Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Please Welcome Romance Author, Mary Montague Sikes

What the Sweet Romance, A Rainbow for Christmas, by Mary Montague Sikes is About:
Life is going as planned for Meg Smith and her brother’s family. They are in Missouri preparing for a wagon train journey cross country to Denver when tragedy strikes. Her sister-in-law dies in child birth, and her brother’s life ends in a senseless gun fight over a horse.
To save the family’s Ohio farm, Meg’s father has arranged her marriage to a wealthy Denver man. When they marry, her new husband will send the money to her father to pay off the bank. Meg decides she must honor her father’s wishes, so she sets out alone on the wagon train journey with her six-year-old orphaned niece to meet her fiancĂ©.

Will Mr. O’Sullivan accept Eliza? Meg worries. When she becomes attracted to the wagon master, she starts to wonder if she really wants to marry a man she’s never met?
http://tinyurl.com/86vb4ko - Amazon Link
And Now, Some Advice from Mary Montague Sikes:
Always Keep a Notebook Handy
      Always keep a notebook with you because you never know when you’ll come across something remarkable you can use later on in an article or a story. That’s a piece of advice I like to give writers. In my own writing studio, I have dozens of little notebooks and artist sketchbooks filled with information from journeys taken over the years.
     One of my black hardcover notebooks is from a journey we took into rugged mountainous areas of Colorado where we discovered a section of old gold mines in Idaho Springs. Inside the Phoenix Gold Mine, a veteran miner entertained us with colorful tales from pioneer times. The day we visited, he was having trouble with his left arm which he said was injured when he was struck by lightning inside the mine a few weeks earlier. He believed this was a message from God showing him where a vein of gold was located. Not long after the lightning strike, a rich pocket of gold ore was located where it hit. What he told us that day filled my notebook and provided an entertaining chapter for my book, Hotels to Remember. It also supplied me with a little background into mining in the West where not only gold but also silver were found in the early days of the pioneers. The talkative miner gave me a piece of gold ore that day that I still have on display in a cabinet. It’s a reminder of the importance of artifacts and other memorabilia to a writer.
     Several years ago when we were visiting charming little communities in the Colorado mountains, I came across several books documenting the early days of the settlement of the territory. Although I had misgivings at the time, I bought two of the books, including one with diaries of women settlers. They’ve provided a wealth of knowledge to supplement all those little notebooks that line my book shelves.
     As I wrote my latest book, A Rainbow for Christmas, I referred many times to my Colorado notebooks, artist sketchbook, and my book of dairies written by the “covered wagon women.” I’ve learned to treasure my notebooks and to be on the lookout for local books that contain a wealth of research information.
     Keep lots of notebooks. That’s wonderful advice for writers.
About Mary Montague Sikes:
Growing up in the historic city of Fredericksburg, VA, Mary Montague Sikes was surrounded by old buildings and stories of the nation’s founding fathers. Virginia’s history fascinated her and so did the challenges of those who left the comforts of the established colonies to head west on wagon trains. When she discovered the diaries of the brave women who endured great hardships to cross the plains, she was fascinated and knew that one day a bit of their stories would surface in one of her novels. That book turned out to be A Rainbow for Christmas, published in 2011. This young adult novel is her first historical book. Her other novels include the “Passenger to Paradise” books, Hearts Across Forever, Eagle Rising, Secrets by the Sea, Night Watch, and Jungle Jeopardy. She is author of a mystery/suspense e-book, Dangerous Hearts. She has written five non-fiction books, including Hotels to Remember, a coffee table book featuring her art, photography, and stories. All her novels have kindle versions.
Sikes is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. Following her love of art, she studied painting and sculpture at the College of William and Mary and earned a MFA in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. A freelance writer and photographer as well as book author, Sikes presents programs for art, writing, and civic organizations. For the past 14 years, she has taught art part-time at West Point (Virginia) Elementary School.
For more information about her books and art, visit http://marymontaguesikes.blogspot.com/.
Please welcome Mary Montague (Monti) Sikes by leaving a comment.

21 comments:

  1. Welcome to Sweet Not Spicy, Monti. I agree that notebooks are very beneficial, in fact anything where I can put a list is good! Keeping it all in one place makes sense.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  2. Good morning, Morgan. Thank you for having me as your guest. I'm trying to do better with lists, but now I can't find the one I made yesterday!

    Monti

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  3. Hi, Monti--I can never resists a story involving a wagong train. Some of the first romance novels I ever read--I was a late starter--concerned those, and I loved them.
    I notice this one is a YA novel. I've vaguely thought about writing one, but not knowing how they sell or if there is a market, I stick with what I do now.
    I enjoyed the post very much--Morgan had a great idea when she thought of this blog.

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    1. I've always loved wagon train stories as well. Because this is a little shorter than my Passenger to Paradise novels and is a sweet romance, I consider it a YA. My publisher (Oak Tree) has started a western series, and my book is part of that.

      I'm delighted to be a guest on Morgan's blog. Thank you for commenting, Celia, and good luck with your writing!

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  4. I love westerns and love to collect books based on women's diaries. There's a wealth of information about the day to day events that bring a story to life. Since I'm getting ready to take a vacation I plan to bring a note book with me.

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    1. Thanks, Linda, for sharing. It's wonderful that those books are available, and, of course, the Internet has changed everything making so much more possible for writers! Enjoy your vacation and fill up your notebook!

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  5. Thanks for the tip, Mary. I always keep a notebook in my bag and also by my bed. I often come up with ideas late at night or early morning, and if I don't write them down, I forget them.

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  6. Thank you, Mayra, for reminding me about the notebook by the bed. I used to keep one there as well. It's a really good idea. I don't know why so much comes to us in the middle of the night, but it does and then is gone by morning!

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  7. When I traveled through England, I kept a notebook, just so I'd remember every place I visited.
    Congratulations on the new book, Monti!!

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    1. Thanks, Alex! I bet you use that notebook when writing some future book!

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  8. Fabulous advice. The Internet can only bring you so far. Especially when writing historicals you need to dig deeper.

    Wishing you the best,

    Cheryl

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    1. Cheryl, thank you for commenting. Those books of local history give amazing background for a community. Especially for writers of historicals!

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  9. Hi, Monti! The book sounds delightful, and your advice is right on. I always have a notebook on hand to jot down ideas. (If I don't they'll fly away never to be found again.)

    Best of luck with your latest.

    Marilyn

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    1. Thanks, Marilyn! Ideas fly away all too fast!

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  10. Hi Monti! Great information - thanks. I think there can not possibly be an app that can replace a good ol' notebook for notes,and sketches. I've never kept a notebook before, but I'll surely start now! And I'm off to check out your YA novel. Definitely sounds intriguing. - Sofie.

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  11. Hi Sofie! Thanks for commenting. If you start keeping notebooks, you'll have them all over the place. I hope you enjoy my book.

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  12. Hi, Monti:
    I'm a big fan of sweet romances, and any adult fiction I write is never hotter than PG...just a personal preference, and it's good to see a "sweet" author who is succeeding. And I agree with your notebook advice. My problem is I'm not as organized as you, and I end up with lots of notes and loose paper! One of these days...
    Paula

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  13. Hi Paula,

    I have loose papers as well, but it helps when I remember to bring a notebook instead. Loose paper is better than no notes at all! Thanks for commenting.

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  14. Hi, Monti,

    I enjoyed reading about your book and your ideas for notebooks and sketchbooks. I use both, too. I often make sketches of the characters and of the setting. I like to make maps of the area, too. Maps help me to visualize where the scenes take place.

    Linda

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  15. Maps!!! I love that idea. It's one I've never used. Thanks for sharing and for visiting.

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  16. Morgan, thank you so much for having me as your guest! Your site looks great. Good luck with all your projects!

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