It's a real treat to have June McCrary Jacobs on the blog today. I know many of y'all are seamstresses, and while this particular interview/giveaway doesn't have anything to do with sewing, June has written and published many articles and patterns in various publications. Be sure and take a look at her website as she has some original designs on there that are so pretty!
So without further ado, let's say Hello.
Welcome to Stuff & Nonsense, June! I’m delighted that you invited me to participate in the blog tour for your Christmas novella, A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom.
Hello, Anne. Thank you for inviting me to share with your readers on your blog. I have always loved and enjoyed the holiday season so I felt led to write a Christmas story. My Christmas novella, ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom,’ began as a story about a little girl who loved anything to do with angels. Singing angels, snow angels, angel tree ornaments, songs about angels—you get the picture. I envisioned a storyline with this little girl’s family suffering a crisis where the entire community pulled together to help them out financially. This little girl developed into six-year old Mary Noel in my book. The heroine was going to be a new first grade teacher, Amber, because I knew a lot about this profession from my own twenty-year career in the classroom.
I wrote the first two chapters in heat of the summer of 2013 and then set those aside to work on other sewing and writing projects. In late November, 2013, I found the call for submissions for Cedar Fort Inc.’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest through a Google search. After I read the publisher’s mission statement on their website I decided to finish my novella about Amber and Mary Noel and submit it to the contest. This was the first writing contest I’d ever entered. I wrote the book to inspire myself and readers to remember the true meaning of Christmas—love.
Share with us about your writing journey.
A few years ago I began designing sewing projects and submitting them to magazines and books for consideration for publication. I was required to write the instructions for my projects, and I also wrote ten non-fiction columns/articles for sewing and craft magazines. I’ve wanted to write fiction since I was in sixth grade, so honing my writing skills in the non-fiction arena was good preparation to transition into writing fiction.
For a couple years before I entered the Cedar Fort contest I sent out a lot of submissions for clean romance to various large and small publishing houses. Lots of rejections followed, but I tried not to become disheartened about becoming a published author. I was determined to continue making progress, however slowly, on my road to becoming a published fiction author. When I received the news from Cedar Fort that they wanted to publish ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom’ I was surprised and ecstatic and very grateful.I think different genres require their own essential elements to be successful. Romance requires good character development, some back story so readers know about the characters’ life journeys, a setting with a romantic ambience, obstacles in the characters’ life journeys, and light humor. Thrillers and mysteries require the nail-biting element, strong characters (heroes/heroines versus villains), a setting with some danger and urgency, life-threatening obstacles, and lots of red herrings. General fiction must have interesting, quirky characters with lots of unrevealed feelings and beliefs. Right now I’m enjoying reading lots of Amish fiction. I enjoy the quaint small town settings, the homemaking skills the women must possess and practice such as sewing, quilting, and cooking, and learning about how the families work together to accomplish their goals. In this genre I believe the authors have be very descriptive in their writing so readers will understand unfamiliar religious connotations and the why and wherefore for everything the Amish community does.
Do you talk to your characters? Keep story boards? Pictures?I am and always have been a very visual person. In regard to my sewing designs, I envision a project before I set anything down on fabric or paper. The same is true with my characters. I have a physical description of the character in my mind first. Then I begin writing down the traits the character possesses including occupation, hobbies, family life/history, education, residence, clothing style, talents, skills, language patterns, etc. Once those traits are formulated, I begin working on the story in my mind—no typing on the computer yet. I need to let things ‘percolate’ for awhile before jumping into the story. I like to know where the story is going before I begin composing dialogue, etc. I jot down ideas as they come to me, but I don’t outline heavily as some authors do. As soon as I’m comfortable with all of these elements, I begin the process of writing the story. I edit as I go along on a daily basis. Then I edit over and over again until I’m happy with the product.
In your spare time, do you have any hobbies you enjoy?I’ve been sewing since I was about eight years old, and sewing is still my favorite hobby. I also enjoy hand-embroidery, quilting, reading, walking, cooking, and photography. My husband and I enjoy visiting history and art museums and galleries, touring historic homes, walking around parks and botanical gardens, and listening to baseball games on the radio. One of our favorite Christmas traditions is to visit historic homes when they’re decorated for the holidays.
Do you have a favorite book? What about it makes it stand out from others?This is a challenging question for me to answer, Anne. As your readers can tell from my Goodreads Author Page (see link below), I have a breadth of interests when it comes to genres. My favorite books stand out because of their extraordinary characters and exceptional writing. I enjoy reading about people living in different eras and different cultures than I. Some of my favorite books are ‘Gone With the Wind,’ ‘Little Women,’ ‘The Joy Luck Club,’ ‘Rain of Gold,’ ‘Cane River,’ and the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ series. The final five on this list are based on the author’s family history and the ‘memoir’ factor makes the books all the more appealing to me!
Where can you be found on the internet?My website and ‘Writing and Sewing’ blog can be found at: http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com. I write about books, book reviews, textile shows, museum exhibits, and sewing tips there with a new post each Wednesday. The first Wednesday of each month (and sometimes additional times throughout the month) I post free patterns and instructions for one of my original-design sewing or crafting projects for readers’ use and enjoyment.
--My Author’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/June-McCrary-Jacobs/153549754836128. If you Like my Facebook page you’ll receive automatic notifications of new postings and the free projects, etc.
--My Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/June-McCrary-Jacobs/e/B00E7YV522--My Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/June-McCrary-Jacobs
--My Email Address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been great working with you on this project, Anne. Thank you for your hospitality. Best wishes to you and your readers for a holiday season filled with many blessings, new memories made with family and friends, and love!
Okay, Y’all! June has graciously offered to give away an e-copy of her book, *A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom, to one of my readers. Just answer the following question: "What is your favorite Christmas carol (or hymn) and why?" Also, don’t forget to leave an email address so I can contact you in case you are the winner! Giveaway ends Nov 25th.
(The formats available are PDF or e-books (epub and Kindle/mobi formats)
(The formats available are PDF or e-books (epub and Kindle/mobi formats)
* I haven't read this novella yet but from reading the Amazon reviews, I understand it is a clean inspirational story, reminiscent of a Hallmark Movie. And if the cover is anything to go by, it is surely a sweet read!!!