Stony Creek

Hi, Stephen. Thanks so much for hosting me today. It’s a pleasure to be here talk about my latest release, Menagerie. It’s a mixed-genre compilation of thirteen short stories. Each tour stop features a different title and I tell how the story came about. Today’s story is Stony Creek, a contemporary fiction piece.

I grew up in a small town, and while it’s still considered small, the area is growing. What was once farmland has turned into housing developments. Many parts of Texas are the same as people flock here in droves. Last year, I read an article about an unincorporated community in the Texas Hill Country. Country music fans might recognize the name Luckenbach from a popular song by the late Waylon Jennings.

Like many parts of the state, that area is developing fast. Not surprising, a wealthy developer is looking to capitalize on the popularity of Luckenbach by building a mega-development, distillery, shopping centers, and such. With things like this happening, soon there won’t be any land, and the simple, laid-back way of life that many choose to live will be no more.

Stony Creek is the story of Brooke Hudson, a marketing specialist, who returns to her hometown upon her father’s death. She chose a life in the city, far away from the ranch where she grew up. She soon learns that a real-estate developer wants to buy not only her ranch, Stony Creek, but other pieces of property as well. He wants to build a winery, housing developments, shopping centers, and a resort.

When her boss asks her to convince the citizens of the nearby town of Stanton this development is for the best, Brooke is torn. Ranching has been a way of life for most of the area’s citizens and she hates to see her hometown destroyed by greedy developers. But not doing what her boss asks will result in her not having a job. Below is an excerpt.


Brooke took the long way back to the ranch, driving through the countryside. She needed time to think. To reflect. She drove past the Three Forks, Smitty’s place, and several smaller farms. Many of them had been in the same family for generations. Most of the houses weren’t fancy, but they were home.

The people who lived in Stanton were working-class families. It was a close-knit community. It wasn’t as if they shunned outsiders, but they enjoyed living their lives like their parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents had. They didn’t care about resorts, golf courses, condominiums, and upscale shopping centers. These things would be a detriment to their way of life.

If Brooke sold the ranch, it would be the first step to that happening. She was in tears by the time she arrived home.


King’s. The Tower of London. Glass. What do these have in common?

Each is a famous menagerie.

While this Menagerie doesn’t focus on exotic animals, it does contain a collection of stories that explore various trials people face and how their reactions shape their worlds.

Survivors of haunted bridge. Women who wait while their husbands fight a war. Former partners reuniting to solve a cold-case murder.

These are just three of the thirteen stories in this compendium, encompassing past and present, natural and supernatural, legend and reality. The genres and timelines are varied, but there’s a little something for everyone who enjoys reading about simpler times and small-town life.

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Discover Jan Sikes and Saddled Hearts–and Scavenger Hunt!

Thank you, Mr. Geez, for letting me stop off at your place on my Saddled Hearts blog tour. Your support is much appreciated.

Because this story is set on a ranch in Texas, it’s not unusual to have critters around. Raccoons, opossums, armadillos, and snakes, just to name a few, roam the pastures.

In Saddled Hearts, Colt Layne gets bit by a rattlesnake inside his pickup. Needless to say, that’s not a place a snake would wander into on its own. Someone had to have put it there. But who? Take a look.


At a little after one, Colt headed to the ranch house for a quick lunch and to clean up before going to town.

The hairs rose on the back of his neck when he bounded down the steps to his pickup. He stopped and glanced around. Nothing appeared to be out of place.

“You’re gettin’ a little too paranoid, cowboy,” he muttered.

He opened the door and slid onto the seat the exact moment he heard it. To anyone raised in Texas, the sound of a rattling tail of a deadly rattlesnake was unmistakable.

“What the hell?” Colt glanced down at the floorboard at the same time the snake uncoiled to strike. He bolted out of the truck at lightning speed, but not before the snake bit into the fleshy part of his thigh.

“Goddammit!” He yelled as he grabbed the snake by the neck and flung him onto the ground. Before the viper could recoil, he ground a boot heel into its neck, crushing it.

A burning sensation spread across his upper thigh, and he stumbled.

I’ve never been bitten by a snake, thank goodness, and I hope none of you have. If you watch Yellowstone, you’ll remember the scene where Rip takes the igloo cooler down to the river with the snake inside and opens it in Roarke’s face. I still shiver when I think about it. Let’s talk about snakes!


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.













Let’s go on a scavenger hunt!

Hidden within the blog posts are clues you will need to look for.

The theme is “Things You’d Find On A Ranch.”

When you find these clues, email your answers to me at


in the subject line.

The person with the most correct entries will win a

$25 Amazon Gift Card!

The runner-up will receive an eBook of Saddled Hearts!

It Pays To Play!