SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD!

I am beyond honored to receive several nominations for the Sunshine Blogger Award!!

Thank you, D.L. Finn, Sally Cronin, Ron Yates and Gwen Plano for the nominations!

That gives me 44 questions to answer and I’m not going to attempt to do that, so I am going to answer three questions from each blogger, focusing on the ones that are most relevant.

Gwen Plano asks:

  1. What motivates you to write? Honestly, the biggest motivation for me to write is a new inspiration for a story. If I am in the middle of one story and get a big idea for another, it takes all my patience to simply jot a few notes and keep going with what I am working on. There is nothing like the adrenaline rush I get when a new story idea arrives!
  2. Do you eavesdrop on your characters, or craft them to fit the story? This question has more than one answer. When I was writing my first four books, true stories, the characters were already created. My job was just to relate the story. But, having written several stories since then, that are pure fiction, I have to say that I definitely eavesdrop on them. In fact, I have conversations with them and have interviewed some to get answers to situations. One that comes to mind was for a book that I have written and have waiting in the wings. I couldn’t decide on my main character’s name, so I interviewed his mother (of course all of this took place in my head.) But, the result was the character’s name, Jag, and the story about why she gave him the name. She loved Mick Jagger. 🙂
  3. How do you structure your time to make room for writing? I chose this question to answer because it is such a huge ongoing issue for me. Besides still working outside the home part-time, I also write for a music magazine that involves interviewing artists as well as reviewing new music. I try to give as much time as I can every day to supporting the wonderful authors at the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and RWISA. I have five grandchildren and make a strong effort to attend their events and spend time with them often. I also love to read and do so almost daily. I blog regularly and support other bloggers. I try to visit my various social media platforms daily. So, you can see I have a full schedule. I haven’t yet figured out how to juggle it all so that there is time for writing. Often, it gets shoved to the back burner, but I’m constantly working on improving my time management. I’m open to any and all suggestions!

Sally Cronin asks:

4. What is the most daring thing you have done? For those who have read “The Convict and the Rose,” you probably know the answer to this question. Back in the seventies, I went to Dallas with a guy who rode a Harley and was trying to get into The Banditos motorcycle club. While we were at the Dallas house, another motorcycle club threatened a war and I was put at a window with a loaded gun and told to shoot anyone that came into view. There is no way in hell I could have ever pulled that trigger. In fact, I’d never even held a gun before and I was scared out of my wits. Thankfully, it all ended without incident and the party continued. When I look back on it, there is absolutely NO doubt that I had a guardian Angel!

5. Name one item that is still on your bucket list. I have such a strong desire to visit Ireland and Scotland. It is the land of my ancestors and I am drawn there by a strong connection. When I watched Outlander, the desire grew even stronger. Someday before I leave this life, I will make that journey and I can’t wait!

Isle of Skye – Scotland

6. What is your favorite movie of all time? While I’m not a big movie buff, I do enjoy a good show that moves me in some way. I have to say “A Star Is Born” is that for me. I have seen both the one from the seventies with Kristofferson and Streisand and the newest with Lady GaGa and Bradley Cooper multiple times and will watch them again and again!

D.L. Finn Asks:

7. How long have you been blogging? I created my blog site in May 2014. However, until the last three years, it was hit and miss blogging. I got serious about it and have now made 671 posts and my following has slowly built. I believe the keys to a successful blog are consistency and content.

8. Do Blogs encourage you to purchase books? Oh yes! Most definitely! I love reading others’ reviews and that influences my decision to purchase.

9. What do you write about in your blogs and why? The answer to that question is as varied as my blogs. 🙂 I love supporting other authors and Indie music artists. So, you will find anything that relates to words in any form on my blog. In the past, I’ve posted story series on my blog. I’ve posted CD reviews on my blog as well as book reviews. Most recently, I had the inspiration to create a #TarotTuesday on my blog. The idea was taken from Taco Tuesdays where across the nation you can find Tacos for 99 cents on Tuesdays. I draw a Tarot card and tell its meaning every Tuesday. I have really enjoyed this. Not only is it a great way to learn more about Tarot, but to offer uplifting and encouraging messages.

Ron Yates Asks:

10. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer or blogger? I’ve written all my life, but I never imagined myself as an author. That was my sister’s dream, not mine. My dreams always went in the direction of music. But, after my husband passed away I felt a huge nudge to get our story told. However, it took a while before the realization hit me that I would have to tell it. I seriously thought someone else would. So, when reality set in, there was nothing for me to do but educate myself on the craft of storytelling and get to work. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

11. What do you think makes a good story? A good story must be well-written, as error-free as possible and have compelling characters that drive the plot. I read all genres and the same holds true for all. I love unforgettable characters. And while I may eventually forget some part of the plot, I never forget a character that comes alive and takes me along on the journey.

12. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why? I realize my answer to this question is going to sound a bit strange, but it is sincere. The one person I would want to have dinner with is my deceased husband. I have so much to tell him and show him. He has grandchildren he never got to meet and I would enjoy showing him pictures. I’d love to hand him a copy of the books I wrote about us, along with the poetry and art book that was his. And I would ask him a million questions about the afterlife! Then, I would write one helluva blog to tell you all about it!

Rick and Jan Sikes

That’s it. I thank each one who nominated me for this beautiful award! I apologize for not answering all the questions, but I am huge advocate for short easy-to-read blogs.

Please take the time to visit the four bloggers who nominated me at their sites and follow them, if you don’t already!

D.L. Finn

Sally Cronin

Gwen Plano

Ron Yates

I know that here is where I am supposed to post the rules and nominate 11 more bloggers, but quite honestly, I think all the bloggers who follow my blog have been nominated already. So, I will leave it at that. Thanks so much for taking time to read my Q&A!

#TarotTuesday – Two of Swords

Welcome to another Tarot Tuesday!

If you are just joining me, let me explain the inspiration to begin these posts. In Texas, and all across the country, Taco Tuesday is a popular day when Tacos are usually 99 cents. So, I had the inspiration, or Angel nudge as I like to think of it, to create a Tarot Tuesday. Each Tuesday I will post a different Tarot card and give its meaning. I pray and ask for the right card that will bring a universal message.

I created a short video to demonstrate how I pull the card for the posts. If you’re interested, here’s a LINK.

Today, we have the TWO OF SWORDS!

Keywords associated to this card are: Difficult decisions, weighing up options, an impasse, and avoidance.

The Two of Swords shows a blindfolded woman, dressed in a white robe, holding two crossed swords. The blindfold over her eyes tells us that the woman is confused about her plight and that she can see neither the problem nor the solution clearly. She may also be missing relevant information that would make her decision much clearer if she were to obtain it. The swords she holds are in perfect balance, suggesting that she is weighing her thoughts and addressing both sides of the situation to find the best resolution.

Behind the woman is a body of water dotted with rocky islands. The water represents the emotions and, while the Suit of Swords traditionally associates with the mind and intellect, its presence shows that the woman must use both her head and her heart to weigh her options. The islands represent obstacles in her path and suggest that her decision is not as clear-cut as it seems. She will have to consider the situation as a whole. The crescent moon to her right is a sign that this woman needs to trust her intuition as she makes her choice.

The Two of Swords indicates that you are facing a challenging decision, but you are unclear about which option to take. Both possibilities may seem equally good – or equally bad – and you are stumped about which will lead you to the best outcome. You must be able to weigh up the pros and cons of each choice and then make a conscious judgment.

You may lack the information you need to make the right decisions. You may be missing something, such as the threats or potential risks, alternative solutions or critical pieces of information that would help guide you in a particular direction. Once you remove the blindfold and see the situation for what it really is, you will be in a much better position to find your best path forward. Research your options more, seek outside opinions and feedback and ask yourself what you might be missing. It is also possible that the woman in the Two of Swords has intentionally chosen to put on the blindfold to avoid making a choice.

Two of Swords can reflect indecision and an impasse on an important matter. Again, you can only put it off so long; at some point, you have to make a move.

Many of life’s decisions are difficult ones and rarely come with clear-cut answers. The invitation from this card, is to make your choices with your best intentions, fully aware of the possible consequences. Avoidance will lead to greater conflict and stagnation.

Wow! I don’t know about you guys, but this card really hit home with me. I have been allowing different circumstances rob me of my time and I now have to make a decision. So, if none of you relate to this card, it was just for me. 🙂 Tell me about it!

Thank you for joining me! See you next Tuesday for another inspiring message from the Universe via the Tarot Cards!

As always, I use the Rider-Waite Radiance deck and BiddyTarot.com for interpretations.

Flowers And Stone – Book Review

I want to offer a HUGE “Thank You” to Rox Burkey for this incredibly poignant review of “Flowers and Stone!”

Honestly, I have known this author for a long time. I’ve listened to her play guitar, heard the sadness when she shared some details of her life and love of Rick Sikes, and cheered loudly at her achievements and awards. I had only read a few of her poems and a short story, until she suggested I consider Flowers and Stone.  

After book one of this first series, I am truly hooked on her writing. In this debut novel, Jan Sikes creates the scenes in a way that makes you feel you are a part of the story. I could hear the music, see characters with their smiles and tears, and more than once had to dry my eyes as emotions coursed through me at different places in this story.

This complex love story centers around Luke Stone and Darlina Flowers, an unlikely couple at first glance. Luke, an experienced musician and older man, and Darlina a young inexperienced woman, learn many lessons from each other. I like how Luke, smitten early on for this special girl, goes to extraordinary lengths to find out if he should be serious. Ms. Sikes details the steps leading up to this meeting, though this meeting touched a chord of sweetness in my heart and kept me until the end of this book.

“             The bell rang, announcing someone’s arrival.  She half turned. “May I…” She paused in mid-question, shocked to see Luke standing there with the trademark crooked grin on his face. “…Help you?” she finished.

               “That is exactly what I’ve been asking myself,” Luke replied.

               “What are you doing here?”

               “I came to see if you were for real or a figment of my imagination.”

               “For real?”

               Luke’s smile widened, “Yes, for real. You see, I thought maybe I just made you up so had to come and see.”

               Darlina didn’t reply, and Luke quickly continued, I brought you a little something.”

               She stood and walked to the open window that separated her and Luke. “Okay, what did you bring me and more importantly, why? After all, you barely know me.”

               She wondered what kind of strings might be attached to any gift from Luke Stone.

               Luke fished the small box out of his pocked and handed it to her. Their hands briefly touched, and an electrical current passed between them. She looked up at Luke, then down at the box.

               “Open it,” Luke encouraged.

               Darlina gasped as she opened the box to find the delicate gold heart necklace. “Oh, Luke, how beautiful. I’m not sure what to say.”

               “Well, you could say thank you, and you could say that you’ll have dinner with me, just me, and you could say that you’ll give a chance to redeem myself.”

From this point forward I was drawn into the story as these people travel down the road of growing up, growing together, and realizing their differences are key to their magic. In many ways he is a rogue and she is naïve, but in the 70s the music and freedom was what they both wanted and needed. Its easy to recommend this love story to college age and above. There is more to the story and thankfully more books in the series.

About the author

Author Jan Sikes

Multi-Award-Winning author, Jan Sikes, has been called a wordsmith by her peers. Jan openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author, but she had a story to tell.  Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation.

She published four biographical fiction books about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. She believes with all her heart there is something worthy of sharing in these stories. Bits and pieces of wisdom, hard-learned lessons and above and beyond all, love. True love that you read about in fiction stories and yet this is truth. The old saying that truth is stranger than fiction fits these stories.

Jan also releases a music CD of original songs along with each book that fits the time period of the story. Why? Because the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.

Jan has published a book of poetry and art and nine short stories.

Author Jan Sikes is widowed, lives in North Texas, volunteers at music festivals, has five incredible grandchildren and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Authors Institute of History, and the Executive Council at Rave Writers’ Int’l Society of Authors. She is also a member of the Writer’s League of Texas and Authors Marketing Guild.

Connect through Jan’s website: http://www.jansikes.com
Follow Jan on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks
Follow Jan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rijanjks
Follow Jan’s Blog: http://www.rijanjks.wordpress.com    

I want to invite you to visit Rox Burkey’s blog site and if it interests you, please follow her! She is an avid book reviewer!

A Hundred Miles of River – Rick Sikes

I am out of town this weekend and am turning off comments for this post, but I wanted to share something that I think is pretty special with you.

I made the decision (a hard choice) to pull down Rick’s website at the end of 2019. It was strictly due to the amount it was costing me per year with very little return. So, I created a page (or the beginnings of one) on my own website. I’d love for you visit, as there may be some things you don’t know about the early years of his career. I will be adding more things as time allows.

Rick Sikes Page

And I’d also like to share this YouTube video with you. It’s a song that is a true story about a boat that was sunk in the Sabine River during the civil war. I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for visiting!

Just for fun!

I recently experimented with a new pancake recipe and I want to share!

CINNAMON PROTEIN PANCAKES

1 Egg

1 tsp Vanilla

¾ C Vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk

¼ C Avocado Oil

Mix well and set aside.

Then combine:

¾ C Whole Wheat Flour

½ Tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp (heaping) Cinnamon

½ tsp Salt

Optional – 1/4 C chopped Walnuts or Pecans

Combine dry ingredients with wet.

Add two scoops Vanilla Protein Powder

(I prefer to use Pea Protein, but Whey will also work so long as it is Vanilla)

Heat Griddle until a drop of water sizzles on it.

Pour batter onto griddle in approx. 4” circles.

Turn when batter bubbles on top.

Serve with Greek Yogurt, Agave Nectar (or Maple Syrup) and Fruit.

These were delicious and filling. And, the added protein powder offset the carbs. I hope you’ll give it a try! Let me know!

New Look! #RRBC

Happy New Year to all my wonderful followers!

I’d like to invite you to visit the ALL-NEW RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB at our new location RaveReviewsBookClub.wordpress.com.

This international book club of which I am a proud member, has a new home, new URL and new look!

But, it’s still the same organization with the same mission: {The Mission and Goal of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB are to Profile, Promote & Propel the careers of Indie authors.   The only way that we can do that, is by supporting each of our authors with book sales and HONEST reviews. 

The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB is a not just an organization, it’s a community. Our mantra at RRBC is those that are most supportive here, are the ones who are most supported here.  Those who are expecting to add their name to our roster and then just disappear without making any connections within the club, or without supporting any of their fellow members, probably won’t get out of it what they are expecting.  What you put in, is what you’ll get out.

So, while the premise, mission and guidelines for RRBC haven’t changed, if you take a look, you’ll find lots of new and amazing opportunities within the club such as a LITERARY SESSIONS LIBRARY AUTHOR PAGESRRBC CIRCLE OF BOOKSRRBC FREE TO REVIEW!

RRBC has a huge catalog of all genres! RRBC CATALOG I read at least 80% from this catalog and I’d love to find your book listed!

You will not find an organization anywhere in the world that offers what the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB does! If you are an Indie Author struggling to keep your boat afloat in a huge sea of other books and authors, take a look at this club and see if it possibly fits your needs. But, I want to stress again that TO BE SUPPORTED, YOU MUST GIVE SUPPORT TO OTHERS! That’s how it works.

Want to know more?

FAQ

HOW RRBC PROFILES, PROMOTES, PROPELS

JOIN

If this interests you, as an Indie or Traditionally published author, and you decide to join, please give my name as the person who referred you! I’d be honored!

#TarotTuesday – Nine of Pentacles

Welcome to another Tarot Tuesday!

If you are just joining me, let me explain the inspiration to begin these posts. In Texas, and all across the country, Taco Tuesday is a popular day when Tacos are usually 99 cents. So, I had the inspiration, or Angel nudge as I like to think of it, to create a Tarot Tuesday. Each Tuesday I will post a different Tarot card and give its meaning. I pray and ask for the right card that will bring a universal message.

I created a short video to demonstrate how I pull the card for the posts. If you’re interested, here’s a LINK.

Today’s card and message for us comes in the form of the Nine of Pentacles!

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Pentacle card, so to refresh your memory, the Suit of Pentacles Tarot cards deal with the physical or external level of consciousness and thus mirror the outer situations of your health, finances, work, and creativity.

You have worked hard to create abundance in your life, and the Nine of Pentacles says now you can finally enjoy the fruits of your labor. Thanks to your independent efforts, self-confidence and discipline, you attained a well-deserved success and created a stable foundation for your material wealth and comfort. Now, sit back, relax and enjoy the luxuries and pleasures of the good life – money, leisure time, fun, material comfort and rest. You deserve it!

When the Nine of Pentacles appears in a Tarot reading, do not be scared to splurge, indulge or pamper yourself, especially as a reward for all of your hard work. Treat yourself to a special occasion or a personal gift to celebrate your journey here. You have already achieved so much, and while you may not be at the finish line just yet, this is your opportunity to acknowledge your achievements and re-energize yourself for the final phase.

The Nine of Pentacles also speaks of financial independence. The woman in this card has created a luxurious lifestyle by her own actions and efforts. She encourages you to do the same – to create abundance and independence so that you can take care of yourself in the long-term. Invest wisely and seek financial advice to make the most of your wealth. Don’t rely on others to support you; this Nine is an independent woman.

While the suit of Pentacles typically focuses on material wealth and gain, this card also suggests that you are in harmony with the environment around you. You appreciate the beauty and abundance found in nature, and you can harness this high-vibe energy to bring pleasure into your life. You may enjoy passing your time in the beauty of nature with picnics or walks in the park.

I’m not quite sure how this card applies to my own personal situation in life. I have worked hard all my life at whatever I’ve done, but as far as financial independence – it’s still a distant dream and goal. But this card is encouraging and I look forward to manifesting this fully!

How about you?

Thank you for joining me! See you next Tuesday for another inspiring message from the Universe via the Tarot Cards!

As always, I use the Rider-Waite Radiance deck and BiddyTarot.com for interpretations.

New Release! The Enigma Beyond! @1rburkey @EnigmaSeries

Award-winning authors, Rox Burkey and Charles Breakfield are releasing Book #11 in their Enigma Series and it is available for pre-order for only 99 cents!

It is my pleasure to turn my blog site over to them today to talk about The Enigma Beyond!

Imagine what happens when technology outruns our humanity? Humans have turned over their decision making to Artificial Intelligence driven supercomputers. Or, was it simply confiscated?  Next generation computers are not just tracking our movements, or answering questions. Now they are delivering manufactured choices to each person through their ever-pervasive personal devices. The seduction of mankind is eminent unless our champions can stop them.

Jacob, Petra, Quip, EZ, Julie, and Juan, the current heads of the R-Group, are in for the winner-take-all fight. They use their programming, technology advancement, communications, and encryption to help their own next generation youth. They are poised to take on one of their most complex adversaries, AI enhanced supercomputers run by greedy, powerful technological geniuses. The training for the new members of the R-Group is live, in the form of a real world cyber assault crisis. ICABOD, the R-Group’s own customized supercomputer, is their best weapon in this battle.

With corporate self-discipline gone and the power of US Congressional oversight crippled, the dominance of the technical oligopolies has risen to a position where they  dictate their terms. Not satisfied to dominate commerce, they feel they are better decision points for running the planet.

MAG, the  consortium of global technology predators, have united to bring their insidious plans to fruition, capitalizing on using humans’ desire for the easy and effortless lifestyles, even as it steals their freedoms. For freedom oriented groups caught in the cyber crosshairs, time has already run out. The social media noise has been weaponized and blinds humanity to what is actually happening. MAG uses social media to seize control of politics, healthcare, finances, and defense systems.

Award winning authors, Breakfield and Burkey, take readers into the depths of humanity’s newest menace in their 11th book in The Enigma Series. We are on a one way trip to keeping or giving up our most precious human quality, the freedom to choose. No one saw it coming when they built computers to ease their work and improve life. Where are the guardrails to protect humans from giving up too much? Can humanity take back control? See how fast you can determine who wins in the AI Wars.

Here is a recent Editorial Review! https://literarytitan.com/2020/01/01/the-enigma-beyond/

Purchase Link: The Enigma Beyond

These authors are members of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB! You can find more of their books in the RRBC Catalog!

#Book Share! @virgilante @MarieDrake72 @maeclair1

I think this is the perfect way to start off a new year of blogging!

It had been a while since I picked up a book that I absolutely could not put down! But, then I got three in a row. So, I had to share!

The first is THREE RULES by Marie Drake.

MY REVIEW:

It has been a long time since I picked up a book that I could not put down. I ignored housework, ate snacks and read until I reached the end. The author’s writing style reminded me of V.C. Andrews. The subject of this book is sexual abuse and I did not know until the end of the book when I read about the author that she is a survivor of abuse. The writing comes from someone who has experienced the pain, the horror, the guilt and trauma that sexual abuse brings. The author did a great job of concealing the true identity of the abuser until the very end of the book. I was shocked. She gets deep into the psyche of the victim. The nightmares, panic attacks and paranoia are depicted in a raw and honest way. This book is not for the squeamish, but it is a well-written compelling story that I hope will encourage victims of sexual abuse to speak up and break the awful silence! And never forget the three rules! I highly recommend this book.

Marie Drake is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

The next one is SERANG by C.S. Boyack

MY REVIEW:

This story was one that I couldn’t put down! I was intrigued by Serang’s character when she was introduced in The Voyage of The Lanternfish and it was great to learn her backstory. To say she faced hardships and trials would be putting it very mildly. At a very young age, after her father died, Serang’s mother left her on the steps of a monastery as she could no longer care for her. But after a few years, the new Emperor hellbent on destroying all of the temples sent soldiers to kill everyone and burn the temple. Rescued by a traveling monk, she came of age under the teachings of Master Yong. She learned to become a fierce warrior and her intuition grew. The way she received her master weapon, the Guandao was fascinating. Her journey to the Temple of the Wind and then through the caves was heart stopping. I also have to say there was humor scattered throughout the book, even though the overall theme was most serious. This book is fantasy at its best! I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good story and fabulous world-building!

I know the holidays are over, but this Christmas Holiday Novella would be a treat anytime of the year! Food For Poe was both entertaining and easy to read but be prepared for unexpected twists and events! I am a huge fan of this author, Mae Clair, and have read most everything she has written!

MY REVIEW:

I absolutely loved this novella! It started out as a sweet romance, but typical of this author, there was soon a ghost, a mystifying myth, and jaw-dropping magic. It is well-written and I read it in one sitting. I loved how the author wove these character’s lives together in a few short pages. But the twist came when a Changeling also appeared and some nail-biting pages followed. I won’t give the story away, I’ll just say how much I enjoyed it with all the twists and surprises. If you are looking for a romance with lots of added side plots, I highly recommend this novella!

I hope that if you haven’t read these books, you’ll pick them up if they appeal to you! Click on the book title to purchase!

Looking Back – 2019 Music

As most of you know, I am a staff-writer for Buddy Magazine, The Original Texas Music Magazine. Because of that, I review lots of newly released music CDs throughout the year. This is a look back on some of the best of the best from Texas! The Albums are not listed in any particular order, so this is not a Top Ten list. It’s a recap of music that moved me!

An Indie artist that broke all the rules this year and came out on top was Cody Jinks!

He released an album on October 11 that premiered on the iTunes all-genre chart at #1. Then one week later, on October 18, he released a second album that did the same thing. The most impressive part of this is that, as an indie artist, he has no record label backing him and pouring tons of money into promo. He did it all on his own. So, it is my pleasure to honor these two albums.

“Each album has a theme,” Jinks said. “The Wanting is about the road life and going deeper into your art, while After The Fire is more about the home life, the settling and coming down period.”

Another album that touched me deeply was RIDE ME BACK HOME by the incomparable, Willie Nelson!

Part of this album’s appeal is that the title track, “Ride Me Back Home,” was written by a good friend of mine, Sonny Throckmorton. But, aside from that fact, it’s possibly one of Willie’s best!

Native Texan Bianca DeLeon writes about what she knows, her life growing up in the Texas-Mexico borderland. She’s lived through a lot, and it shows in her music. Her byline is “Texas Songwriter and Troubadour.” I absolutely loved reviewing her album, DANGEROUS ENDEAVOR. The first thing that struck me about this album is DeLeon’s voice. She’s gritty and gutsy with her delivery of the lyrics.

Pint-sized Jack Barksdale is making quite a name for himself in every music circle from the local DFW area to songwriter’s events across the United States. He’s twelve. Not only is he writing original material, but he also releases podcasts where he interviews other artists. Check out his YouTube page. He is one of the most amazing young artists I’ve ever seen! He released a new EP this year, Live From Niles City and it deserves to be on this list!

Here’s a YouTube video. You’ve gotta hear this kid!

Another incredibly diverse album that crossed my desk this year was FOG AND BLING By Shinyribs! It’s difficult to categorize this Austin-based band’s music. I’d say Shinyribs is an eclectic blend between New Orleans Jazz, R&B, Funk, Rock, and Psychedelic Country. It could aptly be called Swampadelic R&B.

Tom McElvain is known far and wide for his vocal prowess. But he is also fast rising to the top of the songwriting spectrum with songs like the ones found on his EP, DRIFTER. As he says, “This time it’s for the music, not the man.”  

On a side note, I am working with Tom McElvain on a book, “Lady In Red,” that will be released in May 2020! Believe me, I will be promoting it here on my blog!

Smile Into Life from Austin-based Blues-Funk Rocker, Hector Ward and his eight-piece Big Time band, is one of the most dynamic I heard all year.From start to finish, it’s solid with not one track that I wanted to skip. Ward is quoted as saying, “Listen to music…it will change your reality.”

I want to share a picture with you because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Let me just say this man is inspiring. That is Hector Ward in the wheelchair. Listen to his music and see if you find one spec of self-pity. You won’t!

The Walk is singer/songwriter, Bonnie Bishop’s eighth album. Produced by Grammy-winner, Steve Jordan, the music connects listeners to the Texas vocal powerhouse in an intimate and personal way. I am a huge fan of her music and her honesty. She is an inspiration to women artists!

I love these two people, Andrew Jr. Boy Jones and Kerrie Lepai Jones! They are perfect ambassadors of the Dallas Blues scene and it was an honor to not only review their new CD, but to interview them for a feature in Buddy Magazine. You can read it here. Jr. Boy has been playing the blues for over five decades and no one does it better! Their new album, Jr. Boy & Kerrie’s Blues is nothing short of stellar! If you love the blues, give them a listen! Kerrie proves that a white girl CAN sing the blues!

I’ll close this post with a single off Cody Johnson’s 2019 Album, Ain’t Nothing To It. In my humble opinion this is the most sensual and sexy song I’ve heard since Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness.” Here’s Cody Johnson with “Nothin’ On.”

Maybe you are already familiar with some of this music but if you aren’t I do hope you’ll take a minute to discover something new! Thank you!