Mary Montague Sikes | April 2019

1. Who Is the "Passenger to Paradise"? ... A few years ago, my publisher, the late Billie Johnson, decided to create the "Passenger to Paradise" series for my novels. Because the books were set in exotic locations such as the tropical island of Jamaica and the red rock landscape of Sedona, Arizona, Billie thought they deserved a special imprint for the series. So, together she and I designed the "Passenger to Paradise" logo.

Like me, the shadow in the logo image loves to travel. Her carry-on bag is always packed, allowing her to leave at a moment's notice for whatever outlandish or glamorous destination calls. She races through airports, roller bag in tow. She never checks her suitcase because the extra time retrieving luggage might be just what she needs to grab the last cab or catch a ride on a horse-drawn wagon in some faraway place.

One day, a package arrived with a surprise in it. Tearing open the box, I discovered that Billie had sent me a T-shirt featuring the "Passenger to Paradise" logo. That T-shirt is a treasure for me now.

Hearts Across Forever was the first book of the series. With Billie gone, I have a new publisher for that one as well as the rest of the "Passenger to Paradise" novels. I love the amazing cover that Jeanne Johansen, publisher High Tide Publications, has created for the re-released version of Hearts Across Forever that is available now.

Dunns River Falls forever beckons to me, calling me back to Jamaica and the perfect temperatures for romantic tropical nights. Reggae music reminds me of the adventures of Kathryn Calder and Flynt Kincade, the mysterious man who rises above and beyond all plausible memories. Throughout this story and the haunting images of old Jamaica, the mystic painting of Rose Hall Great House rises into my thoughts.

So many imposing artworks from Jamaica evolved on my canvases, created from photos and memories of the falls. One hung for many years at the Richmond Marriott Hotel. The four by six-foot canvas had an impressive linen mat and a wide gold frame. Where it is now, I do not know because it disappeared a few years ago in the redecorating and refurbishing of the hotel structure. Four of the magical Jamaican paintings are now hanging at the Ward Center for Contemporary Art in Petersburg. A Rose Hall pastel became part of my coffee table book, Hotels to Remember.

Over the years, the "Passenger to Paradise" has enjoyed an astonishing time as she followed her dreams, met new people, and placed the most interesting and appealing places and faces between the covers of my books. Happily, she will return once more when all the "Passenger to Paradise" books are republished, one by one throughout the next months.

Who is the mysterious "Passenger to Paradise"? You can find out for yourself through the pages of my books and in the brushstrokes of my paintings.
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2. Painting and Writing ... I have a love affair with painting. I have a love affair with writing. It is so hard to balance them both, but I am trying.

Over the years, I have seldom entered juried art shows because it takes so much time to create the right digital images of art work and to fill out all the entry materials. This year I entered three juried shows and am happy to have pieces in all three:
  • Searching for Xanadu, watercolor on Yupo; Crossroads Art Center, Richmond VA; Ellyn Parker, Exhibitions Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, juror. March 15, 2019 Opening. The show continues until May 10, 2019.
  • Point of Entry, mixed media; Gloucester Arts on Main, Gloucester VA; Second Annual Juried Show, Jennifer Morningstar, Manager of Charles Taylor Visual Arts Center in Hampton VA, juror. Opening April 5 and 6 to 8 p.m. The show continues until the end of April, 2019. I was delighted to win Second Prize!
  • On the Edge of Xanadu, watercolor/mixed media on canvas; Bay School, Mathews VA; 7th annual Art Speaks on the Bay Juried Exhibition, Janly Jaggard, juror. The show will open April 27, 2019 at the Bay School Community Arts Center, Mathews, VA with a reception 4 to 6 p.m. and will be on view until May 27, 2019.
Please contact me if you have questions or need directions for any of the events I've mentioned. They should be fun, and I would love to see you at any or all of them.

3. Prince George Art and Frame Open House ... April 27, 2019, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., Prince George Art and Frame, Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, Virginia. Please come to the Open House featuring gallery artists. I enjoy this event because I get to see other gallery artists as well as guests and clients. I plan to be there 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., then head to Mathews for the art opening at the Bay School Community Arts Center. More information at

4. Neal Steele Radio Show ... May 13, 8:00 a.m., I will be a guest on the Chesapeake Bay Writers Club segment of the Neal Steele radio show, Xtra99. I always look forward to seeing Neal Steele and having a chance to talk about my books and CBWC on his show.

5. Spirit Visions Soul Songs Is Published ... My new book, Spirit Visions Soul Songs is up on Amazon, both as a printed book and in Kindle format. More information and purchase options on Amazon. I am excited because I believe this book of paintings and writings will be meaningful to everyone. It can also be just a pretty addition to a parlor table.

Beyond my windows, I see the trees in the forest and study them for inspiration. Words and images come to me intuitively.

"It is the zodiac moments that guide our spirits in the long journey through the green valley," the words say. "From under the little trees, the fairies come and lead the zealous to the land of angels."

This is a book to lie quietly on a coffee table until a seeker reaches out to its pages. I hope it will bring joy in times more troubling than I ever imagined they might be.
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Mary Montague Sikes
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