New Release! “Mountain Laurel Christmas” by Jan Sikes @JanSikes3 #christmasstory #novelette #redemption #holidayread #newrelease #writingcommunity

I’m excited to have fellow Story Empire Author, Jan Sikes here to talk about her wonderful holiday story, Mountain Laurel Christmas! Here’s my review.

Thank you, Denise, for having me as your guest today.

In my new Christmas story, the mountain laurel is a focal point in more than one scene.

While mountain laurel is technically a shrub, the plants are known to grow up to 30 feet tall in the southern Appalachians, with thick, tree-like trunks. Preferring rocky, moist soil and partial shade, mountain laurel is often found on the slopes of hills and mountains. In many places, the branches of multiple plants intertwine and form “tunnels,” which are shaded year-round by the plants’ glossy, evergreen foliage.

Courtesy of Pixabay

The blossoms are fragrant, and some compare the scent to grape Kool-Aid, soda, or gum, but the fragrance is deeper, richer, and more floral than the artificial aroma of processed food.

Here is an excerpt from Mountain Laurel Christmas:

Next to the porch, the mountain laurel tree Papa planted for Mama’s birthday one year has grown tall.

My nose twitches, and I can almost smell the sweet, tantalizing fragrance that comes from its blooms in the springtime. Even in the dead of winter, it still retains its lustrous green leaves that sparkle with a light dusting of snow in the moonlight. Mama would hang Christmas decorations on it each year.

Seems as if it’s the only thing still living on this mountain.


A little later in the story, the laurel inspires the beginning of a new song:

Memories of the fragrant blooming laurel tree in front of the cabin surface. How Mama’s eyes shone the day Papa planted it.

I grab a brown paper sack and scribble the beginning of a new song on the back.

She is like a Mountain Laurel.

A breath of pure fresh air.

Her hair the scent of floral.

Her eyes so bright and fair…


Mountain laurel is an unusual plant. While they are fragrant and beautiful, every part of the plant is poisonous to humans if ingested. It is said that even the honey bees make from its pollen is toxic to humans.

The symbolism in the story is how my character had let life poison him internally while appearing beautiful externally.

Have you ever lived where mountain laurel grows wild?

 Mountain Laurel Christmas 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?













50 thoughts on “New Release! “Mountain Laurel Christmas” by Jan Sikes @JanSikes3 #christmasstory #novelette #redemption #holidayread #newrelease #writingcommunity”

  1. Wow, those mountain Laurels sound more like trees than shrubs with those sizes! Great post and review, Denise and Jan. It’s great to keep seeing so much love for this new release. I’m definitely going to have to read this soon … mmm … how many books am I saying that for right now?! At least it’s a quick read, so I can sneak it up the list. Wishing Jan all the best with everything. Thanks for sharing, Denise 💕🙂

    1. Lol, Harmony! Your comment about sneaking this book up your long TBR list made me chuckle. Just last night I was looking at books on my Kindle to see how many more I can read before the end of November. 🙂 It’s a sickness and one I thoroughly enjoy! Thank you for your comment and good wishes!

    2. I agree it at that height it sounds more like a tree. I’ve made the same commitements and have a lot of good reading ahead. This is a great book though around the holidays, Harmony.

  2. I’m a Pennsylvania girl, and the mountain laurel is our state flower. So, you can imagine the title of your story captured my attention immediately. Then I read it. What a charming tale! Wishing you all the best, Jan.

    Thanks for hosting, Denise.

    1. Oh wow, Staci! How cool!! So I assume the mountain laurel is plentiful in your area. Thank you so much for your lovely comment and recommendation. I appreciate your support!

    2. It is a charming tale, Staci. I’m curious if I’ve ever seen mountain laurel. I will have to look it up in our area.

    1. I was thrilled to share your beautiful holiday story here! I hope it gets a lot of new readers xo

  3. Like Staci, I’m a Pennsylvania gal, and the Mountain Laurel is our state flower. I love that you used it in the story (and title), Jan. I really enjoyed your tale. It’s the perfect little Christmas treat!
    Best wishes.

    Denise, thanks for hosting Jan today!

    1. Thank you, Mae. I love that the Mountain Laurel has personal meaning to both you and Staci. Thank you for leaving a comment and the lovely recommendation!

  4. I love how you describe the mountain laurel, Jan. I’m not positive I’ve ever seen one in person but hope to one day now, thanks to your book. I can’t wait to read it! Thanks so much for sharing your site with us, Denise.

    1. I’m not sure if I’ve seen it either but I’m going to look it up, Mar. I sure want to see it now too. Happy to have Jan and her wonderful story here today 🙂

    1. I found the same thing, Balroop, learning about mountain laurel and added more depth to the story.

    1. That’s so true, Miriam. The past will come back to haunt and Jan’s story took us to that place.

  5. Denise, so nice of you to host. Jan, I loved the story and posted my review. Thumbs up for family. Nicely crafted. Take care and happy holidays all.

    1. It was an honor to have Jan here and share in her good news. Yes, a wonderfully well crafted story. Happy Holidays to you as well xo

  6. Jan, I’ve never seen a mountain laurel shrub but I’ll bet it’s beautiful. Must be very hardy to bloom during winter. I just loved this story and I think it’s your best yet. It sparks so many emotions and brought tears more than once. It’s a great story of hope and love. I rooted for Cole Knight every step of the way. He has a good heart. Thanks for hosting, D.L.

    1. I agree they have to be hardy to bloom in winter, Linda. I was happy to host, and thank you for dropping by 🙂

  7. I’ve heard of mountain laurel, but haven’t (to my knowledge) ever seen one in the wild. Too bad about it being toxic.

    Loved the excerpt and the story, Jan. Thanks for hosting today, Denise.

    1. I don’t think I’ve seen it but it appears to be in our area, so, I’ll be looking but not touching. I was happy to have Jan here today!

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