Guest Author Interview – June McCrary Jacobs

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Title: A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom

Genre: Literature/Fiction/Holidays

Synopsis: Tragedy brings heartache to the community of Apple Blossom. A car takes the life of 6-year-old Mary Noel Simmons’s best friend—her dog—and nearly destroys Mary Noel’s spirit as well. Now, she lies at the hospital, traumatized and silent, while the medical bills are piling up with no way for her parents to pay them.

That is, until Mary Noel’s teacher, Amber Kellen, breaks out of her quiet, lonely life to help.

With the help of her new friend Paul, Amber sets out to solve the family’s financial problems by involving the entire community. And as the two friends work together, they discover that creating a Christmas miracle may also have some unexpected benefits. Filled with romance and kindness, this story of hope and faith will warm your hearts.

June McCrary Jacobs, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is June McCrary Jacobs. June is a quilter, crafter and writer. Welcome to my blog, June.

CH: This was your first book and the winner of Cedar Fort Publishing’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest. Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

JMJ:  The Apple Blossom community comes together to help a family in need after a tragedy involving their young daughter, Mary Noel.

CH: Your Christmas book deals with the realities of life. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

JMJ:  I taught first grade for almost two decades, so I knew I wanted the main character to be a brand new teacher who was facing the ups and downs of being new in the classroom. Amber is also new to the community of Apple Blossom, Vermont. She was raised in California (like me) and struck out on her own to move to New England for her first teaching position.

I had been hearing about the astronomical medical bills facing many families when a child became ill or was in an accident. I thought that issue would be a strong plot element and would be the catalyst to bring together the community to help out the Simmons family in their time of need.

Once I figured out the problem and how I wanted the characters to solve it, I realized I needed to have the story set in a place that traditionally has lots of snow! (Read the book to find out why.)

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this novella?

JMJ:  I named the town ‘Apple Blossom’ because I learned that Vermont’s state tree is the apple. I then searched to find out if there was a real town in that state named Apple Blossom. There wasn’t, so I had the quaint name I wanted for my setting.

CH: As a debut author, did you run into any challenges while writing this book?

JMJ:  Perhaps my great challenge came after I wrote the book. Fortunately, the story construction process flowed well for me. The hard part came with promoting the book. Until I was an author, I did not have a Facebook page or blog, and I had not used Goodreads before. I had a lot to learn about setting up and using these platforms to reach out and communicate with other authors and readers.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

JMJ:  I will share some of the comments and feedback I’ve received from my friends, family and readers who have read this book. I’m considered to have a good sense of humor by those who know me, and many people commented how much they enjoyed the humor I shared throughout the story. I enjoy reading books that lighten the mood with good old-fashioned humor and puns, so I included those elements in my book.

Many readers liked the fact that there are true-to-life Christmas and church traditions in the book. They said it brought back fond memories of their childhood holiday activities with family and friends. Fans of inspirational romance appreciated the dash of romance in the book.

Finally, my friends have shared that they liked the book because it is a wholesome, inspirational story which is completely clean in language and content. I’ve learned that there is a segment of our population which is craving relaxing, meaningful books to read that reflect their spiritual beliefs and lifestyles.

CH: Since this book is a contemporary Christmas novel and an inspirational fiction, was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

JMJ:  Creating believable situations and issues was not difficult for me because several aspects of the book were based upon my life’s experiences.

For instance, the Christmas Eve services at Amber’s church were taken straight out of my memories of the candlelight services at my childhood church. Those were such happy, warm memories for me that I wanted to share them in my book. I mentioned previously about Amber’s profession and how it felt to be a brand new first grade teacher in a new town. Been there, done that!

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

 JMJ:  Mary Noel Simmons, the six year old, who was injured. It’s been a long time since I was a six year old!

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

JMJ:  Paul Watkins, the leading male character. He has a great sense of humor, and I had fun writing some silly situations and dialog involving this interesting character. Paul is a journeyman carpenter because that was my Grandpa John’s trade back in the early twentieth century.

CH: There is a lesson to learn and a reason to celebrate. Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

JMJ:  The main message I’m trying to send in my book is that I believe Christmas is not about buying the perfect gifts, decorating the most glamorous tree or hosting the perfect Christmas dinner. It’s remembering that the holiday exists, so that we can celebrate the birth of a very special baby boy who graced our earth over two thousand years ago. He was God’s gift to our world, just as helping others in their time of need is the community of Apple Blossom’s gift to the Simmons family.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of this book?

JMJ:  I’ve been pleased with the reception my book has received. The only thing I can add that I didn’t already specify is that lots of people have written to me saying they felt like they were in a Hallmark movie, while they were reading my book. That’s quite a compliment to an author!

CH: Since this was your debut novella, what attracted you to writing in the first place?

JMJ:  I’ve wanted to be an author since I was in the sixth grade. I have been a voracious reader since I was a young child. I guess in my young mind I figured if I like to read and am good at it, maybe I’d like to write and possibly be good at that, too.  About a decade ago, I finally answered my inner nudge and began writing columns and articles for sewing and craft magazines published in the United States and the United Kingdom.

In 2010 or so, I began writing fiction for my own pleasure, and I soon followed that up with submitting for various anthologies, etc. Winning Cedar Fort Publishing’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest with A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom was a great personal accomplishment and prompted me to continue on my path of being a published author.

CH: What is your favorite Christmas book? And why?

JMJ:  My favorite Christmas book is a children’s picture book originally published in 1957 in Ladies Home Journal magazine. It was published by Viking Penguin Inc. in 1958

The Story of Holly and Ivy was written by Rumer Godden with pictures by Barbara Cooney. It’s my favorite book because it touches something very deep inside of me about a person wanting a certain thing and wishing for it with all of her heart. The illustrations are beautiful.

CH: Are there any authors that provide inspiration for your writing?

JMJ:  I love to read Debbie Macomber, Tracie Peterson, Lauren Wolk, and many more talented men and women! I also like to read my bible, especially Proverbs and the Psalms, for their cadence and rich vocabulary. I enjoy Robert Frost’s poetry, too.

CH: What is your next writing project?

JMJ:  I’m currently finishing/polishing Book Two in my Bonita Creek Trilogy. It will be about Penny Ralston, who is the cousin and best friend of Robin Bennett Clarke, the main character, in Book One, Robin’s Reward.

I also enjoy writing short stories for children, so I have about half a dozen of those written and set aside while I’m deciding what to do with them.

CH: How to Find June McCrary Jacobs:  

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

JMJ:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books and Things (eBook).

CH: Any closing remarks?

JMJ:  I’d like to thank you for hosting me on your blog, Cheryl. It’s been fun to meet a new author friend, and I wish you the best in your writing endeavors.

I’d also like to wish you and your readers a blessed Christmas season and a wonderful 2018!

CH: Thank you so much, June McCrary Jacobs, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, June McCrary Jacobs and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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