November 4, 2013
Guest Post-Author June McCrary-Jacobs shares her writing journey for new novel "A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom"
“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 have some unexpected benefits. Filled with romance and kindness, this story of hope and faith will warm your hearts.
I was honored that my debut novel, ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom,’ was chosen as the winner of Cedar Fort Inc.’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest. This was the first writing contest I had entered, and it was the first time I’d submitted my work to Cedar Fort Inc. I’ve been designing sewing projects and writing non-fiction articles and columns for sewing and craft magazines since 2007, but it’s only been about the last three years that I’ve ventured into the fiction world.
I discovered the ‘Call for Submissions’ for the contest through a Google search at the end of November last year. The deadline was just short of two months away, so I decided to give it my best try. I wrote, rewrote, edited, edited, and edited some more (notice a pattern there with the editing?) for several weeks I submitted my manuscript and other required documents to Cedar Fort the weekend before the deadline.
I’ll attempt to describe my feelings when I received an email message from the Fiction Acquisitions Editor at that time, Angie Workman, indicating that Cedar Fort wanted to publish my book. Here are the words that come to mind when I describe this episode to my friends and family:
I felt apprehension about receiving a message from this editor in my inbox. I was shocked (stunned) that a big publisher like Cedar Fort wanted to publish my book. I was joyful that I’d finally broken through in the fiction market. I had a moment of disbelief that the dream of being a published fiction author that I’d held since I was twelve was finally coming to fruition! I remember sitting at my computer and giggling aloud just before tears of happiness stung my eyes. My husband wasn’t home at that moment, so I had to wait several hours to tell him my news. This was not the kind of news that I wanted to send to him in an email or talk about over the telephone. No, this had to be handled in person. Later on when I told him about my surprise message, my tears began to flow. I’d worked so hard for the past couple of years and then to learn that my work was, as another Cedar Fort author wrote to me, ‘considered good enough to be published,’ I was just overwhelmed with emotion.
Here are some tips that I’ve learned from my journey in the writing world that I’d like to share with you:
1.) Read the ‘Call for Submissions’ announcements and submission information very carefully. Every publisher handles things differently and the requirements for formatting, submission, required documents (manuscript, resume, synopsis, etc.) are varied.
2.) Becoming educated about the publisher is essential to your success in selling your product to them. For instance, after I found Cedar Fort’s ‘Call for Submissions,’ I immediately clicked over to their website and read (and reread) their mission statement and author guidelines. I looked at their online catalog of books to get an idea of what types of materials they published. I looked at several author’s websites of authors who had successfully had their work published with Cedar
3.) I always read my work aloud to myself while I’m reworking and when I’m finished with my manuscript (article, instructions, etc.). This way I’m using three learning modalities—sight, sound, speech—instead of only one (sight). The more modalities involved, the more one will learn. In this case, you’ll learn about what your writing is ‘saying.’
4.) Be polite in all communications with publishers, editors, etc.—even when they send you bad news! (Believe me, in my experience the bad news comes in greater doses than the good news in this business!) You never know when you may want to submit to that company again. I believe goodwill and good manners can take you a long way in life.
5.) Keep up on market trends by reading trade magazines. Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote on back in September. It gives specific magazine titles with links that I’ve found helpful. http:// www.junemccraryjacobs.com/resources-for-writers/
6.) Read voraciously in the genre or genres for which you desire to write. I read several books each month in the inspirational romance and inspirational historical fiction genres. Some of my favorite authors are Jillian Hart, Colleen Coble, Shelley Sheppard Gray, Tracie Peterson, Laurine Snelling, Debbie Macomber, and Jennifer Chiaverini. I read everything I can get my hands on that’s written by these fabulous authors.
7.) My most important tip: Never, ever give up on your dreams! Please feel free to contact me on my website (http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com), via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ June-McCrary-Jacobs/153549754836128
I wish you all the very best of holiday seasons filled with lots of fun family activities, new experiences and traditions, and blessings.
All my best, June