Where are you a year and a half later? Are you homeschooling? Are you working at home? Have you started a new business, a new hobby, new friends via zoom? Not too much has changed for Tom and me. We read, write, edit, do various work, and garden. Tom edited my revised historical novels with their artsy new covers. The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin and The Memorable Mrs. Dempsey will be out August 18, 2021, on the anniversary of women’s right to vote.
Gail’s upcoming releases.
We’re an hour from our New Jersey family, not that I’m complaining, but it might as well be another country. Life is busy, no dropping by, we must arrange get-together dates. We live on the way north, so we get visits from a family going that way. Travelers and the rest of the world must pass through the rolling hills of Connecticut to the upper northern New England states and Canada. Grandkids Ben and Stephanie are on their way to Maine, six hours north of us. The stop here cuts an hour off their trip. Grandkids are refreshing and fun.
“You had a long drive—would you like something cold to drink?” I ask.
Stephanie’s eyes sparkle. “Thanks.”
“Try this new one we found in Trader Joe’s. It’s delicious. SANPELLEGRINO Italian sparkling drinks Aranciata Rossa, it’s good and so sweet.”
Stephanie shakes her head and holds up her purple plastic water bottle. “Some fresh water and ice are fine, thanks.”
Ben holds up his gray bottle. “Me too.”
Spoil the grandkids, my mantra. Goodies—cookies, ice cream, popcorn—they love popcorn, anything but just water. I grab my colossal can of mega-sized peanuts, fill up small scoops, and hand them out. They munch the nuts and sip the water. It satisfies me for a minute. Feeding them supper—pizza, hamburgers and fries, dessert from the Portuguese bakery here in town, Pastéis de Nata, custard tarts with a rich egg custard nestled in shatteringly crisp pastry and chocolate chip cookies the size of your fist. That’s more like it.
These grown-up grandkids, Stephanie, nurse, Ben, mechanical engineer, like any friends I have, propose exciting subjects. Technological changes over the last sixty years. Unknown challenges. I’ve rewired. It’s a struggle, but each wrangle gets easier, even now whoever heard of plugging in a phone to recharge. What the heck? Batteries run life, like a hybrid car. Huh?
My most memorable decade, the 1950s and the polio epidemic summer, all the pools closed, the beaches empty. At fifteen, mother hurried me for my polio vaccine to a nearby doctor. Tom’s brother Will caught the dreaded polio. His right hand suffered from the crippling polio. According to the June 2021 AARP magazine, those who had polio can relapse in their elder years, like shingles from chickenpox.
I danced halfway through the ‘50s. My fav, the lindy, renamed the swing! Can you hear Tommy Dorsey piping in the swingin’ music? Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers swirling and twirling.
Lilian August classic walnut desk
Ben and Steph, both homeschooled. Will they homeschool when they have kids? Maybe. We all agree there’s no simple answer for the best education. The evening ends too soon. That six-hour drive calls for an early rise. We don’t hear a sound when they leave. We’ll have another visit soon, delivering the classic walnut five-foot Lillian August desk to their new home. A gift from us.
How did you make it through with your crew? Who was the first person outside of your bubble that you hugged?
Breakfast Duchess-style: Eggs overlays, sausage, home fries very well-done, and whole wheat bread. We get one order and split. SO GOOD!
We passed the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 and I hope we will never pass another anniversary like it ever again. Tom and I recently had our first and second vaccines and we’re getting out a bit more too. We go for our morning walks and a few times a week we enjoy our favorite breakfast at our local Duchess restaurant in Fairfield, CT. It’s not very busy when we go and it’s nice to get back to a routine that is feeling more like “normal”.
Covid didn’t keep us down though, Tom and I have been busy revising my books Indigo Sky (soon to be re-released as THE MEMORABLE MRS. DEMPSEY) and THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN. Tom is the best editor I could ask for. I can’t wait to re-release both books with brand new covers, I’ll let everyone know when they come out.
Spring is in the air and soon our flowers will bloom and our backyards will be a lovely oasis. With that in mind, here are some lovely images of spring I painted a few years back. I hope these pictures give you hope for renewal and healing as we move forward. Enjoy!
Happy New Year! May it be as lovely and beautiful as a flower. Cheers to my first blog of 2021.
I enjoy hard work, challenges, and love learning new skills, even flower growing. My neighbor, Janet, gave me the most beautiful Amaryllis, here, that I watched grow from a seedling, and my older orchid bloomed the loveliest velvet flower, here. It’s fascinating to watch the plants grow. I have a new Christmas cactus, red, and it has thorns. I never had one of those with thorns, that I discovered picking it up. Ouch!!!
After five years I got my rights back for Indigo Sky from my publisher. The book belongs to me now.
Did you know when a publisher publishes your book, they own it. I’m not free to do anything. I had to ask permission for ads, for re-writes, for distribution, and so on.
Now I own the book and making a lot of changes that I knew I wanted to make. I’m re-writing Indigo Sky. And it’s lots of fun.
Some say to change the title, some say don’t bother to change the title. I had to change the cover though because the existing cover art belonged to the publisher. I have my new cover ready to go and will share it with you here soon. I’m more than halfway through the re-write. I’ll put out a request for updates on the reviews and in return, I’ll provide a free copy of the book.
I’m done writing my brother’s memoirs, he’s working on finishing, which gives me time to go back to writing mine.
I’m busy, so in order to get my memoirs written without distractions I signed up for a memoir workshop. Part of the requirements is to write at least fifteen pages every week for eight weeks, which will get me on a roll. I’m writing each chapter as an essay. I have a page full of subjects.
Over the last twenty years or so, my friends have encouraged me to write about my life, about how I found the Lord, and how I managed my careers–music, art and design, writing, and teaching.
It’s my pleasure to introduce Author Rebecca Heflin as my guest today. Rebecca captured my heart with her dedication to help others, to help organize the blogs for Soul Mate Publishing, and read on for the other million things about this amazing working woman.
Author Rebecca Heflin
This time last year I was making my holiday preparations, which included the honor of presiding over the marriage of my nephew and his fiancée on Christmas Day—a truly joyous way to spend the holiday. This time last year, I was looking forward to a new year, fresh with the promise of a new start. Which meant, this time last year, I was blissfully ignorant of what was to come. Instead, I was naively planning two international trips, a local canoe and camping trip, several charity events, two weddings, countless family and social gatherings, and the celebration of my 25th wedding anniversary.
Who could have imagined it wouldn’t be long before the world would be living the plot of some sci-fi thriller?
January and February bumped along as normal, with work, exercise classes, dinners with friends, and preparations for the release of my 10th novel. By the end of February, the dark edges of the coming storm were visible.
The first weekend in March was my birthday. I celebrated it that Friday with dinner out and a show at our local performing arts center. There was also an out of town wedding that Saturday, which my husband and I attended. Looking back, being in those very public venues probably wasn’t the smartest decision on our part, but the tidal wave had not yet hit our area. March 17th was my last day in the office, as the university I work for shut down and sent its employees home to work remotely. It would be only a day or two later when the entire state would go under lockdown. Again, in my naiveté, I thought things would be back to normal in a month or so. Silly me.
Zoom meetings would become a regular occurrence in my daily life, and the next few months were a blur of fear and adjustments, as my husband and I created new routines for ourselves. We limited our grocery shopping to once a week. If we didn’t pick up an item during that weekly visit, we just lived without until the following week. Toilet paper (when the store had it) was priced at roughly the equivalent of a gram of gold. Preparing for grocery shopping felt a little like preparing to enter a contaminated laboratory: masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes at the ready. After returning home, it felt like entering a decontamination unit: washing hands, wiping down groceries, and disinfecting everything we touched.
We watched in horror as the numbers rose and people died—many of them frontline workers. I obsessed over the daily case counts, horrified when we hit 1 million cases in the U.S., not even considering that we would reach double-digit case counts in a few short months.
It wasn’t all bad, however. We also watched the world come together in a common experience. Music and voices rose from city terraces. Drive-by birthday, anniversary, and graduation ceremonies became a thing with horns beeping, lights flashing, and signs waiving. Humanity found a way to celebrate life’s milestones even amid a pandemic.
For me, working from home meant no commute. This freed up time for other things. And the lack of social engagements and other commitments meant time for jigsaw puzzles, minor home improvements, and gardening. Not to mention more quality time with my husband. We had a beautiful spring—cooler than average temperatures, and beautiful low-humidity days—which gave us the opportunity for more outdoor activities like corn-hole games, bike rides, and long walks. Life slowed down, and I couldn’t complain about that.
As we learned more about how the virus was spread, and businesses opened up again, we developed a routine that gave us a little more flexibility. Masked and otherwise following the public health guidelines, we gradually began to leave our sterile cocoon. We had friends over for outdoor socially-distanced dinners (BYOF). We began supporting our local restaurants with take-out or delivery, eventually feeling comfortable dining outside at our favorites.
In May, my husband and I celebrated a quiet, but romantic 25th wedding anniversary—not exactly how we had imagined, but nice just the same.
We took three short driving vacations, 2 to the mountains of North Carolina, and 1 to the beach in the Florida panhandle. The change of scenery provided a welcome respite to the sameness of the daily routines.
After working remotely for 6 months, I returned to my office, but still isolated from my co-workers. I only see them masked and walking in the hallway or on Zoom. It was surreal when I entered my office in September to see the calendar still on March.
Here we are again with Christmas past and New Year’s fast-approaching. There is a light, in the form of vaccines, at the end of this long dark tunnel that is 2020. It will take some time, and more patience is necessary, but we will get there. We will overcome this. The world did it in 1918-1919, and we will do it in 2020-2021.
But will the world ever be the same again? I, for one, won’t be. I am forever changed by this experience. I will never again be blissfully ignorant. I have lost my innocence.
Even so, not all the changes are bad. I have come to appreciate so many things I took for granted: my health, my family, freedom of movement, hugs and kisses shared among family and friends, big gatherings and shared social experiences. And my good fortune. Throughout it all, I have wanted for none of life’s necessities. I can’t ask for more than that from the crappy year that was 2020.
Rebecca Heflin is a best-selling, award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister sneaked a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job at a large state university.
Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.
Every year my family can’t wait for the famous Christmas Cookie Exchange. My sons and family bake dozens of thumbprint cookies and give them away, Well, that is after all the tweedles munch on the first batch, and dine on part of the second. I may have one or two cookies, I say rolling my eyes. Not only does my waistline expand this time of year, my clothes shrink.
Look at those lights!
Baking these cookies is a must. My neighbors will graciously accept our donations. Nothing like a cookie to make folks smile.
Family favorite Thumbprint Cookies (Recipe below)
Cookie tray Thumbprint cookies & Meringue cookies
Thumbprint Cookies: Gail Ingis’s recipe
½ pound butter (2 sticks) or 1 cup Crisco
2 egg yolks
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 bag of walnut meal (at Trader Joe’s) or ground walnuts
Mix ingredients (EXCEPT THE EGG WHITE)
Roll into approximately ½” balls then roll into the walnut meal, place on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 2 minutes, depress center with thumb, then finish baking approximately 12 minutes for larger cookie or 5-8 minutes for smaller cookie. If you like crispy, bake until edges are slightly browned. When cool, fill depressed center with the icing mixture: a combination of slightly warm water, vegetable food coloring and confectioners sugar to an almost pasty consistency. (Color for holidays if desired).
Enjoy! And Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Cooking! Eating!
From the army to the skies – Jay Gerber never backs down from a challenge.
My big brother, Jay Gerber, is my spokesman for his memoir. You guessed it, I’m writing his story with him.
Jay has accomplished more in his 87 years than most people could in two lifetimes. But he’s not done yet! He wants to get it all down in a book – all his adventures, and he asked me to write it.
It was the beginning of him becoming a mature teenager—oh, I know that’s an oxymoron–but the high school at Carson Long Military Institute taught Jay a thing or two. Then off to college, then into the army, then back to university and successful completion of medical school. He did a short stint as a podiatrist but was too busy making movies, flying, then sat in his own Piper Cherokee 180, and filming football for NFL Films. Not necessarily in that order. And somewhere in-between he married a gorgeous blue-eyed blond, My fabulous, amazing sister-in-law and friend, Barb.
His love for flying and football always took center stage, and his knowledge in technology and photography is embedded in his DNA.
Jay has earned many accolades over the years.
At seven-years-old, he built his own planes from balsa wood and tissue paper. It all began after a trip with Dad to the 1939 World’s Fair Aviation Exhibit. He built the planes while I watched as he glued the pieces together and smelled up our shared bedroom. No, we don’t remember getting a hit from the glue. Back then, the glue was handy to put things together. Then he added rubber bands and threw the planes up in the air till they ran out of the twisted rubber bands and crash-landed. He didn’t care if they got damaged—he fixed them and threw them back into the air again. I asked Jay to build one for me so we could fly them together.
This model planes grew in size, then he installed engines and even created a control shift like the stick shifter in Dad’s 1938 Plymouth. He landed the plane by doing something with that stick, remote control is what it’s called. The planes kept growing until he eventually bought a ready-made plane that he sat in and flew. Jay was fortunate to own a Piper Cherokee 180 and then a Cherokee SIX 260. He certainly earned his wings including the private instrument, commercial, and twin ratings.
He sold the Cherokee SIX to a ham radio retailer. As part of the sale, he received a ham radio station. This led to his extra class license as an N3AW and a ham radio contest station where he competed in many worldwide phones and CW [Morse Code] contests.
“Very few people build their planes anymore. Many of these ships come pre-built as carbon fiber fuselages and foam core covered wings…and are beautiful…we have to do a lot of work to install all the motors, radio equipment, and servos (surface control devices) which are very costly,” Jay said.
And at the ripe young age of 72, Jay learned to play the piano. Well, it’s about time he learned. I’ve been playing since the age of 7. I asked Jay was he jealous of me playing the piano? “Nope” because he played clarinet and sax, and had a band when he was in college.
Of course, what would retirement be without adding a few rounds of golf into the mix as well? Leave it to my brother — he’s an expert on the links too.
He’s been honored by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) for his brilliance in all the above. For most of his career, he worked for the NFL in their film and technical division.
Franco Harris, Steelers running back & President George Washington
Jay is also the guy who filmed the famous Immaculate Reception play during the Steelers and Raiders divisional playoff game on December 23, 1972, at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. At the airport, there’s a statue of Franco Harris, who caught the football, next to one of George Washington. You all know who that is, right
The time Jay and I spend together is the best part of writing this book. All the memories of our childhood, teenage adventures, and the joyful and poignant changes that adulthood brings. Through it all Jay has always been my big brother. My first hero. And my dear friend.
Jay filming for NFL Films
This is us!
Gail (Gerber) Ingis is an artist, interior designer, and published author. Her historical romances Indigo Sky and The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin are both available on Amazon. Gail is currently writing a memoir with her brother Jay S. Gerber. He’s a man that rose from rags to riches, find out how in his memoirs, maybe by the end of this year.
Roses are red . . . We’ve all heard that little ditty numerous times. But have you ever wondered what makes red such a powerful color? Why does red make a bold fashion statement? Why does it look great as a feature wall in your home? Why does red pop on a book cover?
Amy Butler Greenfield’s fascinating book, A Perfect Red, traces the history and cultural impact of the color red. And guess what? It all began with a little red bug called cochineal. Vast fortunes were created and international intrigue bloomed as countries battled to figure out how to beat Spain’s hold on the trade of a red dye. So valuable – it was traded on commodity exchanges in the 17th century.
And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love red as an artist and painter. I often weave red into my paintings, like the one shown here.
And if you’re curious – here are some other fun facts about red:
Threads of Wisdom 36×36 Oil Ingis Claus
Clever red fingernail polish names: Red Abandon, Little Red Wagon, Don’t know . . . Beets me, Wanted . . . Red or Alive. Life is a Cabernet, An Affair in Red Square, and Breakfast in Red.
Remember Dorothy’s beautiful, magical silver slippers from The Wizard of Oz? Not silver, you say? Well they started out as silver in the novel but when the new Technicolor process was used in the film version, the moviemakers wanted a color that popped—so, of course, they chose red. Ruby red.
Charles and Ray (Bernice Alexandra) Eames: Together the husband and wife duo created some of the 20th century’s most enduring designs. Charles and Ray Eames are known for their classic modern furniture and for their pioneering work with materials such as molded plywood, which they created by pressing sheets of wood veneer against a heated mold. Through this work, in the 1940s the couple developed their iconic LCW (Lounge Chair, Wood), which has been called the best design of the 20th century. The Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair Wood Base, currently sold by Herman Miller, is striking in red. Today, the chair sells for north of a thousand dollars and is made in the United States.
While writing my 2019 publishedUnforgettable Miss Baldwin, I saw red everywhere. My heroine has red hair, she blushes a pretty shade of red, her lips are full and red . . . Red has seeped into our language: seeing red, caught red-handed, down to my last red cent, red herring, a red-letter day, like red to a bull, red tape, go beet red, in the red, red-blooded, red-carpet treatment, red-light district . . . well—you know. And of course, my sweet Tom and I love to paint the town red.
I’m currently writing an essay based on my memoirs and how red integrated my life.
What’s your favorite red—either in your home/office or in your personal life?
I’ve got two historical romance books under my belt, Indigo Sky and The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, but that doesn’t mean I’m a grammar expert. Nope. I’m still learning and honing my craft. In 2015, after my first book, Indigo Sky, was published by Soul Mate Publishing, I decided to dive into the wonderful world of grammar so that I could improve my writing.
I never understood grammar in the third grade and I finally became annoyed enough that I embarked on a new learning adventure, with author and teacher Elizabeth O’Brien. She wrote the book, Sentence Diagramming Reference Manual: Hot to Diagram Anything. She basically teaches you how to break down the parts of a sentence. Her advice has taken my emails by storm (pardon the cliche). I spend time with Elizabeth every day and I tell you, I’m learning more now than I did back in the third grade!
Editing, editing, editing
How can anyone be a writer if all they know is what a noun and a verb is – oops, I mean – are? I didn’t know the difference between an adverb and an adjective when I began this journey, and if it’s not visual, forget it, I’m an artist after all. So, how did I manage to write Indigo Sky in 2015? I had lots of advice and help along with a little paper crumpling, file deleting, and even some foot-stomping. A lot has happened since then. I’m more comfortable with adjectives, verbs, nouns, and the combination thereof.
Here’s a shocker: If you think that adverbs only modify verbs – think again – they can also modify adjectives. We all know this stuff because we use it every day, but the point is that many of us, myself included, don’t know how to break it down and explain it. So given that I’m a life-long learner, I decided to add “grammarian” to my to-do list. That’s why I ordered Elizabeth O’Brien’s book with the hopes that grammar would become my friend and serve as my road map to becoming a better writer. A writer who can write . . . anything. Uh, oh, there are those elusive ellipses. Hmm, maybe I should have used an em dash? Sigh . . .
And don’t holler at me if I forgot a comma somewhere, Grammarly didn’t help me with this post, and that’s probably the reason.
Thanks for reading – and remember: I before E except after C and in words that sound like neighbor and weigh.
Indigo Sky and The Unforgettable Miss Baldwinare both available on Amazon. Please remember to write a review – like everything else – folks only buy after they’ve read the reviews. Reviews are easy, they only need one or two lines, a title and of course, you probably know that 5-star is the best.
One of the greatest pleasures I had writing The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin(Book 1 in the Gilded Age Heiresses series) was creating the “character” of Captyn, the beloved Great Dane of Allie Baldwin, my heroine. He always leads with his heart but sometimes with a little too much enthusiasm. Capytn’s antics usually end up with furniture toppling over, fine china crashing to the floor, and dinner jackets splashed with red wine.
Photo: Paul Murphy on Unsplash
I’m currently working on the second book in the series that features Allie’s younger sister Mia. And of course, Mia has a dog of her own to fuss over. His name is Angus and he’s a Scottish Terrier. Angus will have his own adventures (and mishaps). And Captyn will be around as well.
What fun! Captyn with his black and white spots and Angus with his fluffy white coat will look dapper indeed scampering about as the Baldwin family celebrates the Christmas Holidays.
Until Angus is ready for his debut, you can enjoy spending time with Captyn in The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin. Opposites attract in this gilded age historical romance when a young American suffragette eschews marriage until a handsome detective is hired to protect her from a dangerous stalker. Available on Amazon.
This is a reminder blog for my Author Speak luncheon on Friday, Nov 1 at noon. At the Norwalk Public Library. Sign up for my newsletter when you arrive at the library, you could win a goodie basket.
Wednesday, is my painting day in the fall. I’m in workshop at Silvermine with my artist friends and David Dunlop at the helm. I had a painting that was calling out to me to perk it up. The updated painting is above. It was fun and relaxing. How do you like the title? “On the Rocks.” Tom named it spontaneously. Way to go, Tom.
I definitely want to attend this Norwalk Library Author Speak program with Gail Ingis. I know her personally as she is a trustee and Art Chair on the Board of Lockwood-Mathews Mansion. In addition to all the things this blurb cites, she is a wonderful artist, dancer, and humanitarian. Don’t miss this opportunity to see her at the November 1st Norwalk Library Author Speak luncheon.
Opposites attract in this gilded age historical romance when a young American suffragette eschews marriage until a handsome detective is hired to protect her from a dangerous stalker.
It’s not that she doesn’t want to marry… Allie Baldwin is tired of writing about the latest fashions for the society column of her father’s newspaper, the New York Sentinel. Determined to write about important issues, Allie can’t help but defy danger at every turn. When she narrowly escapes a riot at a suffrage rally, Allie’s beleaguered parents enlist the services of a security agent—a dashing and debonair detective, with a knack for getting under Allie’s skin.
He’s not ready for marriage… Peter Harrison is too busy running Harrison Detective Agency to bother with courtships and conjugality. He refuses to make the same mistakes his father made—marrying too young and forsaking family for work. But when a newspaper magnate hires him to protect his willful daughter—Peter is torn between his oath to bachelorhood and an alluring attraction to the ravishing redhead with a nose for trouble.
When a mysterious fire sparks her investigative instincts, can Allie stick to reporting the facts and restrain her flowering feelings for the handsome detective?
Gail Ingis writes historical romance with a twist of mystery set in the Gilded Age.
Her latest book, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin: The Gilded Age Heiresses (Sept 2019) is available on Amazon or at the book signing on Nov 1 at noon in the Norwalk Public Library.
Her first novel, Indigo Sky, is also available on Amazon and other retailers. (2015 Soul Mate Publishing). The love story behind Albert Bierstadt’s painting Domes of Yosemite was Gail’s inspiration to write Indigo Sky. The painting, now in St. Johnsbury Atheneum in Vermont, once hung in Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk, Connecticut, where she serves as a trustee and curator of art.
Before her debut as an author, she illustrated the book Seeking Paradise by Deborah Galiley (2009, Oak Tara Publishers).
Gail’s career in interior design and architecture culminated in her founding a school of interior design, Interior Design Institute, now part of Berkeley College. Her professorship extended to colleges across NJ, CT, and NY.
Gail has memberships in several interior design and art organizations, and membership in the Romance Writers of America. She resides in Connecticut with her scientist-writer husband, Tom, who is supportive of her work and her writing.
Gail will read an excerpt from UMB, hold a book signing after the luncheon, and the drawing for the gift basket will be after the signing,
To Register and for more information contact Cynde Bloom Lahey by phone 203-899-2780 ext. 15133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Norwalk Public Library | 1 Belden Ave Norwalk, CT 06850
P.S. You can vote again until the end of the month Oct 31st, that’s today: AllAuthor.com. The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin by Gail Ingis – VOTE.