Guest Author Jan Sikes – Saddled Hearts

Hey, everyone. As promised, today I have the pleasure of hosting Jan Sikes to talk about her newest release Saddled Hearts. Jan is a good friend, an award-winning and talented author, and also contributes to Story Empire.

In case you missed it, she and I met in person a couple of weeks ago at an author meet and greet event. I felt like I’d known her forever and we had a blast.

Please welcome Jan to my blog today.

Hello, Joan! I am super excited to be visiting your blog site today. Thank you so much for offering to let me take over. I deeply appreciate your support.

Jan with Deryl Dodd. (Notice what he’s holding!)

Today I want to talk about the obstacles I faced when attempting to use a real person as a character in Saddled Hearts. It’s no secret that I am a huge supporter of Texas music and have become great friends with a lot of the artists. Deryl Dodd is one of the most accomplished songwriters in the business, having honed his skills with seasoned songwriters in Nashville for many years. He even played guitar in Martina McBride’s band for a period of time. Due to a catastrophic health issue, he came back home to Comanche, Texas, to heal and regroup. And he never left.

As I wrote Saddled Hearts and Buck Layne’s character formed, I knew I needed to use one of Deryl’s songs in the story.

“One Ride In Vegas” is a story song. The lyrics are listed in the book as I wrote a scene with Deryl and Colt singing together at a benefit. It is about a man’s dream, and while it specifically mentions bull riding and rodeoing, the message of the song could fit any dream.

When I approached my publisher about using Deryl and his song, I was met with some stiff resistance. But his willingness to sign the waivers of liability and my persistence finally wore them down, and they agreed to let me use it. I am deeply grateful to Deryl, as it added to the story.

Here’s a very short snippet:

“There’s a special song I want to do tonight. Not only to honor Colt, but his grandfather, Buck Layne, who I had the pleasure of knowing for a short time. Buck and others like him were the inspiration for this song. Hope you enjoy it.”

Sage drew in a breath and leaned forward.

Deryl strummed the opening chords. “He’s packed up his boots and his saddle. Seventeen, heading out on his own. He’ll rodeo from Cheyenne to Texas, dreaming of one ride in Vegas. One ride in Vegas.”

The band kicked in behind him.


Of course, Deryl didn’t know Buck Layne because he is a fictitious character.

Have you ever tried using a real person or song in a fiction book? How did you go about getting permission? Let’s talk!


Colt Layne owns the Layne Horse Sanctuary. He lives an idyllic life between caring for the animals and playing music with his band. That is until a stranger appears with unreasonable demands. When someone murders the man, Colt is arrested. He’s been framed, but by whom and why? 

He needs to talk with his deceased grandfather. But that’s impossible. Or is it?

Sage Coventry is gifted with the ability to communicate with the deceased. Skeptical but desperate, when Colt consults with her, he gets more than messages from beyond the grave as she breezes into his heart with sweet patchouli fragrance and tempting lips he longs to kiss.

The race against time to clear his name and save the ranch launches them on a mission that brings shocking revelations.



Connect with Jan:










57 thoughts on “Guest Author Jan Sikes – Saddled Hearts

  1. Sorry I disappeared yesterday. It’s been great following your tour, Jan. Love the pics (above and from before when you and Joan met). Loved this book and series, too. Best wishes.

    Joan, thanks for hosting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How fun that you and Joan were able to meet in person! I’ve avoided using anything other than band names or titles in my books to avoid any issues. It’s nice that you have a connection to this artist and could get the release forms needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t do a real person in my fiction. I feel like I never get ENOUGH of them, because people are so complex. But real people have inspired some of my characters, and that works well for me, taking one part of them to emphasize. I don’t use music because the rules are so strict about how much you can use without getting into trouble. Glad you got to use your friend and his song.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love your comment, Judi. You are right. People are so complex. But I was able to bring Deryl’s personality into the scene and let him read and approve it. You definitely have to get the full permissions to use a real person and/or his music. Thank you for stopping by today!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That is such an awesome experience, despite the resistance along the way. I’m glad you persisted, Jan. And you even have him showcasing your book. Joan, thank you so much for hosting our sweet friend. We have the absolute best writing circle!! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was so much fun getting to meet Joan and her hubby. Like she said, it was as if we had known each other forever, which we pretty much have. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by today! Much appreciated!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Such an interesting topic. I did mountains of research and went through a ton of paperwork to gain a license for some lyrics one time. I don’t think I’ll ever do it again. On the other hand, if I knew someone, it would really enhance one of my projects.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Knowing the artist personally certainly helped with this project, Craig. I know your hat books often mention songs and artists but getting permission for the lyrics is totally different. This one was a struggle for me, but I persisted., 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Speaking of Texas musicians, how about Lightnin’ Hopkins? I wanted to use him as a secondary character in my novel-in-progress. Then I thought I’d better use a fictionalized version, but when I wrote the chapters in which he appears, Lightnin’ himself kept showing up. So I attended a copyright webinar. (I think it was sponsored by the Authors Guild). According to the attorney presenters, fiction writers have a lot of leeway to include real people in their books–but not song lyrics. (Nonfiction is a whole other breed of cat, however.) I have no desire to go down the permissions rabbit hole for song lyrics that are variations on songs other people wrote, other people modified, and Lightnin’ added improvisations in performance. I just describe what a particular song was about and how he performed it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a great story, Liz! Lightnin’ Hopkins was one of the Texas greats for sure and how cool that he kept showing up when you tried to fictionalize him. Sounds like the webinar was very helpful in clearing up copyright issues. Thank you for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jan, I think it’s amazing you were able to use Deryl (and his song) in your book. I wouldn’t have even known where to start with something like that. All those music connections you have surely must come in handy!

    Deryl was a great addition to an excellent story. Congratulations again on Saddle Hearts.

    Thanks for hosting today, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It does help to have some friends in the music world. I just knew I needed Deryl’s song in the book. And, I didn’t mention it in the blog post, but Deryl and his manager read the chapters with his appearance before I ever sent it to my editor. I wanted full approval and I got it. 🙂 Thanks for all your wonderful support, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Well done for your persistence, Jan, and that was wonderful of Deryl to allow you to use his song. I haven’t used anyone real as yet, but you never know! Wishing you every success with this launch and your writing. Joan thanks for sharing. Hugs 💕🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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