Historical Fiction
Creative Nonfiction

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Bitter Thaw

“Memorable… vibrant imagery… well-honed characters with intricate thoughts and emotions. McCann treats important topics, including discrimination, racism, and sexism, with grace and a gentle spirit.”

~ The BookLife Prize

“Through beautiful storytelling, McCann allows us to accompany a family through a generation of pain and misunderstandings, in settings that prickle the skin and seep into your bone. This author has a gift.”

~ C. Hope Clark, award-winning author of Edisto Island Mysteries, Carolina Slade Mysteries, and Sterling Banks Mysteries

In 1956, unknown human remains are discovered deep within the mosaic of rugged forests and interconnected waterways of Northern Minnesota, once home to the native Ojibwe people.

More than 30 years later, fresh news of the cold case reopens old wounds for an Arizona family, from a time when gender stereotypes, racial bigotry, and small-town gossip led to tragedy. Now, three generations — a mother, son and granddaughter —  embark on a cross-country journey in a search for truth and a hope of redemption.

As long-buried secrets are unearthed, they each begin to question their memories, motives, and basic notions of good and evil.

Bitter Thaw is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book. Coming to audiobook in 2024!

Peculiar Savage Beauty

“… gripping, atmospheric novel. McCann’s Dust Bowl saga meshes a seminal event in American history with a suspenseful plot and insightfully etched characters.”

Publishers Weekly


The black blizzard is a formidable enemy. It blots out the sun, chokes the life from both man and beast. When RJ Evans finds herself engulfed in inky blackness and holed up beneath her Model AA Ford on an isolated plains road – dirt caked beneath her fingernails, skin flecked with blood drawn by the biting dust – she has no idea this trial won’t be her toughest.

What awaits her in the small farming town of Vanham, when she begins her job as a geologist for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, is even more daunting. Drought and over-plowing by men determined to conquer the land have turned the once-lush plains into a brutal twin of the Sahara. Headstrong and intent on healing the earth through conservation farming, RJ must somehow find her place in a tight-knit community that welcomes neither women in authority nor changes to their way of life.

Inspired by actual historical events during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl environmental disaster, Peculiar Savage Beauty is a parable about man’s quest to dominate the land and nature’s refusal to be conquered, about unlikely alliances and unexpected love.

Purchase Peculiar Savage Beauty in print, ebook and audio.

All Different Kinds of Free

“Jessica McCann adds flesh and blood to dry history to recreate the savagery and sometimes even the humanity of slavery. This book tears at your heart.”

~ Sandra Dallas, New York Times best-selling author of Prayers for Sale

Inspired by a true story.

A free woman of color in the 1830s, Margaret Morgan lived a life full of promise. One frigid night in Pennsylvania, that changed forever. Margaret was kidnapped from her home in Pennsylvania and sold into slavery. The state of Pennsylvania charged her kidnapper with the crime, but the conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Text books will have you believe the story of Prigg v. Pennsylvania is important because it ended in controversy and fanned the early embers of the Civil War. This book will have you believe the story is important because it began with Margaret.

Purchase All Different Kinds of Free in print, ebook and audio.

Words: Essays on Writing, Reading, and Life

“A book is a box of words, until someone opens it.”

~ Ursula K. Le Guin

Jessica McCann has woven together a collection of personal essays and writing tips that offer a unique glimpse into her writing journey and process. She is an award-winning historical novelist and has worked as a professional freelance writer and editor for magazines, universities, corporations, and nonprofits for more than 30 years.

In Words, McCann shares her passion for books, as well as research that shows how reading improves our lives. With a philosophy that is equally pragmatic and optimistic, Words will appeal to readers and writers alike.

“… delivered in a smooth, memoir-ish voice so deja vu of McCann’s fiction. In an endless sea of books of essays on writing, Words comes across fresher and more genuine than the rest.”

 ~ C. Hope Clark, author of the Edisto Island Mysteries and Carolina Slade Mystery series, and editor of Funds for Writers

For free writing resources and links, visit my Stuff for Writers page.

Purchase Words in print, ebook and audio.