Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC

Paradise Below by Jan Sikes via Dennis Cardiff

Dennis Cardiff

Hello, my wonderful guests! Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored byRWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazingRAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 amazing writers, each having their own special day of being featured on multiple blogs. I, along with the other supportive hosts, ask that after reading the written work of art by eachRWISAAuthor, that you click on the link designated to take you directly to that author’s profile page on the actualRWISAsite. On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest:

JAN SIKES

and her piece is entitled

PARADISE BELOW

Emma Dupont shifted her backpack and lowered her head as she struggled through the crowded street. Panic struck as the sunlight faded.

It would mean sure death to get…

View original post 1,598 more words

Featured Blogger: Jan Sikes

The most beautiful thing in Life is that our souls remain hovering over the place where we once enjoyed ourselves. I am one of those who remembers such places regardless of distance or time. Let not your worrying about the future interfere with your tranquility.
— RICK SIKES

A portrait of Rick and Jan Sikes on their wedding day.
A portrait of Rick and Jan Sikes on their wedding day.

You write songs, poetry, short stories, screenplays, and novels. How do you choose a form?  

I started out with a screenwriting class when I decided I had to tell the story, as I was thinking movie. (I still am, by the way.) I quickly concluded that the story was way too big to tell in one short movie. So, I branched out and took novel-writing classes not realizing at the time it would take four books for me to tell the story from beginning to end. I was originally thinking trilogy, but the last book got way too lengthy and I had to find a way to divide it. When writing fiction, I tend to gravitate toward short stories. However, I am on the second book in a series of full-length fiction novels now. I suppose the answer to the question would be, whatever direction the story pulls me. Sometimes it’s no more than a short poem and other times a 90,000 word novel.

How did you realize you have a story to tell, what drives you to continue?

In all honesty, Rob, I thought someone else would come along and write our story. So many people passed through our doors over the years, and they would say, “Someone needs to write y’all’s story.” I agreed, but never in a million years thought it would have to be me. I thought my NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author sister would tell it, but she put it back in my lap giving me lots of support to tackle it.  It was about two years after Rick died that I woke up one morning to the realization that my sister was right. I had to be the one to tell the story as I was the only one there. And, that I had to get busy and learn how to do this. So, I started taking creative writing classes and learning the craft. When I started trying to put the story together, I was telling it in first person. But, I found that it was way too personal to continue it that way. I was stumped and didn’t exactly know what to do. So, I was sitting around one day talking to two of my girlfriends and one of them suggested I create characters to tell the story through. That was the lightbulb moment. It was exactly what I needed to move forward. I created Darlina Flowers and Luke Stone to tell the story through. That allowed me to back away and let the characters tell it. Rick died in 2009, and I published the first segment of the story in 2013 with “Flowers and Stone.” 

What drives me to continue with this story is the message that each segment carries. If my story can touch one life, I am happy, and I’ve done my job.

In your synopsis of, Flowers and Stone, you write, “Darlina embraces the lifestyle, traveling with him and his band up and down the many roads of Texas playing their music. Luke decides to make her a part of his show bringing go-go girls to country music crowds. She is ecstatic to be included.”  Is Darlina you or did she change as a character as you wrote her?

Based on my answer above, I think you already know I am Darlina and she is me. Honestly, I think I wrote Darlina as a much stronger woman than I was at the time. I truly didn’t know anything about life and was so unprepared to jump into it with both feet. Like Darlina, I wanted to try everything that had been forbidden by the strict religion I was raised in and didn’t give much thought to consequences. Darlina trusted Luke completely, with her body, her mind and her heart, as did I.

 

The Convict and the Rose

How does music affect your writing. Does it affect the way you pace the line?

The way music affects my writing is that it permeates almost every single thing I write whether it be a short story or novel. In the true story of mine and Rick’s lives, music was such a huge part of it that there was no way not to include it.  And, that included releasing a music CD of original music with each segment of the story.

I can’t say that music affects the way I pace a line. However, that being said, I do believe that a story needs its own rhythm. For me, finding that rhythm usually comes through the dialogue.

What is Outlaw Music?

That is such a great question. Contrary to what most folks believe, the Outlaw Music movement wasn’t a bunch of law-breaking musicians. It was writers and musicians that dared to break away from the strict “Nashville” way of making music and become true Indie artists blazing new trails. They dared to do things the way that felt right to them rather than following the status-quo.

 

 

Would you describe yourself as an Outlaw writer?

Based on the definition I just gave above for Outlaw music, I suppose I am an Outlaw writer.  I’m an Indie author, so far in my writing career. That means I’ve self-published all my books. That being said, I am trying hard to get a publisher for the new fiction series I’m working on.

Would you describe yourself as spiritual? (I ask because I have a sense of the spiritual when I read about your relationship with Rick)

I tell people that I am probably the most anti-religious person you will ever meet. I see so much horror that has been inflicted on humans throughout history in the name of the ‘church.’ But, that being said, I am very ‘spiritual.’ As my journey took me from the holy-roller church to following a Guru, I have quite a varied spiritual spectrum. At this point in life, I’m tuned into the Angels, my spiritual guides and teachers. I do meditation and have a deep indescribable love for the Creator that is the essence of everything. I also love working with gemstones, and have taken psychic development classes. I suppose I am a mixture of a lot of different aspects of spirituality. Rick practiced the American Indian spiritual beliefs. One time a Baptist preacher came to our house to invite us to church. In conversation, he asked Rick if he gave thanks for food before he ate. Rick’s answer left the man speechless. He said, “Why would I give thanks for the food I eat without taking time to give thanks for each breath that I breathe? For without the breath, I need no food.” That said it all!

The cover and description of Flowers and Stone by Jan Sikes
Blood and Stone

What advice do you have for people who think they may have a story to tell?

Oh, my goodness! If you think you have a story to tell, don’t ignore it. I think we are channels and if an idea comes to you, there is a reason. So what if you don’t know how to craft a story? Get busy and learn! I want to read your story.

That’s great advice Jan!

Will you share a few paragraphs from one of your novels? (perhaps Flowers and Stone)

Excerpt 1 from “Flowers and Stone”

Darlina stood where she could watch this group. It appeared that Luke Stone was the man in charge and everyone around him either seemed to respect and love him or fear him. She couldn’t tell which, and maybe it was a little of both.

The attractive dark-haired lady to the left of him must be his wife, she concluded. Many of the customers approached his table, and he seemed to know them all personally.

Sherry joined her. “Whatcha’ lookin’ at, sweetie?”

She quickly looked away. “Just watchin’ the show.”

“Let me give you a little advice. Luke Stone is bad news. And besides that, he’s way too old for you.”

“I have no intention of getting any closer to him than to take his order and serve his food.”

She knew in her heart the words that came out of her mouth weren’t true. He fascinated her.

Excerpt 2 from “Flowers and Stone”

Luke Stone couldn’t remember the last time he’d bought a piece of jewelry for a lady, although lots of ladies had bought jewelry for him. He wondered how in the hell this sweet young girl with sparkling blue eyes had gotten under his skin so quickly. He imagined what it would feel like to run his fingers through her long auburn hair and speculated that it must smell like sweet blooming flowers.

As he stood at the counter in one of the finest jewelry stores in Abilene, he asked the clerk, “What would you suggest for a very sweet young lady that I just met?”

The clerk immediately brought out a tray of necklaces. “These are all very nice, Mr. Stone.”

He looked them over and spotted a small gold heart on a delicate chain with a tiny diamond set in the middle of the heart. “This one oughta’ do.”

The clerk placed it in a black velvet box, and Luke paid for it. He blinked and reached for his sunglasses when he walked outside into the bright sunshine. He wasn’t accustomed to being out of bed at ten a.m., much less cleaned up and purchasing jewelry.

Excerpt 3 “Flowers and Stone”

Before long, Luke was back. He escorted the girls to the area behind the stage where they would wait for their cue to go on. Darlina’s heart began to race, and her breath came in short gasps. She reached out for the drink in Sherry’s hand and took a big swig, as she made a conscious effort to calm the nerves. She wanted tonight to be perfect.

Luke squeezed her hand reassuringly. “Okay baby, I’ve gotta go back, so you girls just hang tight, and we’ll get you up soon.”

It sounded as if the place was full, and Darlina peeked out to find a standing room only crowd.

Sherry moved close beside her. “Look at all those men in uniforms!”

Darlina nodded. “I see them. There must be 500 or more, and now I’m more nervous than ever.”

The girls shared the rest of the drink and soon Luke announced them to the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, the Rebel Rousers have a real treat for you tonight. All the way from Abilene, Texas; we bring to you the Rebel Rouser Go-Go Girls!”

As they burst onto the stage, cheers, whistles, and hollers echoed from all around.

The band played Mustang Sally, and the noise from the crowd rose to a crescendo. The excitement was like electricity in the air, and the girls danced exactly as Marketa had taught them, bringing round after round of applause and cheers from the soldiers.

Darlina glanced at Luke and saw him beaming. He winked and blew her a kiss.

The four-hour show ended, and Luke and Darlina went back to their dressing room to change into street clothes. A knock on the door startled them both. Luke opened it to find a uniformed officer standing there.

“Luke, that was the best show you’ve ever brought us. I can assure you that you’ll be booked back here again soon. The soldiers need entertainment, and that’s what you gave ‘em tonight. I just wanted to let you know how pleased we are.”

“Thank you, Commander. We enjoyed entertaining y’all. I’ll be in touch about another booking.”

The man handed Luke a large amount of cash and left after shaking his hand.

Thank you Jan!

 

A https://twitter.com/rijanjks
Jan and Rick Sikes on their Wedding Day (Luke and Darlina)

 

Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels

Home at Last

 

Follow Jan’s Blog: https://rijanjks.wordpress.com/

Find and buy Jan’s Books on Amazon

To connect with Jan use the following links:

http://www.ricksikes.com
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks
http://www.facebook.com/RickSikesMusic
http://www.twitter.com/rijanjks

RG 2018

All images by Jan Sikes

 

 

#Bookreview – Tales from the Irish Garden by Sally Cronin

From Robbie’s inspiration

Robbie's inspiration

What Amazon says

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.

Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature.

Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.

As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell.

This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians.

My review

Tales from the Irish Garden is a wonderful book…

View original post 250 more words

October’s Featured Blogger: Mae Clair

Author Mae Clair is October’s Featured blogger in this, the second re-boot of my monthly featured blogger post.

In our interview, Mae shares some of her history and ideas about writing and success.



In your profile, you say you like to blend genres; does it happen as you write?

It developed as my writing progressed. I never liked being pigeon-holed to a certain genre, so my early books were a mash-up of mystery and romance. The romance eventually fell by the wayside and mystery took center stage. I do, however, blend that up with elements of the supernatural, paranormal, and psychological aspects. One book also included a bit of sci-fi with UFO sightings and Men in Black.

You wrote your first story at six; what was it about?

I don’t remember the content. What I do remember is being given the assignment and my classmates scrawled out a few lines while I produced a few pages. Everyone said “Have Mae read hers.” I think it had to do with the people who lived in a city. I do remember The Night Dog which I wrote when I was eight. It was about a girl who kept seeing a ghost dog out of her window each night when she went to bed.


What is cryptozoology and when did your interest in it begin?

Cryptozoology is a pseudo-science devoted to the study of things that may exist but have not been proven to exist. Think Bigfoot, Loch Ness, or—my personal favorite—the Mothman. I’ve always been attracted by creatures and monsters from the time I was a kid. As an adult, I became fascinated with myth, urban legends, and folklore. I love the “what if” possibilities. I’ve made two research trips to the area where the Mothman was spotted by approximately 100 people in 1967. Doing that helped me add an extra level of authenticity to my Point Pleasant series of novels which blend the legend of the Mothman with historical elements and my own fictional twist.

Robert Kennedy discusses school with young Ricky Taggart
Kennedy discusses school with young Ricky Taggart


In your profile, you mention that you enjoy reading almost anything
about Robert Kennedy. Why Robert Kennedy?

I never knew anything about him until I caught a movie that was done somewhere in the early 2000s. It intrigued me enough to seek out more information. I started watching documentaries and devouring books about his life. He wasn’t a saint, but he had noble ideas that crossed boundaries of race and class, reaching out the downtrodden and migrant farm workers.  When you read about his family dynamics—his relationship with his parents, brother John, his wife and kids—he was so much than a politician. He was also the same man who made Hoffa squirm and was ruthless in going after organized crime as Attorney General. When he was campaigning in 1968 he said “there are guns between me and the White House.” Sadly, he was correct. We’ll never know how the country might have been different had he made it to the presidency.

Who are your favorite mystery writers?

There are several big name authors who are auto-buys for me. The writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child top the list. I go fan-girl over their Aloyisus Pendergast novels. I’m also a big fan of Kevin O’Brien, Tana French, Jennifer McMahon, P. J. Parrish, and—most recently—Shari Lapena.

How do you stay disciplined and organized?

I don’t know that I am, LOL. I feel completely disorganized, always treading water to keep up. When it comes to writing, I try to devote my weekends to my latest WIP. That’s a habit I developed years ago, and for the most part, I’m pretty good sticking with it. When you do something often enough, it becomes routine.

 

Which is your favorite book and why?

Of the books I’ve written? It’s a tie between A Cold Tomorrow, book 2 of my Point Pleasant series, and Cusp of Night, my most recent release. A Cold Tomorrow is focused on the Mothman but also delves deeply into the mythology of UFO flaps, flicker phenomenon, and cross dimensions. The research was fascinating. It’s also research that draws me to Cusp of Night. The story has two timelines—one in the present, and one in the late 1800s—with both converging at the end. For the 1800s, my research was focused on the Spiritualism movement, table tilting, ghostly rappings, and sham mediums. That’s a rabbit hole I’d definitely go down again.

 

What advice do you have for writers who want to use their blogs to market their books?

Don’t overdo the marketing. Our blogs are the place where we can market and not feel guilty about it, but there’s more to blogging than self-promo. Mix it up with fun and interesting posts about things you love to do. About your writing journey. Invite other authors to do guest posts and provide them promo spots when they have new releases. The blogging/writing community is an awesome one. Visit your fellow/sister bloggers, learn about them, and become friends. Writing is just as much about connecting as putting words on paper. Don’t neglect that side of it.

How do you define success?

That’s a tough question, because I measure different levels of success. As a kid, my dream was to be a published author. I’ve achieved that. I wanted to be read by others. I’ve achieved that, too. Locally, I’m starting to garner recognition and have been invited to guest speak at community events (I have another engagement coming up in November). I am not, however, earning enough to write full-time which is my ultimate dream. I’m very happy with the levels of success I’ve achieved, but I have an A-type personality, so I’m still chasing dragon tails and the brass ring. If nothing else, it’s an enjoyable journey!

 

Mae Claire - Cusp of Night
Cusp of Night Book Cover

Will you share something from your most recent novel? 

 

I’d love to. Thank you for asking. And thank you for inviting me to visit your blog, Rob! I hope your readers enjoy this short excerpt from Cusp of Night:

 

Maya walked home, keeping to the main road. With the lack of traffic and city sounds, surrounded by old buildings and cobbled sidewalks, it was easy to imagine herself in Charlotte Hode’s era.

 

“Ugn…”

 

The groan prickled the hair on the back of her neck. She froze at the mouth of an alley, primed for flight.

 

“Who’s there?”

 

The croak came again, sluggish and low, the unmistakable sound of someone in pain. Maybe it was some stupid kid playing a game.

 

“This isn’t funny.”

 

Her stomach lurched to her throat. If someone really was hurt and she did nothing, she’d never forgive herself. It was a passing motorist who’d called for help when her car had careened off the road.

 

Cautious, she inched closer to the mouth of the cutaway. The illumination from the nearest street lamp only carried a few feet, barely edging into the dark maw. “Is someone there?”

 

Slipping her hand into her pocket, she felt for her cell phone. One call to 911 would bring help or keep her safe if the situation deteriorated. A few steps more and she could discern a man slumped against the side of a building.

 

“Sir, are you hurt?” God help her if he was drunk. She kept a safe distance, and activated the flashlight on her phone.

The man shifted, angling toward her. Something large loomed up behind him, a shadow rising from the ground. It took Maya a moment to realize the thing had been squatting there all along, silent in the nightscape—a monstrosity shrouded in black with a pulpy head and eyes that burned white cinders.

 

She screamed.

 

The creature ran, deft as a whistle of air, swallowed by the bloated shadows of the alley.

 

 

 

Bookcover Cusp of Night Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend. Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house--a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .
Cusp of Night

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend. 

 

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

 

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

 

Purchase Books by Mae Clair

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

 

BookBub | Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

 

Interview with Mae Clair Rob Goldstein,  2018