Jan Sikes is an author and songwriter in Allen, Texas. She studied creative writing in college and is owner of RiJan Productions, which published the first 2 books of her trilogy and will publish the last in spring of 2015. She is passionate about her writing projects and driven to tell a story with the hope that it might touch someone’s heart or life in a positive way. Welcome, Jan!
Tell us all about you. . .
I started writing as a young girl around the age of eight. My first writing was a gospel song. I had an uncle whom I loved dearly, but he was an alcoholic and his drinking caused such family discord that at times, resulted in him being banished from our home. So, I wrote a song about Uncle Luke finding Jesus. That is my first memory of feeling the passion deep down to my toes for writing. Then as I continued to grow up, I became an avid reader of books. We had no TV in our home so reading was my entertainment. Many times, I’d be in the middle of a good book when Mom called for lights out, so I would hide under the covers with a flashlight and continue reading.
The stories I write (so far) are true stories about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. I believe with all my heart there is something that is worthy of sharing in these stories. Bits and pieces of wisdom, hard-learned lessons and above and beyond all, love… True love that you read about in fiction stories and yet this is truth. The old saying that truth is stranger than fiction fits the stories that I share.
I also released a music CD of original songs along with each book that fits the time period of the story, because the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.
Why I write what I do: The main characters of my stories are Rick Sikes (my late husband aka Luke Stone) and myself (aka Darlina Flowers). Our story is unique and for years, we were told by many people who came to know us that someone should write it. When Rick passed away in 2009, I began to think along those lines and searched for someone to do just that. I awoke one morning to the realization that the only person who could write it was me since I was the one who lived it. So, I took classes, studied everything I could find from sentence structure to formatting, and then began to write. The story is a series of three books. I’ve published two, so have one more to go. Once the three books and music CDs are completed, I will write a screenplay for a movie. I love writing and will never stop!
Publishing: My husband and I had a music publishing company for many years, so when it came time to publish my first book, I simply used the existing company already in place to publish through. I now have opened RiJan Publishing up to the public and am actively seeking authors who may be at the beginning of the publishing process and need a little assistance to maneuver through the maze.
My Books: The trilogy
Flowers and Stone is set in the rowdy honky-tonks of Texas in 1970 and is the beginning of a passionate love story between two very unlikely people. Luke Stone is a veteran Texas musician who spent his life playing music in dancehalls and bars from Texas to California. Darlina Flowers is a young naïve girl, fresh away from a holy-roller upbringing. She is out to try everything that had been forbidden by the church and her mother. Their love quickly ignites into an ever burning flame, only to endure a cruel twist of fate. They’re split apart by circumstance and separated by walls and bars.
The Convict and the Rose finds Luke and Darlina’s love severely tested as they struggle to overcome enormous odds. Luke refuses to cooperate with the FBI and is sentenced to 75 years in prison. Having lost everything he treasures, he’s filled with hate, anger and rebelliousness. Darlina struggles to find a way to live without the man she loves by getting involved with drugs, following a guru, and trying different relationships; but nothing fills the void. Luke makes up his mind that prison will not break him and determines to be and do something worthwhile. The story inspires hope and portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines, proving that persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.
Home at Last is a feel-good story of triumph over tragedy and moving forward. With empty pockets, a heart full of dreams and determination to put the nightmare of fifteen long years in prison behind him, Luke Stone boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas and the woman he loves. The unjust conviction no longer matters and revenge haunts him no more. Sweet Darlina Flowers waits ahead, and with her by his side, nothing can stop Luke. He is headed Home at Last.
Marketing: I have marketed my books everywhere I could find an open door. I’ll start with the obvious ones such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads. I belong to the Texas Association of Authors and they do an amazing job marketing for Indie authors. My books can be found at MyTexasBooks, Author’s Den, Independent Author Network, IndieTribe, Pinterest AuthorsDb, and through my Website. When anyone orders through the website, they receive an autographed copy of the book, and I’m always running special discounts on the books and CDs when they are purchased together.
Authors Who Have Influenced Me: There are way too many to list, but these are a few. Kathleen Woodwiss could tell a good romance story better than anyone in her time. Linda Broday keeps the old West alive through her stories and characters. Sharon Sala amazingly weaves paranormal happenings into her stories. Harold Robbins – no one could write sex scenes better! J.K. Rowling’s story of receiving many rejections but never giving up inspires me. Willie Nelson has a raw humor and uncanny wit.
Other Interests / hobbies: Writing takes 99% of my time, but when I’m not writing, you’ll find me volunteering at various music festivals and events across Texas. I play guitar and write songs, and that is a lot of fun and relaxing to me. And, since I also have four amazing grandchildren, I devote time to playing with and enjoying them as well.
Advice to new Writers: Take your time telling your story. If you rush through it to get it published and on the market, it will show. Also, never ever skip the step of having your manuscript professionally edited.
Message to My Readers: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following Luke and Darlina on their journey and for posting such amazing reviews for me. You are the best!