Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, December 31, 2012

Can There Be Peace on Earth in 2013?

December 31 every year is a day to reflect. Hopes and dreams. Last January 1, we had many thoughts, many hopes, many ideas. It was a new beginning, a chance to believe that dreams can come true.

Did they?

I asked for peace on earth. It did not happen. War and more war everywhere. Perhaps this is the war planet. I've thought that many times and hoped that I was wrong.

I asked for love, especially for little children. The year 2012 was not a year of love. Children are mistreated everywhere. This year was particularly heinous. In our beautiful land, the United States of America, why can we not have love and special caring for little children?

I ask again for love in 2013. I ask that we be a better people, that we lead all other nations in that respect. I ask that we love our planet and care for its future.

"Is There Hope Anywhere?" copyright MMSikes
On a personal career basis, some of my hopes and dreams did come true in 2012. 

1. My new book came out, Daddy's Christmas Angel, which is my favorite of all the novels I've written so far. It is a story of heartwarming love.

2. My Maya Ruins show was on public display for almost two months. The show related to my adventure story, Jungle Jeopardy. It also related to the intrigue of the Maya calendar that ended December 21, 2012.

3. During our travels, we discovered the amazing Antelope Canyon on the edge of northern Arizona, and we saw once more the glorious Grand Canyon, a destination of reflection where we can give thanks this natural wonder is part of our National Parks system.

For 2013, please remember that it is up to us, the residents of Planet Earth, to make this a loving and beautiful place to live. It is up to us to create a place where there is no need for war, where beauty can prevail everywhere.

Are we as a people capable of peace on earth?

I do not know...

Mary Montague Sikes

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Did Santa Bring a Kindle for Christmas?

Bob Parlier of the Petersburg Progress-Index interviewed me about Daddy's Christmas Angel. See the article in today's newspaper.

Daddy's Christmas Angel 

Did you get a new Kindle for Christmas? Are you already a Kindle owner?

My publisher, Oak Tree, just put my new novel, Daddy's Christmas Angel on Kindle at the special price of $0.99. This special will last until January 1, 2013 when the Kindle price goes back to $5.95.

Of all the books I've written, this is my favorite. It's a heartwarming story that appeals to people of all ages. Teachers especially will enjoy this story.

"Angel of the Holy Cross" pastel painting copyright MMSikes
If you've read my book, please let me know what you think!

Here is my latest angel painting for Christmas 2012. I created this pastel in mid-December and had not planned the cross necklace. It suddenly became an important part of the painting as I was working on that section of the drawing. That's when the name, "Angel of the Holy Cross," came to me, relating it to the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona AZ. The face of the angel developed from using the catalog cover photo of a young brunette woman as reference material. I wanted my angel to be generic, not someone I know. I also wanted the viewer to be able to see the angel as someone in his/her life. The wing forms in the painting came from my love of patterning.

Each year, the angel I create for Christmas becomes my favorite, so, of course, "Angel of the Holy Cross" is my favorite now.

At least, so far...

--Mary Montague Sikes

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Scammers in the Christmas Season--That's Sad

Why do people scam others, especially during the Christmas season? Yesterday, December 21--end of the Maya calendar day--I received a call from a group that identified itself as Preferred Guests.

Usually, I don't even answer when I receive a call listed as "private" on my caller ID. When I realize it's a telemarketer for certain, I say "thank you, not interested" and hang up. This time I didn't. After all, I am a travel writer and wanted to learn more about this 10 night deal that included four days and three nights in Orlando with two adult passes or a one week economy car rental. This deal also included four days and three nights in Daytona Beach or Ft. Lauderdale. And, then, I was told we would get five days and four nights at an all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica. That would cost $99 per person but would include all meals and drinks.

Okay, this sounds interesting, but I do not trust cold calls. And rightly so.

I was told that I had to accept or decline this offer right then, and she wanted to know what credit card I'd be using for the $498 to pay for this deal. When I told the young woman that I never give my credit card number to strangers calling on the telephone, she said, what is it you don't like? Is the amount too much or does it sound too good to be true?

I said it sounded too good to be true and, even if it weren't, I'm not willing to give out my credit card number. Could she just please send more information in the mail? I asked. She said, "Just a minute, let me find out something." Then, she switched me to another woman who proceeded to ask me for my credit card number. When I refused, she asked the same questions about the amount being too much or was it too good to be true? Once again, I said that I never give out my credit card information to someone calling me about a deal.

Then I told her I write travel articles and am always interested in learning about travel destinations and opportunities. I also said I write blog posts and might like to write about this call.

There was silence and a click.

I've read about people losing a lot of money giving their credit card information to fraudulent companies. If this was not a scam, it certainly had the appearance of one. Especially since she hung up on me.

I did not like it that the caller said I was contacted because I am a timeshare owner. I would hate to think that any of the timeshare people I trust would have a part in a scam like this one.

Why are these people allowed to continue with these calls? What have your experiences been?

--Mary Montague Sikes

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End of the Maya Calendar

Apocalypse BlogfestDecember 21 denotes the end of the Maya calendar. Is it the end of the world? The height of the Maya civilization ended long ago.

"This Troubled Planet" mixed media painting copyright Mary Montague Sikes
If indeed December 21, 2012 is the end, what will happen? Perhaps visitors from an alien planet have been hiding on the dark side of the moon for many years awaiting this time. I suspect that soon after we ended our moon exploration expeditions, these aliens came and have hidden in moon shadows ever since. They don't like the chaos on our planet and are troubled that terror expeditions from this peaceless planet might spread throughout the universe. That's why they decided to shoot the exanoplane into the earth's atmosphere to careen the planet out of orbit and send it on a forever journey into deep space.

Will Earth escape this traumatic fate?

Perhaps something will change for the aliens.

Perhaps the exanoplane will fail in its mission.

The Maya were wise in their observations of space. Was there a reason the calendar ended December 21, 2012?

Will there be December 22, 2012?

--Mary Montague Sikes

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Has Happened to School Safety? Are We in an Age of Indifference?

The horrific events of last Friday hit us hard in a most vulnerable spot--our children. I've had many years of experience, both as a classroom teacher and as an art teacher working with children and adults of all ages. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to bring complete devastation to young children and their families.

When I first started teaching, there was no safer place than a school room. My first year as a classroom teacher was in first grade. That year, the school was overflowing with students, so the six first grade teachers taught in two shifts in the small Sunday School rooms of the church next door. Of course, parents were not happy with that arrangement, and their dismay forced our principal to start searching for a better alternative. He and the school board soon found a big old rural school building a few miles down the road that had been closed for a while. Six large classrooms were cleaned up, and the first grades moved there. The remainder of that school year, we were alone with the children, just the teachers without administrators or any other kind of staff except for a janitor who arrived after the children left.

Schools, even out in the country, were safe then. No one ever thought otherwise.

"Universe and Beyond" copyright MMSikes
Why aren't they now?

Some of the commentary I've heard over the weekend is thought-provoking and worrisome. Because we have a society of many people engrossed in social media, we no longer connect with one another face to face on a personal basis. In our little town, the once vibrant Kiwanis Club recently met its demise because younger people weren't interested in joining and the older members were literally dying out. One television commentator talked about the decline in church attendance--yet another place where people once socialized. Another concern mentioned often was the abundance of violent video games that have desensitized our children. Violence in television and in movies is abundant and can further desensitize our society.

In many ways, the Internet and social media have drawn us closer together, but have they also pulled us apart, leaving us in isolation before a monitor or cell phone? We text messages to one another while seated at the same dinner table with the recipients. What is that all about?

Are we now in an age of indifference to the feelings of others? Is that why bullying is more hurtful and prevalent than ever before?

What about school safety?

What about us?

--Mary Montague Sikes

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Events at Tides Inn, PRAC, and More Make Busy Weekends

Showing Art and Signing Books at Tides Inn
What a busy few weeks it's been for artists and authors in our area. December 8, Tides Inn hosted its annual Christmas Marketplace. I look forward to visiting the picturesque location at least twice each year for the special marketing events. This year, I was able to attend the Labor Day weekend happening as well as Memorial Day and Christmas.

December 9, Arts Alive in West Point featured a festive holiday presentation of a barber shop quartet, and I was given the opportunity to sign books during intermission.

December 14, Petersburg Regional Arts Center hosted its annual Christmas Gala. This year, art and musical presentations spread from the main gallery onto the mezzanine level as well.

December 15, 20 Virginia writers held the Celebrate with a Book authors book fair at Regency Square Mall in Richmond. While we signed books, we got to see lots of beautifully dressed children en route to and from seeing Santa.

It's been fun, productive, and a learning situation on many levels.

 Entertainment at Petersburg Regional Arts Center Christmas Gala

Regency Mall Book Signing

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Events - Petersburg and Richmond

Please stop by Petersburg Regional Art Center for the big event tonight, Dec. 14, 6 to 9 p.m.

Daddy's Christmas AngelSaturday, Dec. 15 is the Celebrate with a book event at Regency Square Mall, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We'll be in front of JCPenny. I'll feature Daddy's Christmas Angel at both events.

On Friday, Dec. 14, we have the 3rd annual Resident Artists Gala at Petersburg Regional Arts Center, 6 to 9 p.m. Besides Art and Books, by 57 artists, there'll be an abundance of music and holiday food. It's free and open to the public. Address is: 132 North Sycamore St. in Petersburg VA.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., we'll have an Authors Book Fair at Regency Square Mall in Richmond VA. Prizes, gifts, and lots of books by 20 different authors.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cavanaugh Blogfest and Christmas Holiday Events

Interview with Lorna Collins.

Please visit:

Cheers Cavanaugh Blogfest
I first met Alex Cavanaugh while taking Dani Greer's Blog Tour class in July 2010. Since that time I've followed his blog and watched it grow from not so many to over 1700 dedicated followers. Bravo, Alex!

·         In +/- 20 words, what does Alex look like? I imagine Alex at about 5' 10" with dark wavy hair and blue eyes weighing about 165 pounds.
·         In +/- 20 words, who could play Alex in a documentary? (Living or dead.) Tom Cruise
·         In +/- 20 words, who does Alex remind you of?  Perhaps Houdini because he comments on a zillion blogs each day--a feat of magic.
·         In +/- 100 words, (excluding the title) write flash fiction using all these prompts:

            Since I have never written a piece of flash fiction, I don't want to start today. It's been an amazing experience to meet Alex on the Internet. He has obviously been a role model for many and an inspiration for everyone.

Cheers to Alex! - MMSikes

 Holiday Events Coming Up This Week

Lots of Christmas holiday events are scheduled for this week! 

On Friday, Dec. 14, we have the 3rd annual Resident Artists Gala at Petersburg Regional Arts Center, 6 to 9 p.m. Besides Art and Books, by 57 artists, there'll be an abundance of music and holiday food. It's free and open to the public. Address is: 132 North Sycamore St. in Petersburg VA.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., we'll have an Authors Book Fair at Regency Square Mall in Richmond VA. Prizes, gifts, and lots of books by 20 different authors.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Marketplace at Tides Inn--What a Beautiful Setting

My first Tides Inn Christmas Marketplace event
Saturday, December 8 is the annual Tides Inn Christmas Marketplace event. No matter how busy or not the event is, just visiting the beautiful setting is worth the trip there.

This year, I'm going to take two large canvas boards and set them up for painting with pastels. That means I'll be giving a painting demo as I man my space at the Inn. I'll also be promoting my new book, Daddy's Christmas Angel.

It will be fun to see some of the other artisans who appear at Tides Inn regularly--three events every year. The other events are on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

If you're in the area, please stop by. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

--Mary Montague Sikes

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Creating an Angel Card at Christmastime

For the past several years, I've created a new angel card for Christmas. This year, I thought about making my cover image from Daddy's Christmas Angel into my card but decided against it. Instead, I went into my studio yesterday and created a brand new pastel angel painting.

Chapel of the Holy Cross - MMSikes
Although I hadn't planned it, a cross necklace suddenly appeared around the neck of this year's angel. I named the image, "Angel of the Holy Cross." When my husband reminded me of our visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, I realized the connection.  Although I am not a Catholic, I was very drawn to the church situated among the picturesque Red Rocks of Sedona, Arizona. Unfortunately, I did not go inside that day four years ago because it was too near closing time for the area. Also, it was a rare, gray afternoon which eliminated the possibility of dramatic colors in my photographs. When we were in Sedona last month, we passed the road leading to the Chapel almost every day, but we did not go visit it again. Now, I wish we had.

I will have my angel cards and Daddy's Christmas Angel at the Tides Inn Christmas Marketplace in Irvington, Virginia on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will unveil my new image, "Angel of the Holy Cross" there. Here are two of my other angel cards:

"Angel Close Beside Us" Copyright 2010 MMSikes
"Angel of the Endless Garden" Copyright 2011 MMSikes

Monday, December 3, 2012

Here's to Something I Haven't Done Before--Or Have I?

As an author for many years, I have done many book signings but never one featuring 20 authors. On Saturday, December 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., I'll be part of such a signing--Celebrate with a Book. The event will take place across from the JCPenny store in Regency Square Mall.

It will be interesting to see how folks manage with such a large group of authors. I've found that signings work best when authors stop passersby and engage them in conversation. I suppose if 20 authors are all stopping people and doing a lot of talking, things could get a little chaotic. Festive!

As I think about it some more, I have been part of some large scale group signings. One year I signed at a big Romantic Times Convention in Orlando. Another time, I signed with a zillion authors at the Romance Writers of America's annual conference. I think that one was in Denver. Several years ago, the Virginia Romance Writers had a group book signing for Valentine's Day. Although we had a lot of writers that day, I don't believe we had 20.

This should be fun. We'll be giving away author gift bags to the first 20 people who visit our tables.

If nothing else, we'll all get to know some new authors who haven't met before. That should be interesting and inspiring.

My new book, Daddy's Christmas Angel, is right in the spirit of the season. Hope lots of folks will stop and say, "Hi," and take a look at our books.

--Mary Montague Sikes