How do you do this writing thing?
I kind of fell into writing fiction by accident. You see, I’m an artist (a painter) and for many, many years I was an interior designer and taught design and architecture as well. I was always an avid reader. But a writer? No way! Until I was inspired by painter Albert Bierstadt and I wanted to tell a story inspired by his life.
I know, I said to myself, I’ll write a book. After all, I had written a chapter for a history book and been wooed by a publisher. I wrote up school catalogs, wrote course curriculum, wrote up interior design and architectural history lectures, proposals for jobs, poetry and love letters. Surely writing a book would be a piece of cake. Sure, right.
I sat down, pen in hand, put pen down—booted up my trusty Mac, surely that would inspire me . . . but that didn’t help. This is not going to work. What do I write first, the end? What words do I use? How do I find my characters? Where does all this come from? It shouldn’t be any different than giving a lecture. OK, I though smugly, I’ll approach it like a lecture. I could talk for hours about interior design, lighting, space planning, history, architectural anything. Still nothing. I remember the emptiness, the confusion, the lack of words. I didn’t think I had this gift to tell a story, never mind, writing one.
Tommy the train to NYC
Then I met Brenda on a train ride into New York. We were both on our way to a Michael Hauge workshop. Hauge is a screenwriter who teaches writing courses. Brenda and I became friends after that class. I learned a great deal from Hauge but also from Brenda who helped me get my thoughts together and helped me formulate my story. But Brenda was busy with her growing family and her full time job as an attorney, so I had to continue my search for help. During a CTRWA Fiction Fest, in 2009, “Inspiration for Writers” offered free editing service for the auction. I bought enough tickets to win it. Yay, That’s how I found Charl, who is an editor for them.
Creativity is a right brain activity. Have you explored your creativity? Do you remember being creative as a kid? I sure do. Comic books were the rage when I was growing up. (They still are). I would sit at my desk and draw what I saw in the comic books. Wonder Woman was my hero. As I got older, I drew all kinds of things. I played the piano, I took dance lessons, voice lessons, sang in school shows, sang in school choir, took my mother’s dresses apart and remade them. Took my radio apart and my clock apart and put them back together, well, with Daddy’s happy help, it was my curiosity that pushed me to explore. The list goes on, and I wrote little poems and notes to friends and family. I realized that I had always had that passion for storytelling inside me all along. I had just been using different mediums to tell my stories.
I didn’t just want to think of a story, I wanted to write that book, and in spite of myself, i did. I took enough workshops and writing courses to earn a PhD in “workshop-taking”. And with the help of Charl I was able to complete my very first book, Indigo Sky. I am a member of the Connecticut Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, where writers gather and help each other. Being a member of the CTRWA, I was exposed to many different publishing companies, big and small and with Jamie S’s help where to submit. I landed a publishing contract with Soul Mate Publishing. With the help of my editor, Tammie, at Soul Mate, who worked very hard with me, I completed the re-writes and the book was published in 2015.
My book can be found in three formats, paperback, eBook and Audiobook. I even have a book trailer! Two things have changed in my life since that fateful day I decided to start writing: 1. I became a published author. 2. I have made so many wonderful friends along the way. I wish you all the same creative journey.
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.
This era is also the time period of my upcoming novel THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN, Book 1 in the Baldwin Family Series. The series follows the lives and loves of the Baldwin siblings Adam, Allie, Mia, Emma and Ava. They are the children of a wealthy newspaper baron Joseph Baldwin and his charity-minded wife Clara who runs a children’s hospital in Manhattan. The series is pure romantic comedy in the vein of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. I love classic Hollywood comedies and in a way, they were part of another “gilded age” or rather, a “golden era” of film if you will. And I wanted to infuse that spirit into my books. Along with my love of design and architecture.
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?
And I am so excited to be part of the organizing committee for a truly worthy cause. in Norwalk, Connecticut will be having its annual fundraising gala on October 14, 2017. And this year’s theme is – you guessed it – the Gilded Age. For more information you can contact them directly. General Inquiries and Visitor Information T. (203) 838-9799 Email email@example.com
Gail Ingis is an author and artist based in Connecticut. This blog is all about her passions: history, architecture, and interior design and fiction. Her current historical romance is INDIGO SKY. Gail’s upcoming release is the first book in a new series: THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN.
Indigo Sky is available on Amazon.
Follow me on Amazon.
Allie Baldwin – a beautiful display of white space
There is something that I am paying attention to as I work on The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, the first book in The Baldwin Family Series set in New York in the late 1800s. This is something that authors don’t pay that much attention to, unless they are self-published and do their own formatting or hire a formatter. What I”m talking about is “spacing”. Especially the “white space” around the words and paragraphs.
Whitespace is a fundamental building block of good design. It’s the first design aspect that any visual designer is taught. What is whitespace? Let me say that it’s not always white. This space may be a color or texture. For authors, white space is the space between blocks of text. Author reviews often mention that the book had lots of white space and they loved that, it gives the reader an enjoyable journey through the story. In this post I explain why whitespace matters. Design, a critically important element authors often overlook. Words on the page need balance, structure and white space. Maria Connor, Published Author and Author Assistant
The most obvious benefit of whitespace is that it increases legibility. You only need to compare the examples shown in Mark Boulton’s superb article on whitespace to see how a good use of whitespace can make an enormous difference to legibility.
Believe it or not whitespace between paragraphs and around blocks of text actually helps people better understand what they are reading. According to research in 2004, this kind of whitespace increases comprehension by almost 20%.
Before corrected with whitespace
After corrected with whitespace
Negative space fresh and open
CREATES THE RIGHT TONE:
Finally the use of whitespace can be a powerful way to communicate elegance, openness and freshness. Obviously this isn’t always the design look and feel you wish to communicate. However when it is, you can’t do better than having loads of whitespace.
For the visual arts, the phrase refers to negative space. In my work, I have found the old adage, “Less is more,” to be true. A phrase used by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1947 as a precept for Minimalist design and architecture. The phrase has been used in other applications by the design community over the years. I use it in designing and painting all the time. It is part of my philosophy. The negative is as important as the positive.
Extra Whitespace Information: Did you know that your business card should have at least one whitespace the size of a quarter?And the backside should have a flat finish so the recipient can write who, where and when.
Not everyone thinks whitespace is important. As the volume of content on the web grows, how do you stand out from the noise? Website owners find whitespace to be a waste, they fill every open spot on the page. Websites have become a way to market and promote product with lots of noise. Website owners demand that every space say something. I never know where to look and cannot find anything on those busy websites.
Whitespace . . . Is this about two profiles in black silhouette or a goblet in white?
Starbucks clever use of good graphic design with lots of whitespace
Thanks to Paul Boag, click whitespace to see his blog and be sure to click Mark Boulton’s article on whitespace.
How about you? What do you think about whitespace?
My brand new luggage! And check out my red dress and shoes!
If you traveled this summer, chances are you lugged a suitcase or two along. Think of how sleek and modern suitcases are today, with pockets and slots to fit everything you need.
My hear hubby Tom and I are taking two journeys soon, one on land, the other on the sea. We are off across the wide divide, with varied weather and lots of fun things to do. So of course, I had to buy new luggage. Oh goody shopping! I also bought a red dress and new shoes with lots of bling in both, but that’s another story. Tom and I prefer to travel light. Just how much room will be needed for two travelers for this type of trip? Our duffle bags do not cut it, so off to Costco I went and bought one large suitcase. I opened it up and there was a smaller one inside. Love it. They are just perfect for our needs. Travel is adventurous, but it’s also a lot of work to organize. Can you imagine what it was like in Victorian times with all those huge dresses, crinolines, corsets, shoes, stockings and toilet requisites? Fortunately, the crinoline was on its way out. A good excuse not to pack a hooped underskirt, or course an underskirt with no hoop was still necessary.
Allie Baldwin would have loved traveling in today’s modern era.
In my new series, The Baldwins’ of New York, my heroine, Allie, (The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin – Book 1) is involved with the women’s suffrage movement. Peter Harrison, the hero, owner of a security company, is hired by Allie’s father, Joseph Baldwin, to protect Allie. Much to her parents chagrin, she frequently puts herself in harm’s way. Allie and her sister Mia are determined to visit Fairfield, Connecticut (60 miles from New York City). Allie must travel there in order to write an important story (she writes for her father’s newspaper). With Peter along to protect them, nothing could go wrong, right? Wrong! You’ll have to stay tuned to find out what happens . . .
Allie, Mia and Peter traveled by train to Fairfield. The ladies were given an overnight compartment. In those days, the fashions were bulky. Consider how they had to travel and stay in Fairfield for an undetermined length of time. The Baldwin sisters had a massive travel trunk, a cumbersome box that even empty was too heavy for most. Thank goodness porters were always available at the train stations.
Painted steamer trunk by artist Mia Baldwin
Mia got all excited, she said, “Oh please Allie, let’s use the trunk that I painted.” (Mia is an artist).
“Of course Mia. It’s so lovely, everyone will comment on it.”
Do you think we can fit all of our clothes in that trunk?” asked Mia.
“Yes. Lay everything out that we want and then remove a third.”
“Oh, I wish it was easier to travel,” Mia said. “Imagine where we could go.”
Thank goodness for modern travel. I’ll stack my modern suitcase up against that trunk any day. Happy Travels.