Author June McCrary Jacobs
June McCrary Jacobs was honored to be chosen as the winner of Cedar Fort Inc.’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest. Her Christmas novella, ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom’ will be released on October 8th, 2013.
Although this is June’s debut novel, it is not her first published work. Nearly one hundred of June’s original sewing, quilting, and stitchery projects and articles have been published in recent years in sewing books and sewing and crafting magazines distributed nationally and internationally. Two of her sewing designs for children will appear in the upcoming ‘101 One-Yard Little Wonders’ book published by Storey Publishing.
A Californian since age six, June enjoys reading, writing, visiting historic homes and museums, cooking, designing, sewing, quilting, sewing for charity, and hand-embroidery.
Describe your book in 5 words.
Heartwarming, inspirational, humorous, hope-filled, Christmas.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
The final scene when Paul, Amber, and Paul’s dog, Dallas, are in the woods surrounding Paul’s home on Christmas afternoon. Something special and life changing occurs there.
Which scene or characters were the most difficult for you to write and why?
The scenes where Amber had to be the strong leader in her classroom, even when she felt like breaking down, are heart-wrenching. This first year teacher had to deal with her own deep emotions as she reacted personally to the tragedy that one of her students had suffered. In the meantime, Amber had to handle the emotions and outbursts of her impressionable young students. I know from personal experience how truly difficult it is to keep a smile on your face while dealing with adversity or personal grief so that your young students won’t worry and become upset themselves.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I have been a voracious reader since I was a young child. The first book I remember learning to read by myself was Dr. Seuss’s, ‘The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.’ Pretty quickly I remember thinking, ‘I can read, and I can write books for other people to read!’ As the years progressed, my inner desire to be creative took me in several directions, including designing sewing projects. Then I began writing fiction every chance I had. It took me a few decades, but I finally accomplished my goal of becoming a published fiction author.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom,’ is my debut novella, so my learning curve has been steep. It has been very rewarding to me to have the support and encouragement of the wonderful staff at Cedar Fort Inc. Rebecca Greenwood, Angie Workman, Kelly Martinez, Melissa Caldwell, and Alissa Voss have been instrumental in the editing and preparation of this book for publication, the development of my website and blog, my education on navigating the world of social media, and the organization of my book’s blog tour. I’m grateful to each of them for their sharing their time, expertise, and patience with me. Their contributions have definitely had a positive influence on this first fiction publishing experience for me.
It’s also been rewarding to communicate with other established Cedar Fort authors such as T. Lynn Adams, Cindy C. Bennett, Rebecca Jamison, and Mandi Tucker Slack. These authors took time out of their own busy lives to read my book and write endorsements for it. Thank you, ladies!
What is your dream cast for your book?
As a preface, I don’t watch very much television. The last time I saw a movie in the theater was a year ago. Therefore, my favorite actors and actresses are from a bygone era. I’d choose the versatile Michael Landon for Paul, the hero in the book. I’d choose the lovely Mary Tyler Moore for Amber, the heroine in the book. I think a young Jodie Foster with her effervescent spirit would be the perfect Mary Noel. One of my all-time favorites, James Stewart, would bring alive the role of Pastor Harris.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Try not to take rejection or criticism personally. This is very easy to say and difficult to practice sometimes, at least for me. Writers (and designers, artists, actors, etc.) put their souls about there for everyone to see when they create. I try to focus on the fact that this is my creation and remind myself that I did my very best job on it. How others interpret or ‘judge’ my work is totally out of my control. Their judgment of my work is not the reason I choose to write and create.
If I’d allowed rejection paralyze me, I’d have given up a long time ago because I’ve had literally hundreds of my original sewing designs rejected during the past seven years. Since I began writing fiction a few years ago, I’ve received my share of rejections.
When I’m feeling especially low, I try to consider this question: Would I be happier giving up and not submitting any of my writing and/or sewing designs for publication? The answer is resoundingly ‘no.’ I want to keep moving forward with my creativity and that action means accepting the risk of rejection or criticism.
Another tip: Read abundantly and write prolifically, and then read some more!
Do you prefer to write in silence or with music?
I usually listen to classical music when I’m writing. It helps me to keep my head clear of distractions. When I’m designing or sewing, I listen to rock, folk, classical, or whatever strikes my fancy that day.
Favorite/most influential teacher
My favorite teacher was also my most influential teacher in grade school. She was our school librarian, Mrs. MacSwain. Fifth and sixth graders were encouraged to work in the school library at recess, lunchtime, etc. We shelved books and helped the younger students locate books. However, what made working with Mrs. MacSwain so rewarding was that she allowed us to read the books of our choice, and then draw a cover for the book on white construction paper using her colored pencils.
We would print out a synopsis of the book and a brief author’s bio on the flyleaves. Mrs. MacSwain then enclosed our handmade cover in a standard library cellophane book cover and let us put ‘our’ book on the shelves of the school library collection. I made countless covers for my favorite books, the ‘Little House’ series, Marguerite Henry’s horse books, etc. I still have my ‘Library Assistant of the Year Award’ certificate that this inspiring educator gave to me in fifth grade. I shared the honor with my close friend, Lynette, which made it even more special.
Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Amy Tan, Debbie Macomber, Sue Grafton, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marcia Muller, John Grisham, Sara Paretsky, Lisa Scottoline, Jillian Hart, Shelley Sheppard Gray, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Tracie Peterson, and many more talented writers. I love the lyrics of music composers Laura Nyro, Jimmy Webb, Paul McCartney, Bernie Taupin, Hal David, the Gibb Brothers, and Meredith Wilson. I enjoy the poetry of Robert Frost.
If you could jump in to a book and live in that world, which would it be?
Although it was a very difficult life, I’d like to live as a pioneer girl in the frontier times much like Laura Ingalls Wilder depicts her life in the ‘Little House’ books.
If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
I’ve been a history lover since I was a child, so I’d definitely travel back in time. I’d like to travel to the late eighteenth century, post-Civil War, and forward to the mid-nineteenth century.
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Invites would go out to my husband, my late Grandma McCrary, my late Uncle Ansel, and my late friends Sharon and Joanne. I miss my grandma, uncle, and two dear friends each day. I’d love the chance to spend time laughing and sharing with them once again.
If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
Designer Edith Head. Her costumes for Hollywood movies and other clothing designs are stunning and absolutely timeless!
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
There are a great many books I treasured as a child. My favorite book I read as a teen was ‘Gone with the Wind.’ I set a goal for myself of reading that novel one summer while I didn’t have schoolwork to complete. I thoroughly enjoyed that story from beginning to end. The history of the Old South, romance, and tragedy—this saga has it all!
What do you do in your free time?
What’s free time? Just kidding . . . I love to read, sew, think, create, and walk in my free time. We also enjoy visiting historic homes, art and history museums, parks and public gardens, vintage and antique shops, quilt shops, and bookstores. In the summertime, we attend several county fairs and the California State Fair. During the holiday season, we visit decorated historic homes such as the Patterson Home at Ardenwood Farm in Newark, the Elk Grove House and Stage Stop Museum in Elk Grove, and the Leland Stanford Mansion in Sacramento.
Favorite place to travel?
The Northern California Coast, without a doubt! It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in person. The natural, rugged coastline and the flora and fauna found there is gorgeous.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
People are always surprised to learn that I love rock ‘n roll music. They tell me they just don’t expect someone as clean-cut as I am to like rock music. In my high school and college years I attended concerts presented by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, the Rolling Stones, the Doobie Brothers, Boz Scaggs, Foreigner, the Eagles, Bob Seger, the Electric Light Orchestra, America, and many more. I still listen to lots of rock ‘n roll along with Motown, folk rock, classical, Broadway musicals, 60’s and 70’s oldies, jazz, etc.
“What’s happened?” Amber asked.
“One of your students was critically injured in an accident.”
Amber let out a squeak. “Who?”
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 has some unexpected benefits. Filled with romance and kindness, this story of hope and faith will warm your hearts.