Gift of the Magpie by Zoe M. McCarthy

Posted by on Apr 27, 2018 | 4 comments

Gift of the Magpie by Zoe M. McCarthy

Gift of the Magpie is a delightful story. You will love meeting author, Zoe M. McCarthy. She is graciously giving away a Kindle copy of Gift of the Magpie and a Valentine’s Day novella collection, Cooking Up Kisses, which includes her story, The Invisible Woman in a Red Dress. Leave a comment at the end of the interview and sign in on the Rafflecopter to increase your chances of winning!



Fabulous Fridays

Gift of the Magpie

Welcome, Zoe! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your family.

Thank you, Norma, for hosting me on your blog. My husband and I, both actuaries, retired from Richmond, Virginia to the Blue Ridge Mountains six years ago so I could write full time. I work five days a week from nine to six writing, working on my platform, and marketing Gift of the Magpie, Calculated Risk, and The Invisible Woman in a Red Dress (2018 Valentine’s Day Cooking Up Kisses Collection). The Putting Green Whisper and Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days will also release this year. To my relief, John now performs many marketing tasks for my books. I take off time to teach the Community Bible study and host a prayer shawl ministry. John and I enjoy our six grandchildren, exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, and canoeing the New River. Believing opposites distract, and employing humor and tenderness, I enjoy creating heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences.

What inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve thought about this question over the years. God wired me to be expressive. I solve problems by expressing thoughts aloud. The only way I understand the marvelous mysteries of life and faith is to come up with applications and examples—stories. I wrote and published two books of contemporary Christian short stories to explain what I read and heard as I became a Christian. Combine the need to express and to create life-explaining examples to my introverted nature, and you have a natural writer. I didn’t say good writer. It took years of studying the craft and four rejected manuscripts before my fifth published.

Gift of the Magpie is an intriguing title. How did you come up with it?

On Amazon, I perused the covers of Christmas novels. I wondered if I could write a winter story. Immediately, “Gift of the Magi” passed through my mind. And on its tails, Gift of the Magpie. I laughed. What story could I write with that title that was not about a bird? Ideas percolated. I won’t give away what the Magpie is, except it’s not a bird. 

Gift of the Magpie meme

What character in Gift of the Magpie is most like you? Was that intentional, or did it just come about in the course of the writing?

Except for a handful secondary characters who show up briefly in person, phone calls, or online chats, only the hero and heroine appear in the story. Amanda and I have writing careers in common. That’s about it. However, I drew from my experiences for some of the events. 

It sounds like you lead a very busy life with your writing, speaking, and teaching. How do you manage to balance your time?

I have accountability partners. We report to each other weekly. At the beginning of the week, I create a day-by-day schedule (The Schedule) of writing and personal goals and tasks to complete. I live by this document, adding tasks that crop up. Nothing is left to my memory. When engagements arise for future weeks, I enter them on my calendar and/or enter them into The Schedule on the column reserved for unscheduled tasks. 

What was the greatest problem/challenge you faced in writing Gift of the Magpie?

I read an article about limiting the setting and characters so a writer can delve more into the relationship of the characters. Gift of the Magpie started out as a short story to incorporate the article’s idea. But the characters demanded more time together, and I gave in.

What do you want your readers to gain by reading Gift of the Magpie?

A woman can learn to trust when she realizes how her lack of trust has changed her into someone whose character is no better than that of the man who made a mistake but loves her. My Scripture is Isaiah 64:6. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

How does being a Christian influence what you write?

Because I live from a Christian worldview, I write from that view. If a character is a Christian, he or she is a sinner and flawed but has a love for Jesus Christ and strives to be a better follower. He or she will do things that most Christians do, e.g. pray a blessing before meals, read the Bible, go to church, and talk to the Lord.

Please share the opening scene of Gift of the Magpie with us.

Gift of the Magpie


Who in her right mind agreed to a January 2 book deadline, knowing she’d spend Christmas alone, holed up in her house hammering laptop keys?

From her desk, Amanda Larrowe stared out her living room picture window at two feet of pristine snow—thanks to a snowfall so rare in Virginia that none of Richmond’s small snowplow squadron had made it to her neighborhood.ho in her right mind agreed to a January 2 book deadline, knowing she’d spend Christmas alone, holed up in her house hammering laptop keys?

A loud rumble came from beyond her window view. Amanda half stood and leaned forward to look down the street.

A snowplow. “Hurray!”

A green moving van traveled in the plow’s wake and parked in front of the empty Craftsman house across the street.

Well, huh. The owners had never staked a For Sale sign in the yard. Maybe they’d decided to rent the place. Strange that people would move in two days before Christmas.

Yeah. As bizarre as a middle school teacher desperately needing a break—that would be her— slaving over her manuscript during the holiday.

The rental truck, a small-sized option, stopped far enough down the street that she couldn’t see into the driver’s window.

“Come on, new neighbor. Get out of the truck and show yourself.”

The door opened, and a guy in jeans, a blue-and-green plaid flannel shirt, and work boots unfolded himself from the truck. Long and lean. Late twenties. Would a Mrs. Long-and-Lean emerge from the other side?

The guy walked to the back of the truck and raised the door. No one joined him there or high-stepped through snow up to the front porch. A single guy? Not bad. Not bad at—

Wait one southern minute. Amanda stood taller and leaned toward the window. It couldn’t be. Not Cam Lancaster. But, boy, even with whiskers shadowing his jaw, he resembled her high school foe.

Amanda scrambled around her chair and across the rug, hit the hardwood floor in her wool socks, and slid to the hall coat closet. She groped behind her stack of scarves for her field glasses, then returned to the desk.

The guy had lowered the loading ramp. Binoculars to her eyes, she adjusted the lenses. Now, if he’d turn toward her again … There. She had the guy’s face framed.

She lowered the field glasses and sank into her chair. Wha …? Where …? Why …?

Closing her gaping mouth, she stared at her laptop screen, barely registering the red-and-white candy canes performing the can-can in the screen saver.

Wasn’t being alone for Christmas enough?

Cam, the one person in the entire world she never wanted to see again, could not live less than a hundred yards from her front door. What were the odds of such a disaster? She might as well go outside, bury herself under a snow bank, and freeze to death. Better than giving him a second chance at murdering her self-worth as he’d nearly done ten years ago.

Book Blurb:


Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.

Cooking Up Kisses Collection:


Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!


Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.
Donovan O’Reilly has loved Alana Mulvaney since he moved in next door to her at the age of five. But he broke her heart when he was forced to leave town, and now that he’s returned home to Winding Ridge he has a second chance to prove himself. But is it too late to earn her trust…and her love…again?


Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!


Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?


Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

Zoe M McCarthy AuthorAbout the author:

A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, author of Gift of the Magpie, Calculated Risk, and The Invisible Woman in a Red Dress (2018 Cooking Up Kisses Collection) writes contemporary Christian romances involving tenderness and humor. Believing opposites distract, Zoe creates heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences. When she’s not writing, Zoe enjoys her six grandchildren, teaching Bible studies, leading workshops on writing, knitting and crocheting, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.



Books by Zoe M. McCarthy meme

Connect with Zoe:


Facebook Author Page:



Twitter: @ZoeMMcCarthy

Amazon Author: 

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  1. Gift of the Magpie sounds very intriguing.

  2. I, too, am a Christian author. Interesting premise. Thank you for the giveaway.

    • May God bless your writing, Robin. You’re welcome on the giveaway.

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