Mountain Laurel Christmas: Interview and Book Tour

I’m delighted to host Jan Sikes today with her new novelette: Mountain Laurel Christmas. I reviewed it Here if you want to find out what I thought of it (highly recommended).

I’ve read a number of Jan’s short stories and novelettes and was curious about her choice to focus on short fiction versus full-length novels. Having her over was a great opportunity to pick her brain.

Here’s my question for Jan:

After having read your work for a few years, I’ve noticed that a number of your Amazon publications are short stories or novelettes, such as Mountain Laurel Christmas. What motivated you to start publishing short pieces, and are there any pros and cons you’d like to share? 

And now for her answer:

Jan Sikes

Thank you for hosting me today, Diana! I am honored to be here.

Great question! The first thing that motivated me to write shorts was a contest. The rules were that you had 90 days to write, edit and format the story plus make a cover. I chose to combine two very different short stories and a poem for my first submission, and it won the grand prize. That inspired me to explore writing other short stories, which I also entered in the same contest and won first place three years in a row.

For me, the biggest two pros to writing short stories are: #1They donโ€™t require months to write and produce. #2 Itโ€™s a great way to explore writing in different genres and different POVs. I have written everything from Sci-fi and Fantasy to a Western using different points of view. And I loved all of it!

The only con is that readers are often left wanting more of the story, and I have seen that comment show up in reviews of my shorts. Will I ever turn any of my shorts into a full-length novel? Maybe. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now a bit about Mountain Laurel Christmas from Jan

The Revered Circle

In August 2019, I had the pleasure of visiting Nashville, Tennessee. A part of that visit included a guided tour through the new Opry House, where The Grand Ole Opry now takes place.

A significant part of that tour included the opportunity to stand in the revered โ€˜circle.โ€™

When they built the new Opry House in 1974, an 8-foot square of wood was cut from a portion of the original Ryman Auditorium stage. It was lovingly carved into a perfect six-foot circle that would remain intact over forty years later. It brought a historic piece of the old into the new. The โ€˜circleโ€™ is the Holy Grail for country musicians. It is the place where all of the greats have stood going back as far as 95 years.

So, when my character, Cole Knight, returned to Nashville after being away, he reflects on the significance of the โ€˜circle.โ€™

Hereโ€™s an excerpt:

The wooden stage creaks under my ostrich skin boots as I stride onto it. The revered circle where so many great artists have stood beckons to me. The applause and cheers are deafening.

The Grand Ole Opry has never felt so welcoming.

***

Iโ€™d love to hear from you. Have you ever visited Nashville and stood in the โ€˜circle?โ€™

Mountain Laurel Christmas Blurb:

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

Daring to follow an impossible dream, heโ€™s made it big in the music business. Now, heโ€™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, heโ€™s drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.

Itโ€™s easier to lose himself in a bottle than face the hard truth…he hasnโ€™t delivered on a promise he made to his father.

Itโ€™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 togetherโ€”to find himself and restore a lost family? 

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137 thoughts on “Mountain Laurel Christmas: Interview and Book Tour

  1. I read short stories on occasion and enjoy that they are short. I’ve heard other writers mention some of their reviews say they wish it was longer. I’m looking forward to reading this one.

    Like

  2. Fascinating. I love how we learn from each other. Jan’s story is on my Kindle, and I hope to read it before Christmas! I want to learn more about publishing these short on Amazon. Really neat. Thanks to Jan and Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pam. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think you’ll enjoy the story when you get to it. And though it’s a Christmas story, it’s great for any time of year. A couple people who commented mentioned a trend toward shorter books. It’s worth considering as we design our stories. (I called you Debby in my previous comment and fixed it. Lol). Happy Holidays, Pam! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. dgkaye says:

    Nice to see Jan and her sweet seasonal book featured here. I enjoyed the interview, and I love short stories. Hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Diana, your site is beautiful! Jan, I love the pics! I visited Nashville a couple of years ago and had hoped to see the Grand Ole Opry, but it wasn’t open during the time we had. Maybe next time! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Great post! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the visit, Yvette. I’ve never been to Nashville, but would love to go some day. I hope you get to visit the Opry. It sounds iconic. And thanks for checking our Jan’s book. It was a wonderful read for any day of the year. Happy Holidays!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. markbierman says:

    Congratulations Jan! I loved your short story, Brother’s Keeper, and will continue to delve onto your novelettes as my TBR allows. Thanks for the excellent interview, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Annika Perry says:

    Diana, it’s lovely to see Jan and her latest book here as part of her tour! I was also intrigued by the shorter format of this book and interested to see Jan’s explanation. I loved your review of ‘Mountain Laurel Christmas’ and having just bought it see I’m in for a treat! As I glanced at the first page I was slightly confused about the revered circle – thank you Jan for this fascinating snippet of history and explanation. Although my brother and mother have both been to the Grande Ole Opry I’ve never been – who knows, maybe one day. I’d love to go there! Hugs to you both xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for dropping by, Annika, and for the lovely comment. I thought the revered circle was a made up thing until this post. Lol. I’ve obviously never been to Nashville either. And you’ll enjoy the read. It’s a wonderful story for the holidays with great characters. Have a wonderful holiday season and Happy Reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Baydreamer says:

    Hi Diana, this is a wonderful interview and nice to meet Jan, although I have seen her on other mutual sights. Congrats to her for also winning those contests. That’s awesome! Her Nashville story resonated with me because my daughter and son-in-law moved to Nashville three years ago. She worked at The Grand Ole Opry, and when we visited, we toured and it was so much fun. Yes, I have photos of my husband and I standing in “the circle.” They’re framed in our living room. ๐Ÿ™‚ What an experience!
    Since then, she has changed her career so no longer works there, but she has wonderful memories of working in that iconic institution that is the heart of country music, a genre that will always be her most favorite. She was able to see many celebs perform, and the buzz and energy flowing through the building was beyond anything she could have imagined. Anyway, Jan’s book sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading it. Thanks for hosting, Diana!
    ~Lauren โค๏ธ๐ŸŽถ

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent post Diana. Such a pleasure to read and see you.
    xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Diana, its lovely to see Jan here with this novella. A super post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. […] highly suggest you pick up one of Mae’s books, then head on over to her blog where we are talking about my newest release, Mountain Laurel […]

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jan Sikes says:

    My dear Diana, thank you from the bottom of my heart for opening your blog to me today! Your followers leave the best comments! I sincerely appreciate your generosity, kind words, and amazing support!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Jeff Flesch says:

    A wonderful post, Diana. Interview is grand. I didnโ€™t know anything about that circle at the grand ole opry. Super cool. Have a wonderful week, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Excellent interview and review.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I read this book and loved it. I too wonder about writing shorts. Jan’s answer was enlightening–“Itโ€™s a great way to explore writing in different genres and different POVs”. As one who loves the research part of writing, that is enticing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That part got me really interested too, Jacqui. I love experimenting and taking on challenges. It would be fun to try something different when taking a break frombetween the usual fare. Thanks for dropping by to give the book a boost. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jan Sikes says:

      Thank you for your comment, Jacqui. I love the diversity writing short stories gives me. It’s a great way to stretch the writing muscle. Thank you for your kind recommendation as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great interview and great review (I popped over to that post)!!! You do an awesome job!! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Teri Polen says:

    Another wonderful review for Jan’s book! I’ve never stood in the circle, but I know plenty of folks out there would love to experience it. Thanks for hosting, Diana!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Meg says:

    This is a great review Diana! I liked Jan’s explanation for her writing choices – I enjoy reading short stories. Maybe you can leave some things unsaid… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  18. A wonderful interview Diana. I meet the most inter people at your place! I look forward to reading Janโ€™s work. Thanks for the introduction. Have a wonderful day Diana. ๐Ÿค—๐ŸŒผ

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Diana, thanks for the introduction to Jan Sikes and her short stories ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Dear Jan Sikes,
    This novelette entitled “Mountain Laurel Christmas” is indeed a timely publication during the festive season. All the best to your readership, fandom and reviews!

    Dear Diana,
    Thank you for featuring one of Jan’s oeuvres.

    Happy December and Merry Christmas to both of you!

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Another wonderful post Diana and what looks to be a very nice Christmas read. Short too…. A bonus at this time of year.

    Liked by 4 people

  22. balroop2013 says:

    Short stories and novelettes have their own charm, as they are just right for relaxing. Thanks for sharing Jan’s latest release Diana. She is a talented writer. Wishing her all the best.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree, Balroop. I like the idea of polishing off a story in an afternoon. ๐Ÿ™‚ It is relaxing. And it’s amazing how much Jan gets in there with characterization and plot. She does a beautiful job. Thanks for the visit, my friend. Hugs. โค

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jan Sikes says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Balroop. I agree about short stories and novelettes. They do hold their own charm. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and leave a comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  23. I’ve been noticing a trend toward self-published short stories and novelettes (which I consider a long short story). As a short story writing by training and inclination, I have wondered about it!

    Liked by 4 people

  24. I knew about the circle, but Iโ€™ve never been there. It seems so right when you think about it. I love shorter works, and strive to offer something for everyone. I believe some people are more accepting of shorter fiction as time becomes a crunch for all of us.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Great point, Craig. I used to write 300-400 page books, and now that seems too long for many readers, and I aim for under 250. Thanks for stopping by to cheer Jan on. Happy Reading!

      Liked by 4 people

    • Jan Sikes says:

      I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head, Craig. Shorter with quicker gratification seems to be the trend. But on the other hand, folks are crazy for Netflix series, so it’s hard to really know. I just enjoy writing short stories in between novels.

      Liked by 2 people

  25. P.S. I’m only seeing this available on Kindle on Amazon. Is that right?๐Ÿ™

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Wow, thank you for hosting Jan Diana! This is a wonderful interview and I love how her short story was created out of her jumping on board and quickly creating a short story and took 1rst place and for 3 years in a row. How cool is that. so awesome Jan and the book sounds fabulous!
    Thanks sooo much for informing us before our xmas shopping is done! ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’–

    Liked by 5 people

  27. Mae Clair says:

    I’ve never been to Nashville, but this is such a cool piece of history about the circle and I love the way you incorporated it into your story, Jan. Wishing you all the best with your wonderful release. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale!

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Nice Post Diana. All the best to Jan! ๐Ÿ˜‡

    Liked by 4 people

  29. Staci Troilo says:

    Thanks for sharing that about the circle. I’d never heard that bit of history. And I really enjoyed learning about your short fiction journey. All the best to you.

    Thanks, Diana.

    Liked by 4 people

  30. Lady Tessa says:

    I have been to Nashville and visited The Grand Ole Opry. However, I didn’t stand in the circle. But, I did buy a t-shirt that said, โ€œWell behaved cowgirls rarely make history.โ€ Wonderful interview, Diana!

    Liked by 4 people

  31. Joan Hall says:

    I didn’t know about the circle, Jan. Nice learning a bit about the history. And you know, I loved Mountain Laurel Christmas. Thanks for hosting today, Diana.

    Liked by 4 people

  32. Wow the book sounds interesting with being a well-known person yet having some kind of guilt. A lovely and beautiful interview, Diana. I loved the OPRY history. Great post.

    Liked by 4 people

  33. […] a book from Diana, then head on over to her blog where we are talking about my newest release, Mountain Laurel […]

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Having recently finished reading Mountain Laurel Christmas which I loved, I enjoyed learning why Jan writes short fiction. I agree with her reasoning. Thanks for sharing, Diana. Wishing Jan all the best!

    Liked by 4 people

  35. Hobbo says:

    An interesting interview Diana. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 4 people

  36. Lovely post and a great bit of Opry history. Wishing Jan all the best with her latest release. Thanks for sharing, Diana ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 4 people

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