Trying Something New

I attended an Author’s Marketing Conference back in the summer and one of the workshops I participated in really piqued my interest.

Story Rocket

Story Rocket is a website created specifically to provide a place for TV and movie producers, agents, scouts, and directors to go looking for new material.

I don’t know about you, but I can visualize my stories on the big screen, whether it be a movie or TV show. So, I jumped at the chance to get on this bandwagon. The cost to join is $120 per year, but because I attended the conference, I got a substantial discount and paid only $75. To me, that was a huge saving.

Anyway, I have three of my books up so far on Story Rocket.

I would love it if you would take a look at one or all of them and give me some feedback. Have I chosen a powerful logline? Does the synopsis read well and tell enough of the story? What about the actors and actresses I chose to portray Luke Stone and Darlina Flowers?

This is all new to me, but I am excited that I am getting a good amount of views in the short time the projects have been up.

Here are the links to the projects I have up.

https://www.storyrocket.com/flowers-and-stone

https://www.storyrocket.com/the-convict-and-the-rose

https://www.storyrocket.com/home-at-last

Please take a look when you have a minute and see what you think.

If you have a book or series of books you think would make a great movie or TV series, join me on Story Rocket and let’s see what happens. 🙂 And, if you do put any up, please let me know so I can go take a look.

Wish me luck!

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Taking a break?

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Or is it? Are you like me and feel that you have to work like a Trojan workhorse every day, day in and day out?

But what happens when we do? I can only speak from my own personal experience.

  1. Creativity all but comes to a screeching halt
  2. I find it hard to shut my brain off at night for sleep
  3. I feel exhausted all the time
  4. I get grouchy when I am not creating
  5. I get tunnel vision

Here’s the truth of it. Most of us are ambitious and anxious to write great books and get them into the hands of readers. But, no matter how much we do, there is always more to do: more writing, more marketing, more admin. A writer’s work is never done.

Writer's Work

I have one novel already written and two more in the series vaguely outlined and waiting. I fear I have failed miserably, as an author, this year. Yes, I put out several short stories and maintained my blog, but have not given much more than a glance toward my next full-length book. There’s a couple of reasons for that. I have been in this state of limbo since last year, waiting with bated breath to see if a publisher will take the first book of The White Rune Series. Guess what? I’m still waiting.

So, why couldn’t I force myself to work on the next one while I’m waiting? That would be the smart thing to do. I guess the truthful answer is I need to feel like it is worthwhile. Yes, I know. Everything we are inspired to do is worthwhile in some way or another. Maybe the better word for it is validation.

In telling Rick’s and my stories, I had passion. I was driven to get the story down and out into the hands of readers. I need to feel that burning passion again.

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I’m open to any advice. My sister tells me that if you don’t write a story, you lose it. I don’t want to lose them because they are good stories. Such a dilemma.

Then I have to ask myself this question. If the publisher that currently has the manuscript passes on it, what then?

Yes, I know I can self-publish, but I don’t have another $2,000 to $3,000 to invest with little hope of ever recouping. Since I suck at cover design and formatting, I’d have to pay for both of those services plus editing. If anyone ever said writing and publishing books is easy, they told a big lie.

So, the bottom line to all of this is that I took a break from working on the novels. Is that good? I suppose only time will tell.

How about you? Do you take breaks? Do you have books waiting to be published? Please tell me I’m not in this boat alone.

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Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing for my latest collection of short stories, “Two Shorts and a Snort.” I’m giving away three eBooks.

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This book consists of two short stories and one poem from award-winning author, Jan Sikes, in response to a writing challenge from the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

Obsessed:

How far will one man go to satisfy an obsession? The price could cost him his life.

Maggie:

It is possible to pray up a baby? Frank and Mary Pyburn are convinced that is what they’ve done.

Friends Instead of Lovers:

Sometimes it’s better to remain friends instead of giving in to desires and crossing a line.

5 Year Anniversary

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Five years ago, I published my first book, Flowers and Stone.

I had no idea where the journey would lead me. All I knew was that I had a story to tell.

I can’t even begin to list the things that have happened, doors that have opened and people that I’ve met. I was not following one blog five years ago and never imagined I would not only follow lots of amazing blogs but would have one myself. I certainly didn’t belong to an international author’s organization. I literally had no idea what I was doing.

Looking back now, I can see that my Angels were hard at work lining up opportunities, putting me with the right people and organizations, and keeping me moving forward when I lacked the energy to do it for myself.

And here I sit, five years and five books later with an active blog following, a solid fan-base, so many reviews from all over the globe and a wonderful website. And that’s just touching the tip of the iceberg. I have been a very busy woman.

So, now with all of that done, I ask myself, where do I go from here?

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Sure, I’ve published six short stories and that was truly fun! And, I write for two magazines and thoroughly enjoy that, but after writing such big novels, I feel as if I am sloughing off. Does anyone ever feel like that after completing a big project that drives you?

I had a dream the other night where I was driving a car and my sister was with me. There were two red wasps flying around in the car and she started to open the door. I yelled at her to open the windows and that I’d stop. I pulled into a small convenience store/gas station and she went inside. I opened all the doors to shoo out the wasps but never saw them again. When she returned to the car, I looked at her and said, “I have no idea where we are or where we are going. All I know to do is go back the way we came.”

That may hold no significance to anyone but myself, but I awoke knowing the profoundness of the dream.

I have written a fiction novel – in fact, I finished it last year and started pitching it to publishers. I’ve had no takers yet. I ‘ve also written the first chapter of the second book in the series, but I feel as if I am constantly spinning my wheels and going nowhere.

The anniversary of my first published book has brought all of this to a culmination in my mind. The dream – go back the way I came – holds a message. Is the message to go ahead and self-publish the fiction series? I’m groaning as I type it. I want the support and backing of a publisher. That’s the bottom line. Will I get it? Heck, if I know. All I do know is that I work long hours every day and while I know where I’ve been and where I am, I haven’t a clue about where I’m going but still enjoying the journey and still trusting the Angels to get me there. 🙂

Thanks for letting me share. Happy Anniversary to Flowers and Stone!

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WEBSITE: http://www.jansikes.com

RWISA AUTHOR PAGE: https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-jan-sikes/

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks

Flowers and Stone Re-Edited! #RRBC #RWISA

A HUGE thanks to Nonnie Jules for announcing the new and improved version of my first book, “Flowers and Stone!” via Let’s Play Follow The Leader – @rijanjks #RRBC #RWISA

I ran across this – Reflection

I ran across this nugget today.

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And it prompted these thoughts…

For everything that we did wrong…

For everything that we got right…

For all that we should have done…

For all that we did do…

For all the struggles…

For all the victories…

Through it all – We loved.

We dared to love with all our hearts

All our souls…

AND, we managed to have some fun along the way.

Funny how the holiday season brings nostalgia.

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Catch a ride on the Holiday Train! #RRBC

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The RRBC Holiday Train Book Trailer Block Party keeps right on rolling, but it’s making a pit stop here at my blog today!

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All you have to do is follow the link to my brand new Book Trailer Video on YouTube, leave a comment, like and share to be entered in a giveaway!

YOUTUBE LINK

Prizes up for grabs:

$10.00 Amazon Gift Card

eBook version of DISCOVERY – Poetry and Art by Rick and Jan Sikes.

So, grab a cup of coffee and a Christmas cookie and take a look! coffee and gingerbread house

And don’t forget to follow the tour each day for great trailers and more chances to win fantastic prizes. Just click HERE to follow the tour!

#Writing Journey

I am often asked the question, “When did you first start writing?”

To the best of my memory, I was around eight when I wrote my first string of words that made sense. I had an alcoholic uncle whom I adored. He lived with us off and on throughout my growing up years and occasionally he’d twist off, so Mom would make him move out. During one of those episodes,  I was worried about him, so I wrote a gospel song about Uncle Luke finding Jesus.

But, before that, I can remember loving anything written. I loved the Dick and Jane books in first grade. I loved fairy tales. I loved reading and devoured books of all kinds. In fifth grade, I checked out the Grimm’s Book of Fairy Tales so many times they had to make a new library card.

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Ah, the smell of libraries. I still love them. I never outgrew my love for reading. It was my entertainment, education, and adventure. And it still is!

Fast forward many years where I found myself in a serious songwriting vibe. My late husband, Rick, was a singer/songwriter and several years after we’d married, he pulled his vintage Martin D35 out from under the bed and returned to writing and playing the music he loved.

I wanted desperately to join him. I loved singing harmony with him, but I wanted to play. We had a second-hand/antique store, and some guy stopped in one day and sold Rick an old banjo. He took the instrument apart and put a guitar neck on it to create a Gitjo. And it was on that instrument I learned my first chords.

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When he saw  I was dead serious about learning, he bought me a 3/4 size Applause guitar for my birthday. I was fifty years old. So, NEVER let anyone tell you are too old to learn something new!

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And it took off from there. I played on that little guitar every day and we wrote songs every day. When I’d get home from my day job, I’d hurry to put supper on the table so that we could toss around ideas, chords, melodies, and lyrics. It was an exciting part of life for me. We booked gigs and I got to play and sing on stage with him.  We built a recording studio so that we could record our songs, and we published our own music.

But, now those are simply fading memories with pictures and CDs to prove it all happened. And I moved on after his death, in another direction of writing.

Compelled to tell our story (his and mine) I began to write books.  And, I decided that I would continue to promote our music by releasing a music CD with each book that matched the time period of the story.

The first book, Flowers and Stone, was a HUGE learning curve for me. I am often tempted to pull it down and rework it and I may some day.

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Set in 1970, this is the beginning of an epic love story with a musical twist as Luke Stone and Darlina Flowers (our fictitious names) travel the roads of Texas with Luke’s band. It is real and raw with a devastating conclusion.

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The second book in the series, The Convict and the Rose, is not only the story of Luke’s determination to survive many years behind prison bars, but Darlina’s own struggle to survive in a prison of her own where the bars were invisible. It is inspiring with a lesson in turning a negative situation into a positive one. This book garnered my first writing competition award – First Place in the Biographical Fiction Category from the Texas Association of Authors!

       Jan Sikes CD

Ah, the reunion. Finally,  Luke and Darlina earn a chance to build the life they’ve always dreamed of. But, the struggles are real and the price of love is high.  Home At Last won two First-Place writing awards.

    Jan Sikes CD

Then, all too soon, it’s over. Twenty-five years seemed like nothing. But, this is not a book about death. Instead, it is a book about living and wringing the most out of every moment – ‘Til Death Do Us Part.

I never stopped learning as I moved through this writing journey. I always strived to make each book better than the one before, while continuing to tell this true story. Thank God for my older sister, Linda Broday, who helped guide me along the way. I took classes. I learned about POV and head-hopping, sentence structure, show-don’t-tell, and passive voice vs. active voice. And guess what! I’m still learning and still striving to be better.

I released one more book, a beautiful expression of poetry and art. It is a combination of poems from both Rick and myself and pieces of his amazing artwork accompany them.  Discovery is available in hardback, paperback, and eBook.

Is my writing journey over now that I’ve told this story? Oh goodness, NO! I’m almost done with my first fiction novel, which I’ve entitled When Two Worlds Collide. It has been so much fun to create and live vicariously through these fictitious characters. I’m fully invested in them and their story as it unfolds in my imagination.

I also write for two magazines. Buddy Magazine is the Original Texas Music Magazine for which I interview artists, review CDs and feature innovative, creative, and talented musicians. The Oklahoma Farm and Ranch Magazine has a music section and I have the honor and privilege of filling it each month.

Will I ever stop writing? No. I don’t think so. 🙂

For more, visit my Website

Follow me on Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest

I am a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB where I sit on the Board of Directors

I am a huge fan of The Texas Musicians Museum, where I also am a board member.

The Texas Author’s Institute of History is a place where Texas literary works are preserved and I am a board member of that organization as well.

 

 

#RRBC Springtime Book & Blog Party!

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Hi! And welcome to the  Rave Reviews Book Club’s BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY at Writing and Music coming to you from Plano, Texas.

Here is what I am giving away today!

One $5.00 Amazon Gift Card

One $10.00 iTunes Gift Card

One ebook of FLOWERS AND STONE

One ebook of THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE

WINNERS FOR THIS STOP – 4

I have published five books in the past four years. Four of those five have won book competition awards..

When I began this crazy journey by writing Flowers and Stone, I had no idea that it would take four books to tell the entire story. I also had no idea all I would learn along the way. But, I knew I had a story that begged to be told.

I started out by writing in first person. It became glaringly obvious that I couldn’t tell the story this way. When a close friend mentioned that I should consider telling it through fictitious characters, a light clicked on. That was the perfect solution for me. So, I chose to tell the story through Darlina Flowers and Luke Stone. In doing this, I was able to separate myself from a deeply personal story and tell it through their eyes.

Here are the top FIVE things I’ve learned over the past four years:

  1.  DO NOT forego professional editing! That is number one and the most important.  It doesn’t matter how wonderful and talented you are at writing, you cannot edit your own work successfully.
  2. Spend a good deal of time and thought about your cover. People really do judge a book by its cover.
  3. Write your blurb. Then delete it and write it again. Cut out extra words and tweak it until you are saying precisely what will sell the reader on your book in the fewest amount of words possible.
  4. Get ready to market! I have never been a salesman, so marketing does not come naturally for me. But, through marketing conferences and trial and error, I have found that basically marketing consists of FOUR things: Visibility, Consistency, Honesty (honesty about yourself and about your books) and Networking.
  5.  Keep writing! Don’t think that because you’ve written and published one book you can sit back and reap the rewards. If you have a true passion for telling stories, you must keep writing. There are millions of books out there, but here’s something I want you to take to heart: NO ONE WRITES LIKE YOU! We are all unique and individual.

Here’s a little about each of my books:

flowers_and_stone_3d_cover Flowers and Stone is set in the rowdy Texas honky-tonks in 1970. Link to BOOK TRAILER

One Reviewer wrote: “As I close this amazing book by Jan Sikes, my heart aches for the hand Luke and Darlina have been dealt. Flowers and Stone is an amazing, fast paced story of two people who against all odds have found a true and binding love. The love story they create with one another is heart-gripping, turbulent, and heartbreaking. This is a true story of two souls brought together, soulmates, who were given the chance of true love until society and the justice system decided, differently.”

online_3d_cover_theconvictandtherose  The Convict and the Rose  alternates between Leavenworth Prison and Texas. Link to BOOK TRAILER 

A FIVE Star Review: “Luke struggles to adjust to life behind bars, going from a successful career as a musician to another number in the system. I thought this story might be bleak as a result, but it is far from depressing. Watching Luke cope to his new existence and rise above the situation made for riveting reading. And as Luke’s life unfolds, Darlina grows from a young, naïve girl to a stronger woman. Her journey has many ups and downs, strewn with doubts, hardships and new experiences. Through it all, she keeps in touch with Luke. And that’s what really resonated with me—the undying love these two hold for each other despite the separation they’re forced to endure.”

home-at-last_3d  Home At Last is set in a small West Texas town. Link to BOOK TRAILER

A FIVE Star Review: “Although Luke’s transition back into civilian life wasn’t easy for him, Darlina, and their two girls, they never gave up believing in second chances and living life to the fullest through all their hard work and endeavors. Many heartaches, losses, and struggles met them head-on, but for Luke and Darlina there wasn’t any mountain to high for them to scale.”

online_3d_cover_tildeathdouspart ‘Til Death Do Us Part concludes the series. Link to BOOK TRAILER

A FIVE STAR Review: “What a joy and what a sorrow. There is a gambit of emotions to be experienced in ‘Til Death Do Us Part, the concluding chapter in the Darlina Flowers and Luke Stone series. This story of love that knows no bounds will hold you captivated from being to end…Written from the heart, this is a book (and a series) that shouldn’t be missed. From hurdles to triumphs, it will make you believe in steadfast love. I had shivers about the owl hoots, especially at the end. I applaud the author for sharing her story with us and hope to see this series made into a movie someday.”

discovery_3dcoverhb2_discovery_logo1  Discovery Breaths of life from a prison cell

This poetry and art book is unique in many different ways. First and foremost, it was written and compiled by Rick Sikes during the fifteen years he spent in prison. The original documents were typed on onion skin paper. Remember that? 😊 It covers all topics from the deep dark loneliness of prison to a crazy and perhaps twisted sense of humor. It was a means of maintaining sanity in an insane setting.

The other thing that makes this book unique is the artwork found inside. Rick called them pen and ink drawings, but the proper name for this type of art is Pointillism. It is comprised of thousands of tiny dots made with a simple ink pen. He later added color to the drawings. Because the originals were black and white, I currently have two editions of the poetry book. One is hard cover and full color and the other paperback and black and white. I am in the process of getting this beautiful book formatted for ebook and it will be available soon.

I would LOVE it if you would take a look at the BOOK TRAILER for this beautiful book!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a preview of my books.

This tour is brought to you by the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB – a community of authors and readers who are constantly creating new ways to PROFILE, PROMOTE & PROPEL our members.  You mean you haven’t joined yet?  Well, you can…right here, right now, today!. You’ll not find another organization like this anywhere on the planet.

For a complete list of participants in the Block party, click HERE.

Once again, thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of this post.  Good luck on winning my giveaways!  I’ll see you at the next stop of this awesome BLOCK PARTY!

Follow me on: TWITTER   FACEBOOK   LinkedIn   PINTEREST    INSTAGRAM

 

A Texas Love Story by Gwen Plano

When a fellow author spends the time and energy to post a blog about my books, I am thrilled, honored and humbled.

And that’s exactly what Gwen Plano did for me. Read her blog here.

A million and one thanks to this amazing lady who I met through the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!  

I never imagined I could find a community of people who support and uplift each other like this and I treasure each relationship I’ve built through the club.

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#REVIEWS

rosesWhoever said “Reviews are like receiving a bouquet of roses” expressed it perfectly as to how an author feels when he/she receives an honest review of their work.

I am grateful to have received numerous reviews of my books and only today realized there is one easy place to view them all!

So, I wanted to share that with you.

Many of these reviews came from members of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, for which I am eternally thankful!

Of course, I’d be thrilled if you check out the reviews and even more thrilled if you are inclined to purchase the books, read and review them!

ALL REVIEWS OF JAN SIKES’ BOOKS ON AMAZON

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