Seasons for Writers: Saying Good-bye and Hello

Zoe’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.

Learn more at the end of the post.

Are you fighting against entering a new season in your writing journey? I hope my experience will give you ideas to consider as you say good-bye to a season and hello to a new season.

Recently, I knew to survive in my writing and speaking career, one or more of my projects had to go. I was trying to juggle too many major commitments. Important ones kept getting tabled. 

Major Writing and Speaking Commitments

  • Writing and teaching the weekly community Bible Study
  • Planning with a group of women a spiritual retreat for our community in which I’ll be the speaker
  • Re-editing and updating two books of contemporary Christian allegories that my business partner and husband will put on Amazon
  • Applying my editors edits to the book in a new romance series
  • Teaching writing workshops at conferences, writers’ groups, and in webinars to promote my book on writing
  • Writing a speculative novel that I sensed God put on my heart
  • Serving as treasurer on the board of a national writers group’s state chapter 
  • Doing my part in our crazy book promotion and marketing efforts

Letting Go

Overwhelmed, I knew I was overdue in sitting down with God to determine what he was calling me to do? Hadn’t I prayed about these activities and believed God had called me to pursue them? 

Through my conversation with God, I realized I was holding on to projects from prior God-directed seasons. I discerned from God that my calling priorities are:

  • Writing inspirational novels
  • teaching God’s word
  • teaching writing principles

During the last couple of years, I was to concentrate on scheduling conference and writers’ group workshops to present the book I’d written to help writers complete and tailor their manuscripts. Although I’m to continue to teach writing principles, the push was part of a past season. 

Two years ago, I’d discerned that in paying forward the writing help I’d received was to volunteer on the Virginia chapter’s board of a national writers organization. The responsibilities and tasks have grown over the two years. When I prayed about accepting another year on the board, God confirmed this season was complete and I was to step down.

Letting go of these two major commitments, will free much of my time. As the year closes, I’ve been energized to complete the speculative novel and work on the spiritual retreat next year. 

Welcoming a New Season

Then a couple of weeks ago, an email arrived offering me a new opportunity that would turn my writing and our marketing habits upside down. Through prayer, I discerned I was to accept the opportunity and revamp and focus my writing and marketing efforts into a new, more defined mold. 

I’ll have to learn to write faster. But once our learning curve is accomplished, my husband and I will be able to concentrate our marketing into two major activities—limiting the craziness we’ve experienced—for a greater return and reach … for a season.

What seems to be calling you to let go of old activities and enter into a new writing season?

Buy Page

I finished reading Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. I have AND will highly recommend it to anyone who dabbles in fiction. It’s one of the best “how to” books I’ve ever read.

—Marsha Hubler, Director Montrose Christian Writers Conference

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, lightningeditingservices.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

Your Author Event Was NOT a Failure

“One fails forward toward success.” — Charles F. Kettering

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I share the story of my meet-the-author library event for one purpose:

Don’t bemoan the poor response to your author event; look for the hidden successes. Click to tweet.

Act 1 – The Setup

 

I called a library. The event coordinator detailed impressive ways she promoted author events. She said the library was dedicated to helping authors. According to her suggestion, we set up a weekday date from 11AM to 1PM.

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Later, I delivered my press release content and book cover poster, which the coordinator displayed at the entrance. It would greet patrons for a month.

We checked whether my MacBook Air would work with their projector. Too iffy. I’d bring my large-screen desktop.

 

The head librarian said 4 to 12 attended these events. No surprise to me.

Act 2 – The Preparation

 

I wanted to add activities different from the normal ones. Of course, I’d wear my Cisney costume from Calculated Risk’s cover with yellow stickies dotting my suit.

Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthy

Cisney3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I prepared and timed activities to fit a 90-minute period, leaving time to settle in and chat. Here’s the schedule titles:

1.  Doughnuts. Bring enough for participants and library staff.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2.  Writing journey with a twist: A String of Nevers. Perform my journey using catchy titles for each journey stage. Raise a NEVER sign each time I utter “never.”

3.  Story behind the story. Keep it to a few entertaining stories.

4.  Story tidbits. Tell about 12 story-related items from my story basket. End each blurb with an intriguing story question.

5.  Scene 1. Give a dramatic reading.

6.  Book Trailers. Ask for feedback on Calculated Risk’s two trailers.

7.  Q & A

8.  Bird of Paradise Napkin. Invite participants to fold a book-related napkin fold.

9.  Drawing. Give away a copy of Calculated Risk.

Act 3 – The Live Event

 

Sometimes, discussed promotion fails to happen. Such was true for this event. But I set up everything and was ready.

Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By 11:00, no one had arrived.

At 11:15, I enjoyed a doughnut, telling God everything was fine, I trusted him no matter what.

At 11:25, I told the mortified-for-me coordinator we’d try again in the spring. I packed up.

A woman came in: “I hear you’ve packed up and will return in the spring.” We chatted. Another woman arrived disappointed I was leaving. So we went on with the show.

 

Successful Reviews

 

1.  For trusting God and refusing to lay blame for no attendees, God blessed me with two women.

2.  The two ladies are active in eight library book clubs. They told me to come back, and they’d promote the event using their connections. They recommended a bookstore where local authors do well in book signings. And they both bought a book.

3.  I’ll use my preparation for this event for future ones. Rehearsing to two women is far better than to my mirror. I’ll tweak my presentation, and I’ll be ready for the next event.

4.  The head librarian recommended the same bookstore the women did and supplied names of contacts.

5.  I had fun.

What blessings have you received from an author event?