Daddy's Christmas Angel

Friday, February 16, 2018

Explaining the Top Items on My Bucket List

This is week seven of the 52-week blog challenge for Marketing for Romance Writers, and the topic is the top five items on my bucket list. Because I have cleared away many items over the years, I had to stop and think about this list.

Going to the state of Alaska has to be at or near the top of my bucket list. After all, my husband and I have visited every state except Alaska. Years ago, I dreamed of flying to the West Coast and renting a vehicle to drive from Washington state up the coast of Canada to Alaska. It sounded like a wonderful adventure. That was the exuberance of youth speaking. Such a trip now sounds rather grueling and long. Also, Alaska is cold with short days most of the time. I am rethinking.

A trip to Australia was once at the top of my list. However, that sounds even more daunting now. When we flew for nine hours on a trip from St. Louis to Hawaii, that flight dampened my desire to fly double that time to get to Australia. And that did not even count the many hours to get from the East Coast to the West Coast to begin the trip.

I have now added to the top of the list the promotion of the "Passenger to Paradise" novels I started to write as a series in 2001. Those stories began with Hearts Across Forever, set on the luxurious tropical island of Jamaica.  There, I discovered Rose Hall Great House and the legend of the White Witch. Ideas blossomed in the lush setting and drummed up a magic drama and love story for the characters and for the "Passenger".

A dreamer, creator, and traveler, the "Passenger to Paradise" loves to go to exotic places where she can readily research her books. A new novel, set in the tropics, is now part of my bucket list. That will make six books for the "Passenger to Paradise". I wonder how many more ideas she will drag onto my bucket list, making it always out of reach to complete.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Five Authors I Would Like to Meet Would Include William Shakespeare

Six-toed Cat at Hemingway house ©MM Sikes
Much to my surprise, for week six of the 52-week blog challenge for Marketing for Romance Writers, I realized I would like to meet William Shakespeare. The fiction series, "Will", intrigued me and made me more interested in the back story behind Shakespeare's work. I wonder if any of the TV story lines are fact-based.

Ernest Hemingway is another author from the past I would like to meet. Key West is one of my favorite destinations, and I love visiting the Hemingway displays at the waterfront museum. I also enjoyed a visit to his home where I got to see the six-toed cats.

Of course, being almost from Richmond, Virginia, I treasure the words of Edgar Allen Poe. I especially love his poem, "Annabelle Lee", as well as most of his short stories.

As a member of Romance Writers of America, I attended every annual conference for many years and got to meet lots of authors. Once, in Chicago, I chatted with Janet Evanovich and was amazed to hear from her that she was leaving Love Swept and branching out on her own. You know where all of that went. She made the right move.

Ruth Montgomery's work has always intrigued me. I would love to meet her and discuss her paranormal writing.

So many wonderful authors. I would like to meet many others as well.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Book with the Biggest Influence on My Life - The Bible

"In All of God's Glory" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Continuing with the blog fest for Marketing for Romance Writers, I thought for a long time about this week's subject, a book that has influenced me most. Despite all of my pondering and wanting to describe a book from modern literature, I kept coming back to the Bible.

Soon after I was born, my mother listed me on The Cradle Roll of the Fredericksburg (VA) Methodist Church. Mother was a very religious woman who often told me proudly that she had read the Bible from cover to cover by the time she was 13 years old. Over the years she made the church a big part of my life. As I write articles and books, words memorized from the Bible long ago still flow through my mind.

As an author, I have been influenced by the works of LaVyrle Spencer whose books, especially  Morning Glory, enchanted me. I loved Margaret Chittenden's reincarnation story, Forever Love, which encouraged me to write Hearts Across Forever. And then there were the beautifully-crafted novels by Diane Chamberlain. All of these books and their authors inspired me, but these stories did not follow me throughout my life as did the Bible.

The Bible versions from which I learned were dusty and old-fashioned, however, the messages prevailed. I hope never to forget those many memorized passages I found long ago. I hope to never forget the hymns that stir me and that special forever-memorable book.

Friday, January 26, 2018

What Would I Do If I Couldn't Be a Writer?

In My Studio ©Mary Montague Sikes
This year, I am participating in a Blog Challenge for Marketing by Romance Writers, and this week's topic is what I would do if I couldn't write. That one is easy for me because I have always been both a writer and an artist. Without writing, which I can't imagine, I would devote full-time to painting.

The images inside my head would dance out triumphantly onto canvasses everywhere. My studio is full of blank and unfinished canvasses. That would be the case no more. I would experiment to my heart's content and sometimes race out into the world to paint en plein air.

Some days, I would pull out my hammer and chisel and sculpt away. After all, sculpture was one of my first loves in art. Channeling Henry Moore, I built up large sculptures with Keene's cement, soon finding they were too heavy to move without help. I thrived in the College of William and Mary studio setting under the instruction of my teacher and mentor, Carl Roseburg.

"Mother and Child" ©Mary Montague Sikes
My sculptures ©Mary Montague Sikes

Because of the difficulty of transporting my work and the length of time it took to create each piece, I gave up sculpture in favor of painting. I still love the three-dimensional, so many of my paintings are mixed-media with surface texture added.

Studio Paintings Unfinished ©Mary Montague Sikes
Like written stories, the images always dance through my mind. I long to fill the blank canvasses and the empty cradled boards with more of my fantasies and journeys of the imagination.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

How Much of Me Is In My Writing?

How much of me is in my writing? That's a good question for Week 3 of, a blog challenge by Marketing for Romance Writers.

Since I am a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, I must first consider this from two angles. A good non-fiction writer will try not to put her own considerations and biases into a news story or feature article. Obviously, she must want the news to be the truth. A travel article, often written in the first person, will be different, and an author can give her opinion, which is expected.

However, as an author, I am most concerned now with fiction-writing. As I work on a novel, I know a great deal comes from my own personal experiences, embellished by my imagination when I think, "what if?" In my novel, Night Watch, much of what happens in the story actually happened to me when we arrived late at night in the airport in Trinidad. Our journey became an adventure when I thought we might actually be in danger as we were transported by strangers to an offshore island. Much of the story I tell through the eyes of my heroine occurred as we traveled in remote areas of the island nation where in many places I did not even speak their language.

When I write fiction, I use settings where I have been. Some are fictitious locations such as Jefferson City or Jefferson Point in Virginia where I set my novels, Daddy's Christmas Angel and Evening of the Dragonfly. Others, like Hearts Across Forever, are set in places we have visited, often many times.

"Rose Hall Great House" pastel painting ©Mary Montague Sikes
Jamaica, the setting for Hearts Across Forever, is an island we have visited more than a dozen times. It is a place where I have painted many beautiful scenes. Rose Hall Great House is part of the setting for my reincarnation story. My visits to Rose Hall where I learned about the "White Witch of Rose Hall" inspired this story.

I suppose the novel, Jungle Beat, an Indiana Jones-type adventure, has less of me in it than some of my other books. Even so, my visits to Mayan ruins in Central America, had great influence on the story.

How much of me is in my writing? I guess I have to say, " a lot".

What about you? Do you feel sometimes you are writing about yourself?