva Marie Everson:

“An emotionally evocative novel so well written that we see, touch, taste, and hear the story.” —Gina Holmes, award-winning author of Crossing Oceans and Wings of Glass

Interaction with Author

  • Up front, ask the author about length or possible focus.
  • After completing your endorsement, send it to the author to preview.

℘ Another author and I share the same name. Including my middle initial is important to me. But sometimes it’s left out, even when I provide the content.

How to write a book endorsement that helps an author and you. Click to tweet.

As a reader, what element in a book endorsement helps you?

3 Ways a Holiday Can Enhance Your Story and Help Market Your Book

“I love Thanksgiving because it’s a holiday that is centered around food and family, two things that are of utmost importance to me.” — Marcus Samuelsson (Chef) 


Whether your story is humorous or suspenseful here are ways holidays can please readers and help in marketing your book.

Way 1: Family Traditions

Come up with a fresh, creative family tradition that readers can try. They’ll appreciate an idea to make their family’s holiday experience richer. The idea may also initiate getting the word out about your book as readers share it with others.

photoExample: In Calculated Risk, Nick’s family introduces Cisney to three Thanksgiving traditional events.

  • An active game in the basement among the cousins. This one shows Cisney a side of Nick that doesn’t fit her image of him in the office. (Cisney and Nick are extreme opposites.)
  • A mission project in which the whole family is involved. I think readers will find this one fresh and creative. Readers could start such a mission in their neighborhoods or churches. Although Nick is a little exasperated with Cisney at first, he learns much about her heart during this mission.
  • An outing on Thanksgiving evening with the cousins. Nick learns something about Cisney that drives him crazy and something that amuses him.
  • I used all three of these traditions to add something to my giveaway basket of goodies I talked about in a recent post.

Fresh holiday traditions in your story could start buzz about your book. Click to tweet.

 Way 2: Delicious Holiday Foods

Recipes, recipes, recipes. Get readers salivating for the food and then give them recipes on your website or in your newsletters. Also, use at least one food in some kind of conflict readers will remember.

Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Example: In Calculated Risk, Nick looks forward to his mother’s snowflake rolls.

  • Those rolls instigate some problems between Cisney and Nick that raises Grandpa’s eyebrows at the Thanksgiving table. I plan to offer a recipe for the rolls in a newsletter. My research said they’re easy to make.
  • Sweet potatoes become a retaliatory food for Cisney. Grandpa’s smile shows his approval. The events with the food are subtle but memorable.

Holiday food in your stories can generate recipes to use on your website and newsletter. Click to tweet.

 Way 3: Family & Friends

In past manuscripts, I avoided including family members of my main characters in my stories. I felt like I dropped them in, and they didn’t add much to the story. BUT when I included a holiday that’s all about family and friends, characters were easy to write. They were necessary “props.”

256px-Charles_Green01Example: In Calculated Risk, Nick adores his family, but some members exasperate him, especially when it comes to the way they admire Cisney.

  • Nick rooms with his cousin Tony. They’re almost as opposite as Cisney and Nick. Tony challenges Nick’s desire to keep his life private.
  • Nick’s younger sister and best friend fuel Cisney with handy information about Nick.

Holidays in your story lend an easy way to introduce characters’ family members. Click to tweet.

 What is your favorite holiday novel and why?