RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB

I have posted this before, but today is Recruitment Day at the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and I can’t say it any better than this!! If you’re an author looking for a community where you truly belong, are supported and become like family, this is the place for you. 

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I know you hear me refer to The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB a lot, but when I find something that is exciting and rewarding, I like to talk about it.

I first became a member of #RRBC in August, 2014. I didn’t get involved much – read my required number of books to remain active in the club, tweeted now and then, caught a RAVE WAVES Blog Talk radio show now and then and skimmed through the WEEKLY CLUB UPDATES.

I didn’t see a whole lot of benefits at the time, except that immediately, when I listed on my Profile that I was a member of the club, my Twitter followers increased substantially. Well, that was good. I now had other authors interacting on a consistent level and more opportunities to spread the word about my books.

Then, in November 2014, I received the honor of a #PUSHTUESDAY spot that showcased The Convict and the Rose. I saw an immediate spike in sales on Amazon. At the time the book was spotlighted, I had ten reviews. That number went to 25 within a few short months. Hmmmm, I thought to myself. Maybe I need to get more involved with this club because it seems to make things happen!

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Long story short, I got more involved. I began supporting other members, following their blogs and helping spread the word about their books. Again, I saw a huge spike in followers of my own blog. Wow! Now that meant I had to consistently start blogging and provide interesting and interactive content.

Two more examples -I earned a spot in April 2016 on a RAVE WAVES Blog Talk Radio show where I had the opportunity to discuss and answer questions about my books and again the support I received was overwhelming.

When the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB  chose my third book, Home At Last as a featured book of the month in July 2016, even more miraculous things began to happen.  Up until that date, I had only eight reviews. And even though it’s not a huge number, I now have twenty.

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I’ve participated in a virtual Writer’s Conference with the club, gone on numerous Block Party Blog Tours and read some absolutely amazing books by talented indie authors. In fact, at the end of 2016, I decided to put together a TOP TEN list for the books I enjoyed the most during the year. Out of the 10 books, 8 of them were #RRBC Authors! Check them out here!

All I’m saying, is that if you’re looking for a community of like-minded people to support, uplift, encourage and propel you to greater heights as an author, you might want to take a look at the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.  Go to the FAQ page for the answers to any question you might have.

Membership fees are VERY affordable and the results (IF YOU PARTICIPATE) are amazing!

This group of supportive authors and readers have POWER!

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OH YES, AND ONE FINAL THING.  WHEN YOU JOIN, PLEASE TELL THEM I SENT YOU! 

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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Ah, The World of Blogging

Who knew there was such a tight knit group to be found through blogging? I am just starting to realize the sense of community that rests within the world of bloggers. They share each other’s posts on social media, re-blog and comment almost daily.

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So, I thought about it. As a reader, what do I want to see in a blog?

For starters, I don’t often read a long blog. I prefer short and to the point. So, if it’s long, I’ll skim through, but won’t read it word-for-word.

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I like visuals that accompany the blog.

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Interesting subjects, ideas or philosophies always catch my attention.

What can I learn from the blog?

Will the blog enhance my life in any way or simply entertain me? I’m good with both things, but it must accomplish at least one of them.

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I love meeting new authors through blogs and can honestly say that I’ve ordered books simply by reading a guest blog from an author I’d never heard of. Yep, that has happened, Andrew Joyce.

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I follow lots of blogs and again, just being honest here, I prefer the blogs that only post once per day. When I get a Daily Digest from a blogger and see five or more blogs posted, I’ll skim the titles to see if anything draws my interest. I’m sure I’ve missed some great stuff by doing that, but I simply don’t have the time to read each one.

So, what are your preferences about blogs? I’d love to hear from you. Be honest!!

 

HANDS – A #Christmas Story

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A heavy blanket of snow covered the city. tdy_dylan_storm_160125

The commute had been brutal and after finally arriving at my office building, two hours late, I hurried across the street to the front door.

Homeless people are not an uncommon sight in the city. We become immune to them after a while. Why don’t they just get a job like the rest of us?

But, on this frigid morning, I found my attention drawn to a thin man huddled against the wall as if he could somehow draw warmth from the bricks.

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Humph! Well, he made the choice to be out in this blizzard. But then, my attention went to his hands. He wore a coat and hat, but no gloves. As I watched, he drew his coat collar up higher and tugged his hat down, then thrust his hands into his pockets.

I wore expensive leather fur-lined gloves and still  my hands were numb. I couldn’t imagine how his frozen his fingers must burn from the cold. While I watched, he drew them back out of his pockets, blew on them, then quickly thrust them back inside as if to hold that minute bit of heat.

I rushed through the door into the warmth of the building, the man forgotten. After all, as I said, it is a common sight in the city.

At lunch, I dashed outside with two co-workers to the Deli two doors down. Once again, the thin man with no gloves drew my attention. I must be getting soft. Maybe because it’s almost Christmas and we all get sentimental around the holiday.

What was it about him? He didn’t hold a sign and didn’t appear to be begging. He simply appeared to be melting into the side of the building he leaned against. Then he raised his eyes to meet mine and I saw a depth of pain that shook me down to my toes. Once again, I turned my back and darted into the Deli to a bowl of hot soup.

Maybe I should take some to the man. That would ease my conscience. When I checked out, I ordered a bowl to go. After my co-workers headed back inside, I made my way through the drifts across the street to the thin man. Without a word, I approached and held out the sack from the Deli.

He looked away as if embarrassed.

“Here. I got this for you. Maybe it will help warm you.”

His hands trembled when he took the bag. He mumbled. “Thanks, mister.”

“Do you have somewhere you could go to get out of the cold today?”

He shook his head.

“Well, try to stay warm.” I turned and rushed back to work.

That evening, as I pulled on my fur-lined leather gloves, I once again thought of the thin man and his cold hands.

When I stepped out onto the snowy sidewalk, he remained huddled in the same spot that he’d been glued to all day. Once again, I trudged across the street.

“Hey, mister. You’re going to freeze to death out here. You need to go to the Salvation Army or somewhere.”

Tears filled the old man’s eyes when he looked up at me. “She’ll be here any minute.”

“Someone is coming to get you?”

He nodded.

“Well, then the least I can do is give you some gloves to help keep your hands warm while you wait.” I slipped off my expensive gloves and thrust them into the man’s hands.

He gave me a toothless grin and slipped them on. He flexed his fingers, nodded and huddled even closer to the building.

When I turned to walk away, I knew the old man would be dead before morning and he would die with my fur-lined gloves on. I couldn’t stop the tears that filled my eyes.

I plunged my now cold hands deep into my pockets and made my way toward the train for the long journey home. Somehow I felt redeemed by giving the old fellow my gloves.

When I passed by a department store, I ducked inside and bought a new pair for myself.

Cold hands, warm heart. Wasn’t that how the saying went?

Merry Christmas!

“It is better to give than to receive.”

#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

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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.

 

 

Newsletters/Blogs Unusual Sources

In this world of frantic blogging and newsletters, I get an influx (as I am sure everyone does) into my Inbox.

But, this morning, I got a newsletter from, of all places, my dentist. Yes, you heard me right. My dentist now sends out a monthly newsletter.

So, what can a dentist blog about? Well here’s a sneak peak.

Your child’s sippy cup. Is it friend or foe?  Well, as someone who takes care of children on daily basis, I will tell you the answer to that one. It is not only a friend, but a necessity. Spills happen enough even with the awesome sippy cups!

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Bye Bye Buck Teeth! How to overcome an overbite. This one is very dental related and fits with the theme, but the title made me think of “Bye Bye Birdie.”

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Alcohol is everywhere. Are hidden sources hurting your teeth? Hidden sources of alcohol? Where? I keep my alcohol out in the open. And if the hidden sources are hurting your teeth, just think of what the out-in-the-open sources are doing.

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I’m not posting this to poke fun at my dentist. In fact, quite the contrary. Kudos to him for stepping out into the world of blogging and newsletters!

By the way, he is an awesome dentist. I never cringe when I have to go for an appointment – well, except for the $$$ that are going to fly out of my pocket.

Do you receive newsletters or blogs from unusual sources? What is the most unusual you’ve ever received? I’d love to hear from you.

Follow Jan Sikes:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

 

How many ways can you say ____?

I am super excited to present this workshop to the Panhandle Professional Writers Group in Amarillo, Texas next month.

Bi-Monthly Meeting
November19th

 
Jan Sikes
How Many Ways Can You Say ____?
 


“He walked.” Really? Do you know there are over 115 ways to describe the way a person walks? Why should you limit yourself to using the same words over and over? The same is true with voice descriptions and many other modes of communication we must rely on in telling a story.

In this presentation, Jan will explore various active verbs that can take the place of the passive and draw a better picture in a reader’s mind of what the characters are doing. When you master this, it will take your writing to a new level of excitement both for you, the author, as well as the reader.

In her talk, she’ll show techniques to prevent your writing from becoming mundane and stale. Using the same phrases and descriptions are ruts we all fall into because we’re too rushed, too tired, or often—let’s face it—too lazy. Bring pen and paper for the interactive exercises. Jan plans to present this program in a fun and upbeat way using the Emotion Thesaurus as well as other reference material. Handouts will accompany her talk.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression will be referred to frequently during this presentation as well as other resources authors may find helpful. A PowerPoint presentation will be used in conjunction with printed material.

Jan is a multi-published, award-winning author of an exciting series about her life with her country singer/performer husband, Rick Sikes. She’s a member of the Texas Association of Authors and is heavily involved with the Texas Musicians Museum in Irving. In addition to writing books, she writes songs, poetry, short stories, and is currently working on a novel with paranormal elements.

Meeting Times:
Check-In and
Meet & Greet
9:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Business Meeting
10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Morning Session
10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Box Lunch
12:15 – 1:00 p.m.
Critique Session
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
For information regarding how to join PPW and membership dues, see “Membership” link on left side of this page.
 
Non-members: There is a $10 guest fee to attend our bi-monthly programs.  If you join that day, the guest fee will be credited toward your membership fee.  There is a $1 guest fee for middle school and high school students.  At bi-monthly meetings held at the Amarillo Senior Citizens Association, members of Amarillo Senior Citizens Association may attend those meetings free of charge. If a member invites you attend a program as their guest, the guest fee for that program will be waived.  However, if you attend subsequent programs, we will ask you to either pay the guest fee or become a member.
 

#RRBC – WRITER RESPONSIBILITIES

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With the question posed, I had to give it some serious thought.

So, I decided to see what Webster had to say about the word “Responsible.”

“Answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control or management (often followed by to or for)”

Accountable for my own actions as a writer…

My first and foremost responsibility, as a writer, is to myself. As with any other facet of life,  honesty with, and respect for, myself is #1. My writing voice is unique. It is my responsibility to use that voice to tell a story.

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Secondly, my responsibility is to my story and characters. It is my job to get inside their heads and let them tell me what I need to know. If I don’t do this, then I am never going to bring my reader along for the ride. The words will fall flat on the pages.

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The third part of my responsibility as a writer is in supporting and uplifting others. We are all on this journey together. It isn’t a competition to see who gets to the top first.

Writers are as diverse as the stars in the heavens or snowflakes that drift to earth in winter.

Many times, a writer’s existence is rather lonely. Friends and family often cannot relate to the way we think of our characters as real people. We may be labeled as eccentric or obsessed.

We have a strong need to belong to a community who supports, promotes, encourages and lifts each other.

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For me, The Rave Reviews Book Club is that community. This is not the only organization I belong to or strongly believe in, but it is the most supportive of any I have found. I’ve never been part of any other group that will openly share my books…even create attractive graphic designs to hawk my stories.

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But, there’s a catch. Nothing in life is a free ride and as a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, my responsibility is to support, promote and propel others.

Does this sound like something that you’ve been searching for as a writer?

Not only is this community made up of authors, but also readers, editors, book designers, bloggers, radio broadcasters, and publishers .

It is truly a WHOLE community of support.

I invite you to take a close look at The Rave Reviews Book Club and all that it embodies.

If you feel this is a good fit for you, join. But, don’t expect to sit back and do nothing. It is your responsibility to get involved, support others and enjoy the support you receive.

If you decide to join, please say I sent you.  – JAN SIKES, AUTHOR

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Help propel this title to #1 and WIN on 9-18-16!!

Order your copies of ETERNALLY at WAR on this date.  At least one!   So we can push EAW to #1 in sales for that day. If you do, send an email to Jeannette Vaughn to let me know!!!!  You will be entered to win one of three $50 Amazon gift cards!     Use the link in the picture or click here:   http://amzn.to/2cTBpZA

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Sales go to support the Vietnam Veterans of America.  www.vva.org

Vietnam. A USMC A-4 Skyhawk pilot. PTSD. He survived Vietnam, but would he survive its aftermath? The experiences of combat produce different memories by those whom have served. Some return as warriors, seemingly unscathed. With others, their life is never the same. The horrors of each mission come back to haunt them for years. Ten years after returning from Vietnam as a two time decorated A-4 Skyhawk pilot, Captain Robert “Gene” Lathrop described war as hell. Flying the scooter as a part of VMA-311, he completed over 275 missions. His squadron completed 54,625 sorties dropping over 9 million tons of bombs. That record will never be broken. But the bomb damage assessment was steep for Captain Lathrop. The nightmares and emotional rage he experienced threatened to tear apart his family. To keep from unraveling, he sought a voice in the written word. This memoir serves as part of his mission to honor the men and women of the military. He believed veterans who return to peacetime should never feel eternally at war.

Thanks so much,  Jeanette Vaughan and Captain Robert “Gene” Lathrop, RIP

 

Why I Write

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Why do I write? Why does a painter paint and a sculptor sculpt? For the same reason I write.
I am passionate about my writing projects. I am driven to tell a story with the hope that it might touch someone’s heart or life in a positive way.

The stories I write (so far) are true stories about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. I believe with all my heart there is something that is worthy of sharing in these stories. Bits and pieces of wisdom, hard-learned lessons and above and beyond it all, love…True love that you only read about in stories and yet this is truth. The old saying that truth is stranger than fiction fits the stories that I share through my writing.

I started writing when I was a young girl, around the age of eight. The first real piece I wrote was a gospel song. I had an uncle whom I loved dearly, but he was an alcoholic and his drinking caused such family discord that at times, resulted in him being banished from our home. So, I wrote a song about Uncle Luke finding Jesus. That is my first memory of feeling the passion deep down to my toes for writing.

Reading has been a true love of mine from the time I learned recognition of words. I loved fairy tales and checked out the Grimm’s book of fairy tales from the school library so many times, they had to create a new card for it.

Books transport us to places and events that we would never be able to physically attend. We can be in Paris, France or the Appalachian mountains or on top of the North Pole by turning pages in books. That is true freedom!

Through reading, I learned about making love (Harold Robbins) and how to be part of a motorcycle club (a book penned by the legendary Sonny Barger). I learned how to dress elegantly and be the ultimate hostess. I learned about life during the depression era (Grapes of Wrath) and life in the roaring twenties (The Great Gatsby) and on and on. By reading, we have the opportunity to explore many of the teachings of the masters who have lived on earth (Ram, Buddah, Krishna, Jesus, Black Elk, Chief Joseph Nez Perce) just to name a few.

What an incredible gift the written word is. It is hard to name a favorite author because my life has been touched by so many. I love all genres and formats of writing.
I get a thrill from reading Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Robbins because they dare to defy most every rule ever made about writing and it works for them.

My sister, Linda Broday, is a published author. Imagine that…it runs in the family. She has been my mentor as well as my sounding board and my inspiration to try harder and reach farther in refining my craft of writing.
My late husband was a lifetime singer/songwriter and at fifty, he taught me to play guitar. My love for music along with the written word gave me the tools I needed to write songs and I absolutely love it. As a result, I’ve written a rather large catalog of songs over the years with many of them being recorded.

Since our lives revolved and evolved around music, along with my book projects, I also create and release a music cd to accompany each one. The music matches the time period of the story. Perhaps this is a bit unusual, but it works for me.

My first book, Flowers and Stone, is set in the West Texas honky-tonks in 1970. It portrays the life of a Texas musician and the lifestyle that went with it during that time period. It is a love story with lots of music history and events woven throughout it. Then comes the twist when Luke Stone is arrested and convicted of bank robbery (a crime he did not commit).
The cd released along with this book is titled Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels – Early recordings and is music taken off 45 rpm records that were made in the late 60s.

The second book, The Convict and the Rose, is due for release in the next week and is the sequel to Flowers and Stone. It opens with Luke Stone’s arrival at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas and shows an angry, bitter and rebellious man. It take him a while to figure out prison wasn’t going to change him and he certainly wasn’t going to change prison. Determined to find a way to be positive and worthwhile in an extremely negative situation, he manages to crawl forward one tiny step at a time. The woman he left behind, holding his heart, tries to find her way in life without him. She tries many different avenues…From drugs to gurus to different relationships…none are successful. I won’t give away the ending of the story here so will leave it at that.

The cd released along with this book is as dear to my heart as the book itself. There are twelve tracks on the cd and all but one were actually recorded inside prison in a crude makeshift studio. The title track was written by Rick Sikes but never recorded. Jamie Richards, a talented singer/songwriter in his own right, agreed to put music to and record the lyrics and the end result is the amazing rendition of Forty Foot High, which is also the title of the cd.

So, now you know the story of why I write. I sincerely hope you’ll check out both of these books and while you do that, I’ll be working feverishly on the third and last book of the trilogy.
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