Nope, it’s not working. How do I do this writing thing?

Writing takes more than putting words on paper. Like broadly-scoped art, there are applicable concepts. Writing is creative, right? Creativity and art are parallel, and in all art, there are similarities. Which tools do you use, blank sheet of paper versus blank canvas, keyboard versus sketching pencil,  paint brush,  camera . . .

Alfred Stieglitz

Each week my blog will utilize those concepts, like in the books of Dixon and Bickham in their writing or Georgia O’Keefe or Albert Stieglitz or John Singer Sargent in their art. For me, having been degreed and experienced in several arts, such as interior design, architecture, painting, photography, dance, criticism, like the writing of Goldberger or Muschamp, the concepts are similar. Concepts that will impact descriptions in your books.

Today I’m writing about the word “Drape.”

Is it Drapes or Draperies?

I have a bone of contention with the English-speaking world. Drapes is a verb, Draperies is a noun. I’ll explain. I learned the use of the word, drape/draperies at the New York School of Interior design BFA program. I bet you’re thinking it’s jargon. No. It’s grammar.

Me being curious about everything, I checked online to see if this issue had ever been addressed. Low and behold, I found a blog by Mark Scott Drapery Design from December 2009, in total agreement with me, so this blob is a reblog. It’s obvious that Mark understands English grammar, and he most likely has worked with NYSID* interior designers. Thanks Mark Scott!

Needless to say that I was delighted to find someone in this world, other than my design colleagues, that understand the use of the words. No more confusion.

Mark Scott’s reblog: Whenever asked this question I unequivocally respond, “Most definitely, Draperies.” You see, drape is a verb. To drape. As in, He draped his coat over the chair and looked menacingly into her eyes, as if to say, ‘Don’t even think about calling those beautiful window treatments drapes!’  Or, She draped her shawl over her shoulder, rolled her eyes while lighting a cigarette, and loudly asked, in an accusatory voice, ‘Where the hell did you get those god-awful drapes?’

Traditional Draperies 19th Century Greek Revival

Now, if you sell window treatments for a living, as I do, keep in mind that people do not want to pay good money for a verb. Verbs are fleeting. Always in motion and seldom ready to stand alone. They need a subject or object to lean on. People want something self-reliant, long-lasting – something that’s gonna stick around for a while – like a noun. It’s stationary, fixed, not goin’ anywhere and proud of it.

I prefer terminology that suggests longevity and permanence (and that will increase my income potential, of course). Let vagabonds and Philistines have their drapes. Give me my draperies, sir, or prepare to be publicly draped in insult and shame!

So Mark, maybe now our public will refuse to be shamed because they know how to use the verb drape and the noun draperies. Of course you can save yourself anguish if you say ‘curtain.’ But those are usually shorties that shrink your window, Oops did I say something naughty? Next week, we can talk about the difference between floor-to-ceiling draperies and short curtains covering the window only. Tricks to fool the eye, spoken from a pro. Now we are talking about writing descriptions in your book(s).

Thumbs up Mark!

Mark, may I give you a thumbs up for your skill with draperies?

Sheer Curtain Panels, Contemporary design with a draped valance gives these draperies a traditional flare.




*American Society of Interior Designers

*New York School of Interior Design

Indigo Sky for reader who enjoy historical romance! @AmazonKindle Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link:
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Flatiron Building

Twenty-three skidoo was a happening at a triangular site where Broadway and Fifth Avenue meet. The juxtaposition of the streets and a nearby park caused a wind-tunnel effect.  In the early twentieth century, men would hang out on the corner of Twenty-third Street and watch the wind blowing women’s dresses up, so that they could catch a little bit of ankle. This entered into popular culture and there are hundreds of postcards and illustrations of women with their dresses blowing up in front of the Flatiron Building. And it supposedly is where the slang expression “23 skidoo” comes from because the police would come and give the voyeurs the 23 skidoo to get them out of the area.

After the end of World War I, the 165th Infantry Regiment passes through the Victory Arch in Madison Square, with the Flatiron Building in the background (1919).

The now familiar distinctive triangular shape of the Flatiron Building, designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and built in 1902, fills the wedge-shaped property. The 22-story iconic office building has been one of New York City’s most dramatic enduring symbols of the city since its birth. It was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. It is popular with photographers, artists and illustrators.

Wind tunnel

The gold dome of the Sohmer Piano Building (1897) is a distinctive landmark of the Flatiron District

The neighborhood around it is called the Flatiron District . The designation is of relatively recent vintage, dating from around 1985, and came about because of its increasingly residential character and the influx of many restaurants into the area. Before that, the area was commercial, with numerous small clothing and toy manufacturers, and was sometimes called the Toy District. Later, the toy businesses moved outside the U.S. and then the area began to be referred to as the Photo District—because of the large number of photographers’ studios and associated businesses located there, the photographers having come because of the relatively cheap rents.

Steilitz Flatiron in winter

Popular photographers like Stieglitz and Steichen photographed the building, along with artists and illustrators who all took the Flatiron as the subject of their work.

As of the 2000’s, many publishers have their offices in the district, as well as advertising agencies. The number of computer- and web-related start up companies in the area caused it to be considered part of “Silicon Alley” or “Multimedia Gulch”, along with TriBeCa and SoHo, although this usage declined considerably after the bubble burst.

Today, the Flatiron Building is frequently used on television commercials and documentaries as an easily recognizable symbol of the city, and in scenes of New York City that are shown during scene transitions in TV sitcoms and other shows and publications.

What is your favorite place in NYC? Have you visited the Flatiron District? Quite interesting with its museums, restaurants and shoppes.

I need your help! Indigo Sky is up this week in Author Shout’s Cover War. You can vote daily. Any votes would be most appreciated! Just click HERE to vote!
A historical romance

In a whirlwind romance, a lovely New York socialite marries a fêted, debonair author. But beneath the charm is a cheating husband addicted to hasheesh. Her dream marriage turns sour and the simplicity of her life runs amok when a handsome stranger, her husband’s business partner, threatens her staunch loyalty to her wayward husband.

When she faces the ugly truth about her marriage, her need to finalize her divorce sends her on mad chase across the wilds of nineteenth century America with a handsome stranger where she learns the hard lessons of murder, kidnapping, and more, that almost destroy her.

What do Catherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy have to do with the Gilded Age?

What do Catherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy have to do with the Gilded Age?

The Kiss (Lovers), oil and gold leaf on canvas, 1907–1908 Gustav Klimt (popular for its gilt)

The Gilded Age, circa 1870-1900, was a period of rapid economic and social growth characterized by the emergence of a wealthy middle class, excess and embellishment in architecture, art and fashion, fueled by mechanization, transportation, major inventions and the growth of cities. Under the surface however lay significant social tensions- corruption in politics, collusion in business and poverty among unskilled industrial workers, child labor and discrimination.The term “Gilded Age” comes from the satirical novel co-authored by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner and published in 1873 (the process of gilding, applied a thin veneer of gold to a baser material such as pewter or tin to make the artifact appear more valuable, had recently been introduced). Twain likened it to an era of serious social problems masked by thin gold gilding.

The Gilded Age is also the setting for my upcoming novel THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN, Book 1 in the the Baldwin Family Series. It follows the lives and loves of the Baldwin siblings: Adam, Allie, Mia, Emma and Ava and their parents, newspaper magnate Joseph Baldwin and his charity-minded wife Clara who oversees a children’s hospital. Since I also LOVE the classic Hollywood romantic comedies of Catherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, I wanted to weave that element into my books. Along with my love of design and architecture of course. Can’t wait for you all to read it!

Washington Square, NY Childe Hassam, 1895

Madame X 1894 John Singer Sargent

For the purposes of this blog, I chose to point out the visual arts of the era when American painters emerged: Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sergeant, Childe Hassam and others. Art of the romanticized West by Albert Bierstadt, Charles Remington  et al. Are we in a new Gilded Age? Which artists, in any creative field, will become associated with this era?



Maria Connor

Maria and I found each other at RWA 2014 Atlanta. We met over an iPod Nano. We never talked about writing, only music on her tiny Nano. The tiny toy and its 5000 songs fascinated me. She gave it to me. I’ll have it with me at Disney RWA this year. If you catch me, I’ll show you. It has all my songs now. Imagine?

One day late last year, I noticed “Maria Connor, Author Assistant” in an RWA email. I called to ask if she was the same Maria that gave me the Nano. “Yes,” she said. I asked if she could help me with my work. She was booked, but offered a consult. The consult was terrific. Then early this year, I received an email asking if I was still interested in her services. I immediately said yes, and it’s been fantastic—we work well together.

Maria’s book, easy read: DO LESS, WRITE MORE buy link:

I asked Maria if she would explain what an Author Assistant does, and how to find one because it’s wonderful.

Here’s Maria: The Author Assistant offers one of the most in-demand support services. Here are suggestions and insights about how assistants work in today’s publishing environment.

What is an Author Assistant?

An Author Assistant, aka virtual assistant or personal assistant, provides support services to writers. They are usually freelance or contract positions. Some assistants work with a single author while others support several authors. Many work remotely, but some work with their clients in person.

What Does an Author Assistant Do?

left to right: Reader/fan at RWA BookSigning 2016 with Roxanne St. Claire and Maria Connor

There is no standard job description yet for the Author Assistant because needs of the author differ. Here’s a partial list of services offered by most assistants:

  • Entering contests and sending prizes to winners
  • Formatting books
  • Coordinating events (eg, Book signings)
  • Social Media management
  • Designing and formatting newsletters
  • Updating/maintaining websites
  • Working with reader teams
  • Creating teasers and graphics
  • Marketing support and assistance

How Can Hiring an Assistant Benefit Authors?

left to right: Reader, Author Heather Ashby, Maria Connor

Hiring an experienced, professional assistant provides a number of benefits:

  • Plotting, planning, and writing time
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving organization: filing, phone calls, appointments, etc.
  • Coordinates opportunities, programs, events, speaking engagements, conferences
  • Professional image enhancement
  • Marketing
  • Connections/networking
  • Efficient use of your time
  • Solidify your brand
  • Clarification of goals/priorities
  • Pass along promotional opportunities
  • Your personal “Cheerleader”
  • Enjoy a competitive edge
  • Coverage for vacations, holidays and sick time

Do Less and Write More: Hire an assistant and have more time to write which means more published books, more sales and more income. Here’s a little formula—Average writing 600 words an hour, by hiring an assistant for five hours a week you could complete an additional 3,000 words a week. If you write a 12,000-word novella, you could potentially complete an additional story every month. How awesome it that?

How Do I Hire an Author Assistant?

Seek an Author Assistant the same way you would search for an agent, editor or publisher. Use a variety of resources to generate a solid list of potential candidates.

  • Ask friends and peers for referrals
  • Ask to be introduced to assistants at events and/or conferences
  • Attend Author Assistant workshops
  • Post a wanted blurb within your organization’s newsletter, etc.
  • Online search
  • Review referral sites such as Author’s Atlas and Author EMS
  • Check out sites for freelancers such as Upwork and Freelancer

Once you have a list of potential Author Assistants, screen and research each candidate. Begin at their website, blogs, social media profiles and LinkedIn profiles. While reviewing these sources, keep these questions and considerations in mind:

  • Background? Qualifications?
  • Experience in the publishing industry?
  • Professional online presence?
  • Strength of their writing skills?
  • Any reviews and/or recommendations?
  • How long have they been in business?

Before an interview prepare a job description or list of duties you need/require. Based on the criteria, develop a list of interview questions.

Once you’ve hired an assistant, be prepared to invest time and energy in discussions relative to your needs and to build a working relationship. I caution my new clients to expect a few bumps in the road until we’ve established trust and rapport. You may have different communication styles, different processes, even different expectations. I suggest delegating one or two tasks to start and then move forward.

In my experience, many authors pursue a career in writing because they are passionate about storytelling. Writing is more than a career, and this affects the working relationship between an author and assistant, making it more intimate and personal. I’m fortunate to have developed several long-term partnerships with smart, talented authors, and I consider it a privilege to be a part of their team.

Maria Connor is the founder and owner of My Author Concierge. She has worked in the publishing industry for more than 15 years. Her roles include freelance writer, journalist, author, editor, designer and photographer. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and specializes in working with self-published romance authors. For more information visit

This is my stuff that I have more time for because of Maria!

Indigo Sky for reader who enjoy historical romance! @AmazonKindle Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link:
Author page:

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