A First-Time Boxed-Set Experience

by | Readers, Writing | 7 comments

Today, I share my experience in writing for the e-book Valentine’s Day collection, Cooking Up Kisses. My book, The Invisible Woman in a Red Dress, is one of five scrumptious romance novellas that release today as a set for $0.99!

I never dreamed I’d be part of a collection. Then in August 2017, after I had two published romances, award-winning author Mary Manners contacted me. She invited me to join her and three other seasoned authors in writing Valentine’s Day romance novellas for a collection. Stories were due January 1, 2018.


What an opportunity! But could slowpoke writer Zoe complete a romance novella, arrange for an editor, and have a cover designed in four months? I had a non-fiction manuscript to finish by October 2017 and another romance releasing in 2017 or 2018 that would require promotion.

I told Mary I’d pray about her marvelous offer. She encouraged me to do so. During the following week, I wrestled with taking on more than I could deliver. My husband offered his opinion. If God called me to write, why wouldn’t I accept this excellent offer? He was right.


Now trusting God, an idea germinated. I’d write a story that takes place in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. Circumstances in my heroine’s childhood would cause her to feel invisible most of her life. I’d draw feelings from my Coast Guard brat days, when every two or three years, I was forced to break into new social cliques.

With the story and my excitement brewing, I calculated I’d have 78 of 122 days to work on the book. I mapped my heroine’s journey and spread the plot points and days for other tasks over 78 days. If I disciplined myself, I could complete the book. With trembling fingers, I emailed Mary my acceptance.


During the four months, we authors communicated in a Facebook group—our questions, progress, and covers. Working with these ladies was fun.



One challenge was creating a delectable sweet, whose recipe I’d insert at the end of my novella. I love cranberry scones. So, I printed several recipes and tinkered with the ingredients and measurements. To ensure the scones were as tasty as my heroine thought, I baked Miss Mildred’s version of cranberry scones twice. Yum.

The collection required we write a romantic dinner. I enjoyed brainstorming a dinner I think is unusual and unique.


We voted on a collection title, then designer Delia created three mock-ups for the set’s cover. We chose the above Cooking Up Kisses cover. If you’re cooking up kisses, you gotta have a kiss, right?

I worked all New Year’s Day and submitted my manuscript at 6 PM, making my deadline.

To get a taste of each book, read the short blurbs on Amazon.

The story behind a boxed set of romance novellas. Click to tweet.

What do you like about boxed sets?

If you’re interested in creating a box set, read Marion Ueckermann’s excellent and detailed post,”Secrets to Creating a Successful Box Set—Inside and Out.

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  1. Marcia Lahti

    I like boxed sets especially when I’m familiar with one of the authors, because it is a good way to discover different authors. I often hesitate to buy a book when I’ve not read anything by the author. Kudos to Delia for the eye-catching set cover.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I agree, Marica. A good way to be introduced to different authors.

    • delialatham

      Thank you, Marcia! I enjoyed designing the cover.

      I like boxed sets for the same reason. It’s a great, inexpensive way to discover new authors.

  2. Kelly

    Sounds like you had quite the adventure in writing this book! Can’t wait to check out your new novella! Good luck!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks, Kelly. I appreciate you stopping by.

  3. delialatham

    What a fun post, Zoe! I so enjoyed working with all of you ladies to get this collection up and going.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Delia, we were so fortunate to have such a talented designer among us.

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