Happy Monday, Reader Friends!
How is your January going? Hopefully you’ve started the year off with some good books.
Today we have the lovely June McCray Jacobs visiting. She’s graciously allowed me to interview her to talk about her book Handmade Hearts. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and chat with us!
About the Book
‘Handmade Hearts’ is an historical romance short story set in New Orleans during World War II and was inspired by a true story.
Toward the end of his life, the author asked her ‘Uncle Allen’ how he met his wife. He shared about how he met ‘Irene’ at a church social in their neighborhood in New Orleans in the early 1940s. He had been seriously wounded in Guadalcanal in the South Pacific as a young Marine and was using crutches to get around as best he could.
He had many inner wounds which needed time to heal, too. He had no way of knowing when they first met that Irene had suffered her own wartime tragedy. She bravely sought to keep her grief locked away deep inside because thinking about her loss caused her even more sorrow. She needed to be strong because she was the breadwinner for her small family.
Times were tough, but these two unique individuals made it through each day with inner fortitude, determination, and the sincere hope of something greater just over the horizon.
This inspirational short story follows the growth of Allen and Irene’s relationship beginning with their chance meeting and leading forward to a lifetime spent together. ‘Handmade Hearts’ was created to honor this unique couple’s love for and devotion to each other in a relationship which spanned seven decades.
Toni: Welcome, June! I’m so glad to have you here on my blog today. Could you share with the readers about what makes Handmade Hearts so special.
June: Thanks for allowing me to spend a little time with you and your readers here on Soulfully Romantic, Toni. Handmade Hearts is special to me personally because it was inspired by the true story of how my aunt and uncle met and fell in love in New Orleans during World War II. This couple had a close, loving relationship which the rest of the family had the pleasure to observe for decades, and I wanted to share this heartwarming love story with others.
Toni: That’s cool! I’ve been to New Orleans many times as I have family there. What kind of research did you have to do for Handmade Hearts? Did anything stand out for you?
June: I did do some research into the trends and culture of New Orleans during the autumn of 1944 when the story begins. I used a movie database to find out which feature films were playing and releasing during that period of time. I also used the oral military history I worked on with my uncle for the Library of Congress project back in the early 2000’s to verify the details of his service, injuries, etc.
I interviewed my friend who was a girl during World War II. Although she lived on the West Coast instead of in New Orleans, she was helpful in sharing the mood of America from a schoolgirl’s perspective which enriched my understanding of our nation’s mood during that period.
Toni: Sounds like you did your research. 🙂 Tell us a little about the heroine.
June: Irene, as I have named her in the story, was a woman who was dealing with her own deep grief at the time she met Allen. I won’t spoil the story by telling readers why she was grieving; just know that she was a woman who got up each morning with a heavy heart. She worked hard outside of the home to support her mother and sister.
Meeting Allen changed Irene’s life in ways she never thought possible. In real life, my aunt was a quiet, thoughtful woman with a gentle Southern manner. The way she and my uncle communicated—without even using words—was a sight to behold.
Toni: That sounds beautiful. Tell us a little about the hero.
June: My uncle, named Allen in the story, was an extremely interesting, intelligent, and witty man! He fascinated me with stories about his military service, family history, and his escapades on the golf course and in his fishing boat.
He was proud to tell anyone who would listen that he was not drafted into World War II, he volunteered to serve in the Marines when he was just eighteen. He told me he never regretted joining the military and spending his entire working life serving his country. I hope his patriotic spirit and wit shine through in Handmade Hearts.
Toni: I have a special place in my heart for our military members and vets. If you had to pick one Scripture that sums up Handmade Hearts, what would it be and why?
June: When I read this question the first thing that popped into my mind was I Corinthians 13—the Love Chapter. It’s one of my favorite passages in the New Testament, and the contents of this chapter perfectly sums up the relationship I observed between my aunt and uncle whenever I had the chance to spend time with them.
Toni: That’s a beautiful chapter and something to aspire to. Would you choose rain or snow?
June: I love the rain!
Toni: I do too as long as I’m inside. 🙂 Spring or fall?
June: Autumn is my favorite season of the year!
Toni: It’s so pretty! Peppermints or chocolates?
June: I’m not a candy lover, but I do love fresh strawberries and raspberries mixed up with chunks of fresh orange.
Toni: Fresh fruit is always good! Inside or outside?
June: I love being outside except when it’s over about 80 degrees. Then I’m definitely an air-conditioner and fan type of a person.
Toni: Lol. Give me heat! Last but not least, what can readers do to support you on your writing journey?
June: This is an excellent question, Toni. I write my books and stories to share what’s on my heart with others. I love to hear from readers who have been touched by one of my books, or in the case of ‘Handmade Hearts’, a short story. Lots of readers post personal messages on my Author’s Facebook page or send me heartfelt messages on Messenger telling how much they loved reading one of my books. I really appreciate hearing those kind words. Otherwise, readers can follow my blog, Goodreads page, and Facebook page to keep up with what I’m writing and blogging about.
Toni: Sounds perfect!
June: This has been fun, Toni! I’m sending out Happy New Year wishes to you and all of your readers. Wishing you all peace, joy, and many good reads in 2019! Thank you.
Toni: Thank you so much, June! Happy New Year to you too! Readers do you have any questions for June?
About the 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’, her first full-length novel, was set in her favorite location in California—the Mendocino coastal region. This book is the first installment of the ‘Bonita Creek Trilogy’.
June’s debut middle-grade novel, ‘RES-Q Tyler Stop’, an historical novel set in Sonoma County, California, in 1968, will be released in the spring of 2019. The second installment of the ‘Bonita Creek Trilogy’, ‘Penny’s Promise’, will be released in late 2019 or early 2020.
June’s original sewing, quilting, and stitchery designs have been published in over one hundred books, magazines, and on sewing industry blogs in the past decade. When she’s not writing, reading, blogging, or sewing, June enjoys cooking, walking, visiting art and history museums, and touring historic homes and gardens.
HANDMADE HEARTS – EXCERPT:
New Orleans, Louisiana
October 20, 1944
Allen wrestled with his heavy wooden crutches. Each step was agonizing. He grimaced as he labored up the stairs of the church’s fellowship hall proudly wearing his uniform—a uniform he’d dreamed of wearing since learning of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
In addition to the almost intolerable and constant pain, the three bullet wounds received from a sniper in Guadalcanal two months ago had wreaked havoc with his plans for his life. Well, at least I still have a life . . .
Dozens of his fellow Marines had not made it out of Guadalcanal alive on that horrendous, life-altering night. Allen felt himself slipping into the abyss of traumatic memories once again. The vivid memories that plagued him daily flashed in front of his eyes. His pulse quickened, and his heart pounded loudly in his ears. He felt clammy and nauseous, and both legs began to tremble.
A woman’s melodic voice roused him from his memories of the ambush.
“Good evening, Lance Corporal. May I hold the door for you?”
Allen wondered how long she had been speaking to him before her voice drifted through to his subconscious. He blinked as the details of her face came into focus.
“Uh, what? Yes, I guess you’d better,” Allen snapped.
When he recognized the hurt expression on her face, he turned toward her.
“Sorry if I sounded gruff. I just feel so helpless being dependent on these blasted crutches!”
“No need to apologize or explain,” she answered in a soothing voice. “Let me introduce myself. I’m Irene Carston.”
*Rules here. International entrants accepted.