Traveling #research #Missouri

Sorry, folks. This post was supposed to have gone up on Thursday. It’s just one of the travel debacles. 🙂 Also, comments are closed.

Greetings, everyone. I am leaving Dallas tonight to head to Missouri, so will be out of pocket for a few days.

I have a two-fold purpose for going. #1 is to do some much-needed research for the new book I am writing, “A Beggar’s Bargain.” It is set near Everton, Mo in 1947. The Dade County Library has been most helpful with gathering up newspapers and other articles from that time period.

Then my author friend, Judy Lowe, and I will give a talk at the Dade County Senior Center tomorrow. Fingers crossed that we sell a few books.

After that, it’s on to Branson for a couple of days of relaxation and fun! We are taking in a show at the Sight & Sound Theater and have booked a dinner cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle.

There will be no regular Monday post.

I will catch up with everyone when I return! Have a great weekend.

#MotivationMonday – #Meditation #Rune #DragonCard

Happy Monday! This is the last week of April. Is it just me, or are the days flying by faster? Here’s the thought for the week.

Courtesy of Inspiring Quotes

The meditation I chose to share today is positive affirmations. We so often fall victims to negative self-talk and then wonder why we draw negative to ourselves. The best way to turn that around is to change the negative to positive and watch miracles happen!

I chose to draw one Rune for this week.

Photo by Jan Sikes

Raidho is the rune of travel, representing the physical wheel of a wagon. This rune indicates you are setting off on a journey, whether in the external world or on an emotional or spiritual level.

If your travel is physical, Raidho signals a pleasant experience with few or no mishaps. If you are going on a spiritual quest, the going may require significant flexibility on your part, but the rewards of reaching your destination will be well worth it, as you are following your soul’s chosen path. Either way, you are advised to keep your focus on the experience of the journey itself, rather than on your arrival. This is because Raidho signifies not just the vehicle you ride in, but the road you travel on. You will be best served by making the most of every moment along the way.

A related interpretation of Raidho is “reunion”—specifically the return of old friends in your life or even the arrival of new people with whom you’ve made a soul agreement before incarnating into this life.

Some runic systems also view Raidho as an indicator that now is a good time for negotiations or deliberations related to agreements with others.

Finally, sometimes Raidho is simply a reminder to align yourself with the “wheel of life.” Know that life has ups and downs, ebb and flow, and constant seasonal change. The contrast between opposites is part of the journey of life.

My Takeaway: If you are planning a physical journey, expect easy sailing and enjoyment. If you are taking a spiritual journey, know that you will need to be open and flexible but the rewards will be worth the effort.

Drawing this rune affected me deeply on a personal level as I am embarking on a journey to Missouri on Thursday evening to indulge in some research for my new book. Taking a side trip to Branson will bring some fun and enjoyment into it as well. I know I should never be surprised by a rune or card, but still, I often gasp in amazement!

Here’s another beautiful dragon card to share with you.

#BookReview – The Catch @heartofafrica #BookBlogTour @LoneStarLit

I am super excited to share a review for a book I received compliments of NetGalley and Revell Publishing. And on top of that this book is on tour with Literary Life!


U.S. Marshals Series #3
Fiction / Christian / Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: April 5, 2022
Number of Pages: 352 pages 
Scroll down for Giveaway!
Everything hidden is eventually found
After a harrowing attempt on a judge’s life at the courthouse, Deputy US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn are tasked with finding a missing woman and an endangered child in connection to the murder of the judge’s wife. What seems like a fairly straightforward case becomes hopelessly tangled when the marshals discover that the woman they are searching for is not who they think she is.
Madison and Jonas are forced into a race to find the woman and the child before the people who want her dead discover her location. And in a final showdown that could cost her everything, Madison will come face-to-face with the person who murdered her husband.
Lisa Harris is a USA Today bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta. The author of more than forty books, including The Escape, The Chase, The Traitor’s Pawn, Vanishing Point, A Secret to Die For, and Deadly Intentions, as well as The Nikki Boyd Files and the Southern Crimes series, Harris and her family have spent over 17 years living as missionaries in southern Africa and currently are living there.

Gets the full U.S. Marshals series
(The Chase, The Escape, The Catch)
& a tote bag.
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/22/2022)

Kiss Kiss For Real – #NewRelease #YARomance @MotinaBooks

I’m happy to introduce a new author, Charvet Clark, here on my blog today. She has a new YA book she’d like to tell you about.


Thank you, Jan, for allowing me to take over your blog to talk about my new book. I deeply appreciate it.

I started writing Kiss Kiss For Real in 2013. It was born from my giving up on the first “novel” I wrote in 2010. Everyone knows an author’s first novel (not necessarily published) sucks, and the same is true for me. Then, I thought of a new concept based on a writing article I read where they suggested taking a life experience that didn’t turn out the way you wanted and writing the ending the way you wished had happened. I took that, ran with it, and the storyline for Kiss Kiss For Real was born. There are many personal experiences in the book with details and people’s names altered to protect privacy and to make the story more readable.

I don’t remember how long it took me to finish KK4R – probably a few months since I was a wife, mom of two, and struggling with depression and anxiety. At this time I started querying agents for a second time. With my first crappy novel, I queried 40+ literary agents and got turned down by all of them. It got the same results the second time around with KK4R, but I stopped querying at about 20+ agents. Rejection gets old and wears you out. So I asked my family to stop bugging me about submitting to more agents, that I was just going to sit on KK4R for a while.

Turns out this is part of my unique author “process” where I just sit on my work and let it marinate for a while. When I went back and looked at KK4R much later, I read it with fresh eyes and realized it was so, SO not ready to publish. So I edited again and again for years, working on my craft as something to occupy myself with in between subbing part-time at the middle school, being a mom, and being a wife.

In 2019, I came across a local writer’s group. It was so close I couldn’t use distance as an excuse to not check it out. When I worked up the guts to go (I was still dealing with major anxiety and depression at the time) I decided to go without makeup to appear as if I didn’t care. Because if I cared too much and put too much effort in, then I’d have further to fall when they told me my work sucked, or, just as bad, I wasn’t a real writer yet (imposter syndrome, anyone?). I also showed up empty-handed and asked if I could just hang out and see what I thought of things. There was no way I wasn’t going to feel these people out a little before I just started sharing my precious work with them.

They turned out to be really lovely people that I immediately connected with. When I came home my family was awaiting my field report and I told them I had found my tribe! That was the first time I met my now publisher, Diane Windsor of Motina Books. After meeting a few times, Diane asked if she could read the first chapter or two of KK4R. I agreed and emailed them to her. Then everything just came together from there. She liked my writing style, the title, and the premise of Kiss Kiss For Real, and thought it was a great fit for commercial YA romance.

And so, this book was born.


Mean Girls meets The Kissing Booth!

Kiss Kiss For Real is a fun slow-burn teen romance. Hang on for the ride as you find out how the good girl gets the “bad” boy!

It takes you through a roller coaster school year of catfights, hot guys, chickening out, sneaking around, secret admirers, making friends, and losing a few. Join Diana as she tries to stay sane, look her cutest, figure out who she is, and what her heart wants in the midst of it all.

It’s the 1991-92 school year. Kind, unassuming, academic princess Diana Prescott has recently moved in next door to the hottest, most intimidating guy at her new school, Rico Alvarez. They couldn’t seem to be more different, so when friendship blossoms between them it inevitably causes a multitude of drama. For the first time, Diana experiences bullying and sexual harassment — discovering her own personal and ethical boundaries the hard way.

When it seems like things between her and Rico are ruined, a shocking incident involving Diana reunites them as friends and allies. But is that all they’ll ever be?


Amazon US

Amazon CA

Amazon UK

Amazon AUS

Barnes & Noble US

Book2Read for iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, !ndigo, and more…

Bookshop[dot]org to support your local independent bookseller


Charvet (pronounced shar-vay) Clark grew up in the Puget Sound area of Washington State either daydreaming, singing, or talking too much in school, usually directed all imaginative play with friends and cousins, and excelled at most creative endeavors. She was blessed with an elementary school librarian for a grandma and so was raised on a steady diet of high-quality children’s literature.

Her writing career began in the sixth grade when her teacher submitted her short story for a Young Writer’s competition, and she won. From that time on, while in school, her English teachers loved her, especially when she actually got an assignment turned in. Several of them encouraged her to pursue writing as a career. But Charvet didn’t listen. She thought grown-up careers were supposed to be hard and complicated – that those who were paid for their imagination were only the elite and lucky few.

Today, Charvet knows better. She frequently still gets lost in thought as characters and their stories introduce themselves while she’s in the middle of adulting, and does her best to do them justice in her writing. She’s a sucker for sweet romance in any genre, going to the movies, chocolate, cheesy junior high-level humor, shopping, music, art, and fattening coconut milk mocha lattes. She currently lives in the Dallas, Texas area with her husband, teenage son, and daughter, two big dorky dogs, a diva rabbit, and one intense crazy black cat.

Sign up for my author newsletter at and you’ll receive the FREE mini prequel to Kiss Kiss For Real titled Patricia Meets Craig. It’s the story of how Diana’s mom and stepdad meet, fall in love, and find their happily-ever-after.

Follow Charvet Here:





#MondayMotivation – #Meditation – #TarotReading – #DragonOracleCard

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend. I enjoyed time away with my family and took the opportunity to disconnect from the outside world.

Created in Canva

Here is a short guided meditation to help you focus.

The Tarot Cards called to me this week and here are the cards I drew.

Photo by Jan Sikes 4-18-22

The King of Cups represents mastery over the realms of emotion, creativity, and the unconscious. When this card turns up in a Tarot reading, you have gained control of your feelings and can accept them without allowing them to get the better of you. Even when life throws you a curveball, you can draw on your emotional maturity and stability to help you navigate these challenges. You don’t let things get to you, and you steer clear of the drama, instead choosing an emotionally balanced and calm approach. (Boy, can we all use a big dose of that right now!) As you interact with others, you may need to navigate their strong feelings and emotional triggers so you can create a sense of peace in your interactions. 

We have had the 3 of Pentacles before and it represents teamwork or collaborations. Each person has an important role to play, and when they come together as a team, they can create something much more significant than if they were to undertake the project on their own. So, when the Three of Pentacles turns up in a Tarot reading, take it as a sign to collaborate with others, creating synergies to achieve big results. As you implement your plans, you will realize that you have the skills, capabilities, and resources you need to accomplish your objectives. See the Three of Pentacles as an encouragement that you are on the right track. You are competent at what you do, and you are making progress. Keep going!

The 8 of Swords brings a bit of a halt to the stability and progress of the other two cards. It is a warning card. Don’t allow yourself to feel trapped by your circumstances. When you believe you have no options, it brings everything you work for to a standstill. You may be over-thinking things, creating negative patterns, or limiting yourself by only considering the worst-case scenario. The more you think about the situation, the more you feel stuck and without any options. It is time to get out of your head and let go of those thoughts and beliefs holding you back. As you change your thoughts, you change your reality. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and you will start to create a more favorable situation for yourself.

My takeaway:

Face life’s challenges from a point of balance, logic, and reasoning but with compassion. You may find that you need to collaborate with others or find yourself in a situation of participating in teamwork to accomplish goals, but never allow yourself to think negative thoughts or let yourself believe you are trapped by circumstances. There are always alternatives and based on the two cards in front of this one, you are advised to maintain logical thinking while joining with others.

Now for another awesome dragon card!

Happy Easter and MIA

Courtesy Canva

I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone who celebrates this holiday a very Happy Easter.

I will be stepping away for a few days to spend time with family in a cabin in Oklahoma. I will not be around to visit your blogs or share much on Social Media. So, I haven’t forgotten you, just taking this time to enjoy my family and recharge my batteries.

I hope each of you will do the same!

See you next week!

Good Liniment – #NewRelease #TheHatSeries @virgilante

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I am thrilled to feature my good friend and fellow Story Empire contributor, C.S. Boyack‘s newest book release in The Hat Series! If you saw my review last week, you know how much I loved this newest addition to the series. I have read all of Lizzie and The Hat books and highly recommend them!

But for now, I’ll turn it over to C.S. Boyack and let him tell you about this new book!


Thanks for lending me your space today, Jan. I’m here to talk about the newest tale in The Hat Series, called Good Liniment.

This one has been planned for a long time. Ever since book one I intended to return to witchcraft, but felt like Lizzie had to grow a bit as a fledgling monster hunter. She’s chased down a variety of different classic monsters, and has some skills by this time. Enough to be recognized by the local coven as someone who could help them with a problem.

This left me with the need of developing a magic system, and I had some personal desires of things I wanted to avoid. The biggie on that list was a school for magical sudents.

I took the path of apprenticeship for those who got spotted by the coven. In my world, magic is a genetic variation. One that has been hunted down and eliminated from the gene pool for centuries. This makes the coven quite secretive about their existence and lives in general.

To bring readers some of the fun with magic, I decided my witches would have one natural ability, no more than two at most. Other disciplines could be learned by study and practice. I decided early on not to limit myself to elements, those are part of the mix, but so is gadget magic, plant magic, death magic, weather, and anything else I can come up with later.

Writing this took some effort, because there are a lot of new characters. I made it so readers would be able to make a guess about specific witches without spelling it out for them. When Cyrus Yoder uses specific kinds of dirt, manipulates gravity, or uses a lot of clay, readers can make a logical guess about his skills.

I did spell things out for Dash Goodman, who is apprenticed to Cyrus. They spent some time figuring out that his natural ability involves air. Because he’s the character to walk us into this world, I don’t feel bad about how this got spelled out. I’m toying with the idea that he may have a second natural ability involving artwork. Might happen in a subsequent volume, might not. I’m on the fence about that. Dash has a penchant for stealing airplanes which helps me sell his natural ability. He’s also an artist so the groundwork has been laid if I want.

The clues are there, but can be subtle. Sometimes you have to glean it from names, like Solis and Umbra, who are twins. I may not revisit everyone in subsequent volumes, but I have a nice pool to draw from.

Just for fun, I included a test for witchcraft of my own invention. (Actually, I stole it from Staci Troilo, so props to her. She didn’t know it was a witchcraft test.) Readers might have a good time seeing if they can pass.

Readers should keep in mind that The Hat Series is dark humor. You’ll find death and blood, but there are light moments and pop-culture references aplenty. If this sounds like the series for you, they were all written as stand-alone short novels. You can pick up any volume that interests you and not feel lost.


Someone is murdering members of the local witches’ coven. They turn to Lizzie and the hat for their unique skills that might help eliminate the killers.

A religious zealot might be a monster, but is still a human being. This task isn’t the same as staking vampires or shooting zombies. It isn’t the usual project Lizzie takes on for her night work.

This all takes place during a recovery period for Lizzie. She needs to keep her cover band together and find a new way of getting them gigs. More bands and less venues are making finances tight. The hat didn’t make things easier during her absence, by spreading rumors about why she took her sabbatical.

Someone killing others over a point of view insults Lizzie’s sensibilities. She has secrets to keep. Her employers have secrets, too. It doesn’t make for a comfortable working environment, but she agrees to do what she can.

Convincing her strong-willed employers to stay indoors during all this poses another problem. Can she keep them alive long enough to finish her task?

Good Liniment is full of magic, magical creatures, and an entire underground community living amongst us.

The Hat Series consists of short novels that can be read in a single afternoon. They’re full of snarky dark humor and can be easily read out of order.


The Hat Series Purchase Link

Follow C.S. Boyack:








#MondayMotivation – #Meditation #RuneReading #DragonOracleCard

Created in Canva

Welcome to the beginning of another new week. Today’s meditation is designed to bring a deep sense of peace and well-being.

Here is the Rune Reading for the upcoming week.

Photo by Jan Sikes

It is hard to tell from the photo, but the rune in the first position on the left is Tiwaz or Tir, the arrow. It represents courage, victory, strength, passion, and masculine energy. It indicates that you may have recently taken up a cause and are ready to fight for what you believe in. It is a rune of extreme motivation, showing a strength of will and a singleness of mind that can enable you to overcome all odds.

In the middle or present position is Uruz, another rune of strength, health, power, and energy. You have the strength to persevere through any challenge as well as defend yourself against adversaries. If you are pursuing a dream, this rune suggests that there is enough momentum behind you to bring it into manifested form. Summon your connection to divine energy and trust that you will be guided to channel your personal power toward a positive outcome.

In the last or future position is Mannaz, the rune that represents humanity. This rune reminds us that we are part of a shared experience among all humans, no matter our specific language, physical appearance, or beliefs. Oftentimes, this rune is pointing to some aspect of tension in the relationship between your inner self and your perceived place in the outer world. You may be feeling at odds with the attitudes and expectations of society.

My Takeaway:

With two runes that indicate power and strength, there is no doubt we are capable of handling whatever might come our way. And we should never separate ourselves from our fellow human travelers. We are all in this game together and it is easy these days to feel at odds with the attitudes and expectations of society.

What a gorgeous Dragon card for springtime!

Wow! This entire reading was just for me. I am in the process of putting together the presentation to honor Rick and his music for The Western Film Festival and am struggling with technology I need to successfully create a video with clips from the very early sixties of him and his band. I managed to take the clips off a VCR tape to a DVD and that’s as far as I got. When I tried to download it to my computer, it tells me there is nothing on the disc and yet it will play on the DVD player, so I know it’s there. However, I will persevere! I have the power and strength to figure it out. And, as the Dragon card says, I need to stay balanced and ground my visions while manifesting my hopes and dreams!

Have a great week!

#BookReview – Summer Nights With A Cowboy @_CaitlinCrews #NetGalley

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.


When I picked up this book, I didn’t realize it was book #3 in a series. However, it reads well as a standalone, and nothing was lost.
Janie Atwood is a nurse and a good one. She lost her mother in childbirth and has lived her entire life with her grandparents. It was a good life and she was happy. It wasn’t until after the grandparents’ deaths, that she receives a letter from her grandmother with some shocking revelations.
When a job opening comes up to care for Damaris Gardiner in Cold River, Colorado, she jumps at the chance to find the answers to all the questions the letter raised, while making a living doing what she loves, caring for the elderly.
History is written by the people with the most to hide. Cold River is like any small town with a group of founding families and a hierarchy or pecking order. The author did a fabulous job of portraying the small-town image with lots of firmly rooted imagery.

Zack Kittredge is the sheriff of the small town and he prides himself in keeping order. He’s well-known for his stern grumpiness and devastatingly good looks. Everything in Zack’s world is black or white, right or wrong. There is no in-between and no flexibility with anything outside those rigid guidelines.
Janie’s introduction to Zack is to trip over her own two feet and send a spray of snowy mocha java all down the front of his pristine lawman shirt. She’s always been clumsy. She’s always been the good-natured friend or big sister in relationships with the opposite sex. That is until Zack.

I loved all of the complex family dynamics displayed in this story. Not just Janie’s estranged family, but Zack’s and Damaris Gardiner’s, the Halls, the Everetts, and everyone in between. Each family has issues and baggage. And just like in real life, they skirt around the issues, ignoring the elephants in the room and pretending everything is the way it should be.

It takes Janie’s honesty and bravery to set in motion a chain of events that will change everyone’s lives forever.

I loved this excerpt: Families were a collection of sweetness piled on top of sorrow, stories told and corrected and retold and misheard by every member, all interlaced together over the years.
After all, they are just people.

The story unfolds in entertaining and delicious layers. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it to anyone who loves complex romance stories set in small towns.

I gave this book an easy 5-Stars!

The Bones of Amoret – #NewRelease @HerbertWriter @LoneStarLit

I am super excited to introduce this new book to my followers. Arthur Herbert is a new author to me and this is the first book of his I’ve read, but it won’t be my last!

Genre: Mystery /Suspense
Publisher: Stitched Smile Publications
Date of Publication: April 1, 2022
Number of Pages: 323 pages 
Scroll down for Giveaway!
In this enigmatic follow up to his critically acclaimed debut novel The Cuts that Cure, Arthur Herbert returns to the Texas-Mexico border with this saga of a small town’s bloody loss of innocence.
Amoret, Texas, 1982. Life along the border is harsh, but in a world where cultures work together to carve a living from the desert landscape, Blaine Beckett lives a life of isolation. A transplanted Boston intellectual, for twenty years locals have viewed him as a snob, a misanthrope, an outsider. He seems content to stand apart until one night when he vanishes into thin air amid signs of foul play.
Noah Grady, the town doctor, is a charming and popular good ol’ boy. He’s also a keeper of secrets, both the town’s and his own. He watches from afar as the mystery of Blaine’s disappearance unravels and rumors fly. Were the incipient cartels responsible? Was it a local with a grudge? Or did Blaine himself orchestrate his own disappearance? Then the unthinkable happens, and Noah begins to realize he’s considered a suspect.
Paced like a lit fuse and full of dizzying plot twists, The Bones of Amoret is a riveting whodunit that will keep you guessing all the way to its shocking conclusion.
Arthur Herbert was born and raised in small town Texas. He worked on offshore oil rigs, as a bartender, a landscaper at a trailer park, and as a social worker before going to medical school. For the last eighteen years, he’s worked as a trauma and burn surgeon, operating on all ages of injured patients. He continues to run a thriving practice.
He’s won multiple awards for his scientific writing, and his first novel, The Cuts that Cure, spent ten days as an Amazon #1 Best Seller. His second novel, The Bones of Amoret, will be released on April 1, 2022 through Stitched Smile Publishers. Arthur currently lives in New Orleans, with his wife Amy and their dogs.
Arthur loves hearing from readers, so don’t hesitate to email him at
This book grabbed me from the first line and didn’t let go until the last. I read it in two sittings and way past my bedtime.

One of the things I loved about The Bones of Amoret is the setting. If you have never seen the incredible beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert in far southwest Texas, you are missing a treat. But this author did a fabulous job of describing the scenery, so that even if you’ve never been there, you could visualize it.

The main character, a medical doctor in the small town of Amoret, wore many different hats. Noah Grady had a big heart and helping immigrants cross the river safely for a chance at a better life showed that explicitly. Add in his love for a mentally handicapped adopted son and you get the picture of a wonderful man filled with compassion.

But Noah Grady has a secret. And the author kept it under wraps until the very end. While I thought I had figured out the direction the story was heading several different times while reading, none of them were correct.

Blaine Beckett disappears at the beginning of the story. The whodunit and what happened unfolds in layers, much like peeling back an onion. And I couldn’t wait to peel back another layer and get deeper.

The author doesn’t shy away from giving his character huge obstacles, both mental and physical, to try and overcome. At times, I chewed my fingernails, wondering which one would be his demise.

If you love a riveting tale of mystery, action, suspense, sensitive social issues, and deep-abiding love, The Bones of Amoret is for you. The bonus is the gorgeous setting in the Big Bend area where the Chisos Mountains rise tall and the ravines run deep.