Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you a multi-award winning author, Jan Sikes. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions.
I recently read and reviewed one of Jan’s books, “Voodoo or Destiny – You Decide.” I loved this book, so make sure to check out my review HERE.
First, please meet my guest, Jan Sikes:
Multi-Award winning author, Jan Sikes, began her writing career as a young girl. Her first work was a gospel song. She had an uncle whom she loved dearly, but he was an alcoholic and his drinking caused such family discord that at times, resulted in him being banished from their home. So, she wrote a song about Uncle Luke finding Jesus. That is her first memory of feeling the passion deep down to her toes for writing and for music.Amazon Author Page
When her husband passed away in 2009, she thought someone would come along and write the story of his unique and inspiring life. She awoke one morning to realize she was the only one who could write it, since she was the only one there with him through it all. So, she took several Creative Writing courses at local community colleges and went to work.
Her books are true stories about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. She believes with all her heart there is something 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 these stories.
She also released a music CD of original songs along with each book that fits the time period of the story. Why? Because the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.
Jan has also developed several writing workshops that you can get more information about on her website.
She is widowed, lives in North Texas, volunteers at music festivals, has five incredible grandchildren and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Authors Institute of History, The North Texas Book Festival and the Texas Musicians Museum.
Hello, everyone and thank you for visiting with me today on Colleen’s amazing blog site! I am deeply grateful to Colleen for sharing her site with me!
I have been an avid reader since I could first decipher written words. I can remember being enthralled and excited by every story I read and my favorite place to visit, growing up, was the library.
Some of my favorite authors from the past are John Steinbeck, Erskine Caldwell, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Harold Robbins, Taylor Caldwell, V.C. Andrews, James Clavell, and Fern Michaels.
More recently, I have enjoyed books by Mae Clair, Rhani D’Chae, Suzanne Burke, D.L. Finn, Wendy Scott and Delia Owens, just to name a few. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my amazing sister, Linda Broday’s awesome historical romance books!
But I can honestly say that I learn from each author and each genre that I read. I find that my dialogue tends to resemble Erskine Caldwell’s raw style of writing and that makes me happy.
This question touches on my very core belief about producing a story. A short answer is ‘yes’ I proofread and edit my work several times including using tools such as Grammarly, ProWritingAid, and reading aloud. And then, I send it to a professional editor.
Why? Because I work hard to help break the stigma that was put on indie authors when the self-publishing revolution started, as producing shoddy work. It is super important to me that my stories are as error-free as possible. So, for that reason, I always pay a professional to edit before I hit the publish button.
I am proud of my work and anytime a reader notes an error, I hurry to get it fixed. I want to be respected as a committed author dedicated to honoring the craft in the best way possible. The best money I spent in the publishing process was for editing.
Well, as many of you know, the four novels I’ve published are biographical and autobiographical. They are true stories that I chose to tell through fictitious characters. The hardest scene to write was sex scenes. After all, my children were going to read these books.
I think most authors will agree with me that sex scenes are difficult to write. I took a class to help me with it, and what I learned was to focus on the emotions of the scene more so than the actions themselves. That helped tremendously. Unless you are writing erotica, the feelings of the couple engaged in the act are what draw the readers in more than the sex act itself.
I can answer that in one word – marketing. I’ve never been a salesman and I have absolutely zero experience in marketing. So, it’s been a huge learning curve for me.
I’ve tried many different avenues to try and find new readers for my books, but there are two things that have turned out to work best for me.
#1 is meeting readers face-to-face at book signing events. I feel very passionate about my stories and it’s super easy for me to talk about them. When I have that chance to engage, I almost always end up with a sale. The
#2 the most effective marketing tool I’ve found is my blog. I do not use my blog exclusively to market my books or any books, but I do use my blog to lead readers back to my books. That’s been an awesome experience – building a blog following – and staying consistent with content to keep the interest up.
I have a Romance novel with paranormal aspects that has been sitting finished for over two years. It is part of a trilogy and I am about 20,000 words into the second part of that trilogy.
Why haven’t I published that first book? Because I (for whatever crazy reason) want to find a more traditional publishing route for it and the other two books in The White Rune series. That’s not to say that I won’t ever self-publish them, but for now I’m holding out for a publisher.
I also have a non-fiction book in the works called “The Next Chapter,” that is specifically for widows who find themselves having to reinvent a new life alone.
While I never started out in life to become an author, I now cannot find any way to put down the pen. I love creating and there is nothing like the adrenaline flow when a new character or story forms inside my head and flows out through my fingertips. I believe when I get an inspiration, it is my duty in life to put it into the form of a story, song or poem. I am just a channel.
Veteran Texas musician, Luke Stone, has cheated death more times then he cares to remember. He’s been everything from a simple farm boy to a rowdy roughneck, a singing star to a convict and finally a husband and father whose goals consisted of building a home and raising a family…which he did.
Now, with a chance for a second music career, he knows the sand in his hourglass is running thin. His anchor in life and true love, Darlina, stands at his side determined to help make the dream a reality. But his aging body is sabotaging every effort and the only thing that keeps him going is sheer will power and the love he has for Darlina.
When faced with being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, Luke draws on every resource to continue to function and contribute to their home and to society.
This is a story of inspiration, endurance and most of all undying love. When Luke and Darlina face life-altering situations that would destroy a lesser man and woman, they draw on each other’s strength and determination to face them.
Will fate allow Luke to sing his last song?
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Sikes/e/B00CS9K8DK?
“A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.”
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Colleen M. Chesebro is an American Poet who loves crafting paranormal fantasy and magical realism, cross-genre flash fiction, syllabic poetry, and creative nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, tanka prose, renga, solo-renga, haibun, cinquain, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry. Colleen's syllabic poetry has appeared in the Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal, and in “Hedgerow, a journal of small poems.” She’s won numerous awards from participating in the Carrot Ranch Rodeo, a yearly flash fiction contest sponsored by carrotranch.com. In 2020, she won first place in the Carrot Ranch Folk Tale or Fable category, with her story called “Why Wolf Howls at the Moon.” Colleen is a Sister of the Fey, where she pursues a pagan path through her writing. When she is not writing, she is reading. She also loves gardening and crocheting old-fashioned doilies into works of art.