2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” BLOG TOUR, DAY 3, AUTHOR JAN SIKES

AUTHOR JAN SIKES

DEPRESSION SOUP 

She stood in a line her head bowed low

There was nowhere to run, no place to go

With clothes that were ragged

And shoes that were worn

There were millions just like her

She wasn’t alone

America’s Great Depression had stolen their homes

Took its toll on their bodies

Tried to squash their souls

But she squared her shoulders, raised her eyes

Fierce determination replaced her sighs

She’d fight to survive, that much was true

Although many times, she’d be sad and blue

Someday there would be plenty

But for now, she was caught in a loop

She held out her bowl

For another serving

Of Depression Soup

Born in Missouri in 1917, my mom, Marian Edith Clark, learned about hardships at a young age.

Her mother, my grandmother, Sarah Jane, was sickly. The household chores fell on my mom’s shoulders when she was still a child. She shared memories of having to stand on a box so she could reach the stove to cook their meals. 

My mom blue eyes sparkled, and her smile could light up a midnight sky. She started school in Treece, Kansas. Her family were migrant workers. Anytime they found an abandoned house, even if it was spooky, they moved in. Eventually, they landed in Pitcher, Oklahoma, where her father found a job in the iron and ore mines. She was in the ninth grade when he had an accident in the mines, and she had to quit school to help make a living for the family. 

Her father became a bootlegger in Oklahoma. He would often get caught and wind up in jail for six months at a time, leaving the family to fend for themselves.

They eventually moved to Arkansas, where they had kinfolk who were sharecroppers. They picked cotton, and in Mom’s words, “Nearly starved to death.” 

When she was around fourteen, her dad took the family to the Texas cotton fields. The whole family could pick, and they would make twenty-five cents for every hundred pounds of cotton.

We found this story written in a journal after Mom passed away.

“My last school was in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, population around 2,000. We lived two miles out in the country. I went to a two-room school. A man and his wife were both teachers. He taught in one room and her in the other. The man teacher went crazy and tried to kill his wife. When she got away, she came to our house. I’ll never forget how bloody her head was. When the police found him, he had crawled up under their house. So, they put him in a mental hospital.”

The Great Depression hit America in 1929, wiping out any semblance of a prospering economy. It was during that catastrophic era that my mom and dad met in Sayre, Oklahoma. At the time, she was babysitting for one of Dad’s sisters, and living in a government migrant camp with her family.

She was only seventeen, but they fell head-over-heels in love and decided to marry.

Mom had no shoes to wear for the ceremony, and a woman next to them in the camp loaned her a pair of shoes. 

On April 14, 1934, they said their wedding vows in a preacher’s living room and began life together. 

There were no pictures, no fanfare, no parties, and no honeymoon.

They spent their first night as newlyweds, sharing a bed with some of my dad’s younger brothers and sisters.

Their first home was an old farmhouse with nothing in it but a wood stove, a bed, and a table. Mom had no broom to sweep the floors, and when snakes crawled across, they left trails in the dirt.

Through the years, she shared many harrowing stories of how they survived as transients. They stayed within their family group and moved from the strawberry fields in Missouri, to potato fields in Kansas, to cotton fields in Texas. Often, they had no shelter from the elements, sleeping outdoors under a shade tree. Other times, they managed to have a tent or share a tent with other family members.

Mom and Dad’s life together, began under this umbrella of hopeless poverty.

Hunger was a constant companion. My mom had an older brother who often would go out at night and steal a chicken or watermelon.

Enmeshed in daily survival, they could see no future. 

Sometime around late 1934, they moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas not knowing it was in the middle of an epidemic. They were lucky enough to find housing in a WPA camp. My dad got a job digging graves for fifty cents a week, plus a small amount of food. A man working with him warned him to stay clear of the hospital; that no one came out alive.

However, the hospital laundry was the only place Mom found work. Automation wasn’t yet widespread, and especially not in Arkansas, so all of the washing had to be done by hand on rub boards. 

A large scowling woman marched up and down behind the workers with a blackjack in hand. If she thought they weren’t working hard enough or fast enough, she’d whack them across the shoulders. 

During this time, my mom fell ill with Scarlet Fever and they quarantined her. They kept her in a room under lock and key. My worried dad climbed to her window with food. It became apparent that they had to get out of there, or Mom would die. One night when all was quiet, she tied bedsheets together and lowered herself from the two-story window to the ground, where Dad waited.

They caught a ride to Oklahoma on the back of a flatbed truck, and Mom eventually recovered. They never went back to Fort Smith, Arkansas. 

As the years passed, much of my dad’s family migrated to California, the land of milk and honey. But Mom and Dad didn’t go with them due to my grandmother’s failing health, and a younger sister who was inseparable from my mom. They all stuck together. My grandmother passed away in 1942 in Roswell, New Mexico. Pictures show a large goiter on her throat. She died long before I was born.

Mom gave birth to my siblings with help from family and friends. I was the only one to arrive in a hospital setting.

By 1951, the year I was born, Mom and Dad had settled in Hobbs, New Mexico, and purchased a lot on Avenue A. They stretched their tent and immediately started building a house. They put down roots and said goodbye to the transient life they’d known. 

Like everything else in their lives, they built our house themselves. A place not too far from Hobbs, The Caprock, had an abundance of large flat rocks. Every day Dad wasn’t working, he’d head up and bring back a load of rocks to cover the sides of the house. That house withstood many storms, and still stands today. 

When I was around twelve, I distinctly remember watching Mom climb up and down a ladder with bundles of shingles to roof the house. And she did this alone. 

I believe I can declare with all certainty that no two people worked harder than my mom and dad.

Mom was a fantastic cook, having learned from necessity at a young age. She had a sweet tooth and loved to bake. Her specialty was pies. She could make a peach cobbler that would melt in your mouth. 

She never measured anything. She’d throw in a handful of this and a pinch of that, and it turned out perfectly every time. 

Mom was not a worrier. Her philosophy was, “If I can’t fix it, there’s no need to waste time worrying about it.” 

I’ve strived to adopt that same philosophy. 

She lived by these seven wisdoms:

1. Don’t whine or throw a fit if things don’t go your way.

2. Take whatever trials God sees fit to give you and make the best of it. Never sit down and give up.

3. Believe in yourself and your dreams, and they’ll come true.

4. Love life and live for God.

5. Hard work never killed anyone. 

6. Try your best and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t turn out the way you first thought.

7. Treat everyone with dignity and respect.

I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with my mom, as you know if you’ve read my books. But I never forgot her teachings, her strength, and her determination. And for the last thirty years of her life, we were close.

She was the best grandmother my two little girls ever could have hoped for. She adored them as much as they loved her. 

I watch my daughters now and see them practice some of Mom’s ways with their own children, and it makes me happy. 

So, here’s to my mom – the strongest woman I ever knew.

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck! 

Welcome to Day 5 of the “JONAH” Blog Tour! @Rijanjks @4WillsPub #RRBC #RWISA

The author is giving away (3) $5 Amazon Gift Cards during this tour! For your chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below as well as leaving a comment on the author’s 4WillsPub tour page.  GOOD LUCK!

Welcome to Day 5 of the “JONAH” Blog Tour! And welcome to Room With Books!

More than anything, Jonah wanted off this island and back to his turf in the city. He’d already tried to swim the distance more than once. But he was forced to turn around or drown.

Despite the hardships, he still wanted to live.

He was familiar with physical strength. It was what he prided himself on. He knew how to use his wits, and fists. Because of that, he was the king of his turf. Everyone who crossed him learned to fear the “Wrath of Jonah.”

Never did he imagine that his ticket off this godforsaken island had nothing to do with brutal strength or agility.

Inside the first care package that was dropped from an unseen source, Jonah found two books and a note.

Here’s the scene:

In the bottom of the bag lay two books and a pencil, along with a handwritten note. He unfolded the parchment paper.

There is only one way off this island. You must examine yourself, face your truths and make peace with your demons.

Jonah folded the note back and lay it next to the bag. Biting off another piece of jerky, then carefully resealing the package, he opened the first book, “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.

“Be impeccable with your word,” he read aloud. He tossed the book into the far corner of the hut. He didn’t need any philosophy BS.

He opened the second book. Finding only blank pages, he tossed it into the corner, as well. 

He’d heard the psychological and philosophical jargon his entire life and none of it had helped him survive on the streets. None of it had helped when the leather strap landed repeatedly across his back, and none of it had put food in his belly when he was starving.

No. He’d made his way with his own strength, grit, and determination, and that wasn’t about to change now.

Running the brush through his hair, he pulled it back, then ducked out of the shelter into the early morning dawn. The most important thing he could do was keep his body strong and ready to fight. After all, it was what he did best. He stretched his taut muscles and began a series of Tai Chi maneuvers. Twirling and kicking, he landed in fighting stance. Yes, this was what worked for him, not religion, not psychobabble, and certainly not philosophy.

One thing is crystal clear ― Jonah has a lot to learn.   

Fantasy meets reality when a young man is forced to choose his punishment for crimes committed. Jonah must decide between imprisonment in a concrete box beneath the earth or be exiled to a deserted, barren island. He chooses the island, but nothing can prepare him for the deadly creatures, and poisonous plants at every turn. Then there’s the maddening isolation that drives him to the brink of insanity. There is only one way off this island and it’s more difficult than anything he’s ever imagined. It’s much easier to face mortal danger than the demons within. Will Jonah find redemption, or another unexpected offer?

Jan Sikes openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It all happened. She chose to create fictitious characters to tell the story through, and they bring the intricately woven tale to life in an entertaining way.

She released a series of music CDs to accompany the four biographical fiction books and then published a book of poetry and art to bring the story full circle.

And now that the story is told, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published many short stories with a series of novels waiting in the wings. She is a member of Authors Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC), the RAVE WRITER’S INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA), sits on the RWISA Executive Council and hosts a monthly RAVE WAVES blog talk radio show, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE.

TWITTER

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WHAT I’M DOING NOW! #RATERSNOTHATERS #RRBC

During a recent chatroom meeting at RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, a certain someone (Amie O’Brien) yelled out “RATERS NOT HATERS”, and I hope you all know how hard it is to yell anything during a chatroom meeting!

Have you ever known someone that gets an idea in their heads (Nonnie Jules) and just won’t let it go? This idea rattled around a few days then RATERS NOT HATERS was born!

Well, I bet all y’all can’t guess what is being added to my resume?! If you guessed Co-Host of RATERS NOT HATERS you’d be right!

PATRICIA GREEN (me), Co-Host

 JOY NWOSU LO-BAMIJOKO, Co-Host

SHIRLEY HARRIS-SLAUGHTER, Co-Host

 

BEGINNING ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23rd at NOON CT, you are all invited to join us as we rate the books that we all want to read. We are some of our top readers in the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and we post reviews on a pretty regular basis, so, who better to give our opinions?

With the internet trolls on the lose, you just can’t believe many of the reviews you read these days. I mean, these trolls are on a mission to seek and destroy the greatest of written works, just because they can. They’re not even real reviewers so we’ll just call them haters.

Enter our super trio of Reviewers! We will share the good and sometimes even our constructively informative views of a book, in hopes that it will help the author become better. No worries, though, we’re not here to tear anyone’s work down. Remember, we’re RATERS NOT HATERS!

Sound like a fun show? Have you ever (virtually) met Joy, Shirley and me? Well, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be!

 

Show: RATERS NOT HATERS

Airs: Every 4th Saturday of each month

Air Time: 12 Noon CT

Show length: 30 minute segment

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Next Air Date:

Saturday, September 23, 2017

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Please Support This Segment’s Show Sponsor:

“TIL DEATH DO US PART” by AUTHOR, JAN SIKES

 


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Join in the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtags below to send in your comments and questions to the host and co-host during the show. Your comment or question just might be read live on the air!

#RRBC #RRBCRatersNotHaters

Join the fan club of the show, “RATERS NOT HATERS,” by sharing your comments below! Let us know if you’ll be tuning in and let us know what you think of the show!

WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour – Jan Sikes @rijanjks

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By Jan Sikes

 

Henry Jacobsen ran gnarled fingers through 84 years of living and swatted at a fly that buzzed around his head. The sun warmed his old bones and he turned to face his longtime friend. “You know, Aaron, what the world needs now, is for people to show a little more respect to each other. Back in my day, if I acted or talked disrespectful, I got my hide tanned.”

The wooden boards underneath Aaron’s rocker creaked in syncopated rhythm with his movement. “Yep, Henry. Times are different nowadays.”

Henry timed his chair rhythm with Aaron’s. “Before I came to stay here, I had a house over on Boulder Street. There was a family a few doors down that was always borrowing things from me, but somehow they never remembered to return any of them.”

Aaron nodded. “I’ve had it happen to me many times.”

“I pulled into the driveway one day just in time to see the oldest kid unscrewing my water hose. By the time I parked the car and got out, he had it slung over his shoulder.” Henry’s frown deepened. “It’s frustrating when you can’t move like you used to.”

He gazed across the green manicured lawn of the Post Oaks Retirement Center as if viewing some long-ago forgotten scene.

“Well?” Aaron prodded. “What did you do?”

“I hollered at him and asked what in the world he thought he was doing. And you know what he had the nerve to say to me?” Henry screwed up his face.

“Nope.”

“He said that he was taking my water hose so he could wash his motorcycle.”

“Don’t that beat all? Aaron clicked his tongue. “Didn’t even bother to ask you.”

“I saw red. I lit into him like nobody’s business,” he growled. “The nerve. Take a man’s things like they meant nothing.”

Aaron shifted to take the weight off his bad hip. “There was a day when I would’ve jumped a guy for pulling a stunt like that. But those times are over for me. At this point, I’m doin’ good just to make it from the bed to the bathroom without embarrassing myself.”

“Yeah, me too. But, I tell you, I didn’t take it lying down. I told him what a rotten, no good, worthless human being he was and that he’d better put the water hose down or I’d call the cops and turn him in for stealing.”

“What did he do then?”

“He laughed in my face…told me I was too old to use the damn water hose anyway and he needed it.”

“Why, the nerve!”

“I marched myself inside and called the cops. When they came, I gave them a list of everything they had so-called borrowed and said I wanted it all back.”

“Did you get it?”

“Yeah. In pieces. The weed eater was battered and wouldn’t start. My shovel was broken in half. The water hose was split in two pieces. All of it was in shambles. Just no respect. That’s what the world has come to.”

Silence spun a web between the two old-timers who’d seen more than a lifetime of battles.

“I remember when I was in the Army. Nobody ever pilfered in someone else’s belongings. I did two tours overseas, fighting for this country and now I have to wonder what for.” Henry’s voice trembled. “The way folks carry on is a shame. Just no regard for one another.”

Aaron halted the rocker and leaned forward. “You’re right, Henry. The mess things are in is downright disgraceful. Take for instance the presidential election. Now, I can’t say I agree with the candidate who won, but for people to go out and tear stuff up, turn on friends and family who voted for him, and get consumed with hatred is ridiculous. No one is willing to bend.”

“Never saw anything like it,” Henry agreed. “I remember when John F. Kennedy won the election in 1960. People spoke out against him because he was catholic. But, they weren’t filled with the kind of hatred they are today. It pains me to think about what kind of society our grandkids are growing up in. For old geezers like ourselves, it don’t really matter all that much. We’re on our way out.”

“Dinosaurs. Men like us with backbone and decency are disappearing just like those prehistoric creatures did. I’d sure like to see something that would give me hope for the future. Hope for our country.” Aaron’s rheumy eyes glistened.

Henry pushed up from the rocker and stretched. It troubled him more than he could say that his grandchildren were growing up in these unstable times. A tired old man needs salve for his weary soul.

Just as he was about to shuffle inside, he saw his grandson, Micah, bounding across the lawn.

Micah waved. “Hi, Grandpa.”

Henry waved back.

Breathless, Micah reached the two men. “Hey, Gramps, look at this beautiful spring day. How about I bust you out of here and we go fishing?”

Henry chuckled. “That’s the best idea I’ve heard in a long time.” He turned to Aaron and winked. “There’s our hope. This young man knows how to respect his elders.”

With that, he joined his grandson. It didn’t escape his notice that Micah slowed his steps to match his grandfather’s or that he held the door while they went inside.

Respect. That’s what Micah demonstrated.

And, it’s precisely the healing the world now needs.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Jan Sikes’ RWISA Author Page