Jill Smith Entrekin is a native of Thomaston, where she grew up riding her bicycle, climbing trees and spending time at the Thomaston Newspapers where her father Leon Smith was editor and owner. Jill credits her love of reading to her mother Mildred Smith, who was always suggesting a new book for her to read. Jill’s interest in writing evolved over her years roaming the newspaper office and watching the big presses roll. She claims she has printer’s ink in her blood.
A booksigning event for her new book Bonnie Mac’s Cafe will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 at A Novel Experience Bookstore in Zebulon.
After graduating from high school, Jill attended West Georgia College (now the University of West Georgia), where she majored in English with a minor in Secondary Education. While working on her degree, Jill met and married Dana Entrekin, who was studying business at West Georgia. When the two graduated, they made their way to the Atlanta area where they began their careers and started a family. Jill’s next 31 years found her teaching in the Clayton County and later the Fayette County school systems while raising two daughters.
After retiring from education in 2004, Jill embarked on her writing career. Between 2011 and 2014, Jill published back-to-back novels, the first of which, Star of Flint, was set in Thomaston, although the town was fictitiously named Flintville. Two years later Jill’s second novel Buck’s Junction made its debut.
After Jill’s husband retired, she took a hiatus from writing while the couple checked off their bucket-list wish to live in Florida. Two years was long enough, so they returned to Georgia. At her husband’s urging, Jill turned back to her computer and began working on her third manuscript.
Jill was 20,000 words into her new story when her husband was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. In late 2020, Dana lost his battle with what Jill refers to as “an insidious disease that slowly stole every fiber of the love of my life.”
In late 2021, after downsizing, Jill dusted off the old manuscript and went to work. She asserts that her new story Bonnie Mac’s Café, set in Zebulon, took much more research than the first two, admitting that she spent weekdays researching and saved Saturdays for writing.
Enjoy the following summary of the book by Jill Smith Entrekin:
“Nestled among the courthouse square storefronts of Zebulon, Georgia sits Bonnie Mac’s Café, the only eatery in town. While the café serves most everyone in Pike County, its regular patrons include Ouida Clarkston, a chain-smoking local family heiress; Buddy Simpson, a self-proclaimed womanizer; Brooksie Barnett, a gruff, whiskey-drinking mechanic; and Cooter Renfroe, the town’s chatty, gossip-spreading postman.
“Known for her grease-laden Southern cooking and Blue-Plate specials, owner Bonnie MacGregor, widowed at a young age after her husband commits suicide, lives a busy but solitary existence. While Bonnie could have any eligible gentleman in a three-county radius, she is content to live alone and run her business.”
“That all changes one stormy night in the Spring of 1957 when Bonnie finds a tattered, cross-eyed, mute little girl abandoned in her café.
“Bonnie must face a custody battle in the courts before she and her regulars become the stray Gracie’s family, who watch over her as she navigates life’s challenges. Gracie is taunted about her crossed eyes until she befriends Chalie Callahan, who lives in the nearby children’s home. Although Charlie stutters and Gracie sports a patch over one eye, the two win the respect of the other kids whenever they choose up sides for a game of softball.
“Gracie and Charlie’s lives intertwine as they travel the road from childhood to puberty. The two are inseparable. Then Beau Loosier, the town’s spoiled, rich bully, victimizes one of them and creates a landslide of tragic events that lead to a dark secret not revealed until the emotional climax.”