‘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 insidebecause 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.
Title: Handmade Hearts
Author: June McCrary Jacobs
Publication date: December 18, 2018
Paperback: 34 pages
Publisher: JMJ Story Stitcher Books
Choose three adjectives for your last short story, Handmade Hearts.
Heartwarming, inspiring, and unique.
What mesmerized you about Allen and Irene’s love story?
I don’t want to spoil the story for readers who have not yet read it, so I’ll speak in general terms here. Allen and Irene’s first meeting was a chance meeting. Nothing about when, where, or how they met was prearranged. They were both suffering from traumas they experienced a few months before they met, so naturally they were carefully guarding their hearts. Perhaps the most mesmerizing aspect of their love story was that I knew these people. I observed the depth of their love for and commitment to each other. My other inspirational romance novels have been completely fictional, but Handmade Hearts was inspired by a true story about people I knew and loved. The power of love is an amazing thing of beauty in life!
What emotions do you hope the reader will feel while reading this novel?
I hope readers will feel compassion and empathy for Allen and Irene’s personal challenges and the issues they faced before they met. I hope readers will get a feel for the culture of New Orleans during World War II and that they will come to appreciate how each and every individual in our nation felt the pain of this horrible war in a personal way. I would love to learn readers were touched by the story of these two wounded individuals finding their way to each other who then built a relationship based on a foundation of love, respect, and trust. Finally, I would like readers to see the sacrifices those who serve in the military—whether or not they see combat—make not only in terms of being away from their families but in dealing with their own personal physical and emotional wounds. It is not an easy life, and it truly takes a toll on soldiers and their families. I am grateful for their service to and sacrifice for our country.
What’s the thing you love most to write about in this story?
The enjoyment people got out of simple things like church socials and going to see a new movie at the theater during World War II. No internet, no cell phones, no televisions (at least in the homes of the families mentioned in my story), no social media. People communicated through conversation, telegrams, letters, and telephone chats. Newspapers, radio, and newsreels at the movie theaters were the main ways people learned about the world around them. It seemed like an uncomplicated time of life complicated by the horrors of a world war. I have loved learning about history since I was a child, and I enjoyed writing in this genre. I found it fun to put myself in New Orleans in 1944 and to imagine how I would dress, where I would go for entertainment, what job I might hold, etc. I absolutely loved writing this story!
Do you remember the first compliment that touched your heart after the first drafts of this short story?
My close friend told me it was a beautiful story and said she was glad I was sharing it with the world. My editor told me it was a sweet and charming story.
Are you already thinking/working on a new novel?
Thank you for asking this question! I love talking about my next release. In the early spring of 2019 I am releasing my debut middle-grade work. It’s an historical novel titled, RES-Q Tyler Stop. The story is set in the late 1960’s in Northern California and is about the Gregg family, led by eleven-year-old Weston, and their adventures with pets and rescued animals and other events in their lives. During the course of the story Weston learns some difficult lessons—some of his own making—about doing the right thing and standing up for injustices perpetrated by the school bully against Weston’s friends who belong to an ethnic minority group. Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed writing from an historical perspective, and I did a large amount of research to get the facts and figures just right before beginning the story. As my editor and I work on polishing RES-Q Tyler Stop and preparing it for publication, I’m working on completing Book Two in my Bonita Creek Trilogy, Penny’s Promise. This book is a contemporary inspirational romance set in the coastal mountains of the Mendocino County coastal region of Northern California.
JUNE: I enjoyed our interview, Elisabeth. Thank you for hosting me on your blog and for giving me a chance to share about my creative endeavors with your readers. I hope 2019 is a healthy, successful, and fun year for you all!
Could you please share a happy photo and tell us more about that moment?
Here’s a photo of me at my favorite place on earth! The Dahlia Garden at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens on the North Coast of California. I love to visit the garden during the late summer when the dahlias are at their peak. Oh, and in case you didn’t guess, dahlias are my favorite flowers!
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.