When you visit Jan’s website, you are greeted by the following:
Jan Sikes weaves stories in a creative and entertaining way. “…a magician and wordsmith extraordinaire…”
The author of four biographical fiction books, a book of poetry, she is also a musician and writes songs to accompany her written words, recorded with her husband Rick Sikes.
The Scribbler is most fortunate to have Jan as our featured guest this week.
Jan Sikes openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It all happened. She chose to create fictitious characters to tell the story through, and they bring the intricately woven tale to life in an entertaining way.
She released a series of music CDs to accompany the four biographical fiction books and then published a book of poetry and art to bring the story full circle.
And now that the story is told, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published many short stories with a series of novels waiting in the wings. She is a member of Authors Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC), the RAVE WRITER’S INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHOR (RWISA), sits on the RWISA Executive Council and hosts a monthly RAVE WAVES blog talk radio show, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE.
4Q: Before we discuss your novels, please tell us about your keen idea of composing music to accompany the stories. How original!
JS: My first four books totally evolve and revolve around music. They are true stories told in fiction format. The story is about a Texas musician and the crazy paths his life took. I am a character in the stories (which is the main reason for the fictitious characters I created.)
But, because the basis of the entire story is music, I decided to release a music CD with each book that matches the time period of the story. For example, my first book, “Flowers and Stone,” is set in Abilene, Texas in 1970. So, the CD I released with that book is a compilation of original songs taken from 45 rpm records. Anyone remember those? 😊
So, you get the idea. All of the music on these CDs is original, and written by either Rick Sikes, or me with a couple of exceptions.
Another really cool and rather historical aspect of the music compilations is the CD that accompanies the second book, “The Convict and the Rose.” All of the songs except for one were recorded inside Leavenworth penitentiary in a makeshift recording studio. There is a big story behind that, but you’ll have to read the book to find out how that all happened. To my knowledge, it was the only recording studio ever built inside a federal prison.
JS: You are the recipient of many awards for your writing. Congratulations. Which do you cherish the most?
JS: That’s a really hard question to answer. I cherish them all, but my third book, “Home At Last” took first place in two separate contests in the same year, so I am very proud of those!
4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.
JS: One of my most vivid memories from childhood is the many hours me and my older sister would spend playing paper dolls. We literally practiced world building with those cardboard dolls. I truly believe it helped build a strong foundation for storytelling, as she is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author and me, well, I’ve not done bad. 😊
4Q: Can you give us a brief synopsis of your four novels.
Flowers and Stone: A hot Texas summer, dim-lit honky-tonk barrooms, a young naïve fledgling go-go dancer and a wild rebel Texas musician sets the stage for this story. Can Darlina Flowers ever hope to fit into this new world and even more important, can she trust Luke Stone with her heart?
Luke Stone, a good man who has made a career of bad decisions, finds himself at a crossroads. Fate has sealed his destiny and threatens it all.
The Convict and the Rose: Rebel Texas musician, Luke Stone, loses everything that he treasures with the arrest and conviction for a crime he didn’t commit. Not only is he locked away in a cage, he's left behind the woman who holds his heart. Broken and alone, Darlina Flowers struggles to go on living without the man she loves so completely. Follow their journey through shackles and chains, drugs and gurus as they fight to find their way to freedom.
Home At Last: Released from federal prison after fifteen long years, Luke Stone boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas, for home and the woman who holds his heart. He happily hangs up his neon dreams for a paint brush and hammer. Darlina Flowers has waited her entire adult life to become Mrs. Luke Stone, but will the hardships of starting over with nothing be too much? Their love is tested to the core as the story unfolds.
Til Death Do Us Part: Luke Stone has cheated death more times than he cares to remember. With a second music career opportunity, he knows he won’t fill the Texas dancehalls and honky-tonks like he did in his younger days, but is determined to give it his all. Darlina, his rock and anchor, longs to see his dreams fulfilled and vows to do everything possible to help him find success. Will time allow Luke to sing his last song?
4Q: Your short story – Jewel – was a 2019 Grand Prize winner. Please tell us about Jewel and the story.
JS: I often get story ideas from songs. Music still rocks my world on a daily basis. Back in the 70s, Bobbie Gentry released a song called “Fancy.” The story of Jewel is loosely based on that song. A young girl born into poverty in a Louisiana swamp, with a father who has abandoned them, a little sister that depends on her for care and a sickly mother sets the stage for the story. I won’t go into detail as this is a short story and I could easily give away the entire plot. It does follow the song but only to a degree.
4Q: What’s next for Jan Sikes, the author?
JS: I seem to have found a comfortable niche with writing short stories and I have two in the works right now. However, I also have a series of novels waiting in the wings. I call it “The White Rune Series.” I have book one finished and close to finishing book two. I am trying for a traditional publisher with this series, so wish me luck! I do have an Arizona based publisher who has requested the entire manuscript, so I am hopeful.
As my bio says, once I picked up my pen (well – really computer), I can’t find a way to put it down.
*****Jan shared some wonderful news yesterday (May 22)
I promised breaking news - so here we go! I have a publishing contract with The Wild Rose Press for the first book in my White Rune Series!!!!!!!! I am humbled, honored, and overwhelmed and have to get really focused and busy! I am thrilled to join the Wild Rose Press family! Thank you, Crystal Klein, Deva Deaton and Jason P Klein for helping me celebrate!!
4Q: What’s next for Jan Sikes, the musician?
JS: That aspect of my life has faded into the background. My focus is on writing stories and I hardly ever pick up my guitar anymore. I do occasionally play just for relaxation or fun, but I never considered myself a musician. I know how to play chords on a guitar, and I’ll leave it at that.
4Q: In your opinion, what makes a great story?
JS: Good question, Allan! A great story has to evoke some sort of emotion in the reader. I think of it this way. How many times have you sat through a dry boring sermon in church? Did it affect you in any way? Probably not. But, if the sermon was filled with some sort of passion, it moved you. It’s the same way with stories and with songs. Of course, they must have a compelling plot and characters, but without emotion or passion, the words fall flat. So, to me, that’s the number one thing that makes a great story ― one that sucks you in on the first page and keeps you engaged and wanting more, making you “feel” something!
4Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
JS: Allan, I have to say that this has been an incredible journey for me. When I published my first book in 2013, I was green as a proverbial gourd. I knew absolutely NOTHING about self-publishing. But I had a story that begged to be told and when I realized that no one else could tell it but me, I went to work. I took Creative Writing classes at community colleges, I researched publishing processes and wondered how on earth I would get my books noticed in the huge ocean of books that flood the market. Seven years later, I’ve learned lots, and continue to learn more every day. I encourage anyone who has a story burning inside them to write it!
Also, I want to sincerely thank you for having me at your guest today!
***It’s an absolute pleasure having you as a guest, Jan.
An Excerpt from THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE
(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission.)
Iron ankle chains chafed his skin and the heavy handcuffs and belly chain securing his hands in front of him bit into his wrists. Luke Stone descended the steps of the prison bus that delivered him to Leavenworth Penitentiary. He hopped from the bottom step to the ground then cast a glance at his new home. The cold gray stone walls spared no welcome and the long steps leading up to the door unforgiving.
His attention turned to a man ahead of him who stumbled on his chains and fell to the ground. The guard quickly prodded him with his night stick. “Get up convict. No lagging behind.”
The man struggled to regain his footing. Luke gritted his teeth and tightened his jaw. He remained in line.
Luke counted the steps as he went. Thirty-seven… thirty-eight… The chains gnawed at the skin around his ankle. And then number forty-two. The massive iron door waiting to swallow his life groaned open.
The guards escorted the prisoners through a total of six metal doors. Each door slammed shut behind them with a deadly ring that echoed off the stone walls. The finality of the metal clanging penetrated Luke’s very being. Jaw set, eyes as hard as the steel that held him captive, he shuffled forward.
Lined up in military fashion, a lieutenant removed the chains and handcuffs. Armed guards stood watching, ready to fire at any sign of aggression.
“Welcome to Leavenworth Penitentiary, boys. You’re in admissions and orientation.” The man walked down the line looking each convict in the eye. “This is gonna be your home for a while, so I suggest you treat it as such.”
Luke didn’t blink when he paused in front of him. If his face betrayed his thoughts, the lieutenant would clearly see that he would never think of this prison as home. Thoughts of his family back in Texas crowded his mind with a weight of sadness.
How could he have let himself get so reckless and uncaring? He’d been a damn fool to get caught in the tangled mess that landed him behind bars for such a long time.
Thank you, Jan, for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success in your creative endeavors.
For all you wonderful readers wishing to discover more about Jan and her work, please follow these links: