You want to be a writer? Now what?

You want to be a writer? Now what?

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.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released in the fall of 2018. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.






Rustic Wedding cake

Writing a story is like baking a cake. There are so many layers, each one more yummy than the next.

Interior design was also like that for me. For almost half my life, I helped to make peoples’ homes both beautiful and functional. Just like cakes are beautiful on the outside and oh, so good, on the inside. Someday, I’ll write that memoir, but right now I’m busy crafting the first book in my new, five-book series about a prominent family living in New York City in the late 1800s. And lucky me, I get to spend some time designing and decorating my heroine’s bedroom, and even luckier me, I get to spend some time with my heroine’s mother who is, of course, my exceptional client.

I prefer to be on a first name basis with all of my clients, and have never been refused. They seem to enjoy the familiarity.

Mrs. Clara Baldwin

So, with a bright smile, I begin. “May I ask you, Mrs. Baldwin, if I may call you by your first name?”
Mrs. Baldwin replies, “Certainly. Please call me Clara. And may I call you Gail?”
“Of course,” I reply with a bright smile back.
“It is a pleasure to meet you Gail.”
“Clara, the pleasure is all mine. Thank you for this privilege.”
“I am so looking forward to working with you, Gail.”
“As am I,” I reply. “I have other questions to ask. Your answers will be the secret to our success. Will we be working on Allie’s room?”
“How old is Allie?”
“She is twenty-five,” Clara reveals.
“Does she have a collection of sorts? Dolls perhaps?”
“Oh, my no,” Clara chuckles. “Allie is the last person who would have dolls in her room. No, my second daughter Mia adores dolls and has a very lovely collection. Allie, on the other hand, loves books. Her room is full of them. We have no idea where to put them all.
“She sounds like a very bright young woman.”
“She is absolutely brilliant,” Clara says, her eyes reflecting a mother’s pride and love.
“Who is her favorite author?” I inquire.

Window seat w/shelving

“Her favorite author is Charles Dickens. Allie loved his Bleak House. She thought it was a special book.”
“I read a Tale of Two Cities in school. It was heart wrenching.”
“Did you know Dickens’ pen name was Buz?
“No, I did not.
“Don’t you think it an odd name?”
“I do,” I reply. “But writers are very singular people are they not?”

“Indeed,” Clara says. “Allie is also a writer. She writes for my husband’s newspaper and she is probably the most singular person I have ever known.”
“Well then, we shall have to create some very singular shelving!”
“Shelving, where would you put that?”

Victorian festoons & Jabots

I walk over to the beautiful bay window and say, “Right here on either side, with a lovely comfy cushioned seat beneath the window. Under the seat can be storage for more books if she desires, or anything else that she wants out of the way. Allie can tuck in and enjoy her books here. What do you think Clara?”
Clara clapped her hands. “Absolutely marvelous. I’ll share all of this with Allie. I’m sure she will love to know her books will be so beautifully displayed.”
“And what is that big cushion on the floor beside the bed?” I ask.
“Oh, that’s for Allie’s Great Dane, Captyn.” Clara arches one brow, but her eyes are twinkling, as though she is holding back a giggle. “It’s where he sleeps.”
“Well, I am certain that we can create a very singular bed for Captyn that will suit his size and stature.”

Great Dane Tuff Bolster nest

“That would be wonderful, since he usually ends up sleeping on Allie’s bed and then her bedding smells like dog the next day.”
We both burst out laughing.
“Can you tell me a little about the clothes she chooses?” I ask.
Clara tilts her head. “Nothing too fussy, why do you ask?”
“Her taste in clothes tells me a great deal about what she likes to live with.”
“Ah,” Clara nods. “Well, she often expresses how ridiculous corsets are and refuses to wear one. She is contemporary, if that has a meaning to you.

Simply divine

“Why yes, of course. I take it she prefers the new style with no crinoline, simple lines.”
“She certainly does.”
“I’ll put together three floor plans, with wallpaper and fabric choices. Then we can pick one or a combination. The plans will offer Allie’s singular pick within her taste.
“That sounds wonderful Gail, I can’t wait to see your suggestions.”
“Clara, we have run out of time, but I will come back soon with the plans, if that’s suitable.”

The choices that Allie makes, with her mother’s approval, of course, will be revealed in, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin.

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




Yellow Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore’s mellow yellow (CC2020-50)

When you plan a room, always remember the available light, both natural and artificial. Natural light is dependent on exposure. That’s why, when choosing paint colors for a room, it’s smart to look at color samples in the actual space and under different lighting conditions.

For the best test, buy a paint color sample and paint a small area on the surface of the wall. Observe how the color looks at different times of the day, in natural and artificial light. Then you will get a sense of what your room will look like throughout the day.

Here are some suggestions from designer and Dabble Magazine Editor in Chief Kimberley Seldon to help you choose the best paint colors for rooms that are exposed to sunlight from the north, south, east, and west. (Note: artificial light will further affect the appearance of colors.)

Northern Exposure

Light from the north is indirect and cool, and can appear gray depending on where you live. To counterbalance this effect, choose a yellow or cream such as Benjamin Moore’s flurry (CC-100), barley (CC-180), or buttermilk (919); and warm, pale pinks and corals like pink moiré (CC-158) and tofino sunset (CC-156) to amplify the sunlight. For me, I had my art studio built with three huge windows to let in the northern light so that I see true color for my paintings. This northern exposure offers the correct light in order to photograph my work for publications. The walls are painted a neutral gray/beige (#969), and the ceiling is a bright white. So if you want a cheery room, the colors suggested here are a good choice. Check them out.

Southern Exposure
Warm southerly light lasts the longest and can become intense at mid-day. A mid-tone color such as lavender lipstick (2072-50) will look fresh in the daytime and become richer at night. Rich blues and greens lose intensity but can appear to glow. Try meadowlands green (2036-40), winter green (2045-60), or serenity (2055-60). Browns appear less somber in southern light. Go for a warm, earthy hue like rich clay brown (2164-30).

Eastern Exposure

Benjamin Moore "Cloud White"

Benjamin Moore “Cloud White” and others

Benjamin Moor color "Flurry" off white

Benjamin Moore color “Flurry” whites

Eastern exposure provides bright, yellow light that’s ideal for high-activity rooms like kitchens, playrooms, and family rooms. That’s why the light of the eastern exposure is perfect for a breakfast room. Pale colors look fabulous. Warm pinks, corals, yellows, or whites like pink bliss (2093-70), cloud white (OC-130), snowfall white (OC-118), or milkyway (OC-110) will enhance the light, while cool blues and greens like blue bonnet (2050-70) will temper it. There are a myriad of whites, and they are rarely stark, except for ceilings. Pure white walls can be tiring.

Western Exposure
Green and cream work well in the muted, late afternoon sunlight of a western exposure. Try pairing adam green (2037-40) with mellow yellow (2020-50), or green with envy (2036-30) with marble white (OC-34). Complementary colors, such as green and red, are not quite as garish. Reds appear richer and less flat because they absorb light. A red like warm comfort (2010-20) is a good choice for rooms that require drama and intimacy, such as dining rooms.

Remember also, that the window treatments can shut out the natural light, or admit light, depending on your design choices.

When you choose artificial lighting be aware of the type of bulbs that are available today. They vary in color. The LED’s are usually a perky white light. Lighting today can be dimmed. I always seek out the brightest white light because it keeps your colors  crisp. Lighting is another huge subject to discuss. When you want to choose lighting for your home or office, go to a dependable lighting store, for example, here in Connecticut’s Fairfield County, my favorite store is Klaff’s in Norwalk.

Ever since 1969 when I was a student at the New York School of Interior Design, I have been a faithful client of Benjamin Moore Paints. Their paints have stood the test of time. Benjamin Moore reps visited and demonstrated how and when to use their paints to my students at my school, Interior Design Institute, in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, and supplied each student with paint chip books, a valuable tool for interior designers.

Visit our Colour Gallery to get more room colour scheme ideas. (On-screen colour representations may differ slightly from actual paint colours due to monitor calibration.)

Get more decorating tips from our All About Colour videos featuring Kimberley Seldon.



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