Today I'm super excited to have author June McCrary Jacobs on the Sunday's Author Spotlight. June is the author of 'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom', and 'Robin's Reward', the first book in the Bonita Creek Trilogy. Her books sound like so much fun and received some great ratings.
About 'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom':
When her student, six-year-old Mary Noel, survives a car accident over Thanksgiving break, Amber and her new friend, Paul, are determined to cheer her up during the holidays. But Mary Noel’s most painful injury is the loss of her dog. The more withdrawn Mary Noel becomes, the more Amber and Paul need a miracle—a miracle that requires the entire community’s help.
This book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
This book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
About 'Robin's Reward' (Bonita Creek Trilogy #1):
Bonita Creek’s librarian Robin Bennett is heartbroken after being abandoned by her husband, Thomas. The mysterious and handsome Jeff Clarke arrives unexpectedly and touches Robin’s life with his wit and warmth. Then, without warning, Jeff’s harsh words and abrasive actions scare her off, and Robin’s hope of finding true love withers again.
Just when it seems Robin and Jeff might have a future, Susan Stinson, whose cruel taunting has plagued Robin since they met as young teens, decides Jeff should be hers, not Robin’s. Susan’s anger and jealousy escalate dangerously. Her vindictiveness threatens the foundation of Jeff and Robin’s young relationship.
Robin’s journey through the peaks and valleys of her life meanders along the twists and turns of new challenges. Is a relationship which began with both parties harboring secrets destined to survive? Can they move past their troubles and the obstacles in their path to find love and happiness together? When their pasts rear their ugly heads, Jeff and Robin must use their faith to remain strong and true. But will it be enough for them to embrace a life of love, trials, and blessings . . . together?
Excerpt 'Robin's Reward':
I’m as hot and sticky as the center of a freshly-roasted campfire marshmallow, Miss Praise.” Perspiration trickled past Robin’s sunburned neck, under her collar, and down her back. Her blouse was plastered to her skin. “I’m not feeling very feminine or lady-like in this condition, if you catch my drift. This brings us to my next question. What was I thinking starting up with this garden renovation project on the hottest March afternoon ever recorded in Bonita Creek? Am I nuts? Wait—don’t answer that.” Some sympathy from Miss Praise, like purring or even winding herself around Robin’s legs, would’ve been comforting. Instead, the elderly tabby was dozing comfortably in her cozy quilt lined basket on the shaded porch. Robin was drained from tangling with her vintage hydrangea bush for the past four hours. She’d read gardening was great exercise, but it gave Robin’s thoughts too many chances to wander. She dreaded those dark, dreary spaces in her mind permanently occupied by unhappy memories and heart-wrenching regrets. Since she wasn’t accomplishing much anyway, she released her shovel to take a break with a refreshing glass or two of her favorite iced tea. She straightened up and stretched her aching arms over her head. “I’m parched, how about you? Want something cold to drink?” She spoke in the direction of the faded gray cat. Apparently, Miss Praise had heard enough of Robin’s whining. The cat yawned, stretched, flicked her tail, and hopped daintily out of her basket. She lumbered down the brick path to seek refuge in the peaceful back garden. Naturally, Robin hadn’t expected Miss Praise to respond, but talking to the cat helped her feel connected to her Grandma Estelle. The older woman had passed on a few years ago and Robin still ached for her grandmother’s presence. She kneaded her fatigued lower back with her knuckles and sighed deeply. As she untied the ribbon of her straw hat and shook out her damp curly hair, Robin sensed someone’s gaze. A prickly feeling caused her to rotate her body where she came face-to-face with an unfamiliar—but attractive—man. A hint of amusement lit up his clean-shaven face as he stood on the walkway in front of her garden gate. When the stranger chuckled, Robin’s damp cheeks flamed scarlet. She wondered how long he’d been standing there listening to her grunt and groan and, well, whine. Since he couldn’t possibly have seen Miss Praise, he probably assumed Robin had been talking to herself. Swell. Just another example of the truckload of awkward moments in life when Robin wished she could vanish on demand. Speaking through clenched teeth, she attempted to use humor to cover up her self-consciousness. “Instead of breaking your neck staring at me, how about making yourself useful by helping me dig up this stubborn hydrangea?” Her embarrassment grew when the stranger’s sole response was a chorus of boisterous laughter. Lord, please get me out of here—now! Robin’s humiliation took over her common sense, and her sole goal was to flee. Grabbing her garden hat, she slammed it onto the gate post as she wrenched off her work gloves and tossed them on the ground near her birdbath. The sound of the man’s hearty laughter echoing in her ears brought her lifelong dislike of being the object of teasing and taunting racing to the surface.
Like most school children, she’d suffered through her share of teasing and even some bullying. Truth be told, she was still occasionally bullied by a former classmate, Susan Stinson, almost ten years after they’d graduated. Robin had expected—and hoped—in her current stage of life, halfway between twenty-five and thirty, she would’ve overcome this affliction. The scorching feeling in her cheeks told her otherwise. I so do not want to deal with this guy. Attempting to give the illusion of self-confidence, Robin lengthened her spine and held her chin high as she stalked toward her cottage. In the safety of her cottage’s interior she’d find the solace and peace she was seeking. Far too often in the past she’d allowed her pride and confidence to be battered by a male. Okay, one male in particular. She vowed to handle her reaction in the current situation differently. She was determined to spare herself one more millisecond of humiliation. Today I’m going to stand up to my tormentors. All right, so maybe this stranger isn’t exactly tormenting me. Still, everyone knows laughing at a lady isn’t polite. Robin wasn’t going to stand there and let some stranger, however handsome he might be— and this guy was definitely above-average in the looks department—laugh at her in her own garden. Hot, briny tears stung her eyes. Time seemed to slow down, and she couldn’t make it to the front door fast enough. Embarrassing incidents from her not so distant past charged to the forefront of her mind as she made her way up the front porch steps.
At the front gate, Jeff froze. He’d offended her. His body felt as if he’d just finished running five miles at a training pace, as it had been since he’d first happened upon the woman. His heart thundered in his ears when he’d first seen her, his vision honed in on a lovely brunette. She was hard at work in her garden on such an oppressive afternoon. He’d never seen anyone so focused on one task. She appeared to be in a frenzy, trying to free the roots of a bush from the sun-dried, hardened soil. He had to admit, she looked as if she were accustomed to hard work. Strong, fit arms and legs peeked out from her short-sleeved blouse and khaki shorts. She sported a wide-brimmed hat and appeared unafraid of hard work if the sweaty sheen covering her neck and face were any kind of evidence. Smudges of dirt adorned her elbows, knees, and—he couldn’t help but notice—shapely calves. He’d been walking through the streets surrounding his rental home. Historical architecture was one of his hobbies, and he was checking out the architectural styles located on the streets in this older section of Bonita Creek, California. He’d already identified Craftsman, Victorian, Italianate, Tudor, cottage, ranch, and bungalow style homes. His mind, locked on his thoughts, was jarred when he heard a frustrated voice asking why she was trying to renovate her garden on this hot afternoon. The voice held such conviction he stopped to see if the speaker was seeking his personal opinion. When he realized the sun-kissed gardener was alone in the garden, he became enthralled by her movements and the timbre of her voice. Unsure of how long he’d been staring, Jeff was jerked out of his trance when the woman turned around and challenged him to come into the garden to help her dig up the bush. Embarrassed he’d been caught staring, his natural reaction was to laugh. Now the woman rushed away from him toward the door of the cottage dominating the center of the property. This scenario was not unfolding as he wanted. He blamed his complete lack of understanding of women and their mysterious ways for this latest gaffe. Now you’ve done it. You are clueless, Clarke. He needed to come up with something witty and wise to redeem himself.
Otherwise, he’d lose a chance to meet this fascinating gardener who had his curiosity.
Interview with June McCrary Jacobs:
Tell us a little more about who June McCrary Jacobs is?
JUNE: Hello, Maureen! I'm so pleased to be here with you today. Thanks for the chance to share a bit about myself and my new book, 'Robin's Reward', with your readers.
I am a California author of two contemporary inspirational fiction books. My debut novella is a Christmas story entitled, 'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom'. This book won Cedar Fort Publishing's 2013 Holiday Tale Contest and was released in October, 2013.
My new release, 'Robin's Reward', is independently published and is an inspirational romance story set in the picturesque coastal mountains in the Mendocino coastal region of Northern California. It was released on April 28th, 2015.
I'm also a sewing designer with over one hundred original designs published in various magazines, books, and blogs over the past eight years or so. I work as a freelance technical editor and technical writer for indie designers of sewing projects. I've discovered that working an editor helps me hone my own writing skills even though I write fiction and the technical editing is non-fiction. When I'm editing someone else's work, I'm seeking accuracy, trimming the fat, and polishing patterns—much like an author must do when writing fiction.
Did you always wanted to become an author?
JUNE: From the time I was a young girl, I wanted to be a teacher. I was fortunate to have a successful, enjoyable career as a primary grade teacher for twenty years. I was a voracious reader from the time I began Kindergarten on up through the grades. When I was twelve years old I remember telling my teacher and my parents that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. It took a while for my dream to come true, but my goal of being a published author came to fruition in 2013!
What do you love most about being an author?
JUNE: This is a difficult question to answer because there are many aspects of being an author that I enjoy. First of all, I love being able to create characters and settings and put my thoughts down on paper (oops, actually I use a computer to write!). I enjoy creating scenarios, circumstances, and incidents for these characters to become involved in. Experiencing the ups and downs, joys and defeats, and the roller coaster of emotions of my characters can be exhausting—but I adore it all!
Having readers tell me they enjoyed my work because it touched them is another reward I reap as an author. I work extremely hard to publish the best product possible, and so I hired an extremely talented editor, Author Cindy C. Bennett, and a gifted cover designer, Author Sherry Gammon, to work with me on preparing 'Robin's Reward' for release. Cindy's insights and tips made all the difference in
The social media platforms I use as an author and the promoting of the books have been something I've had to learn from the ground up since mid-2013 when I was prepping for the release of 'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom'. I've had a lot of support and assistance from my husband, various personal friends, online friends, Christian bloggers, and the tech support workers at various platforms (Goodreads, Amazon, BookLife, CreateSpace, etc.). Now I have some confidence in using these modes of outreach. As you likely know from being a dedicated blogger, this aspect of authoring is a tremendous amount of work! Time spent promoting books can be fun, but it is also time-consuming.
Tell us about your books.
JUNE: 'Robin's Reward' is the first installment in my Bonita Creek Trilogy. The book is about 89,000 words, and is completely clean in language and content. This book actually began as a short story back in the late summer of 2010. I wrote the story, a contemporary clean fiction romance without an inspirational element, for an anthology a small press was publishing.
My story didn't get accepted for the anthology, but I really liked the setting, the plot, and my characters—Robin, Jeff, Penny, Jorie, Thomas, Susan, and the citizens of Bonita Creek, California. I kept trying to move on to other projects, but I couldn't let this group go. So I began a rewrite of the story which led me to working on it for another four years, with lots of interruptions, until I was ready to send it to my editor for her to begin working on it with me. My editor was supportive and encouraging, and we worked on polishing the manuscript until it was ready for release.
I'm proud of the growth the characters experience during the course of the story, and I'm pleased with the response I've received from friends, reviewers, and bloggers so far. The cover art and book blurb are posted on my website at: http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com/robins-reward/
'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom' was submitted to Cedar Fort Publishing in early 2013 for their Holiday Tale Contest. It's a Christmas novella about a little girl, Mary Noel, who is hit by a car in front of her house. Her little dog, Cocoa, dies in the accident. The loss of her best pal, along with her own injuries, traumatizes the six year old. She withdraws completely from her parents, grandparents, doctors, nurses, etc. Her medical team won't allow her to go home from the hospital until her emotional health is stronger. This extended hospital stay causes her parents to be drowning in debt because their insurance does not cover 100% of her medical care.
Mary Noel's first grade teacher, Amber Kellen, is a first year teacher. She meets the friend and employee of Mary Noel's father, Paul Watkins, and he share details of the family's debt with Amber. The two become fast friends and work together on organizing and staging a fundraiser for Apple Blossom and the surrounding small communities to raise money to pay down the Simmons's family's medical bills.
The cover art, book blurb, and an excerpt are posted on my website at: http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com/a-holiday-miracle-in-apple-blossom-june-mccrary-jacobs-978-1-4621-1352-1/
Where do you go to write your books? And where do you get the inspiration?
JUNE: I work out a lot of things in my head before I sit down at my computer set up in my home office. As a visual learner, I have a physical description in mind for each character first. Then I build their character traits, quirks, personality, occupation, hobbies, etc., from there. I jot down these things in my notebook so I can keep everybody straight to avoid confusion when I sit down to write.
I have the general story arc in place in my mind before I begin typing the first page. I've read that a lot of authors use outlines for their books, but I've found this doesn't work for me. I trust my characters to lead the way. If they veer off-course, I intervene. I edit the previous day's work when I sit down to write each morning. I've found this keeps me from making glaring errors or straying away from my goals for the plot.
I gain inspiration from people I've observed over the years and from situations I hear about in the news or observe when I'm out and about in society. It might be something I remember from my own childhood that becomes a part of a story. We go on a lot of outings to parks, historic homes, museums, and fairs, and there are loads of interesting people to study at those places. Most people are so wrapped up in using their devices and interacting with their companions that they don't realize how they are behaving in public.
For instance, when I was in second grade the little sister of a neighborhood playmate ran into the street in front of our house and was struck by a car. I was outside playing in my front yard when it happened. I remember how upset the man driving the car was and how scared all of us were that our friend was lying in the street. I tried to use my emotional reaction to this incident to write the first few chapters of 'A Holiday Miracle'.
What are your future plans in writing?
JUNE: I'm working on the second book in the Bonita Creek Trilogy, 'Penny's Promise'. Penny is quite different from Robin, so readers can look forward to learning more about this gifted seamstress and bashful, introverted spirit.
Many readers of my Christmas book, along with several of my personal friends, have requested a sequel to 'A Holiday Miracle'. I will not write a sequel using the same characters and the Apple Blossom, Vermont, setting. However, I would like to write another Christmas novella. The Christmas holidays have always been one of my favorite times of year and I love the traditions that go along with the season. I have some ideas for a historical story set in the early twentieth century. I love that time period, especially the nineteen-teens.
What is your favorite book?
JUNE: Now, Maureen, how can you ask someone like me who's been a reader for several decades (I won't say just how many!) to choose just one book? Just kidding. If I had to choose one book that made a huge impression on me when I was a teenager it would have to be Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone With the Wind'. A novel with history, drama, tragedy, deep emotion, and some more drama. I read the book before I ever saw the film, and I'm glad I did. The movie was a cinematic masterpiece, but I've never seen a movie that held a candle to its original book!
What would your advice be to new, aspiring authors?
JUNE: In 2013 I wrote a blog post called 'Resources for Writers'. It can be found at:
The post includes information on four publications I regularly read to keep up on what's going on in the publishing world along with providing tips for writers. I find these publications helpful as a reader, too, because they announce trends in genre publishing and publish release dates of upcoming books.
On a more personal note, I would like to encourage aspiring authors to remember that what they write is a reflection of themself as an individual. I urge you not to compromise your core values, beliefs, ethics, or morals just to sell books. You're placing your name on your work, and that's the biggest endorsement you can give to any product.
The other thing I would like to say is something more easily said than practiced. Try not to let rejections get you down. I can't tell you how many rejections I've received over the past eight years for my sewing designs and fiction writing—probably hundreds, if not thousands! (I'm not exaggerating here.) If you let the judgments of publishers and editors get you down, you will never be published. Keep a positive attitude and look to your faith, family, and friends for encouragement and support in the dark times. I believe for a fact that I wouldn't be a published author now if not for my awesome husband and a cadre of a few close friends. They have buoyed me in some bleak times.
JUNE: Thanks for your hospitality, Maureen. This was fun! I'd like to add that I enjoy hearing from readers, authors, aspiring authors, bloggers, seamstresses, quilters, and crafters. Below is a listing of links to my social media platforms where they can connect with me.
Website & Blog: http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com
Amazon.com Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/june-mccrary-jabobs
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/June-McCrary-Jacobs
Autographed Paperback Copy of 'Robin's Reward' Giveway:
I'm giving away two signed copies of 'Robin's Reward' on my website. US residents only, please. No purchase necessary. Contest ends May 31st, 2015. Here's the link to the Rafflecopter entry form:
Best wishes to you, Maureen, on your blogging endeavors. All my best to your readers. With appreciation, June
About the Author:
Award-winning author, June McCrary Jacobs, was the winner of Cedar Fort Publishing’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest for her debut novella, ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom’. ‘Robin’s Reward’ is her first full-length novel, and is set in her favorite location in California—the Mendocino coastal region. This book is the first installment of the ‘Bonita Creek Trilogy’.
June’s original sewing, quilting, and stitchery designs have been published in over one hundred books, magazines, and blogs in the past few years. When she’s not writing, reading, or sewing, June enjoys cooking, walking, and visiting art and history museums. She also enjoys touring historic homes and gardens 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.
June enjoys connecting with readers, authors, aspiring writers, bloggers, designers, sewers, quilters, and crafters. Please connect with June at her website & blog, Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads and LinkedIn. Or send June an email.