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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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.

 

 

#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

Crackerjack lines!

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Everyone who knows me on any level knows how much I love music. But, even more than the melody, the WORDS draw me in. So, I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite lines from songs that give me chills or make me turn up the radio.

There are hundreds of thousands of song lyrics and honestly to narrow it down to a few has to be from music I hear on the radio every day or music I’ve been introduced to through doing artist interviews recently. That being said, all of the lyric lines I’m listing are from current “today” artists (except for one obvious one) and most in the Texas Music Scene.

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Here we go in NO particular order.

“Took half the cops in Dallas County to put one coon-ass boy in jail…” Trudy by Charlie Daniels

“She only drinks Bloody Marys, Silver Bullet ain’t her style…” Wolfhowl by Jerrod Medulla

“I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when. I may not know where I’m going, but I SURE know where I’ve been…” Highway 87 by Hayes Carll

“I awoke in the early hours of morning, heard a song riding on the wind, felt the chill of a cold day dawning, saw the world coming to an end…” Early Hours of Mourning by Rick Sikes

“Shooting stars and whiskey bottles lay scattered across the yard and I’da stayed back home in Houston if I’d known it’d be this hard…”  Wish I hadn’t Stayed So Long by Hayes Carll

“So this is life, when you get lost in a fairy tale, when you dream big and you love well, you barely get by…” So This Is Life by Courtney Patton  **This song gets to me in a big way!** YouTube 

“Strap in those kids, give ’em a little bit of Vodka in a Cherry Coke, we’re going to Oklahoma…” Choctaw Bingo by Ray Wylie Hubbard 🙂

“Nobody cares about truth anymore. Ain’t that what songs are for…” Bad Liver and a Broken Heart by Hayes Carll

“”It’s not what you know, it’s who you know and I’ve done put my trust in two. I’ve got Sam Colt and Jesus. I’ve got nothing to fear…” Sam Colt and Jesus by Robby White

“If you want to know about limits, talk to a man of the law. If you want to know about salvation, talk to a man of the cloth. But, if you want to know about sorrow that runs deeper than time my friend, just sit right down beside him, you’ll be talking to the right man…”  Man In The Neon Moon by Jamie Richards **In addidition to the lyrics the chord progression and haunting melody grabs me**

“Walking through the front door, lonely silhouettes on old bar stools…” Man In The Neon Moon by Jamie Richards

“But beware the mouth of the dragon and the lungs of coal he keeps…” The Mountain by Shane Smith and the Saints. **This is another one that gives me chills. The harmonies are SO tight!

“Ain’t got no meat in my Frigidaire, my children’s feet they all need shoes to wear, Laid off my job I walk the streets all day, looking for work so I can make my way…” It’s Hard on a Good Man by Gus Samuelson

Truly, I could go ON and ON, but I will stop here. Hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into song lyrics that move me personally!

 

To Celebrate Valentine’s Week!

This is something I rarely do, but in honor of Valentine’s Week, I have made HOME AT LAST free on Amazon Kindle!

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With empty pockets, a heart full of love, and hope for a new beginning, Luke leaves behind the horrors of prison and embraces a bright future. In this book, he and Darlina are finally united after fifteen long years apart. Their tenacious love is what carries them through struggles that seem insurmountable.  Journey with them as they learn to live as one unit, facing difficulties head-on. Lessons learned the hard way and belief in their undying love is their strength!

An epic love story.

Get your copy today! CLICK HERE

AND, I’d be thrilled and honored if you’d pick up the music CD that accompanies this book. I’ll Be Home When The Roses Bloom Again” is a compilation of songs from the heart of Rick and Jan Sikes.

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THANK YOU FOR YOUR AWESOME SUPPORT!

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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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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Phrases

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It’s that time of year

When we feel nostalgic

The tree stands tall

And Jingle Bells we hear…..

Phrases are often what triggers the memory of a person, especially once they have passed on.

Rick Sikes’ favorite saying and one he lived by was, “Always do the best you can with what you have where you are.” It was coined by Teddy Roosevelt, but fit Rick’s life philosophy.

He said lots more and many of them passed down through his family such as, “Colder than a well digger’s ass,” and “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

My mother had several, but the one I heard hundreds of times throughout her life was this bit of advice – “Just back your ears and do it.” 

Anytime I face a difficult task today, I can hear her saying it still. When she passed, I wrote Mama’s House as a tribute to her in song. That phrase had to be included in the lyrics.

My grandpa, who died when I was a teenager, had a pat answer whenever anyone asked him how he was getting along. He would always say, “Oh, fair to middlin’.” 

It has been said that as long as one person on earth still remembers you, that you are never truly gone.

I’d love to hear some of the phrases that have stuck with you and that you remember someone by.

Merry Christmas and Happy Winter Solstice day!  cowboychristmaswp

And, just in case you are still looking for a Christmas gift, I have specials on books and CDs through my website.

 

 

 

#REVIEWS

rosesWhoever said “Reviews are like receiving a bouquet of roses” expressed it perfectly as to how an author feels when he/she receives an honest review of their work.

I am grateful to have received numerous reviews of my books and only today realized there is one easy place to view them all!

So, I wanted to share that with you.

Many of these reviews came from members of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, for which I am eternally thankful!

Of course, I’d be thrilled if you check out the reviews and even more thrilled if you are inclined to purchase the books, read and review them!

ALL REVIEWS OF JAN SIKES’ BOOKS ON AMAZON

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