Today we sit down with Jan Sikes for the latest edition of A Perfect 10. She shared some of her thoughts on writing and other aspects that make her an author.
Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10.
If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:
Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me. When I get into the flow of writing, I forget about everything around me and often forget to stop and eat. Usually, my back will start complaining after some time and I have to force myself to get up and leave my story.
- Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?
I’ve never considered writing under a pseudonym. I have worked hard to build my author platform and using my real name seemed to be the right thing – especially since my stories so far, are true stories and somewhat biographical.
- Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?
In my opinion, a big ego never helps anyone, writer or not. I think there is a certain appeal to readers if you are down-to-earth, human and reachable. Besides, if you have a big ego in this crazy business, you are sure to get some big let-downs.
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The best money I’ve ever spent as a writer was in joining two organizations who promote and support authors. Because I live in Texas, many years ago, I joined the Texas Association of Authors and through that organization, I have had lots of help marketing my books. Plus, I have won several writing awards through the association. The other organization that has been an amazing boon to me is the Rave Reviews Book Club. I got so many more reviews on all my books when I joined this club and became an active participant. Like everything in life, you get out of it what you put in but the pay-off has been tremendous for me.
- What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?
To me, writing success comes when you receive recognition on some level for your writing – either through winning writing contests or through receiving rave reviews from your readers. For example, one reviewer referred to me as a wordsmith and though I’d never thought of myself in that way, it made me take a closer look at my writing and strive harder to continue to improve and live up to that title.
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?
Since my four published books are all true stories, and one that I lived through, there wasn’t a whole lot of research to do. However, in the second book, The Convict and The Rose, I had to research a certain aspect of the story that involved contacting the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. I believe that every story, fiction or non-fiction, needs to be as close to accurate as possible. I am currently working on my first fiction book and have had to do some research on company mergers. The internet is my go-to when I need to find information. There is nothing that you can’t find the answer to in this age of technology.
- How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?
That’s an interesting question and one that I’d be happy to answer. When I started writing my story, I tried it from first person using our real names. It didn’t take me long to realize that I couldn’t do it. I was too close to the story. So, I came up with fictitious names for myself and the other main character. When I was born, my mother had wanted to name me Darlene. My brother, who is several years older, protested and said I had to be named Janice (my given name), so she did. But knowing that story made it easy to come up with a fictitious name for myself which wound up being Darlina Flowers. The other character in the stories, Rick Sikes, is named Luke Stone and that name just came out of the blue. Both names fit our character personalities to a “T.” I’ve never regretted choosing the character names for that reason. Once I had the idea of telling the story through these characters, the entire process got much easier.
- What is the hardest type of scene to write?
Without any question, the hardest type of scene to write is a love scene. Unless you write erotica, there’s a fine line that you don’t dare cross. The solution I’ve found is to focus on the emotions of the people making love rather than the act itself.
- If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
Oh my goodness! The first name that comes to mind is Jacqueline Kennedy. I always admired her. She had goddess-like qualities. I would want to ask her what her secret was to always appearing composed and in control despite the difficult situations she had to deal with.
The second one is the famed outlaw, Bonnie Parker. I’d want to know the real love story between herself and Clyde Barrow.
Third, I’d love to sit down and talk with John Steinbeck and I’d ask him what inspired him to write his epic story, “Grapes of Wrath.”
And Fourth, is Diana Gabaldon. It would be fascinating to hear how she came up with the idea for the Outlander books and where she did her research.
- What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?\
As I mentioned above, The Texas Association of Authors and the Rave Reviews Book Club are two mediums that have been successful for me. Other than that, I’ve had good success through doing public speaking engagements, presenting writing workshops and book signing events. In my opinion it takes several different aspects to successfully market your books. I recently presented a Marketing 101 Workshop to writers in which I covered the basics required to successfully market your work. You simply cannot put your book(s) on Amazon and sit back thinking your marketing work is done. In fact, quite the opposite. Once you’ve finished writing the book, the work really begins. Social Media is a necessity as is blogging and keeping yourself visible in the public eye. There is no easy magic button for marketing.
About Jan’s Books:
FLOWERS AND STONE:
A hot Texas summer in 1970, dim-lit honky-tonk barrooms, a naïve fledgling go-go dancer and a wild rebel Texas musician sets the stage for this story. Can Darlina Flowers ever hope to fit into this new world and even more important, can she trust Luke Stone with her heart?
Luke Stone, a good man who has made a career of bad decisions, finds himself at a crossroads. Fate has sealed his destiny and threatens it all.
THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE:
Rebel Texas musician, Luke Stone, loses everything that he treasures with the arrest and conviction for a crime he didn’t commit. Not only is he locked away in a cage, he’s left behind the woman who holds his heart. Broken and alone, Darlina Flowers struggles to go on living without the man she loves so completely. Follow their journey through shackles and chains, drugs and gurus as they fight to find their way to freedom.
HOME AT LAST:
Released from federal prison after fifteen long years, Luke Stone boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas, for home and the woman who holds his heart. He happily hangs up his neon dreams for a paint brush and hammer. Darlina Flowers has waited her entire adult life to become Mrs. Luke Stone, but will the hardships of starting over with nothing be too much? Their love is tested to the core as the story unfolds.
‘TIL DEATH DO US PART:
Luke Stone has cheated death more times than he cares to remember. And now, with a chance for a second music career after so many years, he knows he won’t fill the Texas dancehalls and honky-tonks as he’d done in his younger days. Darlina, his rock and anchor, longs to see his dreams fulfilled and vows to do everything possible to help him find success. But, will time allow Luke to sing his last song?
When all of life is stripped away, left with no freedom except in his mind, Rick Sikes journeys deep inside to discover his true self. He finds the only way to survive hopeless negativity is through creating with his hands and imagination. They confined his body in an iron cage, but could not lock away his mind.
What you’ll find between the covers of this book are expressions of raw emotion…Poems of deep sadness and loss, humorous musings, political wisdom, life observations and tender love from both Rick and Jan Sikes as well as pen-and-ink drawings from a true artisan.
Connect with Jan:
Find Jan’s Books:
That Amazon Link has All of the books on it. But if you want to list separate links, here they are.
The Convict and the Rose: https://www.amazon.com/Convict-Rose-Jan-Sikes/dp/0990617912/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
‘Til Death Do Us Part: https://www.amazon.com/Til-Death-Do-Us-Part-ebook/dp/B01EBODIYK/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8