Daddy's Christmas Angel

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Loving Indiana Jones

An old poster of Indiana Jones hangs on the wall in a small bedroom in our house. I love the poster and I loved Harrison Ford in the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

As I wrote my novel, Jungle Jeopardy, I visualized a young Ford as the almost-hero of my book. Tyler Hunter (my character) is an archaeologist who knows a lot about ruins of all sorts, including the Maya which are depicted fictitiously in my story. Another character, Clifton Wilder, the hero of a previous book, Secrets by the Sea, wears an Australian-style hat similar to Ford's in Jungle Jeopardy. A jaguar figures prominently in my book.

Were there any jaguars in Raiders? I don't remember.

Earlier today, I studied the Indiana Jones poster and decided it would be great fun to create an outfit for book signings that links a little to the Ford image from the movie. I have an Australian bush hat my children brought home from a trip there. I'm going to wear that hat, a brown jacket with the look of one from the movie, and a silk shirt with a jaguar image on the front to my next signing. I already have a painting I created of a jaguar to go with my story. Although I look nothing like Harrison Ford and I don't have a gun to strap around my waist (think that would be illegal in Virginia), I'm excited about this branding project for Jungle Jeopardy.

Will I attract readers? I don't know, but it should be fun trying!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Illusion of Time

Creating Time

Have you ever thought much about the illusion of time? What is time?

Whatever it is, I never seem to have enough of it. Do you?

Time appears to move differently for everyone. I remember that as a child, time dragged on forever for me. Once, when I was five or six years old and went to visit my cousin over night, I was so homesick that I thought the time away from my mother would never end.

Endless time is difficult.

Several years ago, an older man told me that when he reached the age of fifty, time began to fly ever faster. That's because unlike a child with 10 years to relate to in time, an older person has many years. The months between Christmases go ever faster in those later years. It was like age 50 was a hump for him, and the pace of time changed thereafter.

Recently, I started reading Creating Time by Marney K. Makridakis. As an artist as well as an author, I enjoyed the art work sprinkled throughout the book. In the chapter, Your Relationship with Time, she talks about personifying the entity of time.

"Your Time Guide is an imaginary persona that you create, a benevolent figure who supports you fully and gives you exactly what you need in the area of time," Makridakis says.

She gives an "ARTsignment" of conversing through letter writing with your Time Guide. I like that idea and intend to try it.

I found her chapter on Time and Relativity fascinating. She begins by discussing Einstein's theory of relativity and notes some of his thoughts on it. Because I have a poster in my classroom with an Einstein quote, "Imagination is more important than knowledge," I was especially interested in his thoughts on the subject of time.

The Einstein time implication, "Time is relative to the position of the observer who measures it," (from Makridakis' book) explains what my friend experienced after he reached age 50.

I love the "ARTsignment" Galleries in this book. I intend to study them and create some of my own.

Please take a look at the Book Trailer for Creating Time.

Time is an illusion. We all see it in our own unique perspectives. Creating Time will inspire you to experience time in diverse and sometimes magical ways.

                                                              Copyright 2012 Mary Montague Sikes
Marney K. Makridakis is the author of Creating Time. She founded the Artella online community for creators of all kinds and the print magazine Artella. A popular speaker and workshop leader, she created the ARTbundance approach of self-discovery through art. She lives in Dallas, Texas. Visit her online at

Corner Cafe

Monday, May 21, 2012

Connecting Maya Ruins Art and Writing

I love it when writers are inspired by art. Richard Raymond III created the Shakespearean sonnet below based on my paintings and what he remembers from Mayan history. You can see the imagery as you read.

Thank you, Richard!

"... And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything."
– Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent-God
No "still unravish’d bride" is this stark stone,
No "foster-child of silence". Undulant,
For centuries lay dreaming, all alone
Amid the undergrowth and forest-plant
He lay with gaping maw, whence peered a face ...
(Of anguish? or, perhaps, of godly birth ...
Was it emerging, as the fount of a great race?
Or being swallowed, to increase the serpent’s girth?)
Only the sculptor knew, who seemed to mock
Divinity, disgorging living head,
Hewn by stone tools out of the living rock,
Where now remains no witness but the dead,
Not even ghosts to weep, betrayed, undone,
Upon these steps, the Temple of the Sun.

Copyright Richard Raymond III

Friday, May 18, 2012

More About the Maya Ruins Show

Lorelle Rau installs Maya paintings at Crossroads Art Center
My Maya Ruins Art Exhibition at Crossroads Art Center is up. Lorelle Rau did a fantastic job with the installation. On Thursday, I was interviewed live by Cheryl Miller on Virginia This Morning. (Click link to see two of the 12 ruins paintings on view in Gallery One that were part of the TV segment.)

Maya Ruins Exhibition on view until July 10 in
Gallery One at Crossroads Art Center
2016 Staples Mill Road
Richmond, VA

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Combining Art with Writing

"A Vision Beyond" acrylic painting MMSikes
Balancing the life of an author and an artist is difficult and often impossible. How does one write, promote, paint, teach and have another life besides? It's not easy, but sometimes it's rewarding as well as fun.

For the next couple of months, I will be combining art and writing lives with an exhibition of my Maya Ruins paintings that were created from photos I took on trips to Palenque and to Chichen Itza in Mexico. The Palenque trip was particularly challenging because it required a flight on a small plane we chartered from Huatulco across the jungles of southern Mexico to a grass airstrip near the ruins. While there I was astonished and amazed at the depth of the jungle overgrowth that covered the huge number of ruins not yet unrevealed. When I returned home, I relied on my pictures to provide resource materials for the dozen large acrylic paintings I created in my studio.

Those paintings are on view through July 10 at Crossroads Art Center, 2016 Staples Mill Road in Richmond. The public is invited to an opening reception, Friday, May 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. The event will include a book signing for my adventure novel, Jungle Jeopardy. Inspired by my travels to the Maya Ruins and by Indiana Jones-type perils, this book finds a perfect setting among my paintings located in Gallery One at the Art Center.

Thursday, May 17, my art show and book signing will be featured in a segment on Virginia This Morning, CBS Channel 6 Richmond, between 9 and 10 a.m.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do You Belong to a Critique Group?

Last Saturday, Cathy Maxwell, New York Times bestselling historical romance author, was luncheon speaker at a writer's conference in Virginia Beach. The importance of critique groups to Cathy's career stood out for me during her talk.

When Cathy joined Virginia Romance Writers she had recently developed a dream to become a published author, but she hadn't written anything. She did, however, become a part of a critique group. She then brought in other aspiring writers to that group, including Mary Burton, now another New York Times bestselling author, who hadn't yet written anything at the time. They, along with several other writers she named, read each others work, passing manuscript pages to each other often while working at their day jobs.

The critique groups worked for them. They supported each other and obviously became successful writers.

Soon after I started writing fiction, my instructor at the community college where I was taking a writing class formed a critique group with some of her students and I was part of it. We read each others work and learned a great deal in the process. Unlike Cathy and Mary, we were not all romance writers. Several people wrote non-fiction and later had successful books published. None were New York Times bestsellers.

Do you belong to a critique group? I know a lot of people who believe their successful writing careers began there!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thoughts About A to Z Blogfest

I enjoyed being part of the second A to Z Blogfest. It made me organize my life to make time for a daily post (except for most of the Sundays). I met new bloggers and got some new followers. If I had managed to visit more blogs, I'm sure I would have gained even more followers. However, I live a cluttered life with few vacant spots in my weekly schedule. During the month of April, I also was gone on a 10-day trip, a part of which included the unforgettable visit to Antelope Canyon in Arizona. That trip made it more difficult to visit others on the list.

Whether it was my computer or something else, when I tried the links to some of the blogs I found the link was not viable. It could well be the fault of something in my software, but it was disappointing to find so many bad links on the list. Did anyone else have that problem?

I liked having a theme. It made me tie my own posts together in the Around the World in 30 Days travel theme.

Thank you, everyone who hosted this event. A special thanks to Alex Cavanaugh who is such a faithful visitor to the blogs of others.

It was fun writing the posts!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rainbow for Christmas Wins First Place

First western romance
Although I didn't get to attend the Virginia Press Women Conference in person, I was thrilled to learn that A Rainbow for Christmas won first place in Young Adult Fiction.  I was one of 39 members of Virginia Press Women who received awards in the 2012 Communications Contest in a ceremony held during the Spring Conference in Harrisonburg. Categories such as newspaper writing, public relations, advertising, photo journalism, Internet and magazine writing, and books were judged by 11 experienced journalists and public relations professionals. Entries that received first place advance to the National Federation of Press Women contest.

 “The author brings history to life for YA readers! The thoughts and fears of these very real characters are timeless, which gives readers something they can relate to as they are transported back in time to experience a unique perspective about the hardships and injustices in the west and what it might have been like for a girl to travel toward uncertainty in a covered wagon.” 

Visit the Maya Ruins!What a lovely comment from the judge! 

My other novel published in 2011, an adventure story, Jungle Jeopardy, won honorable mention in fiction, novel. “The fast moving plot pulled the reader along, and the details about Maya culture and archeology were interesting,” the judge noted.

Another nice comment!

Congratulations to all the Virginia Press Women winners.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

For the Love of Writing - A Conference at Virginia Beach

coverFor the Love of Writing, a Conference at Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center gets under way Thursday evening with an opening reception. Lots of fun and learning for those attending. Keynote speakers will be Barbara Samuel and Cathy Maxwell. Editors and agents will be there to take appointments with attendees.

On Saturday at 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., I'll present a workshop: "Writing Fiction and Non-Fiction, How to Do Both." The event is sponsored by Virginia Romance Writers.

Exciting news for Notes Along the Way! This blog won first place in the 2012 Virginia Press Women's Communication Contest for Blogs: Special Interest Sites. The two posts entered were: "Women's History Month - What Woman Most Influenced Your Writing," March 25, 2011 and "My Three Best Hotels of 2011." The entry will now go to the 2012 National Federation of Press Women's Communication Contest for judging.