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A couple of years ago we had the opportunity to visit with June McCrary Jacobs when her book Robin’s Reward released. I am happy to have June visiting again today to share her Christmas novella, A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom, with us. Before we begin, let’s take a quick look at the story.
Tragedy brings heartache to the community of Apple Blossom when a car takes the life of Mary Noel Simmons’s best friend—her dog. The loss nearly destroys Mary Noel’s spirit. As the injured six year old lies in the hospital, traumatized and silent, the medical bills are piling up quickly with no way for her parents to pay them.
Filled with kindness and romance, this story of hope and faith will warm your heart.
Welcome back, June! Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?
Hello, Sarah. It’s nice to visit with you and your readers during this holiday season.
Yes, I have personal experience with some of the elements of this story.
The main character is Amber Kellen, a brand new first grade teacher who was raised in California. I moved to California the summer between Kindergarten and first grade. I also had a twenty-year career as a first grade (with a couple years of Kindergarten) teacher.
My first teaching job was in a town new to me, just like Amber’s. Some of the dialogue between Amber and her students was based on my memories of working with six-year olds in the classroom.
The main male character in the book, Paul Watkins, is a carpenter because my Grandpa John was a journeyman carpenter and I always admired his skill with a hammer and nails.
The Christmas Eve Service portrayed in the book is straight from my memories of that particular service in my childhood church. What a beautiful way to worship on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve services hold warm memories for many people! What do you hope your readers take away from A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom?
First and foremost, I hope readers gain pleasure from reading the story. I find reading to be very relaxing, and I hope people find reading this story to be a good way to use their time.
I’d like people to gain a sense of what a community can do when they pull together in times of need. The citizens of Apple Blossom blessed the Simmons family greatly by showing kindness and compassion to this local family going through a rough time.
Finally, I hope readers will explore the idea that Christmas does not have to be focused on shopping, decorating and entertaining—even though those things can be fun—but that it can include doing things for others in need.
There are certainly many opportunities to be a blessing to others during the holidays. Did you have a favorite story/book as a child? Why was it a favorite?
I have loved to read since before I entered Kindergarten. At that time, my favorite book was The Cat in the Hat Comes Back mostly because my Grandma McCrary sent it to me for my birthday one year—and I absolutely adored my Grandma McCrary! I remember laughing and giggling each time I read about that naughty Cat in the Hat and his antics. The illustrations were fun too because blue has always been my favorite color.
When I taught Kindergarten and first grade, I loved to read the Cat in the Hat books to my students because they were as delighted with that mischievous cat as I was at their age.
You can’t go wrong with The Cat in the Hat! What is your favorite part of the writing/editing/publishing process?
Developing the characters and building the setting is so much fun! Choosing physical descriptions and names for each person (and pet) is enjoyable. I like polishing my manuscripts to ‘trim the fat’ as they say. Finally, nailing down the title is a challenge, but it’s satisfying when I choose a title that I feel fits the story.
Lots of room for creativity! How did your education or previous career impact your journey to publication and where you are now?
I performed well in my English composition classes and on essay exams, especially in college. I learned from one of my professors there not to be so wordy. If you can say it in one or two words instead of an entire sentence, do it. I believe his single bit of advice many years ago has helped me in my current writing career.
I also believe being a prolific reader in many genres, particularly in the genre in which one chooses to write, is essential to becoming a good writer. Before I began writing fiction seriously, I read and read and read in the inspirational romance genre. There are some wonderful authors who have been publishing for years such as Tracie Peterson, Beverly Lewis, Shelley Shepard Gray, Debbie Macomber, Tricia Goyer, Jennifer Beckstram, Colleen Coble—I could go on and on. I immersed myself in their books for a couple of years before I tried to create my own stories.
Finally, I wrote about a dozen non-fiction columns and articles for sewing and crafting magazines published in the United States and the United Kingdom before I ever submitted a piece of fiction for publication. I learned how to polish my work from the editors of these magazines.
If you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?
I would tell an aspiring author to try not to let the negativity in the publishing world stop you from pursuing your goals. As someone who has received many more rejections than acceptances over the years, I will tell you the rejections do hurt. Some hurt more than others depending on how they are handled by the person/company on the other end.
If you feel you are being led to share a particular story with readers, keep working on your manuscript without necessarily focusing on what will happen to it when it’s finished.
Another thing I tell aspiring authors when they ask me for advice is this: Never compromise your morals and ethics to change your work into something an editor or publisher wants if it goes against your beliefs. For instance, changing a piece of inspirational or clean fiction into a ‘steamy’ romance. If the story is published, your name will be on that piece of work. Ask yourself if you will be truly happy if the story or book is written in a voice that does not reflect your morals, ethics and beliefs.
That’s great advice. Thanks for taking the time to visit with us, June!
Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Sarah. I’ve enjoyed working with you on this interview, and I hope you and your readers have a joyful Christmas and healthy, happy 2018!
Your turn! I’ve always enjoyed the candlelight service on Christmas Eve. What is your favorite way to spend Christmas Eve?
More about June:
Award-winning author, June McCrary Jacobs, won Cedar Fort Publishing’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest for her debut novella, A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom.
Robin’s Reward, released in April, 2015, was her first full-length novel. This inspirational contemporary romance is the first installment of the Bonita Creek Trilogy. The series is set in June’s favorite location in California—the Mendocino coastal region.
June’s original sewing, quilting, and stitchery designs have been published in over one hundred books, magazines, and sewing industry blogs in the past few years. She wrote a recurring column for a sewing magazine published in Great Britain and contributed several other articles to sewing and craft magazines published in the United States.
When she’s not writing, reading, or sewing, June enjoys cooking, walking, photography, and visiting art and history museums, parks, and botanical gardens. She also enjoys touring historic home (especially when they’re decorated for Christmas!) and strolling around the many historic Gold Rush towns in the Sierra Nevada foothills. In the summertime you can find June at a variety of county fairs and the California State Fair admiring the sewing projects, quilts, and handiwork other inspired seamstresses, quilters, craftspeople, and artists have created.
You can connect with June online:
June enjoys connecting with readers, authors, aspiring authors, bloggers, designers, sewers, quilters, and crafters.
A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom Giveaway:
June has graciously offered to give away a hardback copy of A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom to a US winner or an e-book copy to an international winner. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.