New Release: Mountain Laurel Christmas by Jan Sikes @JanSikes3 #Christmas #countrymusic #christmasgifts

Welcome, friends! I’m back after my November break, and delighted to welcome friend and Story Empire colleague, Jan Sikes, to my blog today. Jan has a brand new Christmas release out ready to warm your heart. Be sure to look for my review at the end of this post. Jan is also doing a giveaway which you won’t want to miss. Take it away, Jan!

Giveaway Christmas banner with pine cones, Christmas bulbs and Christmas lights. Giveaway for $20 gift card

What’s in a name? 

Anytime we create a story, readers can often visualize a character simply from their name. 

My character in Mountain Laurel Christmas has three names, and each one affects his personality differently. 

First, his given name, Norbert Angus Roberts, paints a picture of a character unsure of himself and subjected to lots of teasing in his growing-up years.

Excerpt: 

No kid should have to go through life as Norbert Angus. If I lived to be a hundred years old, I’d never understand what possessed Mama and Papa. At least, Papa had shortened it to Bert, but that wasn’t much better in my way of thinking. I took a lot of teasing from the other mountain kids.

Then when he arrives in Nashville, chasing a dream, he introduces himself as Andy Roberts. 

But that name is short-lived.

Excerpt:

 As soon as she hired me, Corinna decided to change my name.

“You’ve got hair as black as coal, and your eyes are as dark as night. I think your stage name should be Cole Knight.”

So, my character became Cole Knight. 

If you are familiar with the music business, you’ll find many artists taking on fake stage names. 

In the country music world, some of the most notable are:

Conway Twitty – Harold Lloyd Jenkins 

Johnny Paycheck – Donald Eugene Lytle

Johnny Bush – John B. Shin

Tim McGraw – Samuel Timothy Smith

Patsy Cline – Virginia Patterson Hensley

Can you think of others? If you created a pen name for yourself, what would it be? 

Teaser ad for Mountain Laurel Christmas by Jan Sikes so ebook on snowy background with Christmas candles and gold star in front

MOUNTAIN LAUREL CHRISTMAS BLURB:

Orphaned, his family torn apart by tragedy, Cole Knight has come a long way from a ramshackle miner’s cabin on the side of the Cumberland Mountain. 

Daring to follow an impossible dream, he’s made it big in the music business. Now, he’s a country music sensation with a huge house, fancy cars, plenty of willing women, money, and adoring fans. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he’s drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.

It’s easier to lose himself in a bottle than face the hard truth…he hasn’t delivered on a promise he made to his father.

It’s almost Christmas, and the sting of failure drives him back to that tiny cabin in the mountains. But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together—to find himself and restore a lost family?  

PURCHASE MOUNTAIN LAUREL CHRISTMAS

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

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Bio box for author Jan Sikes

REVIEW OF MOUNTAIN LAUREL CHRISTMAS BY MAE CLAIR:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you want a feel-good Christmas story, look no further. Cole Knight is a music superstar with the world at his feet. He has everything he could possibly ever want or need but his heart is hollow. With Christmas around the corner, he finds himself thinking back to his poverty-stricken childhood when times were hard but love of family made life worth living. In the decades since, he’s lost touch with his sister and has no idea what’s become of his younger brother. Circumstances conspire in such a way to give him a second chance and help him rediscover the connections he’s lost.

Told with heart, this is a story that shines a light on what matters most in life. It’s rife with emotion, memories, and the idea of recapturing lost chances. I love how the author brought her characters to life while painting a picture that spans from backwoods squalor to the glitz of the celebrity spotlight. A quick read, this enchanting novella is polished, heartwarming, and all-around entertaining. A beautiful holiday gem!


Thanks for visiting to cheer on Jan with her new release. Don’t forgot to leave a comment below to enter her giveaway and wish her well with Mountain Laurel Christmas! If you enjoy heartwarming holiday reads, this short tale is just ONE CLICK away!

Book Tour Day 2: Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #speculativefiction #magicalrealism #fantasy #newrelease

cell phone featuring cover of Things Old and Forgotten by author Mae Clair, resting on top of pine boards surrounded by dried leaves, fairy lights and cinnamonsticks

Happy Tuesday! It’s Day two of my bog tour for Things Old and Forgotten. Today, I am visiting Jan Sikes, a great friend and also a Story Empire colleague.

Jan is a super friendly and supportive blogger who is not only a talented author, but also a musician. You can read all about her amazing life with renown musician Rick Sikes in her Flowers and Stone series (I’m waiting for the Lifetime movie).

Her latest release, Ghostly Interference has been receiving amazing accolades and praise. You can discover all of Jan’s books on her Amazon Author Page. Be sure to check out her work, then hop over to visit us on her blog, where I’ll be sharing an excerpt from my short story, Kin-Slayer.

I hope you’ll JOIN US!



Book Review Tuesday: Ghostly Interference @JanSikes3, Perfectly Imperfect @JacqBiggar, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries @sgc58, P.S., I Love You More Than Tuna @SarahChauncey

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Hello! Wherever you are today, I hope the weather is warm(er) and pleasant. We can all use a break from winter weather, especially our friends in Texas. In my portion of Pennsylvania, we had a day and a half of snow which amounted to my office (on the day job), closing one full day and delaying until noon on the second. I squeezed in a lot of reading last week, although the reviews I’m sharing today are of books I read earlier in the month. I’m still playing catch up with my reviews, so let’s get started!
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Ghostly Interference
by Jan Sikes

Book cover for Ghostly Interference shows ghost image of kneeling GI in background, motorcycle and road in foreground

If you like your romantic reads with multiple layers, you’re sure to enjoy Ghostly Interference. Jan Sikes delivers the story of Jag and Rena who at first glance are polar opposites. He comes from a comfortable background and works in the computer industry, while Rena has been through a rough-and-tumble existence that included foster care. They say opposites attract, and in this case, the adage rings true. Both Rena and Jag have multiple hurdles to navigate on their road to a happily-ever-after. Sikes goes well beyond the trope of boy-meets-girl, delivering a plot that involves the spirit of Rena’s deceased brother, a magical rune, complex family dynamics, and the chance for her characters to embrace missed opportunities.

I particularly enjoyed the story line that took Jag from computer geek to musician and the inclusion of Damien. There’s a strong musical influence in this book. Not surprising given the author’s passion for, and inside knowledge of, the music industry. I also loved Rena finding Riley and her initial reaction to Jag digging into her past. The love of these two characters really shines through, especially during the closing climatic chapters.

Sikes delivers a polished read with excellent writing, characters who resonate with heart, and a plot that will leave you satisfied and happy.

5 STARS
AMAZON LINK
Genre: Romance > Ghost Fiction > Fantasy Romance

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Perfectly Imperfect
by Jacquie Biggar

If you enjoy breezy romantic reads, you’ll fall in love with this novella worthy of the Hallmark Channel. Georgina life’s dream revolves around her small start-up company, but financial setbacks force her to partner with CLO for backing. Little does she know CLO’s representative, Rhys Turner, arrives with the intent of selling her company out from under her at the insistence of his father.

From Georgina’s and Rhys first disastrous meeting—she spills coffee over his expensive suit—sparks fly between these two. This is a boy-meets-girl romance with all the squabbling and tug-of-wars you’d expect before the HEA at the end, but as always, what sets Biggar’s books apart is her gift for witty banter, clever POV, deft writing, and spot-on characterizations. Toss in an adorable puppy and some son/father issues between Rhys and his dad, and you’ve got a feel-good story guaranteed to leave you with a smile. A pleasure to read by an author who is a master at her craft!

5 STARS
AMAZON LINK
Genre:
Romance > Romantic Comedy

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Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet
by Sally Cronin

This is an entertaining collection of short stories with several poems scattered throughout. The book is grouped into topics such as Technology, Animal Magic, and Connections (to name a few) with stories and poems related to their header topics appearing underneath. It’s cleverly presented and cleverly written. All of the stories are winners but there were some that really stood out for me, including The Weekly Shopping, The Nanny, The Scratch Card, and The Night Shift.

In The Weekly Shopping we get a taste of what ordering groceries might be like with when we come to rely too much on technology. It’s both hilariously funny and worrisome at the same time. I loved the argument related to the cat!

In The Nanny, a young couple discover who is watching over their baby at night. The Scratch Card left me with a lump in my throat at the generosity of others, and The Night Shift made me appreciate the special love pets have for their owners and the kindness of those who appreciate that bond.

These stories are heartwarming and touching, with scattered poetry further enriching the sections. A lovely collection and a quick read, the stories will lodge in your heart and linger.

5 STARS
AMAZON LINK
Genre: Two-Hour Short Reads > Short Stories and Poetry

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close up illustration of black cat, being held , paw around person's shoulder

P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna
by Sarah Chauncey


Beautifully illustrated and written, this short picture book will touch the heart of any cat lover, but it is geared toward those grieving the loss of a feline companion. I’ve lost several over the years, and thus felt compelled to pick this up even though my current rescue kitty is healthy and well.

P.S., I Love You More Than Tuna clearly depicts how kittens and cats enrich our lives, cover our hearts with paw prints, and never let go. It portrays all the joy, whimsy, and beautiful moments of sharing life with our special companions. I was in tears by the time I reached the final pages.

I am so glad I purchased this book, and can’t recommend it highly enough. I know I will go through the pages over and over again. It makes me cherish my cat, Raven, even more. For anyone who has ever loved and lost a cat, this book is a must!

Note: I bought the hardback copy. The illustrations are a treasure, and I was worried how they’d show on a Kindle. Considering the hardcopy isn’t even a dollar more, the decision was a no-brainer. 🙂

5 STARS
AMAZON LINK
Genre: Pet Loss Grief

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Thanks for joining me for another round of Tuesday Book Reviews. Just another week or two of playing catch-up with my reviews, and I can actually start sharing them as I finish the books.

I hope something today has caught your eye and is a candidate for your TBR. Thanks to all of these excellent authors for keeping me entertained. As always, I wish everyone happy reading!

Guest Author, Jan Sikes and Auras #GhostlyInterference #NewRelease

Hello, everyone! After two months away from blogging—November for NaNoWriMo, and December for a business move—I’m happy to be back at the keyboard again and back in the blogosphere. Even better, I’m kicking off my first post of 2021 with the delightful Jan Sikes, friend and talented author. She’s here to share her newest release and also an intriguing post about auras. Take it away, Jan!

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in script

Thank you, Mae, for allowing me to take over your blog today and talk about my new book release! I deeply appreciate your generosity!

In Ghostly Interference, Charlotte Peters, Jag’s mother, has the ability to read and see auras around people. It’s something she’s done since Jag can remember. That ability makes it difficult for him to hide his true feelings from his mother. 


Book cover for Ghostly Interference shows ghost image of kneeling GI in background, motorcycle and road in foreground

Here’s a short excerpt from “Ghostly Interference.” 

Fifteen minutes later, he perched on a stool at the kitchen counter while Charlotte Peters put the finishing touches to a vegetarian lasagna. She hummed a classic rock song from the sixties.

Jag never ceased to be amazed at how his mother held her beauty even in her mid-forties, with slender frame and long blonde hair she kept tied back in a pony-tail or in a braid. And, although he didn’t mention it, he often wondered why she hadn’t remarried after his dad died.

She slid the lasagna into the oven and handed him a chilled Perrier. “You look like you’ve had a day. Wanna talk about it?”

Jag waved away the bottle. “Can I have a glass of wine instead?” 

She nodded and turned to retrieve a bottle of Cabernet and two glasses. 

“How do you do it, Mom?”

She raised her eyebrows. “Do what?”

“Always know when things are out of sync with me.”

A smile spread across her face. “You forget I can read your aura, dear. You normally have a lot of yellow and pink around you but today there is red and orange. It’s really quite simple.”

Jag sighed. “Of course.” He’d grown up knowing his mother had special gifts. But, it seemed to him that she’d only allowed herself to be more open about them in the past few years.

Here’s what I’ve learned about auras and reading them. 


Anything that has an atomic structure will have an aura, an energy field that surrounds it. Simply put, the aura is the energy field immediately surrounding a person or thing. I have seen auras around inanimate objects as well as living entities. Children are very good at seeing auras, and often depict them in crude drawings by placing a ring of some color around a person’s head. 

To see an aura around a person or even an object, you must look a little off center and continue to stare. If you blink, the aura disappears and you start over. Sometimes you can see it right away and other times it takes a few minutes. I very often can see auras around heads in an oval shape. The color of auras tell what the person is experiencing at that time on a physical and emotional, even spiritual level. It helps if the background behind the person is either black or white with natural light.

Here are a couple of Aura photos I had taken through the years.

The first was in 2012 in Denver, Colorado and the second taken in Sedona, Arizona two years ago. The colors are completely different. 

What some colors signify:

1. Deep Red – Hardworking, physical, action, power, survival, realistic, vital, grounded, strength, stamina or physical explorer.

2. Red – Excitement, Physical, energetic, competitive, leader, winner, achiever, courage, will-power, sexual, entrepreneur, or promoter.

3. Orange – Pleasure, enjoyment, challenge, thrill, positive, action-oriented, creative expression, adventurer or business.

4. Yellow – Playful, sunny, creative, fun, learning, light, movement, entertainer, radiates optimism, warmth, charming, or easy-going.

5. Green – Social, nature, content, harmony, teacher, loves to communicate and share with others, perfect host or hostess.

6. Blue – Caring, sensitive, loving, helpful, loyal, helper, compasison, peaceful, desire to be of service and to help support others.

7. Indigo – Clarity, calm, deep inner feelings, love, seeker, introverted, inner knowing, authenticity, high sense of inner values, or artistic.

8. Lavender – Imagination, mystical, daydreamer, fantasy, artistic, soft, creative, fragile, sensitive, often appear spacey, unrealistic or etheric.

9. White – Transcendent, transformation, spiritual, healing, quiet, enlightened, sensitive, or live in higher dimensions.

10. Black – Black is probably the most negative colour to appear in one’s aura. It is associated with mental illness, stress, depression, hatred and negative feelings. It can also indicate the person’s habit of acting miserly.

Of course, there are many more colors, but these are a few of the basics. 

I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve had any experience with auras, please share them! 

Banner ad for Ghostly Interference shows book in paperback, kindle and phone versions

BOOK BLURB:

Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.

Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?

BOOK TRAILER LINK

BOOK PURCHASE LINKS: 
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | iTUNES | GOOGLE PLAY

Connect with Jan Sikes at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page


I hope you enjoyed Jan’s post and are looking forward to meeting Jag and Rena in Ghostly Interference. I’ve already got my copy loaded on my Kindle, waiting on my TBR. Please kick off the New Year by taking a moment to drop Jan a comment and share the news about her release by using the buttons below.