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Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut middle grade author June McCrary Jacobs here to share about her MG historical adventure RES-Q TYLER STOP. She's also a long-time follower and posts with the MMGM bloggers on Mondays. I love the setting she chose—1968, and it sounds like a heart-warming story that kids who love animals will be drawn to.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

It's the summer of 1968 in Sonoma County, California, and eleven-year-old Weston Gregg and his nine-year-old sister, Wendy, are looking for fun things to do during their summer break from school. When they discover some abandoned rabbits, they hatch an idea to make a positive difference for animals and people in their small town of Tyler Stop. 

They decide to form 'Rescue Each Species-Quickly', or RES-Q Tyler Stop.

There are challenges to face as they move forward into their new venture, including standing up to someone who is targeting Weston's friends for being different and a painfully bad decision.

Will Weston have to handle these issues on his own or will he learn to accept the advice and wisdom shared by some important people in his life? Join Weston and his family and friends as they share some adventures and learn and grow together in RES-Q Tyler Stop.

Hi June! Thanks so much for joining us.

I'm glad to be your guest on Literary Rambles, Natalie. Thank you for this opportunity to share with your readers.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I have always enjoyed writing. I remember in junior high, high school, and college I was thrilled when the teacher/professor would assign an essay or announce that part of an exam would be in essay form. Other students would moan, but I loved the writing process and was pleased to have an opportunity to prove my subject knowledge through essay writing rather than simply multiple choice or true/false questions.

I was a classroom teacher for twenty-one years. I was privileged to teach Kindergarten through fourth grade students during that time, but I spent the majority of my time working with first graders.

After I stopped teaching full-time, I began submitting my original sewing designs to various magazines and book publishers. Not only did I design and make the project for publication, I was required to write a blurb, sidebars, and the stepped-out instructions for each project in accordance with the specific publication's editorial requirements.

I had an opportunity to 'audition' for a regular column in a sewing magazine published in the United
Kingdom, and I was chosen to write a quarterly column about the sewing industry, trends, designers, and anything to do with sewing that was happening over here in the United States. I wrote that column for around two years.

With some experience and confidence under my belt, I began writing fiction. I wrote Christian and inspirational romance mostly in the contemporary genre. I submitted to a lot of publishers before an inspirational historical short story was picked up for an anthology published by a very, very, very small press.

In the autumn of 2012 I saw a call for submissions online for Cedar Fort, Inc.'s 'Holiday Tale Contest'. I wrote my inspirational holiday novella, 'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom', in a few weeks and submitted it in mid-January, 2013. I was ecstatic to when I learned Cedar Fort wanted to publish the book and that I had won the contest. One of my prizes was publication of the book by this traditional, small press publisher. The book was released in October, 2013.

After promoting this novella, I worked on my first full-length novel, 'Robin's Reward', a contemporary Christian romance set in the Coastal Mountains of Mendocino County in Northern California. I submitted this manuscript to publishers and agents without success and decided to self-publish the novel in April, 2015. I released my historical inspirational romance short story, 'Handmade Hearts', in December, 2018. 'RES-Q Tyler Stop' followed in April, 2019. Both of these projects were self-published. 

2. That's great that you can write for different age groups and in different genres. Where did you get the idea for RES-Q TYLER STOP?

Believe it or not, the story idea came to me when I saw a bumper sticker in traffic several years ago. The sticker had a large black dog print on it with a motto, 'Who rescued who?' I began thinking about how we, as humans, think we are rescuing animals when we adopt or foster them.  The more I thought about it the more I grew to interpret the motto to mean animals rescue humans from their issues of loneliness, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many other maladies.

So I began writing a contemporary family-style story about two siblings who want to open an animal rescue in their small rural town in Northern California. The story changed genres two or three times and morphed from the family-style story to a contemporary romance to a historical romance into what it was intended to be all along—a middle-grade novel. I decided to set it in 1968 because it was a time period I completely understood and could relate to because I grew up in Northern California during that time.

By the way, a few weeks ago I saw two more bumper stickers relating to this subject. Both had the dog print motif. One read, 'Rescue Mom on Board'; the other read, 'I [heart] My Rescue Dog'.

3. That is such a fun story about how you got your story idea. I love the historical time period that you picked because I remember it. Your story also shares information about the Pomo Indians. Did you have to do any research to be certain that your story was historically accurate or rely on your own experiences? What advice do you have for other writers who want to write historical fiction?

This is an excellent question, Natalie. I minored in history in college, so I enjoy researching anything historical—especially California history. I am committed to sharing only well-researched facts in my work to present issues in an accurate, authentic, and culturally-sensitive manner. Therefore, I did a lot of research about the Pomo Nation in California. There is a full print bibliography and online resource bibliography in my book so readers can read the facts for themselves.

I have had the pleasure of viewing many exhibits featuring the Pomo culture and Pomo basketry in various museums over the past few decades. The Grace Hudson Museum, the Haggin Museum, and the Mendocino County Museum are three of the institutions which house and display these beautiful baskets. When I was working on the section of my book where the school bully, Terry, is criticizing some of his classmates who are Pomo descent, I decided I wanted to include some of this nation's rich history in my manuscript.

I went to the county library's online catalog and checked out several books about the Pomo people and Artist Grace Carpenter Hudson. I read the books and took copious notes, and then I went online to learn more. When I felt properly educated in this history, then I began writing that section of the book.

My advice to writers of historical fiction is to take the time to verify facts and investigate your time period and events especially if you are writing for children. Your historical novel may end up being a 'teachable moment' for young readers. If you have double-checked your facts, you can feel confident that you are publishing good content for your target age group.

4. You are a former educator focusing on literacy for kindergarten through third grade. Did that influence how you wrote your story? If so, how?

I was the literacy mentor at our site for a three-year period. I was able to attend high-level training by experts in the field of early literacy so I could work with students, new teachers, and parents on how best to meet the needs of their students in the areas of literacy and language arts.

Through this advanced training I learned a lot about how young readers interpret what they read, what holds their interest, and how they process information. I believe all of this knowledge helped me when I sat down to write my middle-grade novel. Working with children for so many years and being a child in 1968 in Northern California allowed me to feel confident about the dialogue and speech patterns for that time period.

5. I'm sure your work experience did really help to understand how to write or middle graders. What was a challenge you had in writing RES-Q TYLER STOP? What did you learn from this experience?

Keeping the pace of the story moving at a good clip was a challenge since it was my first children's book. Also, writing the bullying section was difficult for me because I do not have any experience being a bully myself. Writing 'mean' dialogue was a challenge, but at the same time it was interesting to figure out how someone with a bully-mentality would act and speak.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was to write about racism with respect and honor for the targeted diverse group while at the same time letting readers know it is not acceptable or appropriate to treat those who are different from you in a disrespectful, hateful, biased manner.

6. You decided to self-publish your book? What led you down this path to publication? Do you have any resources that you would recommend to other writers considering self-publication?

As I mentioned previously, this is the third project which I have self-published. The reason I chose to self-publish this book and my other works is because I believe in my work. I stand by these stories, and I want to share them with readers.

I am blessed to have a top-notch editor/cover designer/formatter, Author Cindy C. Bennett, to work with on my projects. She is a successful self-published YA author in her own right, and she has been my self-publishing mentor. As she is editing, she notes questions she has about the story or asks if I have verified some historical fact or event I have included in the manuscript. This keeps me on my toes as a writer.

One of the things I enjoy most about the self-publishing process is sending my cover designer my ideas for how I want the cover to look including images, fonts, placement of text, etc. It's exciting to see the cover develop as we send ideas back and forth. Then when the cover is right, I get a special feeling and send a message back to the designer with, 'This is it!' in the subject line.

TIPS for authors considering self-publishing:

-- Always hire a professional editor to help you polish your work. It is worth the cost to have a book you are proud to present to the public;

-- Set up an Author Facebook page and keep it up-to-date;

-- Set up a blog so you can post content there and begin building your subscriber list. I use 'Blogger' through Google. There are many other free platforms available to authors;

-- Take advantage of Amazon's free Author Central page and Goodreads's free Author Page and Author Blog. Connect your blog to all of these sites so your blog posts automatically feed to these three platforms. Keep your Amazon and Goodreads author pages up-to-date;

-- Join Facebook Groups which are in-sync with your genre and writing style. I belong to several Christian author, Christian/clean romance, indie author, and children's author groups. I enjoy interacting with group members there because I learn a lot from people with more experience than I have, and I also have the opportunity to share a little of what I have learned with others;

-- Read these magazines:  Publisher's Weekly, The Writer, and Writer's Digest. You will learn about industry trends, upcoming releases, information from successful authors, and lots of other information you never thought you would need to know;

-- Get quotes from editors and publicity companies so you can begin to work on a budget. You will definitely need to include the cost of promotions, promotional copies, and postage to mail out the promotional copies. {Use USPS Media Mail to send out your promotional books to giveaway winners and/or reviewers. You get tracking for a reasonable price compared to the cost of Priority Mail.} Make a budget and try to stick with it; and

-- You may become downhearted when you read about other author's successes with literary agents and publishers, but be proud of your work and enjoy your writing journey. Never give up!

7. Those are great tips. You are also the author of two adult inspirational romances, ROBIN’S REWARD and HANDMADE HEARTS and a holiday novella, A HOLIDAY MIRACLE IN APPLE BLOSSOM. How has publication of these books influenced what you are doing to promote your new book?

For my first two books I spent hours and hours and hours sending out email messages to bloggers to try to find people to read, review, and post about my books. It was a time-consuming and frustrating experience.

For 'Handmade Hearts' and 'RES-Q Tyler Stop' I hired JustRead Publicity Tours to work on creating and organizing a blog blitz and blog tour, respectively, for me. They did the sign-ups, all of the communication with the bloggers, made the graphics, set up the schedule, publicized it on all of their platforms, ran the giveaways, and generally did a fabulous job of getting the word out about my books. You can get a free price quote from them if you visit their website and submit the Campaign Proposal form.

Having experts handle this important facet of a book release for me allowed me to enjoy my promotions and be a relaxed author instead of a worn out, exasperated author. Easy-peasy.

8. That's a great idea to hire a company to set up and organize your blog tour. What are you working on now?

I am working on the second book in the Tyler Stop series with Weston and Wendy in Tyler Stop, Sonoma County, California.

The book picks up where RES-Q Tyler Stop left off, but includes new characters and new adventures and of course, new challenges and opportunities for personal growth for everyone.

I also have several other projects in various stages of completion including some contemporary and historical inspirational romances and some short stories for middle-graders. For now, my focus is book two for Tyler Stop.

This was fun, Natalie! Thanks for hosting me on Literary Rambles today.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, June. You can find June at:

'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic' Author's Blog:  https://authorjunemccraryjacobs.blogspot.com 
Author's Facebook Page:  https://fb.me/JuneMcCraryJacobs 

June is generously offering a paperback and e-book of RES-Q TYLER STOP for a giveaway.  To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through July 20th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is U.S. and  e-book is International. 

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Here's what's coming up (FYI I'm starting my summer slow down to spend time planning next year's schedule):

Wednesday, July 10 I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Connor Eck

Sunday, July 14 I'm participating in the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 29 I have an interview with debut author Margaret Owen and giveaway of her YA fantasy THE MERCIFUL CROW

Wednesday, August 7th I have an interview with debut author Gabrielle Kirouac Byrn and a giveaway of her MG fantasy RISE OF THE DRAGON MOON

Friday, August 9th I'm doing a monthly newly released MG and YA giveaway if there is no giveaway hop in August

Monday, August 26th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Melissa Richeson

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great tips on self-publishing! The automated posting from a blog to social media platforms really does help keep content fresh and makes life easier.

Azka Kamil said...

awesome article..
thanks for sharing and have a nice day

Crystal @ Lost in Storyland said...

I enjoyed learning about how RES-Q TYLER has changed from its initial conception to its present form as an MG novel. I love how it features rescue animals and themes about how rescue animals also change our lives :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sometimes hiring a tour service is easier.
With rescue animals, I think they rescue their human owners more.
Congratulations, June!

Greg Pattridge said...

No need to enter me in the drawing as I already read and reviewed June's fun story. I enjoyed the interview and her insights into the writing and publishing process. Keep on writing, June!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

That would be a challenge to write about racism with respect and honor. Sounds like you've really done your research, June.

Michelle Mason said...

Congrats, June! No need to enter me in the drawing as I'm sooo behind on my reading, but I wish you the best of luck with your book!

June McCrary Jacobs said...

Thank you, Natalie, for posting about my writing journey and my book on your blog. I appreciate all of the time and effort you spent writing the individualized questions for our interview and creating this post.

Patricia T. said...

What a sparkling interview with June. I learned some things about her I didn't know. The cover of her new book is delightful and I love the idea of who is rescuing whom? Congratulations on your book launch.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the title and the premise!

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the self-publishing tips. I'm excited to read this book and shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/186145200412/june-mccrary-jacobs-interview-and-res-q-tyler-stop

Janet, said...

Hi Natalie and June. I enjoyed the post and learning all about June and her book. my email is wvsmarties(at)yahoo.con

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Wow, June! You've worked in so many different genres and writing fields. I'm in awe. Thanks for the self-publishing tips.

Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful interview! It was fascinating to see the writing journey of a fellow MMGM blogger.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Great tips! Self-publishing can be daunting. Great suggestions to keep in mind.

Carol Denton said...

Thank you, Natalie, for another great article. June, you sound like a really fun person! I'm a total fiber-ista myself and love to sew, spin, quilt, the gamut! You're my kind of people!

DMS said...

How wonderful to learn more about June! I think this sounds like a great book and one that will appeal to a lot of kids. I love that the kids are trying to do something positive in their community. Great tips for self published authors. :) Wishing June all the best! Thanks for the giveaway.

Angie Quantrell said...

Loved reading your story about your journey. Great tips and strategies. Thanks for generously sharing! Congratulations!

Liesbet said...

It'a always interesting to read about the professional and writer's journey of published authors - and what drives them. Teachers appear to be good at writing children's and young adult stories. :-) And, what an educational and timely topic as well, June, since we just adopted a 4.5-year-old mixed breed dog. Or, did she adopt us? :-)

Natasha said...

Great interview and the book sounds like a great read!!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Rosi said...

Wonderful interview. I appreciate all the good tips for writers in it. The book sounds fun. I have a rescue dog, so it rings true for me. Thanks for the post.

Tonja Drecker said...

Great tips! And Res-Q is a fantastic book!

Nancy P said...

Follow on GFC. Interesting cover.