New Release: Mountain Laurel Christmas by @JanSikes3

I am delighted to welcome back author, friend, and fellow Story Empire contributor Jan Sikes to my blog today. Jan has written a brand new novelette and it’s just in time for the holidays.

Jan is a master at writing short stories, and I think this one is her best to date! (Read my five-star review here.)

Now, I’ll let her tell you all about this delightful story.


There are many famous quotes about music, but this one from Leo Tolstoy grabbed me. Mr. Tolstoy was an accomplished musician and composer and had a deep abiding love for music. He said, “Music is the shorthand of emotion.”

To my character in Mountain Laurel Christmas, music is everything. It gave him a reason to keep living, a dream to follow, and a way to vent his feelings.

I’ll share a couple of short excerpts to show that:

My one solace was, is, and always will be, music. I’d often disappear for hours at a time, taking my guitar with me. A stream runs a few hundred yards from our miner’s shack on the side of the Cumberland Mountains. That’s where I’d go to find solitude. I’d play my guitar and sing to the fish that jumped out of the water, turtles that sunned on a log, and frogs that leaped from stone to stone.

And the second one:

Anger crashed through me. I tore up the porch steps and into the house. Brushing past April, I charged straight to Mama, but nothing I said would make her look at me. She was gone.

The worst thing a boy can do is cry in front of his older sister. Once I said my piece, I grabbed my guitar and headed for the creek as I’d done a hundred times since Papa died. Oh, how I pounded on the guitar that day. The more I cried, the harder I hit the strings. But, by the time I dragged myself back to the house, mentally and physically exhausted, I’d written my first song about tragedy in a Cumberland Mountain coal mine.


Do you play a musical instrument or have a deep appreciation for music? I’d love to hear from you!

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? 

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50 thoughts on “New Release: Mountain Laurel Christmas by @JanSikes3

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  1. Music has always been a part of me. We grew up with music in our home and I didn’t realize until much later in life what a big part music played in our parent’s lives. Daddy loved to try to play the harmonica and could mimic a train quite well. I think he secretly had music in his soul and Mom was always singing. One of my early memories was sneaking into our grandpa’s room and sitting on the floor beside his bed, listening to his radio. That was the first time I heard Hank Williams Sr. I distinctly remember I’m so Lonesome I could Cry, Hey Good Looking, and Your Cheatin’ Heart. I’ll never forget that. So despite the fact that Grandpa was cold and distant he had a love for music. Loved Mountain Laurel Christmas. The story touched on so many deep emotions. Love you, sister.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, sister, for your beautiful comment. Yes, we always had music in our home. I also remember our little 45 rpm record player that we’d wear out records on. Besides reading, it was our only entertainment. And now it’s deeply ingrained in us! I appreciate your recommendation for Mountain Laurel Christmas! Love you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic snippets, Jan! It’s wonderful how you wove your love of music into this story. I come from a musical family (my grandfather played guitar, banjo, flute, trombone, trumpet, and piano) and my brother is a drummer who has played with local bands since he was a teenager. I tried to learn a few instruments (bass and guitar) but didn’t have the passion to pursue either. (I’ve always believed you have to feel passion to truly embrace an art form).

    I do however, LOVE music, and have it on constantly (in the car, at work, when I’m working out, cooking or cleaning). About the only time I don’t listen to it is when I’m writing, LOL (although sometimes I’ll put instrumental music on).

    I really enjoyed Mountain Laurel Christmas and wish you all the best with the release. Thanks for hosting Jan today, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally agree with you, Mae, about the passion to embrace an art form. Without that passion, it’s just noise. Like you, I always have music on in the car, when I’m cleaning, etc. I cannot imagine a world without music. Thank you for your kind words about Mountain Laurel Christmas. I appreciate your support!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Jan, Hi Joan,
    I agree with Tolstoy. Music is the shorthand of emotion. When I really get stuck in expressing what I feel, I turn on some of my favorite music and the words begin to flow.
    I look forward to reading your book, Jan. It’s on my iPad.

    Thanks, Joan, for hosting Jan.

    Wishing you both a blessed Second Advent.
    Shalom aleichem

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Loved the excerpts! I started Mountain Laurel Christmas last night…loving it! I played the clarinet for eight years. I love music…it’s an important part of my writing routine. Thanks for hosting Jan, Joan1

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, how wonderful, Jill. Your comment made me smile this morning. I am thrilled that you are reading Mountain Laurel Christmas!! I sincerely hope you enjoy it. And thank you for chiming in about the importance of music in your life! I agree!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I played clarinet, bass clarinet, trumpet, and baritone in school, though clarinet is the one I would say was “my” instrument. If I strengthened my embouchure, I would enjoy playing it again. (I doubt I could play an open G right now.) As an adult, I bought a piano, but I haven’t had the time to learn more than the basics. I love music. I can’t imagine a world without it.

    Great post and great story, Jan. Joan, thanks for hosting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had no idea you played several instruments. I took four years of piano lessons and have a piano in my living room that hasn’t been touched for years. Honestly, I can’t remember how to read the lower bass notes. That’s sad. As you know, I love music, so this story resonated with me.

      Thanks for visiting, Staci.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I love this tidbit of information, Staci! I love that you play multiple instruments. I play guitar (basic chords) but always wanted to play the piano. Who knows? I still might. Thank you for your comment and for your recommendation of the story!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I always wanted to learn guitar. I got both kids lessons but never attempted to play myself. My fingers are so short, I suspect I’d struggle. Sometimes the piano is difficult.

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  6. I played trumpet and clarinet and percussion way back in school, but I didn’t keep up with it. Still, I’m thankful that I learned about music. I’ve read Mountain Laurel Christmas. It’s a perfect read for this month!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think your experience with playing an instrument in high school is common, Priscilla. Both of my daughters played clarinet in school, but I doubt they could even make one note now. 🙂 Thank you for your comment! I appreciate your kind words about Mountain Laurel Christmas!

      Liked by 2 people

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