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

#RRBC Springtime Book and Blog Block Party!

Welcome to the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB Springtime Book & Block Party!

This stop is being brought to you from Plano, Texas

What I’m giving away on this stop:

One (1) $5.00 Amazon Gift Card

One (1) $10.00 iTunes Gift Card

Two (2) Copies of Discovery – Poetry and Art eBook

Number of winners for this stop – Four (4)

For a Chance to win, please leave a comment on this post.

And, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it on Social Media.

I cannot tell you how excited I am to bring to you the Poetry and Art book, Discoveryin eBook format! 

First and foremost, I want to thank Jan Hawke for her hard work formatting the artwork and poems to convert to eBook. She did a phenomenal job. The clickable links in the Table of Contents take you directly to a specific poem or piece of artwork.

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This book is unique first of all because it was compiled by Rick Sikes during the fifteen years he was incarcerated in Leavenworth Prison. Secondly, the artwork that accompanies the poetry is what he called pen-and-ink drawings, which I have learned is technically called Pointillism – Artwork made up of millions of tiny dots.

A few bitter years into his imprisonment, Rick Sikes reached a pivotal turning point.

He made the decision to be, think, and act only in a positive manner. This poetry and art project was partially his means of doing just that.

What you’ll find between the covers of this book are expressions of raw emotion…Poems of deep sadness and loss, humorous musings, political wisdom, life observations and tender love from Rick, while Jan lends her own deeply personal poems at the end of the book to round it out.

This partial excerpt from the poem entitled “Discovery” is the first expression of that pivotal point in Rick’s life where he determined he was going to crawl up from the bottom and become a worthwhile human.

Discovery

Through life’s wilderness I wandered aimlessly seeking my way

Seldom looking up to see the light of day

Stumbling blindly, ‘til so weary, I could go no more

In total exhaustion I fell to the earthen floor

My eyes focused upon a wounded but lovely thing

Seemingly an angel felled with a broken wing

Said I, “Stranger, what will be your name?”

A voice spoke softly, “Yours, for our names are the same…”

                                                           RICK SIKES

 

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One example of Rick’s Artwork

Comes the Dawn by Jan Sikes

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

I hope you’ll take a peek at the Trailer for Discovery. Click HERE!

I hope I’ve piqued your interest and that you’ll check out this new eBook version of Discovery

Once again, thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of this post.  Good luck on winning my giveaways!  I’ll see you at the next stop of this awesome BLOCK PARTY!

For More Stops on this RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB Book and Block Party, click HERE 

Order the eBook  Discovery HERE!

Follow Jan: WEBSITE       FACEBOOK        TWITTER       LINKEDIN       PINTEREST

Discovery – Post by Linda Broday

Hop on over to Linda Broday’s blog post today for an indepth look at the Poetry and Art Book, DISCOVERY!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a Hardcover copy. Folks, that’s a $24.95 value, so Linda is being very generous today.

http://lindabroday.com/jan-sikes-discovery/

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Sunday #StoryTime

 

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I want to tell you a story. That’s what writers do, right?

This story is about a man who had a band and traveled the Southwest playing music. He’d grown up poor and discovered at a young age that he had a talent for writing and playing music. By the time he was out of high school, he’d formed his first band and played rodeos and fairs.

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The life of a road musician is often long and rocky. And, although he loved writing and performing music, he found himself caught on a merry go round – lots of booze, drugs and women.

After twenty years, he wanted off. He was burnt out and sullen. He’d blown two marriages and had four kids to support.

Maybe it was inevitable that he would be tempted by so-called easy money.

And this is where I met him.

In less than a year, from the time I met him, he was arrested and convicted on two counts of armed bank robbery.

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He’d never believed he could be found guilty of a crime he hadn’t committed. And, although he had been an accessory to the robberies, he’d never gone inside a bank with a gun and robbed it. But, because he wouldn’t rat out the men who’d done it, he got the full sentence.

Now, I’m telling you this story for a reason. There is a point to it.

You can well imagine that by the time he arrived at Leavenworth Penitentiary with 25 year federal sentence and another 50 years from the State of Texas, to run consecutively, he was angry, bitter and rebellious. He never thought he’d see freedom again in his lifetime.

He often said that he believed he’d reached a point in his life where he didn’t care about anything anymore. But, when the steel doors started closing behind him, locking him in the depths of the prison, he truly understood the meaning of caring. He left family, a lifetime of music and regional stardom, and he left children. He found that he cared more than he ever dreamed possible.

He had a decision to make.

It took him about three years to finally realize that he wasn’t going to change prison and prison wasn’t going to change him.

He learned that all he could control were his thoughts and actions. He couldn’t control his environment or other people.

And that’s when he made a life-altering decision.

He made up his mind to be, think and do positive things, to become a worthwhile human being. He learned that the best way to serve his time was by staying busy. He’d always been a writer and somewhat of an artist, but he discovered, among other things about himself, that he had true artistic talent.

He buried himself in words, paintings and any other art form he had access to. He taught himself to do Indian Beadwork. He learned to make jewelry, paint with oils and watercolors, but his true passion lay in pen-and-ink drawings.

He compiled a complete book of poetry and art. He wrote hundreds of songs, short stories and even wrote a screenplay. He learned to make and fire ceramics and tool leather.

He advocated for and after many years of asking, was given permission to build a recording studio inside Leavenworth. He had a burning desire to get songs to the outside world. To my knowledge, it was the only fully operational studio inside any federal prison.

 

luke-stone-at-mixing-board-recording-studio-leavenworth  homemade-console-recording-studio-leavenworthThe day he made the choice to think, be and do positive changed him forever.

So, that my friends is the point of the story.

You can’t control your environment or those around you. You only have control over yourself – your thoughts, your words, your actions.

I wrote this man’s story in my four books. It starts in the Texas honky-tonks with Flowers and Stone. Then, moves forward to the prison years, with The Convict and the Rose. He did finally get released from prison after serving fifteen years. Home At Last tells that part of the story. Then the last book in the series, ‘Til Death Do Us Part ends the journey with the man’s passing in 2009.

The poetry and art book, Discovery, is filled with pieces of his heart and soul as well as some of his amazing pen-and-ink drawings.

I encourage you to read the story and let it inspire you to make a better life for yourself. Sometimes it is helpful to see how someone else did it.

My goal is to get a copy of The Convict and the Rose and Discovery into every prison library in the country. It is a lofty goal, but one I believe in.

Remember the old Indian saying: “There are two wolves at war within you – one positive and one negative. Which one will win? The one you feed.”

Thank you for listening to my story today.

Think about your talents. How can you make your today better? It’s all up to you.

Do you have any questions or comments?

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#RRBC Holiday Train “Book Trailer” Block Party!!

trailer-block-party-1It’s a PARTY and you’re invited!!

Hi and WELCOME to the Rave Reviews Book Club Holiday Train “Book Trailer” Block Party at Writing and Music located in McKinney, Texas.

What I’m giving away:

1 set of 10 custom-made charms using your book cover or any design you choose from Dawn Judd Creations. (Shipping cost included on gift certificate.)

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1 – Ebook of “HOME AT LAST”

1 – AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF “DISCOVERY – POETRY AND ART BY RICK AND JAN SIKES” (B&W EDITION)

NUMBER OF WINNERS – 3

FOR A CHANCE TO WIN, YOU MUST VISIT THE BOOK TRAILER VIA THE YOUTUBE LINK BELOW AND LEAVE A COMMENT. YOUR NAME WILL THEN BE ENTERED INTO A DRAWING FOR THESE COOL PRIZES!

I am thrilled to introduce to you a brand new book trailer video for DISCOVERY!

Book Trailer for DISCOVERY

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Breaths of Life from a prison cell…

When all of life is stripped away, left with no freedom except in his mind, one man journeys deep inside to discover his true self. He finds the only way to survive hopeless negativity is through creating with his hands and imagination. They confined his body in an iron cage, but could not lock away his mind. Rick Sikes poured pieces of his heart and soul into these writings and drawings.

His hope was that this wisdom and insight will help others in their journey.

I hope you’ll find the trailer interesting enough to check out this unique book of poetry and pen-and-ink art.

It’s not just a poetry book!

DISCOVERY on AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

For an autographed copy of DISCOVERY, visit my WEBSITE

I am a proud member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, a community of authors and readers who support, promote and uplift each other!  Does this sound like a place you’d like to belong? Check it out and if you join, tell ’em Jan Sikes sent you.

 

 

Giveaway

I am doing a Goodreads giveaway for my latest book, The Convict and the Rose!

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        CLICK ON THE BOOK COVER TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

This story is set behind the forty foot walls and iron bars of Leavenworth Penitentiary.

Luke Stone had been a rebel all of his life. He’d played music from Texas and Oklahoma to California, filling dance halls and honky-tonks everywhere he went. He never believed that he could be convicted of a crime he hadn’t committed, and yet the truth stared him in the face as he painstakingly made his way up the long set of stone steps leading to the door of Leavenworth prison. He lost everything in life that he treasured, including the woman who held his heart.

Still rebellious, angry, bitter and downright hurt, he struggled to survive behind the walls.

Left alone, broken and lost, Darlina Flowers had her own struggles. How does one go on living with only half a heart? She experimented with many different things to fill the emptiness, but all roads eventually led back to Luke and the undying love between them.

The Convict and the Rose is about these two people, but through them, it looks at a number of universal problems we all face, and is an inspiring guide to making a better life, regardless of our circumstances

This is a true story and is the sequel to Flowers and Stone. Watch for the third and final part of this trilogy, Home At Last coming in Spring 2015!