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

#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!

       Jan Sikes CD

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.

    Jan Sikes CD

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 & Blog Party!

RRBC Badges (2)

Hi! And welcome to the  Rave Reviews Book Club’s BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY at Writing and Music coming to you from Plano, Texas.

Here is what I am giving away today!

One $5.00 Amazon Gift Card

One $10.00 iTunes Gift Card

One ebook of FLOWERS AND STONE

One ebook of THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE

WINNERS FOR THIS STOP – 4

I have published five books in the past four years. Four of those five have won book competition awards..

When I began this crazy journey by writing Flowers and Stone, I had no idea that it would take four books to tell the entire story. I also had no idea all I would learn along the way. But, I knew I had a story that begged to be told.

I started out by writing in first person. It became glaringly obvious that I couldn’t tell the story this way. When a close friend mentioned that I should consider telling it through fictitious characters, a light clicked on. That was the perfect solution for me. So, I chose to tell the story through Darlina Flowers and Luke Stone. In doing this, I was able to separate myself from a deeply personal story and tell it through their eyes.

Here are the top FIVE things I’ve learned over the past four years:

  1.  DO NOT forego professional editing! That is number one and the most important.  It doesn’t matter how wonderful and talented you are at writing, you cannot edit your own work successfully.
  2. Spend a good deal of time and thought about your cover. People really do judge a book by its cover.
  3. Write your blurb. Then delete it and write it again. Cut out extra words and tweak it until you are saying precisely what will sell the reader on your book in the fewest amount of words possible.
  4. Get ready to market! I have never been a salesman, so marketing does not come naturally for me. But, through marketing conferences and trial and error, I have found that basically marketing consists of FOUR things: Visibility, Consistency, Honesty (honesty about yourself and about your books) and Networking.
  5.  Keep writing! Don’t think that because you’ve written and published one book you can sit back and reap the rewards. If you have a true passion for telling stories, you must keep writing. There are millions of books out there, but here’s something I want you to take to heart: NO ONE WRITES LIKE YOU! We are all unique and individual.

Here’s a little about each of my books:

flowers_and_stone_3d_cover Flowers and Stone is set in the rowdy Texas honky-tonks in 1970. Link to BOOK TRAILER

One Reviewer wrote: “As I close this amazing book by Jan Sikes, my heart aches for the hand Luke and Darlina have been dealt. Flowers and Stone is an amazing, fast paced story of two people who against all odds have found a true and binding love. The love story they create with one another is heart-gripping, turbulent, and heartbreaking. This is a true story of two souls brought together, soulmates, who were given the chance of true love until society and the justice system decided, differently.”

online_3d_cover_theconvictandtherose  The Convict and the Rose  alternates between Leavenworth Prison and Texas. Link to BOOK TRAILER 

A FIVE Star Review: “Luke struggles to adjust to life behind bars, going from a successful career as a musician to another number in the system. I thought this story might be bleak as a result, but it is far from depressing. Watching Luke cope to his new existence and rise above the situation made for riveting reading. And as Luke’s life unfolds, Darlina grows from a young, naïve girl to a stronger woman. Her journey has many ups and downs, strewn with doubts, hardships and new experiences. Through it all, she keeps in touch with Luke. And that’s what really resonated with me—the undying love these two hold for each other despite the separation they’re forced to endure.”

home-at-last_3d  Home At Last is set in a small West Texas town. Link to BOOK TRAILER

A FIVE Star Review: “Although Luke’s transition back into civilian life wasn’t easy for him, Darlina, and their two girls, they never gave up believing in second chances and living life to the fullest through all their hard work and endeavors. Many heartaches, losses, and struggles met them head-on, but for Luke and Darlina there wasn’t any mountain to high for them to scale.”

online_3d_cover_tildeathdouspart ‘Til Death Do Us Part concludes the series. Link to BOOK TRAILER

A FIVE STAR Review: “What a joy and what a sorrow. There is a gambit of emotions to be experienced in ‘Til Death Do Us Part, the concluding chapter in the Darlina Flowers and Luke Stone series. This story of love that knows no bounds will hold you captivated from being to end…Written from the heart, this is a book (and a series) that shouldn’t be missed. From hurdles to triumphs, it will make you believe in steadfast love. I had shivers about the owl hoots, especially at the end. I applaud the author for sharing her story with us and hope to see this series made into a movie someday.”

discovery_3dcoverhb2_discovery_logo1  Discovery Breaths of life from a prison cell

This poetry and art book is unique in many different ways. First and foremost, it was written and compiled by Rick Sikes during the fifteen years he spent in prison. The original documents were typed on onion skin paper. Remember that? 😊 It covers all topics from the deep dark loneliness of prison to a crazy and perhaps twisted sense of humor. It was a means of maintaining sanity in an insane setting.

The other thing that makes this book unique is the artwork found inside. Rick called them pen and ink drawings, but the proper name for this type of art is Pointillism. It is comprised of thousands of tiny dots made with a simple ink pen. He later added color to the drawings. Because the originals were black and white, I currently have two editions of the poetry book. One is hard cover and full color and the other paperback and black and white. I am in the process of getting this beautiful book formatted for ebook and it will be available soon.

I would LOVE it if you would take a look at the BOOK TRAILER for this beautiful book!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a preview of my books.

This tour is brought to you by the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB – a community of authors and readers who are constantly creating new ways to PROFILE, PROMOTE & PROPEL our members.  You mean you haven’t joined yet?  Well, you can…right here, right now, today!. You’ll not find another organization like this anywhere on the planet.

For a complete list of participants in the Block party, click HERE.

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!

Follow me on: TWITTER   FACEBOOK   LinkedIn   PINTEREST    INSTAGRAM

 

A Texas Love Story by Gwen Plano

When a fellow author spends the time and energy to post a blog about my books, I am thrilled, honored and humbled.

And that’s exactly what Gwen Plano did for me. Read her blog here.

A million and one thanks to this amazing lady who I met through the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!  

I never imagined I could find a community of people who support and uplift each other like this and I treasure each relationship I’ve built through the club.

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#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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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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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

Til Death Part2_TxAuthors

 

What is your story preference?

What do songs, books and movies all have in common? The answer is simple. They tell a story regardless of whether it’s in three minutes, three hundred pages or two hours.
I am an author. But before deciding to write a series of true stories, I wrote songs, poetry, short stories and screen plays. I am convinced that once bitten by the writing bug, you never quite recover. You only move on to different methods of telling your tales.
Some of the greatest stories are told through a three to four minute song. Appalachian and American folk music is a great example of that. Most of the songs told of hard times, death and destruction. My Aunt Evelyn used to sing about the Legend of the Haunted Wood which told a story of a man, his wife and children who lived on the banks of a river. One day, he rode into town and left them alone in the cabin. While he was gone, Indians came, attacked his wife and burned the cabin to the ground with her and the children inside. He roamed the river banks looking for them long after he’d died. What a tragic tale! But, that is only one example.

Prisoners who worked on chain gangs often sang songs in rhythm with the swinging of an ax handle or sledge hammer. Oftentimes, they made up the words as they went, with some songs winding up quite long.

USA. Arizona. Phoenix. 1998. Maricopa County is home to the country's only female chain gang.  Their daily routine includes a 5:15am wake up call. Among their duties are to clear tumbleweeds from empty lots.

Then along came songwriters like Johnny Cash. Ever listen to The Ballad of Ira Hayes? What a story that song tells. The rise and fall of a lowly Pima Indian that is forever preserved in history as one of the men who raised the flag on Iowa Jima then died drunk in a ditch beside the road at the ripe old age of thirty-two. And, that’s just one small example.

Ira Hayes

How about The Gambler? To me that is the ultimate story song. Within the first few lines of any of this song, the listener has already formed a visual of what the song is about. On a warm summer’s evening on a train bound for nowhere, I met up with a gambler. We were both too tired to sleep… The picture is perfectly clear.

How about this one? Got a helpless, hopeless feeling like a bird that can’t fly. Of a man not living but one who can’t die. Hating, hurting, staring, look at these ol’ walls forty foot high… Those are the first lines to a song, Forty Foot High, written by Rick Sikes, who was an inmate in Leavenworth Penitentiary. Immediately, we feel the gripping emotion of the man trapped behind massive walls. For this man, music was his salvation. I wrote his story in my second book, The Convict and the Rose, which won the 2015 book of the year award in the Biography Fiction category from the Texas Association of Authors.

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It’s not possible to list all of the great story songs that have been written nor the songwriters who composed them. It would take volumes.

Let’s talk about movies. Think about your all-time favorite. How does it start? Are you hooked from the opening lines? For me, Lonesome Dove is one of those unforgettable movies that drew me in from the beginning. And, who doesn’t know a line or two from Gone With The Wind? Can you tell me what movie this line is from? “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Yes, The Godfather. I can get very emotionally invested in the characters. Why? Because of the story being told through them.

Movies, songs and books with the greatest staying power are the ones that make us feel and think. They touch something deep within us or change us in some way.

In my books, I relate the story of a veteran Texas musician who packed out every dance hall, honky-tonk and auditorium in the great State of Texas, surrounding states and on out to California for many years. He was a true pioneer of what we now call Outlaw music. But, as songwriter, Richard Dobson, wrote in a song about him, “he took that outlaw thing a little far” when he wound up in Leavenworth prison on two counts of armed bank robbery.

These stories all revolve and evolve around music. For that reason, I also release a music CD of original songs along with each book matching the time period of that story segment.

Any lover of music or a real life story will be entertained by these books and that’s a guarantee.

So, back to the beginning – a story is a story – no matter the medium through which it is told, it has the same characteristics and evokes emotion in the reader, listener or viewer.

And we all enjoy a good story!

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