Reflection

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As I complete another trip around the sun, I am compelled to reflect back on a lot of things in life. I was born into a poor family in Hobbs, New Mexico on August 21, 1951. And that makes me exactly 66 years old.

From all accounts, I was a happy child. I had no idea we were poor until much later in life. My nickname in school was Smiley.

My sister, Linda, was (and is) my best friend in the world. Even at a very young age, I was holding her hand.

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I have a vague memory of the oxygen tanks that were delivered to our house on a regular basis because my Grandfather was dying of some sort of lung disease.

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All of my siblings were born in a tent. I was the only one born in a hospital. Mama and Daddy built the house I grew up in. They didn’t have contractors to come in and do the work. They did all of it and held down full-time jobs. I have a vivid memory of my short round little mama on the roof nailing down shingles.

But, I learned so much from both of them. I learned how to control my emotions from my daddy. He had a terrible temper and many times I dodged flying tools when he worked on one of our old cars. From my mom, I learned how to be strong in the face of adversity and how to never EVER give up.

When I was probably four years old, my mom decided to join a Pentecostal church. Daddy went along with it because he loved her, but I’m not convinced his heart was ever in it. So I was raised in a strict fear-based religion.

And I couldn’t wait to spread my wings and explore the world when I turned eighteen.

Jan 1970's  I had NO idea!

But, when I was nineteen, I met Rick Sikes. And, oh my! How I fell in love. And, so did he. It seemed destined to fail from the beginning. Not only was he sixteen years older than I, but he was a musician and band leader and no stranger to the Texas honky-tonk life. Nothing could be farther from a Pentecostal raising. 🙂

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And then…he was arrested on two counts of armed bank robbery and sentenced to 25 years and 50 years in prison. Not much hope of that love ever surviving.

But, it did and in 1985, we were married. Luke_Darlina_Wedding.JPG

And for the next 25 years, we did a lot of living! I learned how to play guitar and write songs and perform on stage with him.

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And then, his health began to fail. In 2003, he became confined to a wheelchair when he had to have his left leg amputated

Amputation.

But, we didn’t give up. We built a recording studio and recorded lots of our songs. Curious? You can see them all here.

And then on May 1st in 2009, he left me, to travel to the next world. I have so many memories and lots of regrets. There were so many things I could have done differently. But, once today is gone, there is no returning to it.

In 2011, I began the journey of writing our story, Rick’s and mine. It’s been a pretty incredible adventure and I have learned SO much since that first book, Flowers and Stone.

Many times, people ask me if I wrote all of these stories as a tribute to Rick and I quickly reply, “No.”  I wrote them because it was a story that begged to be told. It encompasses everything from passion, music, crime, redemption, second chances, more music, and mortality. My hope from telling these stories is that they might inspire someone else.

It’s been a helluva ride and I’m not getting off the horse just yet. 🙂

Thanks for letting me reflect a little. This poem I wrote many years ago pretty much sums it all up.  (Taken from the Poetry and Art book, DISCOVERY)

Comes the Dawn
After a while, you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
You learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security
Eventually, you understand that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
Then you start to accept your defeats
Head up and eyes open wide
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child
And learn to build your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
Futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight
After a while, you learn that even sunshine
Burns you if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you can endure
That you really are strong
You truly do have worth
And you learn and learn
With each goodbye – you learn

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Happy Birthday to me! AND, I get a Solar Eclipse for my birthday.

Http-www.jansikes.com

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The Convict and the Rose marked down!

online_3d_cover_theconvictandtherose  ON SALE! $0.99 ON AMAZON

The Convict and the Rose inspires hope and shows how ANYONE can turn a dark negative situation into a positive one. But more importantly, the story portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines and proves how persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.
Join Luke and Darlina as they continue their epic journey with love as their constant North Star and freedom as the driving force.

The Convict and the Rose has 27 Five Star Reviews! You can read them here.

Listen to The Convict and the Rose come to life with voice actors on RAVE WAVES SPOTLIGHT THEATER. 

The Convict and The Rose Book Trailer

I hope you will find this book interesting enough to invest 99 cents!

And, of course, I’d be honored if you will take the time to post a review once you’ ve read The Convict and the Rose.

Thank you for your awesome support! Thank you

Hate The Sin

Back in another lifetime, I was a songwriter. It was a time I treasure with all my heart, along with the recordings that we managed to preserve our music with.

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We had an outdoor spa building behind our house. One night I was in the hot tub by myself and this song came to me. I wrote it all within twenty minutes. (We kept pad and pen close at all times.)

The result of that late night soak was “Hate The Sin But Don’t Hate The Sinner.

I loved every aspect of this creative mode from jotting an idea down to finishing out verses and chorus and walking into the studio to record.. Do I miss it? Heck yeah, but the writing just simply turned a corner in another direction.

Hope you enjoy!!

Hate The Sin But Don’t Hate The Sinner by Jan Sikes

Purchase Links:

Amazon      CDBaby    Website

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#Writing Journey

I am often asked the question, “When did you first start writing?”

To the best of my memory, I was around eight when I wrote my first string of words that made sense. I had an alcoholic uncle whom I adored. He lived with us off and on throughout my growing up years and occasionally he’d twist off, so Mom would make him move out. During one of those episodes,  I was worried about him, so I wrote a gospel song about Uncle Luke finding Jesus.

But, before that, I can remember loving anything written. I loved the Dick and Jane books in first grade. I loved fairy tales. I loved reading and devoured books of all kinds. In fifth grade, I checked out the Grimm’s Book of Fairy Tales so many times they had to make a new library card.

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Ah, the smell of libraries. I still love them. I never outgrew my love for reading. It was my entertainment, education, and adventure. And it still is!

Fast forward many years where I found myself in a serious songwriting vibe. My late husband, Rick, was a singer/songwriter and several years after we’d married, he pulled his vintage Martin D35 out from under the bed and returned to writing and playing the music he loved.

I wanted desperately to join him. I loved singing harmony with him, but I wanted to play. We had a second-hand/antique store, and some guy stopped in one day and sold Rick an old banjo. He took the instrument apart and put a guitar neck on it to create a Gitjo. And it was on that instrument I learned my first chords.

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When he saw  I was dead serious about learning, he bought me a 3/4 size Applause guitar for my birthday. I was fifty years old. So, NEVER let anyone tell you are too old to learn something new!

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And it took off from there. I played on that little guitar every day and we wrote songs every day. When I’d get home from my day job, I’d hurry to put supper on the table so that we could toss around ideas, chords, melodies, and lyrics. It was an exciting part of life for me. We booked gigs and I got to play and sing on stage with him.  We built a recording studio so that we could record our songs, and we published our own music.

But, now those are simply fading memories with pictures and CDs to prove it all happened. And I moved on after his death, in another direction of writing.

Compelled to tell our story (his and mine) I began to write books.  And, I decided that I would continue to promote our music by releasing a music CD with each book that matched the time period of the story.

The first book, Flowers and Stone, was a HUGE learning curve for me. I am often tempted to pull it down and rework it and I may some day.

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Set in 1970, this is the beginning of an epic love story with a musical twist as Luke Stone and Darlina Flowers (our fictitious names) travel the roads of Texas with Luke’s band. It is real and raw with a devastating conclusion.

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The second book in the series, The Convict and the Rose, is not only the story of Luke’s determination to survive many years behind prison bars, but Darlina’s own struggle to survive in a prison of her own where the bars were invisible. It is inspiring with a lesson in turning a negative situation into a positive one. This book garnered my first writing competition award – First Place in the Biographical Fiction Category from the Texas Association of Authors!

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Ah, the reunion. Finally,  Luke and Darlina earn a chance to build the life they’ve always dreamed of. But, the struggles are real and the price of love is high.  Home At Last won two First-Place writing awards.

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Then, all too soon, it’s over. Twenty-five years seemed like nothing. But, this is not a book about death. Instead, it is a book about living and wringing the most out of every moment – ‘Til Death Do Us Part.

I never stopped learning as I moved through this writing journey. I always strived to make each book better than the one before, while continuing to tell this true story. Thank God for my older sister, Linda Broday, who helped guide me along the way. I took classes. I learned about POV and head-hopping, sentence structure, show-don’t-tell, and passive voice vs. active voice. And guess what! I’m still learning and still striving to be better.

I released one more book, a beautiful expression of poetry and art. It is a combination of poems from both Rick and myself and pieces of his amazing artwork accompany them.  Discovery is available in hardback, paperback, and eBook.

Is my writing journey over now that I’ve told this story? Oh goodness, NO! I’m almost done with my first fiction novel, which I’ve entitled When Two Worlds Collide. It has been so much fun to create and live vicariously through these fictitious characters. I’m fully invested in them and their story as it unfolds in my imagination.

I also write for two magazines. Buddy Magazine is the Original Texas Music Magazine for which I interview artists, review CDs and feature innovative, creative, and talented musicians. The Oklahoma Farm and Ranch Magazine has a music section and I have the honor and privilege of filling it each month.

Will I ever stop writing? No. I don’t think so. 🙂

For more, visit my Website

Follow me on Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest

I am a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB where I sit on the Board of Directors

I am a huge fan of The Texas Musicians Museum, where I also am a board member.

The Texas Author’s Institute of History is a place where Texas literary works are preserved and I am a board member of that organization as well.

 

 

Do what you love!

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I am thrilled it when inspirations come out of the blue. I have a feeling I will get lots of them living in my new place. But, I digress.

The thought I had was this, “Do what you love. Love what you do.”

“How?” you ask.

We all have to do things in life to put food on our tables that we aren’t particularly fond of, such as going to a thankless job. Maybe your boss is a jerk. Or perhaps your  daily commute is grueling. There could be a myriad of negatives about the things we must do to survive.

But…instead of focusing on the negatives, what if we sought out the positives and focused on them instead. So, your boss is a jerk, but the receptionist that greets you each morning is always full of sunshine and smiling. And, yes, the daily commute is grueling, but what about that cool audio book you managed to read in a week just sitting in traffic? Or how about that awesome new song that came on the radio and made you turn up the volume?

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Sometimes, it’s the little things. Maybe there aren’t any big positives to what you do that you can grasp, but as a wise man once said, “Littles make bigs.” By finding ways to love what we do, we free ourselves to do things we truly love. Writers find more time to write. Songwriters find time to compose new melodies. Families spend more time playing and less time arguing. It’s the proverbial domino effect.

By focusing on the aspects of life that we do love and less on the parts we don’t, the world instantly becomes a better place in which to live.

So, DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND LOVE WHAT YOU DO!

Hugs, light and love sent to you.

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Code

This word conjures up several different meanings such as ‘code of conduct’ or the ‘code’ to a safe, but for this blog, I want to look at programming ‘code.’

Isn’t it amazing that by stringing together symbols, numbers, characters and letters, we can get beautiful images like these? They are so lifelike that you can almost hear the roar of the waterfall or feel the gentle touch of the butterfly lighting on your finger.

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It fascinates me!

In my new novel, When Two Worlds Collide, the protagonist, Jag Peters,  is a computer programmer. He spends his days writing code, but never unlocking the one leading to his own happiness.  He lives a settled life with few bumps in his road until he almost collides with Rena Jett and her candy-apple-red Harley. Rena carries deep scars from a lifetime of abuse and hides it behind a dark scowl and sharp tongue. It is a story about opposites with much to learn from each other and, of course, to fall in love with little hope of ever meshing their two worlds. Add in a paranormal aspect and it is shaping up to be a powerful story.

So, the next time you see a GIF like these, or play a computer game, think about the mile-long code it took to create it.

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Have you unlocked your own code to life? Have an AWESOME weekend!

 

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JAN’S TOP 10 Texas Music Picks 2016

 

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Over the past year, writing for a Texas Music Magazine I’ve had the honor of interviewing many Texas artists. As a result, I got to discover great new music first-hand.

So, I’m starting a new tradition this year by listing my TOP TEN picks of new Texas Music releases for 2016. This is based solely on my personal tastes and opinions. I do hope you’ll take time to listen to the song clips and decide for yourself!

#1.  Lovers and Leavers – Hayes Carll       hayes_carll_cover

Everyone who knows me also knows I am a huge Hayes Carll Fan. But, with this new album, “Lovers and Leavers” Hayes takes his songwriting to a whole new level. Perhaps that’s what being in love does for you. Check it out here.

#2.  Latest and Greatest – Jamie Richards   latestgreatestdigitalsmall

Jamie Richards is the most solid country music artist in the business. Even though he lives in Oklahoma, his heart resides in Texas as does his music. On this album, you’ll find some of Jamie’s standards, but five new songs showcase the reason Jamie has earned the title of Master Wordsmith of Red Dirt Music. Judge for yourself.

#3.   I’m Not The Devil – Cody Jinks                     i_mnotthedevil_044cac49-b9bc-4045-acc1-0370e9138074_large

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Cody Jinks twice and each time, I fall a little more in love with the great human being he is as well as his music. On “I Ain’t The Devil,” you’ll find a mixture of what defines Cody – family, friends, God, music. Check it out

#4.   Ain’t Who I Was – Bonnie Bishop             bb-aint_who_i_was

I first got acquainted with Bonnie Bishop through a mutual friend around ten years ago. She is not only beautiful, but has a voice that cuts through. This new album shows her more soulful bluesy side. It’s her best yet and you can preview the album here

#5    Sam Colt and Jesus – Robby White            sam_colt

This album really got my attention. It is a TRUE concept album in that each song leads directly into the next, weaving a complete story. Robby kept the music simple and for a reason – he wanted the lyrics to be heard. It embodies everything that is Texas! Preview

#6     Sinner Man  –  Gus Samuelson               sinner-man-bottomland

I’ve always been a fan of Gus Samuelson’s music. However, the new Sinner Man CD holds a few surprises. Big Gus is a restlessly creative soul and brings his views and philosophy of life into his music. I love all of the tracks on this CD but if I had to choose one favorite today, it would be “In My Soul.” Here’s the link to preview.

#7     Polyester  –  John Evans                             polyester

Texas roots rocker, John Evans, released a comeback CD, the first in six years. It has been said about John’s music style that if Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Elvis Costello were to have a love child, John Evans just might be it. After listening to Polyster, I would say more like a combination of 50s rocker, Eddie Cochran and Jimi Hendrix. Here’s where you can listen

#8     Walkabout – Dolly Shine                              Walkabout

I received this CD to review and I have to tell you I was blown away! Every member of Dolly Shine contributes to the writing of their songs and are extremely talented players as well as writers. It would be hard for me to pick a favorite as I loved them all but I think “Rattlesnake” would take the favorite spot today. See what you think!

#9     Coming to a Honky Tonk Near You – Kevin Fowler   kf

Kevin Fowler has made quite a name for himself on the Texas Music scene over the years, but this new CD took him in a different direction. In an interview, Kevin told me that he was no longer chasing national radio airplay and simply recording songs that moved him in some way. There are lots of collaborations on this album and hands-down, my favorite song is “Texas Forever.” Listen here

#10    Love to Live by – Cooder Graw                     cg

Last but certainly not least on my list is a new EP from the rocking Texas band, Cooder Graw. With only six tracks, this new release packs a powerful punch. I love them all, but the title track, “Love to Live By” moved me and especially the video produced by Rock Williams. Listen to the CD here. Take a look at the Video here.

2016 was a great year for Texas Music. There were many other releases I loved, but I had to narrow it down to ten so picked from my heart.

Hope your favorite artist made my Top Ten!

 

 

 

 

 

 

True Fan! Dolly Shine

Anyone who reads my blog knows how much music is a huge part of my life. And if you don’t know, you will soon figure it out. Music is more than a Universal language to me. It represents family – a music family that I have come to love, admire and respect.

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Writing for Buddy Magazine, the original Texas music magazine, I have the opportunity to discover new artists, their music, and what makes them tick.

I love doing the CD reviews as much as I love doing book reviews for books I read and enjoy, because I get to tell potential listeners/readers my thoughts.

That being said, I was asked to review a new CD by the Texas-based group, Dolly Shine.

Wow!! That word isn’t strong enough, but it’s all I’ve got.

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If the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Ray Wylie Hubbard had a love child, it would be called Dolly Shine!

High energy, raw, brilliantly delivered lyrics and musical arrangement is what you will find on Dolly Shine’s new Indie CD, Walkabout. From the first song, “Blackbird” to the last, “Old Flame,” I enjoyed this musical journey.

What a talented group of young men who all contribute to the writing and playing of their music, telling of self-discovery, heartbreak and hard truths. Wes Hall, plays the fiddle with intensity and precision. Zack McGinn is lead vocalist and writer of a large percentage of their songs. Ben Hussey plays bass and is also writer and co-writer on two songs. Jerrod Flusche (also a writer) and Josh Serrato take credit for the outstanding electric guitar work and Johnny Goodson keeps the back beat going on the drums.

I couldn’t help but hear a touch of Ray Wiley Hubbard’s rockin’ style on “Blackbird.” “Come Out Swingin’” is a song most anyone can relate to; when the old girlfriend shows up at a club and she still has a death grip on your heart. “Closing Time” delivers engaging lyrics, “I love you woman but I hate you/I can’t live with your new way of life.” “Rattlesnake” is making a splash on the music charts and with good reason. It is a toe-tapper with haunting lyrics; “Train whistle blowing, can’t you hear that lonesome sound?” Ben Hussey is co-writer on “Twist the Knife,” a lament to breaking up. Hussey’s “Anywhere Close to Fine” is a delivery of hard truth to a country rocking beat. Jerrod Flusche wrote “Snakeskin Boots” and I have to admit the lyrics and song delivery gave me goosebumps. Isaac Hoskins wrote “Hitchhikin” and holds true to its title. Randy Radicke joins Zack on an evocative “Old Flame.”

These talented writers and musicians obviously contribute equally to Dolly Shine. I give this album a big 5 Star review!!

For more on this talented group, visit: Website

 

 

#Musings from Don Ricardo

This blog came across my inbox recently from my friend, Richard J. Dobson, aka Don Ricardo and I felt his words were worth sharing.

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“It’s an old habit, this saving of clippings. I cut out a page of excerpts from commencement addresses that included this from Jessye Norman, opera singer, to graduates at Oberlin College, Ohio: “You see art brings us together as a family because it is an individual expression of universal human experience. It comes from that part of us that is without fear, prejudice, malice or any of the other things that we create in order to separate ourselves one form the other. Art makes each of us whole by insisting that we use all of our senses, our heads and our hearts, that we express with our bodies, our voices, our hands, as well as with our minds.”

I often find myself thinking about art and what it means, what it can do. What is an artist, anyway? For me at this point it’s a person who over a lifetime accumulates a body of creative work. Along the way he or she must gain enough support from the larger community to keep on creating. Success, while helpful, may not be required. Too much of it, and you’re prima donna bound, and risk trading your voice for that of a public persona.

Influence

People who write about art and artists look to trace influences. They want to know who it was that helped mold the artist, and thereby suggest a link to some known figure or movement. But when you’re young and starting a career, your greatest influence might be your old roommate, or an English professor who liked your early stories. Or a guitar picker only a handful of people ever heard of, like the reclusive country-bluesman John Grimaudo down in Rockport, Texas. Or Jack Saunders in Florida churning out a lifetime in prose he never sold; or Jason Eklund, street singer-roofer living out of his car and printing his hand-written manuscripts at the copy shop. These people, and others I could name, have probably influenced me as much as any better known artist.

Considering the economics, I’m still amazed that anyone would choose a life making music or writing books or painting. The answer to that one, of course, is the life chooses you. This opens up other questions about success, and what that might be. Artists are forgotten like everybody else. Only a tiny handful are remembered. Success might be nothing more than survival. I might have given a different answer thirty years ago.  Now I would say honoring your vision and your muse, carrying on, and doing your work. That’s your joy, and that might be what success really means. The hobbyists, the people who never had a vision, or didn’t really want it bad enough, tend to winnow out. What you’re left with is artists. Shorn of all the romance and bullshit, just people going about their work”.

If you like what Don Ricardo has to say, visit his website, take a look at the books and extensive catalog of music he has published.

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It’s Finally Here!

I am thrilled beyond words to announce the Pre-Order Sale for the fourth and final book of this series of true stories, ‘TIL DEATH DO US PART!!

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER EXCLUSIVELY THROUGH TXAuthors.com

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Luke Stone has cheated death more times than he cares to remember. And now, with a chance for a second music career, he knows he won’t fill the Texas dance halls and honky-tonks as he’d done in his younger days, but is determined to give it his all. Darlina, his rock and anchor, longs to see his dreams fulfilled and vows to do everything possible to help him find success. But, will time allow Luke to sing his last song?

GET YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY TODAY!

THE FIRST 20 ORDERS WILL RECEIVE A FREE CD – ETCHINGS IN STONE BY RICK SIKES

Estimated delivery date 4-20-16

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